Part 13 & 14 / Part 15 & 16 / Part 17& 18
As dusk fell, Lord Drake as Robin to take a walk with him. So the two men strolled over the bridge and into the woods behind the compound, that were still sheltered from the outside world. "I can see that you're excited to be home, son," the Earl commented, as he stopped walking to gaze at the young man.
A smile lit up Robin's face. He was too happy to describe. He spread his arms to gesture about him. "This is my world, Father," he replied. "It's where I belong."
"What about me...and Johanna, Robin?" Lord Drake countered, softly. His eyes reflected both joy and sadness. "Where do we fit in?"
"From the moment we met you became a part of my life," Robin said sincerely. "I love you both, more than I can express. I have a mission while King Richard is away, to protect his lands and his people. It keeps me busy, but I promise that I will always find time for you, father. For you and....Johanna."
Lord Drake nodded, knowing that Robin was sincere, but also knowing that it would not be enough for his daughter. She was desperately in love with this young man, and the Earl believed that Robin loved her too. He just needed some time to be with her, without outside interference. And without Marion around. "I need to return home," Lord Drake replied. "I would like it if you could spare the time to ride with us. It would give us all a chance to say goodbye. Especially if you would be willing to spend the night, Robin. I know that Johanna would like that. And so would I."
Robin considered Lord Drake's request. He had been away from Sherwood for so long, or so it seemed, yet at the same time he felt honor bound to accept the Earl's invitation. He owed him that much. "I would be happy to escort you home, father," Robin replied. He smiled at the other man, then opened his arms.
"Thank you, son," Lord Drake whispered, as he embraced Robin. "Thank you." For now the first part of his plan had been set in motion.
At dawn the next morning, Robin, Lord Drake and Johanna left Sherwood. Robin promised his friends that he would return in three days. It would be a day's ride to Lord Drake's keep. He would spend a day with them. Then a day's ride back home. Everyone in Sherwood gathered to wave the trio off. Robin looked back to smile at Marion and wave, before heading out the gate.
The day was bright and warm and Robin was happy. He chatted gaily with Lord Drake and Johanna, and the time passed by swiftly, with no mishaps or danger to be found. It was just past dusk when they arrived at the keep, and Lord Drake ordered a meal prepared, while he and his children rested. Everyone went to their rooms for a quick nap, then arose to bathe and dress.
The meal was a delight. Good food, good wine and excellent company. After dessert of berries and cream, Lord Drake called for his musicians and he smiled as he watched Robin and Johanna dance about the room. They made for a beautiful couple and the Earl was certain that they belonged together. And Robin would come to realize that as well, given time.
It was past midnight when Robin begged for a respite. "I must have drank too much wine," he confessed, for the room was spinning about him. He staggered on his feet and would have fallen had Lord Drake not caught his arm. "I'm sorry," Robin apologized, pressing one hand to his head. But that was the last he spoke, for darkness closed over him and dragged him into it's velvet depths.
"Robin!" Johanna shouted, as she watched her father lift the young man into his arms.
"He'll be fine, my dear," Lord Drake told her, as he laid Robin down on the settee. He smoothed sable hair from the handsome face, then turned to face his daughter. "I drugged his wine," the Earl explained.
Johanna was stunned. "What? Why?"
Lord Drake sighed. "Robin belongs with us, my darling. But he's confused right now. We need to go away with him for a while. To the hamlet in Dervonshire."
"But...it's a deserted Keep, Father," Johanna protested.
"Yes," the Earl replied. "And one that no one knows of but us. No one will find Robin there. Do you understand?"
Johanna nodded. She was frightened by what they were doing, but determined to see it through. "Robin will be angry when he wakes up," she whispered.
Lord Drake nodded. "I know, but I'll take full responsibility." He smiled at his beautiful daughter, then nudged her. "Go to your room and pack, swiftly. The carriage is waiting and we'll head out within the hour. We'll reach Dervonshire by midday."
"What about Robin?" Johanna asked, even as she glided towards the doorway. "Will he sleep that long?"
"He should," Lord Drake allowed. "But I'll bind him to be sure. Now hurry!" He watched his daughter run off, then turned to face the man called Robin Hood. "Forgive me my deception, son. But it's for the best. Trust me. We do belong together, Robin. You did your time in Sherwood. You've given enough of yourself to the people, and to King Richard. It's time to think of yourself." With that Lord Drake bent his head to brush a kiss to Robin's forehead. Then he rose to his feet and clapped his hands for servents to come and carry Robin to the carriage.
