It was Christmas Eve. A light snow was falling in Sherwood Forest. The sound of horses' hooves hitting the cold hard ground echoed through the trees. Three riders were in a hurry. Upon Little John's horse, Robin Hood laid in front of the rider, drifting in and out of consciousness.
Marion Fitzwalter and Friar Tuck took turns holding onto the reigns of Robin's horse as they headed back to camp. Robin Hood had his arm slashed by one of Prince John's soldiers. The soldiers were in the town of Newberry to collect taxes on any gifts stored in the houses. If the tax could not be paid, the soldiers took the present instead. When the outlaws heard this, they rode in to stop them.
The gates of the camp opened. Little John jumped from his horse, picked up his friend and carried him to Robin's tent. Marion followed closely. Friar Tuck ran to his tent first to get some medical supplies. By the time Tuck arrived, Marion and Little John had already removed Robin's cloak. Tuck ripped away the sleeve of Robin's tunic and washed the wound.
He wrapped a clean cloth around Robin's arm and hoped the bleeding would stop soon. Little John went to the food tent to bring back dinner for Tuck, Marion and himself. They would keep a watch on Robin until he woke up. Finally, Robin opened his eyes.
"Did the soldiers leave the village?" He said.
"Yes, Robin. We had a lot of help from the townspeople. How are you feeling?," Tuck replied. Robin looked at his friends.
"Tired. I can't believe Prince John would try to ruin Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if what we're doing is worth it."
"Don't say that Robin. Of course what we're doing is right!," Little John shouted.
"It seems the more we do, the harder Prince John makes it," Robin responded. Tuck walked over to Robin and felt his forehead.
"You don't have a fever, that's a good sign. Rest tonight. Tomorrow is Christmas."
"Robin, just think about all the fun we had as children," Marion said. Tuck, Little John and Marion left Robin's tent, as Robin fell back to sleep.
"Robin, my boy, wake up," a voice said. Robin rubbed his eyes as he thought he saw his father standing beside him. "I'm here to help you."
"Where are we going, father?," Robin asked. Though he was sure he had to be dreaming, he reached out and took his father's hand. The two left the tent, but instead of being in the camp, they were back at Locksley Castle. Robin saw himself as a 10-year-old boy, holding a bow and talking to someone.
"Master MacGregor, when can I start using it?," he heard himself say.
"On the first warm day, Robert, we can start shooting lessons." he was told.
"Excuse me, Lord Robert, your father wishes you to go into the hall. The guests are starting to arrive," a young servant girl said. Robin watched as the young Robin and MacGregor went into the hall. There stood a man, a woman and a little girl.
"Hi Marion", the boy shouted with a smile.
"Ahem" a voice said from behind. The young boy then bowed,
"Good day Lord and Lady Fitzwalter." After he stood up, he turned around.
"May I show Marion my bow, Master MacGregor?" MacGregor stepped aside.
"Go ahead. And no running." The two children started down the hallway.
"Master MacGregor says as soon as it gets warm, I can learn to shoot,"
Robin told Marion. Just then another boy walked into the room. He appeared to be a couple of years older than Robin and Marion. There was something hanging from his waist.
"Is that a real sword, Guy?" Robin asked him.
"Yes, my fencing lessons start next week," the boy responded smugly.
"Robin got a bow," Marion added. Robin looked out the window. "Want to go and play in the snow?" The three children left the castle to go outside.
Robin looked at his father.
"Sure Christmas was fun when we were children, but there's too much to worry about now."
"Someone will show you what Christmas is like now. It is time for me to go. I just came to remind you how much you loved Christmas. The child in you still lives."
"No father," Robin started to plea, but it was too late. A familiar voice called to him.
"OK, so you want to know what's going to happen this Christmas." Robin turned around and saw his friend Percy. "This is what the morning will look like." Percy snapped his fingers. Robin saw the camp. There was plenty of food for everyone, and the children were all playing with new toys." See everything is going to be just fine," Percy told him.
"Percy, I just don't think what I'm doing makes a difference. It seems to get harder each year. There are some people who have been living in that camp for over 10 years. Sometimes I think it would have been better if I didn't escape when the soldiers destroyed the castle." Robin told him. Percy snapped his fingers.
"Would you rather it be this way?" Robin saw Locksley Castle again. It was deserted and in ruins. He could see two people standing by the gate. "You can get closer. They can't see you," Percy laughed. "Now you can find out what it's like." Robin approached the gate, and noticed it was Marion. She was crying, and next to her stood Andrew MacGregor.
"I can't believe it's been twelve years," Marion said through her tears.
"I'll never forget seeing my best friend and his son stuck down." MacGregor said. The two turned around as they heard a noise. A short heavy set man, pulling a wagon, stopped when he saw the man and woman.
"So sorry, my lord, my lady. I thought this castle was no longer occupied, and it would be a good place to distribute this food. I try to go to a different place each time," he explained.
MacGregor addressed the man, "The family that lived here was killed a dozen years ago, Friar.."
"Tuck," he smiled. Mac Gregor continued.
