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Guy's diary

  • Apr. 6th, 2013 at 10:59 AM
pepper: Behind bars (Behind bars)
21st July, in this the year of our Lord 1192.

Dear Diary,

Dreadful day. Slept badly – manor v. drafty – and my pottage was burnt again. Went to see the Sheriff, who sent me out to collect taxes again – SO boring. And then when I got back home, I found that Robin, Earl of Huntingdon and Lord of Locksley, had returned to claim his village and all those smelly peasants. The man was completely ungrateful, after I've looked after the place for three years – four winters in that drafty place!

Had to move back to the castle for the time being, but I never get any peace there and the Sheriff tells me what to do all the time. And then there's the Annie situation... ugh.

Sometimes it's just not worth getting up in the morning.


22nd July, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Slept badly - castle v. cold and dank. At least the castle cooks are better than my own. Locksley continues to be a pain in the backside. He came to the Council of Nobles and implied – in front of everyone! – that I'd mismanaged his estates, and then told the Sheriff he ought to stop all taxes, and started rambling on about peasants again. Sheriff was furious, and – as always – took it out on me (and his unfortunate birds).

And after all that, we were still obliged to throw Locksley a 'welcome home from the Crusades' feast – but all he did was sulk and then go visit his precious peasants in the castle dungeon. Honestly, anyone would think he'd been raised by wolves.


23rd July, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

A miracle! Locksley's unnatural fondness for peasants has led him into committing some rash acts (namely saving a handful of them from the Sheriff's justice), and the Sheriff is furious with him. He is made outlaw – Locksley (village) is mine! Now if only I could find a way to make the peasants respect me...

Will sleep well in MY manor tonight.


28th July, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Sheriff made a visit to Locksley (the village) this morning, to see if any of the peasants knew where Locksley (the man) is hiding. Wish he'd stop treating me like his personal skivvy in front of the populace. Peasants were dull and unresponsive, despite pressure, but fortunately Locksley (the man)'s soft heart got the better of him and he soon gave himself up.

Visited Marian this evening to tell her that Locksley (the village) is now properly mine, and of my plans to rename it. I think 'Gisborne' is much more elegant. We argued again, but I feel sure she must soften towards me, now that I have lands.

My sergeant told me that the men have taken to calling Locksley (the man) 'Robin Hood'. V. catchy – and much less confusing to write. Must use that in future.


29th July, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Woke up late – had bad dreams (Holy Land again). Pottage lumpy. Annie caught me as I entered the castle, wanted to show me the brat. As if I should be interested in the child of a serving wench! Gave an excuse and left. Must deal with it quickly, before the Sheriff finds out.

Sheriff in v. bad mood as it is, because Hood escaped the dungeon early this morning. I begin to think he'd be lost without me. No doubt I will soon recapture Hood, and once he's been executed all will go back to normal. Or perhaps he will leave – certainly there can be nothing much to keep him here. No, I hope he will stay. I hope he will fight it out.

I hate Hood. I hate his insufferable smirk. I hate his arrows that always aim to startle and hinder rather than to kill. I hate how the peasants adore him – and how he laps up their adoration. I hate that they think of him as a hero, when he is just a nobody, a lord with no home or lands – an outlaw, a thief. I hate his love for a weak king who is more interested in a foreign war than in running our country. I hate that he evades us time and again, despite his ridiculous plans that rely on luck and a fair wind.

Someday, I want to be the one to bring him down, to show him that his dream is just that – a dream, that life is not fair and just, and that in the real world, only power matters. Someday, I will do it.


4th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Bad night's sleep, skipped breakfast, everyone v. annoying today. Hood has taken to killing innocent tax collectors, serving boys, maids, etc., Marian criticised me in front of the Council of Nobles – and the Sheriff supported her! And he is giving his ear to De Fourtnoy, his new Master-at-Arms.

De Fourtnoy is a little man promoted too far, too fast – I would make a far better Master-at-Arms, and yet the Sheriff does not see it. Or he PRETENDS not to see it. He has agreed to let us both try to capture Hood in our own ways, because he likes to see those in his employ fight and scheme for their place, likes to set us in competition, so that we must prove ourselves and earn our privileges. I remember a time, not long after I joined his service, when he set the dogs on me and another boy, for his sport. I escaped – I was tall enough by then to reach the branches of a tree and climb up – but the other boy was not so lucky. It was my first step into gaining the Sheriff's favour – he prefers winners. And I know I can win this fight.

