A Lesson In Patience
By Lisa Prusok

 Chapter One

It was a cool fall evening around midnight when Robin’s deep sleep was interrupted.

From somewhere in his subconscious mind he heard his name called.

"Robin...Robin wake up," the baritone voice beckoned.

Robin’s eyes slowly opened, "What? Who is it?" he said in a low, sleepy voice.

"Robin, I need your assistance," said the voice as a glow began in his small hut.

The glow grew larger. There was a twinkling that began in the center of the hovering glow. It grew and shimmered as a form began to appear. It was Olwyn.

"Hello Olwyn," Robin said matter-of-factly as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Robin was used to this sort of thing happening to him. He rubbed his face with both hands to try to wake himself up. Pushing the covers from his long, lean, but muscular frame, he slowly sat up on the cot. Robin was bare to the waist. His muscles rippled as he moved his body into a seated position. Stretching his strong arms out, he yawned widely as he said, "What’s up?"

"Young man, I do believe that you are becoming complacent," Olwyn said a little perturbed.

"Not at all Olwyn," he said as he stood. Reaching for his tunic he continued, "I suppose that after all of these years I just know how to react to you. I don’t mean any disrespect," he finished as he laced up his tunic to cover his smooth, bronze colored chest.

Olwyn just looked at his former pupil. Robin had become a tall, confident, authoritative figure. His chestnut brown hair was worn in long thick tresses to his shoulders. He sported a well trimmed mustache and goatee that framed his mouth. He had become a very handsome man. Olwyn smiled slightly as he recalled the scrawny, gangly youth of sixteen he had once taught. He was very pleased with this man that he called pupil and friend.

Robin noticed Olwyn was staring at him. Then he saw the smile on his face and could not hold back his curiosity, "What is it?" Looking down at himself, "Did I lace up my tunic wrong?"

Robin’s voice brought Olwyn back to the present, "No, you didn’t."

"So, why have you come for me?"

"I have a task for you. This task must be done by you and only you."

Robin shook his head slightly, "That may be difficult. You know how everyone here seems to think that they are my protectors. Especially Marion, Little John and Tuck. I have a hard time going any where without one of them along with me."

"That is why I have come now. You will leave here very soon. In the cover of darkness it will be less likely that you will be followed by them or found by your enemies."

"Where am I going," Robin asked as he began to gather things and placing them in a saddlebag.

"I am sending you to find a woman. She is in need of your assistance."

"Who is she?"

"She is uh..." Olwyn stopped.

"She is who?" Robin asked as he stopped what he was doing and looked at his mentor. His brow furrowed a little. Olwyn was never at a loss for words.

"She is a...student."

"A student huh," Robin said with a bit of skepticism.

"Yes," Olwyn said trying to sound convincing.

Robin’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the old wizard, "Some how I don’t think that is the whole story. You are leaving something out."

"You must help this woman, this student, with her...," pausing again, the man searched for the right words. "...studies. She needs to be guided and she needs to be given the confidence she is lacking."

"So Olwyn," Robin began amused at his former teacher’s out right evidence of the truth. "What is this "woman" studying?"

"Magic," Olwyn told his flatly.

"Ahhhh. Now it becomes more clear. But how am I supposed to help her with her magic? I don’t have any kind aptitude with that. Well except to pull a coin from your ear," he said chuckling.

"Robin this is serious. She needs your strong will and persistence. She needs your grace and strength of character as an example. Never forget that you are the light. There is magic in you. It shines through as kindness, compassion, and humility."

Robin could see that he was deadly serious. Still not understanding all that he was to do for her, he would comply. "All right Olwyn, tell me where I am to find her and I will go now."

"You must ride north of Sherwood. Take the logging trail up toward the mountains. I will advise her that she is to expect you and make sure that she finds you. There should be no one to interfere with your journey or during your stay with her."

"How will I know when I am done?"

"That will be obvious my boy," Olwyn said as he glowed, shimmered and faded out of sight.

"One day I wish you would give me a straight answer," Robin said to the now empty space in front of him.

Robin finished packing and stuffed his feet into his boots. Quickly penning a note for his comrades, he pushed the pelt door aside. Looking around the dark empty camp, Robin made sure that no one was around. Light as a cat, he stole to the stable and saddled his gray stallion. Without a sound, Robin took the back way out of camp.

