THE WHITE KNIGHT

by survivor10


"What a bummer we have to work today," Starsky whined for the umpteenth time as Hutch and he sat in the Torino. It was evening and they were still on stakeout that had begun earlier that day. Their watch was set to extend well into the night unless their mark appeared soon.

"Yeah," Hutch commiserated for his umpteenth time that day.

"I mean, it's Christmas Day," Starsky grumbled. "Who should have to work on Christmas Day?"

"Someone should tell the scum to climb back down in the sewers and keep a lid on it for the day," Hutch rejoined, irony lacing his voice.

"Yeah."

"Say, wasn't it nice of Edith to pack that Christmas hamper for us?" Hutch enticed.

"I guess so," Starsky begrudgingly admitted. "But Christmas Day…"

Hutch looked with increasingly impatient despair at his partner.

"You know what, Starsk, we've got the day off tomorrow and two days after that. Let's do something to mark the occasion."

"What? Christmas is already gone. No way we can get that back."

"Oh brother, you've really got it bad, haven't you?"

"I'm just sayin'—

"All right, all right! I know what you're just saying! You've been saying it over and over all day and into the evening! I hear you, I get it!"

Seeing Starsky sink more deeply into his funk, Hutch lightened his tone. "Look, you know what tomorrow is? And don't say the day after the Christmas we missed out on."

"What then?"

"It's Boxing Day."

"Huh? Ya mean a fight?" Starsky asked, his demeanor brightening. 'Is there a big boxin' match on somewhere?"

"No, chump, nothing like that. Boxing Day is a tradition in Europe and England and even Australia."

"Australia, huh? Ya know, I always wanted to go to Australia."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I read somewhere that Australia is two-thirds desert, even though its land mass is about the same size as ours. Imagine if America was two-thirds desert. Like, there'd be nothin' much in the middle."

"A bit like the space between your ears?"

Starsky pulled a face but continued undeterred. "I read somewhere that folks back in the 1800s used to think there was a sea in the middle of Australia. They even had a name for it – the Great Inland Sea!"

"An oxymoron if you ask me."

"Hey, who ya callin' a moron?!"

"Starsk, I said, 'oxymoron,' that doesn't mean you're, uh, a moron, oh, never mind."

"Oh. Well anyway, there were these English explorers. Burke and Wills were their names. They headed up an expedition to find this inland sea. They were so sure it was there, they even packed a boat."

"Well you would, wouldn't you?"

"But Hutch, they packed a whole lotta other junk besides. They were worse than you when you pack for a holiday or an undercover trip! They took fifteen hundred pounds of sugar, a writin' bureau and a Chinese dinner gong! They dumped the sugar early on, and who'd they be callin' in for dinner with a dinner gong in the middle of the desert for Pete's sake? If I went out in some back of beyond place-"

"Which knowing you, is highly unlikely."

"True, but if I did, I'd be bringin' the spider repellent and snake killer. D'ya know how many spiders and snakes they have down there?! There's-"

Hutch cut his partner off to get back to his idea. "The point is, Starsk, tomorrow is Boxing Day in Australia, and other countries, too."

"So a big fight's on?"

"No, Starsk, nothing like that. Boxing Day began about 800 years ago. It was the day after Christmas when the churches emptied their collection boxes and distributed the contents to the poor."

"Oh."

"Have you ever heard the song, 'Good King Wenceslas'?"

"I didn't exactly grow up with it, but I've heard of it. Somethin' about some rich king who had a snitch called Mark who told him the whereabouts of Stephen who was lurkin' on the edge of town. The king wanted to get a hold of Stephen and had Mark chase him down. Mark was catchin' frostbite and havin' heart failure trudgin' through the snow just to find him! Bit like Dobey makin' us work on Christmas Day, figuratively speakin'."

Hutch looked agog at Starsky's mangling of the Good King Wenceslas story, but decided not to try and clear any of it up. He cut to the chase instead.

"The song is set the day after Christmas – Boxing Day, the Feast of St Stephen. The King and his servant brought food and drink to a poor peasant family."

"Oh yeah, that too," conceded Starsky. Then seeing Hutch looking meaningfully at him, the penny dropped. "Is that what you're suggestin' we do?"

"Think about it Starsk. Why not?"

"Where are we gonna find snow?"

"No, chump. But we could go down to the soup kitchen, or bring food and blankets to the homeless on the streets."

"We could …"

"But?"

"Couldn't we wait 'til we're back on the beat in a coupla days' time?"