I must find a way of capturing Hood. I am no good with clever traps, I have not the mind for schemes, at least not ones that would outwit him. I catch a thing by chasing it down, hunting it until it drops. Hunting – yes! I will go hunting for Hood. I will go into the woods, on a hunt – yes, with a full pack of hounds. It is a fearful thing to be chased down by dogs, their hot breath panting at your heels, jagged edged with teeth, relentless, mindless in pursuit... I will let Hood and his men taste that fear. Tomorrow.


5th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

I have set my men to combing the woods with dogs – I would have gone with them, but am not fond of the creatures – more of a cat person. While they did so, I took one of Hood's victims back to Nettlestone. Parents v. upset – child was apparently important to them. People starting to come around to the idea that Hood is an O U T L A W. Peasants slow to catch on to new ideas, but eventually they get there.

Haven't found Hood yet, but the dogs did find a food store (typical dogs). Burned that, and told the men to continue hunting. We will catch them sooner or later, if we persist.

Marian asked to stay at the castle whilst Hood is on the rampage – her father is away, and it is dangerous for her to stay at Knighton Hall alone. I was glad to assist her – I spoke to the Sheriff on her behalf, to beg his indulgence in letting her stay, and although he mocked me for my partiality, I was able to persuade him. Perhaps they both begin to see my true value. I must admit, I do enjoy her presence in the castle (when she is not criticising me in front of the Council, of course). She makes it feel... oh, I do not know. Homely, I suppose.

Wonder if I should get a cat?


6th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

The Sheriff is a wily old fox. This morning he told me to call off the dogs. Instead, we were to go campaigning in the villages, to persuade them to give Hood away. But secretly, he'd laid a trap for the killer –who turned out to be one of the guards, and not Hood at all! Killed him.

The Sheriff also had me kill De Fourtnoy. Sheriff had asked him to spice up the death count, in order to bring the peasants around – but realised belatedly that he would not have kept his silence, unlike certain other people (viz. ME). Sheriff has naturally made me Master-at-Arms. I grow, I prosper.

Had bright idea about the horses whilst cleaning the blood off my dagger in the stables. Life is good.


11th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Had a good day, after a semi-decent night's sleep. Decided on simple solution to Annie's little problem, implemented it straight after breakfast (burnt as usual): popped to the castle, took the baby, told Annie I was taking it to Kirklees Abbey, left it in the woods. Problem solved. Think the Sheriff would be pleased (not that I'm going to tell him!).

Then my bright idea about the horses paid off: Hood stole them, as I knew he would, and I was easily able to follow his trail due to the marked hooves. My men failed to catch him, unfortunately, but we did get one of his gang.

Was having fun in the dungeons later, but Sheriff interrupted it, of course. Annie is getting very importunate – must get her reassigned elsewhere before the Sheriff (or Marian!) notices.

Speaking of Marian, she has disappointed me: she took food to Clun, which was supposed to be under quarantine, with a view to clearing the village so it can be repurposed. Sheriff is v. annoyed with her. I could do nothing to stop her punishment – the Sheriff had her lovely hair cut short. She looked beautiful and pure in front of the crowd, like a holy martyr. White sackcloth was a bit OTT, though – she is too fond of dressing up.

Won't get any sleep tonight. Sheriff wants me to stay up all night watching the dungeons for Hood to come rescue his man.


12th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Sleepless night, followed by a TERRIBLE morning. We caught the outlaws in the act of breaking in, but just as we were going to execute them, Annie happened! The foolish woman tried to kill me with a knife, just because of the baby! How she found out, I have no idea – but I have a lowering feeling that it will have something to do with Hood. Humiliating! Sheriff will never let me live it down. At least Marian was not present.

In all the confusion, Hood and his men broke free, and one of them kicked me in the head with his heavy boots. I knew no more. Woke sometime later to hear they'd killed one of Hood's gang – the one I caught in the first place – but that the rest escaped. Sheriff not speaking to me. Don't know why I bother.

Have a splitting headache, think I'll go to bed early – WITHOUT one of the maidservants!


18th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Pottage burnt AND lumpy this morning. Beginning to suspect it is deliberate. Was about to confront the cook when news came: collapse at the mine, several dead. Had to hurry along – peasants kicking up a fuss. Sheriff showed up looking cross, so I had to kill one of them. Sacked the rest.

