A/N: Hi everybody, to all those people who read 'arrow let loose' and want an update, or those who've read 'curse of the danaides' and want a decent sequel, I don't know where I'm going with it because my muse has left me.
But, this is an idea that I've been thinking of for a while, so review and tell me what you think of it!!! Thanks!!!
P.s. any views expressed in here are NOT my own.
P. p. s I love the Forest Wife.
In a world where our beloved King Richard, may God protect him, fought to drive the heathen Moors from Jerusalem, the Holy City, and his brother, Prince John sat in his place as regent, may God damn him, and squeezed blood as well as gold from us. My only claim to fame is that I wore, and still wear occasionally, men's trousers.
It had begun when I was seven, and had wanted to go hunting and riding like everyone else. Seeing from a practical point of view that my girly frills and dresses would hinder and not help me, I wandered up to my uncle, with my very best begging pleading and whining look, and begged him to let me "borrow" the page boy's clothes. After much persuasion he finally agreed, but only on the condition that I wore a cap over my and told no one that I was the lady Mary de Holt. I followed his instructions and none but the servants who had known me since I was a babe ever guessed that I was not a dim-witted stable boy.
Bu, do you not find it odd, readers, that I should go not to my father or mother, but to my uncle? I had neither parent for my father had died of fever, and my mother had passed over when she attempted to bring me into this world. As a consequence, my uncle was not only appointed my protector and guardian, but he was also the only surviving male heir on my father's side, therefore he took my lands, but allowed me to keep my title.
To the right of the castle in which myself and my uncle lived, there were the Locksley lands. My uncle, knowing from my strong will and definite lack of feminine beauty, that I would never find a better match than with the young heir of Locksley, sought rather frantically for a marriage alliance that would join the two lands; a marriage between myself, the Lady Mary, and the heir, Lord Robert of Locksley.
In winter, the expanse of land that bordered Sherwood Forest, as mine did, either froze or went to bog land, and unfortunately, that was the exact state of my land when this "Robert" came to stay at my castle for the first time.
My uncle had not wanted to marry me to a stranger, so Robert would come to us one summer, and I to him the next, and so on. It started just after my eighth birthday, on the dreariest and most dismal summer ever known to Nottingham. No one had taken the care to inform me that guests or rather visitors were coming, so I went out to ride dressed as I usually did, in boy's clothes. The servants had grown used to me, loving me unconditionally as the Lady of the castle, my nurse especially loved me, she had three boys herself, and so was able to teach my how to put on and wear these foreign, alien clothes.
Uncle had given my first horse, and had given my pony to some of our servants' children. She was small, but since I too was small and slight, I loved my new horse regardless. I scurried about the stables getting things ready, admittedly, I did have servant who could have done the tasks that I was doing, but I preferred to do some things by myself, and they found it easier to turn a blind eye and say that what they did not see, must not have happened. Therefore, they made themselves scarce when they saw me coming.
So… when a man and a boy rode grandly into my stables, complaining loudly about not being welcomed, wet land, marshes and bogs, they thought, as planned, that they saw a stable boy. The younger one looked a little older than me, but certainly not old enough to address me in the way that he did, and order me to "see to his horse". I ignored him, pompous people regularly came through our lands, and I saw no reason to treat this new set any differently to how I treated the old ones. I was meant to be dim-witted after all.
"If the mistress is as ignorant as the animals she keeps as servants, I will have to bring my tutor and educate her." The boy said, glaring at me in disdain.
"If this is the welcome that we receive after having travelled for days to arrive here, we will turn around and go back home."
"A stable brat to welcome us, so dim-witted he cannot speak. I want not to marry the mistress of this hovel."
My blood boiled inside of me until I was sure that my face was as red as my hair. I was cursed with red hair, and also the temper that often accompanied the colour. This horrid rich brat had insulted my home and myself, and they were two slights that I could neither forgive nor forget.
I reached down into my horse's stall, and grabbed a large handful of the sliming, fresh manure that I had been clearing out, and threw it at the young uppity noble brat, who was no doubt my future husband, Robert of Locksley. I did not want to even think about marrying him, and unfortunately for him, he was on my land, and therefore, he obeyed my rules.
The horse dung hit him squarely on the top of his head, sitting on his hat. Both he and the obnoxious man next to him turned, rather stupidly to look at me.
