The Highgrader (Chapter 1, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 1

Inside the cabin a man was baking biscuits and singing joyously, "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary." Outside, another whistled softly to himself while he arranged his fishing tackle. From his book he had selected three flies and was attaching them to the leader. Nearest the rod he put a royal coachman, next to it a blue quill, and at the end a ginger quill.

The cook, having put his biscuits in the oven, filled the doorway. He was a big, strong-set man, with a face of leather. Rolled-up sleeves showed knotted brown arms white to the wrists with flour. His eyes were hard and steady, but from the corners of them innumerable little wrinkles fell away and crinkled at times to mirth.

"First call to dinner in the dining-car," he boomed out in a heavy bass.

Two men lounging under a cottonwood beside the river showed signs of life. One of them was scarcely more than a boy, perhaps twenty, a pleasant amiable youth with a weak chin and eyes that held no steel. His companion was nearer forty than thirty, a hard-faced citizen who chewed tobacco and said little.

"Where you going to fish to-night, Crumbs?" the cook asked of the man busy with the tackle.

"Think I'll try up the river, Colter--start in above the Narrows and work down, mebbe. Where you going?"

"Me for the Meadows. I'm after the big fellows. Going to hang the Indian sign on them with a silver doctor and a Jock Scott. The kid here got his three-pounder on a Jock Scott."

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