He awoke as the sun was sinking and sat up, hungry in the extreme, but much refreshed. There were still some stores in the canoe, of which he ate ravenously. But he felt better now; he felt at home beside his boat. He could hardly believe in the reality of the hideous dream through which he had passed. But when he tried to stand, his feet, cut and blistered, only too painfully assured him of its reality. He took out his hunter’s hide and cloak and spread himself a comfortable bed. Though he had slept so long he was still weary. He reclined in a semi-unconscious state, his frame slowly recovering from the strain it had endured, till by degrees he fell asleep again. Sleep, nothing but sleep, restores the overtaxed mind and body.
The sun was up when Felix awoke, and as he raised himself the beauty of the Lake before him filled him with pleasure. By the shore it was so calm that the trees were perfectly reflected, and the few willow leaves that had fallen floated without drifting one way or the other. Farther out the islands were lit up with the sunlight, and the swallows skimmed the water, following the outline of their shores. In the Lake beyond them, glimpses of which he could see through the channel or passage between, there was a ripple where the faint south-western breeze touched the surface. His mind went out to the beauty of it. He did not question or analyse his feelings; he launched his vessel, and left that hard and tyrannical land for the loveliness of the water.
Paddling out to the islands he passed through between them, and reached the open Lake. There he hoisted the sail, the gentle breeze filled it, the sharp cutwater began to divide the ripples, a bubbling sound arose, and steering due north, straight out to the open and boundless expanse, he was carried swiftly away.
The mallards, who saw the canoe coming, at first scarcely moved, never thinking that a boat would venture outside the islands, within whose line they were accustomed to see vessels, but when the canoe continued to bear down upon them, they flew up and descended far away to one side. When he had sailed past the spot where these birds had floated, the Lake was his own. By the shores of the islands the crows came down for mussels. Moorhens swam in and out among the rushes, water-rats nibbled at the flags, pikes basked at the edge of the weeds, summer-snipes ran along the sand, and doubtless an otter here and there was in concealment. Without the line of the shoals and islets, now that the mallards had flown, there was a solitude of water. It was far too deep for the longest weeds, nothing seemed to exist here. The very water-snails seek the shore, or are drifted by the currents into shallow corners. Neither great nor little care for the broad expanse.