THE RETURN
By Paddy
Let the author know how well she did!
 
 

Chapter Four

During the following weeks Robin bloomed. Rachel decided to stay in the compound to care for the inhabitants together with Tuck. Robin smiled at nearly everyone and he recovered quickly from his injuries. And his relationship with Marion grew stronger and stronger. Although none was brave enough to confess his feelings to the other yet, this moment seemed to come closer with every hour.

Rachel became accustomed very well. Soon her presence was became as common as the other inhabitants. She listened to everyone as well as for Robin and Marion and she helped where she was needed. The years of loneliness didn't harm her. For almost the very first time she could say of herself that she was happy. She had everything she ever wanted: warmth, security, people who loved her and most of all she had her brother again. She really didn't miss anything.

But there was something that seemed to be strange to Robin. She never prayed with the other ones. Not once since she's been to the camp. In her hut there wasn’t any symbols of any Christianity. The precious thing she had was a little candle stand with seven arms. Robin had noticed it many times but it wasn't important to him to ask her about it. But one day he got inquisitive though. So he went to her hut where she dressed a little boy’s knee who gazed up during he was playing with his friends. When she was ready she turned to Robin.

"Hey, treating severely wounded ones?"

"Yes, it is really a serious injure at least within the eyes of a four year old. This little urchin is really a sweety. Some words to cheer up, some marigold ointment, a beautiful dressing and every pain is forgotten. I bet he is already romping around with his friends again." Rachel had to laugh.

"We are all very glad that you are here with us. But there is one thing I want to ask you. There's a pretty strange looking candle stand next to your bed. I've never seen something like that. What is it?" Rachel sighed.

To say the truth about that wasn't very easy in those times. But she believed in Robin's toleration and so she told him the truth.

"My uncle was a Jew. When I came to him I was grown up as Jew. I was christened but most of my life I was Jew and I have no reason to change something about that. It's a part of me just like my arms or my legs. What you asked for is a Menorah. It's the symbol of the Jewish and holy. But I don't know how Tuck would react if he knew. I prefer that he doesn't know it."

Robin nodded. He could understand her doubts very well. In some ways this so untypical monarch was even just a simple monarch. Robin didn't talk more about it because in fact it didn't mean anything to him. Instead of he suggested to go for a ride out in the forest. Rachel agreed at once. But first she wanted to visit a patient with a broken leg and had to stay in bed. Meanwhile Robin saddled the horses.

The day in the forest was most beautiful. The sun was shining far above the treetops and the birds sang their nicest songs. The air was clear and fresh. Rachel and Robin rode along for some time till they reached a clearing and dismounted. They were not far away from the compound and Robin thought that he really wanted to know more of his sister's past.

"You told me that you lived in a little hut near the compound, right? I really know this forest as well as my own hut but I just don't know where you could have lived. Would you show me?" He watched her askingly. And she has never been able to fight this true deep brown eyes.

"Alright. Let's go. It's not far away from here."

They walked along through the beautiful forest without hastiness. In a dense part of the forest there was a little hut veiled. It was as much inconspicuous that no one could have noticed it. Probably this was Olwyn's work. Rachel opened the door. It was dark inside the hut. Only a little sunray was coming through a small window. Next to the door stood a half-burned candle. Rachel inflamed it.

In the dusky light Robin, who stood behind her, could see a bed, a table with one chair and a small hearth. There wasn't any more furniture. On the walls hang some herbs and a wooden Star of David's. Rachel went to bring another chair. They sat down silently. Robin was shocked. He couldn't believe that a human being was able to live in such a shed for over four years. But in a strange way he admired Rachel for this. He needed movement and adventure. Maybe this was one difference between him and his sister. But sometimes he needed silence as well. He wasn't as strong as people thought he would have been. He was also only a human being with feelings and he was also vulnerable.

"I only wish I had found you earlier. I needed you. When you are thought to be a great hero, I'm sure I'm not one, you become lonely. Of course you have friends, good friends, but sometimes even those cannot give you what you need. Marion, Tuck and Little John are warriors for justice themselves and I'm afraid they can't understand my worries. My mind was always with you and I longed for you. I'm so glad that you are back and I thank the Almighty for it." A big tear was rolling down his still very pale cheek. Rachel enclosed him in her arms. She was happy to have her beloved brother back. Her family was back; her time of loneliness was over.

When they returned to the compound in the evening they were surrounded by children at once. Robin and Rachel seemed to be like a magnetic to them. Now they had to play with them. It was pure fun for the children and was all that mattered. When they sat round the campfire in the later evening the mood was on its top. Robin was more frolicsome, as he had never been before. He laughed and made his jokes. Marion was happy that he was so well. During the last years he always seemed to be a bit lonely and unhappy. He retired very often or meditated at his most loved place in the compound where he had gone so many times for this. Marion was absolutely sure that Rachel was the reason for Robin's blooming.

