By Lisa A. Prusok
Voices broke through the blackness that surrounded Robin’s mind. They sounded happy. That was one thing that he didn’t feel right now. His body burned. His entire body ached. Every joint in his body made itself known to him. Not only did he ache, but his right arm felt like it was on fire. The pain throbbed to the beat of his heart. It built up so much that he had to moan to try to let some of it go. When the sound came out of him, he tightened every muscle on his face because it made his head hurt that much more.
He heard John’s voice calling to him from the left. He sounded far away. Robin turned his head toward John’s voice and opened his eyes. The light hurt. He squinted as he tried to focus his vision. Then he saw John’s concerned face, but it was so far away. Robin realized that he was in the same bed as John, but John was a good four feet away from him.
"How do you feel?" John asked.
John’s voice hurt his head. As a reflex, Robin tried to bring his right hand to his head. When he did, he gasped in pain. Robin felt a gentle hand on his shoulder pushing him down. He turned his head to see who it was. His first thought was how kind the face was. Then he noticed just how large the woman was.
"Who are you?" he croaked out.
"I am Helga. You must try to relax. You have a lot of healing to do. Now I don’t want you to try to move or get out of bed. John and I will be here if you need anything," she said winking at John.
Robin just nodded. He didn’t really want to think about anything right now. He just hurt too much. Although, along with the hurt, there was the soothing feeling of lying on the softest bed he had ever felt.
"I’ll be right here for you Robin," John said as he reached over and put his hand on Robin’s arm."
Robin felt comforted. He closed his eyes and let himself drift back to sleep.
"I will go and get something for the two of you to eat. I’m going to leave this bowl of water and the cloth for you. I need you to keep the cold compresses on his head. This will ease his fever. I will be back in a little while. Please try to stay in bed where it is warm," she ordered then turned to leave.
"Thank you Helga."
"You are most welcome John. Now stay in bed!" she ordered as she left.
John smiled as he watched her leave. She was so...motherly. He didn’t know her, but he liked her.
John looked at Robin and flipped the cloth on his head over to the cool side.
Robin was half asleep. He was so hot. With his legs he began kicking the covers off of his body. He just wanted to be cool again.
John pushed the covers off himself and sat up. Once again he put on the warm fuzzy shoes. He walked to Robin’s side of the bed and pulled the covers up over him again. While he was there, he took the cloth from Robin’s head and rewet it. After wringing it out, he placed it back on his friend’s head.
John was just about to get back into bed when Robin kicked the covers off again. With a ‘huff’, John walked back over.
"Robin you have to stay warm. Stop kicking the covers off!" he scolded Robin.
Robin opened his eyes to see John leaning over him and tucking him in. "What are you doing?"
"You keep kicking your covers off," he told Robin crossly.
"It’s hot John."
"I know it is, but you have to stay warm. You are running a fever. Now STOP IT!"
In a very childish act, Robin stuck his tongue out Little John.
"Oh yeah! Well if you don’t keep the covers on, I’ll...I’ll sit on you!" he threatened Robin.
While Robin was thinking of a come back, the door opened.
"I told you to stay in bed!" Helga scolded Little John.
"I was trying to, but he keeps kicking the covers off," Little John said pointing to Robin.
Helga considered his explanation. Her eyes softened and she smiled, "Well, at least you put the slippers on."
John looked down at his feet, "Oh so that’s what these are called. Slippers! They’re great!"
"I’m here now. So get back to bed. You have to heal as well. You took quite a blow to the head. I don’t want you to push yourself."
John rubbed the back of his head and neck, "So that’s what happened. You know I almost forgot about that. Do you know who did it?" he said as he snuggled down under the covers.
Helga took a tray of food over to him. "I want you to eat everything on this plate. It will help you to get your strength back."
"Helga, you didn’t answer my question. Do you know who did this to us?"
Helga did not answer him. She pulled a chair up beside Robin and helped him sit up a little.