"It slipped." I said with a smirk and a shrug of my shoulders. I admit that wearing men's clothes did make me act more like a boy than a girl, but he had slighted me!
Leaping of his horse once he had adjusted to the shock of wearing horse manure, he approached me. For saying that he was meant to be only two years older than me, he stood both head and shoulders taller than me. His dark brown eyes glittered, I rather think that I had somewhat insulted him.
"Was that a challenge?" He asked me.
I ignored him and he repeated the question. I turned my back on him, an insult, mistake it not readers. However, that was a small error on my account, for he then pushed me face first into the mud and manure that I had just thrown at him. It was disgusting!
You were not meant to attack a man who had his back to you, so not only had this boy no honour, but he was also now laughing at me. He turned his back to me and made his way back to the other laughing prat on a horse, in a deliberate insult.
With a cry I threw myself at his back and pulled hard on his curly brown hair. He stumbled backward, I was attached to him and determined not to let go without a fight. He staggered into the courtyard before throwing me to the ground away from him. He had knocked my cap off, and my red tumbled down my back, making me a girl once more.
With even more disdain he rose to look down on me.
"I do not fight girls. They are not worth it and always lose. Besides," he added, looking at my hair, "Red-haired girls are ugly weaklings."
Confident in himself he swaggered back to the other man, who had been watching us with amusement and a little horror once he had realised who I was.
What had I said about my temper readers? Had I mentioned that it was voluble and vengeful?
Once more I threw myself onto him, this time with enough force and anger to tip him over to the ground. I knelt on his back, pressing my knees into his spine. I grabbed his hair and spoke to him.
"Most girls are weaklings, but as you will have realised, I am an exception to that rule. Remember that and next time a girl will not beat the little lord of Locksley."
He flushed under my scorn. I would have then ripped his hair out, if a crowd had not appeared at that moment. The servants smiled indulgently at their lady, my uncle was incensed and horrified.
"Mary de Holt! Get here this moment!"
I dutifully obeyed him, and stood, covered in dirt, straw, and I dread to think what else, and glared hatefully t the boy opposite me, who evidently did not like to be beaten by a girl.
"I do believe that the betrothal was to be between my son and a lady. I heard no mention of a wench in trousers. Perhaps she has a sister who would be more suitable?" Said Robert's father hopefully.
My uncle plainly wanted the ground to rise up and swallow him. He hissed at me,
"When will you act like the lady you are instead of the hellion you are becoming?"
"Did you not receive our messenger telling you that we were arriving this morrow? Because we received your telling us that everything would be prepared." His eyes scanning me made it plain that he considered me not only unsuitable for his son, but also unprepared for a lifetime as a wife.
"The messenger said that you would arrive next week."
"No, I am leaving next week, but Robert is to stay on for two more months."
Both my uncle and the brat's father laughed over the mistake, my uncle threw an arm over the other man's shoulder, and leading both myself and Robert in front of them, they wandered back indoors to plan the welcome and feast that had been missing this morning.
My uncle's hand on my shoulder did not prevent me from punching Robert of hitting him. He kicked me in return and I guessed that he had forgotten about not fighting girls.
"Spoilt rich brat."
The insults continued, hissed under our breath so that the men guiding us into the kitchen did not hear us.
"She is… spirited and somewhat passionate." The Lord said to my uncle, as if I was not there listening.
"He is strong and a strapping young man."
Robert swelled like a peacock under the praised, I kicked him.
"They do not mean it you fool, they are just being polite." He scowled at me and jabbed his fingers painfully into my ribs.
"She appears to be hale and hearty. Strong for child bearing."
I was a country girl, readers, and even so young I knew know children were made, and the idea of doing something so disgusting with that fool boy Robert made me feel physically sick. I turned to look at him; his face reflected my revolted stare and we both turned away groaning and complaining. He, being vulgar and obnoxious, pretended to gag.
The two men got the point and never mentioned child-bearing again. They did, however continue boasting about us. The Lord told of Robert's handsome form, curly thick hair and talent and strength at archery. Uncle could hardly boast of my freckles, long nose, thin and small frame or horrid red hair, a sure sign of the devil, and instead told how I was … more than a little vivacious, cleverer than boys my own age, and how I was… interesting…
"She'll never bore him." My uncle joked, sharing a laugh with Robert's father. Unsure what exactly this meant I hastily looked at Robert to see how he reacted. He simply raised an eyebrow and said,
"Pardon me if I fail to find that wild cat pulling out my hair 'interesting'."
