Hugh saw the little light of the keeper’s cottage, and instinctively edged his way to the left. He was pressed for time. A wheel was turning in his head, so quickly, so quickly in this great heat that, unless he were quicker than it, it would out-distance him altogether.
At last he saw the water, and ran down swiftly towards it. The white tree-trunks were in league against him, and waylaid him, striking him violently. But he struck back, and got through them. They fell behind at last. His shadow was beside him now, short and nimble. He looked round once or twice to make sure it was still with him.
He reached the water’s edge and then stopped short, aghast. Where was the water gone? It had deceived him and deserted him, like everything else. It was all hard as iron, one great white sheet of ice stretching away in front of him. He had thought of the little lake as he had last seen it, cool and deep, and with the shadows of the summer trees in it. It was all changed and gone. There was no help here. The way of escape was closed. With a hoarse cry he set off, running across the ice in the direction of the place where he had been nearly drowned before.
It was here, opposite that clump of silver birch. The ice was a different color here. It tilted and creaked suddenly beneath his feet. He flung himself down upon it and struck it wildly with his fist. “Let me through,” he stammered. But the ice resisted him. It made an ominous dry crackling, as if in mockery. It barely resisted him, but it did resist him. And he had no time, no time. He scrambled to his feet again, and it gave way instantly. The other self pounced suddenly upon him and came through with him, and they struggled furiously together in deep water.
“I must, I must,” gasped Hugh, between his clinched teeth.
“You shall not,” said the other self, mad with terror. “Hold on to the ice.”
Hugh saw his bleeding hands holding tightly to the jagged edge. It broke. He clutched another piece. It broke again. The current was sucking him slowly under the ice. The broken pieces pushed him. One arm was under already, and he could not get it out. The animal horror of a trap seized him. He had not known it would be like this. He was not prepared for this.
The other self fought furiously for life, clutching and tearing at the breaking ice.
“Call,” it said to him, “while there is still time.”
Hugh set his teeth.
The ice broke in a great piece and tilted heavily against him. It was over one shoulder.
“Call,” said the other self, sharply, again, “or you will be under the ice.”
And up to the quiet heaven rose once and again a hoarse, wild cry of human agony and despair.
Ueber allen Gipfeln
In allen Wipfeln
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Voegelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest Du auch.