Robin had been on the road for about an hour. He was very sleepy. The two hours sleep he had gotten before Olwyn showed up was just not enough. "I wish that these things would happen in the daylight," he complained to no one. Riding on, the hours ticked by one by one. Several times Robin had jerked himself awake. He tried to keep his mind occupied with thoughts of Marion. He loved her so much. It had been just recently that they had finally spoken their true feelings to each other. He felt a warm glow inside of him when he thought of her. Their first kiss was what dreams were made of. That kiss had awakened in him feelings that he never thought could be so all consuming. His body felt like it was on fire. The heat of her fingers touching his face. The gentle caress of them in his hair. Her soft, supple body pressed against his. The hot, soft, moist feel of her lips to...

"Ooooff," came out of Robin as he was dumped from his horse and landed hard on the ground.

Dazed and having trouble catching his breath, Robin lay on the ground with his eyes closed. He then became aware of a heavy weight across his midsection. Opening his eyes, he was a little stunned to see a woman sitting on him. Blinking several times, he confirmed that there was indeed a woman sitting on him. She just sat there looking down at him.

Clearing his throat, "Are you all right?"

"Yes, thank you, I’m fine," she said cheerily.

"Well if you are fine, then would you mind getting off of me," he said as politely as he could.

"Oh yes. I’m so sorry," she said as she got up. "Here let me help you up," she said as she held out her hand to him.

"Thank you," Robin said as he grasp the offered hand. Half way up his hand slipped out of hers. Robin landed on his rear end with a thud. "Ouch!" he cried out as he had landed on a small rock.

"Oh dear! I’m so sorry. Did I do that. Well I suppose I did. Here let me help you up," she said as she held out her hand again.

Robin looked at the hand and held up his to wave her off, "No thank you, I think I can manage."

"Well okay if you’re sure. I’d be more than happy to help." she told him eagerly.

"No really. I’m fine," he said getting up and rubbing his throbbing rear end.

The woman began to dust him off. She was like a whirligig. Robin had a hard time following her motions. Finally he was able to brush her away from him, "Thank you but that is not necessary. I am fine," he said with a little more force to his voice.

The woman hopped away from him and just stood there looking at him.

Robin looked at her. She was not a tall woman. The top of her head came up to about his shoulders. She was a little plump and had long tangled, mousy brown hair that fell below her waist. He noticed that even though she was standing still, she seemed to be in motion. She had the energy of a flock of hummingbirds. Not one to criticize, Robin would have called her, well, "pretty". Of course all women paled in comparison to Marion’s beauty. Her clothes were not rags, but they were well worn. She had on a peasant blouse and a skirt that came about mid-calf. The skirt was cinched tightly at the waist. Robin could see why. The skirt had a dozen pockets on it and each one seemed to be bursting at the seams.

Robin blinked and finally spoke, "My name is Robin. What is your name?"

His answer did not come immediately as she began to dance around in a small circle. While dancing she shouted out some "yippees", a few "wheeeeees," and a bunch of "oh boys".

Robin just stood back to let her wind herself down to a dull roar. Crossing his arms in front of him, he could not help but shake his head from side to side.

The woman finally calmed down enough to actually speak to Robin, "Oh this is wonderful! I can hardly believe that you are here. I’m Catrina, but you can call me Cat."

"Cat is it? Well, Cat, what do you mean you can’t believe I’m here?" he asked in an even, calm tone.

"I’m the one! I’m the one!" she squealed.

It then became very clear to Robin who she was. This was the student that Olwyn had sent him to help? Now his mentor’s words were making sense. He said "she needed guidance". Boy did she ever need guidance. He was going to have his hands full.

To confirm his suspicions, Robin asked, "You are the woman that Olwyn has sent me to see?"

"Yes! That’s me! This is wonderful!," she said as she threw her arms out wide and began whirling around. Her spins were a little out of control and on the last one she smacked Robin right in the face.

"Ow!" Robin cried out as the small hand connected with his right cheek.

Stopping dead in her tracks, she rushed up to him, "I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that."

