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The "Wicked Brothers" Theme

THE tale of "Gamelyn" is a variant of the old fairy-tale subject of the Wicked Elder Brothers, one of the oldest and most interesting versions of which may still be read in the Biblical story of Joseph and his brethren. Usually a father dies leaving three sons, of whom the two elder are worthless and the youngest rises to high honour, whereupon the elder brothers try to kill the youngest from envy at his good fortune. A similar root-idea is found in "Cinderella" and other fairy-tales of girls, but in these there may usually be found a cruel stepmother and two contemptuous stepsisters--a noteworthy variation which seems to point to some deep-rooted idea that the ties of blood are stronger among women than among men.

Literary Influence of the "Gamelyn" Story

The story of "Gamelyn" has two great claims to our attention: it is, through Lodge's "Euphues' Golden Legacy," the ultimate source of Shakespeare's As You Like It, and it seems to be the earliest presentment in English literature of the figure of "the noble outlaw." In fact, Gamelyn is probably the literary ancestor of "bold Robin Hood," and stands for an English ideal of justice and equity, against legal oppression and wickedness in high places. He shows, too, the love of free life, of the merry greenwood and the open road, which reappears after so many centuries in the work of Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Story

In the reign of King Edward I. there dwelt in Lincolnshire,

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near the vast expanse of the Fens, a noble gentleman, Sir John of the Marches. He was now old, but was still a model of all courtesy and a "very perfect gentle knight." He had three sons, of whom the youngest, Gamelyn, was born in his father's old age, and was greatly beloved by the old man; the other two were much older than he, and John, the eldest, had already developed a vicious and malignant character. Gamelyn and his second brother, Otho, reverenced their father, but John had no respect or obedience for the good gentleman, and was the chief trouble of his declining years, as Gamelyn was his chief joy.

The Father Feels his End Approaching

At last old age and weakness overcame the worthy old Sir John, and he was forced to take to his bed, where he lay sadly meditating on his children's future, and wondering how to divide his possessions justly among the three. There was no difficulty of inheritance or primogeniture, for all the knight's lands were held in fee-simple, and not in entail, so that he might bequeath them as he would. Sir John of the Marches, fearing lest he should commit an injustice, sent throughout the district for wise knights, begging them to come hastily, if they wished to see him alive, and help him. When the country squires and lords, his near neighbours, heard of his grave condition, they hurried to the castle, and gathered in the bedchamber, where the dying knight greeted them thus: "Lords and gentlemen, I warn you in truth that I may no longer live; by the will of God death lays his hand upon me." When they heard this they tried to encourage him, by bidding him remember that God can provide a remedy for every disease, and the good knight received their kindly words without dispute. "That God can send remedy for an

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ill I will never deny; but I beseech you, for my sake, to divide my lands among my three sons. For the love of God deal justly, and forget not my youngest, Gamelyn. Seldom does any heir to an estate help his brothers after his father's death."

How Shall he Dispose of his Estate?

The friends whom Sir John had summoned deliberated long over the disposal of the estate. The majority wished to give all to the eldest son, but a strong minority urged the claims of the second, but all agreed that Gamelyn might wait till his eldest brother chose to give him a share of his father's lands. At last it was decided to divide the inheritance between the two elder sons, and the knights returned to the chamber where the brave old knight lay dying, and told him their decision. He summoned up strength enough to protest against their plan of distribution, and said:

"'Nay, by St. Martin, I can yet bequeath
My lands to whom I wish: they still are mine.
Then hearken, neighbours, while I make my will.
To John, my eldest son, and heir, I leave
Five ploughlands, my dead father's heritage;
My second, Otho, ploughlands five shall hold,
Which my good right hand won in valiant strife;
All else I own, in lands and goods and wealth,
To Gamelyn, my youngest, I devise;
And I beseech you, for the love of God,
Forsake him not, but guard his helpless youth
And let him not be plundered of his wealth.'"

Then Sir John, satisfied with having proclaimed his will, died with Christian resignation, leaving his little son Gamelyn in the power of the cruel eldest brother, now, in his turn, Sir John.


''Go and do your own baking!''
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''Go and do your own baking!''

''Lords, for Christ's sake help poor Gamelyn out of prison!''
Click to enlarge

''Lords, for Christ's sake help poor Gamelyn out of prison!''


