16. A WOUNDED SOLDIER AND A PLAN

16. A WOUNDED SOLDIER AND A PLAN

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Bringing together my own two characters and merging them with the Merry Men.

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How’s our visitor doing, Friar?” asked Robin Hood of Friar Tuck as they both stood just outside their rambling camp and breathed in the freshness of a new morning. The sun was just managing to find its way through a gap in the canopy, low to the east, and the forest was bathed in a warm glow.

He’ll live,” grunted the friar, “though, as you know, I’m a doctor of the soul rather than of the flesh!”

The visitor was Hugh Scanlon of Barnsley, fresh from the crusades with a badly wounded leg and disfiguring scars across his face. It was a miracle he’d survived to reach the shores of his homeland and an even bigger miracle that the sheriff of Nottingham’s men hadn’t completed the task of separating him from his life as he’d tried to reach his home town of Barnsley and been waylaid by them in Sherwood forest until Robin Hood had chanced on the barbarous scene and rescued him.

Do you think we’ll need a physician?” asked Robin.

Tuck shook his head. “He was treated well enough before he returned to England and his leg is on its way to being healed, though he’ll most likely always have a limp which will disable him if he plans to return to the Holy Land,” he said, “and a few days’ of untroubled sleep will see to the rest of his problems,” he added.

Then we’ll care for him until he’s fit and well,” decided Robin, “and that new girl, Ruth, who shows no sign of wanting to continue on her pilgrimage to York says she has a few skills when it comes to wounded flesh. She hails from a priory where, it is reported, the discipline is harsh and from time to time that kind of skill is called for.”

There’s no place on God’s Earth for the kind of cruelty she speaks of,” growled Friar Tuck, “but I know it exists, and is practised in the name of God.”

Who is seen as a vindictive and cruel God,” pointed out Robin, “according, that is, to a few of the juiciest chapters in your good book!”

I would challenge that, Robin!” snorted the friar.

Then think on drowning an entire world and rescuing but the one family just because a few people didn’t behave themselves,” murmured the outlaw chief, “I’d call that both cruel and vindictive, wouldn’t you?”

Friar Tuck snorted again, and marched off. Robin laughed at his back and shook his head. “Along with just about everyone else he only believes the bits he likes,” he murmured to himself, and went into the outlaw’s shelter.

Is Ruth about?” he called.

Here!” the speaker was young, maybe not yet fifteen, and she stood nervously in front of the famous outlaw. Initially she had been terrified of meeting him on her journey through the forest, which she had been obliged to take on her own as proof of her devotion and where she had been rescued from a great storm by Friar Tuck, and taken to the outlaw’s headquarters. Now, having met the outlaws and heard their stories it seemed that she wanted to become one of them. Although she was a girl and they were mostly men it wasn’t out of the question. Given time and a little more maturity she might well fit in, and give Robin Hood’s good lady, the fair Marion, a little female company.

I hear it said that you have some knowledge of wounded flesh?” he asked.

I can stitch a cut in the flesh with clean thread,” she replied, “it must always be clean thread, though, for unclean thread upsets our Lord and therefore he makes it start the wound fermenting as a punishment.”

Less of your Lord and more of nature,” grunted Robin quietly, and louder, “would it please you to care for our latest guest, for he has returned from the Crusade and been mistreated by the Sheriff’s men,” he said.

If I can be of service,” she said, demurely.

And of your pilgrimage to York?” he asked, “for you said, did you not, that you were under an obligation to pray within the sacred nave of the Minster there, and receive the bishop’s blessing?”

She nodded. “That was my intent, my lord,” she whispered, afraid of what was to come.

You say was,” he pointed out, quietly. The girl was a timid creature and the last thing he wanted to do was scare her with harsh or loud words.

You have all been so kind to me,” she replied, “and I never knew such kindness, not ever in my life. I have lived under the iron rule of the Priory and thought that was all there was in the world, praying and punishment. Now I am here, where I was lost, and are met with kindness every day… and despite what was taught me, no man has tried to force his … his … you know what, onto me, or make me do one thing that goes against my understanding of what I ought to be.”

It had been a long speech, and she was afraid she might have filled the air with her words for too long and thus annoyed the chief of the outlaws. But he smiled at her, moved towards her, and ruffled her hair, which was clean and had been made fragrant with some of Marion’s flower water.

If any man here threatens to violate you, then I must be told,” he said, gently, “and you may stay for as long as you deem it right for you to stay, York or no York, for we have a man of your God in our midst, and you may say what prayers you need to say with him. Tuck is a fair scholar as well as a fair eater, and he will see you well!”

Then, if I may, I will tarry awhile, and in return attend to the stranger’s wounds in whatever way I can,” she replied, smiling.

Then it is well that you are here!” laughed Robin Hood, and he called to his men and informed them of his decision. They nodded in agreement, for they knew what kind of man he was and that he knew his own mind clearly.

Meanwhile, we have business in Nottingham,” he said, “for the stranger we are nursing has lately come from the Crusades where he put his life on the line against those who would harm us, and yet been molested on the orders of the Sheriff, who needs to be taught a lesson or two!”

What are you planning, Robin?” asked Much the Miller’s son.

I have heard on the grapevine that an emissary from the king’s court in London is coming this way,” replied Robin. “There will be a chief minister clad in his fine and rich regalia, and a posse of guards to ensure his safety. He is to call on the sheriff, dine richly with him even though half the population in these parts is going hungry, and return tomorrow to London with a chest containing the taxes that have been forced out of even the poorest man.”

Shame!” cried a chorus of his men.

Then I thought it might be well if those taxes in good coin end up here where those in genuine need can receive them,” said Robin devoutly. “It will mean, of course, that we waylay the emissary from London and threaten him with his life if he doesn’t cooperate.”

Or take it,” snarled Will Scarlett, “for he must know that it is the food for the bellies of starving babies that is the substance of taxes!”

But the orders are not from him,” said Robin gently, “he is merely employed to perform what, to him, may be a tasteless task.”

I know these men,” retorted Will, “they would do anything to gain ever more favour from Prince John who reigns in his brother Richard’s place while he is far away.”

Then we will waylay them tomorrow, and see what is what,” smiled Robin Hood grimly, “and with luck and good judgement be able to alleviate the poverty that is even taking the lives of the poor who have had their every farthing taken by the crown!”

There was a cheer of assent, and Ruth turned to attend to Hugh Scanlon’s wounds, happy that for the first time in her life that she seems to be in the right place.

© Peter Rogerson 17.10.17




© 2017 Peter Rogerson



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Added on October 17, 2017
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Tags: Hugh, Ruth, Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, Friar Tuck


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..

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