Ignatius followed the squirrel’s direction and reached the stream—it was so clear and clean and blue, and Ignatius felt relief and peace of mind settle over him upon seeing it. It had been only a day since he last had water to drink, but it seemed to him like a year. But the squirrel was Ignatius’ first concern. He set him down gently on the water’s edge, gathered some water in his cupped hands, and held it out for the squirrel. “Can you drink?” he asked the squirrel.
The squirrel’s eyes lit up as if Ignatius were holding precious jewels or a bag of gold. He eagerly lapped it up, and once he was finished, Ignatius took hold of his wounded tail, unbound it, and began cleaning off the wound. He alternated, gathering water for the squirrel to drink and gathering some to use for cleaning the wound. The squirrel began to feel refreshed, and the coolness of the water dulled the pain of the wound. “Th…thank you! Th….thank you! Th…thank you…sir!” he cried over and over again, feeling giddy despite his continuing weakness.
“Don’t speak,” Ignatius said, shaking his head. “Save your strength.” Then he re-bound the wound, set the squirrel down in a soft patch of grass, and began drinking from the stream. The fresh, cool water was such a relief to him that he let out a cry of joy as he drank. When he was finished, he felt completely restored and nearly forgot about the despair he had felt the night before, as if it had happened a very long time ago. He returned to the squirrel, which was sleeping soundly in the soft patch of grass. He stayed by his side, occasionally cleaning and re-dressing the wound, until finally the squirrel woke up and let out a joyful cry.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much, sir!” the squirrel cried. “You have brought my strength back to me, and for that I cannot thank you enough. But if there is but one more thing you are willing to do for me, then you shall be hailed as a hero among the last survivors of my family.”
“I am willing to do whatever it is you call upon me to do,” Ignatius said, “but I do not think I ought to be hailed as a hero for it.”
“You must slay the wolf that wounded my tail,” the squirrel said, “for he has been tormenting my family for years and years. He has killed each one of my family members, and now only my wife and my mother are left. But I fear that since he was unable to get me, he will go after my wife, who is carrying my children. He is an evil creature, who goes after us for the fun of it and nothing more, and did away with each of my family members with a smile on his face. He will not stop until we are all dead. Sir, we are in grave danger for as long as he continues to live.”Ignatius did not have his sword, and he did not have his armor. He wasn’t sure how he could possibly slay a wolf without a sword, and surely a wolf as vicious as that would maul him to death in the attempt. But he would not let himself decline. He said, “Show me where this wolf is located, and I will make my best attempt to do away with him.”