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them we visited it twenty times, nor ever once left it with disappointed hopes of enjoyment. It was the nearest, and therefore most within our power, so that we could gallop to it on shank's naiggie, well on in the afternoon, and enjoy what seemed a long day of delight, swift as flew the hours, before evening-prayers. Yet was it remote enough to make us always feel that our race thither was not for every day—and we seldom returned home without an adventure. It was the largest too by far of the Four—and indeed its area would have held the waters of all the rest. Then there was a charm to our heart as well as our imagination in its name_for tradition assigned it on account of three brothers that perished in its waters—and the same name for the same reason belongs to many another loch—and to one pool on almost
river. But above all it was the Loch for angling, and we long kept to perch. What schools! Not that they were of a very large size—though pretty well—but hundreds all nearly the same size gladdened our hearts as they lay, at the close of our sport, in separate heaps on the greensward-shore, more beautiful out of all sight than your silver or golden fishes in a glass-vase, where one appears to be twenty, and the delusive voracity is all for a single crumb. No bait so killing as cowshairn-mawks, fresh from their native bed, scooped out with the thumb. He must have been a dear friend to whom in a scarcity, by the water-side, when the corks were dipping, we would have given a mawk. Nopike. Therefore the trout were allowed to gain their natural size —and that seemed to be about five pounds—adolescents
not unfrequent swam two or three—and you seldom or never saw the smaller fry. But few were the days “good for the Brother Loch.” Perch rarely failed
Perch rarely failed you, for by perseverance you were sure to fall in with one circumnatatory school or other, and to do murderous work among them with the mawk, from the schoolmaster himself inclusive down to the little booby of the lowest form. Not so with Trout. We have angled ten hours a-day for half a-week (during the vacance), without ever getting a single rise, nor could even that be called bad sport, for we lived in momentary expectation, mingled with fear, of a monster. Better far from sunrise to sunset never to move a fin, than oh! me miserable! to hook a huge hero with shoulders like a hog-play him till he comes floating side up close to the shore, and then to feel the feckless fly leave his lip and begin gamboling in the air, while he wallops away back into his native element, and sinks utterly and for evermore into the dark profound. Life loses at such a moment all that makes life desirable—yet strange! the wretch lives on—and has not the heart to drown himself, as he wrings his hands and curses his lot and the day he was born. But, thank Heaven, that ghastly fit of fancy is gone by, and we imagine one of those dark, scowling, gusty, almost tempestuous days, “ prime for the Brother Loch.” No glare or glitter on the water, no reflection of fleecy clouds, but a black-blue undulating swell, at times turbulent—with now and then a breaking wavethe weather in which the giants fed, showing their backs like dolphins within a fathom of the shore, and sucking
in the red heckle among your very feet. Not an insect in the air, yet then the fly was all the rage. This is a mystery, for you could do nothing witlı the worm. Oh! that we had then known the science of the spinning minnow! But we were then but an apprentice—who are now Emeritus Grand Master. Yet at this distance of time half a century and more—it is impious to repine. Gut was not always to be got; and on such days a threehaired snood did the business—for they were bold as lions, and rashly rushed on death. The gleam of the yellow-worsted body with star-y-pointed tail maddened them with desire—no dallying with the gay deceiver they licked him in—they gorged him—and while satiating their passion got involved in inextricable fate. You have seen a single strong horse ploughing up hill. How he sets his brisket to it—and snuves along—as the furrows fall in beautiful regularity from the gliding share. So snuved along the Monarch of the Mere-or the heir-apparent-or heir-presumptive—or some other branch of the royal family—while our line kept steadily cutting the waves, and our rod enclosing some new segment of the sky.
But many another pastime we pursued upon those pastoral hills, for even angling has its due measure, and unless that be preserved, the passion wastes itself into lassitude, or waxes into disease.
“I would not angle alway,” thinks the wise boy—“off to some other game we altogether flew.” Never were there such hills for hare and hounds. There couched many a pussey-and there Bob Howie's famous Tickler- the Grew of all
Grews—first stained his flues in the blood of the Fur. But there is no coursing between April and Octoberand during the intervening months we used to have many a hunt on foot, without dogs, after the leverets. We all belonged to the High School indeed, and here was its playground. Cricket we had then never heard of; but there was ample room and verge enough for football. Our prime delight, however, was the chase. We were all in perpetual training, and in such wind that there were no bellows to mend after a flight of miles. We circled the Lochs. Plashing through the marishes we strained winding up the hillsides, till on the cairn called a beacon that crowned the loftiest summit of the range, we stood and waved defiance to our pursuers scattered wide and far below, for 'twas a Deer Hunt. Then we became cavaliers. We caught the long-maned and long-tailed colts, and mounting bare-backed, with rush helmets and segg sabres charged the nowte till the stirks were scattered, and the lowing lord of herds himself taken captive, as he stood pawing in a nook with his nose to the ground and eyes of fire. That was the riding-school in which we learned to witch the world with noble horsemanship. We thus got confirmed in that fine, easy, unconstrained, natural seat, which we carried with us into the saddle when we were required to handle the bridle instead of the mane. 'Tis right to hold on by the knees, but equally so to hold on by the calves of the legs and the heels. The modern system of turning out the toes, and sticking out the legs as if they were cork or timber, is at once dangerous and ridiculous; hence
in our cavalry the men get unhorsed in every charge. On pony-back we used to make the soles of our feet smack together below the belly, for quadruped and biped were both unshod, and hoof needed no iron on that stoneless sward. But the biggest fun of all was to “ grup the auld mare,” and ride her sextuple, the tallest boy sitting on the neck, and the shortest on the rump with his face to the tail, and holding on by that fundamental feature by which the urchin tooled her along as by a tiller. How the silly foal whinnied, as with lightgathered steps he accompanied in circles his populous parent, and seemed almost to doubt her identity, till one by one we slipped off over her hurdies, and let him take a suck! But what comet is yon in the sky—“ with fear of change perplexing mallards ?” A Flying Dragon. Of many degrees is his tail, with a tuft like that of Taurus terrified by the sudden entrance of the Sun into his sign. Up goes Sandy Donald's rusty and rimless beaver as a messenger to the Celestial. He obeys, and stooping his head, descends with many diverse divings, and buries his beak in the earth. The feathered kite quails and is cowed by him of paper, and there is a scampering of cattle on a hundred hills.
The Brother Loch saw annually another sight, when on the Green-Brae was pitched a Tent—a snow-white Pyramid, gathering to itself all the sunshine. There lords and ladies, and knights and squires, celebrated Old May-day, and half the parish flocked to the Festival. The Earl of Eglintoun, and Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, and old Sir John of Polloc, and Pollock of that Ilk,