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Chapter Eight:

An early morning conversation

(Part Two)

  Finally John stopped laughing and looked at Nasir. "That's Will Scarlet...," his voice grew a little more serious as he continued. "He will trust and accept you in time. But he's right about one thing... you often leave the camp." John wasn't sure if he had any right to ask Nasir again about his reason to leave the camp - certainly it was more likely Robin should.

Nasir nodded he was right... he owed them an explaination... he knelt and brushed a spot on the ground smooth.

"You want to tell - me?" John was surprised, then squatted at the Saracen's side.

Looking up at John he drew a circle then looked up and pointed to the east where the sun was beginning to rise. Next he drew a stick figure and several more circles at different positions hoping he might see them as different times of the day... he looked to the big man to see if he was making sense at all.

John's brow furrowed as he tried to follow Nasir's drawing. "Ok ... I see a circle and you pointed to the east ... that's the sun, isn't it? And that figure - is that you? But what about the other circles?"

Nasir frowned... how did he get him to understand he meant them to represent different times of the day? He pointed to the sun again... then brushed his hand across the drawing erasing all but the lowest circle. He then pointed to a point about directly above them and drew another circle on the ground above the figure.

"A second circle above us... the sun above us... the sun in the east and above us... morning and noon... is that what you want to say... morning and noon?" John wasn't too certain about his own skills of reading Nasir's gestures.

Nasir nodded then pointed to the west... just above the horizon... before drawing another circle on the ground. Finally he drew a line behind the figure and the sun below it indicating the setting sun.

"Evening." Once he knew what Nasir was up to the next step was easy. "Evening," John repeated slowly.

The Saracen nodded, a slight smile crossing his face... it quickly faded though... the next would not be as easy.

John slightly changed his position, stretched his legs, then watched Nasir again.

He drew several other figures with the first then pointed to the first sun and then himself before erasing his first figure and redrawing it a short distance away from the others.

John looked at the drawing and at first he didn't see anything - he also missed Nasir's movement while staring down to the ground. "I'm sorry - could you repeat that?"

Nasir nodded... erasing the moved figure then redrew it with the group, next he pointed to himself... before pointing again at the first sun. Making sure John was watching he once again erased the figure and redrew his a short distance from the others.

John watched carefully, then picked up a small twig and used it to point at the drawing. "Here's a group of people, right? That's us, I reckon, including you ... then you separate yourself from the group... here... and this is the morning sun...". He struggled hard to put all information together. "So, you want to or you have to be alone in the morning - but why?" John looked at Nasir searching for any sign of confirmation or disapproval in the Saracen's face.

Nasir nodded then pointed to the four phases of the sun he had drawn. There was only one way he could show him why... he stood brushing the dirt from his pants and turned to face Mecca, then he brought his hands to the side of his head, palms forward. "Allah u Akbar." He spoke the first line softly, then lowered his hands and turned to John... did he understand?

John followed Nasir's hand from pointing to the four phases of the sun, inwardly translating it as "sunrise or early morning, noon, evening, sunset", added "alone" to it and watched with growing astonishment Nasir's solemn performance. When the Saracen spoke the first words in the strange language it reminded John of what he and Tuck had heard the day before ...

When realization hit him, John didn't believe it at first. The solution was too simple ... "You - pray?"

Nasir nodded... his relief showing on his face.

John smiled and repeated still in disbelief "You pray ... and Scarlet thought you betrayed us to the Sheriff!" He looked at Nasir. "I will talk to him ... make sure he won't annoy you for being alone anymore."

"Shukran", Nasir said softly, then as an afterthought added, "Thank... you."

"You're welcome." John found himself looking at Nasir differently than some minutes ago. There was more behind the man than what was obvious at first sight. "Do you want to go through the words you drew before we return to the camp ... in case you have to explain the same to anyone else ?"

Nasir nodded then returned to where he had drawn on the ground and squatted next to it.

John once more raised the twig and pointed at the circle in the dust. "The sun", he said.

"Su..n.." Nasir repeated the word carefully. And so they went through the words... John pointed at each drawing, spoke the words a few times for Nasir to listen, then the Saracen repeated them. By the time they finished Nasir knew the times of the day, the name of the sun and what he was doing when he needed to be alone... praying. In John's opinion Nasir learned easily, maybe the pronunciation sounded strange to his Nottinghamshire ears, but he got the feeling it wouldn't take his new friend too long to express himself in English.

