A MACLEAN'S $5000 NOVEL AWARD
From the far west coast comes a strange and stirring tale of two men from different worlds and the beautiful little savage who drew them together
"Where a tree had fallen and damaged its neighbors, a bar of sunlight lay across the shady road. The tree had died, tip broken, core hollow, bark shredded, roots sponged. Its youth had been impoverished, its maturity uncertain, its death was evil, and would be that of the other cedars sucking the acid filth and trapped black waters of the bog.
In the sunlight, a man sat on a suitcase, a loaf of bread in his hand. He was not sure of his location. The map he had of the Tofino Great Central Area of the west coast of Vancouver Island showed a trail leading to the south end of the beach. The truck driver, whom he had hired to transport his supplies, had never heard of it but had told him of a road touching the beach some miles to the north built by soldiers after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He checked the map against the truck’s speedometer and decided if there was a trail, it lay close at hand. He helped unload his freight and, paying the driver, repeated after him the truck schedule, south from Tofino to Ucluelet on Moncontinued over page
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day. Wednesday and Friday, passing the beach about ten. returning from Ucluelet in the afternoon. the time depending on the Alberni boat.
The bread he was eating had been bought to supplement his sack of oatmeal, his pancake flour and ship biscuit. In all. he had twelve loads to carry, tent, kitbag, bedroll, two cartons of groceries, suitcase, Swedish saw, a small tarpaulin wrapped about his shovel, axe, bag of nails, cooking and eating utensils and his gold pan, and side by side, heaped by themselves, were the four crated sheet-metal objects he had had a tinsmith in Vancouver make. The truck driver had walked around the crates, lifting their ends, asking
what they were for, but the man had not answered.. They were his secret and would, he hoped, when put together enable him to extract gold from the patches of black sand the storms and tides threw over the beach.
Between two cedars, edging the corduroy road, he saw the glitter of tinfoil. Leaving the bread on the suitcase, he walked toward it. The foil had been the wrapping of a candy bar. Where it lay, the mossy ground seemed firmer. He thought he saw the indication of a trail, and he followed as it snaked between trees and over a marsh meadow until he was certain that it pointed toward the shore.
He went back to the road, stuffed himself with what was left of the bread, looked at his watch and picked up the tent and the Swedish saw.
In some places the ground was slick and bare, in others covered by a saturated moss as deep as a sheepskin. He found himself caroming ofF trees, or hooked to low branches, or forced to throw the saw down and hold the tent before him as a shield against the slap of salai or wild roses. He was overheated, short of wind, and could smell his armpits. When he came to a fallen tree larger than any other he had passed, rather than straddle it he decided to let it serve as the end of his first relay. He hung his over-
coat and jacket on a snag. He thought to do without his shirt but changed his mind when he heard mosquitos.
As he went back, he examined the trail more closely. It could have been manmade, years ago. and disappearing, or it could be a path beaten by deer on their way to lick salt from the beach.
By four, his goods had been carried over the marsh and lay on dry. graveled soil at the foot ot a fir tree. Now he could smell the ocean and hear the breakers thumping. He liked the solitude. the sleepy warmth, the wind in the high branches, the comfort of not having a bundle on his back, a weight in his
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hand. He liked the smell of pitch, the crow cawing, the involved flight of flies above the snowberry.
His mind turned to the gold he expected to find on the beach. He had read every geological report, every bulletin that made reference to placer mining at Wreck Bay. Some of the words he knew by heart. At the foot of a wave-washed cliff the concentrates left in a twelve-inch pan assayed seventeen point six ounces of gold and one point one ounces of platinum to the ton: the values in a pan of unworked sand were four point six and point three ounces respectively. Another reference said, The gold is held in black sand lenses on the beach, the lenses appear after every tide but are most prevalent during the months of winter storm. And another, He worked the deposits during 1934 and 1935 and recovered considerable gold. And, This is marine gold left on the beach by the sea. And, The gold is very fine, perhaps forty to fifty thousand colors to the ounce, much is lost in sluicing, its thinness is such that by capillary action it floats on water. But then, no one had ever had the sense to sluice it under water. No one had ever gone, as he had, to a tinsmith to order instruments made that would not only sluice but trap gold under water. As long as the specific gravity of black sand was five and that of gold eighteen, there would always be a method, somehow, of making a separation. The heavy went to the bottom, the light to the top. In his tin boxes the gold could do nothing but dig softly, inevitably, through the black sand to its proper place. The gold would fall in still imprisoned water, out of eddy, out of current, out of contact with the air. Without a surface to the water, how could the gold float? The hours he had passed in the reference room of the Chamber of Mines at Van-
couver, and the hours on his back in a Georgia Street boarding house, his brain drawing pictures on the ceiling, and the hours spent with the tinsmith were certain to bring a profit.
