’Thoughts are rising up in my mind, and I am eager to write them down quickly, and with as little consideration as possible. Perhaps my thoughts will seem trivial when I have written them, but the emotion that inspired them was very wonderful and overpowering. I am, as it were, propelled to my writing-table. I must write: my emotion must find expression. Even if I were sure you would not get this letter for months, I should write it. I believe if I knew you would never get it, I should write. But if I send it to Beechwood Hall it will be forwarded, I suppose, for you will not remain whole months without hearing from Europe.... In any case, you will get this letter on your return, and it will ease my heart to write it. Above all things, I would have you know that the report that I was drowned while bathing is not true, for a report to this effect will certainly find its way into the local papers, and in these days, once a piece of news gets reported, it flies along from newspaper to newspaper, and newspapers have a knack of straying into our hands when they contain a disagreeable item of news.
’You will remember how the interview with Mr. Poole, published in Illustrated England, came into my hands. That was the first number of Illustrated England I had seen. Father O’Grady brought it here and left it upon the table, and only the fate that is over us knows why. In the same way, a paper containing a report of my supposed drowning may reach you when you return to England, and, as I do not want you to think that I have gone out of this life, I am writing to tell you that the report of my death is untrue, or, to speak more exactly, it will not be true, if my arms and legs can make it a false report. These lines will set you wondering if I have taken leave of my senses. Read on, and my sanity will become manifest. Some day next month I intend to swim across the lake, and you will, I think, appreciate this adventure. You praised my decision not to leave my parish because of the pain it would give the poor people. You said that you liked me better for it, and it is just because my resolve has not wavered that I have decided to swim across the lake. Only in this way can I quit my parish without leaving a scandalous name behind me. Moreover, the means whereby I was enlightened are so strange that I find it difficult to believe that Providence is not on my side.
’Have not men always believed in bird augury from the beginning of time? and have not prognostications a knack of coming true? I feel sure that you would think as I do if what had happened to me happened to you. Yet when you read this letter you will say, “No sooner has he disentangled himself from one superstition than he drops into another!” However this may be, I cannot get it out of my head that the strangely ill-fated bird that came out of the wood last February was sent for a purpose. But I have not told you about that bird. In my