Rubbing his stinging cheek he commented, "I know you didn’t. I will be fine." Although in the back of his mind he had a few doubts. "Why don’t we go over and sit down quietly on that log. Then you can tell me what happened."

Robin allowed Cat to go first. He wanted to be able to watch where she was. This way maybe he could stay a little healthier.

Both were now seated. Robin made sure he sat a comfortable distance away from this accident waiting to happen. "All right, what happened back there?"

Cat just looked at him for a moment in the on-coming daylight. Now that she was still, she actually saw him for the first time. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen. His mane of hair was thick, naturally wavy, and fell to his shoulders is silky locks. He had a slight widows peak that made his face the shape of a heart. His eyebrows were perfectly formed and crowned his beautiful, expressive brown eyes. She thought she could lose herself in those eyes. Even his nose was flawless. This brought her to his mouth. The mustache and goatee framed the most sculpturesque, full, sensual mouth she had ever seen. Staring at him made her body heat rise while she thought about what it would be like to feel his lips against hers. The heat of him. The pleasure of...

"Cat!"

Blinking at Robin, she came back to reality, "Yes?"

"You were going to tell me what happened, remember?" he said as he looked at her quizzically.

"That’s right I was wasn’t I."

"Yes you were, weren’t you," he said as he tried to coax the information out of her.

"Well, I was practicing my hovering. I guess I lost my concentration when I heard you coming. I tried to keep myself up but I couldn’t find enough energy to do it. That is when I fell and landed on you. By the way, thank you for breaking my fall," she said smiling at him sweetly.

Robin rubbed the back of his head, "Don’t mention it, please."

Cat saw that there was a little pain showing in his eyes, "I know just the thing that will help get rid of that headache," she said gleefully. With that she got up from the log they were sitting on.

As she got up, her end of the log whipped into the air. Robin’s end, with him on it, struck the ground with such force he was thrown backward. As he hit the ground there was a sickening crack. Robin’s body settled on the forest floor and lay still.

"What have I done!?" she cried as she ran around the log to Robin.

Kneeling down beside him she lifted his head with her hands. Startled by what she felt, she pulled her left hand away and looked at it. It was covered with blood! When he fell, Robin’s head had struck a rock. Cat looked at the blood covered rock and could see a sharp edge protruding on the side. Placing his head gently down, she felt for a pulse on his neck. Breathing a sigh of relief, as she felt his heart beat beneath her fingers.

"Robin? Robin?" she called to him.

Robin did not move. His face remained expressionless.

Cat looked down at him. She was struck by how really beautiful he was. With his eyes closed, he looked so young, sweet and innocent.

"How am I going to get you home?" she asked Robin. Not expecting an answer, she sat back on her heels and pondered the situation. Then an idea struck her. Leaning down to Robin, she eased her right arm underneath his broad shoulders. Lifting up, she placed his upper body on her lap. Robin’s head fell limply back over her arm. His hair fanning out on her skirt.

"This will never do. You are just too big for me to carry," she said as she looked down at the injured outlaw. Placing him back on the ground, Cat got up and began pacing. "What to do, what to do." Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks, "I know! I’ll just float you home."

Very pleased with herself she smiled as she went to get his horse. "This is a great idea," she told the horse. "I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before."

Kneeling down beside Robin’s unconscious form, she grabbed his left ankle and crossed it over his right. Then she took his arms and placed them on his chest. "There, that should do it."

Taking the reins of the horse in one hand, she closed her eyes and began to concentrate. Perspiration broke out on her brow. Her small body began to sway back and forth slightly. Opening her eyes, she raised her free arm towards Robin’s body. Whispering an incantation, her eyes grew wider as Robin’s body lifted into the air.

Robin’s hair hung long beneath him yet his neck and body stayed stiff. He lifted three feet into the air and began to move forward. When he moved, his horse whinnied.

Cat’s concentration was broken.

Robin’s body fell to the forest floor with a thud.

"What did you do that for!? Bad horse," she reprimanded the horse. Cat ran over to Robin and knelt down once again.

He was still unconscious. Which she was grateful for. Although she knew he would definitely be worse for wear when he woke up. She checked his body over to make sure that he was intact. As she checked his upper torso, she found that there was a rip in his tunic on the right side by his ribs. Placing her fingers through the rip in the fabric, she felt his skin. Her eyes closed and her head dropped to her chest as she felt of the warm liquid that was coating his skin.

