In this Edwardian novel the ethics of inhumane treatment of wild-caught fish is raised through the heroine, Anna, who is out fishing with friends. Anna empathises with the mackerel that have been caught, unhooked and left to suffocate in a box and is appalled that a live fish has a piece cut out of it to be used for bait. A process of desensitisation to animal suffering is also shown:
|“Both lines came in together, and on each was a pounder. Anna saw her fish gleam and flash like silver in the clear water as it neared the surface. Henry held the line short, letting the mackerel plunge and jerk, and then seized and unhooked the catch.|
“‘How cruel !’ Anna cried, startled at the nearness of the two fish as they sprang about in an old sugar-box at her feet. Young Tom laughed loud at her exclamation. ‘They cairn’t feel, miss,’ he sniggered. Anna wondered that a mouth so soft and kind could utter such heartless words.
“In an hour the united efforts of the party had caught nine mackerel ; it was not a multitude, but the sun, in perfecting the weather, had spoilt the sport. Anna had ceased to commiserate the captured fish. She was obliged, however, to avert her head when Tom cut some skin from the side of one of the mackerel to provide fresh bait ; this device seemed to her the extremest refinement of cruelty.”
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