|Robin’s Oak Sherwood Forest, UK|
When Robin woke in the morning, he wondered if he had dreamt the incident, but there in the soft dew covered ground, was the unmistakable deer track. From that moment on, whenever doubt or fear entered Robin’s head, any uncertainty about the future; he remembered that night and that provisioned him with such courage as to forge ahead, no matter the odds.
As Robin cooked a spitted fish over a fire for breakfast he though about finding a place to stow his belongings so he could move more freely about. He could sustain himself indefinitely, by creating new arrows and even a new bow when he needed. There was plenty of game, and wild nuts and berries. The forest would provide everything he needed to survive. However, Robin wanted more than to survive. He wanted his land back. He wanted to get rid of that fat sheriff and live among people. He wanted coffee, beer, and fellowship. He had been runoff unfairly. The more Robin thought about it, the more it had seemed deliberate, as if the taxes were set too high, so he would have to forfeit his house. He wasn’t the criminal, the sheriff was. Robin wanted justice.
Just then, Robin heard a twig snap. Whoever was watching him was no woodsman. He had been making noise ever since Robin had arrived. Robin got up and pretended to clean up his breakfast. His brown hair was due for a cut and it was uncombed and blowing in the morning breeze as he crossed the camp with the bones of the fish. Suddenly, in a fluid movement, Robin dropped the fish, picked up a long branch that lay across the camp and lunged at a bush at the edge of the clearing.
“Oof!” said the bush.
“Who’s there!” demanded Robin.
“John.” said the bush.
“Well, John, you must be a little fellow to be hiding behind that bush. Come out if you don’t want to get hurt.” From behind the bush stood a man. He had been crouching and as he stood, he just kept standing up. Up and up. He was quite large and in fact towered menacingly over Robin. “Well, that’s quite a lot of John to be hiding behind such a tiny bush!” said Robin. Robin held the branch up defensively to keep the giant at bay.
John grabbed the branch and deftly poked Robin in the stomach with it. “See how you like it!” John said.
“Why were you spying on me?” Robin demanded, aware that without the branch and dwarfed by John he was in no position to demand anything. ‘That is precisely when to make demands’ Robin always would say.
“I wasn’t!” John Lied.
“What were you doing, then?”
“That fish smelled good. I was hoping for a bite.” John said truthfully. “If you had killed that deer, we could feast for days.”
“So you saw that, eh? That wasn’t exactly a hunting situation, was it? I think that deer was welcoming me to its forest. Which is more than you have done.”
“Well it didn’t give me a welcome when I got here.” John complained.
“Maybe he thought you would eat him, eh?” said Robin.
“Maybe.” agreed John.
“So if it was the fish that attracted you,” Robin said, “How did you know about the deer?”
“You ask too many questions!” John said, poking Robin with the branch. Robin grabbed the other end of the branch and they began a tug-of-war, which culminated in John lifting Robin off the ground as he clung to his end of the branch while John tried to shake him off.
“I give! I give up! You win! Damn, Little John, you are too strong for this outlaw!” At that, they both fell to laughing.
“Let’s get you a fish to eat.” Robin said. They went to the stream and in two shakes, Robin had put an arrow through a couple of fish for both of them.
As they ate, John asked; “How did you come to be an outlaw?”
“They taxed me out my home.” Robin said.
“The sheriff is a thief.” said John.
“Aye. That he is.”
“I’m a thief too” said John.
“Really?” said Robin. “You’re so noisy; I don’t see how you could be any good at it.”
“Not by trade, really. I was sick, too sick to work, so they docked my pay and I couldn’t afford to eat. So I stole a loaf of bread.” said John.
“Aye, you’re a thief alright.” said Robin.
“Well, all the game in the forest belongs to the King, so I guess you’re a thief too.” said John.
“That’s a fact.” said Robin. “In that case, everyone I know and me; we’ve all been thieves all our lives.” Robin thought about this. “It doesn’t leave a man a way to make due for himself, does it? You have to buy bread, we’re not supposed to kill the King’s deer or aught else I reckon. If you can’t work, you can’t eat.” Robin thought some more. “I’d like to steal my land back.” he said. “And all the taxes sheriff William has put in his pocket!” Color came into Robin’s face. John nodded agreement.
“That’s what we should do. Steal it back. It was ours to begin with.”
“Aye.” said Robin. “That’s just what we should do. What can they do; outlaw us again?”