The Christmas Gift
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Three

He heard the door to her room fly open, Marion ran out of the room. She took a few steps down the corridor, "Robin!" She sobbed out, a knife pieced his heart, as he heard her voice breaking with each call of his name. She stopped at the end of the corridor, standing just inches from where he stood. Glued to the wall, he held his breath. Her sobs tore his heart further. Closing his eyes, a tear ran down his face. He prayed she did not hear his heart breaking. She began to sob harder, Robin was suddenly having regrets. Maybe this was not the right thing to do? As he was about to go to her, he heard Iris and Tom coming down the hallway.

"Marion whatever is the problem?" Marion whirled around, tears streaming down her face, she ran into Iris’ arms.

"Oh Iris it’s terrible, I don’t know what I did wrong." She sobbed, "Robin says he’s going to join the crusades. He says he wants to help King Richard in the crusades." Her voice straining to hold back her emotion, as Iris and Tom brought her into the room

"I don’t’ know what I’m going to do." Robin heard her say, as she was ushered through the door. As the door was closing, Robin could hear Iris say

"Don’t worry Marion. You can stay here as long as you want. You know you’ll always have a place here with us."

The door slammed shut…a sad smile parted Robin’s lips. He now knew that he was doing the right thing. No longer would her life be in any danger. She was where she should be, with the ones she loved. Coming out of his place of concealment, he passed her door. Marion’s sobs could be heard coming from the room. Robin paused at the door. He laid his hand on it, bowing his head.

"Goodbye Marion." He softly whispered.

Clenching his fists tightly, he briskly walked to his room. He would collect his things and leave as quickly as possible, before he changed his mind.

Marion was crying uncontrollably. Iris sat on the bed next to her, as she tried to console her.

"What happened?" She gently asked, her hand caressing Marion’s head in a soothing manner. Tom stood by Iris’ side.

"I don’t know Iris." Marion dabbed her eyes with her dress, "The night started out so beautiful."

Iris handed Marion a scarf, she wiped her eyes with it. She tried to think of what she could have said that would cause Robin to want to give up his noble cause.

The trip there was so uneventful. He seemed happy to be able to come to a ball after all these years. She cried more, thinking of how happy she was to be here, and now for this to happen.

Looking hopefully at Tom, Marion asked, "Did he say anything to you Tom? Anything that might let me know why he wants to leave?" Maybe something he said would give her a clue as to what happened. A small frown curved his lips, as he tried to recall what was said.

"I did mention to him how I wondered if he ever feared for you!" He said, hopeful this would help.

"Feared for me?" Marion numbly repeated.

"Yes, I told him that if it were my Iris by my side, I wouldn’t put her life in any danger. I would keep her somewhere safe." Iris slapped Tom on the arm.

"Thomas! You know that Marion can take care of herself!" Tom gave Iris a hurt look. She smiled back at him. Iris could never stay mad at Tom.

"After I mentioned this, he never answered me. He already seemed concerned about something."

Sniffling, Marion’s thoughts raced to the time before Tom was talking to Robin. Clutching her head, she cursed the punch. Then it came to her, Robin did talk at length with a young man.

"Tom," Marion wiped her eyes dry, no more crying for her! She was going to get to the bottom of this. "Do you know who it was that Robin was speaking to before you?"

"I’m sorry Marion, I didn’t see who that was. Can you describe him for me?"

Marion tried to recall the man that sat with Robin for a short length of time. Why did she drink so much? Her head began to pound, then she remembered him.

"Yes Tom, he was mousy looking. A long pointed nose. Thin brown hair. A really pleasant...."

".....looking young man!" Iris and Tom finished for her.

"Yes we know him all to well." Tom cursed, now he was angry. "That is my lazy, good for nothing, scheming cousin - Brian!"

"I told you Tom." Iris scolded him with a wave of her finger, "He’s trouble. He probably said something to Robin just to see what mischief he could get into." Iris explained to Marion. "You see Marion, he’s always getting into trouble, him and that slimy friend of his, Albert! Oh Tom!" Iris Moaned. "What do you think he said to make Robin want to leave?"

