The day in Sherwood Forest was nothing special. It was very early in the morning. Robin was in his hut and put some things into his saddlebags because he wanted to hand out the captured gold to the poor in a village near the forest. When he was ready he planed to go out in the forest to watch the animals and perhaps to fish or to hunt. For a long time the hero of the oppressed, poor and outlaws didn't have any free minute and after all the strain during the last weeks he really needed some time for himself.
"Can I help you?" Suddenly Marion was standing in the entrance of the hut. With her the sunlight coming in through the door. Although she looked still a little bit sleepy in her eyes you could see a glimmer lighting hers when she saw this beautiful man.
"No, thanks. But you can come with me to the village later. We must bring the hard-earned money to the people. Luke Dale died last week and he left a sick woman with five children. They will need the money more than those enslaving Norman’s"
Robin was happy, too, to see Marion. Since he lost his father and his castle there hasn't been much he could look forward to. Many nights he lay awake in his bed staring at the ceiling in the warm light of a candle. Often he asked himself why he wasn’t brave enough to confess his feelings to Marion for her. Sometimes he really hated himself to be so cowardly in this simple thing.
Everyday he risked his life for people he didn't even know to support themselveds in their fight for survive and against the disgusting soldiers of Prince John. So why the hell didn't he manage something easy like saying some simple words? But sometimes words don't come easy. He loved her really but he wasn't sure if he could give a woman like Marion what she expected. But he never wasted a thought that the only thing that she wanted was him. But on such a beautiful day he didn't want to spend a thought on those emotional things. For the sun was shining too brightly on the velvet blue sky.
"Ok. I'm coming with you. Shall I wake up Tuck and Little John?" Her secret wish that Robin would refuse was fulfilling at once.
"Just let those lazy-bones stay in their beds. They won’t miss something special.
We'll only hand out the money to the people who it belongs to. Tuck and Little
John did it dozens of times yet. They shall have themselves a good time."
Robin Hood put his saddlebags over his shoulder and went to the horses. Marion followed him. After a little while the horses had been saddled, the baggage was stowed away and Robin and Marion were on their way to the village near Sherwood's edge. They talked hardly because they didn't want to disturb the silence of this lovely morning. They enjoyed to ride through the fresh morning air and to listen the birds singing from the treetops.
When they reached the village there was a bustle as always. The traders offered their wares loudly at the market, from the bakeries came the smell of fresh bread and from the inn you could hear the sound of a scuffle. Nothing special was about this morning but a strange feeling was in the air. Nobody was disturbed by this neither Robin nor Marion nor anybody else. Everybody was cheerful as a newborn baby child.
First they went to the Dales. When Robin and Marion arrived there they had a big welcome. Robin did always have a big attraction to children and so it was no wonder that he was soon surrounded by the five Dales. A grin came to Marion's face. She always imagined secretly what it would be like to have children with this man she loved from childhood on. What a wonderful daddy he would be!
They couldn't stay for a long time because Robin wanted to do what he had planned for the day. They gave the widow Dale a large amount of money, which would feed the family for weeks. As Marion Fitzwalter and Robert of Locksley left the house they were thanked gratefully and they were told they are welcome every time.
Robin and Marion went on trough the village. The stopped here and there and at the end it was Robin who suggested to stop at the inn for a drink and something to eat despite his plans. Both left the compound with an empty stomach and it was near noon now. Marion consented at once. They had hardly sat as the door opened and Friar Tuck and Little John entered the taproom. For a short while they looked around searching but they found what they were looking for soon. They sat down at Robin and Marion's table.
"Good morning!" Friar Tuck opened another day together. You could notice that he was glad to find them both secure. He could never deny the feeling that these two young persons would always be in danger even when they were lying in their huts and slept at night. He loved Marion, Robin and Little John like his brothers.
Little John seemed to be a little bit angry because this colossus of a man stood behind the friar his arms crossed in front of his mighty chest. His eyes were blinking cheerfully but there was an offended shadow on his rugged face with tender lines. Then suddenly he thundered:
"Why the hell did you leave me in the compound? Don't you want to have me with you anymore?"
Robin started laughing hearty: "Why do you have such stupid thoughts and why do you think we don't want to have you with us anymore? We are all lucky that such a huge and strong man as you deals with people as the ones of Robin Hood. We just wanted you to stay in the land of dreams a little bit longer."
"This wouldn’t have been necessary at all. I love to get up early in the morning. But you can use those excuses. YOU had your fun!" said Little John still sulking as a small child.
"What kind of fun do you mean? There were no soldiers to beat up if you think of this. We only divided Prince Johns cash better. That's all!"
When Little John heard that his face brightened clearly. He hated Prince John and all his Norman lords with their soldiers more than anything else on this world and small parts of his anger he could extinguish with scuffles with the soldiers of the prince. John Little might have been frightening when people saw him but he had a heart of Gold of a celebrity that it was enough for two men who were so giantly as him. He was even a tender giant and just because of this he was beloved by all persons who knew him except those soldiers of course who once felt the force of a punch of Little Johns'.