"Nicely done, Nasir", he said after they had finished. "Let's return to camp before they'll send Scarlet again to look for us." The huge man rose, stretched his legs once more, waited for Nasir to rise as well and together they headed for their camp.


The first morning

  As the chill crept over the forest Robin began to wake, he looked over the camp site and noticed that Nasir and John were missing, he sat up, stretching. Then thought back over the events of last night. He looked at Marion as she was working with Much at the fire, then stood up and walked over to her, "Mornin' Marion, Much. Have you seen Nasir and Little John?" Robin's eyes watched Marion, hoping she could see what his heart felt, but after the quarrel of last night not knowing what he in return would see.

After Will had turned his back on Little John and Nasir, he made his way towards the small brook that ran through the forest not too far from their camp. Scooping the fresh water he washed his face, then remained squatting, losing himself to his thoughts. In his opinion Will still was right about mistrusting the silent Saracen, but deep inside of him there was a bewildering feeling that he might be wrong... Nasir had stood his ground two times against him and had not backed down facing Will's aggression. At least he owed Nasir some respect.

Will rose and returned to their camp, where he picked up his blanket, sat down at the far end of the clearing and watched Robin, Marion and Much near the fire. And no sign of Little John or Nasir...

Marion looked up into Robin's eyes and sensed the pain that she had caused the night before. Guilt started to ball up into her stomach and she had to turn her eyes away from him. To her relief, Much responded to his query about the others. Marion tried to return her attention to the fire, but she found herself lost in thought instead. How was she going to be a good wife to him when she felt uncomfortable sleeping in his arms with the others around? She was not some village wench who would lay with a man publicly, even if it was just to sleep, this was not the lifestyle she had grown up with. How could she explain to him that she was not accustomed to this type of life? It was the only life he had ever known. And what of her duties as a wife? She never had the patience to learn cooking and sewing, and all the other things that women were expected to learn and be able to do. Then she was moved to Nottingham castle, and the Sheriff didn't care what she did, as long as it didn't interfere with his life and the way he ran the castle.

Much finally got the fire lit, and she felt the warmth of the fire radiate onto her face. Marion finally put the stick that she had been using to poke at remains of the previous fire down. But she was still deep in thought about where she stood with these men. And what did they all think of her? It was because of her that they had lost their friends, and almost lost their leader. Were they blaming her? Were they going to ask her to leave, even though Robin had asked her to stay? She didn't want to be a burden on them and was already afraid that they would expect her to cook and mend for all of them. As it was, she didn't know how to build a fire correctly, and she was sure that Will would make a point of that later on.


She finally looked away from the dancing flames of the fire and her attention was drawn to the man that had brought her here. She wasn't going to let her doubts about how the other's felt burden her. She was sure that they would let her know how they felt about her soon enough, but right now they were more concerned with the Saracen, Nasir. Marion looked back into Robin's eyes asking for forgiveness for the night before. And with that look, she tried to express all the doubts and fears that she carried within her. And with that, she got up and crossed over to where Robin was standing and stood in front of him and slipped her hands into his.

"I am sorry", she whispered, "I had no intention of hurting you. Can you forgive me?"

Robin looked into Marion's eyes as she asked for forgiveness, and smiled. "You are forgiven," he whispered as he glanced at Much. Clasping her hand in his he motioned her over toward the shelter and brought out the waterskin. "Marion...No, don't." He placed his fingers on her lips as she was about to interrupt. "This morning I thought about what had happened last night. I think I understand what you are worried about." Robin glanced around the campsite. "What does it matter what they think, I love you, that is what matters." Robin glanced at the ground then looked at the Friar. "Marion, if Tuck agreed to marry us, would that ease your fears? Then they could say nothing about it. You are my wife, and I am your husband, Let's have Tuck wed us. The way you were raised." Robin looked over the camp at the sleeping Friar, his brow furrowed with a thousand thoughts at once. Where were Little John, Nasir, and Will? What kind of future is this for a man and wife? Will Tuck marry them?


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