By Virginia Cavazos
"Lord Gisborne," called a voice from the courtyard.
Lord Gisborne ran out into the courtyard. Roused by all the commotion, Andrew MacGregor joined him within a few moments.
In the center of the courtyard, MacGregor saw a tall, fair haired, man holding the reins of three horses; he could also see that lord Gisborne was reading a note, his face becoming more and more pale.
When he reached his side, Gisborne absently handed the letter to MacGregor.
"What am I going to do?" He whispered.
MacGregor listened to him, them quickly read the note.
"This was rolled up inside the letter," said Gisborne, handing him the three small sections of hair.
MacGregor slowly rolled the paper up and handed both the note and the swatches of hair back to Gisborne.
"Where did you get this?" MacGregor asked.
"From Philip, here."
MacGregor approached the tall man. "Who gave it to you?"
"I didn't know him," mumbled Philip. "I was just outside the castle grounds, exercising a horse, when a man wearing dark cloak approached and released the three horses. I noticed this here," he indicated the note," hanging down the side of one. Not being a learned man, I couldn't read it, so I brought to his lordship."
MacGregor thought for a moment, then turned back to Gisborne. "Do you trust me?" "Of course. Do you have a plan to help the children?" he asked eagerly.
MacGregor smiled and nodded. "If you let me handle this my way, I can promise you that I will get the children back safety."
"What do you need?" Gisborne asked
As the two men walked back into the castle, MacGregor explained his plan to Gisborne. Philip did his best to hear, but was unable to make out any of the conversation. "Oh well," he mused. "It doesn't matter any way." He shrugged his shoulders and led the horses back to their stable. When he had them settled, he quietly made his way out of the castle grounds, and went to rendezvous with his friends.
* * * * *
It was late afternoon when the kidnappers reached their camp. Jimmy jumped off his horse, then roughly pulled Robin down. Robin let out a grunt as he hit the ground.
André shook his head and dismounted. He gently brought Guy and Marion down off his horse.
"Don't like that boy, do you?"
Jimmy just gave Robin a disgusted look, then pushed Robin in his direction. "Get them ready for the night," he ordered.
André led Robin beside his friends. "Sure, Jimmy, I'll do that. And I'll make sure they don't get away."
"See that you do," Jimmy snarled. "I'm going to make a fire." He quickly gathered some kindling and soon had a fire going.
As he help settle the children, Andre' whispered to Robin. "You keep nice and quiet, and you'll get home in one piece."
"Why is he so mean to Robin?" Asked Marion.
André told them to sit down. He tied their hands, and attacked the ropes to the stakes pounded into the ground. He gave a tug to make sure each was secure.
"I don't know." He answered. "He's a mean one. Would kill you just as quick as look at you." André grinned and brought a large knife out from under his cloak and started spinning it in his palm. Robin's eyes were wide with appreciation.
"Like it. boy?" He asked.
Robin enthusiastically shook his head.
"Watch, I'll show you how." André held out his palm. The trick is to cup your palm as it's spinning. See?" He explained.
Fascinated, Robin stared. "Yes, I think so."
André reached out and patted the boy's head. "You would make a good outlaw," he said.
Robin's flushed with anger. "I'll never be a outlaw. When I grow up I'm going to be a knight."
André laughed."Oh, ho, a knight are you. Well, I'm going to be the greatest outlaw in England. Soon everyone will know the name of the Hooded Outlaw!"
Jimmy approached and handed André a plate of food. "Give it to them." he growled before returning to the camp fire.
"Are you hungry? We have some venison left over from last night." André showed them a plate of meat.
"Tentatively sniffing, Guy looked at the plate, then frowned with disgust. It was all fat. "I'm not going to eat that!" he said.
"I'll have some. If it's all right, Sir." Robin said
André smiled as he sat the plate next to Robin. He had left enough slack on the rope to let the children move around. Robin took a particularly greasy piece of meat. "Sir, may I have some water? I'm really thirsty."
"Sure, boy. I'll be right back."
Robin smiled at the man as he left. When he'd gone, Robin hid the fat under some leaves. "I hope you don't mind giving up dinner," he said and took the rest of the meat and hid it as well.
"What are you doing?" Marion whispered.
"You'll see." He smiled slyly. "Shhh," he cautioned at Andre's approach.
Andre' noticed the empty place and grinned.
