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Unformatted text preview: where he could by any possibility have hidden himself. Had he met a Boojum he could not have more "softly and suddenly vanished away." I make no pretence of being more courageous than my neighbours, and, in this juncture, perhaps I was less so. The long days of loneliness in waste Glen Aline, and too many solitary cigarettes, had probably injured my nerve. So, when I suddenly heard a sigh and the half-smothered sound of a convulsive cough-hollow, if ever a cough was hollow--hard by me, at my side as it were, and yet could behold no man, nor any place where a man might conceal himself--nothing but moor and sky and tufts of rushes--then I turned away, and walked down the glen: not slowly. I
71 ANGLING SKETCHES shall not deny that I often looked over my shoulder as I went, and that, when I reached the loch, I did not angle without many a backward glance. Such an appearance and disappearance as this, I remembered, were in the experience of Sir Walter Scott. Lockhart does not tell the anecdote, which is in a little anonymous volume, "Recollections of Sir Walter Scott," published before Lockhart's book. Sir Walter reports that he was once riding across the moor to Ashiesteil, in the clear brown summer twilight, after sunset. He saw a man a little way ahead of him, but, just before he reached the spot, the man disappeared. Scott rode about and about, searching the low heather as I had done, but to no purpose. He rode on, and, glancing back, saw the same man at the same place. He turned his horse, galloped to the spot, and again--nothing! "Then," says Sir Walter, "neither the mare nor I cared to wait any longer." Neither had I cared to wait, and if there is any shame in the confession, on my head be it! There came a week of blazing summer weather; tramping over moors to lochs like sheets of burnished steel was out of the question, and I worked at my book, which now was all but finished. At length I wrote THE END, and "o le bon ouff! que je poussais," a...
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