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The Cruel Eldest Son

Since the boy was a minor, the new knight, as natural guardian, assumed the control of Gamelyn's land, vassals, education, and nurture; and full evilly he discharged his duties, for he clothed and fed him badly, and neglected his lands, so that his parks and houses, his farms and villages, fell into ruinous decay. The boy, when he grew older, noticed this and resented it, but did not realize the power in his own broad limbs and mighty sinews to redress his wrongs, though by the time he fully understood his injuries no man would dare to face him in fight when he was angry, so strong a youth had he become.

Gamelyn Resists

While Gamelyn, one day, walking in the hall, mused on the ruin of all his inheritance, Sir John came blustering in, and, seeing him, called out: "How now: is dinner ready?" Enraged at being addressed as if he were a mere servant, he replied angrily: "Go and do your own baking; I am not your cook."

Sir John almost doubted the evidence of his ears. "What, my dear brother, is that the way to answer? Thou hast never addressed me so before!"

"No," replied Gamelyn; "until now I have never considered all the wrong you have done me. My parks are broken open, my deer are driven off; you have deprived me of my armour and my steeds; all that my father bequeathed to me is falling into ruin and decay. God's curse upon you, false brother!"

Sir John was now enraged beyond all measure, and shouted: "Stand still, vagabond, and hold thy peace! What right hast thou to speak of land or vassals? Thou shalt learn to be grateful for food and raiment."

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"A curse upon him that calls me vagabond! I am no worse than yourself; I am the son of a lady and a good knight."

Gamelyn Terrifies the Household

In spite of all his anger, Sir John was a cautious man, with a prudent regard for his own safety. He would not risk an encounter with Gamelyn, but summoned his servants and bade them beat him well, till he should learn better manners. But when the boy understood his brother's intention he vowed that he would not be beaten alone--others should suffer too, and Sir John not the least. Thereupon, leaping on to the wall, he seized a pestle which lay there, and so boldly attacked the timid servants, though they were armed with staves, that he drove them in flight, and laid on furious strokes which quenched the small spark of courage in them. Sir John had not even that small amount of bravery: he fled to a loft and barred the door, while Gamelyn cleared the hall with his pestle, and scoffed at the cowardly grooms who fled so soon from the strife they had begun. When he sought for his brother he could not see him at first, but afterwards perceived his sorry countenance peeping from a window. "Brother," said Gamelyn, "come a little nearer, and I will teach you how to play with staff and buckler."

"Nay, by St. Richard, I will not descend till thou hast put down that pestle. Brother, be no more enraged, and I will make peace with thee. I swear it by the grace of God!"

"I was forced to defend myself," said Gamelyn, "or your menials would have injured and degraded me: I could not let grooms beat a good knight's son; but now grant me one boon, and we shall soon be reconciled."

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Sir John's Guile

"Yes, certainly, brother; ask thy boon, and I will grant it readily. But indeed I was only testing thee, for thou art so young that I doubted thy strength and manliness. It was only a pretence of beating that I meant."

"This is my request," said the boy: "if there is to be peace between us you must surrender to me all that my father bequeathed me while he was alive."

To this Sir John consented with apparent willingness, and even promised to repair the decayed mansions and restore the lands and farms to their former prosperity; but though he feigned content with the agreement and kissed his brother with outward affection yet he was inwardly meditating plans of treachery against the unsuspecting youth.

A Wrestling Match

Shortly after this quarrel between the brothers a wrestling competition was announced, the winner of which would become the owner of a fine ram and a ring of gold, and Gamelyn determined to try his powers. Accordingly he begged the loan of "a little courser" from Sir John, who offered him his choice of all the steeds in the stable, and then curiously questioned him as to his errand. The lad explained that he wished to compete in the wrestling match, hoping to win honour by bearing away the prize; then, springing on the beautiful courser that was brought him ready saddled, he spurred his horse and rode away merrily, while the false Sir John locked the gate behind him, praying that he might get his neck broken in the contest. The boy rode along, rejoicing in his youth and strength, singing as he went, till he drew near the

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appointed place, and then he suddenly heard a man's voice lamenting aloud and crying, "Wellaway! Alas!" and saw a venerable yeoman wringing his hands. "Good man," said Gamelyn, "why art thou in such distress? Can no man help thee?"

