The Dry-Fly Fisherman
I sat down on a hill-top and took stock of my position. I wasn't feeling very happy, for
my natural thankfulness at my escape was clouded by my severe bodily discomfort.
Those lentonite fumes had fairly poisoned me, and the baking hours on the dovecot hadn't
helped matters. I had a crushing headache, and felt as sick as a cat. Also my shoulder was
in a bad way. At first I thought it was only a bruise, but it seemed to be swelling, and I
had no use of my left arm.
My plan was to seek Mr Turnbull's cottage, recover my garments, and especially
Scudder's note-book, and then make for the main line and get back to the south. It seemed
to me that the sooner I got in touch with the Foreign Office man, Sir Walter Bullivant, the
better. I didn't see how I could get more proof than I had got already. He must just take or
leave my story, and anyway, with him I would be in better hands than those devilish
Germans. I had begun to feel quite kindly towards the British police.
It was a wonderful starry night, and I had not much difficulty about the road. Sir Harry's
map had given me the lie of the land, and all I had to do was to steer a point or two west
of south-west to come to the stream where I had met the roadman. In all these travels I
never knew the names of the places, but I believe this stream was no less than the upper
waters of the river Tweed. I calculated I must be about eighteen miles distant, and that
meant I could not get there before morning. So I must lie up a day somewhere, for I was
too outrageous a figure to be seen in the sunlight. I had neither coat, waistcoat, collar, nor
hat, my trousers were badly torn, and my face and hands were black with the explosion. I
daresay I had other beauties, for my eyes felt as if they were furiously bloodshot.
Altogether I was no spectacle for God-fearing citizens to see on a highroad.
Very soon after daybreak I made an attempt to clean myself in a hill burn, and then
approached a herd's cottage, for I was feeling the need of food. The herd was away from
home, and his wife was alone, with no neighbour for five miles. She was a decent old
body, and a plucky one, for though she got a fright when she saw me, she had an axe
handy, and would have used it on any evil-doer. I told her that I had had a fall--I didn't
say how--and she saw by my looks that I was pretty sick. Like a true Samaritan she asked
no questions, but gave me a bowl of milk with a dash of whisky in it, and let me sit for a
little by her kitchen fire. She would have bathed my shoulder, but it ached so badly that I
would not let her touch it.
I don't know what she took me for--a repentant burglar, perhaps; for when I wanted to
pay her for the milk and tendered a sovereign which was the smallest coin I had, she
shook her head and said something about 'giving it to them that had a right to it'. At this I
protested so strongly that I think she believed me honest, for she took the money and
gave me a warm new plaid for it, and an old hat of her man's. She showed me how to
wrap the plaid around my shoulders, and when I left that cottage I was the living image of
the kind of Scotsman you see in the illustrations to Burns's poems. But at any rate I was
more or less clad.