"It'd be more special if we do it tomorrow, it being Boxing Day and all."

"Not here it ain't."

"But in Australia it is."

Starsky looked dubiously at his partner.

"Come on, Starsk," Hutch pressed. "It'll do you good."

Starsky looked back at the earnestness in his partner's face and relented. "OK, if ya can tell me this."

"What?"

"In that 'Good King Whats-His-Name' song, there's a line about freezin' ya blood less coldly. How can somethin' freeze somethin' less coldly?"

"Well Starsk, there's a world of difference between 20 degrees below freezing point and 50 degrees below."

"Cold comfort if ya ask me."

"I'm not asking. Will you come?"

"OK, I'll come. But after that, it's my choice what we do."

"You're on."

"S'pose it's time for me to get some shut-eye," Starsky grumbled. He whistled "Good King Wenceslas" as he clamored into the back seat from the front seat and finally found his rest.

"Ya know, Hutch, how blood consists of half water and half blood cells? Well, I read somewhere that freezin' blood makes the water form ice crystals that then burst the blood cells, killin' 'em off. Kinda like poppin' balloons. Ya know, that song about Good King What's-His-Name gives ya a lot to think about."

"Yeah, like murder."

But Starsky didn't hear. He was already asleep and dreaming of a poor family and an unseen childhood lost in medieval times as he went scrambling up a chimney...

-8-

Little David Starsky went clambering up inside a chimney as his master sweep lit a fire beneath him to spur him on. Up and up the twenty-inch wide flue David shimmied, faster and faster, using his back, elbows and knees with remarkable agility. As he climbed, he brandished his long-handled brush to knock the soot loose. All the black powder fell over him and filled his eyes and lungs. Once finished and aided by gravity, he slid back down, bundled up the pile of soot in a bag, and gave it to his master to sell to ink and dye makers.

Chimney sweeping was a filthy job and injurious to the young lad's health. Most sweeps did not live through to middle age. Yet for the young David Starsky in these medieval times, even dying was a living. Although the pay was next to nothing and his master was a cruel tyrant, David had to do what he could to help support his mother and little brother, Nicholas, for his own father was dead. As dire as the family's plight was, David's mother struggled for her sons not be be taken from her and made wards of the town.

Nicholas ailed from a more fragile constitution than his brother. So weakened from malnutrition was he that it was by death's door that his mother found him lying one morning. Desperate to save his ill brother, David raced out to find food and succour for him.

David scurried down the streets that led to the rich part of town. There, a wealthy family dwelled in a house whose chimneys he had swept. He crept through an unlocked gate into the family's back garden, and thence through an open door into the house. Guided by his nose, he stealthily made his way to the kitchen from whence the warm aromas of delicious foods emanated. He spied a pie left to cool on a nearby table. As rapid as fire, he nabbed the pie unseen, stowed it in his knapsack, and ran for his life out of the house, through the garden and onto the street.

But alas, he had been seen by the rich family's son, Kenneth.

"Yonder ye, stop!" the young Kenneth cried.

David kept running as Kenneth made chase after him.

"What do ye think ye are doing?" Kenneth demanded when he caught up to his quarry, the same age as himself.

"Leave me alone!" the red-handed thief protested. "Mind your own business!"

"It is my business! That is my family's food that ye have stolen!"

"Go away!" David cried as he lashed out at Kenneth who struck back. Soon enough, they were brawling with each other on the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust all around them until they could fight no more.

"All right, all right!" Kenneth gasped as he stood and tried to catch his breath, holding on to the imp's collar. "What do ye think ye were doing?"

"Trying to feed my family and look after my little brother!" David yelled between breaths as he, too, brought himself to his feet. "I am trying to stop my little brother from dying ere it becomes too late!"

Kenneth was flabbergasted as he released his hold. He could scarcely imagine such cruel destitution as this. But as he looked into the young urchin's sooty face framed by a mop of unruly, brown curls, he knew the words he had heard were true.

"Tell me more. What is happening?" he more quietly demanded.

As the rebellious David looked into his companion's blue eyes set beneath a halo of shiny golden hair, he found himself trusting this lad who had started out his foe.

"Nicholas, my little brother, is very ill. He is malnourished. He needs food but my mother is poor and cannot afford to buy him food or medicine."

"I am truly sorry to hear of your plight," Kenneth whispered. He gazed at the pie that lay in decimated ruins at their feet. "Please, let me give ye another pie to take to your sick brother."

