"I walked straight up to him, and he was ashamed, and he said, 'Oh, you saw!' 'Yes, indeed I did,' I said, and I gave him a good fly rod and some flies to use. I don't know why he was using a—eh—a wuhhhhhhhm. He turned out to be a good fly-caster."
After lunch the fishing contingent on the Risle was augmented by the arrival of a Bavarian nobleman, Prince von Quadt, who pulled up in a Mercedes after a 100-mph dash from Germany. "He is a very nice young man," Ritz said of the friendly Bavarian, "and I have only one reservation about him. He fishes like a tournament caster, and he is not interested in a trout unless it rises a mile and a half away." Working earnestly, his rod flailing the heavens, Prince von Quadt took three small trout. But nobody took the prize trout of the day, nor did I believe, at first, that such a trout could exist in the Risle. Ritz and I were walking along the stream when we came upon the prince's chauffeur in a high state of excitement. "There is out there a huge trout," the chauffeur said in German, one of Ritz's many languages. We looked at the pool and saw nothing at first. Then there was a slight swirl of water on the other side as the fin of a big fish came into sight. Plainly, no fish that big—at least two feet long and eight to 10 pounds in heft—could be a trout in these waters. "Pike!" I said, drawing on knowledge gained in the New World.
Ritz said nothing.
Then the big fish made a dash across the river to our side, pushing a conspicuous ridge of water ahead of him. He made a single, tail-slapping swirl and disappeared. Ritz gasped. "That is not a pike!" he said. "That fish is feeding exactly like a big brown trout. He is chasing minnows from one side to the other. A pike would not feed that way." Now the fish rose again, and all we could see were spots.
Ritz called down the river to Vernes's wife, Michou, a formidable, outdoorsy woman who is always followed by a cloud of tiny dogs (she sometimes hooks them in the ear when casting). "Come, Michou!" Ritz called in French. "There is a big cannibal trout up here." Madame Vernes, the same gracious hostess who insisted that even fishermen must wear ties to her luncheons, clomped up in her no-nonsense fishing shoes and her no-nonsense brown stockings and her no-nonsense tweeds and studied the fish carefully. Then she trudged off toward the gamekeeper's house. "Where are you going?" asked Ritz.
"To get the shotgun."
Madame emerged from the house in a few minutes, spraying orders all around. "Stand back there!" she shouted to me in English. "Out of the way!" she snapped at the German chauffeur in French.
The fish surfaced, and Madame fired one barrel. The trout descended a few feet and swam slowly upstream. Madame let go the second barrel, and the fish merely accelerated its departure .until it was out of sight. One suspected that Madame had not allowed for refraction, but one was not going to say so. Madame was disconsolate. "I know that dreadnought very well," she said in a British accent like her husband's. "I had her on two years ago, and she just towed me downstream and broke off. She's been around here for four years. We want to get her out because she's bad for the fishing."
"Do you have a name for her?" I asked.
"If it will please you," said Madame, "we will name her Caroline."