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God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Nathan M. Adams
December 22, 1975
The season inspires warm memories of an angling holiday at Christmas, when the Brown Trout Inn in Kenya was a haven for Englishmen far from home
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December 22, 1975

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

The season inspires warm memories of an angling holiday at Christmas, when the Brown Trout Inn in Kenya was a haven for Englishmen far from home

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"Was," I reminded.

"Do you think we might pinch it back?" The clerk had left the flask on the counter and Dowle was eyeing it hopefully.

"No," I said. "Absolutely not."

Outside, frost was forming on the grass and our breath steamed against the lights of the cottages. Somebody was playing a bagpipe in the bar. We followed the music down the flagstone walk beneath the pines. The windows of the bar glowed and there was sweat on the panes from the heat inside. A confusion of shadows was reflected on the glass.

The bar was jammed, foggy with tobacco smoke, deafening. Only half the occupants seemed to be guests at the inn. You could pick out uniforms: the white jackets and berets tipped with vulture feathers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers up from their base at nearby Gilgil; blues and red piping, the mess kit of the artillery; the khaki and knee socks of policemen. The piper was seated by the fireplace. His cheeks bulged like little red balloons as he played and squeezed the pipe bag.

We wrestled our way to the bar. Dowle hammered for service on the wet wood. "Innkeeper," he roared, "bring sides of beef and buckets of ale. Prepare the wenches."

I examined the room. It was built of logs and chinked with mortar, and there were trophies on the walls. A bongo had been decorated with a garland of pine boughs for the occasion; a forest hog mouthed an apple; mistletoe festooned the sweeping horns of a buffalo above the door. A snooker game was in progress in an annex off the main room and two policemen played loudly at darts. There was an old crank telephone behind the bar. You had to shout to be heard above the din.

In this madness, unimpressed and serene, I saw Sherlock Holmes. He still wore his deerstalker and was sitting at the very end of the bar, poring through a fly book, sipping a brandy. At close range I could see he had arranged a collection of small medicine bottles on the bar. Each contained a pickled insect and was neatly labeled in Latin. He would select a fly, a nymph, and compare it with the appropriate natural. He sensed me over his shoulder.

"I find it pleasant to work with people about," he said, hardly looking up. Then, "I saw you on the lake."

He turned and shook hands gently like a doctor feeling for pain. He picked up a bottle. "That's the one, you know."

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