by Mary Bell
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Dawn rose majestically over Sherwood Forest. It cast its’ warm glow on a lone rider on a dapple gray stallion. After the recent rain, the stallion was picking its’ way carefully through the forest. Seeming to sense his riders’ need for solitude, he slowed his pace to allow him time for thought.
The rider bore the regalness of the aristocracy yet wore the garments of the poor. A lock of his long, wavy sable hair had escaped the red ribbon, which tied it back and it blew gently in the wind. His rich, brown eyes looked on, yet saw none of his surroundings. His lean, muscled body pensive in the saddle as he pondered a question. "Would he ever be able to give Marion the life she deserved? Children? Safety?"
The rider, Robin Hood, had thought of nothing else since seeing his friend Little John’s, nieces and nephews yesterday. Robin loved children and wanted to have many with Marion, but they were forever in danger. Would it be right to marry her and have her live in a hut in camp? She deserved better. What if they had a child? He or she would never know security now matter how hard Robin tried to provide it. Their lives were ripe with danger and trials. What was he thinking? They had only just recently declared their love for one another. Since then, they had not had one moment alone!
All their time had been spent in the day-to-day chores of camp life. Making or repairing weapons, pilfering enough in gold and jewels from the Baron de Belmont to pay the villages’ taxes and making sure the camp was supplied with food. Oh, don’t forget, the daily tormenting of Prince John’s guards! His favorite part of the day! He chuckled to himself. By the time each day ended, they fell exhausted into bed. (In their own huts!) At least they had their dreams!
Robin knew he should be alert and ready should Prince John’s guards be out patrolling, yet this morning his thoughts weighed heavily on him. Perhaps that is why he did not sense his old friend, Olwyn’s presence. Olwyn, a magician from the line of Merlin, was always watching out and helping his young charge. This day he was all too aware of his troubling thoughts. It was these same worrisome thoughts which had drawn Olwyn to check on his young friend.
Suddenly, the rain soaked soil gave way under the stallion’s hooves causing
him to rear up! Robin, taken unawares, felt himself flying through the air!
There was a hard landing followed by a sharp pain and then…….Blackness!
Black……..deep, dark blackness……try as he might, Robin could not crawl out of it. It seemed he had tried for hours. Then a faint sound…..birds chirping!! He followed the sound. Slowly opening his eyes, Robin felt the pain at the back of his head. The bright light made it worse but he forced himself to keep his eyes open. His vision slowly came into focus and the pain subsided somewhat. He then took stock, arms… legs… ribs… neck… back! Everything still intact! Sitting up was an adventure all unto itself, every muscle ached and even his pains had pains!
Robin’s next concern was of his horse. "Where is he?" he thought.
Upon looking around and whistling for him, he concluded the stallion had headed for camp. Marion and the others would be worried when his horse returned without him. "I’d best return to camp before they come searching for me."
It was then that he began to be aware of his surroundings. Nothing looked familiar! How could he have wandered so far in such a short time? Surely, he was mistaken. No, he knew every inch of Sherwood and this was not Sherwood! Gingerly he regained his feet and began to search for a landmark, any landmark!
Robin had walked for over an hour and still nothing was familiar. He had even tried calling for Olwyn , to no avail. In the past, he just called and Olwyn magically appeared. "What is going on?" he puzzled. The more he walked, the less sure of himself he became.
It was hot, hotter than in Sherwood. He had also noticed the ground was dry, yet just this morning, it had been muddy from all the rain. This was confusing, how could he not be in Sherwood? As he pondered this confusing riddle, he heard a strange sound.
Searching, his eyes finally spied the cause of the strange sound. It was the most majestic feathered creature he had ever seen. It was flying low over a river, it’s huge talons preparing to grasp its prey. Its head was covered in white feathers, its sharp, curved beak was bright yellow and its body and wings were a dark brown. Robin was fascinated, the bird was huge! Its wingspan must have been 6 feet wide! The great creature snatched a large fish from the rushing water and rose to a high tree branch to devour it.
So mesmerized was he by the unusual bird that he did not hear the approaching danger! He turned just as a roar erupted from the mouth of a massive black bear standing only a short distance from him! It stood over 8 feet tall and Robin could honestly say he was scared! All he had was his small dagger and it was going to be of little help. Just when he thought he was lunch, a shout rang out!
"HIYA, MATO SAPA!"
Immediately, the bear fell to all fours and lay down. Its’ eyes never left the young man in front of it. A wave of relief washed over Robin.
"Now what? Do we stare at each other all day?" he asked the bear.
His question was soon answered as a beautiful maiden entered the clearing.
She was carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. Slowly and carefully, she
advanced on Robin, never taking her eyes from him.
Robin absorbed the maiden’s appearance. Copper skin, bright green eyes, high cheekbones, full red lips and long raven hair blazing fiery red in the sunlight. Her clothing was made of animal skins woven into breeches and a vest with ornate beadwork. On her feet were soft slipper-like shoes of the same animal skins. She had two large feathers dangling upside down from one of her two plaits. Robin was startled when she spoke to him in an unfamiliar language.
