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PAGE 2

The Giants
by [?]

One brisk morning, when the sea was running high, a little boy was sailing a fine model yacht in one of the great pools on the shore. The tide was running in, and presently the advancing water rushed into the pool. The yacht was just in the centre when the whirl of the sea took her. She swung round; the westerly wind caught her, and in a moment she was over the barrier and away into deep water. The little thing was well leaded, and she went off like a dolphin. The youthful owner saw her now and again as she topped the waves, and he lamented exceedingly. At last it struck him to run north to the village. Just as he reached the cove, Big Harry’s younger sons were coming in after a night at sea. The men were wet and sleepy enough, but when the little boy told them his story they lifted him into the bow of the coble and shoved off again. With three reefs in the sail they dodged out among the jumping seas, and ran over the bay after the truant yacht. The swift coble soon overhauled the runaway, and the men came back well drenched by their second trip. The whole thing was done with perfect simplicity; and the fishermen would not accept even a glass of ale from the boy’s father. They said “they were glad to see the bairn so pleased,” and they tease the said “bairn” about his skill in navigation even to this day. When we see kindness like this we may be content to do without words or other minor demonstrations.

During all the long nights Big Harry and Little Harry used to sit together very silently. Sometimes when the corks at one part of the net went under water suddenly, one of the men would say, “There’s a troot fast,” but conversation did not extend beyond elementary observations like this. The dark came down over the bay, and the last gleam died away from the distant hills. The water purred softly with little treble sounds against the sides of the boat; the trees made hoarse noises, and sometimes the long whistle of an otter (who is also a trout fisher) would come from the shaggy sides of the brown stream. The men sat on amid the mystery of the night, but they had no care for the picturesque. By-and-by the time for a haul would come, and the muscular fish were pitched “flopping” into the basket. Then the nets were shot again, and the resonant splashing begun. If the tide suited, the boat stayed on till dawn. As soon as the cushats began to fly from the woods to the fields, and the hillsides were streaked with grey motes of light, Big Harry and his son rowed into the cove, and then Little Harry went to catch the old mare on the moor. A boy drove the night’s fish to the station, and Big Harry slept heavily in the dark box bed.

Father and sons led this life for many years. Their only change came when the herring shoals moved southward, and then the five strong men used to make a great deal of money. They saved too, and were much better off than some people who live in finer houses. Indeed, they had much need to earn a great deal, for those great frames were not easily kept up. Big Adam once ate five eggs after his return from a night’s fishing. He then inquired “When will breakfast be ready?”. So it will be seen that his appetite was healthy.

It seemed that nothing but gradual decay could ever sap the strength of any one of these fine athletes, yet a miserable mischance made a break in the family, and changed Big Harry into a sorrowful man. He came ashore one rainy morning, and he and his son had sore work in hauling the coble up. There was no one to drive the fish to the station, so Little Harry volunteered. It was a long drive for such a bad day, and when the young man came home he was chilled. He shivered a good deal and could not sleep, but no one dreamed of bringing a doctor for a man with a forty-seven inch chest. Within a very short while Little Harry was taken by rapid consumption, and succumbed like a weakling from the town. On the day of the funeral the father would not follow the coffin over the moor. He lay with his face pressed on the pillow, and the bed shook with his sobbing. He never would take another son for mate, because he thought he might distress the lad if he showed signs of comparing him with the dead. He preferred a stranger. He liked carrying Little Harry’s son about, and he used to be pleased when the clergyman said to the child, “Well, and how is your big pony?”–the pony being the grandfather. When the lad grew big enough to handle the small-sized plasher the old man took him as partner, and he boasts about the little fellow’s cleverness.