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The Lake eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 225 pages of information about The Lake.
and the thought of the confessions he would have to hear on Saturday night and of the Mass he would have to say on Sunday was bitter indeed, for he had ceased to believe in these things.  To say Mass, believing the Mass to be but a mummery, was detestable.  To remain in his parish meant a constant degradation of himself.  When a parishioner sent to ask him to attend a sick call, he could barely bring himself to anoint the dying man.  Some way out of the dilemma must be found, and stopping suddenly so that he might think more clearly, he asked himself why he did not wander out of the parish instead of following the path which led him back to the lake? thinking that it was because it is hard to break with habits, convictions, prejudices.  The beautiful evening did not engage his thoughts, and he barely listened to the cuckoo, and altogether forgot to notice the bluebells, campions, and cow-parsley; and it was not till he stood on the hilltop overlooking the lake that he began to recover his self-possession.

‘The hills,’ he said, ’are turned hither and thither, not all seen in profile, and that is why they are so beautiful.’

The sunlit crests and the shadow-filled valleys roused him.  In the sky a lake was forming, the very image and likeness of the lake under the hill.  One glittered like silver, the other like gold, and so wonderful was this celestial lake that he began to think of immortals, of an assembly of goddesses waiting for their gods, or a goddess waiting on an island for some mortal, sending bird messengers to him.  A sort of pagan enchantment was put upon him, and he rose up from the ferns to see an evening as fair as Nora and as fragrant.  He tried to think of the colour of her eyes, which were fervid and oracular, and of her hands, which were long and curved, with fragile fingers, of her breath, which was sweet, and her white, even teeth.  The evening was like her, as subtle and as persuasive, and the sensation of her presence became so clear that he shut his eyes, feeling her about him—­as near to him as if she lay in his arms, just as he had felt her that night in the wood, but then she was colder and more remote.  He walked along the foreshore feeling like an instrument that had been tuned.  His perception seemed to have been indefinitely increased, and it seemed to him as if he were in communion with the stones in the earth and the clouds in heaven; it seemed to him as if the past and the future had become one.

The moment was one of extraordinary sweetness; never might such a moment happen in his life again.  And he watched the earth and sky enfolded in one tender harmony of rose and blue—­blue fading to gray, and the lake afloat amid vague shores, receding like a dream through sleep.

XII

From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn.

’GARRANARD, BOHOLA,

June 18, 19—.

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