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We parked the Land Rover and carried our dunnage to the office; polite hellos as we passed the game; the whack of mallet on ball; subdued applause: "Oh, well played, Jane." The office was a dark closet after the bright sun. There was an old man behind the desk, wearing a cardigan, an Arthur Treacher type. An enormous buffalo head threatened him from the wall and followed every move with dusty eyes.
We registered. "Would you be wanting tea outside or in the cottages?" the clerk asked. He was Scottish and his nose glowed with tracings of broken blood vessels. We told him to forget the tea and asked about the lake.
"You'll find a boat there," he said. "No charge, but mind the askari." He explained that there was poaching on the Sasumua. Local Kikuyu were dynamiting and seining the lake. So the inn had hired a watchman. "Of course, he's armed," the clerk emphasized. Dowle said he didn't like the sound of that.
We went to the cottages to unpack. Mine was furnished rustically. There was a huge fireplace; the bedding was of down. You could smell the faint aroma of woodsmoke. Soap and towels had been neatly arranged on the bed stand. In the medicine cabinet I found a discarded bottle of Chanel perfume. Not that I didn't appreciate Dowle's company, but there was something about the place that made you think about the women you knew and you wanted to know better.
Dowle and I rigged the rods in front of his cottage and set off down the path to the lake, which was about half a mile away. The trail was very steep, and we slipped and scrambled to keep our footing on the thick carpet of pine needles. The path ended on a wooded bluff above the lake. A rowboat was riding below. The water was a livid green and crystal clear. There was a marsh at one end, a small inlet, and insects were rising from the water in the late afternoon sun. The surface was calm.
Dowle sat down and opened his knapsack. He placed his fly boxes next to him. Then he produced a bottle of Riesling and a tin of Danish sausages. "Where on earth?" I asked.
"The bar," he said. He opened the tin and decanted the wine. "Merry Christmas."
The Riesling was ice cold. As we ate and drank, we cased the lake which appeared deserted at first. Then, in a far corner, I spotted a lone fisherman. He was casting from shore, beautifully, with short strokes of his arm, avoiding the branches with ease. The line arched and unrolled upon the water. A pause. Then up again. It was art. The flycaster was wearing a deerstalker cap. Sherlock Holmes. Dowle made an impolite comment.
There was a large trout cruising below us. He was outlined against the bottom weed and he moved aimlessly. Once he broke the surface. It was a heavy rise. The trout was six pounds if he went an ounce.
"Where is he now?" Dowle whispered.