A Dreaded Champion

"Alas!" said the yeoman. "Woe to the day on which I was born! The champion wrestler here has overthrown my two stalwart sons, and unless God help them they must die of their grievous hurts. I would give ten pounds to find a man to avenge on him the injuries done to my dear sons."

"Good man, hold my horse while my groom takes my coat and shoes, and I will try my luck and strength against this doughty champion."

"Thank God!" said the yeoman. "I will do it at once; I will guard thy coat and shoes and good steed safely--and may Jesus Christ speed thee well!

Gamelyn Enters

When Gamelyn entered the ring, barefooted and stripped for wrestling, all men gazed curiously at the rash youth who dared to challenge the stalwart champion, and the great man himself, rising from the ground, strolled across to meet Gamelyn and said haughtily: "Who is thy father, and what is thy name? Thou art, forsooth, a young fool to come here!"

Gamelyn answered equally haughtily: "Thou knewest well my father while he lived: he was Sir John of the Marches, and I am his youngest son, Gamelyn."

The champion replied: "Boy, I knew thy father well in his lifetime, and I have heard of thee, and nothing good: thou hast always been in mischief."

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"Now I am older thou shalt know me better," said Gamelyn.

Defeats the Champion

The wrestling had lasted till late in the evening, and the moon was shining on the scene when Gamelyn and the champion began their struggle. The wrestler tried many wily tricks, but the boy was ready for them all, and stood steady against all that his opponent could do. Then, in his turn, he took the offensive, grasped his adversary round the waist, and cast him so heavily to the ground that three ribs were broken, and his, left arm. Then the victor said mockingly:

"Shall we count that a cast, or not reckon it?"

"By heaven! whether it be one or no, any man in thy hand will never thrive," said the champion painfully.

The yeoman, who had watched the match with great anxiety, now broke out with blessings: "Blessed be thou, young sir, that ever thou wert born!" and now taunting the fallen champion, said: "It was young 'Mischief' who taught thee this game."

"He is master of us all," said the champion. "In all my years of wrestling I have never been mishandled so cruelly."

Now the victor stood in the ring, ready for more wrestling, but no man would venture to compete with him, and the two judges who kept order and awarded the prizes bade him retire, for no other competitor could be found to face him.

But he was a little disappointed at this easy victory. "Is the fair over? Why, I have not half sold my wares," he said.

The champion was still capable of grim jesting. "Now, as I value my life, any purchaser of your wares is a fool; you sell so dearly."

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"Not at all," broke in the yeoman; "you have bought your share full cheap, and made a good bargain."

He Wins the Prizes

While this short conversation had been going on the judges had returned to their seats, and formally awarded the prize to Gamelyn, and now came to him, bearing the ram and the ring for his acceptance.

Gamelyn took them gladly, and went home the next morning, followed by a cheering crowd of admirers; but when the cowardly Sir John saw the people he bolted the castle doors against his more favourite and successful brother.

He Overcomes his Brother's Servants

The porter, obeying his master's commands, refused Gamelyn entrance; and the youth, enraged at this insult, broke down the door with one blow, caught the fleeing porter, and flung him down the well in the courtyard. His brother's servants fled from his anger, and the crowd that had accompanied him swarmed into courtyard and hall, while the knight took refuge in a little turret.

"Welcome to you all," said Gamelyn. "We will be masters here and ask no man's leave. Yesterday I left five tuns of wine in the cellar; we will drain them dry before you go. If my brother objects (as he well may, for he is a miser) I will be butler and caterer and manage the whole feast. Any person who dares to object may join the porter in the well."

Naturally no objections were raised, and Gamelyn and his friends held high revel for a week, while Sir John lay hidden in his turret, terrified at the noise and revelry, and dreading what his brother might do to him now he had so great a following.

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A Reckoning with Sir John

However, the guests departed quietly on the eighth day, leaving Gamelyn alone, and very sorrowful, in the hall where he had held high revel. As he stood there, musing sadly, he heard a timid footstep, and saw his brother creeping towards him. When he had attracted Gamelyn's attention he spoke out loudly: "Who made thee so bold as to destroy all my household stores?"

"Nay, brother, be not wroth," said the youth quietly. "If I have used anything I have paid for it fully before-hand. For these sixteen years you have had full use and profit of fifteen good ploughlands which my father left me; you have also the use and increase of all my cattle and horses; and now all this past profit I abandon to you, in return for the expense of this feast of mine."

