There was a storm brewing, a wicked one, reckoned by the headlong drop of the aneroid. MacRae had a hundred or so salmon aboard for all his Squitty round, and he had yet to pick up those on the boats in the Cove.
But MacRae held on till the first hot days of August were at hand and his money was dwindling to the vanishing point. Then he ran the Blanco and the Bluebird into Squitty Cove and tied them to permanent moorings in shoal water near the head. For a day or two the salmon had shifted mysteriously to the top end, around Folly Bay and the Siwash Islands and Jenkins Pass.
MacRae stirred wakeful on the sun-hot deck, slushing it down with buckets of sea water to save his ice and fish. He coiled ropes, made his vessel neat, and sat him down to think. Squitty Cove always stirred him to introspection. His mind leaped always to the manifold suggestions of any well-remembered place.
Things didn't go well with us lately. I have no land to turn to. So I'm for the salmon business as a means to get on my feet." "Gower got your place?" Abbott hazarded. "Yes. How did you know?" "Made a guess. I heard he had built a summer home on the southeast end of Squitty. In fact Nelly was up there last summer for a week or so. Hurts, eh, Jack?
He and Long Tom Spence had struck up a partnership in a group of mineral claims on the Knob, that conical mountain which lifted like one of the pyramids out of the middle of Squitty Island. There had been much talk of those claims. Years ago Bill Munro he who died of the flu in his cabin beside the Cove had staked those claims. Munro was a young man then, a prospector.
This land which runs across Squitty Island from the Cove to Cradle Bay and extending a mile back in all a trifle over six hundred acres was to be your inheritance. You were born here. I know that no other place means quite so much to you as this old log house with the meadow behind it, and the woods, and the sea grumbling always at our doorstep.
"How many bluebacks are you going to get for us?" "Just about all that are caught around Squitty Island," MacRae said quietly. "That's why I want another carrier." "Huh!" Stubby grunted. His tone was slightly incredulous. "You'll have to go some. Wish you luck though. More you get the better for me." "I expect to deliver sixty thousand bluebacks to Crow Harbor in July," MacRae said.
The Blanco kept mostly in touch with the main fleet patrolling the southeastern end of Squitty like a naval flotilla, wheeling and counterwheeling over the grounds where the blueback played. MacRae forced the issue. He raised the price to sixty-five, to seventy, to seventy-five, to eighty, and the boats under the yellow house flag had to pay that to get a fish.
MacRae sat heedless that the room was growing cold. He did not even lift his head at the sound of heavy footsteps on the porch. He did not move until a voice at the door spoke his name in accents of surprise. "Is that you, yourself, Johnny MacRae?" The voice was deep and husky and kind, and it was not native to Squitty Cove.
His mind hopped from Squitty Cove to Salisbury Plain, to the valley of the Rhone, to Paris, London, Vancouver, turned up all sorts of recollections, cameralike flashes of things that had happened to him, things he had seen in curious places, bits of his life in that somehow distant period when he was a youngster chumming about with his father.