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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGood Indian - Chapter 8. The Amiable Angler
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Good Indian - Chapter 8. The Amiable Angler Post by :Paris Category :Long Stories Author :B. M. Bower Date :May 2012 Read :2915

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Good Indian - Chapter 8. The Amiable Angler

CHAPTER VIII. THE AMIABLE ANGLER

Baumberger--Johannes was the name he answered to when any of his family called, though to the rest of the world he was simply Baumberger--was what he himself called a true sport. Women, he maintained, were very much like trout; and so, when this particular woman calmly turned her back upon the smile cast at her, he did not linger there angling uselessly, but betook himself to the store, where his worldly position, rather than his charming personality, might be counted upon to bring him his meed of appreciation.

Good Indian and Jack, sitting side by side upon the porch and saying very little, he passed by with a careless nod, as being not worth his attention. Saunders, glancing up from the absorbing last chapter of "The Brokenhearted Bride," also received a nod, and returned it apathetically. Pete Hamilton, however, got a flabby handshake, a wheezy laugh, and the announcement that he was down from Shoshone for a good, gamy tussle with that four-pounder he had lost last time.

"And I don't go back till I get him--not if I stay here a week," he declared, with jocular savagery. "Took half my leader and my pet fly--I got him with a peacock-bodied gray hackle that I revised to suit my own notions--and, by the great immortal Jehosaphat, he looked like a whale when he jumped up clear of the riffle, turned over, and--" His flabby, white hand made a soaring movement to indicate the manner in which the four-pounder had vanished.

"Better take a day off and go with me, Pete," he suggested, getting an unwieldy-looking pipe from the pocket of his canvas fishing-coat, and opening his eyes at a trout-fly snagged in the mouthpiece. "Now, how did that fly come there?" he asked aggrievedly, while he released it daintily for all his fingers looked so fat and awkward. He stuck the pipe in the corner of his mouth, and held up the fly with that interest which seems fatuous to one who has no sporting blood in his veins.

"Last time I used that fly was when I was down here three weeks ago--the day I lost the big one. Ain't it a beauty, eh? Tied it myself. And, by the great immortal Jehosaphat, it fetches me the rainbows, too. Good mind to try it on the big one. Don't see how I didn't miss it out of my book--I must be getting absent-minded. Sign of old age, that. Failing powers and the like." He shook his head reprovingly and grinned, as if he considered the idea something of a joke. "Have to buck up--a lawyer can't afford to grow absent-minded. He's liable to wake up some day and find himself without his practice."

He got his fly-book from the basket swinging at his left hip, opened it, turned the leaves with the caressing touch one gives to a cherished thing, and very carefully placed the fly upon the page where it belonged; gazed gloatingly down at the tiny, tufted hooks, with their frail-looking five inches of gut leader, and then returned the book fondly to the basket.

"Think I'll go on down to the Harts'," he said, "so as to be that much closer to the stream. Daylight is going to find me whipping the riffles, Peter. You won't come along? You better. Plenty of--ah--snake medicine," he hinted, chuckling so that the whole, deep chest of him vibrated. "No? Well, you can let me have a horse, I suppose--that cow-backed sorrel will do--he's gentle, I know. I think I'll go out and beg an invitation from that Hart boy--never can remember those kids by name--Gene, is it, or Jack?"

He went out upon the porch, laid a hand upon Jack's shoulder, and beamed down upon him with what would have passed easily for real affection while he announced that he was going to beg supper and a bed at the ranch, and wanted to know, as a solicitous after-thought, if Jack's mother had company, or anything that would make his presence a burden.

"Nobody's there--and, if there was, it wouldn't matter," Jack assured him carelessly. "Go on down, if you want to. It'll be all right with mother."

"One thing I like about fishing down here," chuckled Baumberger, his fat fingers still resting lightly upon Jack's shoulder, "is the pleasure of eating my fish at your house. There ain't another man, woman, or child in all Idaho can fry trout like your mother. You needn't tell her I said so--but it's a fact, just the same. She sure is a genius with the frying-pan, my boy."

He turned and called in to Pete, to know if he might have the sorrel saddled right away. Since Pete looked upon Baumberger with something of the awed admiration which he would bestow upon the President, he felt convinced that his horses were to be congratulated that any one of them found favor in his eyes.

Pete, therefore, came as near to roaring at Saunders as his good nature and his laziness would permit, and waited in the doorway until Saunders had, with visible reluctance, laid down his book and started toward the stable.

"Needn't bother to bring the horse down here, my man," Baumberger called after him. "I'll get him at the stable and start from there. Well, wish me luck, Pete--and say! I'll expect you to make a day of it with me Sunday. No excuses, now. I'm going to stay over that long, anyhow. Promised myself three good days--maybe more. A man's got to break away from his work once in a while. If I didn't, life wouldn't be worth living. I'm willing to grind--but I've got to have my playtime, too. Say, I want you to try this rod of mine Sunday. You'll want one like it yourself, if I'm any good at guessing. Just got it, you know--it's the one I was talking to yuh about last time I was down.

"W-ell--I reckon my means of conveyance is ready for me--so long, Peter, till Sunday. See you at supper, boys."

He hooked a thumb under the shoulder-strap of his basket, pulled it to a more comfortable position, waved his hand in a farewell, which included every living thing within sight of him, and went away up the narrow, winding trail through the sagebrush to the stable, humming something under his breath with the same impulse of satisfaction with life which sets a cat purring.

Some time later, he appeared, in the same jovial mood, at the Hart ranch, and found there the welcome which he had counted upon--the welcome which all men received there upon demand.

When Evadna and Jack rode up, they found Mr. Baumberger taking his ease in Peaceful's armchair on the porch, discussing, with animated gravity, the ins and outs of county politics; his fishing-basket lying on its flat side close to his chair, his rod leaning against the house at his elbow, his heavy pipe dragging down one corner of his loose-lipped mouth; his whole gross person surrounded by an atmosphere of prosperity leading the simple life transiently and by choice, and of lazy enjoyment in his own physical and mental well-being.

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