Then said the treacherous Sir John: "Hearken, my dear brother: I have no son, and thou shalt be my heir--I swear by the holy St. John."

"In faith," said Gamelyn, "if that be the case, and if this offer be made in all sincerity, may God reward you!" for it was impossible for his generous disposition to suspect his brother of treachery and to fathom the wiles of a crafty nature; hence it happened that he was so soon and easily beguiled.

Gamelyn Allows Himself to be Chained

Sir John hesitated a moment, and then said doubtfully: "There is one thing I must tell you, Gamelyn. When you threw my porter into the well I swore in my wrath that I would have you bound hand and foot. That is impossible now without your consent, and I must be forsworn unless you will let yourself be bound for a moment, as a mere form, just to save me from the sin of perjury."

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So sincere Sir John seemed, and so simple did the whole thing appear, that Gamelyn consented at once. "Why, certainly, brother, you shall not be forsworn for my sake." So he sat down, and the servants bound him hand and foot; and then Sir John looked mockingly at him as he said: "So now, my fine brother, I have you caught at last." Then he bade them bring fetters and rivet them on Gamelyn's limbs, and chain him fast to a post in the centre of the hall. Then he was placed on his feet with his back to the post and his hands manacled behind him, and as he stood there the false brother told every person who entered that Gamelyn had suddenly gone mad, and was chained for safety's sake, lest he should do himself or others some deadly hurt. For two long days and nights he stood there bound, with no food or drink, and grew faint with hunger and weariness, for his fetters were so tight that he could not sit or lie down; bitterly he lamented the carelessness which made him fall such an easy prey to his treacherous brother's designs.

Adam Spencer to the Rescue

When all others had left the hall Gamelyn appealed to old Adam Spencer, the steward of the household, a loyal old servant who had known Sir John of the Marches, and had watched the boy grow up. "Adam Spencer," quoth he, "unless my brother is minded to slay me, I am kept fasting too long. I beseech thee, for the great love my father bore thee, get the keys and release me from my bonds. I will share all my free land with thee if thou wilt help me in this distress."

The poor old servant was greatly perplexed. He knew not how to reconcile his grateful loyalty to his dead master with the loyalty due to his present lord, and he said doubtfully: "I have served thy brother for sixteen years,

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and if I release thee now he will rightly call me a traitor." "Ah, Adam! thou wilt find him a false rogue at the last, as I have done. Release me, dear friend Adam, and I will be true to my agreement, and will keep my covenant to share my land with thee." By these earnest words the steward was persuaded, and, waiting till Sir John was safely in bed, managed to obtain possession of the keys and release Gamelyn, who stretched his arms and legs and thanked God for his liberty. "Now," said he, "if I were but well fed no one in this house should bind me again to-night." So Adam took him to a private room and set food before him; eagerly he ate and drank till his hunger was satisfied and he began to think of revenge. "What is your advice, Adam? Shall I go to my brother and strike off his head? He well merits it."

A Plan of Escape

"No," answered Adam, "I know a better plan than that. Sir John is to give a great feast on Sunday to many Churchmen and prelates; there will be present a great number of abbots and priors and other holy men. Do you stand as if bound by your post in the hall, and beseech them to release you. If they will be surety for you, your liberty will be gained with no blame to me; if they all refuse, you shall cast aside the unlocked chains, and you and I, with two good staves, can soon win your freedom. Christ's curse on him who fails his comrade!"

"Yes," quoth Gamelyn, "evil may I thrive if I fail in my part of the bargain! But if we must needs help them to do penance for their sins, you must warn me, brother Adam, when to begin."

"By St. Charity, master, I will give you good warning. When I wink at you be ready to cast away your fetters at once and come to me."

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"This is good advice of yours, Adam, and blessings on your head. If these haughty Churchmen refuse to be surety for me I will give them good strokes in payment."