Spent the rest of the day arranging the security for the Sheriff's fair tomorrow. Sheriff has a plan to catch Hood, or possibly the Night Watchman – a competition for a silver arrow. Hood has always been smug about his archery abilities, this should draw him out – and if he's too afraid, my man will win it. Either outcome good. Picked up a lovely shawl to give to Marian, to cover her hair, which still looks terrible from the Sheriff's punishment.

Sheriff has some plan to keep the mine working, but is keeping it quiet. Hate it when he won't tell me things. Not going to tell him of the idea that my smith, Lambert, brought me this evening. Lambert is a clever man, much above the other peasants – I think he is not native to the village. I'll commission him myself – might make my fortune.


19th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Too hot last night – hard to sleep. Caught cook before breakfast, gave him a good whipping. Had a bright idea whilst I did so: miners being buried today, Hood likes these kinds of events, always turns up to bring succour. Hung around, and encountered the Night Watchman. Hate him almost as much as I hate Hood – they’re no doubt in league. I wounded him, but he got away. I will find him, despite his mask: short, silent, well-developed chest, trim waist, wound on left arm.

Dropped in to see Marian. She greeted me in only her dressing robe, and I found myself unexpectedly distracted by her beauty (despite the hair). Invited her to attend the Sheriff’s fair as my guest – fear I babbled a little. I presented her with the shawl, and she accepted. Shall ignore the Sheriff’s advice about keeping my distance from women as though they were lepers – surely he is wrong about Marian.

Sheriff’s plan turned out to be Saracen slaves. Set them to work and then headed for the fair. Marian turned up, with her dratted father in tow, of course. Tried to flirt, but she is not easily won – perhaps she was irritable from the injury she had sustained (peeling an apple, she explained). Then there was news – a disturbance at the mines – typical Hood, just when we think he’s going to be in one place, he turns up in another. Tiresome man! Arrived too late to stop him – slaves escaped, mine aflame, complete disaster.

We then bethought ourselves of the silver arrow – Hood might go to Nottingham and try for it in our absence, so we raced back again. Hood never turned up – the coward – but my man did not win the competition. Could have sworn the winner was the outlaw himself – certainly the shot was perfect, and he was cloaked and hooded – but no, when we caught up with him, underneath was a peasant boy. Poss. a relative of one of the dead miners?

Sheriff not happy – no Hood, no arrow. Feels like we spent the whole day chasing our tails.


25th August, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Woken in the middle of lovely dream about Marian. Shouted at servants – ignorant dolts, what do they know of love? For I can no longer pretend that I feel anything less. Could not eat breakfast. How can lumpy pottage and Marian exist in the same world? Baffling.

Slight hiccup in my plans today when an abbess arrived, and Marian took it into her head to become a nun. It was clearly nonsense; she is too full of life to be cloistered. Greatly relieved when the "abbess" turned out to be a fraud – stole much gold and ran off (accidentally aided by Hood escaping at the same time, following some scheme of the Sheriff's to capture him, involving a tax collector who turned out to be in league with the abbess – all v. complicated, cannot quite fathom it). Sheriff angry, but I am glad. The convent has been put from Marian's mind – she will stay.

I must claim her soon, before some other madcap scheme takes her fancy. I almost wouldn't put it past her to run off to the woods and become an outlaw! Certainly that scoundrel Hood would welcome her, if only to spite me – damn him. He must have been out of his mind to leave her behind and run off to the Crusades. I have dismissed the gossip that she has been aiding him. She would not be so reckless.


1st September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Slept late today – dreaming of Marian, unwilling to wake up to smell of burnt pottage. Sheriff displeased at my lateness. Still, I found a lovely necklace for Marian on the way to the castle (taken from a girl in payment for my permission to wed). Marian said she liked it, but there was a hesitation to her manner that concerned me. I wish she would stop this coyness. Why does she always turn down my gifts? Why does she make me press her to accept them?

I am angry with my sergeant – he has been spying on me for Robin Hood. He is in the castle dungeons now, with the Sheriff's best torturer. He will suffer for this betrayal.

Lambert tells me he is making progress with his black powder. I should feel glad. Perhaps I am coming down with something.

Disagreeable day. Have a headache.


