A Tail of Sherwood, Chapter Two: The Maiden

Fiction By LoriAnn // 1/16/2011

 

It had been five years and two months exactly since I had seen Marian last; that day her father took her away to London town to become a proper noblewoman. I can still remember the cold breeze that was blowing that day—a precursor of the approaching winter—as I stood atop the town wall and watched until her carriage vanished around a bend in the road.
 
Now, as I left the city and began the long walk back to the Den with a week’s supply of bread in the sack on my shoulder, I wondered if she had really changed as much as it seemed she had.
 
Her fur was still the color of maple syrup, and her eyes were still the same nut-brown hue; but the Marian I remembered had a roughly combed tail and clothes that were forever rumpled and grass-stained. The Marian I had seen at the market was a poised and graceful creature, with every hair perfectly in place and each fold on her stylish gown creased and straight. Her eyes still glimmered with the sense of fun I remembered, but had her London training tamed her sharp wit?
 
I was so distracted, thinking about Marian and remembering the fun we used to have, when we were both children loosed to run in the safe green shadow of Sherwood Forest, that I didn’t see Scarlet until he was right on top of me.
 
Literally.
 
“Head in the clouds, Robin?” he laughed, backing up and letting me stand back up from where he’d tackled me to the forest floor.
 
“You ought to be glad I was,” I huffed, brushing pine needles out of my fur. “I might have killed you. You should know better than to sneak up on me like that, William Scarlet.”
 
He scoffed, and straightened his hat. “I could never sneak up on you if you didn’t have your head in the clouds, Rob,” he said. “Anyway, you should be paying better attention.” We began walking.
 
“Where are the others?”
 
“Back at the Den. I was getting bored and thought I’d come meet you.” He prodded the bag as I slung it back over my shoulder. “What’s in the sack?”
 
“Bread. Tuck ran out and sent me in to buy some.”
 
Scarlet laughed, and his tail flicked merrily. “So the great outlaw Robin Hood is sent on errands by a monk? That sounds like the beginning of some joke.”
 
“Oh please, Scarlet,” I moaned. “No more of your jokes.”
 
“What—you don’t appreciate humor?”
 
I rolled my eyes. “Actually, I appreciate it very much. That’s why I hate to see you butchering the art.”
 
“With that kind of attitude, maybe you don’t want to hear my news after all.” Scarlet cast a sidelong glance at me, his eyes mischievous.
 
“What news?” My attention was captured. “A nobleman to ride through Sherwood? The Sheriff on another campaign? Little John’s bowstring break again?”
 
“I wouldn’t know,” Scarlet sniffed.
 
“Scarlet…” I said warningly.
 
“Fine,” he relented. “I’ll tell you. But you have to hear my newest joke first.”
 
I rolled my eyes again, seeking some sort of refuge in the cotton-puffs of cloud above my head. “Oh…all right. But make it quick.”
 
“Two squirrels walked into a tavern,” he said, already chuckling. “The third one missed.”
 
I groaned. “Scarlet, that’s the worst joke I’ve ever heard…And I’ve heard some bad ones. Mostly from you.”
 
He shook his head and waved a dismissive paw. “You have the wit of a jay’s feathered end.”
 
“Scarlet. What is your news?”
 
He laughed. “Your first guess was right—there’s a duke riding through tomorrow afternoon, ripe for the plucking.”
 
“No one we know?”
 
“Oh, we know him alright.” Scarlet’s face, usually so full of fun and laughter, went grim. “It’s Duke Jacque Chantille.”
 
I bit back a growl. “That scum? What’s he doing in this area?”
 
Scarlet shrugged. “I assume it has something to do with the spring festival coming up. Rumor is that he’s to be the guest of honor or something. Why he can’t just stay in London with the other rats is beyond me.”
 
Jacque Chantille was one of Prince John’s biggest supporters—and one of the rightful King Richard’s biggest enemies. Rumor had it that it was squirrels in the Duke’s employ responsible for the last assassination attempt on the good king’s life.
 
“Do the others know yet?” I asked, shaking such thoughts from my mind. They were irrelevant right now.
 
“Sure they do,” Scarlet answered with a shrug and a smile. “But they didn’t leave their comfy beds to come tell you about it, did they?”
 
I shook my head. “You’re a sneak, Will Scarlet,” I said without malice.
 
We walked in silence for a few moments before Scarlet, never able to keep quiet long, asked:
“What were you so dreamy-eyed about back there, anyway? Before I jumped you, that is.”
 
I didn’t answer for a second. “Marian Fitzgerald is back.”
 
“Oh.” Scarlet thought for a moment. “Wait—you mean little Marian, the arrow girl?”
 
“Do we know another Marian Fitzgerald, Scarlet?” I asked in mild exasperation.
Scarlet shrugged, “Well, no…but it took me a minute to figure out who you were talking about. Did you see her today?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“And…?”
 
“And nothing.” I hefted the sack of bread and readjusted its weight. “She’s back, that’s all.”
 
“Are you going to see her again?”
 
I wasn’t sure how to answer. “We’ll see,” I answered at last. “We’ll see.”

Comments

Aww

I like it. Especially Robin's comments about the art of humor.

Julie | Mon, 01/17/2011

Formerly Kestrel

Well...

Scarlet's humor makes at least this lass laugh. ;) 

Kyleigh | Mon, 01/17/2011

Hmm. I like it :)

Hmm. I like it :)

Erin | Mon, 01/17/2011

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

I think it's William I like,

I think it's William I like, not the humor, but do carry on. :) My gosh, I love Robin Hood.

Anna | Mon, 01/17/2011

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

Good!

Although, I still have trouble imagining him as a squirrel rather than a fox.

At any rate, I imagine him with the same voice and accent as the disney cartoon.  Can't help it.

Well written.  The interaction between Hood and Scarlet is definitely convincing.

James | Mon, 01/17/2011

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"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

very amusing! I am enjoying

very amusing! I am enjoying this.

Sarah | Wed, 01/19/2011

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

The banter between Robin and

The banter between Robin and Scarlet is priceless.

Bridget | Wed, 01/19/2011

"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

Go Robin!

It's fun to see familar characters turned into squirrels. And I like Will Scarlet too. Actually, I like all the characters that have appeared so far...

Kay J Fields | Wed, 01/19/2011

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

Yes!

I finally get the chance to read this after hearing you talk about it so much, LoriAnn! And I love it! I love Redwall and I love Robin Hood--the two of them together is just sheer delight! I'm looking forward to much, much more of this!

Mary | Fri, 01/21/2011

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
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!