"I do not need your charity!" David decried proudly.

"Yet ye were willing to rob my family instead?!"

"Ye do not understand!"

"I understand better than ye think so!" rejoined Kenneth. "Please take the pie. Ye will pay us back."

"How can I? I have little money!"

As their gazes locked with each other, David's struggle calmed.

"Thee and I, we will find a way," Kenneth softly replied. "Trust me."

David's eyes bespoke his gratitude.

"It is not charity," Kenneth continued. "It is compassion and salvation for your little brother. You must come back and I will give you more. We can meet on the small bridge in the woods yonder down this road."

David did trust his new friend Kenneth. True to his word, Kenneth brought David another pie. On later days, he fetched other food from his home, in small rations so no one in the kitchen would have their suspicions aroused.

In return, David gave Kenneth little toys that he had fashioned out of whatever remnants he could find that no one had a use for any longer. He especially enjoyed making toy figurines of knights and horses.

This arrangement worked very well and soon, Nicholas fared much better. With each new meeting, the two boys became closer and closer friends.

-8-

One day when David was taking Kenneth's food parcel back to his home, he was bailed up by a pair of town bullies well known to him.

"What do ye have there?" one of the bullies named Hugo shouted.

"Nothing of interest to ye!" David called back.

"We will decide that!" the other bully named Thomas hollered as he grabbed David from behind while Hugo snatched the food parcel and opened it.

"Where did ye get this food? Ye must be a thief!" Hugo trumpeted.

"It is fit for a king, not a poor peasant boy like ye!" Thomas decried.

A fight broke out between David and his tormentors, which took two police officers of the town to break up.

"Officer, he stole this food!" Thomas proclaimed. "Ye must arrest him!"

"We shall decide that," the fair-haired officer replied firmly as he looked kindly at the besieged David. In sterner manner, he turned to the bullies. "Now the two of ye, get yourselves home!"

David was taken in hand by the brown-haired officer who bore an uncanny resemblance to the young child. "What is your name?" he asked.

"David Starsky," the child answered obediently.

"Where did ye get this food?"

David would not betray his friend and so he remained silent.

"Please tell us your name and where ye live so we can take ye home," the blond officer gently urged. "Otherwise, we might have to take ye into our custody."

The thought of his mother learning the truth about where he was getting the food filled him with shame. He did not want to bring disgrace on to his family. He had told his family the unlikely story that it was his master sweep who provided the food. Distracted by her own anguish, his mother had believed him, thinking there must be good in everyone, even in the most unlikely quarters.

With no further information forthcoming from the stubbornly mute miscreant, the two officers had no choice but to take him into their custody. This they did against their own will and desire, for they feared what would likely happen to the young boy from this point.

The kindly police officers' fears were realized when the town authorities rapidly descended on David's family's home and forcibly took Nicholas. Both children were made wards of the town. David's mother was beside herself with distress and begged for her children to be allowed to stay with her. But the authorities would not listen to her pleas, and so the family was torn asunder

News of this sad event spread throughout the small town. When Kenneth heard what had happened, he understood why his friend had stopped coming to meet him. Worried for David's wellbeing, Kenneth went to his father, a rich but kindly lawyer, and implored him to intervene.

"There is little I can do, son," Richard Hutchinson kindly but firmly stated. "It simply is not my place."

"How can it not be your place to help a family less fortunate than we?"

These words of challenge were out of Kenneth's mouth before he knew it. He meant no disrespect of his father. He merely spoke from a heart that was guided by his social conscience. He looked cautiously at his father who took the words with the same kindness with which his son had spoken.

"I know it is difficult for you to understand."

"Father, ye are rich, ye have influence in our town. Can not something, anything, be done to help this family?"

"Measures are being taken, Kenneth, to ensure the children are well looked after."

"But their hearts are breaking for they are being torn apart. That is not looking after them!"

Richard Hutchinson had to agree with his son. Yet he dared not say so for fear of encouraging his son that there was hope. For he knew from hard experience that there could be no hope in situations such as this.

Yet with more entreaties from Kenneth and his mother and grandfather, his father finally relented.

Meanwhile, the kindly police officers who against their grain had taken the young David into custody, had followed David's story with a keen interest. They now put themselves forward to the welfare officer, Miss Jane Andrew, who was handling the Starsky case.

"Is it not possible to allow the warmth of this Christmas season to lighten your heart and show the way to this family being together at this sacred time?" the blond officer asked Miss Andrew. She had a stern appearance beneath which he suspected lurked much compassion.

