The Princess and the Outlaw

story & illustration © 2001 Bruce Van Patter

he princess had never been so afraid. She was lost in Sherwood Forest.
Huge trees towered over her, throwing shadows that were getting blacker as the sunlight faded. Somewhere above her an owl gave a deep, trembling hoot. Or was it an owl? She had heard about how the outlaws sometimes talked by bird sounds. She stopped, leaned in close to a tree, and listened.
Instead of an owl, there was a strange creaking above her, as if a branch was beginning to break. She looked up.A man, dressed in green, leaped out on the limb above her. "Fear not, dear maiden!" the man cried. Then, SNAP! CRACK! The man and the branch came tumbling down. The princess ducked.

"Are you, perhaps..." the princess asked after he had risen, "...Robin Hood?"

"Ah, not really," the man replied, dusting off his striped, floopy hat. "I'm his cousin Ralph."

"Ralph Hood?"

"Well, actually, Ralph Stupid Hat." He showed her the hat.

"Yes, very nice," she said. "Tell me, where's your cousin? I need his help."

Ralph began to answer, but a shout interrupted him. More shouts followed. Someone was crashing through the forest towards them. "Oh no!" the princess gasped. "They've found me! You must help me, Ralph!"

It's Your Story - what a crazy hero! What can you do with this story?

Who is coming for the princess -- her father? Some evil prince? Bandits? How will Ralph help her? Can you write an ending where Ralph does something really silly, but it still somehow saves the princess? And... if Robin Hood had a big guy named Little John, could Ralph have a chubby guy named Slim Jim?

Have fun -- finish the story -- and be creative! I'd love to see it -- email me!