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Abby cast her fly rod backward and then forward, landing the fly directly onto the outstretched palm of Dennis' hand. Instead of praising her, he remained thoughtfully silent.

"How far is your reach?" he asked.

"Excuse me?" said Abby, unsure of his meaning.

"What's the longest distance you've ever cast?" asked Dennis, intently serious.

"How should I know?" replied Abby. "I don't walk around with a tape measure!"

"Mr. Winkler said you're gifted," muttered Dennis, "let's see just how gifted you really are. Stand here and cast your fly as far out as you can onto the beach."

Abby did as she was told, executing a flawless double haul. Dennis immediately paced off the area, counting each step as he went. When he came back, his face was serious.

"Am I as good as Mr. Winkler said I was?" laughed Abby, jokingly.

"No," answered Dennis soberly. "You're better. Do you know how far you just cast?"

"I don't know," she shrugged. "Seventy feet?"

"That cast was at least one hundred and forty feet," he informed her.

Seeing that something serious was going on, the others joined Dennis and Abby.

"How'd she do?" asked John.

"Did you see her land the fly on my palm?" asked Dennis. "I can count the people that can do that on one hand," he said soberly. "And many of them are men. I've never met a woman who had so much control over her line. As for the distance..." Dennis paused for dramatic effect. "One hundred and thirty something feet is the longest cast ever in the female division, and your daughter just bested that by ten feet! I don't know what kind of artist you are, Abby, but you're the best fly caster I've ever had the honor to meet!"

"We always knew she had a gift," said Terry, grinning widely.

Abby looked at Dennis skeptically. He was making a big deal over things she did every day. She reeled in her line, and went back to the water's edge, to do some REAL fishing.

"You've got to let me train you," pleaded Dennis. "With work, I think your cast could go even further!"

"What's the big deal about how far she can cast?" wondered Izumi.

Terry and John chuckled at Izumi's ignorance.

"The farther you can cast, and the greater the precision you have in placing the fly," explained Terry, "the likelier it is that you'll catch what you want! In other words, if Abby were out in the wild with only her fly rod and a lake, she would never go hungry!"

"That's a little unrealistic," interjected Abby with a patient sigh. She felt everyone was getting more excited over her skills, than was merited. "When the fish aren't biting, the fish aren't biting. You can't impress them with a tape measure!"

"No, but you can impress future clients," pressed Dennis. "Why, with an arm like that, they would come to you!"

"I'm flattered you like my casting," said Abby, "but I'm not interested in becoming an instructor!"

"Then you're wasting a God-given talent," warned Dennis, almost angrily.

"You don't know me!" retorted Abby. "I'm going to be an artist, and that's all there is to it!"

Seeing that she was unwilling to debate the subject any further, Dennis turned to go, but suddenly realized he didn't know the way back.

"I'll drive him home," volunteered Terry.

Disappointed that her new friend was leaving on such a disagreeable note, Abby gathered her fishing gear and walked back to the little yellow house.

As Jake followed her home, he felt certain that the sooner Dennis Beckman left Three Mile Bay, the better off Abby would be-- or at least, that's what he tried hard to make himself believe.

"A [woman] that hath friends must shew [herself] friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
~ Proverbs 18:24 ~

end of chapter
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