She went down to the creek again, but it was too late. The water running gently and steadily had done its work, taken the canoe out from among the rushes, and floated it down between the mosses of the swamp. Making her feet bare, she sprang from one clump of fern root to another, sometimes missing her footing and striking to her knees through the green moss that let her feet easily break into the black wet earth. In a few minutes she could see the canoe. It had drifted just beyond the swamp, where all the ground was lying under some feet of water; but there a tree had turned its course out of the current of the creek, so that it was now sidling against two ash trees, steady as if at anchor. So few feet as it was from her, Ann saw at a glance that to reach it was quite impossible. Realising the helplessness of her position without this canoe, she might have been ready to brave the dangers of a struggle in deep water to obtain it, but the danger was that of sinking in bottomless mud. The canoe was wholly beyond her reach. Retracing her steps, she washed her feet in the running creek, and, as she put on her shoes, sitting upon the grassy bank in the morning sunlight, she felt drowsily as if she must rest there for a few minutes. She let her head fall upon the arm she had outstretched on the warm sod.
When she stirred again she had that curious feeling of inexplicable lapse of time that comes to us after unexpected and profound slumber. The sun had already passed the zenith; the tone in the voices of the crickets, the whole colouring of earth and sky, told her, before she had made any exact observation of the shadows, that it was afternoon.
She prepared more food for the sick man. When she had fed him and put him to rest again, she went out to discover what means of egress by land was to be found from this lonely dwelling. She followed the faint trace of wheel-ruts over the grass, which for a short distance ran through undergrowth of fir and weeds. She came out upon a cleared space of some acres, from which a fine crop of hay had clearly been taken, apparently about a month before. Whoever had mowed the hay had evidently been engaged also in a further clearing of the land beyond, and there was a small patch where tomatoes and pea vines lay neglected in the sun; the peas had been gathered weeks before, but the tomatoes, later in ripening, hung there turning rich and red. Ann went on across the cleared space. Following the track, she came to a thick bit of bush beyond, where a long cutting had been made, just wide enough for a cart to pass through.
There was no other way out; Ann must walk through this long green passage. No knight in a fairy tale ever entered path that looked more remote from the world’s thoroughfares. When she had walked a mile she came to an opening where the ground dipped all round to a bottom which had evidently at some time held water, for the flame-weed that grew thick upon it stood even, the tops of its magenta flowers