Now the four sat there eating and drinking when suddenly a big noise came through the wall. Robin, Marion, Friar Tuck and Little John ran out of the inn to see what was going on. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw a real army of Prince John's soldiers raging through the streets and alleys leaving a breakthrough of destruction. The four outlaws of Sherwood Forest didn't hesitate even a second and put up resistance. A fight of life and death started. In this little village in the heart of England it happened as on a battlefield in front of Jerusalem where beloved King Richard was on a crusade. Screaming women, children and men were running through the streets and hardly one of them dared to fight the soldiers because they were nothing more than traders and farmers. They were not warriors.
But even Robin and his companions had difficulties to handle their assailants. Each of them was surrounded by at least five paid soldiers. Robin was their favorite. Most of them fought him. There was something strange about this attack of the soldiers because when they saw Robin Hood and his men they lost every interest on the rest of the village. They were only attacking the four outlaws. Usually Prince John sent his soldiers to villages to bring in the overdue taxes, violent if necessary. This time nothing like that happened hinting at all. The men of the prince didn't show any interest in it.
The battle went on a long time through and most of the soldiers still have been injured, knocked out or, if there was no other possibility, dead. But the energy of Robin and his friends got lower too. That's why no one realized in the heat of the struggle that an army of bowmen arrived at the village - and they did what they had to do. An amazing volley of arrows flew through the stuffy air. It was too late when Robin recognized the threatening danger.
One arrow hit his shoulder, the other one the chest near Robin’s heart. He fell down on the ground. Little John and the others saw what had happened at once. They ran to their seriously injured friend and John lifted him up with his mighty arms as if he would have lifted up a feather. Not a thought for their own safety they ran as fast as they could to their horses. As the soldiers noticed that their rivals were trying to escape they got on their riding-horses and followed them in a wild gallop. Now a race against time had begun. John's horse was heavy overweight but they had to get away into the protecting depths of Sherwood Forest.
They had their effort and distress to get back into the forest before the soldiers caught up to them. When they finally got into the woods the soldiers were only one horse-length away. But now deep in the sheltering trees they were safe from the soldiers because the superstition was still holding amongst them that Sherwood was haunted.
The three friends never slowed down after they shook off their pursuers. Their only thoughts were with Robin. They only wanted to bring him back to the compound to be able to care for him. During the silent riding Marion's eyes got wet. Was it now too late to confess to Robin her feelings? An unbelievable hate grew up inside of her. But she suppressed it. Now she didn't want anything else than helping Robert of Locksley - Robin Hood. Friar Tuck's and Little John's feelings weren't so different.
The gate of green fin-branches that masked the entrance to the compound opened when the sentinel sounded the signal. From far he realized that something was wrong because he only saw three riders coming to the compound. One was apart and he foresaw who it was. Little John with Robin on his horse, Friar Tuck and in front of them all Marion rode into the compound at a speed as if the dogs of the Sheriff of Nottingham would have been behind them. All the inhabitants saw that their leader and friend hang over Little John's horse, bad injured. Not one of them dared to move. The shock was deep inside them. Although nobody could see how bad the situation was for real but the hurry of Robin's nearest confidentials made them suppose the worst.
Little John carried Robin into his hut and laid him down on his bed. The lifeless body was flayed of the hurried ride and he seemed to be bathed in a mixture of cold sweat and blood. Tears rose up in Little John's eyes when he saw his friend like this. He didn't want to lose this man who had done so much good for the people of England and Little John himself. He'd rather give his own life for him.
From outside you could hear hurry steps coming nearer. Almost in the same moment Tuck and Marion stood in Robins hut, covered with herbs, clear clothe strips, different ointment pots and some other things he needed for the treatment of his patient. John was startled when he saw even a little sadness in his eyes. But he trusted in Tuck and so he didn't dare say anything.
"Come on. We must take his clothes off. But be careful, especially with the places where the arrows are inside. Don't shake them because they could cause even more damage. Then rub him down with water and wash him thorough!" Tuck's instructions had been obeyed as he spoke them out. Now three figures with pale faces moved around a man off whose chest two deadly projectiles stood out. They did their work very well and first of all quickly. From this moment on every minute counted that passed by. All of them knew that but none dared to speak it out.
After Robin had been washed and his clothes taken off, Friar Tuck went to examine the wound. When he was ready he sighed out:
"I'm afraid I can't help him."
"What do you mean?" Little John and Marion queried terrified as if out of one mouth.
"Like I said. My medical abilities aren't enough for something like this. I could destroy more than heal. We need help, quick, very quick. If we don't get it, Robin will die."
The three friends looked down on the ground. "Who could help him if not you?" Marion was near to despair. "Marion stay with Robin and cared for him. Keep him warm and cover his wounds around the arrows with clean cloth strips. But be careful not to touch them. Little John and I will get the help Robin needs now."
With this Friar Tuck left the hut with Little John behind him. Marion watched them going and wanted to go with them but she didn't want to delay Robin's rescue any way because she knew that she was better qualified for this kind of work than Little John.
Outside the hut Little John looked at Friar Tucks questioning eyes. Tuck look up at him and began to tell.
End of Chapter One