9. THE GENTLEMAN OF COLOUR - 2

9. THE GENTLEMAN OF COLOUR - 2

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
"

A second part of a tale set in the time of Robin Hood, a revenge for murder...

"

Robin Hood stared at Merek, and shook his head sadly when he heard that foul murder had been committed, in Africa and on a woman, by a Christian.

You know for sure?” he said. “How could you tell the wretch’s faith?”

He was dressed after the manner of the so-called Crusaders with a Christian cross quite visible on his jerkin, even as you were dressed, Robin, and bearing a flag showing the same cross. He was Christian, all right, and I also knew, from his tongue, that he was an Englander!”

There are evil men everywhere, I suppose, even dwelling amongst our own green woods and fields,” muttered Robin, “but I ask again, what brings you to this particular place at this time? There are few round here who have been to the Holy Land in battle!”

But he who called himself Sir Guy of Gisbourne has,” said Merek grimly, “and I have matters to discuss with him.”

I know him!” put in Marion, her face suddenly shdowed, “for it is he who thinks he is courting me when he sends me the ears and other more intimate parts of dead men with messages of foul lust and desire!”

I also know him,” growled Robin, “and he is a dangerous man! And I do believe that he went with King Richard to fight in the wars against the Muslim host in the Holy land, and returned an even more dangerous foe. And, Marion, the love tokens that he sends you should be submitted to the sheriff as evidence of the wretch’s wrong-doing.”

He is the sheriff’s friend as you well know, Robin,” said Marion, “and as a friend the sheriff will hear nought wrong about him.”

Anyway, my good friend Robin, I am still filled with a huge grief and anger, and need to find this Sir Guy, and when I do it will be either him or me, for I have no wish to live a life without Ayleth in my arms.”

I will come with you to his estate,” said Robin, “and with us we shall take as many good men and true as you may need.”

It will be one versus one, and if you accompany me, my friend, it will be as an observer,” said Merek grimly, “My quarrel, and my quarrel alone, is with the man, and I need to satisfy my anger on my own, or die in the attempt.”

Robin nodded. “So be it,” he said quietly, “but be assured that you may be just the one, but Guy of Gisbourne will have squires round every corner, bristling with spears and with arrows notched!”

I am a man of honour and will not betray myself, not even if there be a hundred Sir Guy of Gisbournes before me,” growled Merek.

Then I will be what aid I can be if need beckons,” muttered Robin, shaking his head sadly. “But first, my friend, I insist that you feast with us, for no man can fight a dread foe on an empty stomach. Come, and you may see my encampment and meet my friends, all of whom you may trust if need arises.”

Then I will take meat and then seek out Sir Guy the Evil,” agreed Merek, “and teach him a hard lesson.”

I hope you can,” murmured Robin, “but I fear it will be no easy task.”

Robin Hood led the way through the forest, going by barely trodden paths and through bluebell glades, many of them unseen by eyes other than those of a handful of Merry Men since time immemorial.

You do indeed bury yourself in a deep place,” murmured Merek.

We have an enemy, and that enemy is the law with sufficient resources to flush us out of many less hidden places,” said Robin, “and although we travel back and forth to our settlement, we go by many diverse routes, thus ensuring that we don’t wear tracks that men can easily follow.”

When the little party arrived at Robin’s headquarters in the forest there was already a feast well under way, with venison roasting on a spit over an open fire and other meats filling the air with their tempting fragrances, and jugs of good ale waiting to be supped.

He introduced his friend Merek to the outlaws present at the time, explaining that his dark complexion was common in his own land, and then moved amongst them speaking secretly as their guest ate and entertained the curious with tales of far off places.

This Africa of yours, it sounds like Paradise,” said Little John.

I have heard tell of dusky maidens from that realm, maidens so beautiful that it is said they are the children of the angels the good book speaks of,” nodded Friar Tuck.

And treasures beyond belief,” put in the Miller’s son, Much. “Gemstones and gold and the like.”

Gold is mined for sure,” agreed Merek, “but only so much is taken, to satisfy our needs, and no more. For it is a rich gift from the Earth, and gifts should never be abused.”

You are a wise people. It would be good to think,” put in Robin as he passed the group, “that if a man were to live for a thousand years he would find that the greed you imply seems to drive some men has become a thing of the past, and that all men are equal when it comes to wealth a possessions.”

And women,” added Marion, “for are not women as equal as men?”

They are more equal in my homeland,” sighed Merek, “where the fairer sex have a great say in the way of things, though our tribal leader is a man. But he has, at his back, too many wives to ignore them and their voices!”

A man guided by his woman is a mighty powerful force!” laughed Robin. “Now, if you have eaten, friend Merek, if we are to face Guy of Gisbourne today we must leave now, or risk darkness falling before our trap is sprung.”

He, with Merek by his side, set off along a hidden path moving, according to Robin, in as straight a line as men could in the direction of the Gisbourne estate. Marion he bade remain behind, for it was well known that the black heart of Sir Guy had feelings for her, but not her pure heart for him.

They eventually arrived at the Gisbourne estate. The villagers who lived there all looked dreary as if they were forbidden anything but the most basic necessities of life, and Robin knew that to be the case, for Sir Guy enforced the sheriff’s orders and punished any who did not pay their dues and taxes in full, and in addition it was rumoured that he syphoned off coin for his own coffers.

What is your plan, Merek?” he asked when they were approaching the main entrance to the private grounds of their enemy.

You remain here, my friend, and I will finish the job myself,” said Merek evenly, “and those from your happy band of men who think I haven’t noticed them following us, they need not interfere. The quarrel is me with Sir Guy and it would do my ancestors no good were they to discover I did not avenge my dearest Ayleth alone.”

Robin nodded, knowing how important it must be to this good friend of his, to meet his foe and subdue him alone and without aid. He whistled like a wren, a signal that his men were to remain where they were unless beckoned by another signal. Honour, after all, is honour yet comes in many guises.

And so Merek marched along the track, a lonely yet powerful figure, wary of all that went on around him, face set and determined and with the totality of grief still heavy in his heart.

And Robin watched him as he went, shaking his head sadly, fearing for a cruel outcome and silently praying for better.

TO BE CONTINUED

© Peter Rogerson 10.10.17




© 2017 Peter Rogerson



My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5

Stats

83 Views
Added on October 10, 2017
Last Updated on October 15, 2017
Tags: Robin Hood, Merry Men, Guy of Gisbourne, murder, African


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