2nd September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Startled from sleep this morning by a fearful noise, like a thunderclap close at hand. Ran outside to find Lambert had demolished half his workshop with his Greek Fire experiment (he was unhurt, and delighted with this result). I should have known it was a sign.

Thought I saw Marian's necklace today – back around the neck of the girl from whom I took it. She claimed Hood had given it to her. I felt sick. Betrayed – by Marian! Informed the Sheriff, who lit the fire of anger within me and sent me off to exact my revenge. Marian was not home, so I waited with her father, feeling as though the very blood in my veins was curdling.

When she finally arrived, she seemed alarmed to see me, and I knew that she understood. I was cruel – I accused her of such things – of betraying me to my enemy, of causing the death of my innocent sergeant... She asked to prove herself to me, claiming that she still had the necklace, but I would not believe her. I had seen it, had left it at the castle – I knew it was not possible. I thought she was prevaricating, trying to find an excuse, that she would say Hood had stolen it.

But then it was like a light had dawned. Marian stood with her back to the window, and in her hand – the necklace! I felt such joy – but mixed with terror. I might believe her innocence, but the Sheriff already thinks that she is in league with Hood, despite that there is no evidence – he has been waiting for her to fail. I almost knew not what I said, the emotions were so strong within me, hope and rage bound so close that even now I could not say which was strongest. I asked her to marry me – it would prove where her loyalties lay. She hesitated – I doubted – would she have hesitated if Hood had asked? But she repudiated him – she accepted me. She said yes! Marian consented to be my wife!

It was awkward, afterwards. Marian would not kiss me, and I had to apologise to her father (in my earlier anger, I had struck him). And Marian has put a condition on our wedding: it will not take place until the King returns. Doubt poisons my joy – I know she is not sure about me. I had not meant to ask until I had truly won her heart, but Fate forced my hand.

But Marian has said yes. She has said yes!


8th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Had a party today to celebrate King Richard's birthday (hah!). Took the opportunity to announce my betrothal to Marian. Gave her a ring that had belonged to my mother. She looked surprised, but I'm sure she was delighted. Unfortunately, Hood interrupted before I could recite the poem I had written in her honour.

The man is bitterly jealous of my relationship with her. He and his gang of ruffians broke in to the party, held up all the guests, and worst of all, stole the ring. I chased after him, but he took me by surprise, the cheater. Still, I had a surprise for him, too – he finally realised that I was the one who tried to assassinate the King in the Holy Land last year, when he recognised my tattoo. Dolt is v. slow on the uptake.

Close thing, though – for a while I really thought he might kill me. Sheriff says he is weak and will not kill, but I had my doubts. Sheriff was right, though – in the end, he released me, and we fought. I might even say I enjoyed that: I have been longing for an opportunity to knock the smirk from his face since we first met. He tried to needle me about Marian, but I was confident in our love, and in a fit of pique he knocked me unconscious.

Woke up on the way to be exchanged for one of Hood's people (it turns out the Saracen is a girl). Damned Sheriff erased my tattoo with acid the girl carried – hurt like the Devil! Still, at least Hood cannot tell the King about me now.

Arm extremely painful. Ribs creaking, bruises all over, black eye. Slightly nauseated. Possibly concussed. Will get no sleep tonight. I shall visit Lambert at his workshop – he never seems to sleep, and he does not mock me if I talk about Marian.

Shall have to find another ring for Marian. Damn Hood.

My poem (shall have a scribe write it up for her):

Lovelier than Spring, and nigh as contrarian,
Key as the plough to the society agrarian,
Without her my heart would be naught but carrion,
My wife to be, the lovely Lady Marian!


10th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Unexpected arrival at the castle today: Prince Malik, nephew to Saladin himself. He met with an accident in Sherwood – for once not due to outlaws but to ill-repaired roads. His carriage tumbled down a slope, and he was thrown clear. He was brought in unconscious and somewhat battered, but will recover.

He tells us that he was on his way to start peace talks with Prince John. The Sheriff has decided that must not happen, and that there is a profit to be taken. He has sent messengers to the Holy Land demanding a ransom. We need not use force: the Sheriff has told the Prince that he needs to rest and recover, and that we will bring Prince John to him and host the summit at Nottingham.

Sheriff is v. clever. I am learning much from him.

Have set a silversmith in Nottingham to make a new ring for Marian, to my own design. It is heavy with jewels and will be inscribed "Guy and Marian forever" – everyone will see she is mine.


