The Purple Rose

By Verenize Bernal Curiel

CHAPTER I "The Meeting"

Winter had arrived to Sherwood Forest, there was lingering fog in the mornings and the sun’s warmth began to elude them. The camp had become imobilized. It became necessary to gather provisions for the crudest part of the winter. They had been organized to go to the near villages for provisions. It was not a very good season for their crop. Freezes were advancing burning the farms harvest.

It was not just Robin and his people who were getting ready for the season. Prince John had ordered his soldiers to pick up all that was possible of the local villages, in order to maintain his castle and his court safe of shortages. Obviously, they had used their strong force to remove the few provisions that the people had. When Robin arrived to the ravaged villages to buy foods, he found that Nottinghams soldiers had already plundered their hold, nothing remained.

"We must find a way to detain them or the people will die to hunger" Robin worriedly said.

"Not only them Robin" Tuck commented, "We will too."

A galloping horse was heard to enter the camp.

"Robin..." The man shouted, "I have you good news."

"What happened, Adam?" He asked.

"Prince John will be visiting with the Sheriff of Nottingham tomorrow; he already rides on the road with his soldiers."

"Well... well...." Little John said" We will have royal visitors."

"More than visiting John; they come to carry off everything that they have removed from the people. I fear that our good Prince distrusts of his nobleman Sheriff." The young outlaw added.

Marion was approaching the bestirred group. She had remained distant in other buisness.

"What happened?" She asked with her hands on her waist.

"Prince John comes to Sherwood" responded John.

"Oh, That sounds good. He surely brings us enough gold to pay winter’s purchases." She said sarcastically.

"The problem is, that we could not buy anything Marion" Tuck explained to her "His soldiers have been charged to lift all the provisions of the villages."

Robin was quietly touching his chin. All his people looked him, they knew that was the position of a man who was scheming a plan. He smiled suddenly.

"You are right Marion, if the gold doesn't serve us to buy, it will serve us to make a just exchange with the Sheriff. He won't like anything that our Prince has stolen to be in his territory. We have enough time to plan the welcome" His eyes twinkled and all people smiled.

* * *

It was not only the Sherwood outlaws that had noticed the event. Frederick Reilly was a short and robust man. He lived distant from all villages. He was known as a hermit, but not all his life had been this way. He had been a man with a title and lands, before the war between Normans and Saxons. His wife was Saxon born, and both conceived a beautiful girl. Lady Reilly had died when the little Sophia was 5 years old. From then on Frederick was left alone to take care of his daughter and working his lands. Sophia grew beautiful and she decided to get married with a Saxon named Charles. When the war began, the distress occurred. The Sheriff of Nottingham took Frederick’s daughter on Prima Nocte. Neither he neither or his son-in-law would permit that. Charles confronted the soldiers, who gave him a quick death. Sophia was subjected, and in the first opportunity that she had, she committed suicide.

Frederick was stolen of everything that he had and decided to live feeding the bitterness until he could exercise the adequate vengeance for his enemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

In The Nottingham Castle.

"I want all clever men present to receive Prince John and escort him until he reaches the castle" the Sheriff dictated to Sir Guy of Gisborn "I don't want any more surprises and you know what I mean by that" He looked at him then threatening.

"Robin Hood is very busy my Lord, I know, from a good source, he is occupied supplying foods for the season." Guy commented confidantly.

"I don't need you to explain to me how I could have such stupid men…" The Sheriff shouted out, hitting the table, "It is precisely because of that desperation for food, I fear that he will appear tomorrow."

"I will be prepared with my better men my Lord and I could...

‘You could not assure your own woman Guy, If something fails tomorrow, you will pay for with your life, did you understand?"

"Yes my Lord" Guy said submissive. He turned around and went to the door.

"Wait..." The Sheriff detained him "I wish to go with you tomorrow, then I will be sure that everything will be fine, prepare my horse." Guy only made a reverence and left.

In the camp Robin was tracing his team’s positions to attack using a drawing on the ground. Emma, who was a maid of Sheriff’s castle united to Robin Hood’s cause, she had informed them that Sir Guy was preparing many soldiers for the Prince John’s protection.

