The Amiable Angler
From: Good Indian
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,
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
"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
"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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