There was a small
parcel in the front seat of the Land Rover. It was addressed: "Messrs.
Dowle & Adams."
Dowle undid the
knotted string and folded back the neat wrapping. It was the flask. He
unscrewed the cap and turned it upside down. "It's empty," he said.
We drove out the
road past the silhouette trout. Mist was rolling down from the forest like milk
in a water glass, and with it came a fine rain that closed behind us like a
curtain. For a while we said nothing. There was only the grind of the engine
and the bat-batting of the windshield wipers. Farther down the slope we broke
out of the clouds and saw the Rift spreading below us. The sun was quite bright
on the lakes and you could see a rainbow over Mount Longonot. Dowle said,
"I think I should like to go back there again."
I said I didn't
think so. It would never be the same, and best not to spoil it.
so," said Dowle. "One has a funny feeling that if we turned around and
went back it wouldn't be there anymore."
In 1974 the
storms of the fall equinox came to Montana on schedule, exactly on Sept. 20,
and if you were in the mountains, that's where you stayed until it blew itself
out. I waited it through on the shore of a small lake in the Spanish Peaks, and
when the storm was done I broke camp, packed the mule and set off down the
trail to the valley. At 7,000 feet, the clouds thinned and parted and revealed
the valley below. I could see Ennis Lake in the distance, the African ocher of
the bluffs and mesas, and for the first time since I left it I thought
seriously about Africa and the Brown Trout Inn. D�j� vu, inexplicably,
suddenly. What had happened to the inn?
I called the
Kenya Embassy in Washington for information. No, they had never heard of it.
But since I wanted to research the subject, I asked them about the trout.
"Our trouts," came the reply from the PR man, nationalistically, if not
predictably, "they are Kenya trouts." Next I inquired after Major
Grogan, who had put them there. Silence, indecisive. Finally, "Mr. Grogan
doesn't live here anymore." He might have been a tenant, evicted when the
embassy bought the building. I tried to explain, to no avail.
Then I called
Dowle in England. He is successful now, well past the salad days and into the
main course. Yes, he had intelligence. But it was not recent. After
independence they had subdivided the Kinangop. It was all being farmed now, he
had heard. As for the inn, well, it had been sold to the government, which had
turned it into a school. So there was no more Brown Trout.
But perhaps, as
Dowle himself had observed, there never was.