5. THE LEAVING OF SHERWOOD.

5. THE LEAVING OF SHERWOOD.

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
"

Another elderly story concerning relative values.

"

The sun was sinking towards the west of the world, small clouds scudding past and over it, breaking its whiteness into a million shades that ranged from yellow to red but which were never either.

Robin Hood eyed Maid Marion with eyes that never tired of feasting on her rare good looks, her long fragrant hair wisping round her shoulders and her clear blue eyes holding his own, unwavering.

"What is it?" she asked, stirring a pool of dust and dry leaves casually with one bare foot.

"I was just thinking…"

"Oh?"

"Yes, Marion, I was thinking…

"Tell me, then. What's troubling you, my robber-boy lover?"

"It's time I was flittin', Marion. I've heard things."

"Things?"

Yeah: things. Like the Sheriff's got his beady eyes on a stranger down Blidd'uth Bottoms. And the airs cooler and cleaner up Barnsley way. You know: things."

"What stranger?"

"Just a man. You must've heard: he just drifted in. Nobody saw him come nor knows from whence he came. He's down Blidd'uth Bottoms way, as I say."

"It's not like you to talk of running away from a single man even if he does live near Blidd'uth Bottoms!"

"There's the cool air of Barnsley, lass. You know you like it up there: how about it? And who said owt about running away? I don't do running away! D'you fancy a ride to Barnsley? You know, so that historians and the like of the future can write reams and reams about the Mighty Robin Hood and where he might have hailed from?"

"You're nowt but a tease, Robin!"

"I know! It's just that I like thinking of stuff."

"OK. So let's go, then! I'm bored with Sherwood anyway, and the Sheriff's too busy trying to find the bloke who's peddling suntan lotion to be interested in anything you choose to do these days."

"It's a scorcher of a summer," pointed out Robin Hood. "There's folks as want to look after their skins!"

"Yes, but suntan lotion! Who ever heard of such a thing! Whatever next!

"Digital watches?" suggested Robin, a gleam in his eyes.

"You what? Fligital whatsits?"

"They say they're sun-dials that can be worn of the wrist so you can take them around with you," explained Robin. "Perfect for summers like this one's turned out to be!"

"A good idea, but a silly name."

"Maybe you're right. Well, what about it? Shall we be off, Barnsley way?"

"If that's what you want," she murmured.

"I do! Come on, lass! I've a pair of fine mounts fresh from the Sheriff's stables, saddled up and waiting, so let's be off before the old fool knows they're missing!"

He led her to a clearing in which Little John was holding the reigns of two horses, calming them by whispering with surprising gentility into their ears. He glanced at Robin and Marion, and stood to one side.

"So you're off?" he asked.

"Yes, for a couple of weeks," said Robin. "You know where I'll be if anything goes wrong. Meanwhile you're the boss!"

The big man ghosted off, and the outlaw and his lady were alone in the Greenwood.

"Which way?" asked Marion once they were mounted.

"Blidd'uth Bottoms first," he told her with a grin. "There's a man down there I've just got to see!"

Now, now! There won't be any trouble will there, Robin?"

"No, Marion " it's not like that at all. But he's selling something I might just take a fancy to."

"What's that?"

"On a day like this it's just got to be suntan lotion!"

He led the way, their horses moving at a gentle pace, little faster than a man can walk. Night had just about fallen and a serene darkness settled on the shadowy forest, a darkness barely touched by the fickle light of a slender new sickle moon. Eventually a few pale glimmers, the orange haze of fat lamps in the dusky night, showed the way to Blidd'uth Bottoms, shining as they did from unglazed windows.

Eventually Robin pulled his horse to a standstill and held a hand towards Marion's.

"Here we are," he muttered, and he led Marion towards a one-roomed building that had been built separated from the rest of the rambling village.

Who is it?" she hissed.

"Merlin, or his progeny," replied Robin mysteriously. Marion didn't know what progeny might be so she remained quiet, trusting the outlaw. Robin knocked on the door and there was a moment of silence as he and Marion held their breaths. Then the door creaked open.

