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Little Rivers Henry van Dyke

VI. The Ristigouche from a Horse-Yacht

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At the mouth of the Upsalquitch we passed the first of the fishing-lodges. It belongs to a sage angler from Albany who saw the beauty of the situation, years ago, and built a habitation to match it. Since that time a number of gentlemen have bought land fronting on good pools, and put up little cottages of a less classical style than Charles Cotton's "Fisherman's Retreat" on the banks of the river Dove, but better suited to this wild scenery, and more convenient to live in. The prevailing pattern is a very simple one; it consists of a broad piazza with a small house in the middle of it. The house bears about the same proportion to the piazza that the crown of a Gainsborough hat does to the brim. And the cost of the edifice is to the cost of the land as the first price of a share in a bankrupt railway is to the assessments which follow the reorganisation. All the best points have been sold, and real estate on the Ristigouche has been bid up to an absurd figure. In fact, the river is over-populated and probably over-fished. But we could hardly find it in our hearts to regret this, for it made the upward trip a very sociable one. At every lodge that was open, Favonius (who knows everybody) had a friend, and we must slip ashore in a canoe to leave the mail and refresh the inner man.

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An angler, like an Arab, regards hospitality as a religious duty. There seems to be something in the craft which inclines the heart to kindness and good-fellowship. Few anglers have I seen who were not pleasant to meet, and ready to do a good turn to a fellow-fisherman with the gift of a killing fly or the loan of a rod. Not their own particular and well-proved favourite, of course, for that is a treasure which no decent man would borrow; but with that exception the best in their store is at the service of an accredited brother. One of the Ristigouche proprietors I remember, whose name bespoke him a descendant of Caledonia's patron saint. He was fishing in front of his own door when we came up, with our splashing horses, through the pool; but nothing would do but he must up anchor and have us away with him into the house to taste his good cheer. And there were his daughters with their books and needlework, and the photographs which they had taken pinned up on the wooden walls, among Japanese fans and bits of bright-coloured stuff in which the soul of woman delights, and, in a passive, silent way, the soul of man also. Then, after we had discussed the year's fishing, and the mysteries of the camera, and the deep question of what makes some negatives too thin and others too thick, we must go out to see the big salmon which one of the ladies had caught a few days before, and the large trout swimming about in their cold spring. It seemed to me, as we went on our way, that there could hardly be a more wholesome and pleasant summer-life for well-bred young women than this, or two amusements more innocent and sensible than photography and fly-fishing.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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