Today was the first day she woke up on a small island. Yes, an island in the middle of the lake, flanked by another larger island that she had been told very strongly to not set foot on if she could help it. And she didn't intend to - no sir! All she had to hear was the words "salamander infestation" and that was enough.
So, this smaller island near it was the next best thing as she had spent half her day trying to convince one of the wardens to let her borrow a boat - even though he was still particularly put out about the loss of his other boat - and the other half deciding to just swim across and have done with it. Of course, swimming across such a great big lake as this one does take a certain amount of doing and by the time she reached her little island, completely soaked through - thank goodness she had only kept things in her pack that could survive being waterlogged - she was exhausted. But, such a place came with small mercies of its own. No trees meant that the entire expanse of the starry sky at night - thank goodness there were no rainclouds! - was un-obscured from her vision as she stretched out upon the ground to sleep. She had recalled then that the Sindarin word she learned for this place - Nenuial - was quite fitting.
But, that had been yesterday and this was today. She peered out over the expanse of the lake and spied yet another smaller island up ahead; on considerably further away from the bigger island to her right with a few trees and... was that smoke she saw rising into the air from it?
Hope fluttered within Finchley's heart like a caged bird and she wasted no time gathering her things up in her pack again before diving into the chilly waters of Lake Evendim once more. Fueled by her own excitement it took her little time to swim from one island to the next. Once ashore, she hurriedly squeezed some of the excess damp from her too-large clothing and then ran towards the glow of a campfire. As she neared the other edge of the island, she could make out a man sitting near the fire; white of hair and his leg bundled in a makeshift splint.
There was no doubt in her mind who it was. She would recognize him anywhere, no matter how many years had passed.
The man startled and turned his upper body around to peer over at her. Soon enough, his weathered features lit up with joy and his white mustache seemed to curve upwards as he smiled. With some amount of effort, minding his leg, he stood upright and opened his arms out wide.
She dashed across the sandy dirt and all but slammed into him, also minding his leg, as she wrapped her arms about him as far as they'd go. Mister Dewitt didn't seem to mind so much that he was now also getting quite soaked.
"I finally found you."
"So you did; smart lass that you are. Did I make you worry?"
"Eh, only a little. I had full confidence in your abilities."
Finchley released him to step back and look about the place. It was clear that he had been waiting here for some time but not overly long. Even the makeshift splint on his leg did not look terribly overused. And, of course, she noticed there was no boat and...
"Mister Dewitt, where's Floid?"
(to be continued)