When Robert awoke, he stared at the ceiling, trying to get his bearings. Suddenly, it came back with a shock, the bear, Jenny, the fight. He tried to rise, but his left leg and arm were stiff and immobile. They were swathed in bandages. His throat felt dry. Feeling for his nightstand he drank the full glass of water that was there. He fell back into a deep and refreshing sleep.
When he awoke, the castle physician was bending over him, shaking his head gravely. When he saw the boy open his eyes his face lit up, and he called,
“Girl, go get Miss Jenny and Lady Jane. Tell them he’s awake.”
The maidservant ran off, practically crowing in delight. A moment later both of the mentioned ladies ran into the room, and stopped short. Robert was propped up by pillows, his face as white as the sheets, but he smiled.
“Thank God!” murmured Lady Jane.
“Oh, Rob,” Jenny cried, breaking out in fresh tears, “I’ll never forget it, never!”
“Oh, ’twasn’t anything.” He replied, blushing.
“‘Twasn’t anything!” Sir Terence, who had just entered the room with James, exploded, “Rob, that bear was almost twice your size, an’ judging by the way Jenny told the story, I call that a feat worthy of Hercules himself!” Robert flushed even a deeper red. Jenny reached over and grasped his hand.
“Yes siree! A feat worthy of Hercules himself!” Robert gulped.
“Here, son,” the physician cut in, “drink this and go to sleep.”
“Oh, may I stay with him!” Jenny pleaded, “Please!”
“Well, alright. But be sure you don’t bother him.
When everyone else had gone,
“Oh, Rob! Why did you do it for me?”
“Why! Jenny, you know I’d do anything for you!”
“But you got badly hurt!”
“Aw, what’s a scrape or two?”
“The doctor said they were bad.”
“Doctors always make things sound worse than they really are.”
“Sleep now, Robert.”
He obediently closed his eyes and within a minute was deeply asleep.
A few weeks later he was able to move around with the help of crutches, for his leg would still not bear his weight. Another two weeks passed and he could limp around without their help. Jenny accompanied him wherever he went, helping him into a chair when he grew tired. Slowly, his strength came back along with the knowledge that, at least for a while, he was considered a hero in everyone’s eyes.
For who’d have thought it of gentle, bookish Robert? If it had been James, perhaps it would have been a more believable, though still almost too extraordinary to imagine, but Robert? Ah, well! Stranger things have happened.
One day, Robert limped down to the stables and asked one of the boys to saddle him his horse. The boy disappeared like lightning and returned five minutes later with Jason. Jenny had not been idle but had her own horse, Pansy, readied as well. Together they cantered out across the fields, visiting the sheepherders, and stopping a bit at the south pasture to gaze at the spot where the giant had lain. It was no longer there, but had been stuffed and put up for display in the great room. Jenny reached over and squeezed Robert’s hand. He returned the pressure. Then they rode on, until the sun touched the rim of the mountains, when they headed their horses towards home.