Now, in our third day, everything was going smoothly with the sawing. A couple of hours worth of work and R. J.P. and I had already felled more than we would be able to cut today. R. Emycee had picked up the mill procedures and was adding nicely to our racked planks. With the Parker’s bots and a few more additions from camp there was more labor here than we could use. Every thing cut yesterday was already loaded up and sent to a building location. I went over to where Joe and RoDan were stacking and asked him if he felt he could run things without me and Janie for a while.
“No Prob Bart. Things are looking good here. Any troubles I let you know. And another thing. We‘ve got the extra robots and chainsaws so why don‘t I keep a couple of them busy cutting and clearing to the west of us, grids R2 and R3. We‘ll certainly use the lumber later but it will expand our perimeter now.”
“You worried about something coming out of the woods? We haven‘t seen anything yet.”
“A little, it’s early spring here and who can tell what might be awakening or maybe coming up from the south. Last night I saw some large I.R. signatures inside the tree line that could have been almost anything. Then again they were indistinct and might have been nothing at all. I sent RoDan out for a closer look and nothing turned up. Anyway if for no other reason it will eventually give us more cleared land for farming.”
“Yeah, I should have thought of that.. And it’s too early to get careless. Sounds good to me. I’ll see ya later.”
I next went to the mill and said to Janie, “How about we play hooky. I think It’s our turn.”
“What have you got in mind Bart?”
“A little fishing down by the riverside looks good to me.”
“That sounds Great! I was talking to Connor Benjamin and I know he would like some samples from down there and it would be a welcome break from this.” Janie had worked the middle watch last night and hadn’t much sleep afterwards as we got off to early start that morning.
Heading back, a glance to the south showed some construction progress being made up atop of the mound. Our new City on the Hill. When we got back to the tent area there sat Les and Judith Reye, Burt Buchanan and a few more who were evidently just up and starting their day. Passing near them I said in what I hoped was a friendly sounding tone of voice. “Kind of a late start guys. Daylights a wastin’, looks like a lot of activity up on the mound and some more to the north. There are a few who have started with robots and shovels to move out the rocks and to plow the hard way. Heck, you might learn to like it. And the bots are bringing in a load just about right for putting up some outhouses.”
Buchanan glared and seemed to snarl. Les Reye said in petulant manner, “It’s the blasted 20 hour day is all. A little time and I’m sure and we’ll get used to it somehow or other.” He turned back to his wife and the rest, pointedly ignoring me as we continued on our way. I refused to be put into a bad mood
I said to Janie, “Get what you need and I will grab my fishing gear.” Into the tent, from my smaller bag, packed so long ago back on Earth, I took out a couple of small plastic boxes. Soon back outside and we were walking towards the river.
Another pleasant day. It was very early spring and this was our third morning on planet and still no rain though from orbit Captain Travis had said that there was a storm moving towards us that would likely arrive later this afternoon or tonight. For now though, blue skies, fleecy high clouds and a breeze just a bit stronger than we had experienced so far. It was chilly from last night and I could feel an increase in the humidity but that could have just as easily been imagination from knowing about the coming storm.
After we reached the rivers edge I took one of the small boxes out of my pocket and carefully removed the lid and taking something out from one of the divided sections said, “Look at this Janie, it’s a Caddis Alchibus.”
“A Caddis Alchibus?”
“A bug!”….. There in all it’s splendor, in the palm of my hand, was an inch long plump brown body laced with purple and green threads with tufts of fur forming gossamer reddish wings each tipped with white. The shiny point of a small hook just poking into view. It was a creation I put together last night.
Skeptically shaking her head, “It doesn’t look like any bug I’ve ever seen.”
“Just wait and see. If there is anything at all like a fish in this river it will find it irresistible.”
