Past Ghosts
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Three

Ian Richard’s tore up some bedding sheets. Eric and Nick took Robins quiver and sword. They placed them gently on the floor, at the foot of the bed. Taking Robin’s tunic off, Ian asked Erik to hold him up as he bandaged him. Eric tried his best to keep Robin upright. Ian pulled the bandages tight against the ribs. The tighter the better when it concerned bruised ribs, he told his son. That’s what the surgeon told him. When he was satisfied with the way the bandages were wrapped around Robins chest. He told Eric to ease Robin back on the bed. As Robin was resting on the bed, Ian placed a sheet over him. Backing off he gave Eric a hopeful look.

"It’s all I could do for now. We'll have to watch him carefully, to make sure they’re not to tight. But I think he'll be all right, for now." He briskly walked to the fireplace. "I'll make some soup. He'll be needing something nourishing to help him recover." Ian then began preparing the soup.

Eric and Nick stayed by Robin’s side. Nick continued to stare at Robin. All wide eyed, he just couldn’t imagine that Robin Hood was lying on his bed. As the hours wore on, the smell of the soup permeated the room. Nick began to eye Robin’s sword. Slowly he inched himself towards the foot of the bed. Kneeling down he started examining the sword and bow that they had found with Robin. Nicholas was grinning from ear to ear.

"Just think Eric." Nick whispered, not wanting to wake up Robin. "We have Robin Hood in our home. I'm holding his sword, and bow."

"I don't think you should be playing with them Nick." Eric whispered back. Walking up to Nick, he reached down to pull the dangerous weapons from his younger brother’s hands. Nick tried to hold onto the weapons. Eric jerked them out of his hands.

"You might hurt yourself with them," he warned his younger brother.

"Its all right," he heard a faint voice say.

They both whirled around to see that Robin was awake. They practically ran to his bedside.

"Are you all right?" Eric gulped. He was so excited, he had a hard time talking.

Robin slowly closed his eyes in pain. As he opened them, he gave a weak smile. "It only hurts when I laugh."

"Then we’ll try not to make you laugh." Nick sounded so serious, that Robin began to laugh. He quickly regretted it, as he clutched his chest. Glancing down, he saw that he had been expertly dressed.

"Did you do this?" Robin asked, as he tested the bandages tightness. "Oh no," Eric quickly replied.

"Then who do I thank for helping me?"

"It was my father," Eric pointed behind him.

Robin could see the back of a tall man, stirring a pot that hung over a fire. The smell of vegetable soup told Robin what he was making. From the gray in the man’s hair, Robin guessed that the man was on in years.

Eric kneeled down next to Robin, so that he could hear him as he whispered to him.

"I have to tell you something about my father, before you meet him. You see he was in the crusades. He was the greatest Knight in King Richard’s command."

"The best," Nick added.

Pointing to Nick, Eric said "This is my brother Nicholas, and I'm called Eric." Robin brought out his hand. Shaking Eric’s he said. "I am honored to meet you, I’m Robin Hood."

Looking embarrassed, Eric took his hand back. Having the enthusiasm of a child, Nick thrust his out, smiling Robin took it. Holding Robins large hand in both of his, the enamored boy stammered out. "I’m Nicholas, but you can call me Nick. I don’t like Nicky." He made a sour face at the name. "That’s for babies." Tilting his head to the side, Robin winked at the boy.

"Nick it is!" Robin laughed as Nick was having a hard time letting Robin’s hand go. Eric gave him a scolding look. Nick finally released the hand. Robin eyebrows knit in mock pain, as he shook his hand out. "That’s quite a grip you have there Nick."

Nick eyes grew wide in amazement. He hurt Robin Hood? Nicholas giggled. "We saw you at a contest for the Race of Death!" Eric hushed Nick with a look. Nick stuck his tongue out at Eric. Robin chuckled at this. He winced in pain. He had to stop doing that.

"My fathers name is Ian Richard’s," Eric explained.

The name did seem to ring a bell to Robin. "I seem to recall hearing of a Ian Richard’s. My father mentioned him to me. He was said to be the best in any form of battle."

