"Never mind your coffee. Look at the time. We have to get down to the boat." Eppridge is not much of a breakfast person.
"I say—what about my eggs?" complained Kingsley. "The boy needs his nourishment to fight marlin. How long does it take to fry two eggs?"
"Frying them is easy," Kirk said. "It's getting them cold that takes time."
Eventually the eggs arrived, delivered by the busboy. The waitress had quit. As Kingsley prepared to pepper them, Bill dropped his watch onto one of the yolks, which was cooked enough to easily survive the blow intact. "Seventy-one degrees. Bom apetite"
The ocean was 68°. At least that's what it was in the harbor. When we asked Eppridge to take a reading on the open sea, he tied a line to his watchband, attached a sinker and flung it over the stern. He never saw the accursed contraption again. The boat was at full speed, and the water pressure snapped his watchband in about two seconds.
Sixty-eight. Didn't sound too bad to a trout fisherman—a little warm, actually—but for marlin it was positively Arctic. "What do you fish for when the marlin have gone?" I asked Hornsby, who was again captaining for Arménio.
He squinted at the sea. "I guess you fish for the marlin that have gone."
So we did. We had little hope. We ranged farther from shore than we had on any other day, but saw nothing. The sea might as well have been dead. Finally, in the afternoon, we happened on a giant school of porpoises. They were "balling" a school of sardines, herding it together so they might feed on the little fish more efficiently. All the while the porpoises leapt playfully along beside us, diving under our bow, chattering excitedly. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. We were so happy to see marine life around us that we stayed with the school for an hour, abandoning our search for marlin. Then, when the light was fading, we headed back to port, following a route that took us past the airport.
Which was when Kingsley's stinger line snapped, and the next thing I knew I was falling down the damn ladder. At first I just lay there, waiting for someone to see me and laugh. But something had changed. Something was seriously different. And then I saw it too—Oh Magnífica—and, my god, what a fish! I had never expected to see a fish that large. It was unsettling. And to imagine it bucking and thrashing at the side of the boat, its great spear sticking through the hull. Arménio whaling away at it for his life with a hatchet—well, I couldn't imagine it. Not now that I'd seen the fish. "It's her. It's truly her," Kingsley said—even Kingsley—in awe.
Hornsby turned the boat around. Kingsley reeled in, put on a new lure, a Konahead of a different color, and reset his stinger line. Less than a minute after the marlin had disappeared, we trolled back over the same spot. Nothing.