Catherine no doubt had begun to feel agitated; she would be walking about at midnight, too scared to go to sleep. He was sorry for her; perhaps she would be the only one who would prefer to hear he was in America and doing well than at the bottom of the lake. Eliza would regret in a way, as much as her administration of the convent would allow her; Mary would pray for him—so would Eliza, for the matter of that; and their prayers would come easily, thinking him dead. Poor women! if only for their peace of mind he would undertake the second half of the crossing.
A long mile of water lay between him and Joycetown, but there was a courage he had never felt before in his heart, and a strength he had never felt before in his limbs. Once he stood up in the water, sorry that the crossing was not longer. ’Perhaps I shall have had enough of it before I get there;’ and he turned on his side and swam half a mile before changing his stroke. He changed it and got on his back because he was beginning to feel cold and tired, and soon after he began to think that it would be about as much as he could do to reach the shore. A little later he was swimming frog-fashion, but the change did not seem to rest him, and seeing the shore still a long way off he began to think that perhaps after all he would find his end in the lake. His mind set on it, however, that the lake should be foiled, he struggled on, and when the water shallowed he felt he had come to the end of his strength. ‘Another hundred yards would have done for me,’ he said, and he was so cold that he could not think, and sought his clothes vaguely, sitting down to rest from time to time among the rocks. He didn’t know for certain if he would find them, and if he didn’t he must die of cold. So the rough shirt was very welcome when he discovered it, and so were the woollen socks. As soon as he was dressed he thought that he felt nearly strong enough to climb up the rocks, but he was not as strong as he thought, and it took him a long time to get to the top. But at the top the sward was pleasant—it was the sward of the terrace of the old house; and lying at length, fearful lest sleep might overtake him, he looked across the lake. ‘A queer dusky night,’ he said, ’with hardly a star, and that great moon pouring silver down the lake.’
‘I shall never see that lake again, but I shall never forget it,’ and as he dozed in the train, in a corner of an empty carriage, the spectral light of the lake awoke him, and when he arrived at Cork it seemed to him that he was being engulfed in the deep pool by the Joycetown shore. On the deck of the steamer he heard the lake’s warble above the violence of the waves. ‘There is a lake in every man’s heart,’ he said, ’and he listens to its monotonous whisper year by year, more and more attentive till at last he ungirds.’