“Robin, give her back!” Marion wailed, clutching her skirts in her small fists. “Princess Georgia doesn’t like that, so stop it!”
Robin of Locksley chuckled to himself as he sat leisurely in a large oak tree. Being a lad of merely eight years, he found his days consumed with playing pranks and terrorizing the young Maid Marion, who was only four. The branch on which he was perched sat over a bubbling stream, the ripples a symphony to his ears. However, the effect was shattered by the constant moaning of the little girl below him on the opposite bank. Nonetheless, he had to admit he’d brought it upon himself. After stealing Marion’s most precious doll, ‘Princess Georgia,’ he’d run with it right up a tree and now threatened to drop the toy into the merciless waters below.
“Robin, you give her back right now! She was a birthday gift from my mother!” Marion shrieked, her lips forming into a pout that Robin recognized as the first stage to a temper tantrum. “I’ll tell your mother that you’re being naughty again.”
Robin laughed. “Is that the best you can do?” he chuckled, enjoying the rage and fear in her watery blue eyes. Why did he enjoy tormenting her so? “It’ll take King Richard’s entire army to pull me down from this tree.”
“Oh, Robin, you are a mean boy, and you’ll never find a girl to marry if you act like that,” Marion sniffed.
“I don’t want to marry anybody,” Robin snapped, pushing his brown hair out of his face. “But if you go tell anyone, Princess Georgia is going for a swim.”
“But…but…” Marion blubbered. Finally, Marion plopped on the bank of the river, mud staining the ice blue gown she wore. Tears streamed down her plump cheeks and she began to cry. “Please Robin,” she whimpered. “I just want my doll back.”
Robin’s heart softened involuntarily toward the small child. Leaping down from the tree with the greatest of ease, he then waded carefully through the shallow waters of the river. His trousers and loose, white tunic were now drenched as he gingerly climbed up onto the opposite bank. He sheepishly handed Marion her doll. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“Stealing is a bad thing,” Marion whimpered, snatching her doll back and cradling her in her protective arms.
“Don’t be angry, Marion,” Robin pleaded shamefacedly. Digging into the pocket of his trousers, he brought up a lovely silver locket. The sunlight reflected in it made it glitter like a diamond. “Here. This is for you,” Robin said bashfully, handing the necklace to Marion. “I bought it with my own money for your birthday.”
Marion stared at the piece of jewelry, and then took it in her warm, little hand. Suddenly, a wide smile broke over her sunny face, and she leapt to her feet and trotted happily back to her mother.
“Look, there she is,” whispered Will Scarlet. His best friend, Robin of Locksley, and he were perched in the lower limbs of a sturdy oak tree, watching the ten-year-old Maid Marion walking below. The skirts of her lemon-yellow dress swished around her ankles as she walked nearer to their hiding spot.
Robin, now a boy of fourteen, thought of Marion as his little sister. They’d grown up together since they were very young. They’d fought, quarreled, played, and gotten on each other’s nerves for years. However, she followed them everywhere. She was like a little parasitical bug that they couldn’t get rid of.
“Robin!” Marion called. “I know you’re here!”
Robin blew out an annoyed breath. “I can’t get rid of her,” he whispered quietly to Will. “My mother keeps telling me to ‘look after Marion! She’s only a little girl with no brothers or sisters to play with.’”
Will gazed quietly down from their perch, and then formed a plan. “Robin, I have an idea,” he muttered. “You’re the fastest boy in all of England. We go down there and challenge her to a footrace. She won’t be able to keep up. Once we’ve lost her, we’ll be home free!”
“Brilliant!” Robin cried, leaping enthusiastically down from the tree, Will at his heels. His sudden apparition startled Marion, who jumped back with a scream. “Robin!” she cried. “I’ve been looking for you,” she continued once she’d gotten over her shock.
“Let’s play a game, Marion,” Robin began, unable to keep a smile from forming across his lips. Then pointing, he continued, “You see that large maple tree in the distance? I want you to race against Will and me.”
To his surprise, Marion didn’t look at all frightened or angry. Instead, a strange light entered her eyes. Was it determination, or something else? “Alright then,” she shrugged nonchalantly.
“On my signal,” Will said as the threesome prepared themselves for the race. “On your mark, get set…go!”
As if she summoned all the powers of the earth, Marion took off like a panther on the hunt, her feet a blur and barely touching the ground. Robin was stunned beyond words when he reached the tree and Marion was already there. She grinned innocently when she noted his dumbfounded stare. “I’m a fast runner,” she chirped.
Will’s jaw involuntarily dropped comically wide. “You beat Robin,” he said in an awed and stunned voice.
His pride aching, Robin brushed it off. “Aw, she only got lucky, Will. I could beat her any old day.”
“Want to bet?” Marion snapped, crossing her arms across her chest.
“I’ll race you again…if you’re not too tired from the last one,” Robin taunted.
Marion whirled around in a huff, getting into her ready stance. “Just tell me when to go. I’ll see you at the finish.”
Right when another race was about to commence, the threesome heard the call, “Marion! It’s time to come inside, my dear!”
“Oops, that’s my mother,” Marion shrugged, giving Robin and Will a flippant smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” And with that, she was gone.
It was an exceptionally hot summer day in England when a certain Robin of Locksley and Maid Marion found themselves in each other’s company. They both sat cross-legged in a large strawberry patch, surrounded by the sweet fruit. Marion reached into the bushes and plucked the ripe, red produce and ate it in one bite. “Yum,” Marion sighed, tossing the top aside. “Strawberries are nature’s perfect food.”
Robin gazed at the girl of fourteen sitting across from him. How much she’d changed since they’d met as children. She’d evolved into a beautiful young woman. Long black curls hung down her shoulders and her sapphire blue eyes shone like the sun above. Her creamy skin was tinted golden by the sun, and the tip of her perfectly sculpted nose was slightly sun burnt. The folds of her white, cotton gown surrounded them and her bare feet dug into the soft earth.
Their eyes met, and Marion laughed. “What are you looking at?” she asked sweetly.
Robin shook himself. He’d been staring again, and he could feel his cheeks heating up. He was eighteen. He could handle a fourteen-year-old girl…maybe.
Marion found herself chuckling on the inside. Robin was such a funny boy. Man, she should say. He was eighteen after all. Why he wanted to spend time with her when he received so much attention from women his own age and twice his status was beyond her. But when she looked at his rumpled brown hair that curled around his ears, his emerald green eyes, and scrutinizing expression, she couldn’t deny certain feelings she experienced when he was around. She watched as his muscles tensed when he leaned over and plucked a strawberry from the bush. He held it just out of the reach of her mouth. Marion giggled, leaned forward, and bit into the juicy fruit. “Nothing,” Robin murmured softly as he tossed the top aside.
Marion looked away from the intensity of his gaze. What was wrong with her? What was the explanation for these butterflies in her stomach whenever she saw him? Why could she never stop thinking about him? It didn’t seem right.
“Marion.” Robin’s strong voice shattered her private thoughts.
“Yes?” she asked, looking up.
Marion’s heart thudded against her ribs. If she’d expected anything to come from Robin’s lips, it certainly wasn’t this! Could it be possible that Robin had felt some of the same sentiments? Without a conscious thought and giving herself to her impulsive behavior, she leaned forward and kissed him.
The kiss started slowly, but then as the seconds passed, it grew with such intensity that Marion felt Robin’s arms slide around her waist, crushing her to his hard, muscular chest. His fingers toyed with the ends of her long curls as their tongues entwined. Marion just couldn’t resist as her hands reached up and ventured through Robin’s thick hair. Grasping it in her fingers, she pulled his head back and hoarsely whispered, “I love you Robin.”
“I know,” Robin cried earnestly. Suddenly taking Marion’s face in between his palms, he looked straight into her eyes, as if he could see into her soul. “I have always loved you Marion, whether I knew it or not. It’s grown to such an extent that I can hardly contain myself anymore. You’re sweet, kind, generous, witty, and as brave as any knight on King Richard’s private guard. I love you, Marion.”
Their lips met yet again, and there they stayed until nightfall when the moon rose high overhead and they could count the stars. Marion lay curled up in the crook of Robin’s arm, dozing softly. She could sleep peacefully every night of her life now, because she knew that Robin loved her back.
Robin of Locksley could barely contain his excitement and apprehension. He felt the weight of the ring in the pocket of his trousers as he faced Will Scarlet, his best friend since childhood. “How do I look?” he asked.
Will’s gaze scoured over his old friend and he chuckled. “Same as the last three times you asked me.” Robin did appear as a courting, upheld man indeed. For once his shirt was tucked in and his trousers were clasped firmly with a belt around his waist. His boots had been polished and his hair tamed. He was freshly shaven and smelled of the outdoors. Will truly believed he was ready.
“Wish me luck, my friend,” Robin chuckled, clapping him on the shoulder. “I may need it.”
“I doubt it,” Will shrugged as Robin and he proceeded out the door. “Marion will have no reason not to accept you. You have been courting for four years.”
“You never can tell with my Marion,” Robin laughed, mounting his steed. “I shall see you tonight, then?”
“Of course,” Will smiled. Raising his hand to bid Robin goodbye, he said, “Good luck my friend.”
“Thank you, Will,” Robin shouted as he spurred his heels into his stallion’s side, and in a cloud of dust, he was gone.
Robin galloped as fast as his mount’s legs could take him. He could feel his heart beating against his ribs as he attempted to spur his horse on faster. He had to reach Marion before he went crazy with nerves! As the landscape rolled past, Robin truly wondered if he had a need to be worried. Will seemed confident that Marion would accept his hand, but Robin wasn’t so sure. Marion was a free spirit. She was unique and treasured her freedom and independence above all else. Would she find a life bound to Robin tedious and enslaving? Robin could understand if Marion found matrimony unappealing. However, his thoughts and anxieties came to an abrupt halt when he neared Marion’s house.
The residence was a humble one for a lady, no doubt, but it was a beautiful home with rolling hills and abundant fruit trees. Robin noticed Marion’s copper-colored mare tethered up outside. Penny, as she was called, was Marion’s most treasured possession. The house itself had a thatch roof and clay walls with a small vegetable garden in the front. Robin had been to Marion’s dwelling many times over the past years, and he’d grown to love her abode more each day that passed. Finally dismounting his steed, he tethered Jack next to Penny, and with one moment of hesitation, he raised his hand and knocked on the front door.
He only had to wait but a few seconds when the door swung open to reveal Marion’s young maid-in-waiting, Bella. “Good evening, Master Robin,” the youth said politely, curtsying. “May I escort you inside?”
“Thank you, Bella,” Robin replied, smiling. He stepped inside and immediately inhaled a deep breath. Marion’s home smelled of everything wonderful: wood, pine trees, and the scent of warm apples wafted through the house. Robin couldn’t help but grin when he asked, “May I please see the Lady Marion?”
“Of course,” Bella smiled. “I shall fetch her for you.”
“No need, Bella, but thank you,” Marion’s voice called as she made her appearance. Robin’s heart leapt as Marion sashayed into the front hall, the lovely toffee-colored gown she wore hugging her hips. Her long, black curls just reached the small of her back, and a smile was planted on her plush, red lips. “To what do I owe the honor, Master Robin?” she asked, taking a mocking bow.
“Please, fair lady, do not bow for me,” Robin laughed, playing along. Cupping Marion’s face in his hands, he whispered, “For rather it is you who deserves the homage paid.” He then kissed her lightly on the lips.
Marion’s cheeks flushed like two newly budding roses. “What brought about this sudden change, Robin? Why so suave and romantic?”
“What? Aren’t I always this charming?” Robin joked, but then his mood sobered. Glancing around, he asked, “Is there somewhere more secluded that we could talk?”
This gave Marion pause. Nothing Robin usually had to say involved solely herself. He spoke quite frequently with her mother and father. However, she smiled and tugged on his hand, leading him back outdoors. “Let’s go for a ride,” Marion suggested hopefully.
Robin grinned. He wouldn’t have expected anything less from Marion. Following her, he was quickly reunited with Jack and caressed his nose tenderly before mounting. Marion did the same and spurred the mare onward, Robin riding at her side. They didn’t speak throughout the ride, nor did Robin have a clue where Marion was leading them, but his excitement grew with each hoof touching the ground.
Finally, Marion led him to the outskirts of Sherwood Forest, and a most wonderful sight met Robin’s eyes. With the forest beginning at his right and rolling, grassy plains on his left, he stared straight ahead as she sun sank below the horizon. Ribbons of pink, orange, and red danced across the sky. Robin couldn’t think of a better place to propose to Marion.
Glancing at his awestruck face, Marion laughed. “It is beautiful, isn’t it?” she mused, somewhat to herself. “I come here often at dusk, if I just need time to think.”
Dismounting, Robin sidled up to Penny, reaching out for Marion. “I’d like to join you,” he said. “Every day, for the rest of our life.”
Marion’s eyes widened as her heart skipped a beat. “W-what?” she stammered.
Swinging Marion gently down from her mount, Robin sat her on the ground and then proceeded to sit in front of her. The moment was coming. He could feel it. Looking deep into her eyes, he began. “Marion, I met you when I was four years old and you were an infant. Our parents were friends, so naturally, we spent much time together.”
“Now I know we didn’t begin on the best of terms…”
“Not after that time you swiped my doll,” Marion laughed.
Robin laughed, but continued. “Even so, I stole your toys, pulled your hair, called you names, and teased you for one purpose: because I liked you. I didn’t know how to get you to notice me, so I bothered you.”
“However, things changed when I was eighteen. I found I wasn’t attracted to girls my age. They seemed so dull and shallow. All they cared about was when the next party was going to be and which rich, young bachelors were in attendance. I didn’t want that. I found that I was attracted to you, Marion, a mere girl of fourteen. Though you were young, I thought you were the most beautiful, intelligent, and kind-hearted young lady I’d ever known. I was smitten completely by your charm.”
“But it wasn’t until a few months ago when I started thinking. I thought about what my life would be like with you for the rest of my life. Would I still love you forty years from now? Would I be able to be faithful to you until the day we die? I could say yes so easily, and that’s when I decided you were the girl for me, Marion. You are so spirited, so unique, so lovely; I find I can’t stay away from you. I want you to be mine forever.” Sensing his speech was wrapping up, Robin grasped Marion’s hands and they both stood. At that time, Robin got down on one knee and gazed into Marion’s face. Her eyes were full of tears, and her bottom lip began to tremble. Reaching into his pocket, Robin retrieved the ring. “Lady Marion of Leaford, will you consent to be my wife?”
“Robin, what took you so long?” Marion cried, dropping to her knees. “Yes, of course I’ll marry you!” She took up Robin’s clean-shaven face in her hands and allowed her mouth to be consumed by his. When they broke apart, Robin gently took her hand and slid the shimmering diamond on, symbolizing that finally, Sir Robin of Locksley, Earl of Huntington, and Lady Marion of Leaford were to be wed.
This is just a sample of my story "Robin Hood:Champion of the People" If you wish to purchase it, it is now available on lulu.com