"Please," gasped the boy. "Please, I was so hungry, I haven't eaten in days!"
"Damned rascal!" roared the shopkeeper, his fat face slowly turning purple. "First it's an apple! Then it's a loaf of bread! Before I know it you'll run me bankrupt you will! No! I'll have it no more! Off to Jail with you!" As the boy began to sob, the sound fell on the ear of a nearby large man, who turned to face the confrontation. Frowning, he walked over.
"How now! What's this?" he demanded. The shopkeeper straightened immediatley upon seeing him. "S-s-sir John!" he stammered. "This rascal was stealing from me!"
"Really," grunted sir John. "And, what did he take? Your purse? Your horse? Perhaps your wife?" There were chuckles from the nearby observers, and the shopkeeper flushed deeper purple. "An…an apple sir." He dropped his eyes.
"Ah yes, we must protect our buisness, must we not?" Sir John Falstaff chuckled. He fished in his purse and came out with a gold coin which he tossed to the shopkeeper. "That should cover the apple I think. The boy can come with me. Let it not be said that Sir John did not help the needy!" Falstaff turned away and began pushing through the crowd. The humiliated shipkeeper released his hold on the boy who immediatley ran to Falstaff's side looking at him with something close to awe.
"What's your name, boy?" Falstaff demanded.
"My mum called me Robin sir, after the bird. She said I'd fly out of the gutters someday into a better life." he stammered.
"Today your mother has been proven right," Falstaff laughed. "You're to be my page, Robin. Let's get you to the Garter and introduce you to my…followers." The two walked down the street, Robin still unable to believe his luck at meeting this noble knight. He already knew that he owed this knight his life. He would do his best to honor that debt.
Robin was awed at the size of the Garter, the place that Falstaff called home. It transfixed him, attracted him, and he felt a bubble of happiness growing in his chest for the first time since his mom had died. "Mine ladies," Falstaff greeted the three women seated inside the first room. They were probably about 19, 4 years older than Robin. "Meet my new page, Robin." Three sets of eyes scrutinized him, and Robin immediatley felt awkward. They began whispering to each other, snatches of which Robin caught. "Skin and bones…street urchin…dirty"
"Now ladies, be nice," scolded Falstaff. "Robin is the newest part of our little family. Run along Robin, get some clothes, a bath, and hot food in you." As years passed, Robin did find his niche with this pose. He loved Sir John like an older brother, and often carried out less than savory acts for him. He began to take on his masters attitude, irreverant and arrogant. The women, Bardolpha, Nym, and Pistol admitted him grudgingly into Sir John's retinue, although they never got along fully with him. The relationship between the four of them was built by a mutual master, and many petty plots against each other. Although there had been all possible combinations for petty fights, Robin often found himself the odd man out, against the three girls. Over the years, Robin had many a fling with each of them at different times, which only added to the hatred and jealousy that boiled up between them. So it was until the day Falstaff decided to seduce Mistresses Page and Ford.