Above him, a woodpecker hammered the fir tree. The staccato eruption jolted the man into twisting himself onto his stomach and edging his body hard against the exposed root on which his feet had been raised to the sun. His fear was violent until he remembered how he and six others, returning from a patrol that had been as quiet and ordinary as a Sunday walk, had stolen an hour to rest hidden among the ferns of a neglected ten-acre Normandy forest, and had been pulled from sleep by the chatter of a machine-pistol.
He stretched for his boots and put them on. It was half-past five. He had less than three daylight hours in which to move his belongings to the beach. He again picked up the tent and Swedish saw. The faint marking that he had taken to be a trail was still with him, leading between trees, in places covered by Oregon grape, frequently strangled by salai, detoured by cascara, but now certain underfoot and crunchy with fir needles. Suddenly a wind whipped at the bundle on his shoulder, and he raised his head to a world bare of bush and tree, a blue, white world of fragmentary cloud. He dropped the tent and walked through a pocket of fireweed to the cliff’s edge.
The wind fluttered his shirt sleeves. It whined above the smack and rumble of breakers. He saw that the bay was a flattened crescent with mile-long rocky ends. The beach was wide and sandy by the cliff, shingled by the shore, the dry stones grey and blue, the wet black as ripe olives, and everywhere over sand and shingle was a lost bleached fortune in drift logs. An island, large enough
to show trees, lay between the horns of the crescent. The trees were dwarfed by sheets of foam bouncing off the rocks behind them. Florencia Island. Florencia Bay. Or Wreck Bay. For somewhere in the brutal water between the island and the shore were scattered the bones of the barque Florencia come to trade, under the colors of Peru, in the wild days.
By mid-morning his goods were on the beach. The great sound now was not the wind but the beat and roll of the surf and the clatter of stones being sucked on the shingle.
The man filled his coffee pot with water trickling from the cliff. He built a fire of driftwood between flat stones and set the pot to boil. The blue, yellow flames bulged out like a tulip. When the water boiled over and hissed on the embers, he placed the pot by the side of the fire and threw into it a handful of coffee. His eye caught a movement in the haze. It took some seconds before he could distinguish the body of a man. As the distance closed between them, he saw the man was wearing the visored cap and the workaday clothes of a mountie.
“How about coffee?” the man said. The horseman had brown, noncommittal eyes.
"1 asked you. how about coffee?”
The horseman looked at the man’s face as if he were trying to relate it to a circular, and, taking time, said, “Thanks.”
The man filled a heavy china cup. “No sugar,” the horseman said. He nodded toward the cartons of groceries and the stuff scattered on the sand. “Camping out?”
“For a while.”
"Just get here?”
"Where do you come from?” “Originally, or where do I come from this time?”
"Where do you come from originally?” "Alberta.”
“That’s a big province.”
“Quebec, Ontario and B. C. are bigger.”
“Good coffee,” the mountie said. "Aren't you having some?”
“Sure. If 1 can find my thermos bottle. I'll use the top for a cup.”
“What boat brought you in. the Maquinna or the Uchuck?”
“Uchuck.” As he groped among the groceries for his thermos bottle, he saw to his side the mountie’s brown boots.
The mountie asked, “How much sugar have you got?”
“I just want to know.”
The mountie walked to the bundled tent and felt it with his foot. He lifted and shook the suitcase. "What are in the crates?”
The man knew there was more than curiosity behind the questions but he had had enough. "None of your business,” he said. "Were you looking for somebody?”
“Yes. You. What have you got in the crates?”
"None of your business.”
“The truck driver says you wouldn’t tell him either. He figures you might be putting up a still.”
“What do you figure?”
“I figure you might be putting up a still. What with fish a good price and every Indian with money, 1 figure you
might be putting up a still. I have a quiet beat around here and I want it kept that way. How about opening up the crates?”
'How about using your head? Do you see any potatoes, any wheat, any barlex?”
'That’s what the truck driver couldn't figure. Maybe you might be bringing your supplies around by boat.”
“In this water?”
“Little cove at the north end has enough quiet water for a fishboat.”
"Then suppose you come back after the boat calls.”
“The truck driver told you there was a road to the beach but you insisted on coming through the muskeg.”
“I came through on a trail.”
"There’s no trail. Looked to him as if you wanted to hide out in the bush.” "All my stuff's here."
"So f see. Let’s have a look at those crates.”
