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  • Writer's pictureJacque Stevens

Bard Tales (Robin's Hood Chp. 1)

I have heard ballads of our adventures already. A few favor the sheriff, saying we’re all cutthroats and devil worshipers, but most speak of merry outlaws doing clever deeds. They even call us noble for our gifts to the poor. They will be sure to love our latest trick—the finest of all Robin Hood’s adventures. How we finally confronted the sheriff and his men directly, saved an innocent from the noose. Almost killed ourselves in the process.

Oh, how the bards will sing.

They love a lusty and poetic tale, rarely caring if they get any of the details right. But I still wonder how their songs will change once they discover the long blond locks of the girl who really wore the hood. Will they say I was born wild, that I naturally picked wooden swords over dolls or enjoyed caking myself with mud? Will they describe my poor, long-suffering parents chasing me around a castle with a dress, begging me to wear it just this once?

They will be wrong on both counts. My parents died when I was a mere girl of five summers, and I was well-contented in my maidenhood. I would have been happy to sit in a long skirt and embroider all through the night, but the boys wouldn’t. They wanted to run through the forest and climb the ramparts. So, I did too.

I didn’t want to be a boy. I just didn’t want to be alone.

Truly, I made for a terrible boy. They were faster. They were stronger. I was just there. And sometimes, they didn’t want me there at all.

“You can’t keep up, Mare,” Rob would say—it was always Rob because Gale knew better. “Why don’t you climb a tree? Say you got locked in a tower? Get all painted up, and we’ll come and rescue you later.”

That would not appease me. The last time I agreed to something like that, the cook came calling with apple tarts, and I never got rescued.

I pointed over to my brother, just as lanky and towheaded as I was, and less than a hand-span taller. “Why can’t Gale be captured?”

“Gale wouldn’t be. He’s faster.” Rob laughed, and his hood slipped over his eyes. The cloak was a large one he had taken from his father because he thought it made him seem more grown up. It did the exact opposite. He was nothing but a loudmouthed boy, and I suddenly decided I wanted nothing to do with him.

“You should just marry Gale!” I cried, and I crossed my arms to show how upset I was.

But when I yelled, Rob became more offensive. He shouted back. “Mayhap I will marry Gale, and you can stick your head in a trough if you don’t like it!”

Rob and I were already married, but neither of us understood marriage then.

All I knew was that my husband preferred to play with my brother instead of me, and it wasn’t fair. Nor was it fair when King Richard came calling for an army, and both of them left me behind for good.

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