It had to break.


“…keep your drag light. There’s plenty of line.”

The old Marlin headed out to the nor’west like all the big ones go, and brother did he hook up. He started jumping in those long lopes and every splash would be like a speed boat in a sea. We went after him, keeping him on the quarter once I’d made the turn. I had the wheel and I kept yelling at Johnson to keep his drag light and reel fast. All of a sudden I see his rod jerk and the line go slack. It wouldn’t look slack unless you knew about it because of the pull of the belly of the line in the water, But I knew.

“He’s gone,” I told him. The fish was still jumping and he went on jumping until he was out of sight. He was a fine fish all right.

“I can still feel him pull,” Johnson said.

“That’s the weight of the line.”

“I can hardly reel it. Maybe he’s dead.”

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s still jumping.” You could see him out a half mile, still throwing spouts of water.

I felt his drag. He had it screwed down tight. You couldn’t pull out any line. It had to break.

Earnest Hemmingway, To Have and Have Not


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