A Great Feast

Sunday came, and after mass many guests thronged to the feast in the great hall; they all stared curiously at Gamelyn as he stood with his hands behind him, apparently chained to his post, and Sir John explained sadly that he, after slaying the porter and wasting the household stores, had gone mad, and was obliged to be chained, for his fury was dangerous. The servants carried dainty dishes round the table, and beakers of rich wines, but though Gamelyn cried aloud that he was fasting no food was brought to him. Then he spoke pitifully and humbly to the noble guests: "Lords, for Christ's sake help a poor captive out of prison." But the guests were hard-hearted, and answered cruelly, especially the abbots and priors, who had been deceived by Sir John's false tales. So harshly did they reply to the youth's humble petition that he grew angry. "Oh," said he, "that is all the answer I am to have to my prayer! Now I see that I have no friends. Cursed be he that ever does good to abbot or prior!"

The Banquet Disturbed

Adam Spencer, busied about the removal of the cloth, looked anxiously at Gamelyn, and saw how angry he grew. He thought little more of his service, but, making a pretext to go to the pantry, brought two good oak staves, and stood them beside the hall door. Then he winked meaningly at Gamelyn, who with a sudden shout flung off his chains, rushed to the hall door, seized a staff, and began to lay about him lustily, whirling his weapon

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as lightly as if it had been a holy-water sprinkler. There was a dreadful commotion in the hall, for the portly Churchmen tried to escape, but the mere laymen loved Gamelyn, and drew aside to give him free play, so that he was able to scatter the prelates. Now he had no pity on these cruel Churchmen, as they had been without pity for him; he knocked them over, battered them, broke their arms and legs, and wrought terrible havoc among them; and during this time Adam Spencer kept the door so that none might escape. He called aloud to Gamelyn to respect the sanctity of men of Holy Church and shed no blood, but if he should by chance break arms and legs there would be no sacrilege, because no blood need be shed.

Sir John in Chains

Thus Gamelyn worked his will, laying hands on monks and friars, and sent them home wounded in carts and waggons, while some of them muttered: "We were better at home, with mere bread and water, than here where we have had such a sorry feast!" Then Gamelyn turned his attention to his false brother, who had been unable to escape, seized him by the neck, broke his backbone with one blow from his staff, and thrust him, sitting, into the fetters that yet hung from the post where Gamelyn had stood. "Sit there, brother, and cool thy blood," said Gamelyn, as he and Adam sat down to a feast, at which the servants waited on them eagerly, partly from love and partly from fear.

The Sheriff's Men Appear

Now the sheriff happened to be only five miles away, and soon heard the news of this disturbance, and how Gamelyn and Adam had broken the king's peace; and, as his duty was, he determined to arrest the law-breakers.

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[paragraph continues] Twenty-four of his best men were sent to the castle to gain admittance and arrest Gamelyn and his steward; but the new porter, a devoted adherent of Gamelyn, denied them entrance till he knew their errand; when they refused to tell it, he sent a servant to rouse Gamelyn and warn him that the sheriff's men stood before the gate.

"Then answered Gamelyn: 'Good porter, go;
Delay my foes with fair speech at the gate
Till I relieve thee with some cunning wile.
If I o’erlive this strait, I will requite
Thy truth and loyalty. Adam,' quoth he,
'Our foes are on us, and we have no friend--
The sheriff's men surround us, and have sworn
A mighty oath to take us: we must go
Whither our safety calls us.' He replied:
'Go where thou wilt, I follow to the last
Or die forlorn: but this proud sheriff's troop
Will flee before our onset, to the fens.'"

The Sheriff Arrives

As Gamelyn and Adam looked round for weapons the former saw a cart-staff, a stout post used for prop-ping up the shafts; this he seized, and ran out at the little postern gate, followed by Adam with another staff. They caught the sheriff's twenty-four bold men in the rear, and when Gamelyn had felled three, and Adam two, the rest took to their heels. "What!" said Adam as they fled. "Drink a draught of my good wine! I am steward here." "Nay," they shouted back; "such wine as yours scatters a man's brains far too thoroughly." Now this little fray was hardly ended before the sheriff came in person with a great troop. Gamelyn knew not what to do, but Adam again had a plan ready. "Let us stay no longer, but go to the greenwood: there we shall at least be at liberty." The advice suited Gamelyn, and each drank a draught of wine, mounted his steed, and


''Then cheer thee, Adam''
Click to enlarge

''Then cheer thee, Adam''

''Come from the seat of justice''
Click to enlarge

''Come from the seat of justice''


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lightly rode away, leaving the empty nest for the sheriff; with no eggs therein. However, that officer dismounted, entered the hall, and found Sir John fettered and nearly dying. He released him, and summoned a leech, who healed his grievous wound, and enabled him to do more mischief.

