Part 1 & 2 / Part 3 & 4 / Part 5 & 6
Robin tried to rest as the good doctor had ordered, but his sleep was filled with dreams that troubled him. Voices calling his name. Only it wasn't *Matthew* and he couldn't hear clearly what it was. That, alone, frustrated him. So Robin dressed then left his chamber. He decided that a walk in the garden would do him a world of good. It was just dawn and all the world seemed to be coming alive.
The scent of Jasmine beckoned to Robin, and he followed the curving path till he reached the fountain. It was in the shape of Lion and was part of Lord Drake's family crest. Robin held out one hand, letting the water trickle over it, then he turned to a nearby rose bush and plucked a pink bloom. He brought it to his nose and inhaled its heady scent. A smile curved his lips at a sudden flash of memory. A beautiful young girl, dancing in a garden with a young boy. Robin frowned as the girl held out a parchment, but before the memory could continue, he heard a voice whisper his name.
Robin turned to see Johanna smiling at him. He smiled back. "What are you doing up so early?" he chided her.
"I could ask you the same," she replied, moving to his side. Johanna was worried, for Matthew looked pale. "You should be in bed," she told him.
"I'm tired of resting," Robin teased. "I needed some fresh air." He took Johanna's hand and led her over to the fountain. "So..tell me, sister. Why are you up and about?"
Johanna sighed. "Couldn't sleep," she confessed, a sad light glimmering in her eyes. "I guess I'm preoccupied."
Robin was concerned. "Is something wrong? Can I help?" His desire was sincere, for Johanna was a sweet woman and he wanted her to be happy.
"I wish I knew what it was that troubled me," Johanna confessed, feeling warmed by Matthew's concern. She studied him intently for he was such a beautiful young man. It was as if God had created him for a woman's pleasure, for he was truly a feast for the eyes. And he had a beautiful soul as well. Not to mention the fact that he was strong and brave, and could protect the woman who was lucky enough to win his heart. Johanna wondered if such a woman were waiting for Matthew, somewhere in his past. A past he could not remember. "To be honest, I've been thinking about the future," Johanna said softly.
"What about it?" Robin prompted.
Johanna shook her head. "Nothing specific...I guess. I just wonder what it is I really want from life."
Robin smiled. " Ahhhh....One of life's most difficult of questions to find an answer to," he allowed. "Whatever you do, make sure you follow your heart. Wherever it may lead you."
"You say that as if you know of what you speak, Matthew," Johanna countered, her eyes locking with his and searching deep. She wanted to read his heart, to know his feelings towards her. For her feelings towards him were not exactly...sisterly.
"Perhaps I was a philosopher?" Robin offered, teasingly. He loved the sound of Johanna's laughter, it was like a silvery melody.
She thumped Matthew on the arm. "You look nothing like a philosopher," Johanna protested. "They're old and prudish, with prune faces and thinning hair." Reaching out with one hand, Johanna let her fingers glide through Matthew's sable mane. The thick strands felt like cool silk. She had never seen anything more beautiful. "I love your hair," Johanna whispered.
Robin heard the passion in her voice and was embarrassed. He smiled then pulled back with a shrug. "It's so long....I should cut it," he countered, shaking the strands from his face. "It's always in my eyes when I fight. And everyone loves to tease me about it."
"What did you say?" Johanna countered, stifling a gasp of surprise as she realized that Matthew had spoken of his past as if he remembered it. "Who teases you?" she prompted.
"I....I don't know!" Robin whispered, as he too realized what he had said. He reached for the memory, but it alluded him. But, for a moment, he remembered a teasing voice, and himself with a white cloth around his neck, and someone saying that pretty soon he wouldn't be able to fight because he would be tripping over his hair. Frustration rushed over Robin and he jumped to his feet, feeling as if he wanted to run away from the chaos inside his head.
Johanna stood up as well, one hand reaching out to intertwine their fingers. She could see that Matthew was upset and she wished to calm him. "It's all right," she said softly, a smile curving her lips. "You will remember, Matthew. Just be patient."
He nodded. "I know...you're right," he allowed. Taking a deep breath, Robin exhaled slowly, then forced a smile. "Walk with me?" he requested, suddenly not wanting to be alone with his thoughts.
"I would love to," Johanna replied, and arm in arm they strolled the garden
Girard watched them from his bedroom window and he had never been more furious. Turning away he reached for his clothes and quickly dressed. Then he ran to the stable and ordered his horse saddled. Anger ripping at his insides, Girard headed into Baxtertown. He knew of a man there with a gift for seeing things. Perhaps, for the right price, he would be able to find out who Matthew really was. An outlaw, perhaps. A killer no doubt, given the way he had fought the mercenaries. Girard doubted that Johanna would be so enamored of a man who was a criminal. With that thought to cheer him, Girard spurred his horse into a gallop, kicking up a cloud of dust.
The sun was just creasing the dark sky as Lord Drake rose from his bed and went to the window. He yawned, stretched, and looked out over his lands realizing even at this early hour that it was going to be a beautiful day. How could it not be? His lovely daughter was preparing to marry into one of the finest families in all of England and his son...well his son is incapable of failing at anything. He now realized how capable 'Matthew' was at fighting, shooting a bow, handling a sword as well as dancing and charming a lady without even trying! He was tall, handsome, well-bred, well mannered, and modest. What more could a man ask for in a son!
