“Now we’ll bait our hooks,”
said Mr. Blake, when he had put the lunch, which they
had brought along, safely away in a sheltered place.
“And after that we will have a little skate
practice to get warmed up, for it is colder than I
“But if we bait our hooks, and
leave them in the water, won’t the fish run
away with our lines if we are not here to watch them?”
“We’ll fix the lines so
the fish that bite will ring a little bell, to tell
us to come and take them off the hook!” replied
Daddy Blake with a laugh.
“Oh, now I know you’re fooling us!”
“No, really I am not,”
replied his father, but Mr. Blake could not keep the
funny twinkle out of his eyes, and Hal was sure there
was some joke.
From a small satchel, in which he
had put the things for fishing, Mr. Blake took several
pieces of wire. On the ends were some bits of
red cloth, and also, on each wire, a little brass bell,
that went “tinkle-tinkle.”
“Oh, they are really bells!”
cried Mab, as she heard them jingle.
“Of course they are” said
her father. “Now I’ll tell you what
we’ll do. We’ll bait our hook, and
lower it into the water through a hole in the ice.
Then, close to the hole, we’ll fasten one of
these pieces of wire each one of which has, on the
upper end, a bell and a bit of red cloth.
“When the wires are stuck in
the ice we’ll fasten our lines to them, and
then, when the fish, down in the cold water, pulls
on the baited hook he will make the piece of red cloth
flutter, and he will also ring the bell.”
“Oh, now I see!” cried
Hal. “And if we are off skating we can look
over here, and if we see the red rag fluttering we’ll
know we have a bite, and can come and pull up the
“That’s it,” said Daddy Blake, smiling.
“And if we don’t happen
to see the red rag fluttering, we will hear the bell
ring,” added Mab, clapping her hands. “How
nice it is to fish this way!”
The hooks were soon baited, and lowered
into the water through the holes in the ice Then the
other end of each fish line was made fast to a wire
sticking up, with its bit of red rag, and the little
“Now we’ll go skating,”
said Daddy Blake. “The fish themselves will
tell us when they are caught. Come along.”
Hal and Mab had, by this time, learned
to put on their own skates, though of course Hal helped
his sister with the straps.
“You must begin to learn to
skate by yourselves,” said Daddy Blake, after
he had held the hands of the children for a time.
“Don’t be afraid, strike out for yourselves.”
“But s’pose we fall?” asked Mab.
“That won’t hurt you very
much,” her father said. “Be careful,
of course, not to double your legs up under you, and
when you tumble don’t hit your head on your
own skates, or any one’s else. But when
you feel that you are going to fall, just let yourself
go naturally. If you strain, and try not to fall,
you may sprain and hurt yourself more than if you
fall easily. Now strike out!”
Hal and Mab tried it. At first
they were timid, and only took little strokes, but,
after a while, they grew bolder, and did very well.
They were really learning to skate.
“Oh, look!” suddenly cried
Hal. “My red rag is bobbing; I must have
He started in such a hurry toward
the ice-hole where his line was set that he fell down.
But he did not mind that, and was soon up again.
However, Mab, who did not stumble, teached her line
“Oh dear! I haven’t
a bite!” she sighed, for her bell was not jingling.
“But I have!” cried Hal,
pulling his line in. “A big one, too!”
“I’ll help you,”
said Daddy Blake, as he skated up to his little son,
and when Daddy had felt of the tugging line he remarked:
“Yes, that is a large fish!
Up he comes!” And he pulled up Hal’s fish.
Just as the big, flopping pickerel
was hauled out on the ice, Mab cried:
“My bell is tinkling! My
bell is tinkling! I’ve got a fish, too!”
And indeed her piece of wire was moving to and fro
where it was stuck up in the ice, and the bell was
“Wait, Mab, I’ll help
you!” called Daddy Blake, and, leaving Hal to
take care of his own fish, the children’s papa
went to pull in Mab’s catch.
Her fish was not quite as large as
was Hal’s, but it was a very nice one.
Then Mr. Blake called out:
“Oh ho! Now there’s a bite on my
His bell jingled quite loudly, and
when the string was pulled up through the hole there
was a fine, large pickerel on the hook. The fish
were placed in a basket to be taken home, after having
been mercifully put out of pain by a blow on the head.
Then the hooks were baited again.
In a little while each one had caught
another fish and then Daddy Blake said:
“Now we have all the fish we
can use, so there is no need of catching any more.
We will practice our skating a little longer, and then
go home. For I am sure you children must be cold.”
“Oh, but aren’t we going
to eat the lunch we brought, before we go home?”
“I was just wondering if you
would think of that!” laughed Daddy Blake.
“Yes, we will eat lunch as soon as we get a little
warm by skating around, or by running.”