Gamelyn Goes to the Greenwood

Meanwhile Adam wandered with Gamelyn in the greenwood, and found it very hard work, with little food. He complained aloud to his young lord:

"'Would I were back in mine old stewardship--
Full blithe were I, the keys to bear and keep!
I like not this wild wood, with wounding thorns,
And nought of food or drink, or restful ease.'
'Ah! Adam,' answered Gamelyn, 'in sooth
Full many a good man's son feels bitter woe!
Then cheer thee, Adam.'"

As they spoke sadly together Gamelyn heard men's voices near by, and, looking through the bushes, saw seven score young men, sitting round a plentiful feast, spread on the green grass. He rejoiced greatly, bidding Adam remember that "Boot cometh after bale," and pointing out to him the abundance of provisions near at hand. Adam longed for a good meal, for they had found little to eat since they came to the greenwood. At that moment the master-outlaw saw them in the underwood, and bade his young men bring to him these new guests whom God had sent: perchance, he said, there were others besides these two. The seven bold youths who started up to do his will cried to the two new-corners: "Yield and hand us your bows and arrows!" "Much sorrow may he have who yields to you," cried Gamelyn. "Why, with five more ye would be only twelve, and I could fight you all." When the

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outlaws saw how boldly he bore himself they changed their tone, and said mildly: "Come to our master, and tell him thy desire." "Who is your master?" quoth Gamelyn. "He is the crowned king of the outlaws," quoth they; and the two strangers were led away to the chief.

The master-outlaw, sitting on a rustic throne, with a crown of oak-leaves on his head, asked them their business, and Gamelyn replied: "He must needs walk in the wood who may not walk in the town. We are hungry and faint, and will only shoot the deer for food, for we are hard bestead and in great danger."

Gamelyn Joins the Outlaws

The outlaw leader had pity on their distress, and gave them food; and as they ate ravenously the outlaws whispered one to another: "This is Gamelyn!" "This is Gamelyn!" Understanding all the evils that had befallen him, their leader soon made Gamelyn his second in command; and when after three weeks the outlaw king was pardoned and allowed to return home, Gamelyn was chosen to succeed him and was crowned king of the outlaws. So he dwelt merrily in the forest, and troubled not himself about the world outside.

The Law at Work

Meanwhile the treacherous Sir John had recovered, and in due course had become sheriff, and indicted his brother for felony. As Gamelyn did not appear to answer the indictment he was proclaimed an outlaw and wolf's-head, and a price was set upon his life. Now his bondmen and vassals were grieved at this, for they feared the cruelty of the wicked sheriff; they therefore sent messengers to Gamelyn to tell him the ill news, and deprecate his wrath. The youth's anger

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rose at the tidings, and he promised to come and beard Sir John in his hall and protect his own tenants.

Gamelyn Arrested

It was certainly a stroke of rash daring thus to venture into the county where his brother was sheriff, but he strode boldly into the moot-hall, with his hood thrown back, so that all might recognise him, and cried aloud: "God save all you lordings here present! But, thou broken-backed sheriff, evil mayst thou thrive! Why hast thou done me such wrong and disgrace as to have me indicted and proclaimed an outlaw?" Sir John did not hesitate to use his legal powers, but, seeing his brother was quite alone, had him arrested and cast into prison, whence it was his intention that only death should release him.

Otho as Surety

All these years the second brother, Otho, had lived quietly on his own lands and taken no heed of the quarrels of the two others; but now, when news came to him of Sir John's deadly hatred to their youngest brother, and Gamelyn's desperate plight, he was deeply grieved, roused himself from his peaceful life, and rode to see if he could help his brother. First he besought Sir John's mercy for the prisoner, for the sake of brotherhood and family love; but he only replied that Gamelyn must stay imprisoned till the justice should hold the next assize. Then Otho offered to be bail, if only his young brother might be released from his bonds and brought from the dismal dungeon where he lay. To this Sir John finally consented, warning Otho that if the accused failed to appear before the justice he himself must suffer the penalty for the breach of bail. "I agree," said Otho. "Have him released at

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once, and deliver him to me." Then Gamelyn was set free on his brother's surety, and the two rode home to Otho's house, talking sadly of all that had befallen, and how Gamelyn had become king of the outlaws. The next morning Gamelyn asked Otho's permission to go to the greenwood and see how his young men fared, but Otho pointed out so clearly how dreadful would be the consequences to him if he did not return that the young man vowed:

"'I swear by James, the mighty saint of Spain,
That I will not desert thee, nor will fail
To stand my trial on the appointed day,
If God Almighty give me strength and health
And power to keep my vow. I will be there,
That I may show what bitter hate Sir John,
My cruel brother, holds against me.'"

