Childe Hood, the brat of Sherwood was in trouble again. Robin junior was the despair of his mother, Marion, and a considerable annoyance to his father.

Birch twig and bribery, both had failed to curb the mischievous demon that took possession of the infant from the time he could walk. Now, at eight years of age and still unhung, the child was aspiring to greater crimes. The men were far from merry to find their bowstrings tangled, their arrows unfletched, and their horns filled with animal droppings. Friar Tuck be-wailed the fact that he was not a fully ordained priest with the power of exorcism when he found his secret food store pillaged and his mead jug empty. Will Scarlet had a face to match his raiment when his latest conquest ran screaming from his bed upon finding a snake in it. Alan a’Dale was desolate, his lute silenced for lack of new strings, and none this side of London town he wagered.

Morale was low and discipline nonexistent as the mutinous men gathered in secret to discuss what might be done. “Perhaps we could let him be captured.” said one.

“No use!” said the giant Little John, “The Sheriff would hold him as hostage and Robin would get us all killed in a daring raid of rescue.”

“Something will have to be done.” said Much the miller. “He is leading the other children astray. Mistress Blossom found him playing Priests and Nuns with her seven-year-old daughter! The wicked little sinner!”

“How about an ‘accident’?” asked Black Bart of Lincoln. “Surely we could accidentally shoot him during archery practice?”

“It would be a brave man, and a dead one, if Robin discovered who did it, looking like a hedgehog with a quiver full of Robin’s arrows in him. And if he wasn’t sure who had done it Robin would hang half a dozen of us to be on the safe side.” said Giles o’ Grantham.

Friar Tuck, who had been feigning sleep during this exchange, opened a jaundiced eye. “I suggest poison. An accidental poisoning would be ideal. Let us poison some wine and warn him on no account to steal it. He will be unable to resist temptation.”

“But won’t Robin punish us for the death of his son?” asked Giles.

“Ah.” said the somnolent friar, “I will guard against that. I shall clearly label the bottle ‘poison’. The little devil refuses to learn his letters, and if by chance he can understand it, he will think it a trick to dissuade him. I have been labelling my mead poison this past month,” he said smugly “and still he drinks it.”

And so it came to pass. They held a great funeral service in the greenwood. Friar Tuck officiated and Robin and Marion bore their grief bravely. It was the end of Childe Hood, and child- hood’s end. It also explains why Errol Flynn never made the film “Son of Robin Hood”.

H.St.V.Beechey 1993