15th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Headache. Very tired. Has been an exceptionally difficult day. Lambert's Greek Fire was finally ready, so this morning we demonstrated it to the Sheriff – with explosive results. Unfortunately, the Sheriff was TOO delighted, and Lambert saw his plans for it extended beyond mining. But why not? It makes sense. Lambert tried to run, but we caught him. I tried to reason with him, but he would not listen – and because of my softness towards him, the Sheriff took the project from me. Was furious – with Lambert, with the Sheriff, with everyone!

I fear my temper got the better of me, for Marian noticed. She spoke to me so soothingly, but I cannot decide whether it was for my own sake or for Lambert's – she has a soft heart for any cause. She also has an agile brain for schemes – almost a match for the Sheriff's (my passion for her grows daily!). She wanted me to rescue Lambert from the castle dungeon, to take him to a place of safety, and thus win his trust. Then he might give me the ledger wherein he wrote out his experiments. I was tempted by her reasoning. No, in honesty, I was won. In one stroke I might have Lambert's friendship, and the ledger, and Marian's regard... I went to speak to Lambert, told him I had a plan.

Fortunately, before I could put my plan in motion, the Sheriff set me right. He informed me that Hood had broken in to the castle, and Lambert had told him where the ledger was stored. Lambert was not truly my friend – he was not loyal. The Sheriff is the only man who has never let me down. He has gone to speak to Lambert now, and I know how that 'conversation' will end. I am not sorry. He was not my friend.

That scream... I believe that was Lambert. It is over.

Am v. tired.


16th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Skipped breakfast; could not face it. Buried Lambert this morning. I want to believe his death was fast, and not painful, but I cannot seem to forget that scream.

Council of Nobles today. Marian present – saw I was not busy rescuing Lambert – I told her of his death. She gave me such a look of disappointment. I wish I could explain it to her as clearly as the Sheriff does to me. When he speaks, I see the sense in what he says – but when Marian speaks, she is so persuasive, and her ideas so full of sunshine and hope that I am torn between the truth and what I would like to believe.

Sheriff has made Much, Hood's simpleton servant, into the Earl of Bonchurch. It is some scheme, of course, but still it rankles. He gets to sit on the Council of Nobles, while I – who have done so much for the Sheriff! – am little more than a lackey. It is not fair! The Sheriff loves to provoke and undermine me at every opportunity. Still, I doubt the "Earl" will retain his comfortable seat for long. The Sheriff had set his devious spy Eve to work on him.

Still awaiting news of the ransom. Prince Malik has recovered, but is content to wait, as he believes Prince John is on his way. The Sheriff tells him that he must be kept hidden for his own protection.


17th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Well, I am not dead. But I am in the Sheriff's bad graces for the plan (HIS plan!) that failed. The "Earl" was supposed to give us the location of the ledger, but he must have discovered the trick, or else Eve has been disloyal, for the information she gave was false. Worse, it led us to a trap, which nearly killed me. Hood set off Lambert's remaining Greek Fire – three full barrels! – with a flaming arrow, and it brought down half the mountain. I barely escaped the blast, and feel like a cloth scrubbed out and slapped on a stone by stocky washerwomen.

Marian blames me for Lambert's death, when it was Lambert's own fault: he chose Hood over me. For a time, she even removed her betrothal ring. She has agreed to wear it again – I told her that I did it for her, that if I had taken Lambert from the dungeon, I would lose the Sheriff's trust, and would no longer be able to protect her. A slight mistruth about my motives; I do not think she would appreciate the truth.

I wish I could make her look at me again as she did when I agreed to her plan – as though I were a better man. But she will not easily forgive me. She is too innocent; she does not understand the realities of the world I must live in – the hard decisions I must make. I have decided to leave her alone for a while, to see if she will at least forget her anger. It will be hard not to visit her every day as I am used.

Why will no one understand me?


21st September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Relationship with Marian is still cool. My resolve to leave her alone lasted all of two days – I cannot bear to be parted from her – but I have stopped buying her gifts. She will not be won with trinkets. Women love a troubadour – perhaps I might take up the lute?

Weather continues bright and warm, in contrast to my mood. The ransom must come soon – perhaps when it does, they will bring news of the King. How strange that I am wishing for his return!

