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Once Tenar thought to do it, she wondered why it had taken her so long.

At least she didn’t have to tear a page from a book this time; they had parchment in Aihal’s house—their house—now, because Ged was teaching Tehanu to write the Hardic runes.

Tenar, herself, still wasn’t very good at writing, but she persevered, puzzling over her message all morning. Ged was working in the vegetable garden, keeping an eye on Tehanu and the goats, and he probably thought she was weaving or mending.

Then she took her walking stick and her basket and set off, stopping at the garden's goat-gate to tell Ged that she was going down to Gont Port to buy cloth and candles. Tehanu ran up for a brief embrace, to Tenar’s great satisfaction. But for the sake of her secret plan, she was glad that her daughter didn’t ask to come along.

It wasn’t hard to find one of the king’s ships in the harbor. She was a little bit afraid that no one on board would bother to hear the request of a farm woman in a homespun dress, but one tall young man in a fine cloak called her my lady of the Ring and kissed her hand and seemed to know exactly who she was.

“I’ll gladly carry your message, my lady,” he said gravely.

Reassured, Tenar went on with her shopping and was safely home again by nightfall.

~ * ~

It was the tall young man from the ship himself who brought the reply, in the early part of autumn when the days were still long.

Tenar was weeding in the onion patch when she saw him coming along the path. Ged was up by the house picking peaches, and she watched to see what he would do when he noticed the stranger. What he did was climb carefully down from the tree, set his peach basket in the shade, and go inside, closing the door behind him.

Tenar wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

She waved a greeting to the man on the path and then hurried up to the house herself, to wash the soil from her hands and draw fresh cold water from the well so that she could offer their guest a drink.

And to see, before the stranger came among them, whether Ged was hiding.

In fact, he was not. He had dunked his head in the wash bucket and put on a clean shirt, and now he was anticipating Tenar’s plan in drawing water from the well.

Tenar washed her hands, changed her dress, and threw the door wide in welcome.

~ * ~

Ged stared at the parchment in his hands for a long time.

“Where is she now?” he asked, at last. “In Gont Port?”

“No, my lord Archmage—”

Tenar watched, very carefully, but Ged didn’t even wince.

“It’s Sparrowhawk,” was all he said.

“As you wish, my lord Sparrowhawk.” The man gave a small bow.

Ged shook his head a little, but let it be.

“I brought her back myself,” said the king’s man, “all the way from Selidor. She had dried out, so we took her on board our ship and carried her back to Havnor in honor. There the king’s best shipwright submerged her and let her planks soak up water again, and repaired anything that was amiss. Two of us sailed her here to Gont, to make sure that she would be seaworthy and true. But the king bade us beach her, not in Gont Port, but in a small cove on the other side of the peninsula, whose mouth lies between two great boulders.”

Ged nodded. “I know the place.” Tenar thought she did, too—as she recalled, it was secluded, and easy to reach down a narrow trail that branched off from the main path to Gont Port.

“What is it?” asked Tehanu, who had abandoned her goats to come and observe the stranger instead. The man looked up at the brush-on-metal sound of her burned voice, but he didn’t blink when he saw her scars. The king had prepared him, Tenar guessed.

“My little boat,” Ged told Tehanu, and now at last his astonishment showed in his voice. “She’s called Lookfar.” He smiled, suddenly, his fierce hawk’s smile, and rested his hand on her dark hair. “I will take you and Tenar sailing while the weather still holds.”

“My lord,” said the noble messenger, who Tenar had begun to suspect must be captain of one of the king’s own great ships, “the king saw your boat off from Havnor Great Port himself, and he wanted me to tell you that she is welcome again there at any time.”

Ged’s smile turned sad. “Please tell the king that I send my thanks, with all my heart, for the return of my lost Lookfar.”

But that was all he said.

~ * ~

The captain stayed with them for a meal of bread and goat cheese and sweet juicy peaches, and then he set out to return to Gont Port and the ship that waited for him there.

Tenar walked partway down the path with him.

“Tell the king that I am sorry,” she said. “I thought Sparrowhawk might finally change his mind, now that some time has passed. And perhaps he still will, one day.”

“No apology is needed, my lady Tenar,” said the captain. “It was a good idea you had, but the king did think that it would most likely go this way.”

He bowed over her hand and set off down the mountain.

Tenar watched him disappear. She was grateful to the king for sending Lookfar home. But her heart ached for the poor boy, away in Havnor, whose dear friend would still not go to him.

~ fin ~