"Helga...?" John said deepening his voice to mean business.
Helga was fussing with Robin’s covers. When Robin placed his left hand on her arm, she stopped.
Helga looked at Robin’s face. It was then that she noticed just how handsome the small man was. His brown eyes were so deep and warm. She had never looked into eyes such as his. All the men she knew had either gray or blue eyes. His eyes were looking at her like they were begging for an answer. She had to answer him. She had to stop his eyes from looking at her like that. They were so sad and so filled with pain and questions.
"It was a group of our men," she told them looking down.
"Why?" Robin asked.
"They did not know what the situation was when they arrived at the scene. They thought that you were trying to harm the Princess, not save her."
"Didn’t they think to ask?" John said angrily.
"The Princess?" Robin asked surprised.
"Yes Robin Hood. You saved the Princess’s life. The royal family is very grateful. They feel just awful about the turn of events. That is why you are here. You will stay here in the castle until you are well again. They will not take no for an answer."
"Where exactly is here?" Robin asked as he tried to shift position. This only brought on more pain.
Helga saw the pain on his face. With little or no effort she grabbed Robin at the waist and lifted him up. She held him against her while she fluffed his pillows. Then she lay him back against the pillows and tucked the covers in around his stomach.
Robin felt a little embarrassed at the ease with which she moved him. It was almost as if he were a child and she his mother.
After she finished getting Robin settled, she brought a tray over to his lap and began the process of feeding him.
Robin held up his hand to stop the spoon that was coming at his mouth, "Thank you, but I can feed myself," he told her politely, but with aggravation. "Now where is here?"
Robin’s reaction did not bother Helga. She just sat back in her chair to settle in while they ate. "You are in the Kingdom of Acarnia. We are high in the mountains."
Both John and Robin began eating. The food was wonderful. Maybe even better than Miranda’s and she was the best cook in Sherwood.
"You said that we were in the castle of the King. Who is the King?" John asked between mouth fulls.
"They are wonderful people. Generous, kind, and fair to their subjects. King Dirk and Queen Clover have ruled for many years. Their daughter, Princess Chrysophine, is beloved by everyone. When you rescued her, Robin, you became a hero in the hearts of the whole Kingdom. They are indebted to you."
Robin could feel his face become even hotter than it already was. He just looked down at the tray and pushed the food around.
John had already finished his food, "Are you gonna finish that Robin?"
Robin looked at it. Although it was wonderful, he was not very hungry. He pushed the tray across the bed to Little John, "Go ahead. I’m not very hungry."
Helga had something to say about that, "Wait just a moment. You have to eat something. You need all the nourishment you can get. Just look at you, all skin and bone. You poor tiny thing. That’s probably why you’re so little, you didn’t get enough nourishment. Plus, you won’t get better if you don’t eat," she scolded.
"I’m just not hungry," he said apologetically but with a bit of incense in his voice.
"I want you to at least drink the tea. It’s good for you," she said as she took the cup from Little John.
"Why is it that everyone is always pouring tea down my throat!?" he said as he became agitated.
"You heard her Robin. It’s good for you!" John said as he held back a laugh.
Robin just glared at him, "You know, I’m not sure I even like tea!"
"That is too bad. You will drink this!" Helga told him and she made sure he understood that there was to be no nonsense.
Robin looked at her. Finally he took the cup from her hand. "I want it recorded that I’m drinking this under protest."
"So noted, but you will drink it, all of it!" she gave him such a look.
"Yes ma’am," he relented.
"How long have we been here?" John mumbled with a mouth full of food.
"Well I guess they brought you in seven or eight hours ago. It is almost midnight now," she said as she began to fuss with Robin’s covers again.
Robin finished the tea and tried to slide down under the covers.
Helga was once again there to help him. She easily lifted his entire body and lay him down. Then she tucked the covers in at his neck.
Robin was too weak to protest and he didn’t want to yell at her, although that’s what he felt like doing.