"Kokipa ikopa." she softly stated.
"Uh? Oh? What? I don’t understand you." Robin answered while shrugging his shoulders.
She pointed to the bear, which still lay on the ground close by, and made a scared face and shook her head. "Oh…. do not be afraid of the bear?" he queried with the same gesture. He raised an eyebrow and said, "Yeah, don’t be afraid of big bear with big teeth, right!" He nodded his head in agreement despite his misgivings.
"Sha." She replied with a nod.
"Yes?" Robin asked. She nodded her head in agreement.
"Mato Sapa." she said while pointing to the bear.
"Bear…. Big bear, no, perhaps his color, black bear?" he asked?
"Sha!" she answered.
"Whew!" Robin exclaimed as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He then tried to introduce himself.
"I am Robin Hood…. Ro-bin Ho-od." He said while pointing to himself.
She then responded by repeating his name with a smile. "Sha." He answered her with the word for yes.
"Wahea," she pointed to herself. Robin smiled and repeated her name.
"Now I know I am not in Sherwood anymore!"
Robin watched as Wahea picked up a beautiful red flower and showed it to him. "Wahea." she said while pointing to herself.
"AH!" Robin understood! Her name meant red flower. While pointing back and forth between her and the flower, he said, "Your name means Red Flower?!" She nodded, "Sha."
"Who are you?" he asked.
She seemed to understand his question and pulled herself up proudly and said, "Lakota!"
"Lakota? I have never heard of that peoples before." he said. She then made the gesture for friends and said, "Koda?"
"Friends? Yes, I suppose we are. Sha, koda, Wahea." Robin responded using three of the words of Lakota, he had learned so quickly.
"Waglapi, koda?" Wahea asked while drawing a picture in the dirt with a stick.
It was of a conical shaped building with a door in it. She pointed from herself to the picture and repeated her question.
"Is this your home?" he asked.
She seemed to understand his gestures and responded with yes. "Waglapi, mato sapa!" she commanded.
Immediately, the bear got up and lumbered off to the edge of the forest. He had seemingly forgotten Robin or he felt he was no longer a threat, as he did not even look at him. Wahea took Robin’s arm and guided him in the direction the bear had taken.
"I must be crazy! Here I am in God- knows- where following a beautiful woman that talks to a Bear!!! And he listens to her! Olwyn, I need you!"
Robin was surprised to hear a soft voice.
"I am with you, Robin, have no fear. Trust me and trust Wahea. All will be well."
He shook his head and said to himself, "Alright, I trust you, my old friend. I just wish you would let me know what’s going on." Robin puzzled to himself about what Olwyn was up to. Over the years he had learned that his friend worked in mysterious ways. Sometimes you just had to go on blind faith.
He and Wahea had been walking through the forest for awhile when it gave way to an astonishing sight! Stretched out before them lay more than 150 conical-shaped "homes." All of them faced the direction of the rising sun. They were in all sizes and some of the larger ones had elaborate decorations painted on them. Cook fires were outside each one, and some had women kneeling over them. Children played, dogs barked, people talked and laughed. Just beyond the village, Robin could see a river. It was a wondrous sight not so unlike his own outlaw camp in Sherwood.
"Waglapi!" Wahea proclaimed proudly while stretching her hand out to span the village.
"Ma Cokanhiyuciya, Wahea!" a woman shouted from the village edge.
She was older than Wahea yet still very beautiful. She had fiery red hair and Wahea’s bright green eyes. She approached them and embraced Wahea. After asking a few questions in Lakota, she turned to Robin and what she said stunned him!
"Welcome, Robin Hood! Ma Cokanhiyuciya, Robin Hood!"
For a moment he was rendered speechless.
"You speak English?" he asked.
"Yes, I am hanke-wasichun, half-white. I am Blazing Star, Wahea’s mother. You are welcome in our village."
After regaining his composure, he thanked her for her hospitality. "I do not know how I got here. I think I fell from my horse and hit my head."
Concerned, she asked, " May I take a look?" He nodded and she examined his scalp carefully and gently.
"It looks like you have a good sized goose-egg there, does it hurt much?"
"Not too much."
"Well, you must stay and rest and eat, maybe then you will remember how you came to be here. Wahea, go find your father and tell him we have a visitor."
At that, Robin’s eyebrows rose dramatically! Blazing Star had spoken to Wahea in English and she had understood! Answering his unspoken question, she apologizes for her deception.
"Forgive me, Robin, but one learns more that way. You learned our language quickly!"
"Yes, well, that was pretty sneaky, Wahea. Explain to me about the bear." he asked.
"I found him when he was a cub, his mother had been killed, so I took care of him. He is my friend. I am sorry if he scared you, but he was protecting me."
After her explanation, Robin was curious, "How did you learn the English language?"
"My mother came from England when she was a little girl and when she got older, she fell in love with my father, Chief Running Bear and taught him. They in turn taught me and I taught my husband and children." Blazing Star explained.
"Came here from England? Where are we?" Robin asked.
"We are in America, of course!" she revealed. Robin was completely and utterly confused!
End of Chapter One
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