Robin breathed a sigh of relief when he caught sight of the familiar roofline of Wanderwood through the thinning trees; he'd been lost in the wood, something that had never happened in all his years of tramping about alone. That wood was so familiar, Robin thought he could walk it blindfold.
But today he'd found himself in a part of the wood he'd never seen before, a very old part, full of wizened and incalculably ancient trees, carpeted in dense soft leaf-mould, with delicate ferns and rich wildflowers swaying under lazy beams of golden sunlight. It was utterly beautiful, by far the most beautiful part of the wood he'd ever seen, but terrifyingly unfamiliar. Referring to the compass in the back of his pocket-watch, he found the needle swinging around lazily instead of pointing north.
Grabbing hold of a rising panic, Robin sat on the bole of a tree that had fallen down some hundreds of years ago but continued to grow horizontally, providing a sturdy bench in a tiny picturesque glade. Some deep breathing and concentrated positive thinking got the panic under control, and a bar of Belgian chocolate calmed him further; his mind back in order, he remembered that the late-morning sunbeams must be slanting east-to-west, he had only to follow them westward to get home.
It took a good long while to find familiar territory, stumbling onto a well-worn path wending among friendly trees after a half-hour's concentrated hiking; and even then it was another mile out of the wood, and a half-mile further across meadows to the house. He made a note of where he'd regained the path so he could go back another day, with more provisions and perhaps a camera to capture the beauty of the place. Nevertheless, the panic of getting lost did not quite leave him, he was unsettled and eager to reach the solid security of the house.
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