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AN ARCADIAN SUMMER

THE IMPRESSIONS OF AN INPRESSIONIST,

VI.

I QUITE agree with Mr Rnskin an Edinburgh tackle-maker. The that field-sports are demoralising. discussions about “flies” are interWhat is worse, they spoil anything minable. Ara Zulus killing? Are like rational conversation. At St Alexandras any good? What about Andrews, for instance, I might as

the little Doctor ? The preparawell belong to a Trappist commu- tion of a “cast "involves no end of nity ; the Philistines of the Links care,—a great artist could not select speak a foreign tongue; for what the colours for his palette with a meaning can an intelligent being graver sense of responsibility. And attach to "cleeks,” and “niblics,” the intelligence that a big fish has and “putters," and "long spoons,” been seen in the Salmon Pool (and and “hittin' the grun',” and “tap- whenever Donald wants a glass of pin' the ba'”? Here, at Cairnbana, whisky on his way home, a big fish it is just as bad. The boys- is sure to be about) drives the and they are nice boys too whole household fairly frantic. If can think of nothing but loch Mr Andrew Lang would like to trout and wild duck. There is watch the formation of a myth, he a big salmo ferox which haunts ought to come to Ardnamurchan. their dreams. The brute lives at The day that a fish is lost, it the bottom of the loch, and only weighs ten pounds. Next day it comes to the surface at intervals to rises to twenty. By the end of the play the deuce with their tackle.month it is as big as the Snapping In such a society, moreover, all the Turtle of Alabama,—the monster ordinary relations of life are in- who "swallowed Langton Bennett, verted. Ronald Macdonald, the and digested Rufus Dawes.” The water-bailiff, is a much more impor- growth of the legend in the course tant personage than the Secretary of ages is easily accounted for, for Scotland; and the exploits of when we remember how a salmon Angus Cameron, the keeper—the quadruples his weight in a week. deer he has stalked, the salmon he “They were telling me that John has landed, the eagles he has shot had lost a big fish-ten punds they -are spoken of with bated breath. were saying.” “It was not less The most valued correspondent of than twenty punds the fish that the family (to judge from the con- John lost—he was fast for an hour stant allusions that are made to and a quarter and a half, but he him) appsars to be a gentleman of would not move from the bottom, the name of Wells. Wells will do whatever John would do.” “You this, — Wells will do that; and will have been hearing of the fish mysterious packets arrive from him that John lost-I saw him myself by post. I fancy at first that he -- he would weigh forty pound is connected somehow with the forty pound and more-he jumped Local University examinations, clean over the linn, and never stopfor which the boys are presumed to ped till he got to the sea. be reading ; it turns out that he is a fine fish."

He was

We were on the loch on Monday. tion to the fact that a fish had been Loch Lora is certainly a grand bit captured. The trout had begun to of water. The mountains round feed, they told me afterwards; and about are bleak and bare,—at the for half an hour the big fellows far end, where the goats look down seemed as hungry as hawks. at us through the mist, the preci- "Won't you try it a bit ?” they pices are wellnigh inaccessible. shouted cheerily; but I only shook The islands, however, where we my head, and the boat drifted lunched, are finely wooded, -gaunt away again. Then I opened my Scotch firs rising from banks of book (it opened curiously enough heather as high as our heads. at the page where the poet warns Here, and on all the lochans round the shepherd never to mix his about, the shores are green with drink, I had written inadvertently the great Osmunda regulis — the --never to mix his pleasure or his Royal Fem. There were hundreds pride with sorrow of the meanest of gulls overhead — screaming at thing that feels,—"But they don't us out of the sky; and we saw a feel,” Jack retorted, when I pointed bird that is hardly, they tell me, the passage out to him on our way to be seen elsewhere in Scotland back," they rather like it,”_"And - the black-throated Diver. The they ain't mean,” Jim added); and young ones had left the west-but became so engrossed in its perusal we could not distinguish them ; we that the outside world faded from only knew by the mother's warning my vision, and I was only recalled cry-strangely weird yet melodious froin a delightful dream of an en- that they were somewhere about chanted palace, and an emaciated

I do not see the fun (apart from Princess, by hearing voices close at the inora) considerations on which hand. “I believe the Professor has Mr Ruskin has so copiously en fallen asleep again,—by Jove! what larged) of fly-fishing. The line has a guy the niidges have made him!” a bad habit of coming back in your It was too true. As the afternoon face, and in my own case the varied, the infernal—I beg pardon hooks were always catching in -- the infamous mosquitoes had

or other of the boatnien. waxed lively and mischievous; and They did not seem to like it, for some days thereafter I could and after a little I cane to the not look at myself in the glass withconclusiou that there were no bish out a shudder. in the loch, and went ashore with All the way loniemand we had volume of Wordsworth. St a long pull to the pier, and a three

