16 Sep

robin hood photo: Robin Hood article-0-048CF943000005DC-561_468x.jpg
The drizzle became a downpour and somewhere a candle flickered out.

Robin Hood shivered as he tried to shelter under an autumn oak that merely contrived to make him wetter as it funnelled water onto his head and with uncanny accuracy down his neck. He knew about both drizzle and downpour but the candle was lost to him. As it was to Marion, who was out in the Greenwood looking for him.

Night had long since fallen and although he wasn’t lost – Robin Hood never got actually lost as such – he was as close to being lost as man can get. After all, in the pitchest black of an evil night even an outlaw can find himself lost. And his ever-loving maiden. She was in the dark too, especially now that a drop or two of the downpour had washed the flame from her candle.

“Robin!” she called, her treble voice whipped by the weather until it merged indecipherably with the drumbeat of rain and the whistle of the wind.

“Marion!” he shouted, but it wasn’t in reply to her, just that he sensed that somewhere in the Greenwood his woman might be seeking for him.

He sensed her answer, but didn’t hear it.

Then he saw her. Clad in diaphanous white and with sparkles in her hair, she was walking towards him. A stirring in his loins told him just how much he wanted her, now in the downpour, with the wind becoming a gale and the stars hidden by black clouds. But visions can be mischievous elves and when he blinked she vanished, together with her diaphanous gown and his grinding excitement.

“Marion!” he called again, loud, maybe louder than the gale, and knowing he needed help he pulled an arrow from his quiver, eyed its length thoughtfully though even that was hard to see in the dark night and then, guessing the direction, fired it high into the air, needing it to fall peacefully near his loved one.

It may have been a miracle, a gift from the gods (though he had long since dismissed the Jewish god from his mind) or just a fluke, one of the tricks of fortune, but she heard it land. Near her, close enough to outwit the storm with its thump as it bit into the soft earth.

Then another miracle – just yards away she actually saw it, a line of lighter shadow in the black.

Many another woman would have grabbed it, pulled it to her, but besides beauty she had wisdom and she knelt close and stared thoughtfully at it. This arrow would tell her the story. It would tell her where her man was. Where the outlaw more famous than all others, the man with blood on his hands, a priest’s blood, a bishop’s and who knew how many king’s men’s blood. With practised eyes she measured angles and calculated distance and then ran off into the black night, knowing where Robin should be.

“Robin!” she shouted when she came close to where she had worked out that he should be, and the reply, not distant, not camouflaged by wind and rain but sturdy and manly, came back to her:

“Marion, my lovely!”

“Are you lost?” she teased when she saw the light of his eyes, the tiniest glimmer and so close. Even eyes, moist with life and love, need some light to reflect and here there was almost none. Night was well under way and the very last trace of a distant sun had left this corner of creation.

“I remember your smile,” he told her, not whispering but almost shouting even though she had drawn close to her. The downpour and the gale still raged around them, and they dominated everything.

So she took him by the hand and tugged at him.

“Come this way, big man,” she bellowed, “and I will guide you.”

He smiled, and let her. She knew the way and he was clearly lost and admitted the failing to himself.

Then they were within sight of the woodcutter’s deserted cottage where she had sheltered whilst the rains fell, though the night denied them more than a flickering glance where a candle burned behind an unglazed tiny shuttered window.

When they were within and she had lit a second candle from the flickering one she’d placed in the window she faced him and her eyes sparkled.

“Take your pants off,” he ordered, “for they are dripping and need to be dried!”

“Then turn away,” he suggested, grinning the wicked grin that had eaten into her heart when she had first met him.

“Never!” she laughed, “for all you have, even your comical old man, you gave to me! Remember? And I find no sin in gazing upon that which is mine!”

He started struggling out of his clothes and mocked her with an exaggerated wink.

“And you’re wet too,” he pointed out. “Come, my lovely, remove your raiment too! It would be the very worst sadness to me if you caught a sickness from the wet, and died on me!”

“Oh, you naughty tease!” she giggled, but started undressing, pulling her thick warming cloak from her and slowly taunting him as she exposed naked legs, white and as perfect as any leg can be.

Then, and neither knew who was first, they were naked in a wonderful wrestling hug, then kissing, then dragging each other to the bedding corner of the one-room cottage and leaping onto it.

“Hey! Watch where you’re landing! I wondered when she’d get back to me, Robin,” growled Friar Tuck, “she would go out into that damned storm and look for you! I told her you’d be all right, but hey, a woman’s mind is a stranger to the likes of me!”

“I trust you’ve remembered your oath, of chastity and celibacy,” growled Robin.

“Of course,” the friar replied, almost obliquely, “Now let me close my eyes or I might witness what no man of God should see and be barred from Eternity, and get on with what your need to do, or dawn will beat you to it!”

© Peter Rogerson 16.09.15


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