Leviathan has taken the bait; Cotton Mather has struck; the hook is well fastened in the roof of the fish's mouth and the sport begins. Willibert leaps to his feet and moves towards the end of the point. Cotton Mather, feeling the heavy strain on his line, wades out towards the deeper part of the pool.
There is a flash of purple and gold in the water, a great splash on the surface, Leviathan has risen; Willibert has struck him; the royal coachman is fast in his upper lip. At the same instant the fisherman at the lower end of the pool feels a tightening of his line. He gives it a quick twitch with his right hand, and prepares to pull in with his left.
It is primitive, violent, barbaric, and so simple that any unskilled village lad can do it as well as you can." "I think not," said Cotton Mather, now on the defensive, "just let the village-lad try it. Why, the beauty of real bait-fishing is that it requires more skill than any other kind of angling. "Ah, there you are," cried Willibert, "that's the charm of fly-fishing!
There are ten thousand men who love fishing and know about fishing, to one who writes about it. The proof of the angler is the full basket." At this Willibert looked disgusted. "You mistake quantity for quality. It's better to take one fish prettily and fairly than to fill your basket in an inferior way. Would you catch trout with a net?" Cotton Mather admitted that he would not.
It is the form of Willibert Beauchamp Jones, B.D. He has assumed this attitude of devotion in order that Leviathan may not see him from afar; but it also serves unconsciously to hide him from the fisherman at the foot of the pool. Willibert is casting the fly very beautifully, very delicately, very accurately, across the mouth of the spring-brook towards the upper end of the rock.
The air changed with the arrival of the new rector, the Rev. Willibert Beauchamp Jones, B.D., from the Divinity School of St. Jerome at Oshkosh. He was a bachelor, not only of divinity but also in the social sense; a plump young man of eight and twenty summers, with an English accent, a low-crowned black felt hat, blue eyes, a cherubic smile, and very high views on liturgics.
"But surely, my dear fellow," replied Willibert, "there is one best way, and that must be the proper way on which all should unite." "I don't admit that," said the other, "variety counts for something. Besides, it is up to you to prove that fly-fishing is the best way." "Well," answered Willibert, "I fancy that would be easy enough. All the authorities are on my side.
You take a long pool, late in the season; water low and clear; fish lying in the middle; you can't get near them. You go to the head of the pool in the rapids and stir up the bottom so as to discolour the water a little " "Deceptive," interrupted Willibert, "and decidedly immoral!" "Only a little," continued Cotton Mather, "a very little!
Don't you think that fly-fishing is something of a piscatorial immorality?" "Not in the least," answered Willibert, warming to his work, "it is a legitimate appeal, not to the trout's lower instinct, his mere physical hunger, but to his curiosity, his sense of beauty, his desire for knowledge.
The vestry persuaded the Reverend Willibert that the time was not yet ripe for candles; and the board of deacons induced the Reverend Cotton Mather to substitute a course of lectures on the Women of the Bible for the stereopticon exhibitions. Hostilities gently frothed themselves away and subsided.