The day progressed with torturous slowness. Little John's coughing had died down to a wheeze as if each breath he took was literally being squeezed out of his failing lungs. The sound itself was painful to hear. Robin could only hope that John wasn't aware of the pain.
The three friends, Marion, Tuck and Robin had kept a bedside vigil throughout the long day. After Tuck had made his prognosis that John was now in the hands of the Almighty, his considerable self-control finally snapped and he cried inconsolably. Marion cradled him in her arms, silent tears tracking down her face.
Robin had remained at John's side, dry-eyed. This was his best friend lying there and he was dying. It couldn't be! Not John. Robin just couldn't imagine life without him. With infinite tenderness, the most wanted man in England pushed a strand of blond hair off the big man's forehead and, lowering his head gently placed a kiss there. "I will be back, my friend. Don't you dare die, John Little. I will bring help. I swear."
With that, Robin slipped from the hut into the chilled night. He looked skyward and the host of stars twinkling their light above him. One star in particular seemed to stand out, its rays more brilliant than all the others. The Star of Bethlehem, Robin thought to himself, reminding him that the most holy day of Christmas was only three days away.
End of Part Two
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