"You are such a bad horse. How am I going to explain this. He is hurt again." Looking down at Robin, all she could say was, "I’m so sorry."

Taking a piece of cloth from one of her pockets, she stuffed it in the hole of his tunic. Once again she took another crack at levitation. This time she decided to float him just enough to get him over the back of his horse. After much concentration, she accomplished her task. Pulling on Robin’s wrists from the opposite side of the horse, she was able to position his limp body securely on the horses back. Taking the reins, she led the horse through the woods to her home.

Using both her strength and power, Cat was able to get Robin off the horse and into her little cottage. With some struggle, she finally got him onto her bed. Looking down at herself she found that she was covered in his blood. Taking just a moment, Cat changed into another skirt and blouse. Cat then pulled a small stool up to the side of the bed. She set the pail of water and cloth she had gotten, down on the floor. Lifting Robin up to a sitting position, she leaned his body against her shoulder. Reaching around his back, she unlaced his wide belt. Removing itand placing it on a small table at the head of the bed. Cat lay Robin back down and slowly unlaced his tunic. Pulling it open, she gasped at his magnificent body.

"Oh my! You are fabulous all over aren’t you?" she said to the still form.

Rolling him on to his side, she was able to pull his arm from his sleeve. Then doing the same on the other side. Once his upper body was undressed, Cat began to minister to him. She cleaned his side and head wounds with tender care. Getting several herbs, she anointed and dressed his wounds. All that was left was to sit back and wait.

It was several hours later and Robin had not stirred. Unable to contain herself to just sit and wait, Cat busied herself with her "craft". She worked on the ancient symbols of her rune stones. It took complete concentration to get each symbol right. But she found herself constantly looking toward Robin.

Finally giving up, she got up and sat down next to Robin. With a gentle hand, she began to stroke his forehead and hair. Her hand stopped as it reached the dried blood in his hair. "Oh this will not do. I can take care of that for you," she told the unconscious Robin.

Getting a bucket of water, soap, and a drying cloth, she again sat next to her patient. Cat eased Robin’s head and shoulders to the edge of the bed. Placing a pillow beneath his shoulders for support, she let his head hang off the edge of the bed. The hair that hung down was carefully wetted. Taking extra care around his head wound, Cat lathered his hair completely. His hair was so thick. Looking down at her own hair, a slight twinge of jealousy was felt. It did not last long as she played with his hair. Once the bloody area was clean, she just let her fingers wander. Cat methodically massaged his scalp, then let her fingers glide through the long strands. Closing her eyes and letting the feeling in her hands penetrate her body, her mind began to drift. It went back to the events of the day starting with her first encounter with Robin. A feeling of guilt hit her as she remembered landing on him. Shaking it off she continued with her memories. It was a second later when she remembered losing hold of his hand and again the guilt bit at her. Again she shook it off. But another second later and she recalled her striking him on the cheek. Cat opened her eyes with a start.

"Why do I hurt you?" she asked looking down at Robin’s face. "I would never willingly hurt you. You have to know that. I have always been a little accident prone, but never this bad. You know, you really should be more careful," she told Robin. Thinking for a moment she corrected herself, "No, I should be more careful. I try to be, but that just seems to make bad things happen more," she said as she finished shampooing his hair.

Taking a cup of water, she began to rinse the soap from his hair. Cat wrung the water out of his hair, once it was clean. It was almost like wringing out a garment there was so much of it. Then she towel-dried it. Using her fingers as a comb, she got the tangles out. Once she was finished, she moved him back straight on the bed. Taking the wet cloth, she cleaned his neck, shoulders, chest and stomach. Always letting her fingers linger on his skin as she wiped. Removing the dressing from his ribs, she gently cleaned the deep cut on his side. Satisfied with her work, Cat reapplied ointment to both wounds and dressed them. Looking up and out the window, Cat could not believe that the sun was already setting. Yet Robin had still not regained consciousness.

Becoming worried, Cat rose and began the job of preparing a healing tea.

End of Chapter One

Chapter One
 Chapter Two

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