"I will keep my promise," said the King, in a deep voice that showed the anger in his heart, "but when these forty days are gone let this outlaw look to himself, for mayhap things will not go so smoothly with him as he would like." Then he turned to his archers, who stood near the Sherwood yeomen, listening and wondering at all that passed.
Then the three archers of the King turned and went back to their booths, and Robin and his men went to their places at the mark from which they were to shoot.
But when the King's archers went to their tents, they told their friends all that had passed, and how that these four men were the famous Robin Hood and three of his band, to wit, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Allan a Dale.
Quoth the King grimly, to the Queen, "If thy archers shoot no better than that, thou art like to lose thy wager, lady." But Queen Eleanor smiled, for she looked for better things from Robin Hood and Little John.
"I make my vow, thou art one of the best archers that ever mine eyes beheld.
All saw that the King's archers were fairly beaten, and stout Gilbert clapped his palm to Robin's, owning that he could never hope to draw such a bowstring as Robin Hood or Little John.
These shall be delivered to thee whensoever thou dost list." Then he called upon the other seven of the King's archers who had last shot, and gave each fourscore silver pennies.
Then the judges came forward again, and looking at the targets, called aloud the names of the archer chosen as the best bowman of each band.
After the King had gone, all the yeomen of the archer guard came crowding around Robin, and Little John, and Will, and Allan, to snatch a look at these famous fellows from the mid-country; and with them came many that had been onlookers at the sport, for the same purpose.
Thus said all the King's archers, and the hand of good-fellowship was given amid much shouting and clapping on the shoulder-blades.
First came the royal purple streamer of Tepus, own bow-bearer to the King, and esteemed the finest archer in all the land.
At the bidding of the King, the herald announced that the open target was to be shot at, to decide the title of the best archer in all England; and any man there present was privileged to try for it.