"Oh yes," said Eric proudly. " My father was the best there was. But something happened to him in the crusades. I was told that it was during a great battle. At the end of the battle, my father was the only one found to survive. I don't know why, but my father never left that battle. He still thinks he’s back in the crusades. He relives it every day."

Eric looked back towards his father. Shaking his head as Ian seemed to be arguing with someone not there. "Sometimes I hear him arguing with some of his fallen comrades." Quickly turning his attention back to Robin, he tried to ease any fears that Robin might have. "If you hear this please don't be afraid. It usually doesn't last long. He’s not violent. At least not to others. Only to himself." Robin searched into the eyes of the two young boys. There was a deep pain in them. It had to be hard seeing ones father act this way.

Slowly Robin tried to sit up. Eric gently placed his hand on his chest. "Please Stay there. You're pretty banged up. It would be better if you rested. I'll go get you some soup. If my father is feeling all right, he'll come to talk to you."

As Eric went to his father, Robin found himself looking at the grinning face of Nicholas. He seemed about to burst.

The boy pulled out his wooden sword and proudly showed it to Robin.

"My brother made it for me." Examining it Robin shook his head in wonder. "Its very fine workmanship. It looks like one I played with when I was about your age."

"Really?" Nick said in glee. "Eric said it’s like the ones that young knights train with."

Pulling at his back Nick showed Robin his bow and arrow. "I practice every day. Some day when I grow up, I want to join your band. I want to help you fight the evil Prince John."

Robin gently smiled at the enthusiastic young man. "Hopefully by the time you grow up, King Richard will be back in England. And Prince John will no longer be in power."

Nicholas frowned at the thought of this. "But I wanted to be like you. Helping the poor, and fighting the rich; fat lords."

Robin had to hold his ribs as he laughed out loud. "I'm sure they'll always be poor to help. The lords always try to stay fat. There should be something for you to do when you grow up."

"Do you think?" Nicholas asked hopefully.

"We'll just have to wait and see." Robin reached up and rubbed the boy’s head. Nick smiled back at Robin

Eric was coming from the hearth with a bowl of soup that his father had made. Ian walked behind him. Robin could see a strange look on the mans face. He thanked Eric for the soup, but told him he really wasn’t hungry. Ian pushed the soup on Robin.

"Eat Robert of Locksley. You need the nourishment. When you’ve healed, we can take you to see King Richard!" As he said this, he hissed to himself. "Quiet Clarence! Let the man alone. He doesn’t want to hear your prattling!"

Robin just politely smiled. Taking the bowl, he tried some. "Its Good!" Robin truthfully declared.

"Of course it’s good, I made it. You eat your fill. It might be the last meal you’ll have for some time." Ian then walked back to his corner. Arguing with his invisible comrades.

Eric plopped on the floor, near the head of the bed. He stared forlornly into the fireplace. As Robin sipped on the hot soup, he glanced at the two boys. It had to be hard on boys so young, to have to care for their ill father.

"Where am I?" Robin asked, as he blew on the soup to cool it.

"You’re in Richardsons Castle." Eric mutely replied.

Robin nodded at this. He had heard that Ian Richard was awarded the castle for his devotion to the King. That was years ago. Long before these young men were born. Robin searched around the dark room. There were three beds scattered about. A fireplace was used for warming the room, as well as for cooking. From the looks of it, they used this one room to live in. Perhaps the castle was too big for the young boys to maintain? Robin felt a tug at his elbow. Turning towards the tug, Nick proudly showed Robin his bow, and arrow.

"I can shoot real good. Right Eric!" Nick said. He sat at the foot of his bed. He tried to get as close to Robin as he could. Robin warmly smiled at the boy, Nicks smile grew even wider.

Turning to Eric Robin quietly said, "It must be hard. Raising Nick, taking care of your father, and maintaining this huge castle." Robin had passed by the castle one day when with his father. Even back then the castle was in bad shape.

Eric just blankly stared at the flames of the fireplace, he whispered, "I really have no choice, do I?"

"Wait, I have something to show you!" Nick enthused. He jumped off the bed, and crawled under to look for something. While Nick was searching, Robin continued to talk to Eric.