Gamelyn Goes to the Woods

Thereupon Otho bade him go. "God shield thee from shame! Come when thou seest it is the right time, and save us both from blame and reproach." So Gamelyn went gaily to the merry greenwood, and found his company of outlaws; and so much had they to tell of their work in his absence, and so much had he to relate of his adventures, that time slipped by, and he soon fell again into his former mode of life, and his custom of robbing none but Churchmen, fat abbots and priors, monks and canons, so that all others spoke good of him, and called him the "courteous outlaw."

The Term Expires

Gamelyn stood one day looking out over the woods and fields, and it suddenly came to his mind with a pang of self-reproach that he had forgotten his promise to Otho, and the day of the assize was very near. He called his young men (for he had learned not to trust

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himself to the honour or loyalty of his brother the sheriff), and bade them prepare to accompany him to the place of assize, sending Adam on as a scout to learn tidings. Adam returned in great haste, bringing sad news. The judge was in his place, a jury empanelled to condemn Gamelyn to death, bribed thereto by the wicked sheriff; and Otho was fettered in the gaol in place of his brother. The news enraged Gamelyn, but Adam Spencer was even more infuriated; he would gladly have held the doors of the moot-hall and slain every person inside except Otho; but his master's sense of justice was too strong for that. "Adam," he said, "we will not do so, but will slay the guilty and let the innocent escape. I myself will have some conversation with the justice in the hall; and meanwhile do ye, my men, hold the doors fast. I will make myself justice to-day, and thou, Adam, shalt be my clerk. We will give sentence this day, and God speed our new work!" All his men applauded this speech and promised him obedience, and the troop of outlaws hastened to surround the hall.

Gamelyn in the Court

Once again Gamelyn strode into the moot-hall in the midst of his enemies, and was recognised by all. He released Otho, who said gently: "Brother, thou hast nearly overstayed the time; the sentence has been given against me that I shall be hanged."

"Brother," said Gamelyn, "this day shall thy foes and mine be hanged: the sheriff, the justice, and the wicked jurors." Then Gamelyn turned to the judge, who sat as if paralysed in his seat of judgment, and said:

"'Come from the seat of justice: all too oft
Hast thou polluted law's clear stream with wrong;
Too oft hast taken reward against the poor;
Too oft hast lent thine aid to villainy, p. 224
And given judgment 'gainst the innocent.
Come down and meet thine own meed at the bar,
While I, in thy place, give more rightful doom
And see that justice dwells in law for once.'"

A Scene

The justice sat still, dumb with astonishment, and Gamelyn struck him fiercely, cut his cheek, and threw him over the bar so that his arm broke; and no man durst withstand the outlaw, for fear of his company standing at the doors. The youth sat down in the judge's seat, with Otho beside him, and Adam in the clerk's desk; and he placed in the dock the false sheriff; the justice, and the unjust jurors, and accused them of wrong and attempted murder. In order to keep up the forms of law, he empanelled a jury of his own young men, who brought in a verdict of "Guilty," and the prisoners were all condemned to death and hanged out of hand, though the false sheriff attempted to appeal to the brotherly affection of which he had shown so little.

Honour from the King

After this high-handed punishment of their enemies Gamelyn and his brother went to lay their case before King Edward, and he forgave them, in consideration of all the wrongs and injuries Gamelyn had suffered; and before they returned to their distant county the king made Otho sheriff of the county, and Gamelyn chief forester of all his free forests; his band of outlaws were all pardoned, and the king gave them posts according to their capabilities. Now Gamelyn and his brother settled down to a happy, peaceful life. Otho, having no son, made Gamelyn his heir, and the latter married a beauteous lady, and lived with her in joy till his life's end.

Next: Chapter XI. William of Cloudeslee