'I told you it was none of your business.”
The argument had become circular. The man xvas reluctant to discuss his tin boxes, for. if they worked, then he had made an innovation to placer mining. and there would be time enough for frankness after he had applied for a patent, but he said, “Pick out a crate and I'll open it.”
"That's better,” the horseman said. “How about this one?”
"All right. This one. Wait till I pry the top off with the axe.” He eased the nails at the four corners.
The horseman looked at the exposed box. four feet by two feet. “You could put mash in it.”
"Would you like me to open another? Maybe in this one we’ll find a yeast cake."
" How about telling me what you do for a living?”
"I run around the country looking for minerals.”
“There’s a living in it?”
“Now and then.”
"Always carry crates with you?” “This is the first time. They’re for a new kind of sluicing.”
"Have you a free miner's licence?” “Yes.”
“Mind if I see it?”
"No.” He had more than two hundred dollars in his pocketbook and he shuffled the edges of the bills to make sure the horseman would realize he was not dealing with a vagrant. He lilted papers, put them back. "Here's my discharge from the army,” he said. “Age thirty-one, that was two years ago; height six, weight one-eighty-six, hair black, eyes grey, scar jagged, base of right thumb. Were you overseas, constable?”
"Let’s see the licence.”
"What was the trouble? Asthma? Isn’t that what you get from riding horses?” “Just let me see the licence.”
“If 1 find it. Here it is.”
The mountie unfolded the paper. “You're Patrick Aloysius C’rogan?” "That’s me.”
"How long will you be here?”
"I don’t know. Maybe two weeks, maybe all summer, maybe a year.”
The interview was over. “I ll be getting back,” the horseman said. “My car’s at the other end, on the army road, the one you should have used." His expression had not changed, nor did he try to be friendly. "I could see you again,” he said.
"Sure. Bring an empty jug with you. I’ll fill it with moonshine.”
Grogan, as he watched the horseman start his long, hot walk over the sand, drank what was left of the coffee. He
decided to build up the fire and open a can of beans. He could start his survey of the beach in the afternoon, or wait until tomorrow. He picked up a handful of sand and strained it through his fingers. For a millennium waves had been pounding the beach, scooping black sand from the bottom of the bay, throwing it in patches, in grains, over the shingle, o\'er the grey sand, peppering, in winter storms, even the clay wall of the cliff. By now. black sand must be everywhere, visible, invisible, but everywhere. Others had worked what the tide
left uncovered, here a bit, there a bit. but who had worked the acres of grey sand? Gold was where you found it. Others had found it in the lenses the storms brought, the loxv water left, but who had exer concentrated black from the grey, who had ever worked this part of the beach? No one. No running streams were here. Who would flume from a creek to wash grey sand? Or lug grey sand on his shoulder to a distant sluice? Who. before him. had thought of using the same trapped water over and over? He would test the sand to-
morrow', and make an estimate. Say. forty colors washed in his gold pan from ten pounds of sand. Say. forty thousand colors to the ounce. So eight thousand colors to a ton, a fifth of an ounce. Even with his little boxes he could put through in one day more than two ton. Twelve bucks for playing in sand like a kid. If his boxes worked, and they would unless the law of gravity had been suspended, he would arrange for bigger boxes, bigger hoppers, two boxes to a unit, two units, and one man shifting from one to the other, putting
Crogan opened his eyes. A few feet away sat an Indian, watching him, a rifle across his knees
through in an eight-hour day twenty tons of sand. A hundred and twenty bucks.
He fell asleep. The sun was low above the water when he woke and the log’s shadow covered all his body. He pulled a Cowichan sweater from his kitbag and put it on. The tide had reached its crest. Rearing, the waves pounced and slapped the shingle. They were twice as high as his head, and although he knew he was safe from them, they made him nervous. They hit as he had seen death hit in Italy and Holland, with the same clatter, the same explosion of sound.
He ate. The light was still strong enough for reading. From his suitcase he drew the book he had bought for seventy cents in a secondhand store. It was Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle. A book, in the wilderness, could be as basic a commodity as a side of bacon or a bag of pancake Hour. Last year he had had Hazlitt’s Table Talk. A book was a packaged comrade, and had its own conceits, its genialities, and it colored the truth or spoke it plain. It was the length and breadth and soundness of some other man, a balance sheet to show his profits and his losses, his perfections and his depths, his pettiness, his special pleadings, his irritation. In the lonely evening, in the lonely half-hour break at noon, to hold a book was to hold a thread that stretched back to the settled world. A book was a partner, peculiar at times and provoking, but constant, not one to eat more than his share or on Thursday take off for town and a Saturday drunk.
