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Here sits, in secret, blest theology
Ithilien, T.A. 2099
“Come, lad.” Jochan startled Faramir out of his doze. “I’ve something to show ye.”
Curious, Faramir followed the grizzled ranger down to where the stream rippled and sang in its rocky bed.
Jochan waded knee-deep, then bent over the water, cupping his hands slightly under the surface. Eyes closed, he swayed lightly, murmuring under his breath. The young ranger watched, mystified, until a fish swam right into Jochan’s waiting hands. Faramir held his breath as Jochan lifted it gently out of the water, cradling it in his large, gnarled palms. It was a brown trout, good sized, the dove color of its back speckling to silver and black along its underside. The fish’s pale eye seemed to fix accusingly on Faramir.
“You can catch them like this, if needs be.” Jochan whispered. “You must ask permission of the waters, and of the fishes, too. You are asking them to give up their lives wi’out an honorable fight. Use them as though you love them, and only ask in direst need. D’ye understand, lad?” He gazed searchingly into Faramir’s eyes. “Good. You’ll do, I think.” Faramir could only nod, speechless, as Jochan gently lowered his hands back into the water. With a swish of sunlit fins and tail, the trout was gone.
Later, Faramir wondered if it had been a dream.
Ithilien T.A. 3017
The patrol had been lucky to scramble away with their lives. Now, after fourteen hours of hard travel, their greatest need was for food and rest. Once the watch was set and the wounded cared for, their captain gazed for a long time at the narrow stream.
Knee-deep in the chilly water, he wondered, How? then remembered; and with a whispered prayer of thanks, watched as the first fish swam willingly into his hands.
The title is taken from Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, as is the line Use them as though you love them. Many thanks to Branwyn for unearthing that perfect phrase!
“Tickling” trout: Often in small streams trout will hide under undercut banks. The poacher feels the trout, gently stroking it, seizing it by the gills and flipping it on the bank. Shakespeare mentioned the custom in Twelfth Night when he wrote: "Here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling."
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