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VIAT. For breakfast, I never eat any, and for drink am very indifferent; but if you please to call for a glass of ale, I'm for you; and let it be quickly, if you please, for I long to see the little fishinghouse you spoke of, and to be at my lesson.
PISC. Well, sir, you see the ale is come without calling; for though I do not know yours, my people know my diet, which is always one glass so soon as I am drest, and no more till dinner and so my servants have served you.
VIAT. My thanks! And now, if you please, let us look out this fine morning.
PISC. With all my heart. Boy, take the key of my fishinghouse, and carry down those two angle-rods in the hall window, thither, with my fish-pannier, pouch, and landing-net; and stay you there till we come. Come, sir, we'll walk after, where, by the way, I expect you should raise all the exceptions against our country you can.
VIAT. Nay, sir, do not think me so ill-natured, nor so uncivil; I only made a little bold with it last night to divert you, and was only in jest.
PISC. You were then in as good earnest as I am now with you: but had you been really angry at it, I could not blame you : for, to the truth, it is not very taking at first sight. But look you, sir, now you are abroad, does not the sun shine as bright here as in Essex, Middlesex, or Kent, or any of your southern counties? VIAT. 'Tis a delicate morning, indeed; and I now think this a marvellous pretty place.
PISC. Whether you think so or no, you cannot oblige me more than to say so; and those of my friends who know my humour, and and are so kind as to comply with it, usually flatter me that way. But look you, sir, now you are at the brink of the hill, how do you like my river, the vale it winds through like a snake, and the situation of my little fishing-house?
VIAT. Trust me, 'tis all very fine, and the house seems at this distance a neat building.
PISC. Good enough for that purpose; and here is a bowlinggreen too, close by it; so, though I am myself no very good
bowler, I am not totally devoted to my own pleasure; but that I have also some regard to other men's. And now, sir, you are come to the door, pray walk in, and there we will sit and talk as long as you please.
VIAT. Stay, what's here over the door? PISCATORIBUS SACRUM. Why then, I perceive I have some title here; for I am one of them, though one of the worst; and here below it is the cypher too you speak of, and 'tis prettily contrived. Has my master Walton ever been here to see it, for it seems new built?
PISC. Yes, he saw it cut in the stone before it was set up; but never in the posture it now stands; for the house was but building when he was last here, and not raised so high as the arch of the door. And I am afraid he will not see it yet; for he has lately writ me word, he doubts his coming down this summer; which, I do assure you, was the worst news he could possibly have sent me.
VIAT. Men must sometimes mind their affairs to make more room for their pleasures; and 'tis odds he is as much displeased with the business that keeps him from you, as you are that he comes not. But I am most pleased with this little house of any thing I ever saw: it stands in a kind of peninsula too, with a delicate clear river about it. I dare hardly go in, lest I should not like it so well within as without; but, by your leave, I'll try. Why, this is better and better, fine lights, fine wainscoted, and all exceeding neat, with a marble table and all in the middle !
PISC. Enough, sir, enough; I have laid open to you the part where I can worst defend myself, and now you attack me there. Come, boy, set two chairs; and whilst I am taking a pipe of tobacco, which is always my breakfast, we will, if you please, talk of some other subject.
VIAT. None fitter, then, sir, for the time and place, than those instructions you promised.
PISC. I begin to doubt, by something I discover in you, whether I am able to instruct you, or no; though, if you are really a stranger to our clear northern rivers, I still think I can; and therefore, since it is yet too early in the morning at this time of the year, to-day being but the seventh of March, to cast a fly upon the water, if you
will direct me what kind of fishing for a trout I shall read you a lecture on, I am willing and ready to obey you.
VIAT. Why, sir, if you will so far oblige me, and that it may not be too troublesome to you, I would entreat you would run through the whole body of it; and I will not conceal from you that I am so far in love with you, your courtesy, and pretty More-Land seat, as to resolve to stay with you long enough by intervals (for I will not oppress you) to hear all you can say upon that subject.
PISC. You cannot oblige me more than by such a promise; and therefore, without more ceremony, I will begin to tell you, that my father Walton having read to you before, it would look like a presumption in me and, peradventure, would do so in any other man, to pretend to give lessons for angling after him, who, I do really believe, understands as much of it at least as any man in England, did I not preacquaint you, that I am not tempted to it by any vain opinion of myself, that I am able to give you better directions; but having, from my childhood, pursued the recreation of angling in very clear rivers, truly I think by much (some of them at least) the clearest in this kingdom, and the manner of angling here with us, by reason of that exceeding clearness, being something different from the method
commonly used in others, which by being not near so bright, admit of stronger tackle, and allow a nearer approach to the stream; I may peradventure give you some instructions that may be of use, even in your own rivers, and shall bring you acquainted with more flies, and show you how to make them, and with what dubbing too, than he has taken notice of in his Compleat Angler.
VIAT. I beseech you, sir, do; and if you will lend me your steel, I will light a pipe the while; for that is commonly my breakfast in a morning too.