Sometimes I feel that I am suffocating under the weight of the Sheriff's schemes, and the ends to which it has brought me. When I take Marian in holy wedlock, will I be tainting her with my darkness? No, impossible! Nothing touches her. She will be my guiding light. Perhaps she can free me. If the Sheriff fails – a year ago I would never have imagined such a possibility! But Marian has changed me. If he fails, perhaps Marian can save me. Her father is loyal to the King; he would have influence again and could speak for me.

But the Sheriff will not fail – I cannot believe it. John will become King, and I will be the one with influence and power. I will save Marian and her father. She must love me for that.


22nd September , in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Slept well; dreamed of weddings. Am becoming resigned to my cook's pottage – I think he cannot help it, poor fellow.

Sheriff suggested a way to win Marian around again. He said that the purpose of buying gifts for a woman is to show her that you can provide for her – to appeal to her nesting instincts. He does not like women, but he is uncannily good at reading people, so I took his advice. As I will soon have a share of the ransom, I decided to invest in a suitably expensive gift: a beautiful chestnut gelding, with all the trappings. And she was delighted! She is a strange woman, preferring horses to jewellery. Perhaps next time I will buy her a sword!

I think she even found an excuse to come and see me at the castle. She brought some apples for our 'guest' (I had to turn her away, of course – no one can know who he is), but I do believe her real reason was to see me. I think this was the first time I have seen her refer to our betrothal with any warmth of expression. I have great hopes that she begins to understand and – dare I say – esteem me.

When we are wed, I will buy her a whole stableful of horses, if it will only make her smile at me like that.


23rd September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

I do not understand these Saracens. Prince Malik was stolen away by Hood (damn him), who no doubt warned him that we were holding him hostage – and yet he returned to the castle, still wanting to attempt the peace talks. Then Saladin, instead of rescuing or ransoming his nephew, tried to have him killed. Their homeland is too hot, their food is peculiar, and their women – well!

Women are strange and dangerous creatures. One thinks that they are delicate and decorative, but underneath you find they are all sharp edges and hard blows. Not Marian, of course, but the women who escorted the ransom. They turned out to be trained assassins! I could do nothing to stop them – had to feign death to escape. Hood – who seems to be able to enter the castle at will – rescued the Prince and the Sheriff (to his great annoyance).

I hope I never have to return to the Holy Land. I remember the oppressive heat and the strange smells and tastes, and the sand that got everywhere... It was almost impossible to wear black leather all the time. I felt quite naked. It was no doubt that which led to the failure of my mission to kill the King. Well, and Hood's intervention, of course.

The guards tell me there was a most impressive fight with the assassins in the Great Hall; I am glad I missed it, myself. I do not wish to fight women; there is no honour in it. Also, they are a little scary.

Contemplated having to give back Marian's horse, but eventually decided that, despite not getting the ransom, it was worth the expense.


29th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Busy day, collecting the King's levy. Many could not or would not pay and are arrested – the castle dungeon is full to overflowing and we are forced to chain prisoners in the courtyard. Why do the peasants always defy me? I am their lord and master, they owe me their respect! Still, the Sheriff should terrify that into them with his "Festival of Pain" tomorrow.

Marian is staying at the castle whilst her father is away. She is bewitching – I tried to speak to her, to explain how much she means to me, but I think I fumbled it, for she seemed to laugh, and then to look severe. I cannot make her understand. She will not kiss me, she will not let herself be warmed by the passion that burns within me. I expect she sleeps peacefully now, whereas I can hardly sit still for knowing she is near! I had hoped, while she was staying under our protection, away from the chaperonage of her parent – and as we are betrothed... no, I dare not even write it, it feels almost a sin to think of her that way! She is a gently-born lady, I should respect her for that, even as I am frustrated.

I leave with the gold tomorrow, escorting it partway with a full garrison, and handing it over to another full garrison for the final journey to London. Marian will be gone by the time I get back. Perhaps it is safest. I can wait.

I wonder if one of the maidservants... no. No, I must remember Annie and resist temptation. Will practice my lute instead. It is very tricky.


30th September, in this the year of our Lord 1192

I hate Hood! Hate him, hate him, hate him! He somehow replaced the gold with grain during the night, leaving only enough to fool me when I checked.

I realised almost immediately that something was wrong and raced back, but Hood slipped out with the rest of the gold and the prisoners whilst I rescued the Sheriff (left tied to his own torture device). Am staying out of the Sheriff's way – in his current mood, no one is safe.