The other book he carried, winter and summer, was small, a third the thickness of a deck of cards, printed in England,
written in French, leather-bound, giltedged, with a blue silk marker, and had been bought with his first army pay— Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts and the Epistles.
Crogan awoke, his body sweaty, his legs pressed against the sides of his bedroll. His sleep had been as thin and tattered as a skidroad coat. It had been impossible to disregard the crashing of the surf. Yard engines shunting a confusion of grain cars could not have made as great a clamor. He had not bothered to raise the tent.
He eased his body from the bedroll. An Indian was sitting cross-legged on the sand a dozen feet in front of hpu, a rille across his knees. Startled, Crogan looked to the rear. He had once wandered onto a reserve in the Chilcotin and had been digging a hole when told to get the hell out by two Indians with guns. He thought it was happening again. He regarded the Indian who was years older than he was. massive in the shoulder and stocky, dressed in a grey cotton shirt, blue pants, no hat. His hair was white on the sides, black on the crown. He wore gold-rimmed glasses.
Crogan took a chance. “Hello,” he said.
The Indian smiled, his teeth the color of ivory and as square as sugar cubes.
Crogan said. “Had your breakfast?”
“What’s the time?”
The Indian owned a wrist watch. “Ten to ten.”
“How about coffee?”
“Wait till I get my pants on. Those damned waves wouldn't let me sleep last night.”
“They make a noise, but that's good.” “What do you mean that’s good.”
“If you hear breakers when you're fishing in a fog you know you’re too close in.”
Crogan put the coffee pot under the trickle coming through the clay bank. “You fish?”
“How big is your boat?”
“Biggest is thirty-nine feet.”
“They tell me those things cost money.” “1 have one worth twenty thousand dollars.”
“Lo! the poor Indian,” Crogan said. He rummaged among the groceries for his pancake flour and the two pounds of sliced ham he would have to eat belore he touched his bacon.
The Indian laid his rifle on Crogan’s suitcase and helped gather driftwood. Crogan kept between the rifle and the Indian. There was hardly a cove on the west coast where whites had not been shot, knifed or bumped on the head. If the man was a Nootka, then he had, apart from a twenty-thousand-dollar fishboat, a tribal tradition both atrocious and bloody. Ships and ships’ crews had disappeared among the Nootkas. With them, palaver had been a prelude to throat-cutting. Carnage, robbery on the beach, a trench dug to convenience worms and little crabs, and whoever would know what had happened to Patrick A. Crogan? He thought it a guaranty to say. “The local horseman was down here. He'll be dropping in again."
“Constable Rise and Shine!” the Indian said. "The local bastard! How did you make out?”
“He was full of questions.”
“What did he want?”
“He wanted me to tell him what I was using those crates for.”
The Indian, as he broke a piece of cedar into kindling, looked up. his eyes sharp and .full behind his glasses. "Did you?”
“I told him they were a new kind of sluice box. He went away happy.” “Constable Rise and Shine!” the Indian said. "He’ll be back. Maybe just when you don't want him. I never saw such a sneaker. You’ll be putting paint on the boat and there’s Rise and Shine with his nose in the cabin, looking to sec if you’ve got a bottle or a package of American cigarettes. He has no friends. ’ Crogan balanced the frying pan on the flat stones around the fire. Soon, the smell of sizzling ham started him swallowing. He set the coffee pot where it could be licked by the flame.
"When do you start working?” the Indian asked.
Crogan said, “There’s no hurry. I'll spend days just walking around looking the beach over.”
“You're not going to set up right on the beach are you?”
The Indian shook his head. "If it was me I’d go into the trees.” He pointed southward. “There’s a ravine you’d never notice about two hundred feet off the old trail. Running water. Lots of wood.” "Any prospects?”
The Indian made a gesture common to all coast tribes, arm half-out, his palm arcing slowly before his face. "Sure. You can't help making money.”
Crogan set the ham on a tin plate and covered the bottom of the pan with batter. “The map showed a trail but I couldn't find it. I came through right here.”
“I saw where you went in. You picked it tough. The old trail comes out about
a mile from here above the old shack.” “Who lived in the shack?”
“A fellow by the name of Inkster.” Crogan recognized the name. Inkster, according to a government report, had worked the beach deposits in thirty-four and thirty-five and had recovered gold. “Did you know him?”
"Sure I knew him. You’d better have a look at that ravine.”
"He was here in thirty-four and thirtyfive, wasn't he?”
"Around there. What are you going to make it with? Potatoes?”
