Even so worldly a man as Jonathan Swift could write, late in life, in a letter to his friend Alexander Pope, "I remember when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line, which I drew up almost to the ground, but it dropped in, and the disappointment vexes me to this day." Sick with disappointment at losing my once-in-a-lifetime fish, I was sure I would never get over it.
But now I wonder whether a plastic replica of him hanging on my wall would not be a sorry substitute for my enduring memory of him flaunting his might and his majesty against that rainbow of his own making. Many times, when low in spirit, I have rerun that vivid footage photographed by my eyes and printed on my mind and been cheered, been glad that that was my last view of him. He is the one fish of my life that has not grown bigger in recollection, the one that needs no assistance from me.
Fishing stories always end with the fish getting away. Not this one. This, reader, has been the story of a fisherman who got away. For old One Eye made a changed man of me. No fish since then has ever been able to madden me. I have hooked and lost some big ones in that time, but to each and all I have been able to say, "Go your way. I have known your better, known him well, and there will never be his like again. You, however big you may be, are a mere minnow compared to my Moby Dick."