by Mary Bell
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"Alright, Sleepyheads!! The sun is high in the sky already! You’re going to miss the race!"
All three of them sat bolt upright at the sound of Blazing Star’s voice! "What?! How late is it?" they asked in unison.
Blazing Star smiled, " Not that late, cinstinna. You came in late last night."
"We wanted to be sure Robin knew the route the race will take today." Talon explained. "You three need to get cleaned up and have your morning meal. It will soon be time to go to the sweatlodge."
Robin had been told he would have to participate in the ritual purifying in the sweatlodge, but the lack of clothing made him nervous. Wahea was participating as well and he was worried.
To himself , he said, " I hope she wears some clothing or I am done for!"
The time came for them to go to the sweatlodge and Talon loaned him a breechclout. "Since Wahea is going to be present, we will wear a breechclout, for the sake of modesty. She will wear one as well with a vest."
Robin was relieved, but for modesty’s sake?! There was nothing modest about a breechclout! "I am glad Marion can’t see me like this." He moaned to himself as he put on the tiny piece of clothing.
As they left the lodge for the walk to the sweatlodge, Robin prayed for a windless day. The "modesty" flaps hanging both front and back were precariously covering his modesty as it was! The slightest breeze would be…… embarrassing! The sight of Wahea in hers took his breath away. She and her other brothers were waiting outside the sweatlodge when Robin and Talon arrived.
"Focus, Man! Concentrate on the race!" he said as the drums began beating.
Just as they arrived and were preparing to enter the lodge, a wind blew up! It was bad enough on its own but there was an audience. They entered the lodge to the sound of snickering as their audience got a good view of twenty-five sets of cheeks! Robin groaned in mortification as Talon chuckled beside him. Robin saw the twinkle in his friend’s eye as he turned his head to hide it.
"Yuck it up while you can my immodest friend! I am going to win this race!" Talon’s answered was more chuckling!
All twenty-five warriors sat in a circle around rocks, which had been super-heated in a fire. After being seated, the flap was closed and water was poured over the rocks making the inside of the lodge fill with steam.
Then they all started chanting. Robin joined in as best he could. They chanted and sweat for at least and hour, as more water was poured over the hot rocks. When it seemed they would faint from the heat, Eagle Eyes entered and offered a prayer to Wakantanka. They all rose on unsteady legs and left the lodge.
They were grateful for the cool water that awaited them, yet were careful not to drink too much. They then proceeded as a group to the river to bathe. They bathed in silence as each rider contemplated the upcoming race. Talon gave Robin a vest to wear with his breeches, which he accepted happily. He was thankful to be wearing clothes again. He dressed quickly. They then made their way to the holding pens to ready their mounts.
"Robin, in honor of your accomplishments with Black Thunder, I would like to give you this ."
Wahea was holding one of her coup feathers in her hand.
"I can’t take that, you earned that yourself!" he exclaimed.
" And now you have by taming Black Thunder. Please, take it, for me." She pleaded.
"Okay, for you. Thank you Wahea."
Wahea tied the feather upside down in his hair, behind his left ear. He had learned that the feather was worn upright only when going into battle. After wishing each other luck in the race and a few friendly jabs, they proceeded to the starting point.
Robin was between Wahea and Talon. Their horses were shifting nervously knowing the race would soon begin. Robin looked from side to side and Wahea smiled at him and Talon chuckled with that mischievous glint in his eye. That playful attitude is going to get him into trouble one day, Robin mused to himself. With one last look at his friends, they were off!
At first they were just a mass of horses. Soon, however the leaders became apparent. Talon led with Robin and Wahea close behind. Soaring Eagle and Windrider were two lengths behind them. As the race continued, both Robin and Wahea gained on Talon while trying ,to no avail, to stay ahead of each other. Their hair was flying in the wind as they raced around each bend. As they rounded the last bend, Robin had gained on both Talon an Wahea. He was neck and neck with Talon and beginning to pull ahead! Both urged their horses on, faster and faster! Then the unthinkable happened! A small boy toddled out into the path of the race and directly in front of Black Thunder! Robin pulled back on the bridle and Black Thunder reared! Again, Robin felt himself flying through the air and then, total blackness!
"Robin, open your eyes." The voice was so familiar. It seemed to be pulling him from the dark place he was in. He slowly opened his eyes and standing over him was Olwyn.
"Ahhhhhh, you are back."
"Back?" Robin asked as he tried to sit up, just a little too fast. "Ugh, my head." He complained as he felt the back of his head for the goose-egg he knew was there.
"Your horse stumbled and threw you. You hit your head. Are you alright now?" Olwyn searched his face for the truth.
Robin looked around and his eyes settled on his dapple-gray stallion standing a short distance away. Then he surveyed his surroundings. "I am back in Sherwood?"
" Of course , Sherwood. Did you think you were still in the Lakota village?"
This brought Robin up short as he was trying to get up. He sat back down and looked at Olwyn in astonishment. "You mean it wasn’t a dream? Talon, Wahea and the others, they were all real?" Olwyn did not respond, he just looked at Robin with amusement.
Robin slowly stood up and began shaking his head in bewilderment. Something kept falling into his face and as he tried to swat it away, he got a surprise! It was the eagle feather that Wahea had given him. He had missed it when he examined his head earlier. He pulled it from his hair and looked at it with amazement. "It wasn’t a dream!"
"No, Robin, it was real."
Robin searched for the words to ask the right questions and found none. He just looked at Olwyn with his mouth open.
"Be careful or a fly is going to land there." Olwyn’s comment shook Robin from his mute state.
"Explain, Olwyn." Robin gently commanded. If he was overly harsh in his tone, Olwyn would just vanish and he would never get his answers. Olwyn gestured for Robin to sit and he began his story.
" I felt your concerns this morning. I thought I would put them to rest. It would not do for one to know too much about one’s own future so I gave you a glimpse farther ahead." Olwyn began.
Robin interrupted, "So you knocked me unconscious?"
" Do you want me to continue, or not?"
Robin nodded his head and remained silent. "The horse throwing you was not my doing, it just gave me the opportunity to ease your concerns. I thought if you witnessed the future, you would understand and relax."
" How would the future of the Lakota put my concerns to rest? They are in another world!" Robin exclaimed.
Olwyn then sat down and proceeded to ask some very leading question. " Did you not compare Wahea and Marion? Did Wahea not possess the same courage and strength that you so admire in Marion? Were you not drawn to here beauty?"
The truth began to dawn on Robin. "You are not saying…. You don’t mean that Wahea is….?" He was stammering and could not stop himself.
"Yes, Robin, Wahea and Blazing Star are your and Marion’s descendants.
"How?" Robin croaked.
"Tell me I don’t have to explain that to you!" Robin shook his head.
"You were worrying over giving Marion the life she deserved. One full of children and security. Wondering if the dangers would ever be gone so you could live that life. I just showed you that it will happen. Wahea and Blazing Star are your grandchildren. They are many ,many years into the future in a new world yet to be discovered. Know, Robin Hood, that your courage and strength do go on."
Olwyn finished his explanation and vanished with one last thing, of course. "Now, go and live your life and stop worrying, all will be well."
Robin mounted his horse and headed back to camp knowing that he would
live each day to the fullest and not worry so much over the future!
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