By Virginia Cavazos
Sally wiped her hands clean on her apron, letting out a tired sigh, she rubbed her sore backside. The patrons of her small pub were a little frisky tonight. She attributed it to the Princes guards finally leaving their town, thanks to Robin Hood and his men. She had hoped he would have stopped by her pub for a mug of ale and a hearty thank you from the patrons, but that was just not to be. She had seen Robin Hood herself, the Princes men were chasing him out into the forest.
She watched her children working hard to keep the patrons happy, again a heavy sigh parted her lips. They should be out playing, not working in a pub. Hearing the bell ring at the door - indicating a new patron had arrived, she looked up to spy two men entering her establishment. A tall blonde giant’s blue eyes roved around the pub, looking for a place to sit. A smaller man was standing by his side. Short, dark hair playfully fell into his sparkling brown eyes. He spotted Sally immediately. A large grin parted her lips, a clatter was heard as she dropped the tray of empty mugs on the floor. Squealing in joy as she ran towards the smaller man. Her children laughed with her as they all ran to greet their old friend. Jumping into his widespread arms, Sally wrapped her arms around the giggling man.
"Sally me darlin’ that’s the best greetin’ I’ve ‘ad all day," the handsome young man loudly declared.
Sally began to rain kisses on his face. "Will Scarlet, I thought you were going to leave me without so much as a how do you do."
Will pushed the enthusiastic woman away. Not an easy task, she was a powerfully built woman. His patented infectious grin was set on his face. "Now Sally, you know me better’n that." His expressive brown eyes sparkled as they curved into a smile to match his mouth.
Sally’s four children now greeted Will Scarlet, "My, my you all ‘ave grown since I last saw you." he said, as he gave each one a hug to match their mothers.
Two boys and two girls greeted Will, the boy’s hair was as dark as their mothers, the girls were red, and blonde. Their ages ranged from fifteen to eight the oldest a boy, and the youngest being the blonde girl.
"We missed you Uncle Will," the children chimed.
"Uncle Will?" Little John chuckled, with a raised eyebrow of suspicion.
"Strictly a title of endearment Little John," Will shot back, "I assure you, they ain’t no relation."
"You never know, Will Scarlet," Sally laughed, as she pinched his cheeks. Jerking her eyes at Little John, she asked. "Who’s the big guy?" She gazed up into the deep blue eyes of Will’s large companion. A pleased small smile grew on her face, winking up at the blonde giant she sighed, "He’s not bad to look at Will."
"Aw mum!" The oldest boy whined, knowing his mother’s penchant for tall men. "Get back to work, you scalawags!" she laughed, slapping their butts.
"You ‘ear that Little John, looks like you ‘ave an admirer."
Little John bowed his head in respect to Sally, "My name is John Little." He introduced himself to the rotund bar owner, "My friends call me, Little John."
Shoving her hand out she shook his with a vengeance equal to any man. "And my name is Sally, just Sally they all know me around here." Poking Will in the ribs with her elbow she let out a lustful chuckle. "’Specialy Will here. He knows me inside and out!"
Will and Sally leaned on each other, letting out a merry laugh. "I do that me darlin’."
Searching around the pub he asked Sally. "Got a place two weary travelers can sit with a mug of ale, and ‘ave some fun?"
"Will!" Little John shoved him with his ever-present quarterstaff. "You know what Robin said, we were to stay the night in the local inn. Just to make sure that the prince’s guards do not make a return visit. Nothing was said of having any fun!"
Will turned to look up into Little Johns gentle face. His dark eyes glinting playfully. "Aw John loosen up, you always ‘ave to be so serious." He offered him a apologetic smile, "We’ll just ‘ave a quick mug of ale, a pinch on the bum and we’re off!" Spinning around he let out a lustful laugh as he slapped Sally on the rump, she let out a childlike giggle; something one would not expect from the VERY experienced pub owner.
"Will Scarlet you always make this ol’ heart start beating like a youngsters."
