It seemed to Dorothy that the tornado was losing some of its strength — she and the various things caught up with her seemed to be spinning more slowly. She felt a sensation of descent, like being in an elevator going down. Yes, the twister that carried her away from Kansas was finally dropping her back to earth again.
The tips of her toes brushed some tree tops. Green leaves fluttered around her now. She held tight to her dog, fearful of losing him among the branches that reached for them as they tumbled down in a clearing right next to a brooklet.
Dorothy let go of her small fellow traveler, who shook himself vigorously and let out a few yips. Gingerly she got to her feet and dusted herself off. “Oh, Toto! Are you all right? I don’t think I have any broken bones, but look at my dress! It’s a mess — and so many rips. Whatever will Mother say when I get home?”
She surveyed the clearing. “And which way is home? I’m so glad to be out of that horrible wind — but this can’t be Kansas. We never had such huge trees as this. Which way should we go?” Dorothy climbed onto the trunk of a toppled tree trunk and looked around. “I see a path over there. Let’s go, Toto.”
Half a mile away two men peered out from under a group of sheltering trees. “What a gale! I haven’t seen a wind like that for many a year,” said the taller man. He stood up and grabbed his bow and quiver of arrows off the ground.
“I was certainly glad to be in the shelter of these strong oaks, Little John,” his companion said as he surveyed the litter of small branches around them. “Though I wondered if the wind might have brought them down on our heads before it passed. Then he laughed heartily. “Whatever would the Sheriff of Nottingham say if, when he’s tried so hard to capture Robin Hood all these years, he found me done in by an oak limb?”
Suddenly the two men froze. “Is that a dog I hear?” Robin muttered. “Whatever would a dog be doing wandering here in Sherwood Forest?”
“Where there’s a dog, there’s undoubtedly a master,” Little John replied. “And who is he, I wonder?” He grabbed an arrow and fitted it to his bowstring, ready to take aim.
Robin pointed toward the far end of the road where a young girl was coming into view. “The dog seems to be with that young waif. Look at her dress, will you. Such garments as I’ve never seen on an English child. She’s a real ragamuffin! Must have been fearfully tumbled about in that storm.”
Little John slipped the arrow back into his quiver. “No need to fear a mistress that small,” he murmured. They listened as the girl talked to her dog.
“It looks like the road divides up ahead, Toto. Which way should we go? Oh, how I wish I were home and not stumbling around in these woods!”
The two men stepped out from their hiding place in the trees, startling Dorothy and setting Toto to barking furiously. Dorothy gasped when she saw their longbows and grabbed Toto in her arms so they wouldn’t hurt him.
“Lost, are you, little maid?” the one man asked. “How come ye to be in the forest alone? Where is your home?”
Wherever can I be? Dorothy wondered. I can barely understand what they’re saying. But she answered bravely. “I’m from Kansas, sir. The twister picked me up and carried me away from my home. It dropped me here in the woods and I’m trying to find my way home.”
She tried to hush Toto, who was still barking and wriggling, trying to escape her hold. “Please don’t hurt my dog, fellows. He’s only wanting to protect me.”
“Indeed he is, young maid, and the good Lord knows you have need of some protection if you’re wandering in Sherwood Forest alone. You can set him down; we won’t hurt him.”
“Thank you, sir.” She set Toto down. He stayed right beside her, eyeing the two men dressed in green.
Dorothy frowned. “Say, did you say this is Sherwood Forest? I’ve heard of that.” She paused a minute, trying to recall where she’d heard that name. “Isn’t that where Robin Hood lived?”
“Lived? He lives here right now. Indeed, it’s Robin Hood you’re talking to right now, and this is my good friend Little John.” Robin clapped the shoulder of the man beside him.”Welcome to this part of merry old England.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Hood sir, but I thought you were only a fable.”
“Yes, like a fairy tale.”
“A fairy tale! Goodness me, girl, that’s even worse.” He sounded huffy. “I hope I’m more than a fairy tale. I was rather hoping with time I’d be a legend.”
“Oh, yes, sir! That’s it.” Dorothy quickly replied, hoping she hadn’t offended him too much. “Legend is certainly the better word. Yes.”
“And where might Kansas be, wee maiden?” Little John asked. “I’ve never heard of it. Your accent is not from this part of England, I’m sure. I can barely understand you.”
“I speak American, Mr. John, sir. Just like my Pa and Ma and all the other people in our country.” She paused a moment more. “Say, if you really are Robin Hood, then do you rob people?”
“Only the rich. No point robbing the poor; they have nothing to take. Well, we do snatch the odd pig or cow now and then. My merry band of men has to eat, too.”
Dorothy thought of her father, a poor farmer. It would cause him grief to have someone steal their cow or one of their pigs. She looked up at the man and stated firmly, “It’s always wrong to steal.”
“A Sheriff’s child, are you? Or maybe the daughter of a Judge?” Robin Hood asked, and the two men laughed.
“It IS!” Dorothy shook her finger at them. “It’s wicked. You should say sorry and give back what you’ve taken.”
“So much you do not know about current affairs in England, little maid. But come with us now and we’ll see if my friend, Friar Tuck, might hap to find a place for you until we can find out where you belong. It won’t do to have you wandering in the forest alone like this. There are wolves — and other wicked men, too, who might sell you for a slave. You wouldn’t want that.” He winked at her.
The prospect of wandering in the woods at night scared Dorothy and being sold as a slave was even worse. So she and Toto meekly went along with Robin and Little John to Friar Tuck’s cottage. There the three men pondered how to get the maid and her dog back to her parents in Kansas — wherever Kansas was — and meanwhile where to get her some decent English clothes.
Written in response to today’s Daily Prompt