24. A SHERWOOD RELATIVE. Part 1

24. A SHERWOOD RELATIVE. Part 1

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Little John's enjoying a walk in the forest when he meets a lovely stranger

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If anything could be said of Little John it would have been that he was a big, big man. Much of the bigness that he was blessed with was a consequence of genetic inheritance, though neither he nor anyone else back then would have used the term. Instead it might be suggested that it runs in the family or like father, like son, both of which suggest genetic inheritance anyway.

There was also, of course, the appetite component on top of the genes. Little John was blessed with what has always been called a healthy appetite.

A particular day dawned that, if all went well, may well lead to a slight change in his girth, though. A bright summery day with the greenwood beautifully green and the sun beating down from a sky that was bereft of clouds and he walking along with a song in his heart. And besides singing to himself Little John was huffing and puffing at the very exertion of walking the two or three miles to see his kin in Broworth.

He was maybe half way there when he heard the voice.

Can you help me?” it asked, and at first he wondered whether it was a woman or a child. He was easily confused by the intonation of the two sectors of the population because, and this is obviously true, they didn’t sound too dissimilar from each other. He was wary if the voice belonged to a child because that group were notorious for playing tricks even on large men like him when they realised that he had a kindly heart, and he was differently wary if the voice belonged to an adult female because that group had always made him feel uncomfortable. Even Marion, the sweetest of maidens and beloved of Robin Hood, himself made him feel edgy. Give him a man’s friendship any day. You can be sure of men.

Can you help me?” repeated the voice, and he, being honourable, knew that he would have to answer the plea.

He looked around, using his uncannily perverse sense of direction to seek out the source of the voice, and couldn’t until a branch of an oak tree just above his head rattled and a few of last year’s acorns fell down around where he stood. He blinked, a confused lump of mankind if ever there was a confused lump of mankind.

And there she was, shaking the branch, and he’d never seen anyone like her. At first it crossed his mind that she might be an angel from Heaven lost in the depths of Sherwood Forest after being sent down the wrong path by Satanic forces until he recalled that angels from Heaven were always male because there wasn’t much call for females in Heaven. But if there was any such thing as beauty on this world then she must be it.

Can you help me?” she repeated again. “I’m stuck. I got up this tree because I was being pursued by a brute from Nottingham castle, and it was easier getting up when I was terrified than it is getting down when I’m not. Terrified, I mean: I’m not terrified, not any more because the brute’s gone and must be miles away by now.”

Little John might have scratched his head and pondered, but he was too intrigued to ignore the plea, and any reference to pursuit from the black-hearted men who were employed by the Sheriff in Nottingham castle was like a key to open his heart, if he needed one.

Here, hold my hand,” he said, and he made his way part way up the tree and held one hand out. “I’ll support you,” he added.

Getting her down would have been a great deal easier if she’d trusted him more than she did, but he was a stranger to her and she was possibly the most ravishingly beautiful wench he had ever seen and she could tell his judgement of her by the light in his eyes. But get her down he did, eventually, and being Little John and being as noble as he was he went out of his way to make absolutely sure she couldn’t accuse him of manhandling her in any inappropriate way. He may well have been uncomfortable in the presence of the females of the species, but he did respect them

Thanks,” she said, smiling the sweetest of all smiles with both her mouth and her eyes, which warmed Little John’s already warm heart. “I’m Suse,” she added, “Everyone calls me Suse though I rather suspect my real name is a bit longer, but I’ve forgotten it.”

She’s forgotten her name! How can anyone forget her name? It doesn’t make sense. Unless she’s mad, of course, unless she’s lost her mind and will never find it again? These thoughts and many similar raced through his mind, and he looked at her questioningly.

How could you do that?” he asked, curious.

Do what?” she replied, still smiling.

Forget your name?” he prompted her.

Oh that! I’ve not been called by my name since I was kidnapped as a very small child, and I’ve been forced to live with my uncle in the castle ever since he was made Sheriff...”

Cripes! If what she’s saying is true then the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham is this girl’s uncle and Robin would be very keen on having a word or ten with her…

What’s your name?” she asked.

I’m John Little, though most people turn it round and call me Little John on account of the fact that I’m not,” he said.

You’re not what?” she frowned.

When she frowns she’s possibly even more beautiful than when she doesn’t, flashed through his mind.

I’m not little, but you’re the prettiest lass I’ve ever seen,” he gabbled, letting out two distinctly different thoughts in the one sentence.

Then Little John, have you heard of Robin Hood?” she asked, her eyes, her clear and beautiful eyes, on his face.

He nodded and had the sense to wonder whether this was a trap. He’d never heard of the Sheriff having a niece, not even one locked up in a dungeon since she was a child, and it was just like the evil Sheriff to lay a trap and catch Robin, the outlaws, all of them, because they all thought wonderful things about pretty girls and were likely to trust a lovely face without question.

But he was made of sterner stuff! At least, he thought he was.

I know of Robin Hood,” he told her, carefully, watching his words, “why do you ask?”

Because I need to tell him that I’m alive,” she said, blinking her glorious eyes at him. How in all of nature did this girl get such lovely long eye-lashes? The question almost made him forget the doubts that had started worrying him, but not quite.

Seeing Robin isn’t a straight-forward affair,” he said, slowly, “tell me, sweet Suse, how come you ask after him?”

Because I want to see him,” she said as though it was the most obvious thing for her to say, which it probably was, “and because I miss him.”

You miss him? You know him? You’re a long lost lover of his? And just when I thought I’d found the one angel in the firmament that was meant for me…

You miss him?” he asked.

She nodded, her eyes shining and her hair blowing in the slight summer breeze that teased it with little swirls of delight.

I do,” she said, still nodding, “you see, he’s my brother and I miss him so much...”

TO BE CONTINUED

© Peter Rogerson 27.10.17





© 2017 Peter Rogerson



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Added on October 27, 2017
Last Updated on October 27, 2017
Tags: Little John, Robin Hood, young woman, kidnapped, Sheriff of Nottingham


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



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