“You’re wrong.” Crogan said. “You’ve been talking to the truck driver. It's because of him the horseman came yesterday. I'm not a moonshiner. I’m a miner.” "You’d better turn the flapjack,” the Indian said, “it's burning.”
"Damned truck driver!” Crogan said. He rolled the flapjack around a slice of ham and gave it to the Indian. He found the china cup and filled it with coffee.
"You told me bad news,” the Indian said. “I thought you'd be able to fix me up for the first of July. I'll have to go to Alberni and get it from a bootlegger. Eight dollars for a three-fifty bottle of gin. And Rise and Shine waiting behind a gas barrel for me to tie up at the float. You drink?”
"Your throat's no different from mine. Wiiy shouldn't 1 drink? How would you like it if you couldn't take a bottle home? You fight the white man's war for him anJ you're Charlie the good Indian. You come home and you're Charlie second class."
"Have another flapjack. You were in the war?"
“Thank you. I was in the big war, not the last one."
Crogan shook the coffee pot. "It’s a hell of a country when a returned man can't buy a legal drink. Pass me over that suitcase behind you."
There was a chance the Indian could be an informant, an agent and collaborating witness tor Rise and Shine, a snake in the grass. But Crogan knew that such suspicion was unsound. The Indian had more about him than the copper on his face to give the impression he was a man of solid metal. Crogan opened the bag and took out a bottle. “Get rid ot your coffee,” he said.
Chiirlie popped his eyes. He shook his head. "Don't open it. I wasn't asking for a drink."
"Rinse the cup out.”
"You give an Indian a drink and Rise and Shine could have you put away for six months.”
“Here's confusion to Rise and Shine.” The Indian's square teeth gleamed in a smile. He held out his hand. “My name is Jack. Charlie Jack.”
"I'm Pat Crogan. Where should we sit? Here?"
“You look south,” Charlie said. "I look north. That ought to do it. But you won't see anybody.”
“I don't know. So far I’ve been averaging one a day.”
"You wont see anybody. The word will be out by now you're not a moonshiner. There’s nothing at this end of the beach."
"I hope you’re wrong. I came here to find gold.”
“Yah! Gold!” Charlie said.
“Why, yah, gold? This fellow Inkster took it out."
“I don't know. But I read it was considerable.”
“In thirty-four and thirty-five,” Charlie said, “a dollar was considerable."
"How much do you figure he did take, Charlie?”
Charlie picked up the rifle. “Belgian. Three hundred bucks,” he said. “Makes people careful”
“Maybe he got wages, army wages. I bet the wife and me and the kids made more money picking cascara in the bush behind his shack than he made digging gold.”
“Did you ever pan down here, Charlie?”
“Me? I’m a full-blooded North American Siwash. I'll stick to fish. I’ll pan gold when you show me some that’s got gills on it.”
Charlie’s apathy to gold was racial and beyond Crogan’s understanding. For thousands of years it had sparkled through the water of shallow streams, had graveled the banks of deep rivers, had dusted the Fraser bars, gathered in creviced rocks along both Thompsons, dotted in a mixture of platinum the Similkamecn. the Tulameen, weighed each twist of the Columbia, armored the Quesnel, and the Indians had found no use for it. They had worked copper, not gold. Crogan wondered at this and had come to the conclusion that God had left a thumbmark on the Indian brain. He poured another drink into the china cup. a smaller one into his own, and put the bottle in the suitcase. He let Charlie, do the talking and listened with only half an ear. His mindwas on Inkster who had worked the beach. Charlie, his eyes thoughtful, his words clear, conversed on matters familiar to both of them, short rations, sudden death, battles and boredom overseas. “Did you do any training in England?” he said.
“Too much,” Crogan said.
“Me too. Where? Salisbury Plains?” “Aldershot and Brighton,” Crogan said. The Indian held the cup not by its handle but encompassed in both hands. “I never saw so many tarts. It sure opened my native eyes.”
“It was wartime, Charlie,” Crogan said. “How did Inkster work? Did he have a sluice? Or a rocker? Or did he just use a pan?”
“I guess you'd call it a sluice. Long boxes made of two-by-twelves and twoby-sixes, with slats across the bottom.” “Where did he get water?”
“There’s water down there. He joined up two little creeks. He had enough for a couple of inches. He’d throw in a bucket of sand, go get another, take out the black sand in the slats, go get another, take out the black sand in the slats. This would go on all day.”
"What did he do with the black sand?” “I don’t know. And I don’t care. It was the hardest way I ever saw to make a dollar.”
