The Kilmore Fly
by Arthur Greenwood
The dry fly sat proudly
on the stream, sparkling in the autumn sunshine as it
travelled down the run. A splash was followed by a glint
of brassy flank, and the fly disappeared below the surface.
The angler smiled quietly as he played the trout on
his cane rod and unhitched his net Once landed, the
fish was unhooked and gently returned to the river.
As he sipped it back whence it had come, the angler
looked up as a voice from above him on the bank said:
"I suppose that's
another one to the Kilmore Fly, Thomas?"
"It is indeed, Jamesie,"
replied the angler, straightening up and hitching the
fly to the keeper ring on the old rod. "A great
way to end the season, I think. Give us a hand up this
bank, Jamesie. These old bones aren't as sprightly as
they once were"
Jamesie's eagle eyes sought
the butt of the rod as he tried for a glimpse of the
fly pattern which had eluded him for years, but the
old man's right hand covered both fly and handle as
he was helped up the bank.
'Did you get a fish yourself,
Jamesie?" asked Thomas
"I did not. I couldn't
for the life of me figure out what they were taking.
Would you not give me a look at that thing, for pity's
sake?" complained Jamesie.
"Sure, I've told you
before, it's only an old brown thing that my Da gave
me when the old Queen died, and he told me the dressing
and said not to show it to a living soul. If I let you
see it, sure it wouldn't work any more," smiled
"That's the magic
that's in it, you see. Ah, sure you'll have the fly
yourself, all in good time."
With this cryptic remark,
the two men made their way across the field to Jamesie's
car. As they packed up, Jamesie watched as the old man
carefully removed the little brown fly from the leader
and slipped it quietly into a special box of its own.
'That's a rare sort of
a box for a fly, Thomas," remarked Jamesie.
"Well, to tell you
the truth, Jamesie, it's not a fly box at all. It's
the box that had Martha's engagement ring in it! I bought
the ring in London when I was on my way home from the
trenches after that unpleasantness in France. I suppose
you might say it's a special box for a special fly,"
smiled the old man. 'Now, will you drop into the house
over the winter and we'll tie a few flies for the next
"Of course I will,"
replied Jamesie, who secretly had not given up hope
of sneaking a look at the fly which seemed to take fish
every time it was tied on. The invitation might be an
opportunity to do so.
Yet as the winter wore
on and the snows came, Jamesie was disinclined to travel
far and he contented himself with the usual tinkering
with rods, reels and other gear which afflicts most
anglers during the close season. It was March before
he remembered his old friend and the proposed fly-tying
session. Martha answered his telephone call.
"Ah, he's not well
at all, Jamesie," she told him. "He hasn't
been out of bed for a fortnight Will you come over and
try to cheer him up?"
"I'll see him at the
weekend," Jamesie replied. "tell him to set
up his fly-tying kit."
Snow still lay on the
hills as Jamesie drove the 40 miles to Thomas's house.
It was cold for March, too cold to bethinking about
trout, although that was the way Jamesie's mind was
working as he planned the season ahead. Perhaps the
old fellow could be persuaded to tell him the dressing
of the Kilmore, and Jamesie could help himself to a
slice of the action in the months to come. The chill
wind whistled through his coat as Jamesie stood on the
doorstep of Thomas's lonely farmhouse high in the hills.
Martha slowly opened the door.
'I'm glad you've come,
Jamesie," she whispered. "I don't know what
to do. He's passed away, you see. This very morning."
And she burst into tears.
Jamesie brought the frail
old woman into the house, and called for the doctor.
He busied himself throughout the day with the arrangements
for his old friend's farewell, and agreed to return
to help with the funeral and wake.
That occasion proved to
be a trying time for the widow and, after all the mourners
had gone, Jamesie made a cup of for her and they sat
together in the silence of the otherwise empty house.
'You've been a good friend,
Jamesie," Martha said. 'I know that Thomas relied
on you these past few years for his bit of fishing.
Did you know that he wanted you to have all his bits
and pieces of tackle?"
Jamesie couldn't believe
his ears. So that was what the old fellow had meant
by his remark at the end of the season!
"Aye, it's all above
there waiting for you, I gathered it together yesterday,"
she said. 'I'll be glad to see the back of that stuff
it reminds me too much of him. Help me upstairs, now,
and we'll have a look at it"
On the floor of an empty
bedroom was a motley collection of rods, boxes and bags.
Jamesie rummaged about, looking for the little red box
which he knew contained the one item he coveted above
all else. It was nowhere to be seen.
"Was there a little
red box amongst all the stuff, Martha?" asked Jamesie
"There was, surely,"
replied the old lady. 'Sure wasn't it my own engagement
ring box that I haven't seen these sixty years? I was
so glad to find it after all this time. There was an
old bit of a brown fly in it, I threw it in with those
others into that shoebox there."
Jamesie looked with horror
at a large box containing literally thousands of assorted
dry flies, mostly brown in colour.
"I suppose they'll
keep you amused for a day or two, Jamesie?" asked
"For years, Martha,
for years, sighed Jamesie quietly.