This suspicion was confirmed as she smiled wearily at him. "I do not like this any more than ye do," she lamented. "But what can be done?"

"Would it be acceptable if we took the children in temporarily?" the blond officer suggested.

"We have spoken about it," the brown-haired officer added. "We feel certain that between us, we can provide well for the family over this Christmas period. Christmas is after all but a week away."

"Ye have neither family nor wives yourselves," Miss Andrew demurred. "It is unheard of!"

"Wait upon a moment," Richard Hutchinson inserted, inspired by the police officers' humanitarian generosity he had just heard as he arrived in the room. "I have family and I have means. Allow me to bring the children into our home. Their mother can join her children there so they are not separated. I can take her into my paid employ as a servant in our home where they all will be well cared for long-term."

"What say ye?" the brown-haired officer asked of Miss Andrew, his eyes alight with hope and optimism.

"My own son would be delighted," Richard encouraged. "For he and David are already very good friends."

At these words, the two police officers exchanged knowing glances.

Richard continued. "I know I would have the blessing of my dear wife as she shares our concern."

Thus it was decided. Kenneth's parents would provide a home for the children and their mother. This arrangement would be temporary at first, so that authorities could keep the situation under a watchful review.

So it was that the Starsky family came together with the Hutchinson family under the one roof. There, love and friendship between David and Kenneth blossomed. It was as if they were brothers separated at birth, knowing each other's thoughts and feelings ere they were spoken.

David helped pick fruit, chop wood, feed livestock and wash dishes for his keep. All these chores he did with great pride and cheer. There was no more chimney sweeping for him, for all were agreed at the outset that he would be taken away from such harmful work. David would join Kenneth in private tuition in the coming year, along with Nicholas and Kenneth's sister, Catherine. In their play time, David and Kenneth learned each other's games, and invented their own amusements along the way.

On the day before Christmas Eve, the boys, who were dressed in their warm winter clothes, played target practice with their homemade slingshots and some tin cans lined up along a fence in the back garden. Both boys were sharp-shooters, and their desire to outdo each other egged them both on to excel.

As Kenneth took aim to slug the last tin can off its perch, Starsky began singing the "Good King Wenceslas" carol that he had learned in recent days. Seeing Kenneth slowly glower in his direction, he ceased his singing. Kenneth resumed taking his aim.

"I so love that carol," David declared. "It tells a good story of a very kind and good man. But how can blood freeze less coldly? I mean to say—"

Kenneth dropped his aim. "Please tell your tongue to stop its wagging!" he admonished his noisy friend before re-applying his attention to his aim.

David ensured he had a suitably abashed look upon his face. "I am sorry, Kenneth." He desisted from further talk and began to whistle the carol instead.

Kenneth marshalled all his concentration as he released the stony missile from his slingshot. The stone struck the last tin standing with such a force of velocity that the ten went flying through the air and over a hedge.

Starsky whooped as he ran behind the hedge to retrieve the can.

"Kenneth, you surely put a large dint in that last can!" he called from behind the hedge.

As David admired Kenneth's marksmanship evident on the can, he heard his friend's anguished cries for help. He hastened back to the other side of the hedge, only to see his friend being dragged away by two masked men towards their horse-drawn cart on the road.

As rapid as fire, Starsky tore after the kidnappers. As they stopped at their cart to load a resistant Kenneth into a burlap sack. David aimed his slingshot well to hit one of the kidnappers in the shoulder. It was enough for the kidnapper to drop his hold of Kenneth, which in turn threw the other kidnapper off-balance.

Starsky grabbed Kenneth and holding on tight to him, propelled them both like the wind back to the safety of the house. The kidnappers relented in their pursuit when they saw members of the Hutchinson household who had heard the commotion running towards them even as the same two kindly police officers who had helped the family also arrived on the scene.

Secure inside the house, David settled his shaking friend by the fireside and brought him a comforting cup of warm milk.

-8-

It was Christmas Eve the next day when the town authorities came calling at the Hutchinson household. They had heard news of the attempted kidnapping and were gravely concerned about the safety and security of the home where the Starsky children had been placed into the family's care. Miss Andrew was dutifully there, with the two kindly police officers in tow.

"I am here because I need to know the circumstances that put not only your son but the Starsky children at risk," she explained to Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson.

"Miss Andrew, I am sure ye will agree when I say that being a rich lawyer in this town makes my family a reasonable target," Mr. Richard Hutchinson rejoined.

