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tains had completely effaced the recollection of my solid breakfast. I therefore ordered a mutton-chop, and went to the shore to examine my craft. I had already bespoken the services of old Sandy McKenzie, "wha kens whar the big fish lie as weel as ony man on Loch Ow side." Sandy, being appointed skipper, begged to be allowed to choose his own crew, which consisted of a stout, good-natured" callant " of about sixteen, yclept "Johnny,"-occasionally "Jock," when Sandy was in a patronizing mood. Sandy was once a strong bony man, and piqued himself upon being one of the best wrestlers in the country. Now his eye is dim and filmy, much the colour of a boiled onion, and his athletic arm is paralytic and weak as a child's. I might have had far abler men at the oar, and as knowing about the haunts of the fish; but whenever I troll Loch Awe, none but that poor, ragged, woe-begone old man shall command my boat so long as he is able to do it.
Having satisfied myself that the "cobbles" were not more leaky than they generally are, I returned to the inn. Monzie's keeper had been there to see my eagle, so I asked his leave to shoot a couple of ring dotterels which were tippeting on a green bank close to the boats. This he at once civilly agreed to. All was now ready for the evening fishing. Johnny carried my trolling-rods; Sandy a "cogue-fu'" of live bait, and a little basket of provisions; and I my duck-gun loaded with No. 6 for the dotterels. Poor little fellows! They looked so pretty that it was a shame to fire at them. But as I had no specimen in my collection, I could not resist the temptation of stringing both at a shot. One lay, but the other being only wing-broken, ran into the water with so light and graceful a step, it seemed as if walking on glass.
The rods were soon baited, the evening was perfect for fishing, and the feroxes took well. We came over no large ones, however, and the three brought into the boat were only four, three, and two and a half pounds. We had intended to troll to the bay of old Castle Connal, eight miles down the loch, built, as Sandy says, by the Danes, but were obliged to defer it till next day. The bay which this castle commands is a famous resort of the largest size of the ferox. When we fish it, Sandy always tells a story of one of the Lochiels, who had been taken captive by a hostile clan, and confined there. His jailor had an annuity during his lifetime. The Camerons, however, found out where he was concealed, and came down in a body. As soon as the wretch saw them, he stabbed him with his penknife, having no other weapon at hand, expecting a reward for his atrocity, which, no doubt, he received.
Night overtook us before we could gain the harbour of Cladich, alias the burn foot, which is the only safe anchorage in case of a storm. And, indeed, it is very difficult to bring up a boat anywhere else, the coast being so shallow. The entrance to this burn is so intricate, that a man rowing in and out every day may be completely puzzled after dark. 'Johnny," by some hieroglyphic shadowy marks of the trees upon the water, known only to himself, at last piloted us safely through, and was "Jock, my man till we got to the inn.
The old dun eight-day clock had just "chapped" seven, when my gallant crew cleared out of harbour, and, with my rods, bait, provisions, and pea-jacket, were making for Port Sonachan Quay, where I had directed them to meet me. The morning was colder, the wind had changed
from west to east, "a bad airt" for the fish. There were certain appearances also in the sky, which foreboded squally weather. The best of the fishing-ground is below Port Sonachan, so I did not wish to waste time on such an unpropitious day, until we got there. I sauntered dreamily along, admiring the views as they unfolded themselves, and had sat for some time on Port Sonachan shore, listening to a chorus of cuckoos, before the measured. stroke of Sandy and Johnny appeared at some distance, slowly propelling their clumsy boat. I question if I gained much time by my manœuvre, though Sandy appeared quite satisfied with the rate of their progress. I was soon seated in the stern, with lovely baits towing behind. "No a rug," as Sandy repeatedly said; but he endeavoured, poor fellow, to keep up our spirits by telling a tale of every wood, hill, or rock we crept slowly past. "There's the badger's rock, sir; he has never left it for the last fifty year." The grey hermit of the rock called me back to my boyish days. The brock-holes" in the oak wood-the traps my brothers and I had purloined from the old keeper, who preferred killing vermin by the lazy method of the gun-my delight when I detected the first poor captured badger-all rose fresh before me, as in those sunny mornings of life's early spring. My brothers and I had been brought up in the country, and were hunters from our childhood. Our couple of terriers were game as flint, and yet they were never able to draw a badger from his natural fastness. I have heard them hold one to bay for hours, in the inmost recesses of his earth. On one occasion, when a favourite terrier had teazed the poor animal for a long time, it slily followed, and when the dog was within a yard of the hole's en
trance, bit his hind leg to the bone. This harassing the rear of a retreating enemy, showed tactics on the part of the old grey friar that we could scarcely have expected. I once brought home a half-grown cub, which had wandered from the hole, rolling it up in my jacket. (What will not boys do?) It soon became so tame, as to eat beetles and humble-bees from our hands, and would lap up porridge and milk like a dog. I well recollectfor it was a job that cost us no small trouble-digging out an old she one. To the last she kept the dogs at bay, and even when we heard the growl within a couple of yards, they were unable to dislodge her. Whenever we struck into the wide cell, they dashed in upon her, and inflicted such injury that she soon died. There were two cubs, about a week old, which made a low chirping squeak. The cell where they were was round, hard, and dry, about two feet in height, by four or five yards in circumference. There was no food in it. Many a badger we trapped, and I verily believe were as proud of the brock-holes, as an Indian chief of his finest hunting-ground. Those that we trapped soon learned to take part of the dogs' supper. We never saw them eat grass or hay, and should as soon have thought of giving such food to a dog, as insulting them with it. What they call "badger's hay-making" is neither more nor less than the routing up the moss, which they are obliged to do to get at beetles, grubs, &c., among its roots. This dries, and the badger brings home a little for its winter bed. We used to notice as much of this hay made as would suffice for a good-sized stack, and more than would fill up every badger's hole in the country. I need scarcely say that what they carried was never missed.
My reveries were now broken by Sandy pointing out the nest of the "salmon-tailed gled," and there are the owners wheeling their graceful circles. Two roes were also looking at us from the shore, and another a little further on. They seemed not the least afraid, as we pulled slowly past. I was admiring the beautiful hanging wood, in which the kite's nest held a prominent place near the top of one of the finest old oaks, when a pull, that bent my rod's top to the water, and spun round my large wooden pirn, brought me to my legs at a spring. To seize the rod and place the butt above my knee, with a good bend at the top, was the work of an instant. Sandy was also active; he gave both oars to Johnny, and began, with his shaky hands, to wind up the other rod out of the way, in case of a collision. I had told him always to do so when I hooked a trout. At this moment the gorgeous fish sprang a yard out of the water, coming down with a splash that made the rocks echo. Sandy, at no time very expert, became quite nervous at sight of the monster, and bungled his work sadly. I gave him a push out of my way, and in so doing, knocked off his tattered hat into the water at the bottom of the cobble. He only smiled, without a vestige of anger. I saw his thin grey hair, and am happy to recollect that at that exciting moment, ashamed of my impatience, I picked up his hat with my left hand, and placed it on his head, poor Sandy all the time begging me never to heed it." Sandy's whole heart was in the capture of the fish. His rod was by this time wound up, he was again at the oar, and I had fair play. The ferox bored like a harpooned whale; sometimes he would change his course and go down to the bottom, taking forty