Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chapter 3 Part 1

photo by Cheryl Ruffing

Guy tossed and turned, trying to sleep, but how could he? One of his most prized possessions had been stolen by some dirty brat who had managed to get past his idiotic soldiers. Now the body was nowhere to be found and neither were the knives. It hadn't helped that the sheriff was in a less-than-amiable-mood, and had Guy running about all day, so that by the time he could bring some men to search for the knives, it was dark and the corpse was long gone. His irritation slowly gave way to worry.

What if he never got those knives back? And what had happened to the body? Obviously it couldn't just get up and walk away. Had a scavenger of an outlaw taken it? Or worse, had he, with some delusion of being noble — the dirty showoff — made off with it? Robin. Curse him! Guy had hated him since childhood.

Gisborne's mind wandered back to the knives and the memories they held. They had been a gift from his father, a souvenir of happier times. No! He would not think of that. Never look back. That was his motto; and it had served him well for years. Time to focus on the present. In the morning he would get a warrant to search the surrounding villages for the knives. Of course, he would not find them, but no one must know that he had been successfully robbed by a girl. Plus, terrorizing the villagers might be enough to draw that reclusive Robin out of his hideaway in the forest.


Days passed and, while Alexis began to regain the meager strength she had had before, Robin and Will again and again pestered her with questions about who she was, what had happened, where she lived. She stubbornly answered none of these. She kept her mouth shut but her eyes open. She was now well enough to come out of her hut and sit around the fire, watching the men go about their daily life — if one could call it that —  underneath the Sherwood. She saw them come back to the camp with armloads of treasures and food and drink and other comforts, and news of the sheriff's latest wrongdoings. Whenever there was such news, a group of them, always led by Robin, would leave the camp with their stolen goods, and many weapons, and some hazy idea of a plan.

Sometimes Will would stay to keep her company, when he and his lithe body and dead aim were not needed. Other times she was left in the care of Allan, a man strong enough in body, but rather light-headed and forgetful, he could never focus on the task at hand. Alexis soon found the reason for this: he had a sweetheart. How many nights had he bored her to death with confusing and unrealistic descriptions of his paramour's perfection? Her eyes: they were like stars! Her mouth, a red ripe apple, crisp and sweet at the same time. Her laugh sounded like it was that of a fairy. The only thing more ridiculous to Alexis's ears than these fantasies was the their object's name. Ellen. The idea of Ellen and Allan was so perfectly sappy that she actually groaned the first time time she heard it.

And each night, Allan's voice would crack as he told once again how cruelly they had been separated by her unjust father, who would never allow his daughter to marry a fanciful musician with naught but a lute to his name. Again and again he mourned his having to be apart from her for even a moment, and it seemed like an eternity since he had last seen her. He recounted with much embellishment his being framed for wooing another man's bride.  Him, love anyone else! Could Alexis believe that? No, she would obligingly shake her head. No, she could not. He had been accused of making love to some Earl or other's fiancĂ©. The inhumanity of it all! Allan had been forced to seek refuge in the woods to avoid hanging, and had found his place among Robin Hood's men as a minstrel. He believed that he and Ellen were somehow destined to live happily ever after, but Alexis couldn't see it happening.

Alexis had no need for romance. She knew it was the stuff of fairy tales, nothing but goodwill and unrealistic dreams. Life was hard enough on one person — why support another person's sorrows as well?