"I do agree, sir."

"Forsooth, this truth was well known when the authorities agreed to put the children into my care," Mr. Hutchinson continued. "Look around, I can scarcely conceal my wealth," he added, not with conceit or vanity, but with the candor of argument that made him the lawyer he was.

Miss Andrew was not prepared for this point of contention and knew not what to say in response. She instead requested to see the children.

Richard and Elizabeth Hutchinson led Miss Andrew to David who was in the kitchen where he was secretly and quite intently carving a special toy from wood. Kenneth's grandfather was sitting with him and aiding the young boy in his task.

"What is that ye are making, young David?" Miss Andrew inquired.

"It is a white knight," David replied, his eyes remained fixed on his craft. "My, I mean, Kenneth's grandfather showed me how to carve a knight out of wood. I have made all my other knights with sticks and glue and bits of paper and fabric. This one is special."

"Why is that so?"

"Because this white knight is for my friend, Kenneth, for Christmas," David replied as he looked earnestly up at Miss Andrew.

Miss Andrew smiled back at him.

"I can see ye are very well and content. I shall leave ye alone to continue with your fine craft."

Miss Andrew visited with Kenneth next in the bedroom.

"Kenneth happily shares his bedroom with David now," Elizabeth explained as they walked.

"Although there is no shortage of bedrooms, it is easier for the two boys to share a room than to be separated come their bedtime."

A sign hanging on the wall caught Miss Andrew's eyes. "Thee and Me," she read out loud.

"The boys made that sign for their room," Elizabeth explained.

Kenneth was putting his finishing touches to a book he was making for David as a Christmas present.

"How are you, Kenneth?"

"I am fine, thank ye, Miss Andrew," he replied. "Would ye like to see the book I am making for David?"

"Yes please."

Kenneth proudly held his work up to her. It was a book he was writing and illustrating that was based on the folklore of Robin Hood and his Merry Men in faraway Sherwood Forest.

"David loves listening to tales of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck and Little John and Maid Marian," Kenneth explained. "I thought it would be nice for him to have a book of some tales for there is not one printed."

"That is very thoughtful, Kenneth. Ye must love your friend very much."

"I do," Kenneth simply replied. "Can ye imagine that this will be the first storybook David has ever owned? We shall read it together around the hearth on Christmas night, and every night after that!"

"I shall leave you so you can continue with your fine work."

She then dropped in on Nicholas, who was sitting up in bed. By his bedside, Catherine, Kenneth's sister, was reading to him. Mrs. Starsky was removing his food tray.

"How is Nicholas doing?" Miss Andrew asked of his mother.

"My little one is going from strength to strength. The Hutchinson family have been very good for both my sons and to myself. And most importantly, we are all together!"

As Kenneth's parents and Miss Andrew made their way back downstairs, the two kindly police officers approached. They all adjourned to the parlor where they could talk in private.

"It is very plain to see that David is very happy here," Miss Andrew began. "And from my conversations with his mother and Nicholas, I can see they are well content also."

"That is indeed good to hear you say these words," Mr. Hutchinson rejoined.

"Indeed. The children are very well cared for and already are blooming with health. It is a far cry from when we first came upon them a mere week ago."

"I might also add that our son Kenneth is blossoming in a way we have not ere seen," Elizabeth.

Miss Andrew turned to the two officers. "What can you tell us about how the kidnappers entered the property?"

"They came through the back garden that opens onto a lane." the fair-haired officer explained.

"It might help your cause to consider putting bolts on your gates and doors." the brown-haired officer suggested before giving a meaningful glance to his colleague.

"Certainly we shall secure our gates and doors," agreed Mr. Hutchinson who had grown up on a farm and was still accustomed to unlocked doors despite his wealth and standing.

"Then we are finished with our business here," proclaimed Miss Andrew. "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson for your time today, and for taking such good care of the Starsky children. We shall return in due course, but I am certain that all will continue to be well."

Kenneth's parents thanked Miss Andrew and the two kindly officers as they made good their departure.

-8-

Christmas Day dawned and Kenneth and David scrambled out of their beds and down the stairs to see what Father Christmas had left by the fireside. Catherine followed, carrying Nicholas in her arms. They were greeted by their parents who watched as their children eagerly opened their presents.

Kenneth felt a tug on his sleeve. "Kenneth," David began shyly. "I've made you a gift."

David was not given to making speeches but because this occasion was exceptional, he continued.

