A Tail of Sherwood, Part Five: The Plot

Fiction By LoriAnn // 2/6/2011

 

That night, as I lay in my bed and stared at the embroidered curtains that blocked the dying firelight from reaching my face, I wondered how I could convince Duke Chantille that I was not the bride for him—without causing my father any shame or damaging the family’s standing in the community. Father was declining enough as it was; I didn’t want to cause him any more grief.
 
My window was shuttered, keeping out both the early spring chill and the moonlight. Restlessly, I slipped out from under my heavy quilt and padded over to the window. Unlatching the iron clasp, I pulled the shutter open just a few inches and breathed in the crisp night air.
 
“Pst.”
 
I jumped, startled. Holding my breath, I listened—I could have sworn I had heard a voice.
 
“Pst.”
 
There it was again!
 
I wondered…then, suddenly remembering many a nightly escapade, I pulled the window open further and leaned out.
 
“Robin!” I hissed, spotting him dangling from a thick oak branch outside my window. He grinned at me.
 
“I didn’t think you’d be sleeping,” he called softly. “Come join me?”
 
“Robert Locksley, I am a young lady of class,” I said primly. “I do not leave my chambers in the middle of the night to rendezvous with young squirrels.” Pulling my head back inside, I began to shut the window.
 
“What if said young squirrel has a plan for getting you out of a marriage to a traitorous piece of crow bait?”
 
Slowly, I leaned back out. “You…er, know about that already?”
 
He swung himself up onto the top of the branch and perched there with a rueful grin. “One of my crew is in town most of the time. He brings us back any gossip or news we need to hear.”
 
I hesitated only a moment longer…then, with a sigh of frustration, hiked my nightdress up over my knees.
 
“Avert your eyes, kind sir,” I ordered Robin. He obeyed, and I climbed up on the windowsill and leaped for the branch, landing neatly in front of the handsome outlaw. Letting my skirt fall back around my ankles, I cleared my throat.
 
“You may open them again.”
 
He peeked through one squinted eye, and then stood, holding out his hands for mine.
“It’s been too long, Marian,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”
 
My heart, I’ll confess, gave a bit of a thrill at those words. Doesn’t every girl want to hear that from her childhood sweetheart? “I suppose I’ve missed you too, Robin,” I admitted. Then I cleared my throat again and got down to business. “You say you have a plan?”
 
He grinned at me, and sat down on the branch, patting the space beside him to indicate that I should join him. Stiffly, all my lessons in decorum and respectability screaming in my head, I did so. I pushed thoughts of what my London governess and tutors would say from my mind and gave Robin my whole attention.
 
“I do indeed have a plan,” he said. “Well, actually, the boys helped me to think it up, but…well, it’s a plan at any rate.”
 
Why, I thought in surprise, I think he might be more nervous than I am. That gave me a bit of comfort, and I nudged him gently with my shoulder. “Well?” I asked.
 
“Alright, I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you this.” He took a breath. “Tomorrow, at the Clearwater Festival, the duke is going to be the guest of honor—”
 
“Everyone knows that, Robin. They’ve known for the last few weeks, ever since Sheriff Dudley started boasting about it in The Sheriff’s Sword.”
 
Robin nodded. “I forgot—you hear these things much faster than we do. At any rate, we’re going to utterly discredit Duke Chantille and make a complete fool of him. He’ll be so humiliated he won’t be able to stay around here anymore—and he’ll most certainly not be asking for your hand.”
 
“How do you plan to accomplish this?” I asked, twitching my tail.
 
He laid his paw alongside his whiskers and winked. “That’s for me to know and you to see in good time. But I would ask you to remember that the duke has been heard bragging far and wide about how he’s going to win the archery competition as easily as that.” He snapped his fingers.
 
“Robin…” I moaned. “Won’t you please tell me?” He’d done this to me so many times when we were children; hinted at some plan or scheme or game, but refused to tell me the details. I had my guesses, of course—I knew of Robin’s skill with a bow and could only guess that he planned to knock the duke down a few notches. But I wanted to know exactly how.
 
He grinned. “Not a chance, Maid Marian.”
 
I was quiet for a moment, thrown off-balance and surprised to feel a sting in my eyes. “No one has called me Maid Marian in…well, nearly five years,” I admitted softly. It had always been Robin’s pet name for me when we were small.
 
“Five years, two months and six days,” he smiled.
 
“How many hours?” I teased him.
 
“Now, how am I supposed to—”
 
There was a sudden noise from inside.
 
“Shh.” Robin reached out and placed a paw over my lips.
 
A light came on down on the first floor.
 
“I’d better go,” I whispered against his fingers. He nodded and withdrew his paw.
 
“Goodnight, Maid Marian,” he whispered.
 
I stood and leaped back across the gap. Standing in the window, I turned and waved a tiny wave, suddenly shy again. “Goodnight, Robin Hood.”

Comments

Yeahs

I love it. It's interesting and really cool

Julie | Sun, 02/06/2011

Formerly Kestrel

"How many hours?"

So they've been paying considerable attention, have they? :)

Anna | Mon, 02/07/2011

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

:)

:)

Erin | Mon, 02/07/2011

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

:)

I just love this story, LoriAnn. Keep writing!

Mary | Fri, 02/11/2011

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

:)

Aw, Robin and Marian are just so sweet...:D

Kay J Fields | Fri, 02/18/2011

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