They all jostled and bounced along as they trundled through Nottingham Forest on the old dirt track which followed the stream that flowed all the way through. It wasn’t comfortable as it was in the packed carriage, without the extra burden of being elbowed and kicked by the other travellers.
“Enough! Stopth’ carriage!” Gemevere shouted, her voice jumping as they jolted over another dip on the track. “Ah carnt teck any moor.”
Hempsty pulled the reins, and Sentinel came to a gentle halt.
“Good idea, my lady.” Æthelstan said, stretching his back as it was his turn to sit in the footwell. “Perhaps we should have gone the other way around after all.”
“Verily, I said unto thee, we mustn’t traverse the dirt track, hence we’d be jostled,” Hempsty said, with a slight smug tone to his voice, “but thy decreed otherwise, cousin.”
“‘Empsty, yer said it after we wuz onth’ track, an’ quart the way in. You said nowt on th’illside. An’ itwernt ma ardea to come this way, were it, Stan?”
Æthelstan cringed, but said nothing.
Katherine and Gemevere stepped out of their respective sides of the carriage, and Hempsty followed Gemevere. The king stretched his back, and then crawled out of the side Katherine had left through. After a few more minutes of stretching, they decided to walk around for a short while.
“Oo look,” Gemevere said, excitedly, “a big mushroom.”
“Cousin, that is a toadstool. A poisonous toadstool, not a big mushroom.” Hempsty smiled at Æthelstan, who smiled back.
“Looks lark a big mushroom to me. Woulder bin narse on torst, ah reckon.”
“Gemevere, the colouring alone, red and white spots, tells you it’s poisonous. That’s why they have those colours, as warnings. Verily, mind, it is a large specimen.”
“They’re all over the place.” Katherine said as she returned to the group, after stepping away to ‘find a lily pad’, as she explained her call to answer Mother Nature.
“Robins ‘ave red on ’em, an’ they not poison.” Gemevere stopped herself from saying more, realising she’d never eaten a robin in her life. Her silence didn’t last long, however. “Oo look… a yeller ‘un.”
“Still a toadstool, my dear.” Æthelstan pointed out.
“There’s all sorts of colours over there.” Katherine pointed to where she’d been, “They’re all very pretty.”
“Miss Katherine, you’re a highwaywoman, I never for one moment considered you’d like pretty items.” Hempsty looked confused.
“‘Epst, shiz a arwear woman… awl she wuntz is pretty. Thatz wut thez do, rob pretty things.” Gemevere felt proud she could correct Hempsty on something at last.
“Not just pretty things,” Katherine corrected Gemevere, who scowled back at her, “everything has worth. I have to make money somehow, you know.”
Æthelstan pointed up a hillside which ran up from the opposite side of the track from the stream. “What say we go and explore up there for a while? Stretch out our legs and maybe pick some berries for lunch.”
“Oo berriez.” Gemevere said licking her lips. “Are lark berriez. Long as they’re not poison.”
Hempsty rolled his eyes, and tethered Sentinel to a tree, patting his nose as he did so. He then followed the other three up the hill. After a short climb, the ground levelled off again, but they found themselves in a more dense part of the forest. As they walked, the old leaves and twigs beneath their feet cracked and crunched.
“We could be warkin through owt.” Gemevere complained, kicking a rotting leaf off her boot. Her kick revealed a piece of rope beneath the leaves. “Rorp. What’s rorp doin’…” she couldn’t finish her sentence as all four found themselves swiftly flung together as a net suddenly appeared from beneath them, hoisting them up off the ground and into the trees. Hempsty’s elbow hit Æthelstan in the face, Katherine’s knee caught Gemevere’s back, and Gemevere’s hat poked Hempsty in his eye.
“Cousin, maybe now is not the time to mention it, but really, you must wear suitable attire whilst traversing the woods.” Hempsty managed to free his hand to wipe the tears away from his eye.
“Oo’d set a trap up ‘ere?” Gemevere asked, managing to get herself into a rather uncomfortable sitting position.
From below them, a voice replied “That would be us, my fair lady. Welcome to the Forest of Sherwood.”
This is the second part of the second series in the Reverence storyline. Previous parts can be found in my Storylines menu.