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To Grandma's House

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Robin, chapter 3

Robin had sold her entire load of vegetables before lunch. After winning an impromptu cudgel bout (and a number of bets upon it), she was returning by her usual route [carrying her sword, staff, bow, and quiver of arrows, and a small purse with the day's earnings] when she spotted Sheriff Wulf ambling through the woods.

ROBIN-- [after tucking away her purse] Ho, Sheriff! Whither goest thou so merrily a this fine day?

SHERIFF-- [uncomprehending] What?

ROBIN-- Where are you headed?

SHERIFF-- [stiffening] And what business is that of yours, little girl?

ROBIN-- Oh, the forest wends and winds. We wouldn't want you to get lost.

SHERIFF-- [checking his compass] And who are you to care if I lose my way?

ROBIN-- Just as you say, only a little girl.

SHERIFF-- [pointing] And why would someone like you carry weapons like those?

ROBIN-- Do you always start sentences with conjunctions?

SHERIFF-- And--no. What are you doing with that staff?

Harold was famous for collecting (and inventing) taxes on the spot, so instead of telling him of her business, Robin came up with a better answer.

ROBIN-- Bears don't like being thwacked on the nose by staves.

SHERIFF-- [looking around a bit] There are bears here?

ROBIN-- Yes, and they run when I hit them.

SHERIFF-- [rubbing his beard] So you have a staff. Why a sword, too?

ROBIN-- Thieves, who only carry little knives and daggers, are naturally scared of a long sword.

SHERIFF-- [unhappy at the thought] Thieves, as well? But why do you have that bow, and those arrows?

ROBIN-- Target practice, of course.

SHERIFF-- For...?

ROBIN-- The sport of it!

SHERIFF-- The sport of poaching, more like! [reaches for Robin, but she ducks away]

ROBIN-- [dodging and evading while mocking clumsiness as the sheriff continues to attempt her capture] Careful, Sheriff. These paths are littered with rocks and roots to trip upon. Though I stumble, I can always regain my feat. Someone of your stature [poking his belly as she pretends to fall about] might not find it so easy, and, falling, might have trouble getting up. [with some help from Robin's staff, this is exactly what happens]

SHERIFF-- [slowly coming to a sitting position and catching his breath with Robin standing over him smiling sweetly] Well. I suppose I could overlook your misdeeds this once [pausing both to breathe and to produce his notice of eviction] if you can help me find this place.

ROBIN-- [recognizing her address] I know how to get there as easily as to my own home. There's a fork up ahead. Just stay to the left, and never go right. You'll get where you're going.

SHERIFF-- [standing up] Thanks. [dusting himself off] Now skeedadle, and don't let me see you carrying a bow in Sherman's Forest again.

So Harold Wulf blithely took the leftmost path, and Robin ran happily to the right. Though both lead to Robin's house, the right was a short and pleasant route, while the left passed over cliffs and streams, through a thieves' camp, and very near a mother bear's den. It was late evening before a tattered, penniless Sheriff Harold Wulf appeared at Robin's doorstep, cursing his luck and helpful, redheaded girls the world over.
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