No; your accomplished angler would scorn to tell a lie, that way. His method is a study in itself.
He comes in quietly with his hat on, appropriates the most comfortable chair, lights his pipe, and commences to puff in silence. He lets the youngsters brag away for a while, and then, during a momentary lull, he removes the pipe from his mouth, and remarks, as he knocks the ashes out against the bars:
Well, I had a haul on Tuesday evening that its not much good my telling anybody about.
Oh! whys that? they ask.
Because I dont expect anybody would believe me if I did, replies the old fellow calmly, and without even a tingle of bitterness in his tone, as he refills his pipe, and requests the landlord to bring him three of Scotch, cold.
There is a pause after this, nobody feeling sufficiently sure of himself to contradict the old gentleman. So he has to go on by himself without any encouragement.
No, he continues thoughtfully, I shouldnt believe it myself if anybody told it to me, but its a fact, for all that. I had been sitting there all the afternoon and had caught literally nothingexcept a few dozen dace and a score of jack; and I was just about giving it up as a bad job when I suddenly felt a rather smart pull at the line. I thought it was another little one, and I went to jerk it up. Hang me, if I could move the rod! It took me half an hourhalf an hour, sir!to land that fish; and every moment I thought the line was going to snap! I reached him at last, and what do you think it was? A sturgeon! a forty- pound sturgeon! taken on a line, sir! Yes, you may well look surprisedIll have another three of Scotch, landlord, please.
And then he goes on to tell of the astonishment of everybody who saw it; and what his wife said, when he got home, and of what Joe Buggles thought about it.
I asked the landlord of an inn up the river once, if it did not injure him, sometimes, listening to the tales that the fishermen about there told him; and he said:
Oh, no; not now, sir. It did used to knock me over a bit at first, but, lor love you! me and the missus we listens to em all day now. Its what youre used to, you know. Its what youre used to.
I knew a young man once, he was a most conscientious fellow and, when he took to fly-fishing, he determined never to exaggerate his hauls by more than twenty-five per cent.
When I have caught forty fish, said he, then I will tell people that I have caught fifty, and so on. But I will not lie any more than that, because it is sinful to lie.
But the twenty-five per cent plan did not work well at all. He never was able to use it. The greatest number of fish he ever caught in one day was three, and you cant add twenty-five per cent to threeat least, not in fish.
So he increased his percentage to thirty-three-and-a-third, but that, again, was awkward, when he had only caught one or two; so, to simplify matters, he made up his mind to just double the quantity.
He stuck to this arrangement for a couple of months, and then he grew dissatisfied with it. Nobody believed him when he told them that he only doubled, and he, therefore, gained no credit that way whatever, while his moderation put him at a disadvantage among the other anglers. When he had really caught three small fish, and said he had caught six, it used to make him quite jealous to hear a man, whom he knew for a fact had only caught one, going about telling people he had landed two dozen.
So, eventually he made one final arrangement with himself, which he has religiously held to ever since, and that was to count each fish that he caught as ten, and to assume ten to begin with. For example,
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