Sure Would

on February 16, 2010 in Fiction

The two thieves sat in a shady nook set back a good ways from the forest road, counting the nobleman’s gold. It was not necessary for them to watch the road… no one could take a wagon or carriage through the woods without being heard. There was only one route for travelers moving goods through the thick of the trees, while they themselves had their pick of paths from which to intercept and waylay.

“Do you ever worry,” the larger man said to the smaller, “about posterity?”

“About what?”

“You know, your legacy.”

“Oh,” the smaller man said. He held up a gaudily jeweled ring. “I think I’ll leave a fine one, if any bastard of mine ever tracks me down to claim it.”

“What I mean is, we are outlaws, criminals. We rob and plunder, and sometimes kill.”

“When it is needful to kill, only,” his companion said.

“When it is needful,” the big man agreed. “But needful or not, how do you think history will look back on you?”

“Kindly, I should think,” the man said. He shrugged. “I’m not particularly bothered about it.”

Kindly?” the big man echoed. “Kindly?”

“Yes, kindly,” the thief said. “They think kindly enough of their absent king, whose wasteful wars necessitate the taxes that turned folks like you and I out of our homes. They lay the blame for that at the feet of his poor, duty-bound brother, who does his best to keep the realm running and feed the starving beast abroad. If my meager depredations are remembered at all, they will no doubt also be blamed upon John.”

“Or you’ll be cursed alongside him.”

“I think not. Who will curse us? The many and common poor folk who form the meat and blood of this lands? We have done nothing to them,” the man said. “It is the gentry they revile… the taxmen even more. They are vilified for the same reason that we rob them: because they have money that others do not. And if they’re villains to the multitudes, and we direct our evil against them, does that not make us good?”

“Does it?”

“Of course not,” the smaller thief said. “But posterity is a tidy custodian… it likes to keep things neat.”

“So you do not worry about posterity because you think you will be regarded as a hero?”

“No, no, not a whit,” the smaller man said. “I do not worry about posterity because I do not expect to be around to greet it… save in passing, as it were. I am an honest thief and would not misrepresent my intentions to anyone, for anything. That would make me no more than a common swindler.”

“Do you mean to say that if you could set down how you would be remembered throughout all of history, you wouldn’t do so?”

“Of course I would, but I can’t, so it’s no use worrying about it. Although, since the subject is up…”

“Yes?”

“It would be very kind if some considerate scribe were to write for me a lady-friend.”

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2 Responses to “Sure Would”

  1. SeanB_ZA says:

    Oh poor Robin Hood! Lovely look at the other side of the story there AE

  2. Cernael says:

    I’m pleased with myself.
    I guessed for Robin already at the mention of the absent king. I don’t usually catch stuff that early.

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