A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Little John leads Suse through the denseness of Sherwood Forest


My own planned visit will have to wait, muttered Little John to himself, staring at the beautiful Suse as she stood on the forest track, looking with big eyes at him, half grateful, half scared.

I was snatched when I was a little one,” she said, trying to explain. “I can’t really remember it, just that one moment I was playing in our grounds chasing our dog and the next I was being rushed along with a bag over my head… and I was crying, I don’t think I’ve stopped crying inside since then.”

You were snatched?” he asked, wondering how much of the girl’s story was fanciful recreation of a dimly remembered event from her past and how much was still sharp in her mind.

And was this really Robin’s sister like she claimed to be when he had never heard that Robin had any sisters at all….

So do you know Robin Hood, and if you do, will you guide me to him?” she begged.

Your brother?” enquired John, “if you were so small when you were taken, how do you know he’s your brother?”

Oh, I know all right,” she replied, wondering why she was being interrogated but careful to answer. “My uncle, that’s what he calls himself though he’s not my uncle really, the Sheriff of Nottingham, has told me many times. He’s taunted me saying things like if you were as brave as your brother Robin Hood you’d never do what I tell you, but as you’re not, get undressed now and let me watch! And I hate to tell you...”

Then don’t!” interrupted the giant outlaw, “you’ve said enough! But tell me, how do you remember him?”

My brother? Remember him? I … I don’t. I’m sorry, but I was so young, but I do remember our home. It was a big house in Locksley...”

Locksley? You say Locksley?” asked Little John, and when she nodded he added, “you’d best come along with me then, Suse or whatever your real name is. I’ll take you to Robin Hood, and you can tell him your story.”

You know my brother, then?” she asked hopefully.

He nodded. “If you’ve got the right name for your brother and he really is Robin Hood, then you’d best know that he’s the leader of the bravest and most honourable band of outlaws in the whole of this kingdom. If you are being honourable when you speak his name then he will give his all to aid you, but if you are false he will smite you down as though you were no more than a feather!”

She paled. “Is he evil, then, smiting women? Have I jumped from one danger to an even worse one?” she asked.

John shook his head. “There is nowt evil about him,” he said firmly, “now come, and I will take you to where we live, but as we approach I will have to cover your eyes. You must not know the way to our outlaw camp until Robin says you may.”

He led her through the forest, retracing the way he had come on his own, going by rarely trodden tracks mostly made by nocturnal animals and sometimes hard to see and slow to move along, and as they made their way he found himself glancing at her.

He could tell that she was beautiful. There could be no other word to describe her. Her dark and wavy hair contrasted beautifully with her smooth and naturally pale complexion that despite its colour glowed with health. It was plain to Little John that the girl might have been a prisoner in the castle and kept from daylight for most of her life, but the Sheriff had made sure that her appetite was well satisfied. And there was a cleanliness about her, the almost indefinable fragrance of spring blooms captured, no doubt, in some expensive lotion provided from the bottomless pit of heavy local taxation. And that hair … he had never seen such lustrous waves in all of his life and he found himself captivated by them.

You seem … well,” he said.

Oh, I am,” she smiled back at him, and what a smile… there was something about it, the way she used both lips and eyes when she smiled, that ate its way into his rugged old heart and made him regret…

You’re a big man,” she said, “John Little,” she added.

“’Tis said my father was big also,” he nodded, “that it runs in the family blood.”

Is it far, this walk to see my brother?” she asked.

A while yet,” he nodded, “but tell me, how come you are free in Sherwood and not languishing in one of the sheriff’s dungeons?”

Oh,” she said, looking shocked, “I was never in a dungeon! I have been treated … I suppose you’d say very well, but that doesn’t make up for being a prisoner with no freedom to move outside and breathe fresh air, and for a long time now I’ve dreamed of gaining the freedom that I’ve missed. And I took my chance when I saw it. There was an execution in the castle courtyard, six villains, murderers they were, my uncle said, that is the Sheriff said, desperate men who had waylaid a Bishop and slaughtered him like a farmer might slaughter cattle, and whilst all the castle guards and other men and women were watching the villains dangle from their ropes I saw my chance and jumped on the back of a wagon taking empty barrels back to a brewery but I fear I was seen.”

You were a brave soul,” he muttered, and his heart leapt when she smiled up at him. “He was only ever kind to me,” she added, “though he did like to … you know, look at me… and sometimes …. touch….”

The swine!” muttered Little John.

Anyway, I got away, but a man in black from the castle had seen me and was chasing us and nearly caught us, so I jumped off the wagon when it was clear of the castle and there were trees all around for me to hide in … I’ve never seen so many trees … and I climbed up a tree, and it wasn’t easy, and then watched as the chasing man disappeared from sight. I waited for ages, just to make sure, but everything was silent and I wanted to climb back down, but couldn’t. Then you came along.”

And I’m about to ask you to let me cover your eyes,” said Little John, feeling guilty.

Are we there?”

Not quite. But we’re not far off, and our camp is secret,” he told her.

I can’t tell one tree from the next or one forest path from another, but you can blindfold me if you must, but make sure you lead me carefully. I’m not used to … this sort of thing.”

So Little John, using a length of cloth that was soft and unlikely to hurt her fragile skin or beautiful hair, carefully blindfolded her and then, with almost unbelievable care for such a big man, guided her towards the camp, which was only a few minutes away.

What have we here?” came the familiar voice of Robin Hood who was carefully crafting new arrows from fresh wood. “I see you have a lady friend, Little John!”

She was frightened in the forest,” almost stammered the big outlaw, “but she asked to see you, Robin.” Carefully, he removed her blindfold and she blinked at the brightness of the day.

Just a minute...” Robin put down his tools and strode towards the two newcomers. “Well, I’ll be blessed,” he whispered, staring intently at the girl, “it’s been a long, long time but, Susanella, it’s you, isn’t it? My good Heavens … you were only tiny … and … and we thought you were dead!”

That’s my name … Susanella, that’s my name ...” whispered Suse.


© Peter Rogerson 28.10.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 28, 2017
Last Updated on October 28, 2017
Tags: Little John, Brother, sister, Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 74 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..


A Chapter by Peter Rogerson