“You are the most foolish of all the foolish boys! You know that, right?”
I could see a small sliver of his hair from I grate I was using to look down into the cell. At the sound of my voice, he tilted his head until I could see his face. He smiled at me and pushed himself to his feet, turning to face me full on through the grate. His dark green eyes gleamed out mischievously at me, even in the dark night. “Course I know. But I also know that I can afford to do ‘foolish’ things now and then ’cause I know you and the boys can always spring me.” He attempted to look past me into the darkness beyond.
“You can stop looking. You’re not going to find them. Will and Allan are providing distraction for the guards and John’s playing lookout for me round the corner.” His eyes still held that mischievous gleam. I reached my hand through the grate and flicked his forehead.
He pulled back involuntarily, the gleam in his wicked eyes fading a bit.
“And,” I continued, drawing the word out, “just because we always can spring you, doesn’t mean we always will. You need to start being more careful before we decide you’re a lost cause. We do have better things to be doing with our time. Promise you’ll start being more careful.”
He took a step back and gave an exaggerated bow. “As you wish, my lady.”
I glared at him. “Promise! I want you to say it so you can’t back down later saying you never promised.”
He stood up straight, and pressed his face against the grill again. “And if I don’t.”
The sound that came out of my mouth was something like a snarl. “Then good luck getting yourself out!” I pushed myself up off the ground and started walked away, my arms crossed tightly over my chest.
“Mari, wait!” his voice had taken on that serious tone, and I knew he was done fooling around. “Come back, please. I promise I’ll be more careful in the future, but you’ve got to get me out of here!”
I crouched down by the grate and pulled out my dagger, pointing it at him. “I’m going to hold you to that.” I moved my dagger to the brick next to the grate. In a smooth move, I cut away the thin layer of putty surrounding the brick, revealing what only few people knew. The brick wasn’t attached to the wall. It hadn’t been for some time now. Not since we started making our enhancements to the prison a year ago in case anyone of us was foolish enough to get tossed in here.
I handed him the dagger through the grate so he could free the brick on his side as well. Pulling a smaller knife from my boot, I began digging out the wedges we’d installed by the iron bars of the grate. I sheathed my knife and retrieved my dagger. As I was doing this, he worked the grate until it fell free from its place. With its absence, we were able to push the brick from its resting place. The brick may have been free of any constraints, but it was still heavy. Soon, it was gone, and the hole left by it and the grate was big enough to climb in through. Or out.
I gave him my hand for leverage as he began to slowly work his way out. The physical exertions took their toll and we were both sat panting on the ground for a moment before erasing the signs of our presence. With a final touch, I reached through the restored grate and smeared clay from my jar along the edges of the brick. Though, I said smear, I wasn’t sloppy about it. It had to look the mortar on the other bricks or it’d all be ruined.
When I was finished, I turned to my companion and saw him donning the presents I’d brought for him. I waited until he’d slung the bow over his shoulder and pulled his standard hood over his head, hiding his features in shadow.
Then, we took off on silent feet, collecting our friends as we went until we were safely beyond the reaches of the prison.
The two figures hiding in the shadows of the prison courtyard waited until the girl and boy were safely out of hearing before they spoke.
Predictably, it was the doctor who spoke first. “What do you think, Sherlock? Will you take the case?”
Sherlock smiled at his companion. “My dear Watson, there is no case to be taken. We just witnessed exactly how this boy keeps getting out. Therefore, we’ve solved the security breach.” He looked carefully at the place where the two figures had vanished. “However, in the interest of interest, I think it’s time we took a closer look at this young, Robin Hood.”
Watson look at Sherlock, started for a moment. “But Sherlock, Robin is a ghost.” Then he paused as the pieces fell into place. “Wait, are you suggesting that that boy is Robin Hood? He’s nothing but a lad?!”
Sherlock smiled at his friend. “That is exactly what I’m suggesting. He may be a lad and a ghost, but he leaves some pretty heavy footprints. It’s about time we followed them to see where they lead.”
Robin was first through the window. He turned and extended his hand, helping me over the ledge. We stood in his room silently for a moment, letting our breath catch up to us. He was smiling at me, the thrill of the night rushing through his veins. I glared at him and turned to the door to leave. He snagged my arm before I could make my escape.
“Come on, Mari. Don’t be like that.”
“Robin,” I hissed, exasperated, “how do you expect me to be?! My father would skin you alive if he knew all the crazy stupid schemes you got me tangled up in. You’d be out of this house so quick your ancestors would feel it.”
His smile was gone. He squeezed my arm a little tighter and pulled me close to his face. “Don’t stand there and act like everything we do is on my shoulders. You come up with just as many ‘schemes’ as I do, so don’t stand there and act like I’m a horrible person. You love the life just as much as me.”
I couldn’t respond to him. His words rang true in my ears and I couldn’t deny it. But I also wasn’t ready to stop being angry at him for letting himself be caught. Again. And he could see that. He knew too well how to read me.
He released his hold on my arm and sat down heavily on his bed. “I’m sorry, Marian. I know sometimes I do stupid things. But you have my promise that I’ll try to be more careful. I don’t know what else you want me to do.”
He looked tired and weary, the night’s adrenaline leaking out of him. I could see that he meant what he was saying in the downward curve of his shoulders and his lowered head. I walked to the door, opening it soundlessly. “Get some sleep, Robin,” I said, not unkindly.
I climbed into the sheets of my own bed in the room down the hall from his. Though I was weary, it was still a long time before my eyes decided to stay shut.