Helga placed her palm on his forehead. She shook her head, "Tsk, tsk, tsk," was all she said. She rewet the cloth and placed it on his forehead. "I don’t want you to come out from under those covers young man. Do you understand me!?"
Robin only nodded. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep while Helga
and John continued to talk.
Robin was awakened by pain from his arm. His eyes snapped open and he gasped as if startled.
"Good morning. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes I think I did. Who are you?" he asked through sleepy eyes.
"I am Staun. I am the King’s physician. He has asked that I care for your wound," he said as he check the torn flesh on Robin’s arm.
"How does it look?" Robin asked with a hiss.
"I’m sorry young man. I will be more careful. I had to put in 39 stitches. You were really torn up by that wolf. I have applied ointment to it to try to prevent any infection. I think that it will heal nicely, if you don’t use it too soon."
"How soon is too soon?"
"You need to keep it immobile for at least five days. That means no riding," he told Robin sternly.
"That means that we will have to be here for five days!" Robin said shocked.
"That is correct. The King and Queen know this and are only happy to have the man that saved their daughter’s life stay."
"And me too?" Little John said as he woke up.
"Yes good fellow. You too."
Robin closed his eyes while Staun redressed his arm and returned it to the sling.
Staun patted Robin’s shoulder when he was done. "I want you to drink this," he said handing Robin a cup.
Robin took the cup and drank it down. As he tipped the cup up, he noticed that in his frame of vision, he had still not reached the physician’s head. The man was very big. Very, very big. He finished and handed the cup back to the man.
"That will help with your fever. It has come down some, but it has not broken yet. I want you to stay in bed all day today. I will have either Heidi or Helga come in and care for you. I will check on you later on tonight."
With that, Staun left.
"How are you really feeling Robin?"
Robin looked over at his friend and considered the question. He pushed himself up in the bed a little, "Physically I’m not too bad. But emotionally I’m scarred!"
"Scarred!? What do you mean?" he asked troubled by Robin’s words.
"Do you have any idea what it does to my confidence to be called ‘little’, ‘tiny’, and ‘young man’?"
Little John just smiled and tried not to laugh. He tried to remain serious.
"The way Helga moved me around, it was like I was a small child to her!" Robin said as he became more agitated.
"Maybe I shouldn’t tell you then," John said as he tried even harder not to laugh.
Robin’s brow wrinkled, "Tell me what?"
John started to snicker, "Well, when you were still unconscious last night..." he laughed. "Helga said...that...she thought that...," he paused to wipe a tear away. "She thought that you were...were my SON!" he finally spit out as he fell back into the bed with hysterical laughter.
Robin opened his mouth, but was interrupted by the door opening once again.
"Good morning boys!" Helga said brightly as she came through the door with their breakfast. "How did you two sleep?"
John was wiping the tears from his face, "I slept really well," he said still chuckling.
Robin glared at him. "I slept fine," he grumbled.
"You seem a little out of sorts this morning Robin. How are you feeling?" she said as she put the tray down.
"I’m fine," he said giving her a mock smile.
Helga put her palm to his forehead, "You still have quite a fever. Are you hungry this morning?"
Robin shook his head ‘no’.
Little John became serious, "Robin you have to eat something."
"John is right. I want you at least to eat some of this toasted bread and drink some tea."
"More tea?" Robin said almost whining.
"Please Robin," John’s eyes begged him.
Robin looked at John. His face had worry and compassion all over it. He knew that his friend was only kidding him before. Robin finally gave in, "All right," he smiled, only this time a real one.
"Good. I’m starving!" John said rubbing his hands together.
"That’s what I like to see. A growing boy with a healthy appetite," Helga smiled and took the tray to John.
Robin smiled too when she called John a ‘growing boy’. At least he was not the only one.
"You may get out of bed after you have had breakfast John. Your clothes are over on the dressing table. We had them cleaned for you. We have also left a jacket for you so you will stay warm."