"I lost my father when I was 17." He was trying to let the boy realize that there were others that had suffered also. That he wasn’t alone.

"I know." His voice a mere whisper, "So did I."

Robin glanced over at Ian. It seemed that he was in an argument with some invisible comrade. He was amazed that the boys were unaffected by this. Eric must be one amazing young man.

"How do you get by?" Robin asked, concerned for the boys well being.

Nick jumped up from under the bed. Opening a box, he pulled out some small carvings. He shoved them at Robin.

"See, these were carved by Eric. He’s really good at it!"

Nick handed one of the figures to Robin. He examined the little figurine closely. It was an incredible likeness of Nick. He even had a small bow and arrow in hand. He showed it to Eric, his expressive eyes wide with wonder.

"Did you carve this?" Eric, without looking mumbled, "Yes."

Robin examined it more carefully. The quality of the carving was the highest he had ever seen. "You’re very good Eric. Have you thought of selling these?"

Eric turned to look at Robin. The biggest grin was on his face.

"Do you really think someone would want to buy them?"

He pointed to the box that Nick had opened. Inside Robin saw the most wonderfully carved figures he had ever seen. There were small animals and people. So expertly carved, it was hard to tell the difference from the real thing.

"I have never seen its equal!" Robin exclaimed.

Eric looked overjoyed. It was quite an honor to have a compliment from Robin Hood.

"You think I can make some money from these?" he asked.

"I’m sure of it," he assured the young man. "I know of many people who would pay a good price just for the deer you’ve carved." Robin turned the deer in his hand. He marveled at the workmanship, he could even make out the hair on its back.

As he examined the deer, it was suddenly grabbed out of his hands. Ian shoved it in Eric’s face.

"What did I tell you soldier. You have to train for battle. You can’t waste your time on these toys!" Ian threw the deer in a corner. The carving exploded into a million splinters. Eric bit back his reply. He knew it would do no good. Standing, he ran out the door with Ian yelling at him.

"Come back here soldier. I’m not done with you!" Jerking his head to the right, he hissed "No! I don’t agree with you. I handled that right!" His head then jerked to the left. "You stay out of it. I can handle my men!"

Nicholas dropped his bow and arrow, his bottom lip quivering. As Ian was about to turn on him, he ran out of the room, to join his brother. Ian then began nervously pacing the floor. Robin eyed him carefully. He hoped he wasn’t dangerous. As he ranted, he suddenly noticed Robin. Pulling up a stool, he sat next to him.

"I hated to do that, but the soldier needed disciplining. During a battle, he can’t be distracted by these toys." Robin looked at the carvings in the box. Pulling out a figure that was an exact likeness of Ian, he showed it to him.

"This isn’t a toy. It’s you."

Ian took it from his hand. He examined it carefully. Taking two more figures out Robin said. "And these are your sons, Eric and Nicholas. Don’t they look familiar to you?" Robin was trying to find a way for Ian to recognize his family. To realize he was back in England, and not on a battlefield in the Crusades.

Ian turned the figures in his hand. A tear ran down his face, "My sons?" He softly sobbed.

"Yes Ian, your sons. They are here in England. You are home now."

Ian searched around the room. He seemed confused. "Home…Safe? Away from all the fighting and the fear!" he hissed.

Robin gently touched his arm. "You don’t have to worry anymore. You’re home now. The Crusades are thousands of miles away." Ian’s head jerked around. A crazed look on his face, it flushed white, his bottom lip was quivering.

"I didn’t run," he whispered, as he painfully grabbed Robin by the shoulders. Robin carefully asked "Run from what?"

Ian’s head ticked to the left. His eyes went wild. "I didn’t run. I told them that. But they thought I ran." He dug his fingers in Robin’s shoulders and shook him. "I didn’t run I tell you!"

Releasing Robin, Ian flew up, he paced the room ranted and raving. Robin remained on the bed. He waited for the man to calm down. As he continued, he became concerned for the two young boys. When he fully recovered, he promised himself, that he was going to do something to make their lives better. Maybe Tuck would know what to do to help Ian? For now, Robin quietly waited. Hopefully, Ian would be calmed down by the time the boys returned.

End of Chapter Three

Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five
Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten

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