Gower laid aside the glasses. He smoked a second cigar down to a stub, resting his plump hands on his plump stomach. He resembled a thoughtful Billiken in white flannels, a round-faced, florid, middle-aged Billiken. By that time the two Bird boats had come up and parted on the head of Squitty. The Bluebird, captained by Vin Ferrara, headed into the Cove. The Blackbird, slashing along with a bone in her teeth, rounded Poor Man’s Rock, cut across the mouth of Cradle Bay, and stood on up the western shore.
“He knows every pot-hole where a troller can lie. He’s not afraid of wind or sea or work. No wonder he gets the fish. Those damned—”
Gower cut his soliloquy off in the middle to watch the Blackbird slide out of sight behind a point. He knew all about Jack MacRae’s operations, the wide swath he was cutting in the matter of blueback salmon. The Folly Bay showing to date was a pointed reminder. Gower’s cannery foreman and fish collectors gave him profane accounts of MacRae’s indefatigable raiding,—as it suited them to regard his operations. What Gower did not know he made it his business to find out. He sat now in his grass chair, a short, compact body of a man, with a heavy-jawed, powerful face frowning in abstraction. Gower looked younger than his fifty-six years. There was little gray in his light-brown hair. His blue eyes were clear and piercing. The thick roundness of his body was not altogether composed of useless tissue. Even considered superficially he looked what he really was, what he had been for many years,—a man accustomed to getting things done according to his desire. He did not look like a man who would fight with crude weapons—such as a pike pole—but nevertheless there was the undeniable impression of latent force, of aggressive possibilities, of the will and the ability to rudely dispose of things which might become obstacles in his way. And the current history of him in the Gulf of Georgia did not belie such an impression.
He left the balcony at last. He appeared next moving, with the stumpy, ungraceful stride peculiar to the short and thick-bodied, down the walk to a float. From this he hailed the Arrow, and a boy came in, rowing a dinghy.
When Gower reached the cruiser’s deck he cocked his ear at voices in the after cabin. He put his head through the companion hatch. Betty Gower and Nelly Abbott were curled up on a berth, chuckling to each other over some exchange of confidences.