The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans: Still No Coffee in the Middle Ages
May 30, 2013
Rachel blinked groggily. "Too much sunlight. Why birds. Turn off." She fumbled for her curtain to block out the dreaded light and instead came up with a handful of leaves. Who put leaves in her bedroom? Why would anyone do that?
She opened her eyes.
Rachel sat up, trying to get rid of the crick in her neck. Apparently she had been sleeping on Will Scarlet’s shoulder. Well, a little drool wouldn’t hurt him much.
"Morning." Will grinned at her.
Rachel grimaced. "I suppose a morning stimulant is too much to hope for." She missed coffee.
"Wait a moment." Will went over to one of the shelters. Around them the outlaw camp had already roused itself into wakefulness. He returned with a cup and a large hunk of brown bread. "Ale?"
"Well, if you insist." She took a sip, just to wake herself up. It wasn’t coffee. So many things weren’t coffee.
Rachel dunked her bread in her ale and ate it slowly, musing over the events of yesterday. They hadn’t seen any sign of Leigh last night, but Robin had said they’d look again this morning.
First, though, she needed to pee.
"Where can I, uh, answer a call of nature?" Rachel had never thought she’d get to say that while actually surrounded by nature, but there you go. Another historical first.
"There’s a privy dug just over the ridge." Will gestured past the trees. "I’ll show you."
Rachel waved him back down. "I’m sure I can find it."
The smell wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be, but it was still strong enough to keep you from missing it.
* * *
The outlaws were standing in a group, discussing something when she returned. Robin was drawing an outline in the dirt with a stick.
"What’s going on?" Rachel asked Will.
“There’s a caravan heading down the high road.”
Robin studied his dirt map again. "If we catch it right at the bridge, we can cut it off from the guard."
"Uh, what about Leigh?" Rachel glanced around the group. Had they all just forgotten her missing friend? She knew they weren’t part of the original stories, obviously, but wasn’t that what the outlaws did? Help people, in-between robbing other people? Wasn’t that the point?
Robin looked momentarily apologetically. "This will have to take precedence, I’m afraid."
"Well, that’s fine, but I’m going to go look for her now." She couldn’t just sit around the camp waiting for them to get back and then have time to rescue Leigh. "Thanks for the hospitality."
Robin frowned. "We can’t allow you to just keep wandering around Sherwood."
"Allow?" Rachel frowned back.
"Will, go with her to look."
"I guess I’ll allow him to accompany me, then." Rachel muttered.
Robin sat back and looked at her. "I did say we’d find her, didn’t I?" He scratched his jaw ruefully. "And an outlaw should keep his word." He stood. "Very well, Stutely, Alan, and George, you three will go with Will and Rachel to find Leigh. John and I will handle the caravan and meet up with you by the north beech."
"Is that wise?" Alan spoke up. "I want to find the lass too, but..."
"I think Robin and I can handle a few guards on our own." John drawled. "Go find the girl."
They armed themselves and set off. Rachel looked back over her shoulder to see Robin and John heading off in the opposite direction. She felt a little guilty about it just being the two of them, but surely they could manage it. Finding Leigh was her first priority.
"Spread out." Alan directed. "George, Stutely, you two check the southern path. I’ll look in at the village. Maybe someone’s seen her there." He looked at Rachel and Will. “You two look down by the river. Keep an eye out for foresters.”
* * *
Searching for people without a phone was high on Rachel’s list of things she didn’t really care for. It was so much easier to just text someone and ask where they were instead of all this futile walking around. Supposing they did find Leigh, then what? Just go wait by the beech tree or whatever until everyone showed up? What kind of organizational plan was that?”
"What are you going to do after you find her?" Will asked.
"Go look for my brother." …then find the PD, and go home again, but she didn’t have to tell the outlaws the whole plan. It wasn’t their plan.
They kept walking.
At least Sherwood was a pleasant enough place to look for someone if you had to footslog around. Judging from the weather, Rachel gathered it was mid-to-late spring. At least it wasn’t raining.
Occasionally, Rachel would consult her phone covertly. They were several miles away from where Hunter and she had arrived. How large of an area was the PD working from? Rachel made a mental note to try to figure out the exact parameters of her time-traveling implement, but it wasn’t something that was simple to do. Really, risk just came with the adventure. The first time they’d been lucky. The ghost could have been far more dangerous. This adventure was no more planned than the previous one, but both she and Leigh had had a better grasp of the possible risks than Hunter.
Will paused, looking around. "We’re coming to the river."
"Shhh," Rachel poked him. "What’s that?" It sounded like a bear aspiring to opera.
Will listened for a minute, then chuckled. "That’s Tuck."
"Tuck. Ah right."
"Perhaps he’s seen your friend. Come on." Will led the way down to the riverbank. Across the river, Rachel could see a small stone abbey. There was a rickety bridge built from two tree trunks bound together. At least they wouldn’t have to carry each other across the water.
"Tuck!" Will called out.
The singing stopped.
"Who’s that?" A burly man in a monk’s robe strode around the corner of the abbey.
"Will Scarlett and a friend."
The monk studied them. "Your friend looks akin to the one I found."
"What?" Rachel stared at him. And then, "LEIGH."
To be continued...