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Robin, Chapter 9
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Whatever faults he had, the sheriff of Notsburry was a dedicated fellow.  He never called in sick, often worked late, and rarely took a day off--even then, you might find him in his office, going over unpaid traffic tickets or searching some septuagenarian's deed for actionable flaws.  Wulf's hard work had its rewards. Quarter-over-quarter profits through property seizures and auctions were up year after year, which meant bigger bonuses and better Christmas parties.

Still, Harold didn't want to push himself too much.  To relax, he made a point of taking a strolling patrol twice a week along the outskirts of town, never handing out more than two frivolous citations on his way to the charming Boor's Head.  This was one such day.

[As the Sheriff enters the pub, Robin's party is already seated, their plates cleaned, the men quaffing their beers and arguing animatedly.]

ROBIN-- [noticing Wulf] Ho, Sheriff! You are a just and righteous man. Come settle a dispute for us.

SHERIFF-- [pales, recognizing Robin and her compatriots; scanning the pub, he sees no friendly faces; under his breath] Food or flight? [his stomach growls mightily; he sighs resignedly and walks to to Robin's table with as brave a face as he can muster] How can I help?

ROBIN-- [gesturing in turn to Scarlett and Scathelocke] Will and Will here are at odd as to the best way to prepare lamb. What do you think, Mister Wulf?

SHERIFF-- [stroking his beard; slowly] A serious matter.

BILL-- Quite.

SHERIFF-- I suppose braised is best.

STUTELY-- Ah, a traditionalist.

SCARLETT-- Yes, yes, but what about ground lamb?

SCATHELOCKE-- Broiled or fried?

SCARLETT-- With or without bacon?

SCATHELOCKE-- Mint jelly or no?

SHERIFF-- In that case, [he pauses as the two men wait expectantly] I like it in shepherd's pie, with garlic and pearl onions.

SCARLETT-- [scandalized] What?  Not in a patty?

JOHNSON-- [sighing with a nod to the disputants]  There's no help for it. [Scarlett and Scathelocke stand up and square off, fists raised]  Sheriff, you'll be the judge.

SHERIFF-- [doing his best not to seem over-eager] Well, if I must.

STUTELY-- [adroitly stepping between Scathelocke and Scarlett] Gentlemen, I want a good, clean fight.  Obey my commands at all times.  Touch 'em up, and come out swinging. [the combatants perform a fist bump, followed by an elaborate secret handshake, and then draw an arm's length apart]  Fight!

SCARLETT & SCATHELOCKE-- [each take a quick step forward, throwing out a hand and drawing it back with each shout] Rock!  Paper! Scissors!  [Scathelocke has put forth 'paper' to Scarlett's 'scissors'; the latter raises his extended fingers in a 'V']

ROBIN-- [to the Sheriff] Well?

SHERIFF-- [all looking his way; pointing at Scarlett] Um, that guy.

STUTELY-- [standing between the fighters; holding Scarlett's arm aloft]  Will Scarlett wins. [Robin and Johnson clap raucously]

SCARLETT-- [to Scathelocke] I told you they were better wrapped in bacon strips, broiled, and served with mint jelly on top.

SCATHELOCKE-- [sticks his hands in his pockets dejectedly, sits down] Shoot.

SCARLETT-- And now, there's just the matter of this "shepherd's pie".  [pointing at the Sheriff]  Harry, I challenge you, old man.

SHERIFF-- [deliberately pushing away from the from the table] No one calls me 'Harry'.  [standing]  I'll show you who's dish is best.

STUTELY-- [wedging himself between a smirking Scarlett and the angered Sheriff] Gentlemen, you know the rules.  Protect yourselves at all times.  Touch 'em up.  [the fighters step back without a show of sportsmanship]  Fight!

SHERIFF-- [steps forward, flinging out his arm] RO-- [Scarlett punches him square on the jaw, knocking him out]

Some minutes later, Harold Wulf found himself coming to on the floor of his favourite pub, its barkeep wringing a cold, wet towel over his face.

SHERIFF-- [spluttering]  Wha-- what happened?

BARKEEP-- [helping the Sheriff up]  It was decided ground lamb is best with mint jelly.  [steadying his patron as the Sheriff surveys the room, seeing Robin and her party gone; with trepidation]  Also, you're to pay their tab.

SHERIFF-- I see.  [feeling his bruised chin]  You know, Charley, I've been coming here for twenty years.  Over that time, I'd like to think we've become friends.  Would you say that's right?

BARKEEP-- Yeah, Harold.  Sure.

SHERIFF-- [nodding]  Good.  You'll help me with their names then.

BARKEEP-- [weakly] Aw, c'mon Harry-- [the Sheriff glowers at him] Harold.  You know I gotta follow the bartender's code.  It's a matter of reputation.  Professionalism.

SHERIFF-- [his eyes cold, matter-of-factly]  Professionally, I should throw you in jail for aiding and abetting known felons, and for extorting an officer of the law, Chuck, but that would wreck my favourite dive.  Worse, it would ruin our friendship.

BARKEEP-- I see.

SHERIFF-- [flatly] Yeah.

So Robin and her friends had their meaty meal without paying a dime, though they might have regretted the bargain had they known the Sheriff would purchase their names along with their food.  Soon, they would be famous.

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