Chapt 2: Where the heck was Marian between "Phony King of England" and the wedding scene? Why didn't Prince John try use her as bait to trap Robin Hood, knowing that they loved each other?

The singing and dancing had waned with the moon. Dawn was perhaps an hour away. Marian rested her head against Robin's shoulder, his arm around her waist, as they nestled together beneath an oak tree. Most of the revelers had already crept home but the cheerful, insulting song they had created to mock the cruel prince still floated through her mind.

"It's late," Robin murmured at last. "We should get you back."

"I'm not going back to the castle."


Marian found herself forced to look up as the prince of thieves pulled away in shock. "I'm not going back to the castle," she repeated decisively. "It's not safe for me there."

"It's not safe for you here," Robin protested. "I'm still an outlaw, Marian. I have nothing to offer you, not until King Richard returns. Why do you think I've stayed away for so long?"

"Your camp is hidden. I would never have found it on my own."

"And what if Prince John gets it into his head to torch Sherwood Forest? You'd be trapped . . . "

She heard rather than saw Robin choke on the words. "You're safer at the castle, my love. You're the adopted niece and official ward of the king. Not even Prince John would dare to harm you."

"But he would gladly hang a traitor," murmured Marian, "and that is what I proved myself to be today. Robin, darling, I have no doubt I gave you away at the archery contest. He saw me cheer you on, he heard me beg for your life. And he watched me run away with you. The prince may not harm me directly but he would use me as bait to trap you. I cannot be used to hurt you, Robin. Please don't ask that of me. Seeing you come to harm that would kill me as surely as the sword."

"But you can't stay in Sherwood," he protested after a pause. "That is the first place he'll look."

"I could go north with Lady Cluck."

He shook his head. "That's the second place he'll look. And then your family's lands and then all of Nottingham . . . Wherever you think to hide, he'll look for you."

"Then you'll have to go someplace where he'll never think to look," a gruff voice opinioned. They looked up in surprise at Friar Tuck, half hidden in the shadows.

"And where would that be?" Robin asked.

Tuck only smiled and shrugged. "The church, of course. Where better to seek sanctuary than a sanctuary? Not even Prince John would desecrate the house of God."

Marian took the friar's paw. "Oh, thank you!"

"That might just work," agreed Robin dubiously, "as long as it stays a secret."

"Of course it will, Rob!" exclaimed a deep voice from over their heads. "That's the whole point of hiding her!"

Robin Hood rolled his eyes in good-natured exasperation. "Anyone else eavesdropping with you, Little John?"

Sheepishly two mice tapped his foot lightly. "Just us," admitted Saxton. "My wife and I."

"And this is as far as it's going to go," declared Tuck. "Now you two rogues get off to bed. We'll see Maid Marian to the church safely."

But the pair of lovers lingered a moment longer. "When will I see you again?" Marian whispered.

"I don't know," he admitted, "but I do know this: we'll be in a church and there will be a friar to marry us." He lifted her paw that held the flower ring from earlier that evening. It was the same type of pink flower he had given her before she had left Nottingham as a child, the same as he had given her at the tournament. "Night and day I'll think of you," he punned.

She smiled back growing tears. "As will I."