The moonlit mist and the silence of night closed around this lonely nook in the dead forest and Toyner’s form sitting upon the fallen log. In the open river, where no line determined the meeting of the placid moonlit water and the still, moonlit mist, the boat dashed like a dark streak up the white winding Ahwewee toward the green forest around Fentown Falls. The small dark figure of the man within it was working at his oars with a strength and regularity of some powerful automaton. At every stroke the prow shot forward, and the sound of the splashing oars made soft echoes far and wide.
When men have visions the impression left upon their minds is that light from the unseen world of light has in some way broken through into the sphere of their cognizance. The race in its ages of reflection has upon the whole come to the conclusion that that which actually takes place is the gradual growth and the sudden breaking forth of light within the mysterious depths of the man himself. A new explanation of a fact does not do away with the fact.
Toyner was not dead, he was stunned; his head was badly injured. When his consciousness returned, and through what process of inflammation and fever his wounded head went in the struggle of nature toward recovery, was never clearly known. His body, bound with the soft torn cloths to the upright tree, sagged more and more until it found a rest upon the inclined log. The fresh sweet air from pine woods, the cool vapours from the water beneath him, were nurses of wise and delicate touch. The sun arose and shone warmly, yet not hotly, through the air in which dry haze was thickening. The dead trees stood in the calm water, keeping silence as it were, a hundred stalwart guards with fingers at their lips, lest any sound should disturb the life that, with beneficent patience, was little by little restoring the wounded body from within. Even the little vulgar puffing market-boat that twice a day passed the windings of the old river channel—the only disturber of solitude—was kept at so great a distance by this guard of silent trees that no perception of her passing, and all the life and perplexity of which she must remind him, entered into Toyner’s half-closed avenues of sense.
For two days the sun rose on Bart through the mellow, smoke-dimmed atmosphere. Each night it lay in a red cloud for an hour in the west, tingeing and dyeing all the mirror below the trees with red. No one was there in the desolate lake to see the twice-told glory of that rosy flood and firmament, unless it was this wondrous light that first penetrated the eyes of the prisoner with soothing brightness.