A Tail of Sherwood, Chapter One: The Outlaw

Fiction By LoriAnn // 1/10/2011

 

It had probably been five years or more since I’d seen Robin last. And the last time I had seen him, it had only been from a distance. I remember him standing on the top of the wall that surrounded Nottingham, his tail waving forlornly in the wind as I rode away in my father’s carriage on my way to London town.
 
Now, after five years in the city, having learned all that anyone dared teach me about deportment and dancing and dangling my dowry before dowdy old dukes, I was back. Finally back home in Nottingham after so long away.
 
Actually, I had been back nearly a fortnight before I saw Robin again. But on the first clear morning of the spring, my lady’s maid and I were out browsing the market for anything interesting—and there he was.
 
He’d grown taller since I’d seen him last, and his fur had come in a nice russet color. His tail was bushy and full, his ears were pricked with interest at whatever it was the baker was saying to him, and his bright eyes sparkled in the sunlight.
 
To be honest, he looked just like I’d imagined he might.
 
Smoothing my skirt with a dainty paw, I smiled at my lady’s maid.
 
“Carlotta,” I said sweetly. “I’m getting a bit parched, dear. Would you mind getting me a pint of cider from the tavern?” I handed her a silver bit. “I’ll just wait on that bench over there.”
 
She curtsied, and hurried off, weaving through the crowd toward the sign of the Brindled Bard. It was three streets over, so I’d have plenty of time.
 
I pretended to be idly perusing the stalls as I made my way toward where Robin stood, approaching from behind. Pausing to glance over a selection of woolen scarves—their prices marked down now that warm weather was here—I planned my first words.
 
He didn’t see me coming, continuing his conversation with the baker, though the words were far too low for me to hear in the chaotic bustle and murmur of the marketplace.
 
“Robert Locksley,” I said, when I stood close enough that he could hear my voice.
 
Without turning, he answered, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been called Robert.” His baker friend winked at me and went back into his stall, leaving us alone—or as alone as one could be in the middle of a busy market.
 
Robin turned around, and a great smile stretched across his face. “Lady Marian. It’s been too long.”
 
I dipped a shallow curtsey, suddenly nervous. “I’d heard that you’ve taken to a…less than respectable trade,” I said, locking my paws behind my back and uncertainly fingering my tail fur.
 
He grimaced. “If you mean that I’ve taken to living in the woods, hunting the king’s birds and generally making a nuisance of myself to those who claim to enforce the king’s law…well, then yes. I suppose that’s true.” He grinned at me, and made a show of taking in my tailored dress and fine boots. “It would seem, my lady, that you have been engaged in very different exploits.”
 
I flushed. “I’m a noblewoman, Rob,” I said archly. “I can’t always be running barepawed through the greenwood, leaping from tree to tree like we used to.”
 
He nodded, a sudden sadness in his eyes. “Those were the days, were they not?” Then he shook himself. “Ah, but what am I thinking, making you stand here in the hot sun? Would you care for a cinnamon bun and a mug of cider? The Sherriff’s Sword—despite its ill-sounding name—has a nice lunch board.”
 
I glanced over the heads of passerby in search of Carlotta’s head. “Well, my maid just went to fetch me some cider, actually…Oh. There she is.” And wouldn’t I get a telling off later too, if she told Madam Pence that I had been talking with a strange squirrel—and alone!
 
Robin spotted her as well. “Very well, I will treat you both. Will you consent?”
 
Carlotta met my gaze and hurried over, a disapproving frown between her eyes, her tail stiff with righteous indignation. I straightened. Robin was an old friend—there was nothing wrong with eating lunch with an old friend.
 
“Carlotta,” I said as she joined us. “This is Robert of—”
 
“Robert of Dover,” Robin interrupted, sweeping my maid a low bow. “At your service. And please—call me Robin.”
 
I blinked at him, somewhat confused. But he shot me a quelling look, so I pushed aside my questions and nodded at Carlotta. “Robert—that is, Robin—is an old friend of my family. He has kindly asked us to join him for lunch, and I have agreed.”
 
Carlotta gave Robin a long look, taking in his fine—if somewhat out of date—clothes and his friendly face. It probably didn’t hurt matters any that Robin wasn’t hard on the eyes, either. After a moment, she nodded, and I gave a silent sigh of relief. She wouldn’t be tattling on me yet anyway.
 
Taking Robin’s proffered arm, I stepped out into the street, feeling more at home than I’d felt in five years.

Comments

Yipee

New story. Yipee! And I will repay your kindness with Place of the Eagles...but since my computer is six states away (roughly), that will take a while

Julie | Tue, 01/11/2011

Formerly Kestrel

I like it :) generally I

I like it :) generally I don't read stories in which the main characters are animals (I have issues with over-personification. It bothers me, lol.) but this one is well written and isn't cheesy, so I will be okay. I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Erin | Tue, 01/11/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

This is a cute start. Since

This is a cute start. Since Redwall broke me in to reading, I definitely dig the squirrel factor.

Anna | Tue, 01/11/2011

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

Love it!

I read redwall as well, so, yes, I love the squirrel thing. Are they all squirrels? A very good take on Robin Hood. I have read the book several times for lack of anything better to read. Not to make you give up your ending, but in the book, Robin dies. Will your squirrel Robin die as well?

Arya Animarus | Tue, 01/11/2011

Oh for the times when I felt invincible.

Well...I don't want to give

Well...I don't want to give anything away, so I'm not going to answer that. But I'm going to try to stay as true to the original stories as an adaptation with squirrels can be.

LoriAnn | Tue, 01/11/2011

I'm gonna like this.  I've

I'm gonna like this.  I've never, ever, in my entire life, liked a story with talking animals.  But I definitely like this.  AND I have a question - have you ever read The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley?

Bridget | Tue, 01/11/2011

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Interesting

When I first came to the references of "paw," "fir" and "tail" I was sure he was a fox and you were adapting this from the disney version.  Then when it turned out he was a squirrel, I had to totally reimagine everything.

James | Tue, 01/11/2011

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

This caught me a little

This caught me a little off-guard, I thought it was people... then, like James, thought it was Foxes. ;) But squirrels I love. 

Kyleigh | Wed, 01/12/2011

Well, I love animal stories,

Well, I love animal stories, and I ADORE Robin Hood. So, I decided I wanted to to a combo, but since Disney had already stolen the whole fox thing, I had to pick something else. Squirrels seemed the next-best option.

As for the Outlaws of Sherwood, no I haven't. But I'm going to see if I can find it to read...it looks pretty good.

LoriAnn | Wed, 01/12/2011

Love it! Glad you're going

Love it! Glad you're going for the squirrel angle, they and the otters were always my favorite in the Redwall books.
 
I've read Robin McKinley's version of the Robin Hood story. It was very good, to stick with the original tales. I still prefer Stephen Lawhead's Raven King Trilogy, though.

Heather | Wed, 01/12/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

AH! Scarlet is one of the

AH! Scarlet is one of the best books ever written. Love it!

LoriAnn | Thu, 01/13/2011

I really like this, LoriAnn!

I really like this, LoriAnn!  I am a deep fan of Redwall and take it very seriously, so I enjoyed the animalness of this piece.  Keep it up....I'd love to read more!  

I have to concur with some other people and admit that I thought this was about foxes at first.

And yay to the King Raven Trilogy! 

Clare Marie | Thu, 01/13/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"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]

Scarlet was my favorite in

Scarlet was my favorite in the trilogy, yes. Will's narrative voice was so fun and unique!

Heather | Mon, 01/24/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"