“That girl will come out covered in leeches,” said the Reverend, shaking his head.
But even such an unpleasant prospect could not deter Miss Dobbins from venturing into the lake. She had tried in vain to borrow a little boat, but none could be found.
“If I have no boat,” she said, quite determined, “then I shall swim.” You see, Miss Dobbins was engaged to marry a seagoing man.
I feel close to him, she thought, in the water. Swimming gently among the lily-pads with her chin on the surface, she felt at ease, knowing he was on the water, too. Even if he was far away on a great sea, the floating feeling was something in common, something she could share with him. She relished it, and she ignored the vicar’s disapproving remarks.
By the end of the summer she felt she knew the whole topography of the lake in an intimate way: the shallows, the little flower-trimmed headlands, every waterlily bud, every reed-mace. She felt part of it, emotionally engaged with the expanse of still water. The lake stood proxy for her absent love.
On the day the terrible news came, that his ship was lost without hope of survivors, she went into the lake as usual, with every sign of complete serenity.
But Miss Dobbins never came out again.