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Unformatted text preview: oy. What pleasure is there in landscape and tradition when such accidents befall you? The sun upon the Weirdlaw hill, In Ettrick's vale is sinking sweet. There is a fire of autumn colour in the tufted woods that embosom Fernilea. "Bother the setting sun," we say, and the Maid of Neidpath, and the "Flowers of the Forest," and the memories of Scott at Ashiesteil, and of Muckle Mou'd Meg, at Elibank. These are filmy, shadowy pleasures of the fancy, these cannot minister to the mind of him who has been "broken" twice, who cannot resume the contest for want of ammunition, and who has not even brought the creature-comfort of a flask. Since that woful day I have lain on the bank and watched excellent anglers skilfully flogging the best of water, and that water full of fish, without hooking one. Salmon-fishing, then, is a matter of chance, or of plodding patience. They will rise on one day at almost any fly (but the sniggler), however illpresented to them. On a dozen other days no fly and no skill will avail to tempt them. The salmon is a brainless brute and the grapes are sour! If only the gut had held, this sketch would have ended with sentiment, and a sunset, and the music of Ettrick, the melody of Tweed. In the gloaming we'd be roaming homeward, telling, perhaps, the story of the ghost seen by Sir Walter Scott near Ashiesteil, or discussing the Roman treasure still buried near Oakwood Tower, under an inscribed stone which men saw fifty years ago. Or was it a treasure of Michael Scott's, who lived at Oakwood, says tradition? Let Harden dig for Harden's gear, it is not for me to give hints as to its whereabouts. After all that ill-luck, to be brief, one is not in the vein for legendary lore, nor memories of boyhood, nor poetry, nor sunsets. I do not believe that one ever thinks of the
65 ANGLING SKETCHES landscape or of anything else, while there is a chance for a fish, and no abundance of local romance can atone for an empty creel. Poetical fishers t...
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