Vermin

Sherwood Forest – Outlaws’ Camp

 

Robin Hood walked into the section of the forest, where he and his band had built an ingenious camp.

He had just been out at Knighton Hall and while he was there one of the many peasants from the castle had sent word to him saying, “Edward and Marian are going to be placed in the stocks that you have just seen being built.”

“Right lads, we are needed at Knighton,” replied Robin, all the while placing more arrows into his quiver. Much looked up and without hesitating, countered, “But Master our camp needs waterproofing…that I would know, because I happen to sleep under the exact spot, where there is a leak. Besides, you yourself said we would be doing that today and to put your mind at ease, Knighton Hall is run by a very capable man.”

Robin was used to this kind of speech and was slightly amused by it. Usually he teased Much about not wanting to work, but this time he decided to refrain from jesting.

“Much is right, Robin. Edward hardly needs a hand at running Knighton,” Allan A Dale put in. Djaq, the Saracen woman, who Robin Hood and his men had freed three years ago, and always capable telling when something was wrong, spoke up, “Robin, has something happened to Edward?” and after some consideration she added, “or Marian?” “It’s a bit like this,” Robin said slowly, “On a whim Prince John has decided to put Edward and Marian in the stocks. Also, Knighton is in danger of being overrun by vermin!”

Will Scarlet, who had been listening thoughtfully, asked, “When you said vermin, did you mean rats?” “Might as well be rats,” answered Robin looking very serious. Allan, who always saw the funny side of things, asked Robin, “Look, I’m not being funny, but are we going to be the Pied Piper of Knighton?” He received an answer that he was by no means expecting, “Yes, I think we could be. Will, we need those instruments that we had yesterday.” The instruments were actually swords and bows cleverly disguised as a harp, a banjo and a flute. Thanks to Will the ‘Crafty Craftsman’, the instruments looked very realistic.

“Why weapons?” That was Little John, John to the outlaws, a man of very few words.

“Would it help if I told you that one of the rat’s names is Sir Guy of Gisborne?” said Robin with the all-to-familiar grin on his face. When the outlaws saw this grin they knew that their captain would do anything. Usually Little John could persuade Robin not to do anything that might endanger their lives even more than the usual, but this time Will took on this job.

“Robin we cannot go, Knighton Hall will be teeming with…with vermin. It will be dangerous and…” Will stopped and looked for help from the others, but they offered none. Much had stopped stirring the squirrel stew he was cooking and was looking hopefully from Will to Robin. Then suddenly he burst out, “Master, the peasants love Edward and Marian and have so little that they won’t go throwing their precious food at them, would they? Once we have got them out of there, we can waterproof the roof. I, for one, will not sleep under a drip!” Robin thought this was getting ridiculous. The men who he, Robin, relied on to help him restore justice, were now worrying about a little danger. Danger was not new to the outlaws and they knew it! He needed to make them see the importance of this matter. And so looking at Much, but speaking to them all, he said with determination, “We have no choice but to go. As you all know, Edward is very weak now and I don’t think he has much of a chance to…unless we get him out of the stocks tonight.” There was a long silence as everyone thought about what Robin had just said. Allan broke the silence, “Well, I always thought his days were…somewhat numbered.”

“It’s not like he’s died yet,” retorted Much, rather indignantly. “Robin, if what you say is true, then Edward must have help, urgently!” Djaq said with concern. Robin smiled. If there was one person who would say that, it was Djaq.

“So are you coming with me?” asked Robin.

“I’ll go where you go, Robin,” said Will, sorry that he had mentioned it would be dangerous; of course it would be dangerous, everything they did was dangerous. The law and outlaws had swapped places and that was dangerous. All the outlaws nodded in agreement. Robin looked gratefully at his band. These were the men he knew.

“Where there’s a WILL there’s a way,” Little John said. He liked sayings and this one was used often, always predictably aimed at Will.

“Is that another saying?” asked Much. He never did understand the sayings.

“Right, meet me on the Great North Road in one hour.” Having said that Robin went off to hunt for something to eat; he was getting a bit tired of eating the squirrel, even though Much said it was chicken.

 

 

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