I. The House in Cradle Bay
II. His Own Country
III. The Flutter of Sable Wings
V. From the Bottom Up
VI. The Springboard
VII. Sea Boots and Salmon
VIII. Vested Rights
IX. The Complexity of Simple Matters
X. Thrust and Counterthrust
XI. Peril of the Sea
XII. Between Sun and Sun
XIII. An Interlude
XIV. The Swing of the Pendulum
XV. Hearts are not Always Trumps
XVI. En Famille
XVII. Business as Usual
XVIII. A Renewal of Hostilities
XIX. Top Dog
XX. The Dead and Dusty Past
XXI. As it was in the Beginning
Long, Long Ago
The Gulf of Georgia spread away endlessly, an immense, empty stretch of water bared to the hot eye of an August sun, its broad face only saved from oily smoothness by half-hearted flutterings of a westerly breeze. Those faint airs blowing up along the Vancouver Island shore made tentative efforts to fill and belly out strongly the mainsail and jib of a small half-decked sloop working out from the weather side of Sangster Island and laying her snub nose straight for the mouth of the Fraser River, some sixty sea-miles east by south.
In the stern sheets a young man stood, resting one hand on the tiller, his navigating a sinecure, for the wind was barely enough to give him steerageway. He was, one would say, about twenty-five or six, fairly tall, healthily tanned, with clear blue eyes having a touch of steely gray in their blue depths, and he was unmistakably of that fair type which runs to sandy hair and freckles. He was dressed in a light-colored shirt, blue serge trousers, canvas shoes; his shirt sleeves, rolled to the elbows, bared flat, sinewy forearms.
He turned his head to look back to where in the distance a white speck showed far astern, and his eyes narrowed and clouded. But there was no cloud in them when he turned again to his companion, a girl sitting on a box just outside the radius of the tiller. She was an odd-looking figure to be sitting in the cockpit of a fishing boat, amid recent traces of business with salmon, codfish, and the like. The heat was putting a point on the smell of defunct fish. The dried scales of them still clung to the small vessel’s timbers. In keeping, the girl should have been buxom, red-handed, coarsely healthy. And she was anything but that. No frail, delicate creature, mind you,—but she did not belong in a fishing boat. She looked the lady, carried herself like one,—patrician from the top of her russet-crowned head to the tips of her white kid slippers. Yet her eyes, when she lifted them to the man at the tiller, glowed with something warm. She stood up and slipped a silk-draped arm through his. He smiled down at her, a tender smile tempered with uneasiness, and then bent his head and kissed her.