"I calculate 60 men in the guard, considering the Prince’s escort" The woman commented.

"10 per outlaw…that’s about right" Marion joked.

"We all know our positions. Remember to wait for the sign" Robin assured the others, as he stood up.

A fight in the camp was suddenly heard. Some men had detained a man attempting to pass over the branch door; he wanted to speak with the leader.

"What’s going on?" Little John energetically asked as he approached the tumult "Who are you and what do you want?"

"I will speak only with Robin Hood" The man responded, upset as he tried to liberate himself from his oppressors.

"I am Robin Hood" Little John added.

"You are not he. I know well Robin" The man assured him.

"I am Robin Hood... release him." Robin ordered, " What do you want here?"

"He is the hermit" Friar Tuck whispered in Robin’s ear.

"I know that Prince John will be visiting Sherwood, and about your plans to attack him."

Robin was surprised upon hearing that his secret plans had left the camp. That gave him an insecurity." I want to help. I want to help you Robin Hood. Don't you know who I am? Don't you recognize me?" Robin watched him a moment. There was something in his eyes that he could recognize, but he didn't know either what or why.

"You are a crazy hermit" Little John said "Come on Robin, you can't believe the words of this man, everybody knows that he lost his reasoning many years ago. Nobody knows where he came, not even his name." Robin didn't stop looking at him. He knew that behind that dirty hair and that long beard there was something relative.

"Leave me alone with him" Robin requested to his men.

"Are you sure?" Marion became worried. She was frightened he might be one of the Sheriff’s people, they had, had many problems with them before. Robin agreed. He took one of the hermit’s arm and pulled him to his hut.

"Why do I have the impression of knowing you? How did you find my hiding place?" Robin asked.

"I know many things about you. I know that you lived here a long time ago, I know what you do, where you go. Don't be frightened, a hermit always could hide and sniff without being seen. It is like being invisible" Even Robin’s maroon eyes grew small." When you were a child, your father and I desired that my daughter and you get married, it would have strengthened and tied our great friendship’s." The hermit’s eyes were flooded with tears, and Robin allowed a gasp of astonishment to escape from his throat. He took the man’s hand over his head and put his knee on the ground, the same as when he was child. His heart palpitated to a thousand beats.

"Sir Frederick Reilly... Good God..." Robin expressed excited" Why…why up to now?

"Get up my son. I am the one who should prostrate in front of you. You are doing more for England that all of King Richard’s court’s noblemen." Robin stood up and pulled him to the nearest seat.

"Sir Frederick, you were the nearest person to my father. His best friend, you were like his brother. Sophia and I grew up together and I loved her like my own sister. When I knew what happened, I felt mad, Charles was also my friend. There are pains that I have, that have built up and will never leave me... my father’s death.

"I know son. Your father was a brave man, which is why I was not surprised to find that you were Robin Hood. I understand your grief; I could not have forgotten my daughter’s death. I have lived all these years with the hope that I could take vengeance with my own hands, which is the reason why I had distanced myself from everything."

"We believed you dead too..."

"I know it. That is why I want to help you and your band. I have bills that I need paid up with the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has surely forgotten me."

"But I don't want you to risk your life Sir. My father has always been essential to me all this time and to have you here, now is like I’ve recovered a part of him" Robin said with splendor in his eyes.

"I am already an old man son; I don't want to die without having defended my family’s honor. Just give me the opportunity of helping you this time. Whatever is the result."

"Right, but it will become as I say." Both men took each other in their arms. But even and in spite of the Robin Hood’s instructions, Sir Frederick had his own plan, of which he had to assure.

The night arrived. To the fire of the blaze, Robin and Sir Frederick recounted to others anecdotes about the outlaw’s childhood. Marion listened, attentive and smiling, even though she knew Robin since they were children, these episodes are unknown to her. Robin adored the brightness in her eyes.

"You do you love her, don’t you?" Sir Frederick asked to Robin.

"She is everything, the one which I have, and the one, which I am" He simply responded.

End of Chapter One

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