Tom didn’t answer, instead he headed towards the door. "I don’t know my love, but I’m going to find out!"

"I’m going with you." Marion said, jumping from the bed, she followed closely behind Tom. Noticing that she was alone now, Iris rushed out of the room, to catch up with the others.

Brian was currently waiting by the stables, unaware of the angry trio that was looking for him. His wicked plan was already set in motion, he sent Albert ahead to set their little trap. He positively beamed, when he saw Robin Hood coming to the stables, carrying his belongings. Turning to his horse, he pretended to be tying on his things. Hearing Robin enter the stables, he nonchalantly asked.

"So, you’re leaving too?"

"Yes." Robin curtly answered back.

"Would you mind if I rode with you a ways. Its really rather late, and I hate riding alone!"

He tried to give his most innocent face. He had many that he worked on through the years.

Robin quietly replied, "Suit yourself, but I warn you; I won’t be much company"

"Oh I don’t mind." He happily returned, "I’ll do all the talking. I always do anyway."

The two mounted their horses and rode out. The moon was full that night, and the way was well lit. Albert would be waiting along the trail. He had to hold back the large smile that threatened to blossom on his face. This was the best scheme that he had come up with yet!

*****Meanwhile, back in the castle******

Tom ran to Marion who was looking for Robin in his room.

"His things are gone!" Marion cried out in distress, tears threatening to flow down her face.

Tomas nodded at this, "Yes I know. One of the stable boys told me that Robin left with a rather pleasant looking........."
"......young man!" Marion finished, tiredly sighing, she said, "He seems to get around!"

"Don’t worry Marion, we’ll find them." Thomas promised her.

Marion just shook her head in answer to his pledge, "No Tom I have to do this myself." Marion looked deep into his eyes. "Do you understand?"

Gazing at Iris, he knew exactly what Marion meant. "Or course I understand Marion. Just let me give you a word of warning. Watch out for my cousin Brian and that friend of his - Albert. They’re as slimy as snakes."

As Marion ran down the hall, to her room, she called out, "Don’t worry. I will!" She had to hurry and change. They already had a large head start on her.

Albert was having a great conversation, he was the only one speaking. Robin just nodded or grunted any acknowledgment to what he was saying. Looking up the trail, he noticed that they were nearing the tree that Albert was suppose to be hiding behind. Thoughts of the ways he was going to spend that reward money raced through his mind. Perhaps Prince John will give them more if they brought Robin back alive? He gave himself a mental reminder, to make sure Albert didn’t kill Robin. The two silently rode down the dark, empty road.

Several miles back Marion was riding as fast as she could in the night. She knew it was dangerous, but Robins life was in peril. Praying that she would be in time, she kicked her horse to go faster.

Seeing that they were in position, Brian suddenly stopped his horse. Rubbing his leg he cried out, "Robin, please wait. I have a cramp in my leg." He rubbed the leg stronger to emphasize it!

Robin pulled on the reins of his horse. Turning his steed, he faced Brian. Placing his hands on the pommel of the saddle, Robin calmly waited for the pain to ease in Brian’s leg.

Brian put on a great show, he truly appeared to be in agony. He moaned aloud, as he rubbed at the phantom pain. As he took a quick look behind Robin, he could see Albert coming out from behind the tree. He moaned even louder, trying to cover Albert’s steps. When Albert was positioned behind Robin, Brian stopped rubbing his leg. Giving him a pleasant grin, he said.

"There, that’s much better."

"Good!" Robin said, as he prepared to turn his horse around. He let out a gasp, as he suddenly found a rope dropping around his arms. The rope was quickly pulled tight, and he was violently pulled off his horse. Brian shook his fist in the air in triumph, as he fell with a crash to the ground.

"Yes! We got you! The Great Robin Hood!"

End of Chapter Three

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
Chapter Four

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