5. The Archery Contest

The shooting match was held on the outskirts of Nottingham. The area was surrounded by long lines of stalls and booths, where groups of commoners were gathered, waiting for the contest to begin. The butts were roped off in a long green meadow where amongst a group of men, stood the minstrel Allan A Dale plucking his lute. His keen eyes espied a group of local archers whom he softly warned.

“Beware, O ye archers of Nottingham Fair,

Of our new Sheriff’s hirelings beware-oh,

Since they levy a tax on thy chattels elsewhere,

They may here tax thy bow and thine arrow.”

From miles around, sunburnt bowmen had gathered to shoot for the prize of a golden arrow to be presented by Queen Eleanor.

One by one the independent archers were beaten by the Sheriff’s men, until only Hugh Fitzooth and his son Robin remained to challenge De Lacy’s men.

“You have done well,” said Prince John to the Sheriff, as he watched from the Royal Box.
To the gasp of the many hundreds of spectators, the Marker called that the final match would be shot at a distance of six score yards.

“My Lords!” He called. The upshot is: Tepus out! Clifton Out! Adam of Leslie out!”

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