« PoprzedniaDalej »
was very curious and beautiful; when cleared from the sand that adhered to it, it looked brilliantly white, and on close examination, it proved to be made of myriads of small fish bones, glued together with a browner substance. It was nearly circular, having only one side open; the top, bottom, and sides, were all composed of the same substance; the inside was covered with some of the light sandy soil which surrounded it, and which adhered to the bottom; the outside was beautifully white, and looked, as I said before, like carved ivory or lace.”
Our author tells us, and no doubt correctly, that the “carved ivory" of the king-fisher's nest is composed of the accumulated castings of the old birds during incubation.
Then pass on to the peculiar modes of fishing on the sands of the Norman coast, which bring the author acquainted with some gentlemen of the neighbourhood, whom we wish also to introduce to our readers :
“ Those who knew provincial France some fourteen years ago,” says the editor, "will recognise the country gentleman of old Norman and Breton type, who has so much in common with his Norse and British relations. They will know the warm, adventurous, hospitable, polite nature that still delights in love and war, danger and hardship; in riding, sailing, shooting, fishing, country life, good living, and good fellowship; and which in the olden time made vikings and gallant knights, hospitable chiefs, good soldiers and minstrels, of Norseman and Norman, Celt and Saxon."
If we could quite trust this friendly painter, or if much of France were such as he pictures Normandy and Bretagne, we should not have thought of contrasting English with Continental rurality. A party of gentlemen of the country, along with“ Hope” and “ Cross," go out to see the fishing; the French gentlemen dressed like their companions of a humbler rank, and working with their own hands and bodies, and with gay and light heart :
"I must have a look at your nets and see you start,' said Hope.
“The Baron took his net from his shoulders, unwound it, and opened it to its full width. His elbows he placed against his sides, and grasped the poles about three feet from the upper end, sunk his hands on a level with his hips, holding the net tightly stretched and open, while the upper end of the poles nearly met behind him. He was ready in a moment, and marched into the water, pushing his net before him, and keeping as close as he could to the heel of the projecting rocks. The Marquis and his companion also unwound their net, so that Hope saw it exactly as it bad been described; each took a pole and advanced into the water, pushing the pole before them, and by leaning in opposite directions, keeping the net stretched to its utmost extent. Hope had kept his eye on the proceedings of the Marquis, and had not observed what the other two gentlemen were doing, but he now saw them trudging into the water in exactly the same manner
Fishing on the Sands.
as the Marquis and his friend, and was aware that there was no difference in the mode of proceeding. The Baron, with his single net, as we have already said, kept close to the heel of the rocks; the others kept farther out, the Marquis and his friend taking the outside, and in two minutes they were all toiling along up to their waists in the water.
“Half a minute spent in walking brought them to the point, and when they had clambered up a steep ledge the view opened upon them. On this side, as on the other, they saw an immense expanse of wet shining sand; but here several masses of flat red-looking rocks broke the sameness of the view, and several hundred men, women, and children were seen, either wading in the distant blue water, or scattered over the rocks or on the sand. In the far west were the rocks of Chausey; and in front was another promontory, on which stood the town of Granville—the spire of the church, the barracks, and the houses in the old town forming a broken sky-line-while the masts of the ships in the harbour could be distinctly seen cutting against the houses in the lower part of the town. The sea was dotted with the white sails of many of the three-masted luggers which the fishermen of Granville use for trawling. The day was so bright and beautiful that even an uglier scene would have seemed fair; and now there was so much life and movement, that Hope would fain have paused to look and admire for a while a panorama that gave much pleasure.
“Very good,' said the Baron, examining his net; 'I have some famous ones; there is nothing like the single net when it is well bandled.'
“Capital! Capital !' said the Marquis, who had shortened the net, and who was now looking into the bag which he carried in his haud. Bah! don't talk of your single net-look here!'
“And look here,' said the other couple, who were shaking the contents of their bag into the flat portion of the net.
“ In each net there was a considerable quantity of prawns, shrimps, soles, and a few crabs. Many of the prawns were extremely large, and the shrimps were very fine. The crabs were rather larger than a man's fist; the soles were all small, none being larger than a man's hand, and many not half that size, but there were a great many of them.
“ The best of the soles were selected and emptied into one basket, the crabs were put into another, and then the prawns and shrimps were thrown together into the other empty ones.”
Here is another mode of fishing with longer nets, “anchored" on the sands within the tide range:
“I forgot to ask you what is the use of these little bundles of straw that the son had in his basket?'
"Sinks ?' said Hope ; straw for sinks ! that is something new.'
“I was wrong to call them sinks,' said Cross, 'for in fact they are a sort of anchors. There are string loops fixed at every yard along VOL. XL.--NO. LXXIX.
the bottom of the nets, and at every two or three fathom of the lines ; into each of these loops one of those straw bundles is fixed; a hole is then made in the sand, six inches deep; the straw is pushed into the hole, and with the tramp of a heel, the straw is covered, by which arrangement both nets and lines are so firmly fixed in their place, that neither fish nor sea can move them.”
On their return they find the tide retired, and the net ready for drawing :
“The sand was perfectly smooth below the net, showing no mark of the holes that had been dug to sink the straw anchors beneath it. The action of the water had made them quite flat; all that could be seen was about an inch of cord, holding the bottom of the net firmly in its place. . . . . As the two fishermen moved along they came to the specks and lumps that had been seen from the end. There were fish of all sorts and sizes; every fish, whether large or small, had made a bag for itself by drawing a portion of the fine middle net through one of the large meshes in either of the outside walls. . . There were two sorts of skate, the common skate and the thorn-back, some very large gar-fish, a few very fine mackerel, a quantity of soles, some of which were large, two or three demoiselles, one turbot, not large, but very thick and firm, five or six very fine brills, and a number of plaice and flounders.