à drowsy day; there was vuile drive after leaving the lochhardly a ripple ou the water; and they talked of nothing but fish. I lay for a while ou the hank, look Wil]

ole

a

was

you believe it, sir ?" said ing at the boat as it drifted slowly Jim. “I caught a three-pounder past, and watching the boys wlio with a whole cast of flies in its were castiug as industriously as mouth that Jack lost last week !" ever. They were good anglers, I “But the strangest thing happened daresay; their lines fell with sur that ever I heard of,” Jack interprising lightness ; and ever and rupted ; " when we were trolling again I saw the line tighten, the back, a small trout, not much more rod bend, and after a brief coutlict, than a iniunow, took my tail-fly, Jolu would lean over the side with and I was reeling in the line lei. the lauding-net in his hand, and a surely, when—slap-a big fish went cheer from Jack directed wy atten- at him. The beggar held on like

!

grim death-it wasn't hooked, you sisted. I did not feel called upon understand—till we had him in the to contradict them-it would have landing-net. His teeth were fast been bad taste indeed to tell their in the little beggar's belly, and we mother that they had been - fibhad to knock him on the head be- bing. There were thirty-two trout fore he'd let go.1 Did you ever in all, and they weighed eighteen hear of such a thing, Donald ?” “I pounds. I ate two of them at supdo not myself remember,” Donald per—as crisp and pink as salmon; replied deliberately, resting on his and before going to bed, I was conoar, and translating out of the Gae- strained to admit that Wordsworth lic as he went along; “but Ronald was perhaps a trifle too particular, here would be telling me that when and that even Virtue may become he was with Lord Lovatthe late pedantic. It was possible besides, Lord it would be — as a gillie at I reflected, that English freshAch-na-Cloich—that is at the back water fish are not so succulent as of Ben More, in Assynt-half-way Scotch. Or was it rather perhaps up Glen Feochan - where Angus that the Lakepoet had as little taste Mackechan's grandfather had a fine for Lake-trout as Lachlan Maccroft

but the oats were always lachan had for the forbidden fruit? eaten by the deer it would be “For my own part,” the worthy five - and - twenty years

piper is reported to have said durperhaps thirty-ay, even more ing his last illness, incensed at the there was a big fush”-and so the thoughtless and indeed unaccountstory, the point of which was never able conduct of the pair who brought reached, so far as I know, mean- death into this world and all our dered along till we got home. woe, and with a profound sense of

When the trout were laid out at the unfairness of the punishment the front door they made a grand in his own case,

“ For my own show, and the boys were kind part, minister, I do not care a tamn enough to insinuate—they are good for apples !”2 lads

that the capture of the big- “ Poor old Wordsworth 1” said gestma magnificent three-pounder the Chief, as he lighted his candle ;

was more or less due to my skill. "what a nightinare he must find “That's the Professor's," they in- Professor Knight!”

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VII.

Another day we went to meet however, rose as we onibarked, and thie steamer at Rhubana. John we glided silently before it. Outwas waiting for us with the boat at side the jagged range of reef, the the Boat-house Bay, one of those long Atlantic swell broke now and splendid sandy bays - like a bow again with a hoarse murmur; but, half-bentof which we have more inside, the peace and calm and than one at Cairnbana. The sun silence were absolute. Only he was newly risen, and the phantom white gannets were falling like bul. islands were repeated in the un- lets into the water. Near the Rhu rippled water. A light land breeze, there are a hundred islands — a

1 Facts both— last; summer.

· Lachlan was Maclachlan of Maclachlan's piper, and well linown in the Maclachlan country about Aricorr and Ardnamurchar.

was due.

were

perfect network--haunted by seals ser's nest in the thick coarse grass, and ducks and gulls and mergan- with thirteen eggs, and caught the sers; and here we waited for the bird herself before she had time to steamer. We had a long time to rise. (We left her to look after her wait. John, who has no belief in eggs, and next week I hope we the authenticity of Mr MacBrayne's shall see her again, paddling along printed time-tables, was apt to the shore, with a dozen little sawbring us off hours before the boat bills in her wake.) The splendid

“Sometimes she comes Fusilier was up to time, and we sooner, and sometimes she comes had taken the Parson on board earlier, and sometimes even before (the Parson had come all the way that,” he would reply oracularly, from the Midlands), and when closely cross-examined on the drifting away, when another boat, subject. We lighted a fire with rowed by a crew of lightly clad, bits of drift-wood that Atlantic sun-burnt girls, who sent it scudstorms had left among the rocks; ding through the water, came alongwe boiled our tea and our eggs; side. A handkerchief was waved and with tea and eggs and sar from the steamer's deck; a condiues and potted tongue and oat- fused mass of rods and rugs and meal cakes, we breakfasted royally. Gladstone bags was thrown into It was speedily discorered that rats the bow; and a trig danisel in abounded; and Maco. the niost deer-stalker hat and brilliant pettisagacious of Scotch fox-terriers, coat, escorted by a polite nate, ran had a good time. By-and-by the down the gangway. Our boat was boys had a dip in the cool spark- already on the move; the others ling water ; the round black faces were busy with the sail ; but I of the seals began to hob up when could uot be mistaken. I worilch they found we meant them no huve known these boots unywhere. baru: then we took a stroll through My heart gave a tremendous thud. the island. and found a mergai- It was Polly herself.