Will wrapped his arms around Sally, not an easy task to do considering her size. He pulled her close to him as he whispered on her full lips. "I tries me best Luv." Giving her a deep kiss, letting out an exhausted sigh she fell in his arms.
"John…‘elp…me!" Will groaned, as he was having trouble keeping the slightly overweight woman from falling to the ground. Little John reached over to right the pixilated woman. Standing up, she fussed at her hair, giving Will an embarrassed look.
"Don’t know how you do it Will Scarlet, make me heart stop beaten. Ifen I were ten years younger," she scolded him with her finger.
Will leaned for support on Little John, fanning himself with his fingers. "If you were ten years younger Sally me darlin’, I think I would be visitin’ your pub more often."
Sally let out a lustful chuckle as she led them towards a dark corner of the small pub. Will glanced around the pub, noticing that not many patrons were in attendance. It was a Saturday night, it should be filled to capacity. "Where’s your customers luv?" Will asked as she motioned for Little John and Will to sit. As he slid into the booth Sally turned, sadly shaking her head as she looked at her half-empty pub.
"Ever since that new place opened up, I’ve lost half me patrons Will." Spinning on her heels she leaned over, giving Will and Little John part of the extras for attending the Yellow Griffin. "I tells you Will, it’s a real mystery. This new pub opens up, and all of a sudden we get lots of visits from the Princes men." Closing one eye, she added in a suspicious tone. "I think something is not quite right with that pub."
Will and Little John glanced at each other, precisely what Robin had told them to try to find answers. He also had heard of the sudden arrival and fast growth of The Black Cat in Williamshire. A fast growing town that was growing in attention in Prince Johns mind.
"Don’t worry me darlin’," Will sat back, resting his knee on the edge of the table. "Little John and I are ‘ere just fo’ that."
Will felt the familiar poke from Little John’s quarterstaff. He was getting a little tired of having his counsious always poking him in the ribs! Flinging his leg off the table, he whirled around to face the large man. His eyes blazing in fury as he spat out!
"I’m gettin’ you a softer quarterstaff," he rubbed his sore ribs. He couldn’t exactly curse Little John out, he was right, Will had to learn to keep his big-mouth-shut. He was not suppose to say anything about the pub. Robin had warned them to trust no one. Little John gave him a warning look, reminding him. "Just a drink and we go check out the other pub." Will sat back, his leg finding its way back up on the table. He swung it back and forth as his eyes roved around the pub.
"Don’t worry Little John, we’ll be out of ‘ere faster’en you take a bath." He chuckled.
"You are my heroes," Sally gushed, her eyes wide open in thanks, "I know you’ll finds out that the Black Cat is behind the Princes men plaguing our small town. As a token of the Yellow Griffins appreciation, wot ever you want is on the house." Sally gaily declared. Wills eyes roved up and down Sally’s body in a way that made her shiver. Sally reached down to pinch Wills cheek, his brows knitting in mock pain.
"Will Scarlet, you give me heart a workout every times you come, I’ll get you your favorite." Turning to face Little John, she leaned over again, saying in a deep seductive voice. "Wot will you have? Tall, light and handsome?"
Little John gulped loudly, it stuck half way down his throat as he choked
out. "Just a pint of bitters please."
Sally winked both eyes at Little John, throwing him a kiss she turned on her heels. Sashaying her large hips, as she slowly walked to the bar to get their order.
Will stared at Little John as he watched the retreating figure of Sally. "I ‘ave seen that look before LJ," he giggled.
"Oh no, Will." Little John strongly denied, as his head jerked away from the retreating Sally. "I was just looking at the crowd, searching for any of the Princes guards." Little John scanned the crowd, his eyes softening as they fell upon Sally again. Will let out a small chuckle. Slapping Little John playfully on the back. "John me large friend, when you falls in love its always ‘ard."
Bringing his leg back down, he leaned over, whispering to his good friend. "But I ‘ave to warns you, Sally is a lot of woman, she’s seen a lot in ‘er lifetime."
Little John nodded his head in agreement. "I know, that’s what I like about her."
Will sat back in the booth laughing out loud. "We’ll don’t forgets I warned you."