Setting the boxes down I looked at the nearer vegetation and cut a 10 foot length of one of the slender cane like growths that sprouted profusely along the shore. They weren’t new from this year but just beginning to revive from winter dormancy. After stripping off the fine fronds just starting to grow, I flexed it back and forth a few times and said, “This will be fine.” Then, retrieving the boxes, from one took a small reel, a roll of pressure sensitive tape, and a few rod guides. With Janie watching it wasn’t long till I had my rod assembled and was set to go.
We walked a few yards upstream to a spot where the area behind us was unobstructed and I stepped out into the river a couple of feet from shore. The water was cold, clear, and almost up to my knees. “Far enough out for now”, I thought , if anything unexpected came near I might be jumping back to shore in a hurry and relying on my boots to protect my legs. A lot of people had been viewing the river for several days and none had seen anything large or dangerous looking yet but you never know.
Letting out just a little line at a time I cast slowly forwards and back, watching the curls straighten and getting a feel for the cane pole’s flex on the back casts. A dozen or so back and forths and with the line out 20 yards I watched as the fly landed gently on the surface. It was sheltered from the rather strong current by one of the rocks off shore. The fly began slowly drifting down stream resting on the waters surface. After a while I retrieved it and repeated my casting sequence to a slightly different spot.
Janie watched me repeat this procedure a half dozen times or more and said, “Guess there’s nothing like a fish in this river, eh Bart.” With that she took a small net and began seining and collecting small aquatic life forms and placing them in separate vials full of a preservative and dictating notes into her recorder for when Connor Benjamin would examine them later. What she was finding didn’t look much like a Caddis Alchibus, a fact which she mentioned more than once.
An hour and a half later I had moved closer to the water fall but still no strikes. I had seen some smallish iridescent shapes darting under the surface but none had gotten close enough so that I could get a good look. I stayed close to the bank at all times. Janie had just come over with our lunch when I had my first strike. The tip of the very flexible pole twitched ever so slightly. I gave it a brisk jerk and said in triumph,” I got one.” A minute later it dangled out of the water in its full glory. The “Fish”, about 5 inches long, looking vaguely like the Slizard Jules and Hanna Parker had seen. Instead of legs though it had slightly opposed fins; three sets of them and it looked like another set was beginning to grow by the bifurcated tail. . It sparkled in the sun on top as if it’s small scales were prisms. The underside was a pale almost bluish white. It had two rows of small pointed teeth in the mouth which extended about an inch down the length of the slender body. “What I beauty”, I declared.
Janie, not quite as impressed as I said, “Thinking of getting it mounted? Or with ten more we could fry it up and make a mouth full. Good thing I brought lunch, but I do have a sample container large enough to hold it so lets save it for Connor.”
Only slightly deflated I readily agreed. Anyway you couldn’t say we were goofing off if we were looking for local food sources. We ate the lunch Janie had brought with her, and afterwards I went back to fishing while Janie gathered more samples. After she ran out of vials, she sat on the bank enjoying the rest and watched. She reported seeing a few more small slizards, and got a picture of one entering the water. I eventually pulled in 6 more of the same type fish things, most were larger and one was almost 18 inches long. With Janie taking pictures I let them go pending Connor’s determination on edibility.
While Janie watched and I fished we engaged in small talk, mostly about the state of the camp and our fellow colonists and the prospects for the future. I was gradually building up to the real reason I had gotten Janie to come out here with me in the first place. I had seen that Janie’s recorder was off and I made sure that mine was, so use your imagination if you must, but I am going to omit my bumbling and fumbling conversation as I worked my way to the point where I made the tentative suggestion that it would be kind of a good thing if we sorta started living together or got married or something like that.
After I had stammered my way to the conclusion Janie looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes and said. “Oh Bart! Why of course we should. How romantic of you.”
The clouds had begun to build and the temperature seemed to have dropped. It was apparent rain or maybe even a late snow was on the way. We gathered our things and started back. A light rain was falling by the time we got to the tents, Mariana Stuart was standing outside of a small dome just erected, and with a glance at me turned to Janie and said, “Well, did he ask?”
Janie laughed, “There was never any doubt.”