Peering through a screen of bushes I could see an eager look on the unlovely face of Moses. He stood leaning toward the water and jiggling his hook along the bottom. Suddenly I saw Mose jerk and felt the cord move. I gave it a double twitch and began to pull. He held hard for a jiffy and then stumbled and let go yelling like mad. The pole hit the water with a splash and went out of sight like a diving frog. I brought it well under the foam and driftwood. Deep Hole resumed its calm, unruffled aspect. Mose went running toward Uncle Eb.
‘’S a whale!’ he shouted. ‘Ripped the pole away quicker’n lightnin’.’
‘Where is it?’ Uncle Eb asked.
‘Tuk it away f’m me,’ said Moses. ‘Grabbed it jes’ like thet,’ he added with a violent jerk of his hand.
‘What d’ he dew with it?’ Uncle Eb enquired.
Mose looked thoughtfully at the water and scratched his head, his features all a tremble.
‘Dunno,’ said he. ‘Swallered it mebbe.’
‘Mean t’ say ye lost hook, line, sinker ‘n pole?’
’Hook, line, sinker ‘n pole,’ he answered mournfully. ’Come nigh haulin’ me in tew.’
‘’Tain’t possible,’ said Uncle Eb.
Mose expectorated, his hands upon his hips, looking down at the water.
’Wouldn’t eggzac’ly say ‘twas possible,’ he drawled, ’but ’twas a fact.’
‘Yer mistaken,’ said Uncle Eb.
‘No I hain’t,’ was the answer, ‘I tell ye I see it.’
‘Then if ye see it the nex’ thing ye orter see ’s a doctor. There’s sumthin’ wrong with you sumwheres.’
‘Only one thing the matter o’ me,’ said Mose with a little twinge of remorse. ‘I’m jest a natural born perfec’ dum fool. Never c’u’d b’lieve there was any sech fish.’
‘Nobody ever said there was any sech fish,’ said Uncle Eb. ’He’s done more t’ you ‘n he ever done t’ me. Never served me no sech trick as thet. If I was you I’d never ask nobody t’ b’lieve it ’S a leetle tew much.’
Mose went slowly and picked up his hat. Then he returned to the bank and looked regretfully at the water.
‘Never see the beat o’ thet,’ he went on. ’Never see sech power ’n a fish. Knocks the spots off any fish I ever hearn of.’
‘Ye riled him with that big tackle o’ yourn,’ said Uncle Eb. ’He wouldn’t stan’ it.’
‘Feel jest as if I’d hed holt uv a wil’ cat,’ said Mose. ’Tuk the hull thing — pole an’ all — quicker ‘n lightnin’. Nice a bit o’ hickory as a man ever see. Gol’ durned if I ever heem o’ the like o’ that, ever.’
He sat down a moment on the bank.
‘Got t’ rest a minute,’ he remarked. ‘Feel kind o’ wopsy after thet squabble.’
They soon went away. And when Mose told the story of ’the swallered pole’ he got the same sort of reputation he had given to others. Only it was real and large and lasting.
‘Wha’ d’ ye think uv it?’ he asked, when he had finished.