27. A SHERWOOD RELATIVE. Part 4

27. A SHERWOOD RELATIVE. Part 4

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Plans are being laid for the punishment of the sheriff because of his abduction of Robin's baby sister

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Now then, John Little, I hope you’re treating my sister with respect?” asked Robin Hood, his eyes twinkling, but John could tell from the grin on the outlaw’s face that he was joking.

As if I wouldn’t,” he replied, “you know me, Robin, and the way I treat the ladies...”

Yes, I know,” murmured Robin thoughtfully, “You may not always look it, but I know that you’re truly a gentleman at heart. But to business: it has crossed my mind that we’d better do something to repay that sheriff for kidnapping my extremely comely sister. She was only three when he snatched her, for goodness’ sake, and her being taken like she was and the rumour being spread that she was dead, led directly to the way my folks sort of faded and died before their time. I want him to feel a taste of that.”

Little John thought for a moment, then “he’s not the kind of man to have much time for any other mortal save for himself,” he said, “so how about kidnapping him?”

You might have an idea there, Little John,” replied Robin. “I think I’ll mull it over… and besides teaching the swine a lesson it might be a bit of fun for us!”

Susanella over heard them and sidled closer. “You won’t do anything … I mean, you won’t kill him, will you?” she asked.

Robin looked her straight in the eyes and then shook his head. “I know you must be feeling two ways at once,” he said quietly, “for he was the only adult man you’ve known since you were three and in a way he was almost a father to you. But now that you’re free to come and go and do what you please you may well have started forming a less positive opinion of the man.”

Hey, Robin, you called him a man!” joked Little John.

B*****d then,” Robin corrected himself. “He’s been responsible for more heartache than any other ma … b*****d in the kingdom,” he said shortly, “and I’d like nothing more than see him hanging from his own gibbet. But I’m also intelligent enough to know that if we kill him, if he dies at our hands or even is suspected of dying at our hands, all hell will get let loose. Prince John will release his forces into the Greenwood and they’ll search every twig and blade until they find us. No, we’ve got to be careful over this, and more for the sake of prudence than any feelings Susanella might have.”

I know he’s a bad man,” sighed Susanella, “and one day, soon I hope, I’ll get to understand properly. But there’s knowing and knowing, if you understand me...”

Talking of understanding things, has your girth shrunk somewhat, Little John? There seems to be less of you than there was….” laughed Robin, poking the big man in his apparently shrinking stomach.

Maybe,” mumbled John, “now excuse me, I’m going to do the rounds of the nearer villages and see if there’s any news being whispered that we ought to know about.”

That was the way the outlaws learned what was going on, for if they remained in their secret hideaway, large and almost luxurious as it was in a rustic sort of way, they’d never learn anything. They each had their networks like threads in a spider’s web, and they each gathered what they could from sympathetic men and women spread in communities throughout the forest, even as far as Yorkshire. And the number of sympathisers was growing as the outlaws followed the instincts of their leader and donated any rich takings to the poor, keeping very little for themselves. And it must be noted that the vast majority of citizens fell into the category of the poor, for very few had much more than a roof of sorts over their heads and enough poor quality food to fill their bellies. Most of the wealth was in very few hands, and those hands liked to keep it to themselves.

When John had faded into the greenwood, moving so effortlessly and quietly that not even a nearby rook was aware of his passing, Susanella looked up at Robin and sighed.

He’s a good man,” she aid quietly.

Who is? The sheriff?” asked Robin, a little sharply.

No, brother, Little John,” laughed the young woman, “I’m not fool enough to think you’d ever think the sheriff a good man, and I don’t either. But he was the only man in my life as I grew up and I suppose he was almost kind to me, though he could be harsh if he thought I needed correcting and more than once he had me birched for what I thought trivial little things.”

He offers the same sort of discipline to the people, but instead of the birch it’s the rope,” explained Robin.

He was sometimes kind...” whispered Susanella

A great deal too kind if what you told John about your life in the castle is anything to judge by,” grunted Robin.

Well, I meant John when I talked about a good man, and I think he’s tried to lose a bit of his tummy because I mentioned that he was a big man,” Susanella said quietly. “I think he took it as a criticism, and I think he likes me...”

I know he likes you, and what man wouldn’t? I’m your brother and even I can see that you’ve got a few odds and ends about you!” teased Robin, “and anyway, I can read John Little like a manuscript, and I know he’s fonder of you that he dared confess to himself.”

The conversation might have continued along those lines, and Susanella might have professed to find Little John special and even loveable, but Friar Tuck blundered onto the scene.

I’ve news,” he said in a rush, “there’s a party in the Greenwood not an hour’s swift march from here, and the sheriff’s leading it. He’s let it be known that he’s searching for his niece who has been abducted by the demonic Robin Hood, and he’s put a few gold coins on your head, Robin. He wants you alive, though, because if he gets you dead you won’t be able to answer his questions under torture.”

Gold coins?” asked Susanella.

It’s the sort of reward he promises but never pays,” Robin muttered, “and he’s made the offer before. Chances are, though, that if anyone is in the fortunate position to claim it the Sheriff will find reason to hang him as well, and thus save the few coins for himself. But it does mean we must be extra vigilant.”

He then put two fingers to his mouth and produced a startling whistle, like a feline creature might produce were it to be dying in agony. It echoed into the forest and the rook that had let Little John pass fluttered off, indignantly.

That’s for Little John,” he told Susanella. “If the Sheriff’s about we might give him a little treat in the shape of a sack over his head! That call was also a warning to John, that he should keep his eyes open extra wide. He’ll understand both messages and be back here shortly. Meanwhile, we must hone our plan to kidnap the Sheriff. This, my friends, could be fun!”

TO BE CONTINUED

© Peter Rogerson 30.10.17





© 2017 Peter Rogerson



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Added on October 30, 2017
Last Updated on October 30, 2017
Tags: Robin Hood, Little John, Susanella Hood, Sheriff of Nottingham, abduction, punishment


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