The Birthday Gift
By Virginia Cavazos
Chapter Two

Marion woke up in the morning to the scent of cooked eggs. She snapped her eyes open, as the eggs seemed to be shoved under her nose. Jumping back, she rubbed her eyes, to see Johnny holding a piece of bark, loaded with scrambled eggs.

"Robin made them," He explained, as he handed her the bark. Grabbing it from him, she began to eat them with her fingers.

"Thanks, I’m really hungry!" She roared, as she shoved the eggs into her mouth. Johnny sat back, staring strangely at Marion.

"What part of England do you come from?" She asked Johnny, with a mouth full of eggs. "I was born around here, but lived somewhere else." He answered cryptically.

"I thought as much, the accent is from Sherwood."

Finishing the eggs, she wiped her hands clean on her dress, searching around, she asked. "Where’s Robin?"

Pointing behind him Johnny said, "As we were hunting for eggs, he found some game snares. He said he was going to have a look around, to find out who set them."

Standing up, she clapped her hands dry, "How long has he been gone?" She looked to Johnny, he just shrugged his shoulders, "Not to long."

Grabbing the boy by the arm, she helped him up, "Show me where he went."

Johnny led her through the forest, she checked to make sure she was carrying her knife. You never knew if you were going to find any trouble while in the forest.

"He was looking down there," Johnny pointed to a small grove of trees, Marion could not see Robin anywhere.

"Perhaps, he’s…" Marion didn’t have a chance to finish her statement, as she heard the sound of fighting. Swords clashing and grunts and groans echoed in the large forest.

"Robin!" She gasped out, running towards the sound, she screamed out, "You stay there Johnny."

She ran towards the fighting, searching ahead, she was able to make out Robin, battling with four of the Princes guards. As she neared him, she fell to the ground. Someone tackled her from behind, a hand encompassed her mouth.

"Quiet!" Johnny hissed, "Or they will hear you!"

Marion struggled in Johnny’s grip, as she saw Robin battling for his life. He was surrounded by the Princes guards. Her eyes fixed on the battle, what she could make out through the foliage, she saw that Robin was winning.

As Robin ardently fought the Princes guards, his only thoughts were of leading the Princes men away from Marion and Johnny. He blocked a blow with his sword, which was meant to take off his head. Spinning around; he lashed out with the hilt of his sword, landing in the gut of one of the soldiers.

Leaving the men with a taunting chuckle, he ran into the forest, leading them away, from where Marion and Johnny were encamped. As he ran through the dense forest, he cut the branches from the trees, falling behind him, they tripped up the men chasing him. Glancing back, he saw he was far enough ahead to escape their clutches.

A dimpled grin graced his face, he just might make it. Breaking through a clearing, he skidded to a stop, his face flushed in fear, as he found he ran right where the Princes guards were camped. A cry went out that Robin Hood was in camp. Robin desperately searched for an avenue of escape, none was found. Spinning his blade before him, his dark eyes knit in ferocity, as he roared out, "Come On!"

The Prince’s men had no qualms in fighting one outlaw. Especially when they vastly outnumbered him. Robin fought valiantly, but he was overcome quickly. Cruelly hit from behind, he fell to the ground, the princes men pounced on him like dogs to a kill.

Holding Marion tightly, Johnny could hear the sound of more men crashing through the forest. As they heard the call that they had Robin Hood, ring out through the forest.

Because there was no hope of rescuing him for now, Marion stopped resisting Johnny’s hold on her. Releasing her, they both silently crawled towards some bushes. Hiding there, their fears for Robin grew as they realized how much trouble Robin was in. For standing over Robin, as his hands were being tied behind his back, was Prince John himself.

"Robin Hood!" He snickered, "I never thought I would be seeing you here, during my hunting trip."

Robin was dragged up, seeing that Prince John stood before him, he brought out his most ingratiating grin.

"Robin, please be careful," Marion whispered softly.

"Well, well, Prince John," Robin chuckled. "So you’ve crawled out of your hole. I wondered if you were still alive."

He was gifted with a slap across the face, "That should convince you that I am very much alive!" he snarled.

Robin licked the small trickle of blood that flowed out of the side of his mouth. He allowed a small grin, as he saw Prince John trying to shake the sting out of his hand.

"Sorry your highness, you should have tried slapping the other cheek, much softer."

Angered at the audacity of his most hated enemy, Prince John obliged Robin, using a steel gauntlet; he slammed it across Robins face. He fell, dazed on the ground.

