(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Julia, a twelve-year-old Irish girl, and her family have come to a place in the country that they have visited often before, perhaps the family’s home place. Still innocent enough to enjoy childish pleasure, Julia first races to a familiar dark, dank path nearly overgrown with old laurels, which she calls “The Dark Walk.” This is the first year that her brother, Stephen, is old enough to go to the Dark Walk with her, and she delights in his fearful shrieks as she races ahead of him. When Julia and Stephen return to the house and begin squabbling, one of the grown-ups distracts them by asking if they found the well. Although Julia haughtily disbelieves that there can be a feature of the Dark Walk with which she is unfamiliar, she later slips away and returns to the Dark Walk to find out for herself. After much searching, she uncovers a fern-shrouded hole in a rock, which contains about a quart of water and a desperately panting trout.

After sharing her discovery first with Stephen and then with a gardener, she returns to the house to tell the grown-ups, who begin formulating theories to explain how the trout could have gotten there. It is apparent to everyone that the fish cannot survive much longer in the cranny—the summer heat is drying up the water, and the trout already has too little room even to turn over. Julia thinks about the fish all day, returning to visit it often, bringing it bits of bread dough and a worm to eat. The trout, however,...

(The entire section is 589 words.)