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Unformatted text preview: e trout seemed as if they could not have too much of these abominable wretches, and the flies were blown across the loch, not singly, but in populous groups. I had never seen anything like them in any hook-book, nor could I deceive the trout by the primitive dodge of tying a red thread round the shank of a dark fly. So I waded out, and fell to munching a frugal sandwich and watching Nature, not without a cigarette. Now Nature is all very well. I have nothing to say against her of a Sunday, or when trout are not rising. But she was no comfort to me now. Smiling she gazed on my discomfiture. The lovely lines of the hills, curving about the loch, and with their deepest dip just opposite where I sat, were all of a golden autumn brown, except in the violet distance. The grass of Parnassus grew thick and white around me, with its moonlight tint of green in the veins. On a hillside by a brook the countryfolk were winning their hay, and their voices reached me softly from far off. On the loch the marsh-fowl flashed and dipped, the wild ducks played and dived and rose; first circling high and higher, then, marshalled in the shape of a V, they made for Alemoor. A solitary heron came quite near me, and
47 ANGLING SKETCHES tried his chance with the fish, but I think he had no luck. All this is pleasant to remember, and I made rude sketches in the fly-leaves of a copy of Hogg's poems, where I kept my flies. But what joy was there in this while the "take" grew fainter and ceased at least near the shore? Out in the middle, where few flies managed to float, the trout were at it till dark. But near shore there was just one trout who never stopped gorging all day. He lived exactly opposite the nick in the distant hills, and exactly a yard farther out than I could throw a fly. He was a big one, and I am inclined to think that he was the Devil. For, if I had stepped in deeper, and the water had come over my wading boots, the odds are that my frail days on earth would have been ended by a chill, and I knew this, and yet that fish wen...
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