Puslapio vaizdai

ting in the line to try another, banks : but I knew there were and the minnow was just under a couple of fish in one stream, me, when suddenly a white and was determined to try a shape came up through the plan of which Harry Smyth turbid water: and instead of told me. After dinner, when letting the fish plunge on the the last daylight was fading, bait, I struck in my flurry and I went down with a big fly simply whipped the hooks away. such as you would fish in I consoled myself by believing March. I had the river to it was a slat, and it may have myself, it was all an extraorbeen : but a fresh fish was got dinary quietness; stars began in the same run some ten to show, but there was still minutes later; and anyhow it twilight; and I fished steadily is not often one hooks a salmon, down, covering the water acfresh or no, with the first cast cording to Harry's instructions of the season. That was a at a pretty sharp angle: and duffer's deserts : and what is that meant a long line. It was more, I could not guarantee very pleasant, and I fished in not to have done it with a fly. a sort of dream, not keenly So very seldom one sees a sal- expecting the pull for which I mon actually come at the lure, hoped, when suddenly away that when it happens some down the stream—it seemed jerky movement is apt to de- very far in that dim light-a stroy chances.

big salmon without splash or As a matter of fact, I think boil came two-thirds out of the that the real important differ- water. I was fishing by feel ence between skilful fishing and mainly, and it was a kind of unskilled is just the amount second thought when I said of experience which prevents to myself, “He's rising at me." the unexpected from taking And thereupon I did what in you by surprise. Any one of normal conditions I should the other men who were on the never dream of doing, and bank that February morning struck before I felt him. He would have got that fish; but must have been just closing any one of them, professional his mouth on it, for there was or amateur, killed dozens of a faint touch on the line, but salmon yearly.

Most of us no more ; 80 I lost my chance are lucky if in stray holidays of that fish, and would have we get five or six a season; given the eyes out of my head and such anglers, even if they to get him. It was good fishcan fish, will at times go un- ing thrown away, just for want accountably wrong.

of the steadiness, which is what That same season, so far as I matters. recollect, I was fishing the Slaney On that same stream, howin June, which is late for that ever, came my last piece of river; the water was low, and duffer's luck, and in some ways was fished constantly from both my biggest. I had fished several days with the reel which was now plainly, and I got him not a Silex, and was more than up-stream of me. He was still ever convinced that you needed two or three feet below the to be very knacky. Still, I surface, in no way tired; but took it down to the Slaney. my gaff was

a long Castle We were fly-fishing, and we Connell hazel stick; I slipped had got fish, but none for a it in quietly, reached as far couple of days, and I had towards him as I could, and brought prawns: 80 down I struck, almost experimentally. went with a prawn to fish this It held and I towed him to me, wide reach, with light leads. absolutely by the tail; then I got more than enough of as I pulled him out endways, trouble, and must have dis- the hooks of the tackle in his entangled an over - run line mouth saw fit to stick into a three or four times : but I was bramble; so there was I with determined that the fish in this the biggest salmon I had ever pool should see a prawn, and got, tail up on the bank and at the best spot in it I got a his nose just lipping the water. pretty long cast exactly right. I put down the rod, got out Then the line checked, and a a knife, and stunned him, then fierce tear at it told me I was cut away the bramble and made in something good. At the my way to the top of the bank same instant I perceived that with my capture. The whole the reel would wind neither affair could not have lasted back nor forward. Luckily the much more than five minutes, bank was good : I kept abreast, but I was as beat as if I had and before he really started to run a mile. Then down came run, by a special mercy of my host, and owned that neither providence I had freed the he nor his father before him line : it was only looped round had ever got so big a fish on the handles. Then he went: their water. Yet it was only I never before saw a fish try twenty-six pounds : and the to run out of a pool up-stream, Slaney, for so considerable a but this one did. I stopped him stream, breeds small fish. But in the swirl of water, and then reviewing that adventure, I he turned and went down it decided that providence had like a flash. There was over been extraordinarily good to a hundred yards clear distance, me for that once, and to fish and he tired a little towards any more with that reel would the end and let me turn him be tempting providence. I now into where the stream ran fast, own a Silex, and have not yet but not unmanageably fast, by killed a fish with it. When I our bank. The reel was be- have killed, say, forty, I may having all right with the check begin to think that if things on, but I had no confidence go right, it is not simply duffer's in it, and I could see the fish luck.




It was the hottest month rarely above the jumble of roofs of the year in Larzan. And rose à tired dust-laden palm, the seventeenth day of the the one effort at colour that month was assuredly the hot- the drab city seemed to make. test day.

