By now being some distance from any island, the wavelets increased in size, and spray flew on board, wetting everything with this black liquid. Instead of level marshes and the end of the gulf, it appeared as if the water were deep, and also as if it widened. Exposed to the full press of the gale, Felix began to fear that he should not be able to return very easily against it. He did not know what to do. The horrid blackness of the water disposed him to turn about and tack out; on the other hand, having set out on a voyage of discovery, and having now found something different to the other parts of the Lake, he did not like to retreat. He sailed on, thinking to presently pass these loathsome waters.
He was now hungry, and indeed thirsty, but was unable to drink because he had no water-barrel. No vessel sailing on the Lake ever carried a water-barrel, since such pure water was always under their bows. He was cramped, too, with long sitting in the canoe, and the sun was perceptibly sloping in the west. He determined to land and rest, and with this purpose steered to the right under the lee of a large island, so large, indeed, that he was not certain it was not part of the mainland or one side of the gulf. The water was very deep close up to the shore, but, to his annoyance, the strand appeared black, as if soaked with the dark water. He skirted along somewhat farther, and found a ledge of low rocks stretching out into the Lake, so that he was obliged to run ashore before coming to these.
On landing, the black strand, to his relief, was fairly firm, for he had dreaded sinking to the knees in it; but its appearance was so unpleasant that he could not bring himself to sit down. He walked on towards the ledge of rocks, thinking to find a pleasanter place there. They were stratified, and he stepped on them to climb up, when his foot went deep into the apparently hard rock. He kicked it, and his shoe penetrated it as if it had been soft sand. It was impossible to climb up the reef. The ground rose inland, and curious to see around him as far as possible, he ascended the slope.
From the summit, however, he could not see farther than on the shore, for the pale yellow mist rose up round him, and hid the canoe on the strand. The extreme desolation of the dark and barren ground repelled him; there was not a tree, bush, or living creature, not so much as a buzzing fly. He turned to go down, and then for the first time noticed that the disk of the sun was surrounded with a faint blue rim, apparently caused by the yellow vapour. So much were the rays shorn of their glare, that he could look at the sun without any distress, but its heat seemed to have increased, though it was now late in the afternoon.