It was all familiar to Jack MacRae. He knew every nook and cranny on Squitty Island, every phase and mood and color of the sea. It is a grim birthplace that leaves a man without some sentiment for the place where he was born. Point Old, Squitty Cove, Poor Man’s Rock had been the boundaries of his world for a long time. In so far as he had ever played, he had played there.
He looked for another familiar figure or two, without noting them.
“The fish are biting fast for this time of year,” he reflected. “It’s a wonder dad and Peter Ferrara aren’t out. And I never knew Bill Munro to miss anything like this.”
He looked a little longer, over across the tip of Sangster Island two miles westward, with its Elephant’s Head,—the extended trunk of which was a treacherous reef bared only at low tide. He looked at the Elephant’s unwinking eye, which was a twenty-foot hole through a hump of sandstone, and smiled. He had fished for salmon along the kelp beds there and dug clams under the eye of the Elephant long, long ago. It did seem a long time ago that he had been a youngster in overalls, adventuring alone in a dugout about these bold headlands.
He rose at last. The November wind chilled him through the heavy mackinaw. He looked back at the Gower cottage, like a snowflake in a setting of emerald; he looked at the Gower yacht; and the puzzled frown returned to his face.
Then he picked up his bag and walked rapidly along the brow of the cliffs toward Squitty Cove.
The Flutter of Sable Wings
A path took form on the mossy rock as Jack MacRae strode on. He followed this over patches of grass, by lone firs and small thickets, until it brought him out on the rim of the Cove. He stood a second on the cliffy north wall to look down on the quiet harbor. It was bare of craft, save that upon the beach two or three rowboats lay hauled out. On the farther side a low, rambling house of logs showed behind a clump of firs. Smoke lifted from its stone chimney.
MacRae smiled reminiscently at this and moved on. His objective lay at the Cove’s head, on the little creek which came whispering down from the high land behind. He gained this in another two hundred yards, coming to a square house built, like its neighbor, of stout logs with a high-pitched roof, a patch of ragged grass in front, and a picket-fenced area at the back in which stood apple trees and cherry and plum, gaunt-limbed trees all bare of leaf and fruit. Ivy wound up the corners of the house. Sturdy rosebushes stood before it, and the dead vines of sweet peas bleached on their trellises.
It had the look of an old place—as age is reckoned in so new a country—old and bearing the marks of many years’ labor bestowed to make it what it was. Even from a distance it bore a homelike air. MacRae’s face lightened at the sight. His step quickened. He had come a long way to get home.