Tracked like deer

Sherwood Forest

 

The outlaws split up into teams of two and ran silently after the Sheriff and the Black Knights.
Robin and Djaq went up the west side of the carriage, Allan and Will the east side and Little John and Much ran a little way behind as back-ups. The outlaws caught snatches of the conversation that the Black Knights were having.
“So how is…Shah Mat…the moat…peasants…but…Sheriff…night watchman…King…Holy land…outlaws…clever…dead?…my brother…” It was hard to tell what they were saying, but it was enough to make all the outlaws curious.
By this time the Black Knights were entering Sherwood Forest. The conversation between them stopped altogether. Who would want to be attacked by outlaws if it could be helped?
It was so quiet; only the sound of the horses’ hooves padding against the soft turf of the forest floor could be heard. Suddenly the most unexpected thing happened. Allan tripped over a tree root, going down with an almighty crash. Immediately the outlaws stopped and hid behind the nearest trees. But Allan, as yet unrecovered from his winding, remained prostrate on the ground. The Sheriff stopped his horse and put his finger to his lips. Without breaking the silence Robin, Djaq, Much, Will and Little John strung their bows, ready to defend Allan.
The Sheriff dismounted his horse and stood looking around him.
“Don’t let him see me,” Allan thought. He took a breath and closed his eyes, hoping.

A rabbit hopped in front of him, causing the leaves to rustle. The Sheriff’s eyes were drawn to the spot, and in so doing, he caught a glimpse of a boot sticking out from behind a bush. The Sheriff pointed at it and motioned for Gisborne to follow him.
Robin saw what was happening and without hesitating he let his arrow fly. It landed right at the Sheriff’s feet. Following their leader’s example the outlaws sent their arrows to join Robin’s. One, two, three, four. In a row. The Sheriff stopped short of his target and shot a look at Gisborne, which cried, “HELP!”
Gisborne merely blinked and then slowly backed away from the Sheriff and up to the carriage, taking control of the situation.
“Arm yourselves,” he commanded the Black Knights, “We may capture one of Robin Hood’s men, IF you do exactly what I tell you to. We must be careful though, because Robin Hood is in bow range. I, for one, do not intend to die by means of his arrow!”
The Black Knights nodded in agreement and followed Gisborne’s orders. They strode over to where Allan was still lying on the ground. They pulled him up and looking triumphant, they invited the Sheriff to pronounce his judgment.
“Hey, what are you…,” Allan exclaimed in surprise.

“You are one of Robin’s Rueful Ragamuffins, aren’t you,” the Sheriff greeted Allan.
“N-no,” stammered the captured.
“Then what, may I ask, were you doing?”        

Allan had an old habit of lying and now that he was in a tough situation this vice surfaced. 

“I was just hunting that rabbit, over there.” Allan tried to make it sound like he was telling the truth, but failed miserably.

“If you want me to believe you, you’re going to have to try better than that. Here, let’s give you another turn. Forget the rabbit, and tell me….do you have a tag, you know, a wooden tag with a symbol on it?”

“Yes, but what’s that got to do with the rabbit?” Allan answered, puzzled.
“I told you to forget the rabbit. Now on with my interrogation. So you are one of Robin’s Merry Men.”
“N-no I’m not. Look I told you I was hunting that rabbit and…”
“And you just so happen to have one of Robin Hood’s tags. I know his tag when I see one, because he gave me one when he visited once!” The Sheriff pounced at the opportunity to display his knowledge.
“Oh that tag, Robin gave it to me after he helped me get out of trouble, but that hardly makes me one of his men.”
“You’ve almost convinced me. Maybe you’re not lying. Now what sort of trouble would that have been?”
“Ahh, well I-” But Allan didn’t have time to defend himself. Gisborne interrupted. 
“M’lord this man feels familiar. He is the one that your guards caught taking food from the pig trough, like a prodigal son. He was quite lost too. When Robin came to pardon those from Locksley Manor, this man said he was from Locksley Manor. Then when Robin didn’t believe him he said to the jailer that there had been a mistake and that he was a visitor from Rochdale and that was why his name was Allan A Dale. Believe me, he was lost!”
“Well Allan A Dale from Locksley Manor, Rochdale and wherever you woke up this morning, I have a surprise for you. You are not going to be a merry man for much longer. Your lying certainly has not improved! You are going back to the dungeons,” shouted the Sheriff. “Gisborne, Guards, when you have escorted this man to the dungeons, meet me in the long hall.” Then to Allan, he promised, “You will hang this evening. The gallows have been gathering a bit of dust lately.”

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