News of the outside world was a week to ten days old, and as the weather was extremely hot, it can be easily imagined that our existence was not particularly rose-colored. Judge, then, of the delight and pleasure we all experienced when, one sultry evening, when the very air was quivering and dancing with heat, an old man came into camp with a large basket full of beautiful little fresh-water fish. How he passed the line of sentinels no one cared to inquire, the probability being that the guards, knowing what a boon he had in his basket, winked at his passing.
He came direct to the line of officers' tents, and in five minutes had sold all his fish at a good price. We asked him where the fish came from, and he answered "Death Lake. I therefore asked the old man to my tent, where I could talk to him about it. After he had seated himself and taken a drink of cool water, fresh from the spring, I asked him the name of the fish and when and where he caught them. His eyes were deep sunk, and had a watery opaqueness; his cheeks were sallow, and there were only a few straggling white hairs on his head.
His answer surprised me, and I pressed him to tell me his story, which, after a while, he did, although he was much averse to it. After a time I prevailed upon the old man to take me to the lake next day.
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The next morning I met the old man at daybreak, just outside the lines, and off we started together. He carried his large basket and a couple of fish-poles made of reeds he had cut in the swamps. I carried our lunch and a coffee-pot. We tramped for about two hours through the woods, till we came to a small river called "Perdido," from the Spanish word for "lost.
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Close to the bank, the old man had a flat-bottomed skiff moored, in which we paddled up the stream for a half-mile, when we reached the confines of the large swamp in which Death Lake is situated. The scenery here is of the typical Florida nature. On either side the stream was bounded by the swamp. Huge cypress trees lifted their weird limbs upward, and long streamers of trailing moss floated from them, and even at times formed a swinging arch across the entire width of the stream.
The water was dark and sullen, and on the banks, wherever a little sunshine happened to strike, half a dozen alligators might be seen basking, which, on our approach, would flop into the water with a tremendous splash.
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After paddling up the sides of the swamp for a couple of miles we came to an archway, which appeared to have been cut by man through the foliage of trees and vines. It was not over four feet high and about eight wide, and from it the water flowed with a scarcely perceptible current. The little stream turned and twisted in the most tortuous channel I ever saw, and often it was with difficultly that we managed to turn the boat round the sharp and narrow corners.
At length, after paddling in this fashion for over half a mile, we emerged into the famous Death Lake.
Right well had it been named, for the very feeling it had in breathing its atmosphere was of death. It seemed more like a river than a lake, for though by its various windings and twistings it was several miles long, it was never, in its widest part, over sixty yards wide, and throughout most of its length not over yards.
The banks were lined by impressive trees that towered upward to a height of eighty feet or more. From their branches hung long festoons and trails of Florida moss, while the roots of the trees, half of out water, assumed such weird and fantastic shapes that they seemed like immense serpents that had become suddenly petrified in their writings.
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So dense was the foliage that it formed an impenetrable wall to both sun and wind, and the sunlight never touched the water except between the hours of 12 and 2 P. Not a breath had stirred the waters for years, and they were covered to a depth of several inches in a green vegetable slime, so that appearance was that of a beautiful level floor, on which one might walk.
We reached the lake about ten minutes before the sun, and there was consequently a very strange light over the water. It had much the effect of a twilight above, through which the sun was breaking, while close to the water hung a mist, heavy, silent and motionless.
But the tops of the trees the sun had touched with his master-strokes and created tints more beautiful than could any painter's brush. So still was it that the silence was actually oppressive and, though we were startled at the sound our own voices, we would have been glad to have heard the noise of some animal sounds.
The Lake of Death - Wikipedia
But all round us was death; no sign life anywhere. No birds in the trees; no insects in the air. Even the reptiles and snakes avoided the fearful place. To breathe such air for an hour, except the sun was directly over the water, would be death to any living creature. The movie was produced in association with Pryserfilm with the support of the Norwegian Film Institute. The awards, voted on by more than 3, members of the European Film Academy, will be presented at the awards ceremony on Dec.
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