“Did he ever show you any of the gold? Was it an amalgam? All stuck together?”
“You said he found gold. I didn’t.” “The government says he did.”
“Who can believe those bastards? They tell you on the radio it’s going to be fine for two days. You say, good, I’ll run the boat up to Clayoquot and make a deal with somebody to go into the beer parlor and bring me out a couple of dozen. You get to open water and bump into the biggest wind you ever saw. You can’t believe those bastards. Maybe he did make money. If he made fifty cents a day, he was making money. He lived on a dime’s worth of porridge.”
“Where is he now?”
“I hear he’s dead.”
“How far away is the shack?”
“About a mile. Want me to show it to you? The roof’s still good. The window
in front’s been blown in but you could board it. There’s a good window on the side. The stove’s rusted. 1 guess you could put a hole in the stovepipe with your finger but you don’t have to do that.”
"I'll walk down with you, Charlie.” “Do you want me to give you a hand with your stuff?”
"I'll have a look at the shack first. For all I know I may be setting up my outfit right here.”
“No water here.”
“I have a system, Charlie. I can keep on using the same water.”
“Then set it up where you like but live in the shack. You get a three-day rain and you'll be glad to be under shingles.” He handed the china cup to Crogan. “Thanks,” he said, “I won’t forget it." He picked up his rifle and worked the bolt a few times. “I want to show you there’s nothing in it,” he said. "I carry the clip in my pocket."
“What's the calibre. Charlie?”
“Point thirty. Belgian. Three hundred bucks.”
“There must be money in fish. Do you always have it with you?”
"I keep it in the boat. It makes people careful not to drift over your nets.” "Why have you got it today?”
"For Rise and Shine.”
“Charlie, you’re not gunning for a horseman!” He wondered il four ounces of whisky were talking in Charlie, but behind the gold-rimmed glasses nothing abnormal lurked in the brown eyes, the big broad face was quiet and composed, the heavy head, sides glinting like chrome in the sun. moved slowly.
Charlie said, “Free liquor and a dead policeman on the same day would be too much for me. I brought the gun so it Rise and Shine saw me coming to the beach, supposing you to be a bootlegger,
I could say I was hunting seals. I heard somebody in Vancouver was offering three dollars a hide but I don’t believe it. Hair seals are no good.”
"Do seals come into the bay, Charlie?” “You'll sec them. Sea lions breed on that island out there.”
“If you shot a seal, how would you get it in this water?”
“Easy. You see the waves breaking? The fourth wave out starts showing white. You hit a seal this side of that wave and he’ll roll ashore. You hit him the other side and you’re out the price of your bullet. He sinks. You don't get him.”
They walked the beach, Crogan looking everywhere for black sand. He saw none. From cliff to tidal mark he saw only grey sand and a jumble ol logs. At a place where water oozing from the cliff ran in a foot-wide shallow river to the sea, Crogan noticed, under the clear water, pencil lines of magnetite. He stooped and touched them with his fingers. They proved that the grey sand did have among its ingredients some black. “See any gold?” asked Charlie.
Crogan looked at the crinkled eyes and the square ivory teeth. “Charlie,” he said, “when you look at the ocean do you sec any fish?”
“When I draw in my net I do. Do you see gold every time you wash dirt in a gold pan?”
The sound of the surf had diminished. They were now within the curve at the south end of the bay. The beach was flatter, and all sand, the tide out. the slapping waves knee-high. “This should
be a good place to catch smelt,” Charlie said. “Any night when the water’s in you could get yourself a feed.”
The bare clay face of the cliff was behind them. “One of the creeks he used is right at the bend,” Charlie said. "The other comes out by the shack. You’ll see the shack in a minute.” Crogan was more interested in the sand left uncovered by the tide. It was not grey in color but buff-yellow. On its surface, here and there, he saw dark markings, one as large as a table-top, most much smaller, some that could be covered by a handkerchief. He was tempted to walk toward them for he knew they were deposits of black sand. He stayed with Charlie. If the spots were washed away in the night, others would appear in the morning.
“There’s the shack,” Charlie said.
On the green hillside, twelve feet above the beach, flaming in the sun, Crogan saw a pink explosion of roses, obscuring, suffocating the mossy shingles of a roof, twisting on weathered walls, barricading with flower and stalk a doorway and a gaping window. It was a riot of a single color, a concentrated sweet exuberance.
"The old trail comes out right on the edge,” Charlie said.
"Who planted the ramblers, Charlie?” “Inkster. The last year he was here.” “He must have had his mind made up to stay some time.”