What does Hood think he has accomplished? We will just have to collect more taxes, wringing them out of his precious peasants. It is not as though Prince John will simply forget the money – and his precious King Richard does not care, he simply wants funds for his Crusade! If anything, Prince John may impose a fine for late payment – will Hood pay that? No, he will he force us to further cruelties against the populace!

I want to kill Hood. I want to stretch his neck on the gallows – I want to run him through with my sword – I want to stuff him full of his own arrows and set them alight! I can feel him laughing at me – it is INFURIATING!


6th October, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

I can hardly believe it. Marian is to be mine – at last! The King is returning!

The Sheriff told me this morning – the King has landed at Hull and will stop at Nottingham on his progression to London – he will be here this Saturday!

I rushed home and set preparations for the wedding in motion straight away, and then hurried to Knighton to tell Marian the good news. I brought her to my home – temporarily, for now – and showed her my wealth, spoke to her of my hopes for the future – I believe she finally understands, that she accepts me! We are to wed on Saturday – I will take Marian to see the King after it is done, and ask his blessing.

The servants are turning Locksley Manor inside out, at my instruction. I will put on a feast for the peasants, Marian will like that. There is much to prepare – including myself! I have been readying a song on the lute, to play at the wedding – a simple thing, but I hope it will please her.


7th October, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

I stood my men a drink this evening, in honour of the wedding. I should have remained alert – should have known that Hood would choose now to strike. He must be on fire with envy. He sent his accomplice, the Night Watchman, in to steal my wealth. One of my men sounded the alert, and we almost caught him, but Hood rushed in to save his man. They got away with the money, but as they made their escape, I struck the Night Watchman what I hope is a fatal blow with my dagger.

I will get the money back, after the wedding. I am angry about it, of course, but I am also happy, for on Saturday I marry Marian, and no treasure in the world can outweigh that.


8th October, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Nearly caught the outlaws today – now THAT would have been a wedding gift! Pitts – the physician who covered for me whilst I was in the Holy Land – was carried off by them, and thoughtfully left a trail for me to follow. I had him killed, but the outlaws escaped. I wonder whether they wanted him for the evidence he could have given, or if it was for the Night Watchman?

Sheriff lost a tooth in the skirmish, and blames me.

Wish the Sheriff had not confided his plan to me – that "King Richard" is nothing more than a fraud, a scheme to draw out the King's supporters. I am marrying Marian under false pretences. However, it is not my fault, and I'm sure she will not mind once we are wed. After all, I will protect her father, who will no doubt get caught up in the Sheriff's net.

I did think I might confess it to her, but when I visited, Marian was abed, and her father explained that she was so sick with excitement about the wedding that she has injured herself – he thinks a fall from her horse. She looked fearfully pale, and hardly seemed to recognise me. I had never thought she would be so affected – I am quite moved. Hopefully she will be well enough by Saturday. Feeling a little feverish myself.


9th October, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Marian visited me today. She seemed almost recovered from her injury of yesterday, although still v. pale. She wanted to ask me about the Holy Land. I fear she has been speaking to Hood, for all she denies it. But no – Marian would not lie to me; she is too pure, too perfect.

I told her that I had made no attempt against the King, and I am sure she believed me. I would have taken her in my arms but she is still shy. But tomorrow night she cannot – must not – will not turn me away! I will be gentle, and she will finally understand the depth of my love for her. She will understand me, she will forgive me, and everything will be made right!

I cannot sleep. I cannot sit still. Tomorrow will be the best day of my life.


10th October, in this the year of our Lord 1192

Dear Diary,

Worst day of my life.

She left me. Cannot believe she left me. And at the altar, in front of everyone.

Hood's servant (the "Earl") came to warn her of the Sheriff's trap, and despite all my pleas and threats – I explained that only as my wife could she hope to save her father – she left me. I am humiliated. Jilted, for all the world to see and scorn.

The emotional blow was far greater than the physical one she also dealt me. The cut to my heart is far deeper than the cut on my face left by the ring. She did not break my nose, but I believe she has broken my heart.

At least I retained enough dignity not to go chasing after her as she ran from the church.

No Marian. No money. Everything horrible. Hate my life.

Not going to keep a diary any more. Giving up the lute. Too miserable for words.

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