"You were really hungry weren't you!"
"Yes, I was." " Robin reached for the water, and handed it first to Marion then Guy. When they finished, he drank deeply. "Thank you," he said handing back the container."
"You kids get some sleep," Andre' said. "And keep quiet."
"What are you going to do with us." Robin asked.
"Don't worry. When your parent's pay the ransom, we'll let you go."
Marion shook her head. "Robin's parents aren't here. And neither are mine."
"Then Gisborne's parents will pay. Either way, we're going to be richer by 1000 gold pieces."
Guy frowned. "Why force my father to pay for Robin?"
"Guy!" Marion gave him a shocked look.
"Well, Robin has his own father. Make him pay."
Jimmy chuckled as he came up to the small group. "Typical son of a lord. Only looks out for himself," he sneered.
Guy looked at Jimmy with loathing. "What would you know about being a lord?"
Jimmy kneeled down, and took Guy by his shirt front. "Don't try me too hard. I know plenty about your kind. I know how they treat my kind."
Guy shook with fear
"Leave him alone!" Robin said quietly.
Jimmy released Guy. "Your kind are all the same. Afraid of their own shadow. All, except this one. You're not afraid of Jimmy, are you?"
Robin stared coldly. He knew the man was trying to goad him to anger. Robin smiled sweetly.
Jimmy threw his head back and laughed.
"Yep, you are a different one." Then rising, he walked off.
André took Robin's hands into his own. Looking deep into his brown eyes he tried to console him.
"I'll do what I can to protect you boy. I promise I won't let him harm you."
"Thank you." Robin smiled up at the hooded man.
"You're welcome. I may be a outlaw, but I'm not a murderer." He paused. "I'm going to join Jimmy. I'll see you in the morning.
When he walked off, Robin turned to Guy. "You all right?" Robin was concerned. Guy was still shaking.
Marion gave Guy a look of pity, and he blushed. She turned her attention to Robin and looked at him with admiration. Robin hadn't shown fear, even after all he had been through, and Guy was positively horrified.
Angrily, Guy turned away from the other two. He wished Marion would looked at him like that. "I wasn't afraid," he claimed. "Just pretended so he wouldn't hurt us."
"Of course you did," Robin agreed.
Guy mistook his sincerity for mockery and gave Robin a look of hate. He then turned his back to him. Robin looked at Marion and shrugged his shoulders. Marion gave Robin a nervous smile, and he realized Marion was also afraid. He admired her show of bravery.
"Don't worry, Marion. I'll find a way to get us away from here. I promise."
"But how, Robin?"
"I have a plan," Robin said with pride. "A knight must live by his wits," He quoted.
"SHUT UP!" Guy screamed. "JUST SHUT UP! I'm tired of hearing how you're going to be a knight. Forget the fantasy, we're in big trouble here! Stop trying to be something you aren't!"
Robin shook his head sadly. "You'll see, Guy. I'll get us out of here. And then you'll admit I am a knight."
Guy grunted in reply.
* * * * *
It was near nightfall when Philip rode into camp. Tying his horse to a tree, he was met by Jimmy and André. The three began going over their plans for the next day.
As the three talked on into the night, Robin pretended to sleep. He would bide his time and when the time was right, he would implement his plan. He smiled to himself. It was a good plan. Master MacGregor would be proud of him.
As the night wore on, the three began to drink. Jimmy more than the other two. I was around midnight when he decided to pay a visit to Robin. He staggered up to where the three children slept.
Robin, noticed he was coming towards them, and pretended to be asleep.
Jimmy stood beside him for awhile, marveling at his bravery. Wavering a little from the liquor, he fell to his knees. Reaching out he shook Robin. "Wake up."
Robin opened his eyes. "What's wrong?"
Jimmy sat back on his heels. "Why aren't you afraid of me?" He asked.
Robin's sensitive nose crinkled slightly. He did not like the smell of alcohol on the man's breath. "A knight must not show fear." Robin quoted.
A sad smile came to Jimmy. "A knight in training eh, Johnny?"
Robin cocked his head. "My name's Robin. Who's Johnny?"
Jimmy was startled when he realized what he said. "Oh, Johnny?" He repeated. . "Just someone who was taken away from me a long time ago."
He patted Robin on the head. "No fear in you, just like Johnny. I like that.