"They were very good friends of ours. We come here every Christmas."
Another noise was heard, and a tall, blonde man walked towards them.
"My name is John Little. I come from a large family, and was hoping to get some food," he said. Marion had an idea.
"I'm sure my cousin and her husband wouldn't mind. We always have plenty of leftovers. You can ride back with me, and take some food for your family. Andrew, maybe you can stay with the Friar and when he's finished, bring him to Goodside Manor and the two of you can have a hot meal. Marion and Little John rode off. When they arrived at the castle, Marion had someone waiting to see her. She introduced John to one of the servants so he could be brought to the kitchen, and then greeted her guest. "Hello, Guy. Merry Christmas" Sir Guy of Gisbourne lifted her hand and kissed it.
"Is there someplace we can go and talk," he asked her. They sat on a bench by the window. "Marion, I know I've asked you this before," Guy started, "but I refuse to give up. Will you marry me?" Marion paused for a few seconds then looked at Guy and said yes. Guy looked surprised. He wasn't sure he heard her correctly.
"I've been doing some thinking today, Guy, and I made a few decisions, one which was to accept your proposal." There was a knock on the door. Marion opened it to find MacGregor and Tuck. When they walked in, Marion told them to stay in the hall while she ran upstairs. A short time later, she returned carrying a pouch and a piece of paper.
"Friar, this is some of my inheritance, and a note giving you permission to use Fitzwalter Castle as a monastery, orphanage, or whatever purpose you see fit. I've been living with my cousin ever since my parents passed away. I was very unhappy living in the castle alone. But now I'm getting married and have no need for it. Maybe Andrew can show you the way after you eat."
"Did I hear you say you're getting married?" Marion's cousin, Iris was excited. Guy placed his arm around Marion.
"Yes she finally agreed." Then he noticed the Friar. "Do you think you can do the honors today?"
"Oh yes, Marion. The family is all here," Iris agreed. " I'll get Thomas and the baby."
Robin looked at Percy. "Would she really marry Guy?"
"You're not there for her. Once her parents died, she was uncomfortable living in the castle, and moved in with Iris and Tom. Now they have a child, and she's uncomfortable here too," Percy told him.
"All right, you showed me how I affect my friends, but what about the villagers. Am I really helping them?," Robin inquired.
"Well, someone else will tell you that. Percy snapped his fingers and disappeared.
"’ey Robbie" Robin Hood thought he was hearing things.
"Jacobi," he shouted.
"Yes, I ‘ave ter show yer wot good yer ‘ave done," Jacobi pointed. "Wot
does that look like?"
"It's Kirkley's Abbey," Robin told him.
"Now gets closer. This is a statue of yer, so everyone knows where yor
buried, and this is yor tombstone." Robin read the words :
Ne'er archer was as he so good
People called him Robin Hood
Such outlaws as he and his men
Will England never see again.
"People come from all over the world ter visit ‘ere. There are countless books and plays written about yer. Even festivals ‘eld in yor ‘onor. And this is 800 years in the future. And because yor famous, I'm famous. So yer ‘ave to keep doin' good. Soon as they forget abouts Robin ‘ood, they forget abouts Jacobi too."
"OK, I'm convinced. Now, can I go back to my hut," Robin yelled.
"Fine, but yor not gonna remembers any of this," Jacobi said as he disappeard.
Robin woke up. He quickly changed his clothes, and left his tent. Little John, Tuck and Marion were on their way to see how Robin was feeling, when they saw him walking towards them, carrying a log.
"We forgot the Yule Log," he said as he walked passed them. Robin placed the log in the hearth and lit it. "Remember this doesn't go out until the sixth."
"How are you feeling?" Tuck wanted to know.
"Well, the arm is a bit stiff, but it's Christmas," he smiled. Then he looked at his other friends. "Marion, after breakfast, want to play in the snow? And Little John, make sure you pack enough food for your family. Tuck can help you load the wagon." As Little John watched as Robin and Marion left for a walk, he leaned over to Tuck
"Guess the rest did him good."
When Robin and Marion got to a clearing in the woods, Robin stopped and looked at Marion.
"Would you ever consider getting married before King Richard returned?" Marion was surprised at his question.
"What did you say?"
"Yesterday, one of us could have been killed. I don't want to wait any longer. Name the day and we'll get married," Robin told her.
"How about when Little John returns from visiting his family?," Marion suggested.
"Well, if Andrew and your cousins Iris and Tom get here before Little John leaves, maybe we can do it today," Robin replied.
"Is that really you, Robin," Marion laughed. Robin smiled and kissed her.
"Let's get back and tell the others."
When they got back to camp, they saw Iris, Tom and MacGregor helping load the wagon with Little John and Tuck. Robin ran over to tell them the news. Then he turned around and looked at Marion. She smiled and nodded.
"I need to get my prayer book. I'll be right back," Tuck told him.
Word spread quickly throughout the camp. Robin stood next to Marion, and Little John was at his side. With their friends gathered around them, this was going to be a Christmas to remember.
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