I was so completely startled by this sudden change in behavior that I wasn’t even shocked to feel a hand grabbing my shoulder and yanking me down from my boulder and back to shore.
The hand was firm and muscular. It dragged me away from the shore a few steps, beyond the tree line and I had to oblige, stumbling backwards. When we reached the shelter of the tree, the hand let go. I turned around. The strong and determined grip had been misleading. Standing in front of me, inspecting me gravely with birdlike, black eyes, was a tiny, old woman. She wore a long rough shirt with an apron over a grey flannel shirt. Snow white hair done up in a tidy bun, her narrow shoulders wrapped in a grey woolen, triangular shawl, she seemed to be right out of a historical reenactment society. “And what did you think you were doing there, laddie,” she inquired with an authoritative voice. Apparently she mistook me for a boy, addressing me as laddie. “Speak up,” she demanded, quite clearly being used to be obeyed immediately and not one prone to put up with any nonsense. I shivered. She stepped closer again, then reached out and pushed my tangled hair out of my face. Taking a sharp look at my face she murmured to herself: “In a bad shape we are, aren’t we.” And inspecting me a few more moments she added: “A girl in a lad’s clothes, if I ever saw such a thing, lost too, I take it.” She put her hand on my forehead. I started shaking violently. “You are burning up,” she observed, again more to herself than to me. If I had had any more strength left in me, I might have inquired right there and then why she had yanked me away from the boulder. If I had been in my own time and place, I would have protested most decidedly about being ordered about by a woman who was a complete stranger to me. But here I was, meek, shivering with fever and cold and lost. The tiny lady took off her shawl and wrapped it around my shoulders. “That’s more like it,” she stated grimly, referring to my state of clothing, I am sure. Then she simply took my hand and pulled me along.