Each summer when my daughter goes to camp I write her a story and send it to her in parts, one each day while she’s gone. This time the story is kid Robin and the Robber Barron a sort of retelling of the Robin Hood stories.
The seasons changed with no new word from the red haired man. The tribe returned to the canyon to find that cattle had been run through, though there were many signs of trouble with cattle getting lost in side canyons and on switchbacks.
Although the canyon was a shortcut between the ranches and the stockyards, because of the amount of problems getting the cattle through all together without loosing bunches of them, it often took much longet. The loss of distance wasn’t worth the addition of time.
Still, the cattle had been run through and it was clear it was a message that the Tribal land was not its own and that anytime they wished the cattlemen could run the animals through and no one could stop them. Or so It seemed.
On returning it took some time to clean up the campsite, with the usually large amount of cow poop. It also was an unwelcome find that the plants that had been left to grow that helped provide the produce they would use had been harassed by the cattle, some eaten and others plowed under hoof. Anything structures that had been left behind had also been broken down by the passing herds of hundreds of cattle. All got to work to re-make camp. One positive was that the dried up cow poop made good fuel for the fire. It burned hot and fast and so dinner was ready faster than usual.
The spring passed into summer and then into fall, and Robin’s skills began to increase, in riding and archery, fishing and weaving. All of the crafts supplied by the tribe were now hers to command and she was beconing expert at many of them.
She was not becoming an expert at Archery. She had grown now to the point that she could handle the bow, but for some reason she could not get the rhythm and went wide or short of the mark more often than not. She just could not hit the target. She did once in a while, but when she did, it felt more like luck than any sort of skill, and her following shots would again place her well behind the other boys and girls.
This bothered her, not out of jealousy for her friends, but more out of the feeling that she was letting herself down, and her parents. She thought she was to be a new Robin Hood to bring justice to her parents, and what was a Robin Hood who couldn’t shoot. It didn’t matter that she could ride better than her friends, could even start teaching the horses tricks they could do together. It didn’t matter that she was a better hunder than her friends because she was quieter and better at hiding so she could get up close to her prey.
(The hunting teacher, Channo, had been given the assignment to teach her about hiding and stealth after her talk with the Chief, and their lessons had gone extremely well so that now Robin was sneaking around camp like a ghost, startling everyone she could at every opportunity).
No, those thinkgs weren’t enough when Robin Hood was defined by one single attribute: his ability to shoot a bow and arrow. Without that she didn’t know how to meet the definition to be her own Robin Hood.
That didn’t stop her from celebrating her friends’ victories. Tintye rose to become the best archer in the entire Tribe while he was still 14. He passed all of the older kids and continued to best all of them on a daily basis. And Robin’s heart was full of pride for him. He was growing fast, but was still short and round and the others all still called him “Little one”, but in archery he was huge and could not be beaten, and Robin loved every moment that he won.
Nor did it stop Robin from working hard at everything. The reason she excelled at so many things was that she wouldn’t stop until she got it, and then she was always hungry for more. As she excelled she was asked to help teach the others, as she did for fishing and for language where she, expectedly, excelled in English but also picked up the language of the Tribe very quickly, making her even better able to teach one with the other.
Of course, as she did this she found that, through teaching she was able to learn even more, and her abilities and understanding grew even more. Teaching allowed her to share here abilities but solidify her friendships and alliances even more, and she understood now why so many in the Tribe were willing to spend their time sharing their own abilities and how it made the tribe stronger.
She continued to read with Tintye as the seasons passed, often getting stern warnings from Sylerr to go to bed when they’d stay up late. They read through Robin Hood, more than once, taking turns each of them reading their favorite parts. They also read other books about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a magazine and books by Sir Walter Scott (Tintye was rather taken with Ivanhoe) and James F. Cooper. They also shared these books and stories with other Tribemembers in the languages class, till the stories were well known throughout the tribe. Where folks had read the books but passed them on, they would tell the stories by memory, and so the stories passed around the Tribe until they became a part of the Tribe’s story fabric, just like the Tribe’s traditional stories they had passed down.
The seasons passed down and fall became winter and they wintered at the tower. And winter became Spring and they returned to the canyon yet again. And with each return Robin grew and became more and more able as a member of the Tribe, and there began to be stories about her and Tintye spoken as the two of them, as a team, became the best hunters in the Tribe and they brought great quantities of venison to the kitchens. With each return, even at the young age of 12, Robin became more and more of a leader in the Tribe and was recognized by the elders of the tribe to be one of the Tribe’s hopes.