The evening was beautiful. The inhabitants sang, told stories and laughed about Prince John who would never be able to capture them. Robin sat between Marion and Rachel. Once when he looked to Rachel he noticed that she got very pale. Her skin was white. Now she had been living for four months with the outlaws of Sherwood Forest. But he had never seen once that she was so pale. He really got worried about her. But Rachel seemed not notice this at all. The only thing was that she was a little bit more quiet than usually.

Days and nights passed by and nothing special did happen. One morning Rachel didn't came out of her hut. Robin didn't matter about that. He was sure that she only wanted to sleep a little bit longer. Although they wanted to ride to a village to divide Prince John's money there among the people. Rachel would have cared for the sick persons and Robin would have given the money to the poor. So Robin decided to take Friar Tuck with him and Marion and Little John went to another village.

They returned in the evening to the compound. Robin wanted to go to Rachel at once but on his way Marion captured him who had returned together with Little John to the compound earlier. She looked very sad.

"Robin you must go to Rachel right now. She is very sick. That's why she didn't come with you today in the morning."

Robin's eyes got wide. Why didn't he look for Rachel today? Now he got his reward. As if someone was hunting him he ran towards the little hut on the edge of the camp. And what he saw there was his sister laying down fevered and deadly pale. He made reproaches to himself. How could he only have been so careless?

"Can you help her? What's wrong with her?" Robin queried.

"My friend, it really pains me that I've got no better news for you. But I can't help Rachel and I don't know what's wrong with her. Now I only see one more chance...."

"Olwyn!" Robin said at once and without losing one more word he left the hut. It was raining cats and dogs outside but Robin didn't realize that. He got on his horse and then he rode as fast as he could to Olwyn. His horse breathed hard. Far through the night you could hear the hoof-beats of the animal. A tear was running down Robin's cheek. He didn't want to lose her. Not again. And he would prevent it. He would give all, even his own life.

"Olwyn,.....Olwyn....?" Robin stood in a deep dark forest where Olwyn lived in a hidden cave. The wind whipped through the trees and rain came down on Robin like thousands of small needles. He went on deeper into the forest. He led his horse on the reins. Then he reached the masked entrance of the cave. He went through the small stonewall. Now he was standing in front of the magic dragon who guarded the entrance to the main part of the cave where Olwyn lived. Robin went through the dragon and entered Olwyn's small grotto.

"Olwyn... you must help me. My little sister is....., she's very sick. You must help us." Robin was desperate.

"I can't." Olwyn has never been a man of many words and also of digressions.

"I can't defeat this kind of illness that pains Rachel. Nobody can. This is a power that is not from this earth. Robin, you must accept this. Rachel's time has come. God is taking her up to heaven."

"Why his he doing this? Why does he first give her back to me and take her away from me in almost the same moment?" Robin screamed out in his anger and pain. What had he ever done in his entire life that he must suffer such pain? Why was everything taken from him, what he loved?

"Everything what happens has its sense. But you won't always see it. It's hard, I know. The only thing you can do for her is to guide her on her last way. Go now. There isn't much time left."

Robin went out into the night. He rode along with empty eyes without realizing anything. Water dropped out of his wet hair; leafs and branches stripped his skin and tore it up. The way back to the compound seemed to be eternity. He passed a river, deep dark forests and at last he reached his destination.

For some time Robin stood in front of Rachel's hut and didn't dare to enter. He was afraid to see her in pain and not to be able to help her. Only the fact that Rachel was going to die broke up his heart in thousands of little pieces. But he couldn’t keep on standing outside any longer. So he entered the hut. Rachel lay on her bed. Next to her stood the Menorah. Its seven lights burned pale. Robin sat down on Rachel's bed and took her glowing hand. Now she was lying there quietly.

She didn't move pained by terrible nightmares around anymore. Her eyes were closed but she wasn't asleep. She squeezed Robin's hand weakly. She wanted to speak, but words came hard over her lips. But she then was able to speak some words.

"Robin, please, don't worry about me. When your time comes it comes. The Almighty knows what he does." Her voice trembled.

"Rachel, my little Rachel..... I'm not so sure that he knows what he's doing. Or did he only give you back to me to take you away from me at once. What kind of a god is that?" Robin could only speak very silently. Tears were coming up in his eyes but he wanted to be strong now, guiding Rachel, as Olwyn told him. But soon he knew that Rachel was much stronger than him. It seemed that she could accept her death also it wasn't easy for her. Of course she didn't want to leave her brother so quick again, but if there was no other way? Nobody could fight the Almighty.

"He is a god of justice, you know that and you must always believe in that. He will never leave you; and I will also have always a look above you. There is one thing you have to remember always when you're down and out. Think of my words that will guide you:

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sunshine warm upon your face,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of his hands."

With this said Rachel closed her eyes and left Robin forever. Robin was sitting beside her disconcerted and still holding her  hand. What big force had been hidden in this young woman? She had made peace with God and the world. But Robin was still far away from that. All this unbelievable injustice that was done to the people of England came up to himself right now. He was crying out his pain unrestrained. The tears were running down his red cheeks and he hid his face in his hands.