"Ye are my white knight. Ye saved me and my family. All your family did save us, but especially ye with me. So I made this for you. Your grandfather showed me how to carve it and he helped with it. We then painted it from a picture in one of his books."

Kenneth opened the present to find a painted wooden carving of a white knight, exquisite in its detail. "That is beautiful, my friend," he gasped.

Recovering himself, he reached beneath the tree and pulled out his gift for David.

"Merry Christmas, David, to my merry friend who plays with me in the woods and garden."

David whooped with glee when he pulled from the wrapping paper the Robin Hood book that Kenneth had made.

"Now we will have even more games to play in the woods!" he exclaimed as he hugged his friend.

After breakfast, the family attended church service and then went caroling through the town. David sang in full voice that almost drowned out the rest of the family. Especial enjoyment for him was singing the story of "Good King Wenceslas" – the white knight of Christmas time.

Forsooth, the next day when the family distributed their goodwill boxes to the poor and those in need, David could not but help sing "Good King Wenceslas" in full voice once again. It truly had become his favorite song of all seasons.

"'Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,'" he loudly, gaily sang. "'Where the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.' Hey Kenneth, look, it is starting to snow!"

"So it is, David. Here, catch!" Kenneth cried as he threw a snowball right at him, catching him in the face.

Abashed, Kenneth raced up to his friend. "Are ye well?"

"I am faring well. But ye shall not fare so well when my next snow ball hits you!"

As quick as a whip, David bundled up some snow and retaliated in full measure. Ere long, a full scale snow fight broke out amidst squeals of laughter and surprise.

"Take this, ye scallywag!" David cried.

Starsky sat up in the car seat to take aim.

"Starsk, wake up! You're dreaming. Wake up!"

Starsky came to and looked at Hutch in a daze. "Wow, that was some dream, Kenneth. Ye would not believe it if I told ye."

"'Kenneth'? 'Ye'? What are ye, I mean, you, going on about?"

"Huh?" a disoriented Starsky muttered as he looked around and took his bearings in his modern day world.

"Oh."

He rubbed his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair and looked at his partner with renewed affection. "Hey Hutch, you know that idea you have about goodwill boxes?"

"You're not going to change your mind, are you, Starsk?"

"It's a t'rific idea. Let's get an early start. You can drive me home after we're done here with the stakeout and I'll pick up a few things. Then we'll go to your place for some shut-eye so we can make an early start in the morning. Oh Hutch, I can't wait!"

Hutch looked at his partner who never ceased to amaze and surprise him. "Whatever you say, Starsky."

As Starsky sat back in the front seat, he felt something in his pocket stick into him. He reached in and pulled out a small object.

"What you got there, Starsk?" Hutch inquired.

"It's a little something I got for your Christmas present at one of those antique shops of yours."

"Yeah? What is it?"

"I was goin' to wrap it, but here, see for yourself," Starsky replied as he handed Hutch a small wooden carving of a white knight with intricate detailing.

"Oh, Starsk, that's beautiful," Hutch began as he fingered the carving to feel and admire its features. He then ran a hand down his face and shook his head.

"You OK, Hutch?"

"Oh yeah. It's just that this little figure reminds me of something. Can't put my finger on it, you know, like a déjà vu moment?"

Starsky nodded and was going to speak but was interrupted by the long-awaited arrival of their quarry.

"Here they come!" Hutch announced. "Looks like we've hit the mother lode. Ready, sharp-shooter?"

"You ain't seen nothin' yet," Starsky replied as he checked his gun and Hutch alerted their back-up team.

Together, the partners pounced into action, but not before Hutch had placed the white knight on their dashboard with care as he recalled his own gift to Starsky that had its own less saintly version of giving to the poor – a facsimile edition of Howard Pyle's 1883 novel, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

"Hutch?" Starsky called over his shoulder as he took up position for the bust.

"What?" Hutch called back as he, too, took position.

"Merry Christmas, Buddy."

"Merry Christmas, Pal."

THE END

Notes.

Any anachronisms (such as slingshots being used in medieval times when they were not invented until 1839) are an artefact of the dream-maker in the story, for dreams know no bounds of time, place or reality. However, other details, such as child chimney sweeps, and the mention of Howard Pyle's 1883 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood that was the first printed book of these tales, are accurate. Starsky's take on Middle English in his dream is to throw in lots of "ye"s and "Kenneth"s in the dialogue. Otherwise and forsooth, Starsky's rendition bears very little resemblance to medieval English.