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Robin Hood in Gotham ~ adapted from an English Folktale

Robin Hood was as good of a man,

As Wicked Prince John was Bad.

He lived in the woods with his merry merry men.

Oh what marvelous adventures he had.

What marvelous adventures he had.

Robin Hood could fool any one.

His disguises were the best in the land.

And the pranks that he played were as skillful as could be.

They were always more than Prince John could stand.

They were always more than Prince John could stand.

A long time ago, near Sherwood Forest, there was a village called Gotham. It was a very small village and the people liked it that way.

For in that village, people only worked in the morning. All afternoon, they could play.

The farmer only worked half the day to grow all the food the village needed. The rest of the day, the farmer played.

The baker only baked half the day to make all the bread, cookies, and cakes the village needed. The rest of the day, the baker played.

The tailor only sewed half the day to make all the clothing the village needed. The rest of the day, the tailor played.

Yes, the people of Gotham enjoyed living in such a small village. Would you?

Then one day, the village received a message from Prince John. The village elder called all the people together and read the letter:

Everyone was upset. It would be bad enough having Prince John as a neighbor, but they knew Prince John wouldn't live there alone. He would bring his servants and his friends and his soldiers. Then Gotham wouldn't be a small village any more.

The farmer would have to work all day to grow all the food the prince would need. There would be no time to play.

The baker would have to bake all day to make all the bread, cookies, and cakes the prince would need. There would be no time to play.

The tailor would have to sew all day to make all the clothing the prince would need. There would be no time to play.

The village elder said, "There is nothing we can do to stop Prince John. If we tell him not to come, he'll be angry and put us all in jail. If we try to fight, his army will crush us. If we built a wall around the village, we'd never be able to leave again. And I certainly do not want to leave my home and all my things to start another village some where else. So. What shall we do?"

The people called out in one voice. "Send for Robin Hood." That's just what they did.

When Robin Hood came into the village, he was laughing. The Elder was offended. "Robin Hood, do you think that this is funny? How would you like it if Prince John built his lodge in your forest?"

Robin replied, "I'm not laughing at your plight. I'm laughing at my solution. Just do as I say and Prince John will never stay."

Next morning, Prince John came riding across the field toward Gotham. There he saw five women crying. Robin Hood was disguised one of the women, but Prince John couldn't tell.

He called, "Women, what is all your crying about?"

Robin answered in a very high voice, "Five of us came out to pick flowers. When we were finished, I could only find four women. Look."

Robin counted the four other women. "One, two, there, four." He didn't count himself. "See! There are only four of us."

Each of the women counted the others. None of them counted themselves.

Prince John started laughing. "What fools you are. You forgot to count yourselves. Look." He pointed to each of the women and Robin. "One, two, there, four, five! There are five silly flower picking woman."

Robin Hood and the women cried out, "Oh, thank you, Prince John. You found our lost friend. You're our Hero!"

Prince John could only shake his head. "Such foolish women. I hope all of Gotham is not so crazy."

As Prince John rode towards the village, Robin Hood ran. By the time the prince reached the bridge at the edge of Gotham, Robin had changed his disguise, from a woman to a fisherman and had jumped into the stream with two other men.

Prince John looked down into the stream and saw the three men hard at work with a fishing net. He thought, ´┐ŻNow there's some clever men. Look how well they work together. He called to them, "What are you fishing for, good men?"

Robin Hood replied, "No fish at all good sire. We're trying to rescue the sun. It seems to have fallen in the water." Robin pointed to the image of the sun on the stream.

Prince John couldn't believe what he heard. "Don't be fools! That's not the sun. It's just a reflection. The sun is up there in the sky."

The men cried out, "Oh, thank you, Prince John. You've saved the sun. You're our Hero!"

Prince John looked stern. "Now there are foolish men to go with the foolish women. All of Gotham had best not be so crazy."

Prince John rode on towards the village. Robin Hood climbed out of the stream, dropped his wet costume, put on a black beard and some dry clothes. By the time the prince reached the first house, Robin was there with two other men trying to lift a donkey up onto a tree.

The prince was surprised. "What in the world are you men doing with that donkey?"

Robin answered in his deepest voice. "We're trying to trim some dead branches off this tree, your grace."