Jimmy tried to rise, but stumbled. Eventually, he managed to get to his feet, then staggered to his place beside the fire. In a few seconds, he was asleep, snoring loudly.
Robin waited patiently. It was important that all three men were sleeping deeply. When they were all snoring, he took a deep breath, sat up, and stealthily began to search for the greasy meat he had hidden.
Taking the meat, he rubbed it around his wrists and on the rope that bound his hands. He gritted his teeth and began to pull and twist his hands. He knew he could get free, and he realized it would take both time and patience.
Eventually, he pulled one slim hand free, and then the other. His wrists were red and raw from the rough rope. He used a few precious moments to shake and rub his tingling hands, before he began in earnest to help his friends escape. For the moment, he would leave them sleeping.
He had to find something better than his hands to help free the others. Silently, he made his way to where the men slept.
It took him some few minutes to scope out the camp. First, he located the horses. Two were tied close to Andre', who had made his bed at the far side of the camp. Philip's horse was tied up at the other side of the camp. Pleased by this, Robin smiled.
Robin continued to familiarize himself with the camp. He found Philip, covered by a blanket, sleeping closest to the fire. His snoring was very loud! Robin hoped he wouldn't wake up the other two.
Next, he found Jimmy, who had passed out across from Philip. He quit worrying about Jimmy waking. Robin figured that nothing was going to wake him.
Next, he scanned the area to find some sort of weapon. Robin's dimpled smile appeared when he saw his precious bow and arrow leaning against a tree. He ran over to them, and put them on his back. He then found a small dagger still greasy from cutting the venison.
He made his way back to Guy and Marion. Putting his hand on Marion's mouth, he gently shook her. Her eyes popped open in horror; Robin put his finger in front of his mouth shushing her. She nodded that she would be quiet. He then took the dagger and cut her bonds.
As the rope cut free, Marion took Robin's raw and bleeding wrists, concerned for him.
He shook his head. "Later," he mouthed.
Understanding the urgency, she released him, and went with him to release Guy.
Taking the same precaution, he covered Guy's mouth, and shook him awake. Guy woke with a start. He grunted loudly with fear. He was so loud that Robin uneasily looked over to where the men lay. When there was no movement, he was reassured.
"Quiet," he whispered softly.
Apologetic, Guy nodded his head and brought his hands out for Robin to cut free. Robin grabbed Guy by the elbow, and pointed to where each of the men slept. Once he had them both free, he led the way to the lone horse.
Robin helped Marion mounted first and Guy followed with Robin bringing ought up the rear. Once settled, he took out a arrow and drew his bow, just in case there was trouble.
Marion took the reins and quietly urged the horse walk. It was not until they had traveled half an hour before they dared to say anything. Even then they spoke in whispers.
"What are we going to do now?" Marion asked.
"We make our way back to Guy's castle." Robin replied.
"How? I don't even know where we are!" Guy answered curtly.
"I do," Robin stated. "Look there," he pointed into the sky. "That is the North Star. Master MacGregor says that it's the traveler's star. It always points north. We want to go northeast. To get back to Guy's castle, we have to go southwest."
"Robin, you're so clever!" Marion gushed.
Guy ignored them. He kept looking back, sure the three men had noticed their absence and were going to come riding up behind at any moment.
"Don't worry, Guy. We'll be home long before they even wake up."
Guy smiled nervously. He wasn't going to feel safe until he was behind his castle's protective walls.
They rode quietly into the night. After several hours, Guy began to complain. "When I get back, I'm going to take a hot bath! Every part of me aches!"
Marion giggled."Poor Guy."
"I'm hungry, too. I would love some of my cook's delicious partridge pie." He licked his lips thinking of his favorite supper.
Robin looked up into the sky. "To bad the moon is full tonight," he said in a worried voice.
"Why is that, Robin? I love to look at the moon, and it's so beautiful when it's full."
"Yes it is, Marion, but when the moon's full it lights everything - it makes it hard to hide."
Marion looked back at him. She knew he was right. When she thought about it, she realized he nearly always was. He was also determined and dependable and brave - so different than Guy. They had been in terrible danger, still were in danger, but her fear through it all had been less because Robin had been there.
After the experiences of the day, she realized he was more than a friend.
She hoped he felt the same way about her. She turned back around and smiled
to herself. She really did hope he did.
End of Chapter Three
Chapter Five the Conclusion
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