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The Three Fishermen <4>

Brother must have passed through the years in a hurry, remembering his father bringing him here as a boy. "A ways back," Brother said in his clipped North Saugus fashion, outlander, specific, no waste in his words. Old Oren Bentley, it had been told us, had walked five miles through the unknown woods off Route 16 as a boy and had come across the campsite, the remnants of an old lodge1, and a great curve in the Pine River so that a mile's walk in either direction gave you three miles of stream to fish, upstream or downstream. Paradise up north.

 

His Venerable Self nodded again, a man of signals, then said, "Knowed him way back some. Met him at the Iron Bridge. We passed a few times." Instantly we could see the story. A whole history of encounter was in his words; it marched right through us the way knowledge does, as well as legend. He pointed2 at the coffeepot. "The boys'll be off, but my days down there get cut up some. I'll sit a while and take some of thet." He said thet too pronounced, too dramatic, and it was a short time before I knew why.

 

The white wicker rocker went into a slow and deliberate motion, his head nodded again. He spoke3 to his sons. "You boys be back no more'n two-three hours so these fellers can do their things too, and keep the place tidied up."

 

The most orderly son said, "Sure, pa. Two-three hours." The two elderly sons left the campsite and walked down the path to the banks of the Pine River, their boots swishing at thigh4 line, the most elegant rods pointing the way through scattered5 limbs, experience on the move. Trout6 beware, we thought.

 

"We been carpenters f'ever," he said, the clip still in his words. "Those boys a mine been some good at it too." His head cocked, he seemed to listen for their departure, the leaves and branches quiet, the murmur7 of the stream a tinkling8 idyllic9 music rising up the banking10. Old Venerable Himself moved the wicker rocker forward and back, a small timing11 taking place. He was hearing things we had not heard yet, the whole symphony all around us. Eddie looked at me and nodded his own nod. It said, "I'm paying attention and I know you are. This is our one encounter with a man who has fished for years the river we love, that we come to twice a year, in May with the mayflies, in June with the black flies." The gift and the scourge12, we'd often remember, having been both scarred and sewn by it.


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