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A Cultural Exchange

Robin, Chapter 10
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Over the months, Robin's band established a reputation, either as a bloodthirsty bunch or as a professional and exceedingly fair group of thieves, depending on whether you read the sheriff's signs or talked to the locals. From what I've heard, they never took more than their quarry might afford, nor kept more than necessary, reserving any excess for those most in need. As had long been the tradition of Sherman's thieves, all who resisted were treated to a heady buffet of blows, but most no longer had to seek a doctor afterwards.

Having learned their lesson from their meal with the sheriff (or at least from the subsequent posters featuring their names, their faces, and a list of imagined crimes far worse than robbery) the thieves made a point of hosting weekly dinners for any who asked, and many who didn't. Being few in number, they found it quickest and most effective to split up in their quest for guests. Each carried howler-monkey whistles in case of trouble or an especially rich prize.

While the men preferred to "lounge about in wait", as Bill Mayer put it, hidden in shrubbery or a copse of trees along the roads, Robin enjoyed moving from point to point in the woods, scanning highways and trails alike. Mid-evening, on one of these treks, our heroine met a great and burley Espagnard, dancing along, twirling a painted staff depicting a stampede of dappled horses. Had he been walking, no one would have suspected this large man of being so nimble as he showed himself prancing about the forest floor dressed like a conquistador.

ROBIN-- [mimicking his dance for several steps in the opposite direction before dashing to catch up] Halt, o mincing man of war. You must be tired and hungry with all this prancing about so late in the day. Come stay at my inn and rest.

ESPAGNARD-- [whirling about to face the girl; crooking his staff in his right arm; with a slight accent] Ha! I could do this for days.

ROBIN-- Even so, I wouldn't recommend traversing the woods at night. You'll get lost.

ESPAGNARD-- I like getting lost. All the better to find adventure.

ROBIN-- You may find more than you'd like. They say Robin the Hood stalks the forest at night with a pack of bears and a score of bowmen.  You should stay with us.

ESPAGNARD-- Tales to frighten the law. Thieves don't scare me.

ROBIN-- [shifting her sword with hand; producing her staff with the other] But I must insist.

ESPAGNARD-- [his eyes trailing up in thought] Now what did that sign say...? Red hair... [confirming this before turning his eyes skyward again] Short... [holding his hand at Robin's height; gazing off into the distance; tapping his chin] Impish... [focusing briefly on her smile before glancing at her sword] Brigand. [snapping his fingers] You are Robin the Hood.

ROBIN-- [curtsying gracefully while maintaining her aggressive posture]  Just as you say.

ESPAGNARD-- [craning his neck about]  But no bears or archers.

ROBIN-- Not today, sadly.

ESPAGNARD-- Too bad.  That would have been a challenge. [turning] Well, I'm off then. [with a wave, he begins to dance off] Happy hunting.

ROBIN-- [jumping in front of him, and firmly tapping one of his boots eliciting a grimace from the Espagnard]  Waltzing off in search of adventure when an armed assailant stares you in the face? [her smile broadens] Fantastic! You really must stay with us.

ESPAGNARD-- [as Robin attacks, he defends, steadfastly refusing the slight openings she deliberately offers; this exchange carries on until the end of the scene, with Robin dictating the pace, but never quite going in for the kill, and the Espagnard doing just enough to avoid being hit while continuing his dance] I do not fight children.

ROBIN-- [pressing the attack, circling, pushing] Good thing I'm an adult.

ESPAGNARD-- [falling back in 4/4 time, deftly stepping over roots and around shrubs as they begin to leave the road] Oh? How old are you?

ROBIN-- [maneuvering the fight towards a stream] Old. Like twice your age. [her opponent cocks an eyebrow] I wear it well.

ESPAGNARD-- Ah, but I do not fight women, either.

ROBIN-- What would you call this, then?

ESPAGNARD-- Saving my clothing.  You already scuffed my boot, and clearly have cruel designs for my shirt.  I shudder to think what might happen were I not here to defend it.

ROBIN-- [steps from the stream's narrow bank]  Perhaps you'd like to spare your clothes from the river I'm about to send you into.

ESPAGNARD-- [glancing over his shoulder while fending off a blow] How would you suggest I do so without fighting back?

ROBIN-- [stops pushing forward, but keeps the Espagnard corralled] I suppose you're an honorable fellow--won't hit women or children; won't surrender; that sort of thing?

ESPAGNARD-- It is true.

ROBIN-- [innocently] You could take off your clothes.

ESPAGNARD-- It's hard enough not fighting you without the extra work.

ROBIN-- I'd wait, of course.

ESPAGNARD-- I am afraid, I am rather attached to my clothes.

ROBIN-- Well, a game, then!  Surely you play 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'.

ESPAGNARD-- Often, but never with thieves.  I find them overly creative when it comes to the rules.

ROBIN-- How about Chicken?

ESPAGNARD-- I don't see any cars or cliffs nearby.  But perhaps there are some away from this river.

ROBIN-- No, no, this is a different type of 'Chicken'. [nodding towards a fallen tree spanning the stream] You see that log over there? [as the Espagnard glances away, Robin jabs at him, but he deftly turn her staff without comment] We'll start at opposite sides, staves at hand, move towards the middle, and try any way we like to knock each other off. Whoever stays up longer wins.

ESPAGNARD-- Wins what, though?

ROBIN-- Well, if I lose, I'll point you in the way of adventure, and, as an added bonus, your clothes will stay dry. But if I win, you'll join my band, and play us wonderful music with that staff of yours. Or we could continue on as before, with you about to find yourself drenched and at a serious tactical disadvantage.

ESPAGNARD-- Chicken it is, then.

ROBIN-- [beaming] Fantastic!

So they walked to the makeshift bridge and stood upon its ends facing one another, the heroic (but relatively small) Robin on one side, and the honorable (but relatively enormous) Espagnard, Inego Melquiadas Montoya de Menudo Sacratisimo del Pueblo de los Lobos (who would come to be known as Little Juan), on the other.


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