As Otter drifted down the river, he thought of many things. He thought of scones, and of betrayal, and of his beloved bakery. Most of all he thought of how he was very wet and cold. Normally, Otter did not mind the wet, nor the cold - he found an icy bath in a horse trough to be the perfect place of inspiration - but so far from Whiffling, what good would inspiration do? He was
also mighty conscious of the possibility of conger eels in the Plonk, which, like any sensible person, Otter was mortally afraid of. But all the same, Otter was not quite cold nor wet, nor afraid enough to swim to the banks yet; and so Otter continued to bob disconsolately down the Plonk a few more miles. Presently Otter grew bored of
his frog-eye view of the river, and decided he would much prefer a sheep-eye, or better yet, a person-eye view of the river. There would be more to see and it would be from a considerably drier vantage point. Uncurling himself from the soggy ball that he had rolled himself into, Otter paddled to the bank and grasping a willow bough, he unceremoniously hauled
himself up and wrung himself out - which was a little redundant seeing as it had just started to rain. "I wish I was at home," said Otter to a passing midge. "It's just not fair. My life had been reduced to nothing. Sunk like a poorly risen loaf." The midge did not seem to care where Otter was, as long as the midge himself was not in the belly of a
trout. Otter, seeing as the midge had no intention to sympathise, flumped onto the grassy verge and let his head fall into his hands. "There is just nothing I can do," he sniffed. Perhaps there was some cultural misunderstanding, but it was then that the midge took a consoling bite out of Otter's right ear, and a swift swat from Otter. The midge in the final wingbeat of his life considered
the whole debacle wholly unfair on his part, and a tad hypocritical and over the top on Otter's. Otter sat on the bank for an hour or so, ripping up grass (because that is one does when sitting miserably on the aforementioned plant). It rained, and then it stopped, and then it rained again (because that is what the
aforementioned precipitation does). After a while, the clouds grew bored of the local scenery and drifted off to Cumbria, to rain on a pack of grandmother's who had just laid out a celebratory grandchild-free picnic. But as upset as the elderly ladies were (and how they cussed!) that their sponge cakes had become soggy, none were quite as morose as the now ex-baker.
He had lost his parent's bakery! One-and-a-half Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Street Bakery that Dom and Elkie had worked so hard to create was now likely to be converted into another drab grey office, or an overpriced outdoor shop for rich people to buy useless things and pretend they are 'country'. Worst of all, the bakery could be taken over by a health-foods conglomerate and made to
stock gluten-free bread! Otter shuddered at the imaginary but terrible fate of his beloved bakery. Fortunately, Otter was a sensible person and decided that squashing flying insects and ripping up grass was not going to help his situation whatsoever. It was only resulting in hay fever and an awful lot of bites from the
avenging families of midges who had been swatted out of the air. Otter wondered where he was. He knew for sure that he was no longer in the jurisdiction of Whiffling nor Nabberjack, which meant that this was the furthest he had ever been. It was not that he had no desire to travel from his home - indeed as a young whippersnapper he had often
dreamed of running away to Croydon and rescuing fair maidens - he just never seemed to find the time. Besides, Otter always maintained a policy that he was the only person employed at the bakery, and if he ran off then who would man the shop or bake the bread? But now, there was no bakery, and for the first time in his life, Otter Wetbottom was free. But what would he do with this
new-fangled freedom? In times of great stress and confusion, the English have queer customs. Some write poetry, some experiment in herbalist cults, some turn into newts and slither into ponds and hide under lily-pads. But, as we have said, Otter was a sensible person and relied on an ancient method to decide where to go. He closed his eyes
and lifted his hands above his head and crossed his fingers. When he was ready he began spinning about at a ferocious speed and whistled a particularly piercing whistle. "One... Two... Three...," Otter counted in his head, maintaining speed and the whistle, "Four... I hope I end up somewhere nice... Five... With a great demand for exiled bakers.
Six... Please... Seven!" And with that, he opened his eyes and stopped spinning. The magic had worked! He lowered his hands. Somewhat. Otter had been pointed back into the Plonk, where a conger eel blinked at him lazily. Otter sighed, he would need a boat. And with that, he set off in the other direction to find one.