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A Norwegian Honeymoon Henry van Dyke

Section III.

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Here is the bridge over the Naeselv at Fagernaes. Just below it is a good pool for trout, but the river is broad and deep and swift. It is difficult wading to get out within reach of the fish. I have taken half a dozen small ones and come to the end of my cast. There is a big one lying out in the middle of the river, I am sure. But the water already rises to my hips; another step will bring it over the top of my waders, and send me downstream feet uppermost.

"Take care!" cries Graygown from the grassy bank, where she sits placidly crocheting some mysterious fabric of white yarn.

She does not see the large rock lying at the bottom of the river just beyond me. If I can step on that, and stand there without being swept away, I can reach the mid-current with my flies. It is a long stride and a slippery foothold, but by good luck "the last step which costs" is accomplished. The tiny black and orange hackle goes curling out over the stream, lights softly, and swings around with the current, folding and expanding its feathers as if it were alive. The big trout takes it promptly the instant it passes over him; and I play him and net him without moving from my perilous perch.

Graygown waves her crochet-work like a flag, "Bravo!" she cries. "That's a beauty, nearly two pounds! But do be careful about coming back; you are not good enough to take any risks yet."

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The station at Skogstad is a solitary farmhouse lying far up on the bare hillside, with its barns and out-buildings grouped around a central courtyard, like a rude fortress. The river travels along the valley below, now wrestling its way through a narrow passage among the rocks, now spreading out at leisure in a green meadow. As we cross the bridge, the crystal water is changed to opal by the sunset glow, and a gentle breeze ruffles the long pools, and the trout are rising freely. It is the perfect hour for fishing. Would Graygown dare to drive on alone to the gate of the fortress, and blow upon the long horn which doubtless hangs beside it, and demand admittance and a lodging, "in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,"--while I angle down the river a mile or so?

Certainly she would. What door is there in Europe at which the American girl is afraid to knock? "But wait a moment. How do you ask for fried chicken and pancakes in Norwegian? KYLLING OG PANDEKAGE? How fierce it sounds! All right now. Run along and fish."

The river welcomes me like an old friend. The tune that it sings is the same that the flowing water repeats all around the world. Not otherwise do the lively rapids carry the familiar air, and the larger falls drone out a burly bass, along the west branch of the Penobscot, or down the valley of the Bouquet. But here there are no forests to conceal the course of the stream. It lies as free to the view as a child's thought. As I follow on from pool to pool, picking out a good trout here and there, now from a rocky corner edged with foam, now from a swift gravelly run, now from a snug hiding-place that the current has hollowed out beneath the bank, all the way I can see the fortress far above me on the hillside.

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Fisherman's Luck
Henry van Dyke

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