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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 225 pages of information about The Lake.
he fell to thinking that if he had started to swim the lake that night he would be now somewhere between Castle Island and the Joycetown shore, in the deepest and windiest part of the lake.  ’And pretty well tired I’d be at the time.  If I’d started to-night a corpse would be floating about by now.’  The wind grew louder.  Father Oliver imagined the waves slapping in his face, and then he imagined them slapping about the face of a corpse drifting towards the Joycetown shore.

XIV

There was little sleep in him that night, and turning on his pillow, he sought sleep vainly, getting up at last when the dawn looked through the curtains.  A wind was shaking the apple-trees, and he went back to bed, thinking that if it did not drop suddenly he would not be able to swim across the lake that evening.  The hours passed between sleeping and waking, thinking of the newspaper articles he would write when he got to America, and dreaming of a fight between himself and an otter on the shore of Castle Island.  Awaking with a cry, he sat up, afraid to seek sleep again lest he might dream of drowning men.  ’A dream robs a man of all courage,’ and then falling back on his pillow, he said, ’Whatever my dreams may be I shall go.  Anything were better than to remain taking money from the poor people, playing the part of a hypocrite.’

And telling Catherine that he could not look through her accounts that morning, he went out of the house to see what the lake was like.  ’Boisterous enough; it would take a good swimmer to get across to-day.  Maybe the wind will drop in the afternoon.’

The wind continued to rise, and next day he could only see white waves, tossing trees, and clouds tumbling over the mountains.  He sat alone in his study staring at the lamp, the wind often awaking him from his reverie; and one night he remembered suddenly that it was no longer possible for him to cross the lake that month, even if the wind should cease, for he required not only a calm, but a moonlight night.  And going out of the house, he walked about the hilltop, about the old thorn-bush, his hands clasped behind his back.  He stood watching the moon setting high above the south-western horizon.  But the lake—­where was it?  Had he not known that a lake was there, he would hardly have been able to discover one.  All faint traces of one had disappeared, every shape was lost in blue shadow, and he wondered if his desire to go had gone with the lake.  ‘The lake will return,’ he said, and next night he was on the hillside waiting for the lake to reappear.  And every night it emerged from the shadow, growing clearer, till he could follow its winding shores.  ’In a few days, if this weather lasts, I shall be swimming out there.’  The thought crossed his mind that if the wind should rise again about the time of the full moon he would not be able to cross that year, for in September the water would be too cold for so long a swim.  ’But it isn’t likely,’ he said; ‘the weather seems settled.’

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