They were several hours from Dervonshire when Robin began to stir. Johanna panicked, but Lord Drake was prepared. Since Robin was still groggy, it was a simple matter to get him to swallow some tea that was laced with the drugs to keep him unconscious. "Just a little longer, Robin," the Earl whispered, as he watched his daughter comb her fingers through the sable hair. "Soon we'll all be home."
It wasn’t long until the carriage pulled up outside the Keep. Lord Drake surveyed the outside with its vines and cobwebs. "This is going to take some work to pull this place together" he thought. He also thought how glad he was that he brought a full staff of servants to clean and prepare things for his family. He stood carefully, moving Robins limp arm off of his lap and looking down thought how peaceful he looked sleeping with his head on Johanna's lap,
"He will make a fine son-in-law" allowing his thoughts to continue. Then the liveryman opened the door and assisted Lord Drake down on the uneven ground.
"Please, carefully carry my son to the room in the west tower taking care not to hurt him" Lord Drake instructed. The two servants who stood outside nodded and entered the carriage carefully removing Robin and carrying him through the front door to the keep.
Johanna ran after them concerned for Robins safety as Lord Drake watched realizing just how much his daughter loved this young man. He nodded mumbling "Yes, I have done the right thing".
It was obvious that Lord Drake had the foresight to send to riders ahead of the carriage and make up beds and clean rooms that they would be requiring the first night of their arrival. Johanna sat by Robins bed side watching his dark sable hair flow over the clean white pillows and his lips part as he drew in deep steady breaths as he slept. She gently leaned forward and pressed her lips shyly to his hesitating for just a moment before pulling away.
"Please don’t hate us for what my father has done" she whispered to the still unconscious Robin.
"He wont daughter, I assure you. When he awakens he will be a bit confused and maybe angry at first, but hate will never enter his mind. It is not in his nature", Lord Drake said quietly to Johanna as he leaned in the doorway,
"Now go and get some sleep. It is nearly dawn and it is certain Robin will sleep the rest of the night. We gave him quite a heavy dose in that tea".
"And it will not harm him" Johanna asked more to be reassured herself.
"He'll be fine-now run along and get your beauty sleep" his father beckoned with his hand.
Johanna rose from the stool and extinguished the candle walking to her father and touching his arm smiled in gratitude knowing he had done all of this for her. Lord Drake closed over the door and instructed the guard outside his door not to open it unless absolutely necessary and that they would return in the morning.
The sun was well into the sky by the time Robin slowly opened his eyes. His head felt as if filled with cotton and his mouth was as dry as the desert. He raised his head slowly and found it ached as if he had been in a fight. Slowly he swung his legs over the side of the pallet and stared into the room unable to get his eyes to adjust to the light. He reached up his hand and dug into them for a few seconds and stared back out as the haze slowly dissipated leaving him more confused than before.
"Where am I" he asked himself as he sat alone in a small room. He rose holding onto the small chest of drawers next to the pallet and holding his forehead as if to hold off the ache in his head, he slowly made his way to the narrow window at the side of where he slept. He looked out onto a foreign land realizing he was many stories up...in a tower!
"What happened"? he questioned himself realizing that there was no one there to answer. Deciding to go out and make inquiries he took a couple of steps forward but the pain in his head was too much to bear so he allowed himself to slump back onto the bed. He lay on his back, eyes closed trying to remember the events of the night before when he heard the door slowly open and Johanna's soft voice whisper, "See father-he still sleeps. You drugged his tea too heavily"
The concern was obvious to Robin, yet so totally confusing to his already cloudy mind. He lay still listening for Lord Drakes response. "I am sure I followed the directions I was given, perhaps he was just in a weakened state at the time I administered them. Come Johanna, let him sleep it off" Robin heard Lord Drake return. Then the door slowly creaked closed and he could hear a key turning in the lock.
He slowly opened his eyes stunned by what he had just heard. "Why have they done this"? he asked himself oblivious to his fathers motives, "Have I done something to anger him"? Again, now feeling tightness constrict his dry mouth, he rose from the pallet and made his way to the door gently pulling on the handle. It was locked. Turning he returned to his pallet and sat on the edge holding his throbbing head in his hands. As he closed his eyes he got a clear picture of Johanna in his mind, eyes gazing into his, always touching his arm or his hand. And that morning in the garden.
"Oh my God, she loves me." Robin blurted out sitting bolt upright on the pallet, "No…Lord Drake wouldn’t think of holding me here against my will for Johanna's sake...would he"? Again he rose to his feet and walking to the door banged on it from his side.
"Yes, Mi Lord"? he heard a mans voice from the outside.