Two days later Rachel was buried. Her grave was on a small clearing near the hut where she had been living for four years. The small funeral procession was silent. Everyone showed his feelings without hypocrisy. During the past months Rachel became beloved among the inhabitants of the compound. Her open way and her big heart really touched everyone's heart deep inside. Even Marion was full of sorrows although she was better known for not showing her feelings. But she tried to comfort Robin and to give him hope and courage. But she didn't have much courage left herself.

When the casket with Rachel's body inside was placed into the depth of dark earth Robin was standing there like stone, he wasn't able to cry or to do any movement, unable to forgive the one who had Rachel taken away from his side. Even Marion didn't seem to realize this although she was keeping him in her arms. He didn't have enough time to welcome his sister again and no time to say goodbye again. In his mind the thought arrived that she would have never been there again. Maybe this was just a strange nightmare. He couldn’t believe that this world was so full of injustice.

Robin didn't notice anything of what Friar Tuck said. It seemed as if his spirit was far away from all. Little John, Tuck and Marion were afraid about their leader and friend. He didn't return from the grave the whole day. Robin told them to leave him alone at the place so he could say goodbye for real.

"I will ride to him. I'm worried." Marion didn't want her Robin to be alone in this time of his biggest pain.

"Yes. I think that's the right thing to do. It's not good for him when he is alone in times like this." said Tuck and Little John nodded.

"He hasn't returned for the whole day. Go to him. Loneliness is worse for him now."

So Marion left the compound. Tuck and Little John watched her disappearing.

"She will find the right words. I'm sure." A big tear was rolling down Tuck's cheek. He really liked her and was uneasy for him to realize that she was dead.

Marion found Robin still sitting at Rachel's grave. She didn't know what to say so sat down silently. The night was cold and the sky was clear. The stars were shining bright and some nightingales were singing their songs in a sad way as if they knew what had happened. Till the morning dawned they sat there. Not one of them spoke even one word or moved. The sorrow was too deep. Marion only asked herself how long Robin would get along. Wouldn't it be better when he released his pain and freed his soul? But Robin did nothing like that. If Marion hadn't said anything Robin would surely have stayed there for one more day and maybe more days without saying anything. When the sun was already standing high on the sky Marion asked Robin:

"How are you?"

Robin didn't answer for a long time, then he started to cry. A real river of tears came out of his eyes and took its way over Robin's pale face. Marion was relieved. She knew from her own that it was good to cry. She had done it many times at night when she was alone. She enclosed Robin in her arms and kept him tight for a long time.

"Let's go. You know that Rachel wouldn't want you to hide yourself in sorrow so much."

Robin nodded. It wasn't easy for him to go. He still felt as if he would leave his sister alone one more time. But now there was one thing that helped him to get along with his pain. Now he knew for sure that Rachel was dead. When they were back in the compound he went to Eric Pierce at first who should send a message to Rachel's uncle that informed him that she was dead. He had to know it to. During the last night Robin made a decision. All his life long he had to lie about his sister. He went to the stonemason of the compound and asked him to make a tombstone with her real name on it: Rachel of Locksley.

Six long months passed by since Rachel's death. Robin was doing his work again and so he robbed the Norman lords and monarchs. But his psychic life didn't change much. He was still in great sorrow about Rachel's loss and her last words were always on his mind. She wanted him to fight against Prince John and she encouraged to fight the injustice in England. But wasn't it Robin who should have given her courage? Was he too egotistical? There were always coming more and more reproaches on his mind. But he knew that it was senseless.

Those times he went very often to his place of meditation. He tried to find answers, answers that no human being could give him. Slowly his trust in God came back. Rachel trusted in him, too, so why shouldn't he trust in him? In the end there was no other possibility anyway.

During the last time he was thinking of Marion more and more. He had often talked about this problem with Rachel and she always encouraged him to confess to her his feelings. But she also said that love is not an easy thing. Trust in each other was the most important thing in it and you have to give everything not to destroy it. And jealousy could destroy a love completely. The right measure of both was the right way. She really knew what life was like. Life taught her living and wisdom had never been a strange book for her.

Again some weeks later Robin and Marion were out in the forest. After a hot summer a mild autumn had come and this was one of its most beautiful days. Short-term they decided to have a day for themselves. There were not many Norman lords to rob and their forces were almost down to the lowest.

The birds high above in the trees sang their most beautiful songs and Marion was shining in the sun like the brightest star on heaven at night. Robin noticed that most of all and maybe this was the reason why he collected all his courage suddenly. He stopped at once and looked into Marion’s pretty face.

"You are very beautiful today great warrior woman."

Marion didn't know what was going on now. Robin had almost never said something like that to her.

"Robin...."

He hushed her to be silent.

"I have loved you from my childhood on- and so I do today. I have been so blind the whole years through and didn't see how lonely I have been. And there was always someone beside me who gave me love understanding. And this one was you...."

"You don't know how long I was waiting for this words from you. Nothing on earth can come between us now. Not even Prince John."

"No, not even him."

They went on enclosed. Marion secretly watched up to the sky.

"Thank you, Rachel. I really thank you."

THE END

 Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
 Chapter Four the Conclusion
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