Now, the Queen had half-expected the men to be rude and uncouth in appearance because of their wild life in the forest, but she was delightfully disappointed. Indeed, she started back in surprise, and almost clapped her hands. For sooth to say, the yeomen made a brave sight, and in all the court no more gallant men could be found. Marian felt her cheeks glow with pride at sight of the half-hidden looks of admiration sent forth by the other ladies-in-waiting.
— from Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, 1883
Reading Robin Hood together, chapter by chapter, became a highlight of this summer for my son. When we started it, I raised my eyebrows at all the fighting between the characters in the book and wondered if I ought to continue. I’m glad I stuck with it. Yes, Robin and his men love to have some sort of combat with almost anyone that crosses their path in the greenwood. But Robin and his men are also very gentlemanly about everything. They fight by the rules. Dignity matters. They protect women and children. Robin’s men recognize Robin’s authority and subject themselves to it. And, as most everyone knows, Robin Hood only robs the rich to repay those who have been misfortuned.
The Queen was delightfully disappointed in her expectations of Robin Hood. I am simply delighted to read a book about courteous men, even if they are outlaws who like to knock other men down with big sticks.