He was quite sanguine that he would succeed in this undertaking. But he had not looked much beyond the first line of trenches which he planned to storm. They did not seem to him particularly formidable. The Scotch had been credited with uncanny knowledge of the future. Jack MacRae, however, though his Highland blood ran undiluted, had no such gift of prescience. He did not know that the highway of modern industry is strewn with the casualties of commercial warfare.
A small balcony over the porch of Gower’s summer cottage commanded a wide sweep of the Gulf south and east. That was one reason he had built there. He liked to overlook the sea, the waters out of which he had taken a fortune, the highway of his collecting boats. He had to keep in touch with the Folly Bay cannery while the rush of the pack was on. But he was getting more fastidious as he grew older, and he no longer relished the odors of the cannery. There were other places nearer the cannery than Cradle Bay, if none more sightly, where he could have built a summer house. People wondered why he chose the point that frowned over Poor Man’s Rock. Even his own family had questioned his judgment. Particularly his wife. She complained of the isolation. She insisted on a houseful of people when she was there, and as Vancouver was full of eligible week-enders of both sexes her wish was always gratified. And no one except Betty Gower ever knew that merely to sit looking out on the Gulf from that vantage point afforded her father some inscrutable satisfaction.
On a day in mid-July Horace Gower stepped out on this balcony. He carried in his hand a pair of prism binoculars. He took a casual look around. Then he put the glasses to his eyes and scanned the Gulf with a slow, searching sweep. At first sight it seemed empty. Then far eastward toward Vancouver his glass picked up two formless dots which alternately showed and disappeared.
Gower put down the glasses, seated himself in a grass chair, lighted a cigar and leaned back, looking impersonally down on Point Old and the Rock. A big, slow swell rolled up off the Gulf, breaking with a precisely spaced boom along the cliffs. For forty-eight hours a southeaster had swept the sea, that rare phenomenon of a summer gale which did not blow itself out between suns. This had been a wild tantrum, driving everything of small tonnage to the nearest shelter, even delaying the big coasters.
One of these, trailing black smoke from two funnels, lifting white superstructure of cabins high above her main deck, standing bold and clear in the mellow sunshine, steamed out of the fairway between Squitty and Vancouver Island. But she gained scant heed from Gower. His eyes kept turning to where those distant specks showed briefly between periods in the hollows of the sea. They drew nearer. Gower