“He stayed two years. By the side of the trail he even had a row of potatoes.” “He wouldn't have stayed if he hadn’t been digging gold.”
“You tell me he dug it. If it wasn’t for those roses, I bet the shack would fall down. Let’s go up.”
The steps cut by Inkster were still there, each contained and terraced by a cedar slab. Below the fourth, a covered flume protruded, its mouth spouting a solid arc of water. On the bank were sections of a sluice box.
“See back there,’’ Charlie said. “It's still standing. He built a privy.”
The roses, the terraced steps, the sluice, the flume, the shack itself, indicated to Crogan that Inkster had not gambled. He made a living with the black sand.
From his pocket Charlie took a bonehandled knife. “I’ll cut this stuff away from the door,” he said.
“Don’t cut it, Charlie!” Crogan pushed the stalks from the doorway with his hands. "Don't cut it. If I move in, I’ll tie them up.”
The door, leaning on its hinges, scraped when Charlie pushed it. Inside, there was a coolness but no sign of mold. Broken glass from the front window littered a driftwood table nailed to the wall. A form of two-by-fours supported a rusty
bedspring. A section of cedar log, with a cedar slab for a backrest, made a chair.
“Place should be swept out.” Charlie said. “I’ll send one of the kids over tomorrow with a broom.”
Crogan was persuaded by the roses. “I'll move in,” he said. For the moment his crates could stay where they were. He would bring down only his clothes, his groceries and his bedding.
“I’d better be going,” Charlie said. “It’s a mile and a half to the road. On the other side there’s a path that goes to the head of the inlet. That’s where I got the family. You come over, Pat, if you need anything.”
“Thanks nothing. I thank you.”
“Drop in again. Charlie.”
“I’ll do that,” Charlie said. “I'll try and get hold of a dozen beer. You’ll be seeing me anyhow. We always take cascara bark out of the bush around here.” Crogan watched the Indian clutch his way up the grass-covered cliff. The blue pants did nothing to hide the bow in the thin legs, or the flat behind that seemed an insignificant pedestal for the bulk of the rounded body, for the immense shoulders, the thick neck, the big whitesided head. A hundred generations of a specialized race of paddlers with little use for walking had gone into the making of Charlie, dominant men who stole for excitement and killed when they were young, and became crafty in manual arts, carvers, experts of symmetrical design, story-tellers, genealogists, doctors in herbs when they were old.
“Charlie, come down any time,” Crogan said.
A sunbeam, the width of the window, lay half on the driftwood table, half on the floor, when Crogan opened his eyes. He knew it was late. He had slept well. He wondered about the time until he remembered to look at his watch. Not since the first year he prospected had he carried a watch, a two-dollar one. That had been in the deep depression when he finished high school, and had gone with a little silver in his pocket to Edmonton, not to register at the university but to sit on a pile of ties in the Calder Yards. He saw a lot of his province from the top of a carload of Peace River pigs. His view of the Rockies had been restricted. He had passed through by day coach, but underneath. At Jasper, he had been flushed out of a jungle and chased down the track by a mountie. A provincial had threatened him with a vagrancy charge at Prince George. Farther south, at Soda
Creek, he had offered the storekeeper his watch for a box of crackers and a can of beans. The storekeeper hacf refused the watch, given him the beans and a chocolate bar for free, and told him to go to the river and work with a young fellow called Harry. He had found Harry on a sandbar. Harry had a length of canvas hose, a gasoline pump and a sluice box. Harry was a mucker from a gold mine at Wells with a disinclination to work underground when the grass was green. They had worked the Fraser until edge ice, and out of the deal Crogan made his groceries, two blankets, boots, a windbreaker, and seventeen dollars cash. Then Harry went underground at Wells, and he had gone with him. He could not recall what had happened to the watch. Certainly on the sandbar he had never used it. There, they had worked and eaten as they wanted to, and time’s divisions had been the Saturdays when they took the medicine bottle with its quarter-inch of yellow dust to the storekeeper to have their account settled on the gold scales. Gold in the river bar, gold in gold scales, and before summer was over, gold somewhere else—in Grogan’s blood. The year set a pattern that was fixed until the war, up the Nation down the Fraser, along the Cottonwood, the Quesnel, until hard weather, and then underground. But he never carried a watch.