"I will be needing to talk to Lord Drake immediately" Robin demanded in a very impatient voice.
"Yes, Mi Lord, as you wish" and he could hear foot steps leaving the door. Desperately Robin glanced around the room to see if there was anything he could use to pick a lock as all of his weapons had been alleviated from him. All that was in the room was the pallet, a wooden chest of drawers, and a wooden candle holder. Nothing suitable was held within. He turned and returned to the pallet awaiting the guards return with Lord Drake.
As he sat there he thought of Marion and how he had only seen her for such a brief period yesterday. He thought of how as he held her against him he could feel her soft hair against his face and how the smell of honeysuckle rose to delight his senses. Lord how he missed her and he knew how he would have to make Lord Drake and Lady Johanna realize this. He knew at heart they were good people and it wouldn’t be too hard to convince them that his heart remains in Sherwood.
Again his head throbbed and he held his palms to his temples to alleviate some of the pain. It was at this point that the door swung open and Johanna entered first seeing Robin in pain.
"Oh Father...look what we have done" she said rushing to his side.
"I am fine-just some after effects" Robin replied standing and moving by the window. Johanna looked up at him with pain in her eyes from his rejection.
"Father...why are you doing this"? Robin pleaded.
"Son, I know you are going to have a hard time with this, but you belong with us...not in Sherwood Forest. You have given so many years of your life to help others - now it is time for you to make not only Johanna and I happy but to make yourself happy too" Lord Drake responded as if it were a matter of fact.
Robin closed his eyes in realization as to what had transpired. They were not trying to hurt him, but in his mind he was trying to help him.
"Father. I have to explain some things to you. But I feel it better if we talk man-to-man. Would you mind it if we sent Johanna away"? Robin beseeched Lord Drake.
"Johanna, go and prepare Robin some breakfast and bring it up" Lord Drake said giving Johanna a firm glance.
Johanna looked back at Robin as if to plead for his love and acceptance, then swishing her skirts around headed out the door.
"What is it son" Lord Drake asked calmly.
"How should I put this" Robin began slowly, "I love you and Johanna as a father and sister and always will. But that is my point father, I love her as a sister...not a wife"
'This will change in time" Lord Drake countered without changing the tone in his voice.
"No...Father..."Robins voice sounded a bit tenser. "I do not love her that way. I...I love someone else that way"
"I know who you think you love, but you don’t" again Lord Drakes voice was calm to the point annoyance.
"Father" Robin countered, "I have loved Marion since we were small children. It has always been my destiny to be with this woman"
'I don’t think Johanna could live through loosing you" Lord Drake replied looking Robin directly in the eyes.
Robin closed his eyes to Lord Drakes gaze..."But she wont be loosing me. I will always be her brother"
"But her love reaches far beyond brotherhood. Have you missed that look in her eyes? have you not seen how she cannot survive without you"? Lord Drake swung around hissing at Robin.
"I have seen that look, but in the eyes of Marion" Robin jetted back at Lord Drake.
"These feelings will...change...after you have been here a while" Lord Drake regained that almost monotone voice, "Johanna will be bringing you up your meal shortly" and with that he turned on his heel and exited the room. "Great" Robin sighed leaning back on the pallet, "I have got to find a way to get word to Tuck, Little John and Marion".
Back in Sherwood, Marion was oblivious to Robins plight as he was not due to return home until tomorrow night but deep down she knew something was not quite right. She approached Tuck and sat down next to him looking directly into his eyes but saying nothing.
"Marion, after all these years I know when you have something on your mind" Tuck stated with exasperation.
"Its very hard to explain" Marion sighed looking away from Tuck in retaliation to his comment.
"Try" Tuck said taking Marion’s hand in his.
"I cant explain why, but I know Robin is in some sort of trouble" Marion replied turning her shoulders away from the Friar in embarrassment.
"Why do you say that" Tuck responded never totally doubting Marion’s "feelings" as they have proved to be right on many occasions.
"I don’t know, I just had this feeling of impending doom totally wash over me" Marion said blankly.
"Saddle the horses, we ride to Lord Drakes castle" Tuck said leaping to his feet.
This totally surprised Marion as Tuck never gives the orders, let alone act on Marion’s feelings.
"Why? What’s up"? Marion exclaimed.
"I had those same feelings...get Little John, we ride within the hour" ordered the Friar.
Marion did as she was told partly out of surprise at Tuck ordering anyone around and partly because it is what she truly desired as well.
End of Part 16
Part 13 & 14 / Part 15 & 16 / Part 17& 18
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