10. THE GENTLEMAN OF COLOUR - 3

10. THE GENTLEMAN OF COLOUR - 3

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Part Three, and the evil Sir Guy meets his fate.

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Merek felt far from being the bold African warrior that he was as he strode down the drive towards the Gisbourne big house. He felt as if he was the most obvious thing in the landscape and that anyone caring to glance even over half the world could hardly be expected to miss him.

The house itself, timber and wattle, was built on two floors and spread over an area almost bigger than his own compact village back in Africa, where people lived in tidy little round houses and where comfort and intimacy were the bywords for a happy existence. He had seen several large houses on this strange island that was home for a few wealthy men and countless paupers, and it struck him as odd indeed that such social and fiscal inequality it would be permitted in a land that proclaimed itself to be for the free.

He paused half way down the pathway that, in the fullness of time and when modes of transport became elevated to an art-form, would become an ornate driveway. As it was, it was merely a pathway cutting straight across a dried sun-baked landscape.

When he arrived at the entrance he was presented with a doorway and a huge, heavy oak door with a leather thong hanging by it. He pulled on the thong and heard the sound of a cracked dull bell clanging within the building.

When the door was opened it was by a grotesque little figure of a man, hunched and rounded yet swarthy and tough looking, and he emitted the acrid aroma of stale urine.

Yeah?” he enquired, almost coughing the question at Merek.

I need to see Sir Guy,” replied the dark-skinned man, doing his best not to give any clue of the revulsion he felt at the sight and smell of the other.

Why, sir, I am he-eer,” came a smarmy voice from inside the darkness of the main hall onto which the door had opened. It was a warm summer, yet somewhere in its interior a fire was burning and the smell of meat roasting and foul wood smoke mingled to give the place a toxic atmosphere.

Sir Guy was obviously a man who cared about his appearance if not about his environment. His whiskered face had obviously been closely attended to because his upper lip sported a moustache of unbelievable proportions, one that gave his entire face the appearance of a sardonic smile. “I am he-eer, and who is asking for me-ee?” he added.

Merek might have been confused by that voice and the way it seemed to become one with the dense atmosphere within the big hall, but he wasn’t. He had, after all, battled as a volunteer in the crusades, taking the part of those he saw as the rightful citizens of a land that was being threatened by armies of knights from far afield, and he wasn’t going to be subdued by the weasel words of the man who had killed his lovely Ayleth for no better reason that because he could.

I have come to reward you for murder,” he said, quietly.

Oh inde-eed,” almost laughed the knight, emerging as a spoke from the swirling fog of his big hall and into the light of day, the moustache he was so obviously proud of seeming to gain extra dominance over a face twisted by the leer that apparently constantly adorned it. “So I have earned a re-eeward, have I, my smokeey coloured friend,” he drawled, stretching his vowels almost beyond breaking point. “So whaaat is miy re-eeward?” he asked.

I challenge you to honourable combat!” said Merek boldly, “for your reward, Sir Guy, is death. Your death. Your painful and lingering death, for you took the life of the most wonderful maiden in the world when you stole the breath from my Ayleth.”

You wish to fi-ight me, little ma-an?” asked Sir Guy, “Li-ittle you against me and my ser-ergeants, any one of which could e-eeasily wi-ipe you out without thinking twi-ice about what they were do-o-ing?”

Man against man if man you be!” snapped Merek, confused by the other’s manner of speech and not willing to parley for much longer. He felt exposed where he was, unable to see far into the great hall where any number of Gisbourne’s men might be lurking invisible to him, bristling with weaponry and only too happy to make the quarrel an uneven affair.

Oh-oh, ma-an against ma-an is it?” laughed the knight, slapping his own thighs as though the joke was worthy of it. “I don’t do ma-an against ma-an when one of the me-en is me,” he added, smirking, “I-i have servants to se-ee to tha-at!”

A fair fight is all I demand!” snapped Merek, angrier by the moment at the attitude of the man before him, displaying not one hint of the chivalry for which the knights were famed. “And,” he added, “a fair fight is more than you offered my Ayleth when you slaughtered her!”

I do not fi-ight with wo-omen,” laughed Sir Guy, “fo-or tha-at is not the do-one thi-ing! No, I bed them hard, and then I-i kill them slow!”

At that he waved one hand, an almost insignificant gesture, and half a dozen ape-like men, as filthy and odorous and twisted as the doorman had been, appeared behind him, and they were more blade and axe than they were man.

Thi"is is my ide-ea of a fair fi-ight,” smirked Sir Guy, his moustache almost straining itself to laugh.

And this is mine!” rapped out a fresh voice, and as if from nowhere and with an arrow notched in his bow sprang Robin Hood.

In truth he had worked his way round the Gisbourne hall and without betraying his position had managed to listen to the last part of the conversation before deciding that enough was enough and if Merek wanted a man to man fight with the moustachioed knight he would never get one. Sir Guy, Robin knew, was the worst of bullies, never opening himself up to the chance of injury when he can lurk behind others.

Robin, I said...” cried Merek, and then he saw the wisdom of the leader of the outlaws, for on his own and unaided he was never going to avenge the death of his lovely Ayleth but rather join her in the land of their ancestors ... and he wasn’t ready for that yet.

Then half a dozen other outlaws appeared behind Robin Hood, their bows equally prepared to deal out death. They had secretly followed their leader, on his instructions issued earlier as they ate, and the rag-tag behind the knight knew they were no match for the bold outlaws of the greenwood. They showed their courage by melting away, and in order to ensure they did not return Little John felled one of them, the biggest and meanest of them, with an arrow through the heart.

I owed that to him,” he apologised to Robin, “the brute threatened Gentle Lily with rape and worse. He is unfit to live.”

Then deserve it he did, and what is such a fellow doing in the employ of a chivalric knight of the realm? Sir Guy, I would leave you to fight man to man and single-handed against friend Merek here, but I fear he would kill you and that would ruin a great deal for me, for I have long believed that whilst your enemy is a coward and lives you are safer than if he is dead and replaced by a brave man. But friend Merek, you can have the pleasure, if it pleases you, to pursue Sir Guy wheresoever you please and let it be known that sooner or later you will slay him unexpectedly, round any corner he may chance to turn or any street he chooses to walk down.”

Or right now,” muttered Merek, and in a flashing instant and without offering any warning he slung a blade that had been concealed about his person, and it tore into the flesh of the wretched Sir Guy, and slew him there and then.

I’m sorry, Robin, but I promised the memory of Ayleth that I would not suffer the brute to live one moment longer than I had to,” he muttered, “and I am a man of my word and know more of honour than the man bleeding at my feet ever did.”

I understand,” sighed Robin, “you are, of course, quite right. I just hope the next knight to dwell within these walls and beyond this door is a more likeable fellow.”

He couldn’t be worse,” grunted Little John, pushing the deceased Sir Guy with one large foot..

THE END




© 2017 Peter Rogerson



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Added on October 11, 2017
Last Updated on October 15, 2017
Tags: Robin Hood, Maid Marion, Sherwood Forest, Sir Guy, Merek


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