He traces the paths slowly, step by low step, and the sun draws dappled leaves over his shoulders. There is little to concentrate on between here and the other side of the creek.
The water is heard before it is seen, before it seeps through the good leather of his workboots. He wades to the other side, pushing adjacent across the current, stepping up onto the bank. He leaves heavy holes that fill up with marsh and water.
The ewe is buried deep in the brambles, and had the boy neglected to tell him about it, he would have given her up for lost, having searched in all the wrong places. Clothed arms coax her to his breast, and he heaves her upwards in one swift, thrashing moment. She does not calm until he stops and, still standing knee-high in dirty water, he sets her down on the other side of the creek.
His boots don’t completely dry for two days, and he deals with the damp with a grimace.