"Wish I could
show you the lateral line system," he said. "The canals and sensors in
the flanks. Works on vibrations like a drum. Finds his food that way." He
severed the intestines from the trout and cleaned its spine with his thumbnail.
Then he slipped the corpus delicti into his wicker creel. Class dismissed.
We walked back to
the inn, Holmes sweeping his rod case at the undergrowth to panic away snakes.
Christmas luncheon was nearly ready.
I found Dowle
sipping a Bloody Mary in the lounge and explained to him how it went on the
stream with Sherlock Holmes, the tradecraft of the leaf, the anatomy lesson
afterward. I told him I had learned more about trout fishing in three hours
than I had in the 10 previous years.
The lounge was
filling up. It was a largish room with beamed ceilings and chintz upholstery.
There were issues of Punch and Country Life on the coffee tables. Many of them
were back issues dated several years before. Local newspapers—the East African
Standard and Nation—hung from racks on wooden binders. It smelled very
wearing a green fez and a white robe came in and gonged for dinner. There was a
single long table in the dining room around which we were seated. There were
name cards and each place was set with party favors, clown caps and birthday
snap-crackers. For the 30-odd of us it was close quarters.
I found my name
midway down the table next to a middle-aged French couple. The man, whose name
was Marcel, said he worked for the Messageries Maritimes shipping line in
Abidjan in the Ivory Coast.
They served us
goose and roast pig both of which were garlanded with red berries and were
carved on a long side table. The pig had been cooked whole and there were
berries for his eyes, an apple in his mouth. The Frenchman beckoned a waiter
and requested Vichy water. "A habit acquired in West Africa," he
explained. "One must be on guard for the water."
I told him he
could drink it from the tap in Kenya.
"Nevertheless," he insisted. "It is sale. My stomach is a
The goose and pig
were delicious, crisp and juicy and sweet. As we ate there was little
conversation. All you could hear was the clatter of cutlery on plates. Sherlock
Holmes was not present.