Seen from across the river, the Across the river, which had city was woman veiled. shrunk to thin streaks of trick. Within lay all the picturesqueling silver, wellnigh lost in a ness of the East; without was vast expanse of sand, there was the sombre yashmak drawn no particle of shade. Row on close against prying eyes. row, neat set, bleached white Behind it, far off, framing it in the blazing sun, the tents in a strange unearthly beauty of the little encampment alone at sunrise and at sunset, rose bespoke an alien touch. Order- a long low range of hills. Faint ly, spotless, precise, they stood against the sky-line in the heavy a prim reproach to their sur- haze of midday, they stood out roundings. Set so compactly, in all the exquisite colouring they looked as if they had of the East when the light gathered up their skirts against paled. In the midst of the contact with the world around. desolate flatness that stretched Their very precision proclaimed on every other hand, this little them of the West. All else as range of hills drew the eye unfar as the eye could reach was failingly, their brave uprising unmistakably of the East. Far an infinite relief. away on this left bank of the The only stir of life was on river stretched a practically the roughly marked-out footunbroken plain, deserted, un- ball ground on the farther side kempt, its rough untouched of the tent city. The cruel surface varied only by a sand- heat of the sun had done its drift hillock or a patch of dry- worst, and the day, with that burnt scrub. On the farther brief twilight characteristic of bank huddled the city, a mass the East, was swiftly merging of sun-dried walls and irregular into the cooler night that alone flat roofs heaped together with- made life bearable. The game, out form or shape. It wore a played with that dogged energy curious look, as if it had turned and disregard of temperature its back upon the river, as if that the Arabs regarded half it crouched together in terror with dumfoundered awe and or confusion before the solid half with amused contempt, phalanx of the tents, set out was ended; and the players, in strength against it. Only who moment before had


moved keen, alert, taut, sud- pertained to soldiering seemed denly relaxed, and strolled to come to him as instinctively slowly, limply, and damply off as his skill at games. Had he the ground. The still inert been asked for the date of figures of their comrades who Magna Charta or anything to had sat or lain full length do with that important doculazily to watch the game be- ment, he would have been hopestirred themselves, and joining lessly at sea ; but did you ask the others, began that long him for a plan of Blenheim or discussion of the game that Waterloo, he would have drawn would continue as long as the it with delight and skill. He evening lasted. For subjects had joined the regiment straight of conversation among the rank from Sandhurst, and to him and file in Larzan camp were from the outset it had been the few. And was it not for this beginning and the end of all very reason that Bransome, things. So great had been the one of the youngest of their changes, so many the casualofficers, had with much sweat ties during the early years of levelled out the ground and the war, that now, save for driven the unwilling daily out two seniors, both at the moto play 1 Coming straight from ment on leave, he was the only good quarters in a temperate officer of the regiment who had climate, the appalling heat and been with it in pre-war days. irritating discomforts of Larzan Once in the midst of many had at the outset wellnigh horrors, but the proudest day paralysed the strength of the of his life, it had fallen to his regiment. Fever had prac- lot to command it. So, though tically decimated the officers' still very much a junior, his mess, and Bransome was one long-standing knowledge of it, of the few who had survived combined with his keenness and untouched. He was the athlete athletic prowess, gave him a of the regiment, one of those very special place in the life physically gifted beings to of the regiment. “Ask Branwhom proficiency in every some; he'll know," was game seems to come unsought. common saying in mess and Brains from the academic point office. And if it was anything of view he had none. At to do with the regiment, Branschool and at Sandhurst it had some knew. Ask Bransome ; been a case of just scraping he'll do it." And if it was through exam. after exam. So anything to be done for the near a thing was it that time regiment, Bransome did it. after time it was whispered So it was only in the accepted that only his athletic triumphs order of things, when they had pulled him through.

arrived at Larzan, and sickness But at last he had come into in many forms and kinds began his own. Sprung from a long to do its worst, that Bransome line of soldiers, everything that should tackle the men. Many


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of them were newly joined, and sundown, mopping his head
when the old hands found it and face with a towel, a shout
difficult enough to carry on went up at sight of him.
under the worst physical con- “Go away. You make me
ditions, apart from the front hot to look at you," cried Wag-
line, that the regiment had staffe, who had been playing
hitherto met with, they soon tennis, but who was still com-
showed signs of succumbing paratively immaculate in white
completely. But even as soon flannels.
Bransome was upon them, and “Don't sit in that chair ;
his vitality proved irresistible. it's the only decent one we've
Men who had struggled through got," shouted Awdrey, the ad-
their early morning duties, and jutant, hastily dragging back
were prepared to spend idle a canvas one and thrusting
listless hours for the rest of forward an old wicker one.
the day, brooding on their dis-

don't take care
comforts and so preparing the you'll bust up, and then what
way for sickness, unexpectedly shall we all do," drawled Daw-
found themselves busy levelling son, whom nothing would in-
out a football ground; and to duce to take more exercise than
their surprise growing inter- need be, and who secretly
ested in the work and looking resented anybody else doing
forward to the games in store. what he didn't.
Now never an afternoon passed Bransome, stretched out in
but a game was in progress, the wicker chair, flapped him-
and the competition to play self with a towel, and laughed
was keen. As often as not at them.
Bransome himself played with Slackers !” he said, as he
them, and this afternoon, as took the drink a kitmatghar
he watched the teams moving had hastened to bring him.
off the ground and the eager You'd be twice as fit if you
flow of talk that ensued as they came and played too, and there
joined their comrades among isn't one of you who knows
the spectators, he felt a justi- what a drink can be really
fiable glow of pride in his worth.”
handiwork. And he enjoyed He lifted his glass as he
the game as much as any of spoke and drank slowly, with
them. To-day he had played all the enjoyment of a man who
himself out to the full, and knows what a thirst can be.
now at the end of it he was "I wouldn't have sold that
a sight for the gods. There thirst for ten dibs,” he said
was not a dry stitch on him, beamingly as he put down his
and the sweat poured off his glass.
face in great rivulets. As he Then for a space, as the swift
reached the circle of chairs failing twilight deepened into
outside the mess tent, where night, the little group of men
the mess usually congregated at talked on. It was the usual

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