Robin had had enough of contests for one day. Two of his best mates had nearly been killed by one man. He would have changed his mind about participating in the archery contest, but he had already signed up. At least Roland didn’t consider himself an archer. He had to remind himself that they were there for a higher purpose than revelry. Many of the lads were drinking and having a good time, but Robin and his close crew knew to keep their wits about them. Still, Robin wanted to visit Tuck to check on the preparations and the most inconspicuous way to do that was to visit him at his wine booth.
Robin Had picked up some sturdy green wool when they visited the Gladys’ shop and some earthy brown. Tom’s wife had helped him with it, but he had done most the work himself. Now he sported a new green cloak with a nice roomy hood that could be used to keep out the cold, shade himself from the sun or just keep his face out of view as he was doing now. A cloak was usually nothing more than a heavy cape with a hood. In cold weather, you wrapped it around you for warmth, and in warmer weather you wore it draped over your shoulders in case of rain or wind. Briton was an island, and weather could turn cold without warning.
As he approached the wine booth, he noticed Tuck was talking to Marian. She wasn’t in on the plan as Robin didn’t know her and only those participating even knew it was happening. He was about to walk on by when she noticed him.
“Well, if it isn’t the gentleman from the cloth shop!“ She said. “This is an improvement. Why it almost hides your face completely!“ Robin could tell she was making fun of him and became flustered. He could kill professional soldiers, take their gold, live in the forest, build a house, make his clothes, but getting teased by Marian bested him.
“Thank you.“ he said. “Your dress is also quite lovely.“ They both stood there blushing at each other as Tuck looked from one to the next. He shook his head and had a sip of wine.
“Marian spends most of her time at the orphanage.“ Tuck said. “She teaches them to read, mends their clothes, helps in the kitchen. She may spend more time there than me, and I live there.“
“That is surely God’s work you’re doing, Miss Marian.“ Robin said.
“It’s ‘Maid.’“ said Marian.
“The term. It’s ‘Maid’, not ‘Miss’. ‘Maid Marian.’ That is how to address an unmarried girl.“
“In any case, it is surely a saintly task you’ve taken for yourself.“
“Any one can do it.“ she said.
“I cannot do such things.“ Robin said.
Tuck enjoyed watching them. It was like they had forgotten he was even there.
“You could teach the boys to fish. Perhaps to shoot. Are those things you can do.“
“Aye, Miss. Ah Maid. Madam, uh…. Yes. I can do those things fair enough.“
“There you see.“ She said. “Come by on the morrow and we shall find some manly task for you.“
“…For you to teach the children.“ she said. “An honorable subject. The boys could learn something useful from a Yeoman such as yourself:“
“Yes, m…Maid Marian.“
The sheriff also had ulterior reasons for being at the festivities. He had signed up for the archery contest to give the appearance of being there for the revelry, but now he made his way to the vestry to check on his chests. When he got there he was surprised to find two guttersnipes with their hands on his money! He had arrived just in time! They looked up at him brazenly as if to challenge his presence there. How dare they! His whip was in his hands instantly and they were squirming and jumping out of the way like grasshoppers, creating quite a cacophony, but they didn’t flee. One of them, the small blond one, had grabbed a hold of the oak pole upon which the Sacred Host was carried into mass each Sunday. He swung it at the sheriff and hit him on the thigh. Furious, the sheriff drew his sword and in that moment, Father Cedric burst in.
“What in the name of all that is holy is going on in here?“ he demanded.
“This man burst in here and came at us with a whip!“ said Eric.
“I caught these thieves red handed, elbow deep in my money!“ Shouted the sheriff.
“Don’t everyone talk at once!“ said Cedric.
“We weren’t stealing it!“
“Then what were you doing here?“ demanded the sheriff.
“What do mean ‘your money‘?“ Johnny asked.
“Just answer the question!“
“We are delivering the money here for Friar Tuck.“ said Johnny. “What do you mean, ‘your money’?“
“I am the Sheriff of Nottingham!“ bellowed the sheriff of Nottingham.
“This money is for the ORPHANAGE!“ said Johnny. “Tell him Father!“
“Of course the sheriff knows this money is for the orphanage. Don’t you Sheriff?“
“Of course it is. I never said it wasn’t.“ said the sheriff. “Now you boys run along, and stay out of trouble!“
The boys stood there glaring at the sheriff.
“You heard the sheriff. Run along.“ said Cedric.
“And don’t let me catch you causing any more trouble!“ said the sheriff.
The boys left and as soon as they got outside they began talking about what the sheriff could have meant.
“Didn’t is seem strange that Father Cedric didn’t correct him until we asked him to?“ said Johnny.
“What did he mean ‘Stay out of trouble?’ We weren’t causing any trouble. He’s the one that was causing trouble“
“Who’s causing trouble?“ said Robin, who ran into them as he headed toward the vestry.
“The sheriff!“ said Eric. “He accused us of stealing his money! We’re the orphans. He was the one that doesn’t belong there!“
“The sheriff is in the vestry?“ asked Robin.
“Aye. He came at us with a whip, and when we defended ourselves he drew his sword on us.“
“He drew his sword on children?“ Robin had seen the sheriff beat and whip children, but to draw his sword?
“Eric hit him with a pole.“ explained Johnny.
“It was self defense! He was trying to whip us.“ said Eric.
Robin smiled broadly. “You boys stood up to the sheriff? That is more than anything I’ve ever heard of! Why, you boys are heroes!“
“Not really. If Cedric hadn’t shown up we’d be dead.“ said Johnny.
“Speak for yourself! I would have beat him back with that pole!“ said Eric.