VIII.

The Parson was the best of com was an honourable understanding, pany, and during his stay the he said, though it had not been children nearly died of laughing. reduced to writing, that the old His stories of parsons, in and out gentleman (who was over eighty) of the pulpit, were better than would not live six months. But Dean Ranısay's : and his humor whenever the legal arrangements ous expostulations with the Uni- had been completed, the octogenaverse in general, and his own ill- rian renewed his youth. It was luck in particular. vastly amusing. his clear duty to die ; but, though His main grievance, on which the in Holy Orders, he persisted in changes were rung with infinite living on with a pertinacity that zest, was closely connected with even in a layman would have been the man he had been appointed to unbecoming. The contract, if not succeed. Our friend was the as express, was implied, but he had sistant and successor, and did all apparently taken advantage of a the work; but the bulk of the technical informality. He was imtithes went in the meantime to mortal-perennial - like the Wanthe previous incumbent. There dering Jow or the discoverer of the

elixir vitce. The question had oc next Sunday and went to the Cacurred to our friend, and he now tholic chapel. Maco went with submitted it for our consideration, us, and behaved himself like an -Would he be justified, in the enlightened Christian.-in spite of circumstances, in putting him to the shepherds' collies who hung death? A man who notoriously about the open door, and interdisregards the etiquette of his pro- rupted the service by dismal howls fession is looked upon as a black and an occasional free fight. Like sheep; and black sheep commonly their masters, it is only on Suncome to a bad end. Had he mani days they have a chance of meetfested any true remorse or sincere ing; the rest of the week they are repentance, it might have been looking after the sheep on misty proper to remit the penalty ; but, hillsides and among gloomy corries, though in his dotage, he was as where the croak of a raven or the hearty as ever, and even enjoyed, scream of an eagle serves only to it was believed, the annoyance and intensify the sense of absolute soliinconvenience of which he was the tude. Catholicism abroad always cause. His appetite was good, his seems to me to be tawdry; here it digestion perfect, and whenever he is as severely simple as Calvinism; met his infuriated successor he and you can say your prayers bethanked God ostentatiously that, fore the homely altar, as the Parthough eighty-eight years old, he son liberally remarked, without an had never felt in better health. uneasy suspicion of being at a play. His whole conduct, in short, was It is curious how tenaciously the reprehensible in the extreme, and Celt has clung to the ancient faith, the Chief did not hesitate to assure -John Knox's Reformation did his friend that if the miserable old not cross the Great Glen for genimpostor was suddenly removed, erations, and even yet whole dishowever suspicious the circum- tricts are Catholic. Some of us stances might be, he would refrain walked back after service, and the from communicating with the Pub talk-as we had the Priest and the lic Prosecutor

Parson with us—assumed, as was We took the boat up to Bracora natural, a theological hue. Here

1 We had intended to go to Stornoway (if you wish to become a genuine bumourist, see that you pronounce it Sty-or-no-way) about this time'; but the yacht vas not ready. Day and night (and especially at night, when, though more than fifty miles distant as the crow flies, they stood out with magical distinctness) I had dreamt of these phantom Islands in the west. If supernatural beings, fairer than dreams, haunted the shore of the mainland, what might not be expected in the farthest Hebrides? The Chief's yacht had been riding at anchor in the bay; a score of kilted savages had been engaged in overhauling her for months ; but, so far as we conld discover, absolutely no progress had been made. The policy of “inasterly inactivity” is practised by the Celts with entire success. They take to it as they take to whisky,—the taste for alcohol and obstruction (Parliamentary or other) being born with them. They scold now as the Homeric warriors scolded. They harangue each other as their Ossianic ancestors harangued. We could hear thein at it from the shore. No nail could be driven, no rope could be spliced, no patch of paint applied, without prolonged (liscussion. Saw or hammer in hand, the rest would gather round the rival orators--the Gladstone and Salisbury of the fray-and weigh gravely and with the utmost deliberation the arguments adduced on either side. Meantime, of course, all work was suspended ; and the run to Stornoway had to be postponed--sine die.

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