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Lo all! Well, I been away fer awhile . . . in case nobody noticed. There ain’t much to write about in Markshire no more, but I know some o’ the boys I’ve met in Foothold over the past few months has a hobby o’ huntin’ and fishin’ in their spare time, so I thought I’d writ a little ‘bout where I been, and what I done while I wuz away.

I spent the summer back in my old village far south o’ Markshire where a bunch o’ my friends and me rented a tiny beach cottage on the shore o’ a vast ocean! My brothers was there too, ‘cause they likes to fish and they brought their fishin’ poles and bait and all the stuff they was needin’ fer fishin’ along with them.

For awhile, they was even givin’ me lessons ‘bout how to cast. They had an extra fishin’ pole and a gizmo with buttons and knobs stickin’ out all over it called a reel, what they let me use, but they ain’t had no extra pair o’ boots what come up to your chest and have straps you buckle over your shoulders, so I done most o’ my fishin’ in my bathing’ suit. Well, most times I was at least knee deep in the water anyways, you know?

After awhile they kinda left me on my own, thinkin’ eventually, I’d figure things out by myself. Well I’ll tell ya! It ain’t so easy holdin’ a nine foot pole over yer shoulder what’s got a huge live eel danglin’ off the tip o’ it! ! The poor thing’s fastened onto a big hook what’s tied to a string and it’s squigglin’ and jigglin’ every which way, even tyin’ itself into knots, doin’ its best to work its way off cause it ain’t enjoyin’ the pickle it finds itself in at all!

Well . . . you wouldn’t like it either if someone stuck a huge hook up under your chin and kept pushin’ and twistin’ till finally the sharp end popped out a little bit above your nose! Eeeee! I’ll tell ya! There ain’t no way I’ll even touch one ‘o those squirmy, slimy things, never mind havin’ to pick it up and try to stick a hook into it! Uh uh! I’m sorry but someone else gotta do that part for me.

Anyways, now you have to try to fling that eel as far as ya possibly can, by whippin’ the pole fast over your shoulder with all your strength, aimin’ for a spot ‘bout a mile out into the deep! Well, that’s where all the really big fish is right?

All the while, yer strugglin’ to keep a good balance while yer feet is sinkin’ deeper and deeper into the wet sand below you and yer bein’ pummeled by a roilin’ surf what’s tuggin’ away at your bathin’ suit, and it’s a two piece suit, and your worried ‘bout that cause you got both hands on the pole, and you ain’t able to make no adjustments, you know?

And the tide is also doin’ its best to suck ya out into water what you know is gonna be way above yer head! And god help you if ya loose what little balance ya have, ‘cause for sure you’ll soon be swimmin’ ‘round out there with the very fish you’re tryin’ ta catch! Oh geez! The things men dreams up to amuse themselves! And then they calls it a sport!

Well, I ain’t gonna let no man beat me at nothin’ and practice makes perfect, so I kept at it. I found out there’s only two things what’s really important when I’m tryin’ to heave an eel what’s danglin’ off a huge stick, far out out into the ocean. My back, which after a short time was hurtin’ me like hel, and my index finger, what you use to curl around a string that’s wound up tight ‘round a spool on the reel.

To those o’ you men what might be interested, but didn’t know, your index finger’s usually the one what grows right next to yer thumb but I ain’t too sure ‘bout it havin’ to be there exactly. I suppose it could grow outta some other spot mayhap. Most folks has two o’ ‘em, one on each hand. I ain’t never seen no one with more than two index fingers.

Anyways, I had to time it perfect, swingin’ that stick as hard as I could over my shoulder and unbendin’ my index finger allowin’ the string fly off the reel at the right moment or really dreadful things would happen.

If I let go o’ the string a bit too soon, the eel would travel straight up ‘bout elevendy three feet, into the air above me, and I wouldn’t be knowin’ where the hel it went, mayhap even thinkin’ I’d made a nice cast, and lookin’ ‘round fer the splash o’ it! Finally it would come down, smackin’ me hard on the head, with the eel drapin’ itself around my neck all wet and wiggly! Oh geez!

More than once, my timing would be really bad and that damn eel would go flyin’ backward, scatterin’ anyone who happened to be standin’ behind me! Yup! Folks would gather there every day, watchin’, laughin’ even sometimes cheerin’ if I managed once in awhile, to flip the damn eel into the water! They was actually enjoyin’ my trib . . . tribula . . . uh, difficulties! I think some o’ them might even have been takin’ bets ’bout how long it was gonna take before somethin’ I was wearin’ came off and started floatin’ away!

I ain’t cared none ‘bout them anyways. I enjoyed makin’ them run like hel away from that eel shootin’ back at them as much as they enjoyed pokin’ fun at me. So I guess we was about even on that score!

Sometimes I’d do everything perfect ‘for sure, ‘cept the damn reel would break or somethin’, and the string wouldn’t unwind proper. Somehow it’d get all tangled up in itself and make an awful mess! That happened so many times I can’t think o’ a number for it.

I guess I spent most o’ my time sittin’ there in the sand, tryin’ to unravel everything. I ain’t minded too much though, ‘cause with me sittin’ and not castin’ I wasn’t much o’ a show no more, and most o’ the crowd what was gathered ‘round would fade away. Driftin’ off to look fer someone else to torment, I guess.

It seemd like forever, but after a few days o’ practice, and a whole bunch o’ dead eels, I finally got the rhythm o’ it, and after heavin’ that eel out into the water a good distance, I caught my first fish!

Oh, the crowd behind me was cheering, clappin’ and even whistlin’ for me! It was a big one too! At least three or four pounds! A blue fish, my brother called it ‘cept it aint looked blue to me. He took a pliers outta his bag, got a firm grip on the hook and wiggled it out of its mouth for me. Then he held it up and asked me if I was gonna use it for bait!

The crowd standin’ behind us was silent for a moment, mayhap waitin’ to see how I was gonna respond to that bit o’ nastiness and than they started roarin’ with laughter! Well, sometimes brothers will say a thing just to get ya riled up, you know?

I ain’t said nothin’ back to him, but I was burnin’ inside and it made me even more determined to catch that coveted prize, a striped bass, sometimes weighin’ thirty or forty pounds what the men was always hopin’ they’d hook onto. It was only a day or two after suffering that embarrassing moment on the beach, I finally got my chance to do that! Well . . . kind of, you know?

But my mouth is dry now and I ain’t able to squeeze out one more drop o’ ink. You’ll just have to wait till I can spit out some more.