Marion began to wring her hands in worry, "Oh Robin," She sighed, "When are you going to learn to keep your mouth shut?"

"We have to find some way to help him," Marion whispered to Johnny. The young man at first didn’t seem to hear her, as his eyes were locked on the deadly scene that played out before them. As she repeated what she said, he nodded his head in agreement, his ratty hat bobbing on his head.

Shoving it down, he said, "Let me get to the other side first, perhaps I can come up with a diversion, then you can sneak in and help him escape?"

"I can’t allow you to do this Johnny," Marion strongly gripped his arm, holding him back. "Robin wouldn’t want you risking your life for his."

Johnny grabbed her wrist, his eyes pleading with her, "Please Marion, let me do this. Robin is to important in his fight to stop Prince John." His grip became stronger as he begged her, "Please Marion, my father died fighting against Prince John. Let me redeem his death, by helping Robin escape from his clutches."

Marion curiously found she could not deny this ardent young man.

"Very well Johnny, just please be careful."

"Don’t worry, I will…Mother," he laughed out, as she released him.

"I’ll wait for your signal." She called out, as he slowly made his way through the underbrush.

She waited in her hiding place, praying that Prince John would hold his temper. She quickly found that her prayers were not answered.

"You’ve crossed me for the last time!" Prince John screamed out, "Barkley!"

"Yes your worshipfulness?" Barkley scuttled up to his Prince.

Marion searched around the clearing more carefully. It was just Robin’s luck, that he landed right in the middle of Prince John’s camp. She knew he was trying to goad the Prince enough, to lead him away from her.

"Fetch me a rope," He took a handkerchief from the confines of his sleeve. Delicately patting his face dry, "I think it is time to relieve this world of an outlaw known as Robin Hood."

"Yes your highness," Barkley repeated, again, and again, as he backed up. Running towards one of the horses, he took a strong lead of rope. Spinning around he began to run back. Only to stumble, as his pants became loose, dropping down to his ankles, he fell flat on his face.

"Barkley!" Prince John roared, "Where is that rope?"

"I’m coming your impotentness," He screamed back. Pulling his pants back up, he searched for the rope. He whirled around, the rope was no where to be found.

Scratching his head, he pondered aloud, "Now what could have happened to it."

"Barkley, stop spreading your fleas, and bring that rope over here!"

"I’m trying your highness." Barkley answered him.

He ran to another horse, as he reached over to grab a rope, the horse began to buck, Barkley flew back as it ran away.

"What the hell are you doing Barkley, I ordered you to do a simple thing." Prince John stormed over to where Barkley stood. "Where is that rope."

Barkley shrugged his shoulders, "I’m sorry your sagacity, but I’m having trouble getting one."

"You Idiot!" The Prince snarled, Barkley was always amazed to see how quickly Prince John’s face turned from red to purple.

"Do I have to do everything myself?" He went up to his own horse, grabbing a length of rope; he handed it to one of his men. The man quickly climbed up a tree, tying one end to a large branch. A horse was called for, the men struggled to lift Robin on the horse. He fought them all the way, a couple of punches in his stomach, quieted him. Lifting him on the horse, the rope was lowered, to be looped, and tied around Robin’s neck.

"Any last wishes?" Prince John chuckled, as he was delighted to see Robin struggling with the rope. Robin gazed down at the Prince, his dark eyes flashing as he declared.

"Yes, that it was you on the other end of this rope!"

With a sputter and a snarl, Prince John pulled his sword out, slapping the horse on the rear. Marion had to stifle her gasp, as she saw the horse run out from under Robin. She pulled her knife out, not caring if the Princes men saw her, her only thoughts were of saving Robin.

She had to stop herself, as the branch that the rope was tied to broke under Robin’s weight. She let out a sigh of relief, feeling her heart start beating again, as he fell to the ground, coughing, and gasping for breath.

As Barkley hastened to loosen the rope, Prince John threw his hands up in the air in exasperation, "Is my whole kingdom against me?"

Two of the Princes guards rushed in to help Robin up, his neck had a line of bright red, where the rope had cut in. Prince John paced nervously in front of him. "I’m going to have to think of another way of executing him." He mumbled. "For now, bring him here," Prince John ordered his men. They dragged the protesting Robin Hood towards the center of camp. This was exactly what Marion did not want to happen. Now her chances of saving Robin were growing nil.

End of Chapter Two

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three

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