"Thank you Helga. I appreciate it," he said as he began stuffing his face.
"Helga, where are my clothes?" Robin asked after he did not see them in the room.
"We still have your clothes. There was a lot of blood that had to be cleaned off. They are still trying to get the stains out. Besides you won’t need them for at least two days, if not more."
"Two days. I’m supposed to stay in bed for two days?"
"That’s right. We have our ways of keeping you here too," she smiled sweetly, but with an underlying ‘and I mean that’.
Robin sighed deeply. He felt so dejected. Plus, now he would be here alone.
Little John saw how depressed his friend looked, "I’ll come by and visit often."
"Thanks Little John."
Helga only smiled as she sat down.
Robin could only eat part of the bread and half a cup of tea. Not only was he not hungry from being sick, now he was not hungry from being depressed.
"John, as soon as you are finished, get dressed. I will leave now and come back for you in a little while. I will show you the rest of the castle and introduce you to my daughter," Helga said as she closed the door.
"Oh no!" John moaned.
"What’s wrong Little John?"
"It’s Helga’s daughter Heidi. Helga wants to fix me up with her." he moaned.
It was Robin’s turn to laugh. It hurt to laugh, but it also felt so good, "Ah the things that we outlaw’s have to go through for King and country!"
"It’s not funny Robin! If you were better..." he started then thought better of it.
Robin just kept laughing.
John got up and got dressed. "I may just not come back to visit you," he said trying to act mad.
Robin began to laugh again, "Ah! Then you can spend so much more time
John stopped. He hadn’t thought about that. "How about I spend the whole day here with you," he said almost in a panic.
"No, no. I would not deprive you of the company of a lovely young lady. You go on. I wouldn’t feel right taking up all your time. Me being sick and all, I just wouldn’t be as much fun."
"Robin, did you know that every once in a while you have a cold heart?" John told him as he narrowed his eyes.
Robin’s eyes went wide in disbelief, "Who me?" he said innocently.
John walked to his side of the bed and picked up a pillow, "Yes YOU!" he said as he threw the pillow at Robin.
Just as John threw the pillow, Helga walked through the door, "JOHN LITTLE! I’m surprised at you. How could you throw something at an injured man!?"
"I...." he stammered.
Helga went immediately to Robin to make sure he was okay.
Robin played the wounded man to the hilt. He had a pained, pathetic look on his face. He threw in a moan just for added effect.
"You poor thing," Helga soothed Robin. "If you are ready John, you may wait in the hall for me. I will be along in a moment," she said as she flashed him an angry look.
John left the room with his head hung low. He looked over to Robin as he left. Robin had the biggest ‘I won’ smile on his face. John gave him an ‘I’ll get even’ smile back as he closed the door.
"Are you all right dear?" Helga asked Robin.
"I’m fine Helga, thank you."
Once again she placed her palm on his forehead. "You may say that you are, but my hand tells me differently. Scoot down in the bed," she ordered.
Robin saw the look on her face. He did not argue.
Helga took a small packet of something out of her pocket. Taking what was left of the tea, she mixed the two together and handed the cup to Robin. "You will drink this," she ordered.
Robin took the cup from her hand and looked down at the tea, "What did you put in it?"
"Just some herbs to help with the fever."
Robin accepted her answer and drank the rest of the tea.
It was only a moment later when Robin began to feel dizzy. He shook his head to try to clear it. His eyes went to Helga’s face. She wore a very satisfied grin. His eyes questioned.
"Oh yes, I forgot to mention that there was also a bit of sleeping powder in it. The physician gave it to me in case you gave me any trouble."
Robin was about to protest when all thought stopped. His head fell back into the pillow and lay still. His breathing was deep and regular.
Helga tucked the covers in around his neck, "Sleep well little one," she said as she smoothed his chestnut hair back from his forehead. Leaning down, she kissed his forehead and then left.
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