The drinks arrived at the table. Sally and her oldest son were carrying them. Sally’s son personally handed Little John his drink, "I’m Eric," he said with a large grin, "This is me mum’s own special brew, I hope you like it Little John." Taking it from his hands, he gently said. "In that case then, I’m sure it will be the most excellent bitters I have ever tasted." Sally blushed at his praise, hearing a call from another patron, she excused herself. Eric lingered at the table.
Will chugged his mug of Ale in a few gulps. He slammed his empty mug on the table. He let out a gasp of pleasure, as he wiped his mouth clean with his sleeve. Little John began to sip on his brew, his eyes flew wide open in delight as he began to gulp it down.
"’Ere now Little John," Will called out. "Slow down, we ‘ave all night."
A small silly grin began to grow on Little John’s face. "This is the best bitters I have ever tasted."
"Really?" Will asked, his body shivered as he made a disgusted face. "I never liked the stuff meself."
"Good," Little John said, as he emptied his mug in two gulps. He slammed the cup down on the worn wooden table with a clatter, giggling out as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Leaves more for me."
"Did you really like it?" Eric asked him.
"Yes, that was great!" Little John gushed, "I want some more, please." Eric ran back to the bar, fetching another mug full of bitters. Being a good bartender, he made sure to keep the drinks coming. Little John - not wanting to offend Sally, emptied each mug he brought. As the night wore on, Will suddenly found himself - for once, being the sober one. It was some time after they arrived at the Yellow Griffin, that Will was grabbed from the booth and whirled around the room. Moaning and complaining.
"Little John, I don’t wants to dance."
Little John held Will so high in the air his feet failed to touch the ground. "Nonsense Will, you make a great dancer." He began to spin Will around the room. "Little John," Will warned him, "If you don’t puts me down, I’ll be doing somethin’ I know I’ll regret in the morning."
The tall man released Will suddenly, he fell to the ground with a plop!
"Will you have to learn to loosen up," Little John chuckled as he reached for Sally, swinging her around the almost empty pub. Her younger children were sent to bed, only Eric remained to close the pub with her. Will stayed on the floor, bringing his knee up he rested his elbow on it and began to rub the back of his head in wonder. He had never seen Little John so drunk before. It was always he, who winded up being carried out of the pubs. A vision came to Will, of him struggling to carry Little John back to the inn. They had to return to the inn, before Little John was so drunk, he would never make it back on his own.
Jumping up from the floor, he ran to where Little John was dancing with Sally. Both were humming a tune of a Lady in Waiting, and her Sailor lover.
Shoving his hands between Little John and Sally he separated them. A large grin parted Little Johns Lips. "So you do want to dance," he chuckled, taking Will into his arms.
"No Little John, I think its time we left," he grunted, as he shoved Little John away. It was not an easy task in his drunken condition. Little John frowned, folding his arms he gruffed out. "But I was just starting to have some fun!"
"Little John, any more fun and you’re goin’ to kills me – now..." Will moved behind Little John, planting his hands on his back he pushed him towards the door. "Let’s…go!" Grinning widely at the confused Sally, he nodded his head in a salute, "It’s been grand Sally, but we ‘ave to be leavin’ now."
Eric ran up to Will and Little John, "WAIT!" he babbled out, "You can’t leave now!"
"Sorry Eric, but I want’s to get Little John back to the inn, before I’ll ‘ave to gets a wheel barrel to get ‘im there."
"You don’t have to do that Will, we have a place upstairs for the both of you to sleep," Eric offered.
"But I don’t want to go!" Little John protested, his hands locking at the door’s frame. Will brought his boot up, pushing on his backside he attempted to shove Little John through the doorframe.
"I thank you kindly Eric, but we already paid fo’ a room. Now, Little John, it’s gettin’ late!" He grunted – using his shoulder to shove him through the exit. "We… are…leavin’…now!" He shouted, as Little John flew through the doorway. "Thanks Sally!" Will called out, as he quickly shut the door of the pub. Giving a parting kiss to the smiling Sally and concerned Eric.
End of Chapter One
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