I guessed that he had been frightened away by the

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Unformatted text preview: d be taken by an angler wading from the shore. There was no boat. The wading, however, was difficult and dangerous, owing to the boggy nature of the bottom, which quaked like a quicksand in some places. The black water, never stirred by duck or moorhen, the dry rustling reeds, the noisome smell of decaying vegetable-matter when you stirred it up in wading, the occasional presence of a dead sheep by the sullen margin of the tarn, were all opposed to cheerfulness. Still, the fish were there, and the "lane," which sulkily glided from the loch towards the distant river, contained some monsters, which took worm after a flood. One misty morning, as I had just topped the low ridge from which the loch became visible, I saw a man fishing from my favourite bench. Never had I noticed a human being there before, and I was not well pleased to think that some emissary of Mr. Watson Lyall was making experiments in Loch Nan, and would describe it in "The Sportsman's Guide." The mist blew white and thick for a minute or two over the lochside, as it often does at Loch Skene; so white and thick and sudden that the bewildered angler there is apt to lose his way, and fall over the precipice of the Grey Mare's Tail. When the curtain of cloud rose again, the loch was lonely: the angler had disappeared. I went on rejoicing, and made a pretty good basket, as the weather improved and grew warmer--a change which gives an appetite to trout in some hill lochs. Among the sands between the stones on the farther bank I found traces of the angler's footsteps; he was not a phantom, at all events, for phantoms do not wear heavily nailed boots, as he evidently did. The traces, which were soon lost, of course, inclined me to think that he had retreated up a narrow green burnside, with rather high banks, through which, in rainy weather, a small feeder fell into the loch. I guessed that he had been frightened away by the descent of the mist, which usually "puts down" the trout...
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