"Have you ever noticed how *green* it its around here?" Now, ‘here’ is none other than Sherwood Forest, and the speaker is none other than the legendary Robin Hood. His sarcastic humor didn’t always roll over well with the lady always at his side (much like a puppy dog) Marion.
"Robin..." She said pointing a dagger to his heart.
"Don’t start with me." He pulled his hands up in a surrendering fashion.
"Touchy today, aren’t we?" Marion Growled, "Can we just do this and go, I’m not in the mood!"
As if on cue, a carriage came riding up. It stopped as the driver reached a crossroads. "Why have you stopped?!" The Driver looked back at the old man whose head was reaching out from the window.
"Sorry sir. Uh, I... well, you see Sir Henri, it’s near sunset, and this is Sherwood Forest..."
"Yeah, so?" Henri interjected.
Just then, Robin swooped down from atop a tree. "You didn’t let the man finish. Go ahead Little John, what were you gonna tell Sir Henri of Yorkshire?" Little John came down from the driver’s seat of the carriage with his face drawn up in a smile, "With pleasure. This is Sherwood Forest, and Sherwood is filled with thieves and marauders..." Robin interrupted. "And I’m one of the above. Guess which one."
Now, Marion was still in the tree, watching Robin working psychological warfare on poor Henri. She glanced ahead of her and saw a group of King’s guards riding up the path. She was about to warn Robin, but Marion’s warrior ways got the best of her.
"So, Henri’s got a royal escort?" She laughed evilly. "Not anymore!" She jumped from her perch in the tree and landed on top of the carriage. Robin looked up. "A woman’s work never done?" He questioned. "Never."
Marion met with the four King’s Guards. "Good Afternoon gentlemen, a beautiful day isn’t it?"
The first guard spoke up. "Not as beautiful as you, milady." The Guards agreed, "Yes, come give us a kiss pretty lady." Marion let out a devilish smile.
"You come here."
A foolish Guard got down from his horse. He snickered, closed his eyes, and puckered up his lips. "That’s right sir, just step right up." When the guard got close enough, she let fly with a fist in the jaw, followed by another in the stomach and a knee where it really hurt. He was out for the count. Three swords sounded as they came from their sheaths, Marion’s made it four.
A small child appeared in the carriage with Henri. "Grandfather?" She said sleepily. "Are we there yet?"
Now we all know that Little John loves kids, and hates seeing kids get hurt, so when he saw the little girl he immediately became worried.
"Robin?" He whispered, "Did you know..."
"No John, I didn’t."
"Well what John?"
"Well, Nothing’s gonna happen right?"
"Right, nothing will happen. I’ll do this the short way." Robin reached into the carriage window, "Excuse me Sir Henri." He found a pouch put into his hand. "Why thank you for your generous donation." Robin snickered. With that mischievous little smile and a sparkle in his eye, Robin gave his final instructions. "Hold on little one. Oh, and you to Henri, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!"
"You won’t get away with this, you, you, aaarrrrggghhh!"
"Robin Hood, it’s Robin Hood Henri, please try to get the name right! And yes, I will get away with this." Robin threw the pouch in the air, caught it, and threw it to Little John. "I always do!" He gave a wink and smile to the child in the carriage, and she smiled back. Robin always had a way with the women.
"Remember, hold on." She nodded and smiled. Robin moved over to the horses and aligned them to the path. With a slap the horses galloped away.
"Robin! Why did you do that!?"
"Don’t worry John, the horses will stay on the path."
"I hope you’re right."
"Three of them, one of me. Piece of cake!" Marion was in a bit of a jam, but of course, she wouldn’t admit it. She heard footsteps behind her. She knew not to take her eyes off the guards. Instead, she opted to take a few steps back until something whipped her in the behind.
"You’re doing well." Marion was startled, but she would never have shown it. "Robin, I told you not to start with me." Little John laughed. "Yeah Robin, you might wanna start with them." Little John’s staff pointed at the three disgruntled King’s Guards. As you might have guessed, a fight broke out, and as usual, Robin and his team won.
Well, our heroes, who were satisfied with a job well done, rode into camp. Little John went to the cook tent to find some food. Robin sat with some kids who were telling ghost stories, and Marion went off to find Tuck.
"Good evening Marion. How did things go?"
"A pouch of gold, some jewels and four soldiers' uni..." She stopped abruptly and put a hand to her stomach. "Did you eat some bad mushrooms, or berries?"
"No Tuck, I have that bad stomach ache again. It started again this morning."
After a moment of thought, Tuck remembered what she was speaking about. "Ahh, so you're here for some..." He reached for some dried herbs that were hung near his head. Tuck’s tent was filled with aromatic dried flowers and herbs. No one but Tuck could tell the difference between the daisy looking flowers in his hand and the sprigs of grass hanging on the wall. "Here ask Jenny for some hot tea, crumple these into it, and drink it all. Well, you know the drill."
"You don’t think that..."
"No, I think that it’s just natural. Nature, God works in mysterious ways."
She pushed herself to smile. "Thanks Tuck."
"She slowly opened the door and...." A young boy was reaching the climax of his story when an army on mothers marched toward the fire. "How many times do I have to tell you, no ghost stories this late, no one will sleep tonight. Go on, all of you, to bed!" The mother looked up at Robin who couldn’t help but laugh. When her eyes met his, he quickly shut up. "And you Robin. You should know better!" She stormed off with her child’s ear in her hand, before Robin could say anything. His face went blank, then a smile crawled onto his lips. "Even a hero like me can’t contend with a mother."