That made them laugh even more. I kicked him hard in the shins again, and as we entered the hall, and were thus released, I was chased screaming up the spiral stairs, as he threatened to cut off my hair.
Robert soon realised that I was the one girl he should fight with, and compete against. As the only lady of the castle, for my uncle was unmarried and likely to remain so, I had the nicest, most comfortable rooms that overlooked acres upon acres of grass land. I would lay awake in my bed, with my red velvet bed-curtains turning the walls and ceiling a soft red, and would plot how to take revenge on him.
The name 'carrot head' stuck to me, and I hated that and my given name Mary, it was so dull and plain, even if it had been the name of Our Lady, mother of Jesus. Many of the servants fondly called me Marianna, or Marian for short. As for Robert, I extended my vocabulary to include brat, git, prat, weakling, boy and other names that came along when the situation arose. My uncle had the bad taste to actually like the uppity little snot, and occasionally, almost fondly, called him Robin. I called him slime, mud, dirt, or even manure once, but only when my uncle was not around to order my mouth washed out with soap.
My first revenge on him was for how he had made fun of my hair, and called my home, beloved, small and all I had ever know, a hovel. I went out, one morning, a day or two after his father had left, he was therefore alone in my castle, at my mercy, and able to act as horridly as he liked. I was dressed in a white dress deliberately.
I wandered about with my uncle's hairy old dog, and "accidentally" knocked Robert to his knees into a puddle. He acted instinctively, with one hand reaching out to grab my ankles and pull me over; staining my white dress with mud. Once more I threw mud at him, hitting him right in his face. He reciprocated, my hair wet and drying in muddy tendrils made me look like some sort of ancient sea monster. The dog, faithful to me growled at Robert as he swore and I shrieked, his words widening my grasp on the English language fantastically.
The servants had watched us, sensing that we disliked each other, and that there was a little friction between us. My nurse stepped in between us. Bessie grabbed a chunk of my hair and pulled me, and gained a hold on Robert ear and tugged him away from me. Even caught as we were we still squirmed and tried to fight each other. My nurse kicked twice on the door to my uncle's study and glared at the mud we had left on the floor. Without waiting for my uncle's permission to enter, she trod across the room, and stood in front of his desk, now holding both me and Robert by our ears. It was extremely painful.
My uncle looked up at my in surprise and horror. My dress was no longer white.
"Child." He groaned, "Were you born to be my final torment? Where is your sense of propriety? What did I say about your clothes and how if you are going to play rough and fight, do not, for Our Lady's sake, wear a dress."
"He pushed me over." I said indignantly.
"She pushed me first." I heard with glee how pathetic Robert sounded.
"Silence!" My uncle shouted, and he looked from Robert, in his scruffy breeches and baggy shirt, his knees and legs covered in mud. To me, my white dress ruined by mud, and covered from head to toe in it, as I had anticipated he would. Uncle looked at me, seeing a girl with big eyes and a guileless face, a girl who should be clean. He looked again at Robert, a boisterous boy, who was meant to get dirty.
"Robert, I will endeavour to teach you the manners that befit a gentlemen, you do not push young girls over in the mud." Catching me pulling faces at Robert he continued. "And you little madam, should spend less time plotting and planning, and more time taking better care of your clothes. Apologise. Both of you."
He glared at us, exasperated and now, after more than a week of constant fighting, utterly unamused.
"I beg your pardon, my Lady de Holt." Sweet words, but his glare told me that this was no apology, and since he did not believe that I was a lady, let alone the Lady Mary de Holt, he was not technically apologising to me.
"I forgive you." I said and turned to flounce out of the room. Uncle growled my name.
"Will you forgive me?" I asked reluctantly and not caring what the answer was.
Uncle order us from the room, complaining about the impetuousness of youth and our folly.
It was my first plot to thwart Robert, but it was not by a long way my last! On our way out of uncle's room, we made a serious promise to never ever marry and that we would always hate each other.
In some ways I have to tell you readers, we were wrong in both cases. But, at times even now, I dislike him every bit as much as I ever did then.
2, 875 words, rather respectable for a first chapter I think!!!!!