He’d aimed at the fish and then at me, when I grabbed his arm. The sharp pole dropped to the deck and he’d swung as I ducked, then slammed hard his big jaw so he fell and bruised his head.

Maybe Adkins wanted a job for his wife, too, as a chef.

He started calling on me in class, making me the teacher’s pet.

“Let’s here what Bill Ryder thinks about that — ”

I didn’t know much and felt embarrassed when I had nothing to say.

I attended Dr. Elmore’s course on labor management Tuesday and Thursday, but back at the Elgin it was still hard to concentrate on my studies. I kept expecting affectionate Joyce or angry Ray to show up — for a week or more, Joyce had been leaving warm notes on my door, in plain view for Ray to find if he ever followed her.

When no one knocked, I was relieved but still felt nervous, sure that something shadowy breathed at my shoulder, just out of sight. My thoughts kept turning to the lake. I felt I was supposed to go there, but for good or bad I didn’t know.

I opened the old one-volume encyclopedia I’d been avoiding and found that what Paul and Joyce had said was correct — Sleeping Child Lake was 1,200 feet deep and a bright and clear aquamarine.

“It’s how the Indians get to this other world,” Joyce had said.

“What world?” I asked.

“One better than this,” she answered and leaned down to kiss my lips.

It was true that the lake was held in esteem by several Indian tribes, including the Blackfoot and Northern Cheyenne, as an “omphalos,” a navel or center point of the Earth. Impressive natural sandstone formations resembled an underwater city and had stimulated vivid myths concerning a lost world.

A lieutenant of the French explorer Champlain had claimed the lake’s European discovery in 1610 and christened it “Lac Sans Bout” — “Lake Without End.”

The article didn’t mention any Sleeping Child monster or a mystery about the lake’s source. Its tributary was Running Horse Creek, which Banner said didn’t have the necessary flow to fill the lake. The book had been published in 1936.

Maybe it was all meaningful coincidence, “synchronicity” — the word the psychologist Carl Jung used in his preface to the Book of Changes for apparently random events that reflected an underlying purpose or unity.

“It’s strange,” Debbie James said when we ate our lunch in the meadow that time outside Seattle, 100 yards from the oak and its heavy fallen limb. “Right then I knew something was going to happen, when you stopped to pull the sticker from your sock. Last night I threw the I Ching and got a weird hexagram.”

Debbie had the two fish, yin and yang, embroidered on her peasant blouse in red and blue thread, swimming head to tail in a yellow circle the color of her hair.

She’d given me the Book of Changes after I stopped for the foxtail and, a yard ahead, the three-foot-wide branch came down in front of us and shook the ground. After that, we took mescaline by the prune tree in her yard where the dove sang and Debbie echoed its warbling call.