« НазадПродовжити »
A POACHING REMINISCENCE
We were a merry party at Sandmouth-Eva and Winnie Morton, their cousin Carrie Morton, their brother Jack, Mrs. Morton, Tom Seymour and myself, Alec Hinton. We had the most glorious rambles over the Welsh Hills, that hemmed us in all round, save where the broad estuary with its overhanging woods swept back in a succession of lake-like stretches for miles inland.
I shall never forget that summer holiday, nor how, when the dusk of the evening came on, we used to saunter along the promenade, and watch the sun set far over the Cardigan bay, and Bardsey island showed distinct against the rosy light. One day we had all, with the help of donkeys for the ladies, scrambled to the top of a mountain second only to Cader in height. It was rather misty immediately below us, especially in one hollow, but to seaward it was beautifully clear, and we could see the white line of surf that marks the dangerous causeway of St. Patrick reaching far out into the bay. Suddenly the mist opened in the hollow where it was deepest, and we saw the gleam of water.
“ Hollo! what Llyn is that ?” exclaimed Jack.
Seymour pulled out a guide book, and referring to the map—“Why, it must be Llyn Cadws, where that old guide said there were such big pike.”
“What do you say to going down to it?” I said, " that is, if the ladies don't mind staying here alone for a time.”
“ You two fellows go, and I'll stay,” said Seymour.
Morton and I soon ran down to it, rousing a heron and a couple of wild ducks as we did so. It was some four or five acres in extent. On one side the cliffs rose perpendicularly from the water in some places, and in others the débris had formed a rugged and picturesque shore. On the other side it was shallow and open, and—a rare thing in mountain lakes—a thick bed of weeds reached some distance out.
Jack, who was prowling along here, stopped, and sinking down on his knees beckoned me to do the like and join him. I did so, to the no small detriment of my cuticle, and saw a sight which aroused all my fish
ing proclivities in a moment. A large pike was basking over the weeds, eyeing us savagely.
“Twelve pounds, if an ounce,” whispered Morton, as the big fish slowly backed out of sight in that mysterious way that fish will disappear if they are looked at but not rudely startled.
A splash, and then another, in the middle, showed us that there were, as indeed the guide-book would have told us, some large trout in the tarn. The presence of pike was a guarantee, too, that there wouldn't be many small ones.
Two or three days afterwards Morton led me down to the Railway Station, and pointed triumphantly to a large hamper. On unfastening the lid, I saw that it was full of “trimmers,” which, for the benefit of the uninitiated, I may explain are round pieces of wood with lines fastened to them. These, when baited with small fish, are set to float on a river or lake, and sad havoc they make among the pike. They are not, of course, considered fair contrivances amongst sportsmen, and so I exclaimed, “Why, you poaching sinner, whatever are you going to do with those ?"
“Set them in Llyn Cadws.”
“ Donkeys,” he answered laconically, as he tied the lid on again.
“ And how will you set them, and take them up again without a boat?”
“Sent up to Dolgelly for a coracle: there it is,” said he, pointing to one of those desperately unsafe washing-tub-like things, made of laths, and covered with tarred canvas, which the Welsh fishermen use.
“ And bait ?” I again asked. A wink was the sole answer.
“I'm game, old fellow, though I'd rather go and fish fair ; but it will be a bit of an adventure, and there are two things in regard to which I could never resist temptation, and those are falling in love and getting into a scrape.”
I left the arrangements to Morton, and the next afternoon a couple of donkeys awaited us at the door of the hotel, laden with the coracle, trimmers, provisions, a tarpaulin and some short poles for a tent, and a big bait tin, which, when I took a sly peep at it, I found to be full of samlets and small trout neatly packed in bran. I thought it best not to ask where they came from, especially as a man, who looked like a river-watcher, was dodging about in a suspicious manner, and taking great interest in our proceedings. To these impedimenta I added my pike and fly rods, with the et ceteras.
We intended to set the trimmers that evening, and
stay on the mountain all night. The ladies promised to join us on the morrow, and assist in taking up the trimmers. So, with a boy to drive the donkeys, off we started. It was a hot August day, but Cader Idris wore his cap of cloud, and we knew that rain was not far off. Up we went with frequent pauses, ostensibly to look at the piled-up hills or the majestic curves of the estuary, down which a yacht was dropping with the tide, her sails hanging idle, with not a breath of air to fill them. It was oppressive enough for thunder, and we were still some distance from the Llyn, when our donkey boy called out, “The storm is coming, sir,” and, looking in the direction of his uplifted stick, we saw the far-off hills suddenly covered with mist, that tumbled and tossed about and whirled down the glens in a manner suggestive of violent commotion.
“Look out for the squall ! down with your topsails !” roared Seymour to the yacht below, forgetful in his excitement of the distance that separated us from her, for she seemed so directly below us, that one would almost fancy we could throw a stone on her deck.
There were sharp eyes on board, however; and, as we crouched under the lee of a rock, we had the satisfaction of seeing her taking in sail, and preparing to