“In the net these were all, but the lines had caught a great number of skate; no difference was made in the varieties; all were called raés. They had three bass, some conger-eels, and two lythe that would weigh about seven pounds each. Hope was glad to see these, for he at once knew them to be the same fish which are caught in such quantities on the coasts of Scotland, where they bear the same
“We must have the turbot, and also the large soles, for our bouillabaise,' said Cross."
There is a narrow escape from a rapid return of tide, and a rescue by the help of a brave little fisher-girl, described, not indeed with the picturesque power of Scott, but with simplicity and apparent truth; but we prefer some of the fishing scenes. Congers, it seems, are dug out of the sand by the help of a dog :
“ The old woman led the way along the outer edge of the rocks, till she came to a place where the sand ran for a considerable distance into the body of the rocks, which rose rather steeply on either side of this sandy estuary. The sand, however, was not smooth, for in all directions little mounds rose up, breaking the level.
“Go and seek, good dog Trompette,' said the old lady when she had entered this eek.
“The dog started off, hunting in all directions. In a quarter of a minute he stopped at one of the little lumps, and began to scratch and whine like a terrier at a rat-hole.
Dinner after the Fishing.
"See! he has one,' said the woman, as she ran towards the dog, brandishing her pickaxe. When she reached the place, she looked which way the hole ran, and then began tearing up the sand, which rose in lumps at every blow. After eight or ten strokes out tumbled a conger-eel about the same size as those in her basket; the dog and bis mistress made a dash at it; the biped got it; the woman flung it with great force on the hard sand, and then quietly put it in her basket with the rest of her load, shouting, 'Seek again, Trompette.'
“ Trompette obeyed, and in this way, within five minutes after entering the creek, the dog found, and the mistress dug up and basketed, three of those eels.
“* And is this talent confined to the famille Trompette, or are there other dogs that do the same?'
" Other dogs are taught,' said the old lady, 'but my dog's family do it at once."
Our readers may wish to know how the fish is turned to account for the evening repast under the personal superintendence of the Marquis, who has laid aside his fishing attire, his ragged straw hat, blue flannel trousers and sabots of the morning, and receives the English strangers in the village hostelry, after their perilous adventure with the tide, in quite another guise.
“At the door stood the Marquis in black trousers, silk stockings, a smart silk waistcoat, a white neckcloth with very large bows, but a linen coat like that of an English under-butler in the morning when about to clean his plate. He held a white apron in his hand, which he began to tie round his waist the moment the Englishmen and their party came in sight. He was in a commiserative, not in an angry mood, which they learnt by his first exclamation. "Here you are at last, and alive, Grâce à Dieu ! what
must have suffered from hunger; you must be famished !'
“The kitchen was beautifully clean, and coming out of the dark, the light from the fire, lamps, and candles, made it so bright, it was a moment before they could see. When their eyes became accustomed to the brilliancy, which they did while the Marquis was speaking, they saw the table spread on one side of the fireplace; the cloth was covered with several dishes, on which were piled pears of various sorts, blue plums and green gages, apricots, two large pyramids of prawns, and a huge melon. Round the fire were a number of pots and pans, deep sunk in hot embers; before it was a long semicircular tin case, something between a plate-warmer and a Dutch oven; this case surrounded a spit, which was turning merrily. All the little charcoal stoves were glowing bright; beside them stood some covered stew-pans and a frying-pan, and at a little distance on either side were two of the beehive-looking baskets.
"He urged haste, and so effectually that the twenty minutes were very little exceeded when they again entered the kitchen and dininghall.
“ The Marquis was in all his glory. When they entered, he vanished for a moment and then returned in a coat of the last Paris cut, looking and acting the Marquis of the old school to perfection, as he begged the friends to place themselves at table.”
An excellent scene follows, in which the Marquis teaches the Englishman how to cook the fish which the sea so bountifully supplied, and how to serve it and other viands at table—matters in which our countrymen of all degrees require education. He makes them eat melon with their roast mutton; reverses our insular order of the meal, by introducing the roast before the fish, and the vegetables last; gives admirable rules for the mystery of frying; and really reads a useful lesson on everything relating to kitchen and dinner. We are ready to adopt his prescription implicitly, if he will excuse our taking our champagne with the sweets !
We must not yield to such a tempting bill of fare, but merely inform our economical readers that the French cordon bleu gives approved practical rules for rendering eatable and savoury, fishes and sea-fowl which among us are thrown out as useless, and describes the proper cookery of snails and slugs. These and many recipes for filling the larder rather than adapted to increase sport, are mixed with observations on the habits of animals. The following, touching the regularity of our birds of passage, is curious :
“ The birds of passage arrive almost on the same day here that they do with us—both those which come to breed and those which come to hibernate. Of the first of these I may mention the nightingale and the landrail, whose voices may be heard almost on the same day that they are in England. This very spring I received a letter from a friend, in which it was said, there is a nightingale now singing under the window; it is the first time we have heard him this year.' Now on the very day this letter was written, I was fishing up the river at Ducie. In coming home late I heard a nightingale, and remarked to a friend who was with me that I heard him for the first time that year ;-clearly showing that they must arrive at the same time in the two countries; and the same rule applies to the winter birds; one instance of which I may tell you, for it is very marked. I had the means of observing very narrowly the arrival of the brent-geese-oie-cravant, as they call them here. It was in a bay in Scotland where I used to watch them; and for five successive years the first flock was seen on the 16th of September. Well, last year, on the 18th of September, I went out in one of the trawling-boats, and took the gun with me. We sailed through a flock of these birds and put them up. I shot one, so that there could be no mistake. It was lean and evidently tired, for it sat so close as to allow me to get within shot of it, proving that it was lately arrived ; but, from the