By Virginia Cavazos
The three friends rode out and descended a small hill. Robin's horse gave a wonderful ride. Robin was pleased at the quickness of his steed, and it took all their concentration for Marion and Guy to keep up with Robin. Realizing he might get too far ahead and get lost, he slowed his horse. At first the horse fought being reined in, but hearing his new master's commanding voice, he slowed down.
Out of breath, Guy pulled up next to Robin. Marion came up on the other side.
"Where to, Guy?" Robin asked.
"Just to other side of that hill," Guy said pointing.
Guy took the lead now. As they went over the hill, Guy pointed again. "To those trees."
As they neared, Marion gasped with pleasure. In the middle of the grove was a beautiful flower garden. "Oh, my," she stated.
"It's a special place," said Guy tying his horse to a tree just outside the grove. He smiled at Marion. "Do you like it, Marion?"
Stunned, Marion stayed on her mount and looked about. It was a fairy land of color. "Guy, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
Robin brought his horse along side Guy's and dismounted. He tied his horse, then went to help Marion. She accepted his assistance and slid down.
"Thank, you, Robin," she said then walked around inspecting the garden.
Robin looked at the flowers, too, then went to tie her horse. He really didn't see what Marion found so interesting about them. Guy walked up to Marion.
"It's just so beautiful," she repeated.
Guy's face lit up. "Great! I've had the gardener working on it for months. I told him I wanted it ready for the ball. It's to my design," he said proudly.
"I love it!"
Robin frowned. When he finished tying off Marion's horse, he walked back to the others. "What's so special about flowers? They soon fade soon and then you're left with dead flowers."
Marion scowled at Robin. "You will never understand. They're just so beautiful to look at. I love them; I always will."
Guy followed Marion. "Don't try to explain it to him. He's still a baby."
"I Am not. I'll be thirteen in five months!" Robin retorted.
"Oooh, then you'll be a man!" Guy taunted.
"Well, Master MacGregor said he will be able to start teaching me how fight with a sword on my birthday. I can't wait."
"Master MacGregor, Master MacGregor," Guy mocked as he walked around the garden with Marion. "Are we going to be hearing his name the whole time you're here."
Robin ran to catch up with the two. "You're just jealous because he chose to stay with my father instead of with yours."
Guy ignored Robins taunts. He stood next to Marion as she squatted down to pick some flowers.
"I tried to have all your favorites, Marion." He said gently.
She nodded her head as she picked some of the freshest blooms.
Noting that neither Guy nor Marion were in the mood to talk with him, walked around the garden to see how many different types of flowers Guys gardener had planted. It was a magnificent display - even he had to admit that.
Finding at a particularly pretty bloom, he stooped down and picked it. "What kind is this, Marion?"
Marion looked up from her picking. "That's a hyacinth."
"Maybe so, but they smell wonderful."
Robin sniffed. It did smell nice. He was about to ask about another flower when he was startled by a voice coming from the direction of the horses. There were three men standing there watching.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here? A bunch of rich whelps." The man speaking was the shorter of the three. His greasy black hair fell to his shoulders; his face unshaven for many days. He had a evil grin on his face. Next to him stood the man who had taken their horses at Gisborne's castle. The third man did not seemed like he didn't belong with the other two. His black eyes, barely visible from under a hood, seemed to avoid the scared eyes of the children.
The short man walked towards the children. Marion and Guy backed off to join Robin. "Tell me, Philip who do we have here?" The man asked.
"Allow me to introduce them to you Jimmy!" Philip mocked. "First of all, the tow head is Guy of Gisborne, The little lady is Marion Fitzwalter and that's The Earl of Locksley's brat, Robert!"
"Hmm, makes me wonder these three precious whelps are doing out here all alone..." his voice lowered. "And unprotected." He laughed and his voice returned to normal. "Do you suppose their rich parents might be looking for them?"
His companions laughed. "What do you suppose they'll do if they can't find them?"
He tapped Guy on the shoulder. "Would your father pay to get back his heir?" He gripped Guy's shoulder harder and nodded towards his friend. "What do you think, Philip? Do you think this young 'uns might be worth something?"
The tall thin man nodded his head. "Aye, Gisborne'll pay. This ones spoiled rotten." He turned his attention to Robin. Robin felt a shiver of fear run through him. He forced himself to return the man's look calmly, while trying to remember what Master MacGregor had taught. He knew he must find an avenue of escape.
"It looks like we have a little warrior here," he laughed pointing the bow Robin nearly always wore across his body.
When the other two began to approach Robin, he pulled an arrow from his quiver and he aimed it at Jimmy. "Leave us alone." he stated bravely, his voice strong and true. He knew it was up to him to protect Marion and Guy.
Glancing sideways, he could see that Guy was definitely scared. His eyes darted nervously back and forth; his face ashen. Marion didn't seem as frightened, but she was smart enough to realize that they were in a dangerous situation.
"Looky here," Jimmy laughed. "You're not going to hurt old Jimmy with that tiny arrow are you?" Jimmy then pulled out a large dangerous looking knife. Robin smiled coldly at the man. Master MacGregor said a knight's best advantage is having an opponent who is unawares of your skill. "I'm sorry I have to do this." Robin said. He then aimed his arrow and let go. The arrow flew at the knife, knocking it out of Jimmy's hand - he screamed in pain as the arrow nicked his hand.
Robin made use of his advantage. Taking hold of Marion's hand he gave a yank and yelled. "Marion, Guy run!"
The three quickly headed deeper into the grove of trees. They could hear Jimmy yelling from behind. "I'll get you for that, boy!"
Robin pulling Marion behind him. He couldn't afford to turn around to see if Guy had followed, but he was sure he heard his heavy breathing.
