14. The Rescue

The townspeople had gathered outside the Sheriff’s house to watch the fate of poor Scathelok and Will Stutely, the poacher. Scathelok had been clapped in the stocks, but Stutely lay sewn up in the skin of the deer that he had dared to slay.

There was a murmur from the crowd when the Sheriff appeared, gazing down with satisfaction as the foresters moved about, busily preparing the torture.

“Hoist him up!” He ordered.

The foresters heaved on a rope that hauled up Will Stutely until he was swaying to and fro. There was a growl of disgust from the crowd which was quickly stifled. Two foresters then carried a burning brazier and set it below poor Will Stutely’s head. The Sheriff then watched with a evil smile as the stinging smoke irritated the poachers eyes and throat.

“Let this be a warning to evildoers that would flaunt our Midland laws! Begin!”

People began to scatter wildly as five horseman began to ride around the square, each striking in turn the hanging Stutely with their quarterstaffs.

“Shame!” Cried Scathelok desperately trying to see from the stocks, what was going on. But he was struck across the face by a forester and slumped down unconscious. This brought howls of protest from the local people.

But help was at hand. At the rear of the crowd a group of beggars and a palmer crouched down behind the deserted booths and waited for the horseman.

With Will Scarlet, Hawke, Cobly and Alfred, Robin rushed into the path of an encircling horseman and heaved him out of the saddle. Moments later the outlaw had rode into the square, whilst two more horseman were being unsaddled.

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