The sound of the approaching horses frightened many of the villagers. They ran into their homes, and closed the doors. "We can secure the horses by the inn," Robin told the others.
As they were tying up the horses, Neil ran out. "Matthew, I know you said you were going to tell your friends about the inn, but I never expected you to return so soon."
"Robin, why did that man call you Matthew?" Marion wanted to know.
"I'll explain later, Marion," came a quick response.
Neil looked at the others. Noticing a giant with long blonde hair, a stout friar, and a young man impatiently flipping a knife in the air, he realized his guest's name was not Matthew.
"Robin, I...," Neil started to say.
"Stay inside with Bridget," Robin interrupted. "This shouldn't take long." He did as he was asked.
The outlaws walked through the quiet town. Robin told Little John, Tuck and Will to go to the soldiers' quarters next to the magistrate's building. He and Marion would take care of the magistrate and the soldiers on watch.
Robin gently knocked on the door. A soldier opened the door and to his surprise was greeted by a quick right jab to the face, knocking him to the floor. The other soldiers stood up and started running toward Robin and Marion, while the magistrate ran under a table. They attempted to corner the two against the wall. Robin did a spinning kick, knocking the swords from two of the soldiers.
Then he turned and ran. Defying gravity, he went up the side of the wall, and did a back flip over the soldiers. One of them went to punch him, but Robin blocked the punch and returned one of his own. Hitting him across the jaw, he too fell to the floor. Another soldier picked up a sword and ran toward Robin. Suddenly, the clanging of blades echoed in the room. When the soldier was disarmed, Robin forced him into a cell.
Marion was fighting with one of the soldiers. As he raised his sword, she bent over and leaned under the soldier's arm, hitting him in the ribs with the handle of her sword. He fell to the floor. Looking up, she noticed the last two soldiers getting ready to run away. She snapped her whip, and caught them both. They were put into a cell.
Robin and Marion then went over to the three soldiers lying on the floor and put them in the cell with the others.
Just then, Little John, Will and Tuck arrived. With them were a dozen men, all with their hands tied behind their backs. Those soldiers were put into cells. Now all three cells held six prisoners each. "We have prisoners, but no magistrate," Robin said looking at the captives.
"'Ave a look at 'oo I found," Will called.
Turning, Robin noticed Will had his left arm around the magistrate's shoulder, and was holding a knife at the magistrate's throat with his right hand.
"Please don't hurt me," the magistrate pleaded. "I'll leave Queen's Grove immediately."
Robin walked up to the frightened man. "Alright, but I never forget a face. You better hope we don't have to meet with you again."
"I'd say a prayer if I were you," Tuck advised.
Robin looked around the room. Satisfied that their work was finished, he suggested they go to the inn for a rest, and to get something to eat. After making sure the cells were locked, the five outlaws left for the inn.
"Neil, can you spare a few rooms tonight?" yelled Robin as they entered the inn.
"Anything you want," Neil called back.
The five outlaws sat at a table. Bridget ran over with a tray of drinks. "Are you going to introduce me to your friends?"
Robin got up and stood next to her. "Bridget, this is Friar Tuck, Little John, Marion and Will. Everyone, this is Bridget, the innkeeper Neil's daughter."
"There's fresh stew if you’d like," Bridget offered as she put the drinks on the table.
"Stew would be terrific, right guys," said Little John excitedly. They all agreed.
As Bridget left, Marion turned to Robin. "Why did that man call you Matthew?"
"Well, I had to think of something. I couldn't tell him who I was," Robin replied
"Changin' yor name ain't much of a disguise," Will said with a grin.
"But it worked," Tuck added.
Neil walked over to the table, carrying three steaming bowls. "I don't believe you came back to help us. I don't know how we're going to thank you."
"You can help me find out who would make a good magistrate," Robin told him. Then smiling he said, "The old one doesn't want the job anymore."
Just then Bridget brought over the other two bowls. "Father, why don't you have a meeting here tonight? We can have a small celebration and talk about starting over."
"A party soun's like a great idea," shouted Will
"It'll be nice to just relax," was Marion's feeling
"Could be a lot of fun," added Little John between bites of stew.
Tuck offered to help spread the word to the villagers. "We'll tell them to be here right after sunset," Neil decided.
When they finished eating they brought some food over to the soldiers. "What are you going to do with us?" one of them asked.
"That'll be for the new magistrate to decide," Robin told him.
That night the villagers arrived at the inn, laughing as they went inside. It had been a long time since they felt like smiling. One by one they thanked the outlaws for their help. Tuck and Neil exchanged recipes. Bridget and several other ladies wanted to hear about Marion's childhood growing up in a castle. Many others asked to hear stories about the outlaw’s adventures, which Little John and Will gladly told them.
Robin was busy trying to find a good man to be magistrate. Finally, a choice was made. There was an older man with five grown sons. They did most of the work on the farm. He was very interested in helping the town. With that accomplished, Robin went about enjoying the party. After several hours, the villagers went home, and the outlaws headed upstairs for a good night's rest.
* * *
The next day, there was much chatter throughout the town. Sean had arrived. Robin and the others ran outside. He, Sean, and Little John started to unload the wagon while Marion, Tuck and Will distributed the food. Then they handed each family a pouch containing 25 gold coins. The last of the food from the wagon was brought into the inn. Bridget was in tears.
"Why are yer cryin'?" Will asked her.
"I can't believe you've all been so kind to us," she said.
"That's wot we do. I only wish we found out about yer sooner. No one deserves ter live like that," Will told her.
Tuck and Sean went to the kitchen with Neil to put the food away. The others stayed in the dining area. There was still some cleaning up to do after the celebration. Marion and Robin were cleaning a table in the corner, and softly speaking to each other. Pointing to them, Will remarked, "I fink ‘e likes ‘er ‘eh?"
Little John shook his head. "Whatever gave you that idea!"
They both laughed. Bridget smiled and thought to herself, "The stories about them ARE true."
Tuck, Sean, and Neil came out of the kitchen. "Are you ready?" he asked.
"One more thing," said Robin. He gave the last pouch of coins to Neil and Bridget. The group then picked up their belongings, and went outside. Sean took the wagon while the others climbed on their horses. Robin looked around. It seemed like a different town than the one he arrived at a few days earlier. Neil and Bridget came to say good-bye. Bridget was still wiping tears from her eyes.
"I don't know how we can ever repay you," Neil said.
"Just treat everyone as nice as you did this stranger," Robin said with a smile.
The villagers waved to them as they left. Queen's Grove was full of life again.
"If we don't run into any trouble, we'll be home in time for supper," Robin called out as they headed back to their camp in Sherwood Forest. There they would wait for their next adventure.