A Tail of Sherwood, Chapter Four: The News

Fiction By LoriAnn // 1/30/2011

Robin

I wasn’t expecting any guests that afternoon, but Friar Tuck knew he was always welcome in my tree-hut, so it really wasn’t much of a surprise when I heard his distinctive whistling coming from my front door.
 
“Good day to you, Master Rob,” he said cheerfully, letting himself in without a knock. I smiled.
 
“Good day to you, Friar. What brings you here?” I stood from where I had been reviewing a map on the table in my kitchen and held out a hand to take his cloak. The spring air was warming, but it was still a bit nippy in the wood.
 
“Oh, the usual,” he said, shrugging out of the cloak and thumping a small sack of something onto my table. “Bit of cheese there,” he said with a nod at the sack. “Some apples too—end of last summer’s stock.”
 
I opened the little bag and peered inside. “Thanks, Friar. Please,” I gestured at my only chair. “Make yourself comfortable.”
 
The aging squirrel heaved his considerable bulk into the chair and settled with a heavy sigh. “My thanks, Rob. These bones are getting a bit creaky for so much gallivanting about. These woods aren’t kind to aching joints.”
 
“As if you ever gallivant,” I laughed, opening a cabinet and placing the Friar’s gift inside.
 
“What news do you bring from Nottingham, Friar?”
 
He folded his paws across his stomach and closed his eyes. “Oh, let me see now…The tailor’s family just had twins, a fine pair of boys; and old Maggie MacDougal predicts that one of them will save the country from some dire fate. Dragons, or some such.”
 
“And the other one?” I asked.
 
Tuck opened one eye and grinned at me. “Ah, you know Maggie. Once she made the one prediction, she couldn’t be bothered with the other one.”
 
I sat down on the edge of my hammock and swung gently. “What else?”
 
“Oh…the ordinary parcel of illnesses, trials and triumphs that come in any city the size of Nottingham. Mistress Harlem died last Friday; the blacksmith’s children have come down with the whooping cough—I’ve been over there three times already, dosing them up and trying to calm his wife. And of course there are all the preparations for the Clearwater Festival coming up. But you might be most interested to know that Lady Fitzgerald is being courted.”
 
I restrained myself—barely—from leaping out of my hammock. “What?”
 
He looked at me shrewdly. “I thought that would catch your attention.”
 
“Who?” I demanded.
 
“Well…that’s the part that I’m somewhat afraid to mention. I don’t want to be responsible for you doing anything foolish.” He reached out and picked up the quill that lay on my table and fiddled with it.
 
“Tuck…” I said warningly.
 
Tuck pulled a grimace and waved the quill in defeat. “It’s Duke Chantille,” he confessed. “Word is that he’s going to ask for her hand before the month is out.”
 
I was speechless. Duke Jacque Chantille? How could Lord Fitzgerald even think about aligning himself with that sack of dog scum? Then again…Lord Fitzgerald hadn’t stayed a lord in these dark days without making some friends in right places. Maybe he was more the prince’s man than I had credited him.
 
“I need to talk to the boys,” I said, whirling toward the door.
 
“Robin!” Tuck moaned, hoisting himself to his feet. “Don’t do anything foolish!”
 
“I just want to gather the others,” I defended myself, grabbing the horn that hung on a nail beside the door and pushing out onto the narrow porch. “I need their advice.”
 
As I lifted the horn to my lips, I heard him mutter:
 
“That’s what I meant.”
 
 
 
Twenty minutes later, my crew of outlaws was gathered at the foot of my home tree. Little John—taller by half-a-tail than any of the others—and Much, the son of the local miller, Will Scarlet and Alan-a-Dale the minstrel. Six of us, altogether, once Friar Tuck had clambered back down from my hut to join our group.
 
“Alright, what’s the word, Robin?” Scarlet asked, always the first to speak.
 
I sat down next to Little John on a log. “It’s Marian,” I said.
 
The reaction was instant. Little John, my best friend in all the world, merely nodded. He understood—I had told him often enough about my exploits with Marian when we were younger.
 
Will laughed, nudging Friar Tuck in the side. Alan looked dreamy and idly plucked a string on his lute, while Much rolled his eyes. Those two: you couldn’t find two friends who were closer—or more different. Much was dour and often pessimistic, while Alan was an everlasting dreamer, forever a romantic. They were like oil and water, but for some reason they got along surprisingly well.
 
“What about Marian, Rob?” Little John asked, in his deeply rumbling voice.
 
I paused to gather my thoughts. “Well…remember that duke we robbed a few weeks back?”
 
“Duke Chantille?” Much asked. “Sure. Should have gutted him when we had the chance—world could have done with one less supporter of Pock-Faced John.”
 
I ignored that, though at the moment I felt like agreeing with him wholeheartedly.
“That’s the fellow. He’s in Nottingham now, and he’s…well, he’s after Marian’s hand.”
 
“The brute!” cried Alan, leaping to his feet. “How dare he? A black-hearted villain, pursuing such a tender maid!”
 
Tuck pulled him back to his seat. “Now, we all need to calm down and look at this sensibly,” he said placatingly.  
 
“Not sensibly,” I corrected, leaning forward and feeling the fur along my tail prickle in anticipation. “Strategically.”

Comments

Very interesting. I love the

Very interesting. I love the image of all these guys getting their tails in a fluff over Marian's marriage prospects.

Julie | Sun, 01/30/2011

Formerly Kestrel

I've got to use Robin's last

I've got to use Robin's last line sometimes. He is so cute. I do hope he manages to stay alive.

Anna | Tue, 02/01/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

:)

This is so delightful to read! Can't wait for the next installment!

Kyleigh | Wed, 02/02/2011

 I've been enjoying each one

 I've been enjoying each one of your installments immensely.  Keep up the great work!

Clare Marie | Wed, 02/02/2011

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"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Great chapter

Alan is already making me laugh and I like Little John too, even though he only has one line! :)

Kay J Fields | Fri, 02/04/2011

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

"Don't do anything foolish..."

Really, if no one ever did anything foolish, how many adventures and great stories would actually take place in the world? I mean, honestly!

I'm really loving this story, LoriAnn. Keep it coming!

Mary | Fri, 02/11/2011

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Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!