fish at last." I made a strong pull, and brought up a tangle of weeds. Again and again I cast out my line with aching arms, and drew it back empty. I looked to my uncle appealingly. “Try once more,” 5 he said. “We fishermen must have patience.”

Suddenly something tugged at my line and swept off with it into deep water. Jerking it up, I saw a fine pickerel wriggling in the sun.

“Uncle!” I cried, looking back in great excitement, 10 “ I've got a fish!” “Not yet,” said my uncle.

uncle. As he spoke there was a plash in the water; I caught the arrowy gleam of a scared fish shooting into the middle of the stream ; my hook hung empty from the line. I had lost my prize.

Overcome by my great and bitter disappointment, I sat down on the nearest hassock, and for a time refused to be comforted, even by my uncle's assurance that there were more fish in the brook.

He refitted my bait, and, putting the pole again in 20 my hands, told me to try my luck once more.

“But remember, boy,” he said, with his shrewd smile,“ never brag of catching a fish until he is on dry ground. I've seen older folks doing that in


more ways than one, and so making fools of themselves. It's no use to boast of anything until it's done, nor then either, for it speaks for itself.”

How often since I have been reminded of the fish that I didn't catch! When I hear people 5 boasting of a work as yet undone, I call to mind that scene by the brookside, and the wise caution of my uncle in that particular instance takes the form of a proverb : “Never brag of your fish before you catch him.”



accompany (ak kum'pa ný)
aching (āk'ing)
assurance (ă shur'ns) : confidence
genial (jēn'y al): friendly

hassock (hăs'suk): a little raised

place on the ground, covered with

grass ; also called a hummock instance (in'stns) : example

HELPS TO STUDY Haunt of pickerel : a place where pickerel generally stay. The pickerel is a long, slender fish, much prized by fishermen in New England waters. This is the sort of story that makes every right-minded person want to go fishing.

1. What things show the beauty of the day, and of the landscape ? 2. Explain “ the arrowy gleam of a scared fish.” 3. Whether the boy got any fish that day, he does not tell; ought he ? 4. What advice did his uncle give ? 5. What is the proverb about “counting chickens”?

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Where the pools are bright and deep,
Where the gray trout lies asleep,
Up the river and o'er the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.


Where the blackbird sings the latest,
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to trace the homeward bee,
That's the way for Billy and me.


Where the hazel bank is steepest,
Where the shadow falls the deepest,
Where the clustering nuts fall free,
That's the way for Billy and me.


Why the boys should drive away
Little sweet maidens from the play,
Or love to banter and fight so well,
That's the thing I never could tell.

But this I know, I love to play,
Through the meadow, among the hay;
Up the water and o’er the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.



banter (ban'ter): to tease
hawthorn (hô’thôrno): a rough,

thorny bush, with a white flower hazel (hā'zl): the bush that bears

the hazelnut

lea (lē): an open field covered with

grass nestlings (nes’lings): young birds

in the nest


1. What things does this boy like? 2. Tell which of them you have seen in your walks in the country. 3. What does “ trace the homeward bee" mean? 4. What things does this boy not like to do?

Notice that the last words in each pair of lines end in the same sound; for example, “eep

in the first two, “e” in the next two, and so on. These are called rhymes. But there is one pair of lines in which the rhyme is not perfect; find it.


The wind one morning sprang up from sleep, Saying, “ Now for a frolic! Now for a leap! Now for a madcap, galloping chase! I'll make a commotion in every place!” 5 So it swept with a bustle right through a great

town, Creaking the signs, and scattering down Shutters, and whisking, with merciless squalls, Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls. There never was heard a much lustier shout, 10 As the apples and oranges tumbled about;

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