Lord Drake paused and rubbed his eyes suddenly reflecting on the fact that 'Matthew' was not truly his son. Someday if his memory returned he might have to face loosing this young man and that was something he did not know if he was ready to bear. He smelled the fresh clean air and this helped to banish the troubling thoughts from his mind, at least for now. As he stared out on the garden, he noticed two people walking closely very intently talking about something. From this distance Lord Drake couldn’t make out who it was, so he decided to take a stroll downstairs and maybe even stop in the kitchen on the way to the garden and get a bite to eat.
As he approached the door leading out into the garden he reached over to a large wooden bowl on the kitchen counter and grabbed an apple but upon opening the door refrained from biting it lest he give himself away. The first voice he heard was unmistakable. It was the strong, deep, melodic voice of his son, 'Matthew'. So he just paused in the hall for a bit to see who he was talking to and about what.
"Johanna, it disturbs me constantly to think I may be placing you and your wonderful father in jeopardy" he was saying.
"Matthew, I cannot believe what you are thinking is true..." Johanna responded but Robin cut her off. "Every time I close my eyes to sleep I keep having very violent dreams. I am being chased by someone, fighting someone, KILLING someone. Why would I ever be doing that if I were not in some kind of trouble" Robin concluded.
"We live in troubled times, my brother" Johanna calmly returned.
"No, there is more to it than that. And if I am a wanted dangerous criminal, it would be just a matter of time before someone recognized me and that could put Father and you in grave danger" Robin's voice was very tense now and
Johanna was becoming alarmed by the look in his eyes. "Matthew, you saved Father's life yesterday almost loosing yours in the process ...how could you think you could intentionally hurt someone?" Johanna's eyes filled with tears that now streamed down her fair cheeks. Robin took her in his arms hugging her tight as she sobbed against his black satin shirt.
"Shhh" Robin rubbed her back with his large hands. "I didn’t mean to make you cry" He reached down and gently kissed the top of her head. Feeling his lips on her quickened her pulse to the point where she trembled from his touch.
"What is wrong with me"? she thought in desperation, "I'm to be married in a few weeks and all I can think of is my brother"?
"Your cold" Robin said putting his strong arm around her shoulders and leading her back up the path towards the kitchen door. "We'll go see if there is any tea made to warm you".
"Always thinking of others Matthew, thank you" she whispered as he lead her through the door.
Lord Drake heard them coming and backed into the hallway having heard everything said. He agreed with his daughter in his mind that 'Matthew' could only have come from something good and they had no reason for concern, but it would be only fair to the lad to know of his past, even if he couldn’t remember it. Allow him the freedom of choice if he wished to stay with them or return to the home he came from. For the first time, it occurred to Lord Drake that he might have family worried to death about him. He would dispatch riders to all of the neighboring towns to see if they could learn anything about his son that might shed light as to who he actually was. The Lord Drake would decide if it is something Matthew would want to hear.
A cool breeze greeted Girard as he rounded the corner into Baxtertown. He could smell fires burning cooking a host of items for the hungry traveler reminding him that he had yet to have anything this day. He searched out the local tavern and walked into its smoky, musty interior. Little light managed to make its way through the smoke-stained windows and candlelight was a precious commodity.
"What might I be gettin ya Mi Lord"? came a gravely voice from across the bar.
"A mug of ale and two eggs" Girard replied surveying the room, "have you seen Angus Mac Cloud"?
"Aye! In the corner sleeping off last nights gayety" came the response. Looking hard through the haze, Girard could make out a figure slumped against the wall snoring loudly. Grabbing his mug of ale from the bar he walked across the room studying the lines in the face of this aged man, and with little or no compassion, threw the ale into that face. Angus leaped up from his seat sputtering and spitting and rubbing his eyes looking out into the room to see where it had originated from.
When his blood-shot eyes focused on Girard he burst out laughing and coming around the table grabbed Girard and hugged him so tightly Girard was sure he had cracked ribs!
"Aye!! I should have known it was you! And as I only see you when you want something, what might it be now"? Angus croaked at his companion smoothing the silver hair from his weathered face. He was crudely dressed in what once was a white gauze shirt with brown pants both in desperate need of repair. He rubbed his stubby beard and walked towards the bar.
"I need you to help me find out some information," started Girard, "You will be well compensated"
"How much I will be requirin in pay depends on what you be needen to know" replied Angus with a devious smile.
"I need to know the true identity of a man staying with my betrothed" replied Girard.
"Ah...jealousy eh"? Angus laughed a wicked laugh, "that will be costing you more."
"He's lost his memory and I have to know who he is" replied Girard softly now staring at the floor.
And why must you know that" Angus asked in a rather disgusted voice.
"I must know who it is I have to hire someone to kill" Girard replied looking up quickly into Angus' eyes.
End of Part 6
Part 1 & 2 / Part 3 & 4 / Part 5 & 6
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