On the morning of Decoration Day, Harry declined to attend the celebration with the family, saying that he preferred to go fishing, “lots of other fellows were going.” So Harry gathered up his fishing outfit, his gun, dinner pail, matches, and an umbrella for sultry sun or summer shower, and set them outside the door while he hunted for a few angleworms.
The parents bade him good-by, to take care of himself, and not go too far up the canyon, for the walk home after pleasure is over is always a longer one than that of going.
When the parents and two youngest ones returned from the celebration that afternoon, the good housekeeper had a nice, plain dinner ready; the two children left in her care were asleep after their dinner, and the house seemed peaceful and cool after the long ride and exercises in the open air.
Just before lamp-light, Harry came home, all his trim outfit looking very dusty and out of order; the umbrella was broken, the dinner pail dented and cover lost, and his clothing both torn and dirty. But Harry proudly showed a trout that he had brought home for mother’s own supper no one else must ask for a taste or even accept a proffered portion, or cast admiring glances that way. The trout was about five inches long and had a peculiar, ragged appearance.
“You see,” explained Harry, “the line got tangled after he swallowed the bait, and I shot him for fear he’d a getaway.” “There was no danger of that,” said Harry’s father. The proud son now expressed a determination to make a fire and cook the trout. “O Harry, don’t make a fire tonight and heat the house; the trout will do for breakfast!” “Mother, the house-keeper might eat it herself; little bites; trout is tempting.” “No, Harry, she wouldn’t do that.” “Well, then, mother, I’ll dig a hole in the garden and bury the fish to keep it cool all night.” “Very well,” said she, and Harry spent half an hour in the garden, then came in satisfied with the labors of the day. Throwing himself upon the lounge, he recounted the rambles he had made, how encumbered he had been with so much luggage, the loss of his ramrod, then the theft of his dinner by a hungry dog, and finally how blistered his feet were with so much walking, but he had enjoyed himself.
Suddenly he asked, “Do you suppose cats or dogs could burrow under that box?” He rose, looked out of the window and spied a neighbor’s dog sniffing at the fresh earth. That roused him thoroughly and he forgot that he was tired. The dog was chased for a block away; the trout was dug up, the protecting wrappers of paper, cloth, and leaves were removed, a hot fire kindled, and the trout put into the oven. “Baked trout, mother, is a delicacy enjoyed by epicures.” “Thank you, Harry, but I’m afraid I can’t eat it tonight.” “Yes you can, I want you to know what a real fresh brook trout tastes like. I’ll practice on my flute while it bakes, and call you when it is done. You go walk in the garden.” She had not the heart to refuse his pleading smile, and, glad also to get out of the warm kitchen, “she strayed into the front yard, and, oh, what a sight met her gaze! Geraniums, verbenas, and over there the strawberry bed, turned upside down! Holes and mounds of earth and, lying crossways of a pansy bed, a hoe and long-handled shovel.” “What does it mean?” she asked the housekeeper, who was just returning from an errand up the town. “He said it was searching for angle-worms, ma’am.” Harry’s mother re-entered the house after a serious conflict with self, whether to scold or not to scold, and there was he upon the lounge fast asleep after the weariness of the day. She went to the oven; the trout was done like a chip.
When Harry was awakened for bed-time, he said: “Mother, I enjoyed your having that trout more than though I had eaten it myself.” “I know it, my son, and now won’t you eat some raspberry pie and sweet milk, for I am sure you must be faint?” “Faint! I’m starved! Mother, I couldn’t love you more if you were an angel!” Harry concluded this declaration with a rapturous hug and turned with a boy’s own appetite to his tempting meal.