The children ran blindly, now knowing where to go, only knowing they had to get away from the men. The trees and bushes tore at their clothes; Robin was purposely running through the thick foliage, knowing if it was difficult for them, it would be even more difficult for the larger adults. His thoughts were confirmed when he heard the cries of pain as the men were cut from the sharp thorns and branches.
"Good," thought Robin. "This would at least slow them down."
The sound of their pursuers was getting more faint, and Robin took the chance to look for Guy. To his relief, he was only a few paces behind. Robin panted as he pulled Marion through some particularly thick foliage.
Guy stumbled and fell in a clump of dead leaves. Robin, abandoning Marion for the moment, went to help Guy. He pulled him to his feet, whispering urgently. "We need to find a place to hide. This is you're estate where are we?"
Guy searched around, he didn't recognize anything. He was so frightened he couldn't concentrate.
"Hurry, Robin," hissed Marion. "They're coming."
The sounds of the men's approach was getting louder. They were coming, slowly, but they were making progress. Robin climbed a tree to look for a hide out. He could see that the one called Philip was missing. Robin guessed that this was not good; he was probably trying to cut them off from the front. He descended quickly and again took Marion's hand. Robin ran towards the open space he had noted. He hoped the strangers would not expect them to make so bold a move. Master MacGregor told him always do the unexpected.
As they neared the clearing, Marion's dress caught on a tree branch.
"Help me, Guy." Robin called out.
Guy kept running. His heart beating hard in his chest; his fear was so intense, his only thought was to flee.
Robin realizing Guy wasn't going to help pulled hard on Marion's
dress. Marion looked at Robin with wild panic in her eyes.
"Please don't leave me, Robin." She cried.
Robin could see the distress in her face, and tugged harder at her dress. It just wouldn't break free. He knew he had to protect her, a feeling new to him. Up to now, he had been watched over and protected, and now it was up to him to be the strong one. Marion needed him. She looked helpless and was frightened. He vowed to himself he was going to get her out of this safely.
"Don't worry Marion, I'll never leave you." He pulled out an arrow and used the metal tip to tear the bottom off Marion's dress. The material was a thick wool and proved to be to strong to tear without help.
Jabbing at it with the arrow until he had a hole large enough for him to get his fingers into. He pulled and was finally able to tear off the portion held fast. With a sigh or relief, he again took her hand, just as a large hand came down and grabbed Marion's hair.
Marion let out a high pitched scream and brought her hands back to claw at the man's arms. Robin ran around behind the man and kicked him behind the knees. Jimmy screamed out in pain, letting go of Marion. When released, she fell with a plop to the ground. Robin pulled her to her feet and ran in the direction Guy had gone. "I'm going to kill you for that!" spat Jimmy.
Running, their breath coming faster, Robin did his best to find an escape. Soon,they ran near the edge of the trees and could see Guy on the other side of the clearing. He was standing out in the open, his face as pale.
As Robin and Marion approached Guy, Philip stepped behind him and put a knife to his throat. "Stop your running," the deep voice snarled " or I'll slit this boy's throat. "
Guy swayed alarmingly. Robin was sure he was going to faint, and prayed to give Guy strength. He whirled around when the sound of running feet grew close. Jimmy came out into the clearing.
"Have you got them?" he managed between ragged breaths.
"Yeah, I got 'em."
"Good." Jimmy walked over to Robin and backhanded him across the face.
Robin was knocked over by the force of the blow.
"Robin, your lip is bleeding," Marion gasped in horror.
Licking his sore lip, he got to his feet. Jimmy grabbed him by the shoulders and squeezed hard. "You're not afraid of me, are you, boy?"
Robin did not flinch under the pressure of the man's hand. Jimmy smiled coldly, and applied more pressure, enjoying the pain he was causing the boy; wanting him admit the pain.
The force of Jimmy's grip was strong, but Robin willed himself to block out the hurt. He wasn't going to let Jimmy get the better of him.
Afraid for Robin, Marion cried out. "Robin, no."
Jimmy gave a dry laugh, and released Robin who fell onto his rear. Jimmy stood over him, his rotted smile growing bigger. "Stands up to me. I like that - I like that a lot"
The third stranger stepped into the clearing, panting heavily. "Jimmy... don't hurt him... he's no good to us dead.
"Shut up, André. I know what I'm doing." He pulled Robin to his feet. "You'll be coming with me."
Marion rushed to Robin's side. He rubbed his shoulders to get the circulation going again. "Are you all right, Robin?" she asked.
"I'm fine." Robin reassured her.
Jimmy took hold of Marion and propelled the two children along. "Philip, bring Gisborne's brat."
"I've got him," came the rough reply.
Jimmy jerked Robin along; Robin stumbled, but fought him every step of the way.
A wicked smile crossed Jimmy's face. When they reached the flower garden, he pulled Robin up. "You're going to ride with me."
Robin returned his stare defiantly. Jimmy laughed. "I like that. No fear. Maybe I'll just keep you."
André brought up the horses. He handed some rope to Jimmy who tied Robin's hands. When all the children were bound, Philip took a knife and cut a hank of hair off each. They were then lifted onto their horses - Jimmy behind Robin; Andre' behind Marion and Guy. Philip held the reins of Guy's horses, then mounted his ride.
"Be sure those horses make it back to the castle you hear!" Jimmy called after him.
"I hears you, and I'll make sure they get the ransom note. I should be back at camp by nightfall."
"Make sure you are."
Robin was held fast, but he managed to looked back to see Marion and Guy in front of André. Guy's face was full of fear, but Marion tried to look brave. He did his best to think through the situation, but he couldn't quite yet see a way out of this mess.
Shaking his head in frustration, he knew Master MacGregor would be worried
End of Chapter Two
Chapter Five the Conclusion
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