The man who stood in its ramshackle frame was dressed in strange clothes, had pale and well shaved features and was smiling with an easy confidence.

"Suntan lotion, great Lord and Master?" asked Robin, nervously, thought Marion, for so great a man.

"Ha! I've been waiting for you, I think. Are you Master Hood?" grinned the pale stranger, his accent as strange as his appearance.

"Aye, and this is Marion of Sherwood," replied Robin stoutly.

"The two of you together? This is marvellous! Good! Do come in! I knew you wouldn't be able to keep away once you heard rumour of me! But tell me " what do you think of this? I'll show you in the light when it's switched on … it's a digital watch, my friend…"

"Smart," grunted Robin. "But suntan lotion?"

"Don't be impatient! I've got some miracles to show you, my friend! I'm a magician with bright light at night!"

He flicked something that was no more than a small and virtually inconspicuous lever and the inside of the scruffy hut was suddenly flooded by a light that made it brighter than it ever was during the hours of sunlight. Shadows were driven away into corners, and a couple of rodents scurried away, half blinded by the sudden intensity.

"What is it?" gasped Marion, one hand over where she thought her heart might be.

The man smiled at her reassuringly. "Just a token, my friends, just a token," he said quietly. "You see, I'm not just any old man…"

"That you're not!" she gasped.

He frowned at her. "Far from it, I'm a god from the future! And in that very future I'm a god indeed."

Robin snorted. "It's sinful to blaspheme, fellow, and by uttering such words you will be damned for all Eternity!" he snapped, his heart suddenly unfrozen by his sudden anger.

I am what I say I am," murmured the stranger mildly, "and I have come journeying over the years to you, for I have a task for you. I see the very end of things, my outlaw friend. And there dwells, not two miles from here, a fellow you can " eliminate " for me. That's your line of business, isn't it?"

"Say more: is he a villain? Does he hoard gold and coin when he could spend it on easing the hardship of the poor?" asked Robin.

"Not that, my friend. But he is worse than that. Take it from me that there are some things, personality things, which pass from father to son and onwards down many generations, and even into the distant future. Take it from me that the man I speak of is cunning and sly and can mould things, natural things, until they are most unnatural… And then take it from me he will pass his skills down the generations until one day the skies will turn grey and the sun will scorch the skins of all men, and they will die, and all because of him…"

Robin Hood snorted. "Then he is safe from me!" he shouted, angry suddenly. "I have no stake in future years and if I read you correctly you want me to … eliminate … one who just may the father of the father of someone who, you say, is dangerous?"

"You must help me!" The stranger was suddenly begging, his eyes filled with great fear, and he was wringing his hands. "I have but a few more moments and I will return to the future, to my own time…"

"Never!"

"I was sure you would … you are the great Robin Hood as told in ancient tales, a name going down all of history … I feel myself fading … I must return whence I came … please help the future, your future, everybody's future… Have you ever heard … do you know of CFCs? Does the very sound of it not fill your heart with … fear?"

"You are a buffoon!" growled Robin.

"Look Robin: he's … he's… he's fading!" gasped Marion.

"Let's get away from here," snapped Robin. "As I said the man's a buffoon, telling tales and nonsense to Robin Hood!"

He reached towards the crude wooden table and took two strange objects. Then the two of them were outside the hut and leaping onto the backs of their horses.

"What did you take?" asked Marion.

"Oh, a digital watch and some suntan lotion," grinned Robin. "But the watch is rubbish. Here, love of my life, have it as a trinket."

She examined the small strapped object in its black case and shook her head.

"Junk," she said, and she tossed it idly into the bushes. "Come on, Robin, we can make some distance before the moon sinks low!"

© Peter Rogerson 24.04.09





© 2017 Peter Rogerson



My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

33 Views
Added on October 5, 2017
Last Updated on October 15, 2017
Tags: Robin Hood, Marion


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 73 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing