Nine

Sins of the Father

Sometime during the night I had been ambushed and when I woke up I was in a moving cart. Groggy, I rose and then froze in seeing the Sheriff of Nottingham. "You," I growled, "what did you do with Robin?"

"No worries," The Sheriff smiled, "he got away, but unfortunately, you aren't going to…son."

"I am not your son." I spat furiously. "You killed my mother!"

"Your mother died before I could retrieve help," he snapped, "but she did not mind telling me that I had a son. I suppose she lied to you about your parentage, William Scathelocke."

"My mother never lied!" I hissed, struggling with the shackles. "She told me she had a defiler, and I promised to kill him!"

The Sheriff laughed aloud and sat back, drinking his wine. "I've been waiting for years for this, boy," the sheriff retorted, "I'm going to give you one chance. One and only one. Join me or die."

"Never!" I spit at his feet in a rage. "I'd rather die!"

The Sheriff's eyes darkened—I could see so much of myself in him. The sharp jaw bone, the dark eyes, the pointed nose…all of it. How could I have been so foolish? Had Robin known?

Suddenly the carriage stopped and the door opened, a man reached in and yanked me out of the carriage. "Since we were robbed of our hanging earlier," the sheriff said, stepping from the cart, "here's more entertainment."

I was led to the gallows without further delay and a hood was placed over my face. This was going to be it. I was done for. I felt the pelting of fruits and heard the disdain in people's voices, they jeered at me. Of course the sheriff had paid them to do so, but he would only tax higher.

I was led blindly to the platform and felt the rope around my neck tighten. "William Scarlet," a voice bellowed, "you are hereby formally charged with being an 'outlaw'."

My throat tightened and I closed my eyes as if death might come easier that way. And then, in a split second the platform below me went out and I was dangling by my neck, kicking, gagging, clenching my fists behind me. I shook my whole body, trying to get out of the mess I was in, but soon darkness began to set in and suddenly, I hit the ground with a loud 'thud'.

Was I dead? Had they shown mercy? "What ho!" I heard Robin's voice.

I felt someone grasp at me and yank off the blinding hood. "Delilah!" I gasped.

"Shut-up," she commanded, cutting me free and then bringing out the keys she had stolen, "run, Will."

I took her hand and kissed her. "Run with me."

We raced through the crowd as the sheriff's men chased after us. The gate began to close ahead of us so we ran faster. "Will we might not make it!"

"We will!" I replied, tugging her along. "Keep running!"

We leapt beneath the gate just in time as it slammed down and the sheriff's men slammed into it. Delilah rose first, then helped me to my feet. "How's your shoulder?"

"It's fine now," I replied, out of breath, "they won't keep the gate down for long. Let's go."

88888

"You'll return this spring?" I asked gazing up at Delilah, as she got in the carriage.

"I'm an outlaw now," Delilah laughed, "and don't go finding another girl while I'm gone, Will Scarlet."

I gazed at the flowery band I had presented as an engagement gift, the one my sisters had made from berries and baby breath. "Don't you go finding another man," I teased, kissing her one last time, "goodbye, my love."

"Goodbye, Will Scarlet."

I pulled away and watched as the caravan drove off, when I turned everyone was staring at me. "What?" I asked blushing.

"Nothing, Will," Robin laughed, "nothing at all."