quivering with rage. This unspeakable Englishwoman had been anchored very close
in all day in shallow water. She had spent the whole time catching tiny
pollack, a foot long and less; to fill that sack she couldn't have wasted a
minute. The enormity of it was overwhelming. Only a woman would have thought of
deliberately bothering with those little things.
There was a
general return to the bar. No woman, not even a redheaded Englishwoman, would
dare venture into the public bar of a hotel on Orkney. The rage was beginning
to die out, and cooler heads were applying themselves to the situation.
"Well, jolly good luck to the girl, that's what I say," said Mike
expansively. "Lots of jolly good women anglers fish at Malindi!" The
red-faced men looked at him as if he had been caught robbing the poor box in
St. Olaf's Church.
get back to the Standing Stones," I said uneasily. "We'll fish again
tomorrow." Back there, moreover, there was a little detail to settle.
Faithfully the manageress had promised us that as soon as there was a vacancy
the two of us could move out of the front line, as represented by Rooms 5 and
6. And at least six guests, we knew, were due to leave that day. But when we
caught up with her, she was extremely sorry, but the situation was unchanged.
None of the people had left because they couldn't. The airfield at Grimsetter
had been closed all day. Nobody got out or came in. The passenger boat to
Aberdeen ran only once a week—and it had left at 5:30 that morning.
she mean 'closed'?" Mike said to me. The concept of fog affecting the
schedules of passenger aircraft was foreign to one who flew mostly on East
African Airways. "They can't see the end of the runway," I told him,
"so they can't land." Even then the full terror of the situation did
not strike him. "We're both confirmed for Thursday, though," he said,
"so that's all right." He thought that the only danger would, be a
backlog of passenger reservations. I had to give it to him straight.
"Sometimes," I said, "the fog hangs about for several days at a
time." I might have said weeks, but I am not a sadist, and I didn't want to
think about it all that closely myself.
means...," he said.
sentence to Rooms 5 and 6. The long watches of the night interspersed by
skate-fishing trips on board the Delightful. I shook the thought away. "The
sun could be shining tomorrow. For the festival," I said.
It didn't shine,
though. The streetlights were still on at 10 a.m. in Stromness next day, and
there was a lot of discussion over whether the boats should go out, with
visibility down to about 400 yards.
I think it was
the bitter thought of the Englishwoman walking off with the silver cup if the
day's fishing was canceled that finally decided the committee. It was boats
away at 10:30, and Hamish made his policy clear very early on. At no time would
he lose sight of the shore. It was a policy that I freely endorsed, even if it
meant creeping for, hours out to the grounds.
"Halibut?" I asked him hopefully.