"What does a donkey have to do with triming trees?"

The men replied, "The donkey carries our tools, your grace. If we don't have our tools, how can we work?"

Prince John's face became red. "Just take the tools off the donkey and carry them up the tree yourselves!"

The men looked at the prince with wonder in their faces. "Oh, Prince John! You're so smart!"

"Anyone is smart compared to the three of you." And he rode off in a huff.

Robin pulled off his black beard and put on a white one. Then he threw on an old cloak and ran behind the house to the next street, just as Prince John rode up.

The prince was met by two old men, who were jumping up and down on their boots. Prince John called to them, "You there! What are you two trying to do? Did your boots offend you?"

Robin answered in his best old man voice. "Oh no, your majesty. The boots have not offended us. We're just trying to put them on. We heard you coming and thought it would be best to greet you with our boots on. Only the foolish things are being very difficult this morning."

Prince John was getting angry. "You nitwits! Just pull them on one at a time. They'll go on easy enough then."

Robin pretended to be amazed. "Your majesty, you are so wise. If we had only known about this we could have met you hours ago."

Prince John screamed, "You fools! I wasn't even here hours ago. "

Off he rode and off came Robin's disguise. On went a white wig and a flowered dress. As quick as a wink, Robin was at his next stop and no one could have told he was not an old woman.

When Prince John turned into the next lane he saw two old women with a pot of boiling water. They were trying to force the water down the throats of some chickens.

"What! What are you doing to those hens?"

Robin answered in his best old woman voice. "Oh! It's Prince John. And we haven't gotten the chickens to lay the hard boiled eggs yet. We're sorry, your lordship. We had hoped to serve you some nice hard boiled eggs during your visit to our fair village."

"Fair Village!" The prince could hardly contain his rage. "You mean foolish village. Everyone here is an idiot. You'll kill those chickens pouring boiling water in them like that. Then you'll never get them to lay eggs."

Robin smiled. "Oh, that's what happened to all the other hens. You are so smart, Prince John."

Prince John roared. "I suspect you'd think anyone was smart. This village is full of noodle heads. Where is the village elder? I want to see him Now!"

Robin gave the prince a silly grin. "Oh, I think he's at the church. The preacher is giving a sermon today."

Prince John snarled. "On what fools he has for a congregation, I'm sure." Then off he rode for the church.

Robin didn't waste a minute. He was out of the wig and the dress and into a monk's robe. Then off he went to the church, before Prince John could get off his horse.

When Prince John stepped into the church, he began to calm down. Everyone was quiet. He thought, 'Now this is where I'll find the sound minds of the village. They probably come here to pray for the numskulls outside.'

Then Robin began to speak. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall."

The people in the church repeated after Robin. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall."

"Humpty Dumpty had a great fall."

"Humpty Dumpty had a great fall."

"All the king's horses and all the kings men,"

"All the king's horses and all the kings men,"

"Couldn't put Humpty together again."

"Couldn't put Humpty together again."

Prince John could stand no more. "They're all idiots! Everyone here is an idiot! I've got to get out of here."

He ran out of the church and jumped on his horse, but before the horse took its first step, Robin was gone.

As Prince John entered the fields on the edge of the village, he saw all of the children hard at work.

Robin Hood was there on his knees looking like nothing but another child.

The prince began to smile. Ah! Now I understand. While those nitwited adults diddle their lives away, the children work. Perhaps there is hope for this village yet.'

He called to the children. "Hey! Young farmers. What are you planting today?"

Robin answered, "Toys."

"Toys!" roared Prince John. "Why are you planting your toys?"

"To grow toy trees, of course. Why else?"

Prince John was in a rage. "Toy Trees! Toy Trees! I Can't Stand Any More Of This Nonsense! I'm getting out of here before I go crazy."

That was the last anyone saw of Prince John in the village of Gotham.

That evening, the villagers held a feast for Robin Hood. They asked him for a speech. He said, "I had so much fun playing jokes with you today, I think I'll come here every year."

So it was and so it is. Every year on Aprilst, people of Gotham celebrate by playing jokes on each other. We call it: April Fools! Now you know why.

The End

Papa Joe  ~  Telling Tales


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