Robin Hood – Lardner’s Ring

This week’s fun begins when a messenger arrives at Loxley Hall with a message from the King. Before Guy[1] can grab him, the messenger learns that Robin is no longer lord of the manor, and dashes off to the forest as fast as his wooden leg can take him. Guy sends Alan and a soldier after him. As luck would have it, Robin manages to turn up just in time to see off the Bad Guys, but a little too late to stop the messenger suffering a fatal fall from a tree where he’s managed to hide the box containing a pigeon that he was carrying.

With his dying breath he manages to say “Lardner”[2], leaving Robin with his letter from King Richard. It seems Richard has no idea what’s going on in England, as all he wants is for Robin to recruit some reinforcements and send a message back with “Lardner”. But who is this Lardner guy anyway?

Back at the castle, the Sheriff and Guy are being “entertained” by a Fool. Well, he’s more of a contemporary stand-up comedian with a nice line in conjuring tricks, but let’s not start fussing about anachronisms now. After an ill-advised joke about Prince John leads to the Sheriff inviting the Fool to stay in the dungeon, the Fool tells the Sheriff that Lardner’s ring can stop John becoming King. The Sheriff suggests that a nice stay in the dungeon will encourage him to explain.

Meanwhile in the forest, Marian, having settled down into being a proper gang member, agrees to Robin’s proposal of marriage. Well, they’ll have to defeat the Sheriff first, but she does seem quite keen.

The Fool, who is clearly no such thing, escapes from the dungeon, and indeed, the castle. Guy takes his soldiers to try to see if any villagers know who this Lardner guy is, and uses his usual subtle methods, which lead to Djaq and Will intervening. Djaq says that she knows who Lardner is, and suggests that Guy will have to catch her if he wants to find out. Djaq escapes, but Will is captured.

While Djaq explains that Lardner is in fact the Sultan’s bestest messenger pigeon, the Fool, having been recaptured, imparts the same information to the Sheriff. Pausing only to order the hanging of Will and the Fool, the Sheriff gives orders

We must catch the pigeon – catch the pigeon – now!

Yes, you heard. The Sheriff of Nottingham is Dick Dastardly. :lol: :lol:

Anyway, Robin finds the pigeon box, but he and Marian find themselves trapped up a tree when the Sheriff and Guy arrive with some soldiers. Luckily, Will and the Fool have managed to escape being hanged, and have warned the gang, who turn up in time to find that there are rather more soldiers than they can actually deal with.

Lots more fun follows, in which Guy plans to start a fire, the gang actually do start some fires, Marian persuades Robin to tie her up :eek2: [3], and Robin gets away on a rope slide. Once the gang get clear, they release the pigeon with a suitable message for the King. Of course, this goes a bit wrong when the Sheriff releases a hawk, which kills the pigeon.

Robin’s not a happy man at this point. Marian’s gone back to the castle, where she thinks she can do more good, and his attempt to send a message to the King has failed. But it’s not all bad – it seems the Fool switched pigeons[4] and released a decoy, and so Lardner is released and sent on his way with a message that should warn the King that his brother John is up to no good.

Quite outrageously silly. And still enormous fun. Especially the bit where Marian accused Robin of practising his silly speeches…

[1] Who, you might recall, is occupying what was Robin’s house
[2] The way this series is going, I wouldn’t have been surprised is his mysterious last word had been “Rosebud” :lol:
[3] It’s a Cunning Plan to fool Guy, of course
[4] He just happened to have one in his pants…