Defeated, Robin put out the fire and started to fumble for his tent. There wasn’t much light. The moon was hidden behind the folds of dark clouds. It looked like rain. While he was on his way to the tent, he bumped into Little John.
"Robin? That you?"
Robin laughed. "I think so John. Going to bed?"
"Yeah, I had my fill." They grew quiet. Little John had his * fill * of food? Something wasn’t right.
"Ahh, Marion started cooking?"
"Yep. I have never seen the cook tent clear out so fast before in my life!"
"Marion’s stew can do that." Another moment or two of silence. "John, have you noticed Marion’s disposition today? This morning she was fine. When we were in the tree this afternoon we were just joking around, and all of a sudden she snapped!"
"Well Robin, I think women aren’t quite right in the head. You know, not playing with all the lute strings."
"All women? No, the kids are fine. Maybe when they reach a certain age they snap?" They reached Little John’s tent. "Maybe Little John, we shouldn’t worry about it." Robin chucked. "It’s their problem. Good night Little John."
The thunder rattled the already shaky foundation of Robin’s hut. He was never a fan of thunderstorms. Unable to sleep, the outlaw picked up his sword. With an imaginary Sir Guy or Sheriff of Nottingham (he wasn’t sure) as the opponent, he displayed his impressive skills.
"Very nice." The voice was almost drowned out by a clap of thunder. Startled by the voice, not the thunder, (I myself believe that it was the thunder) Robin dropped the sword.
"Well I liked it up to that point." He recognized the voice though the face was still hidden in the darkness. With his familiar mischievous grin he said, "Well, they say I am the best!" The face in the door was lighted by some lightning. Marion smiled choking on a fit of laughter, "Don’t get cocky." She couldn’t help laughing out loud. "Robin Hood... startled by a bit of noise in the sky."
"It’s was not the thunder. I wasn’t expecting any visitors." Robin said defensively
"Right." Marion chuckled as she walked away. Robin ran over to the door but stopped when he stepped on something. He let out a yelp, and looked down at the floor. He stepped on the hilt of his sword.
Well, a new day dawned, as they normally do, and you would have never have known it rained.
"Wonderful day isn’t Robin?" Tuck sang. Robin looked up, dark circles wrapped his eyes. "Yeah, wonderful if you like swollen feet."
"Or frizzy hair." Marion added.
"Marion, we are outlaws living in the middle of a forest, why would you even care?"
"Well Robin, I’d like to look nice for our victims."
"There not victims, Marion, they are, well, uh, unwilling contributors to our cause."
Marion smiled, "Victims." Tuck, who walked away at the first sign of conflict between the two walked over to the cook tent. "Morning Friar. Would you like some eggs and bread?" Little John smiled while shoveling food into his mouth. (His favorite pastime) "Oh, no Little John, I’ve already had. I’m off on a distribution run. Mrs. Smyth just had her sixth child, and I think she’ll need some help with the little ones while Thomas is out in the marketplace. She also asked me if I would baptize her baby. Care to join me?" Little John, who still was shoveling eggs, declined. "I have things to do myself. I think Robin and I are going hunting later."
"Ahh well, next time then."
"Yeah. Uh, Friar..."
Robin, who was busy tending to his foot, was also wondering about the visit Marion made the night before. Every so often Robin would look at Marion with a longing gaze in his eyes. He would look over her body and drift into the same dream...
"Marion, I love you. I always have."
"I know Robin, I’ve always known. I love you."
"Then why now, after all these years are we confessing this to one another."
"King Richard is back. England is at a state of rest, you have you lands back, and the people are happy. Your job is done. Now you can take back the life you put on hold. Now you have the time."
"Please.. you just..."
"Hey Robin snap out of it, I know you hurt your foot but, that pain isn’t that bad."
"It’s still a dream." Robin murmured as he cleared the fog in his mind. "Did I say anything?"
"Umm, no, you were just out of it. You really need to get that magic thing out of your system, it’s scaring me."
"It’s not magic, I’m just tired. I didn’t get much sleep." Everything went silent for quite a while. Now Marion’s mind started to drift.
"Here Robin, you take him."
"Hi there little one. You giving your mother a hard time again." He put his face to the little kid’s ear and whispered, "That’s my boy, keep it up!"
"I heard that Robin."
"Good." Marion in an apron. That’s something no one would think of Marion in, but that’s what she’d dream of, Robin and their children and an apron.
"Marion, Marion can I talk to you?" She was still dazed. "Hey, you okay? Marion?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, yes?"
"May I speak with you, or are you busy?"
"No, umm, what’s the matter."
"Well, I was thinking about last night. Well, I was just wondering..."
"Hey Robin!" Little John called, "Are we going? There won’t be any animals out if we wait any longer!"
"Yeah John, coming." Marion looked a bit worried, "Are you going to be all right with your foot?"
"Oh, uh, yeah, Tuck said I should be fine." Marion nodded as Robin got up and headed for his horse. She wouldn’t let the dreams come back. She had too many other things to think about, even though she couldn’t think of any right now.
"Thank you Friar, for everything, and thank Robin."
"Your very welcome Mrs. Smyth. God bless." Tuck smiled and looked down at the little baby in her arms. "And God bless you too Michael." He looked back up at the woman, "If you need anything just ask." And off Tuck went, on his way back to camp. He reached a crossroads and stopped. "I’ve never noticed those before." He got off his horse and bent down to reach a small bush of berries. "I could use these for uh, ahh yes, these help indigestion." He opened the pouch that was always at his side and gathered the berries, not noticing the horse and carriage coming up from behind.
End of Chapter One
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