A cluster of ramblers, puffed by the wind, came into view at the side of the window and bent out, and leaves would flutter and make a moving shadow on the bright half of the table and on the planks of the floor. Inkster had been living in the shack the year Crogan had met Harry. It was perhaps in thirty-five that Inkster had planted the rose bush, tamping the black-brown soil about the hairy root, pressing the stem against the naked unplaned wall of the cabin, supporting it, until it suckered, with strips torn from a sack or from a shirt or worn-out overalls, and then tacking the rhubarb-colored tendrils as they came, one this way, that way, one to go around the window, one eventually to arch the door. Inkster had watched the first leaves uncurl but he had not seen the buds. He might have left wondering if the flowers next year would be white or pink. Why had he planted the rambler? Had he expected to make a permanent home at Florencia Bay? Wreck Bay. And found no future there? Or had he left because his years were gone, his heart was hurting, his body had a lump, and death knocked at the door? Perhaps so. He. and not the gold, had given out. How could the gold have given out when every storm, every tide, laid it on the shore?
The roses spoke of Inkster. Inside the bare and crumbling hut there was little left to tell of him. Crogan counted the nails behind the stove where he had hung his saucepans, a wire across a corner where he had dried his shirts and socks. On the wall, pasted to the boards, was a colored print of the Young Christ among the elders. The boards had shrunk, had bulged in warping, the Face was creased, the Clothes were torn. Another print, in the fashion of Currier and Ives, was pasted back of the door. Its edges were unIrimmed. as if it had been cut with a dull knife from a calendar. Sidewalk, lamp posts and full moon, a brilliant window marked Domestic & Imported Liquors, a girl raising her hand against the attempted impudence of a whiskered dandy who had stepped from a hack, or was about to step into a hack. The driver held tight reins and kept his eyes on the brown horses. What had it been called? The Flirt Repulsed? Her Virtue Retained? I trust you not. Jack Dalton? Why had Inkster liked it? What had Inkster seen in
the wooden girl, her bustled blue skirt and the ostrich feather? The man bending over his cane, raising his bowler, what was he, rake, a pimp with ambition to increase the size of his stable, a gentleman’s gentleman procuring? Or had Inkster been taken by the horses? There was animation in them and some beauty. But Inkster was dead, dead as the gas lamp, dead as the dandy, dead as the horses, dead as the girl. Dead, and gone to time, all about Inkster and his pictures dead, but for the Christ Child and the roses.
Crogan made his porridge, fried his ham, and remembered to his surprise that he, thirty-three, had ridden in a hack. The prairie towns, because of gumbo roads perhaps, had had longer need of horses.
Crogan carried his dirty breakfast plate, his porridge pot and frying pan down the steps Inkster had made, and at the Hume washed them, scouring them first with sand. The day was already hot, the air above the beach shaking as if it
had become a jelly. Nothing more substantial than water was between him and Japan and the thought gave him a feeling of uneasiness. He put it down to the circumstances of his being born and bred on the prairies.
He heard Ins name called. A girl was standing by the door of Inkster's shack. She wore grey-flannel trousers and a man’s white shirt. Had it not been for the bang of black hair across her forehead and the turn of her breasts she could have passed for a boy. Her shoulders were cut squarely. The skin of her face, throat and forearms was a pinkish delicate brown, as if it had been tinted in cold tea. Her hair was cut low to the neck and hung as heavy as metal, glinting in the sun to show the same impossible purple-blue of crow feathers.
“My name is Jack."
“How do you do?”
“I brought you a broom.”
“To sweep out the cabin.”
“Would you care to sweep it now, Mr. Crogan?"
“Did you say your name was Jack?”
“Miss Jack, Mr. Crogan.”
"You must be related to Charlie Jack.” "He's my father, Mr. Crogan.”
"No! Then you must be his daughter! I mean, you want me to sweep out the shack. You don't look like him."
“That doesn’t disappoint me, Mr. Crogan.”
Self-consciously, his head lowered in confusion, he mounted the steps. He saw her white sandals, her painted toenails, her grey-flannel slacks, her shirt, the rolled sleeves, her black eyes, her unfriendly face. “Maybe I’d better start sweeping,” he said. “Where’s the broom?”
“In front of you, by the side of the door. Have you trouble with your eyes, Mr. Crogan?”
As he stepped past, he said, "Excuse me.”
She said, “I find it easy to excuse you. Mr. Crogan.”
He was conscious of the hostility. Her expression was set, the black eyes cold and disconcerting. He was conscious, too. that he towered above her. He went inside. The working edge of Charlie’s broom was as rounded as a scimitar, but Crogan swept the four corners, and under
the bed, poked at the walls, the top of the stove. He did not hurry. The superior Miss Jack could bubble in the sun or go and bubble somewhere else. He raised the broom to sweep the bits of window glass that had been lying on the table for years and noticed a parcel wrapped in newspaper. Its sides were matted and bloody. He went to the door. “Did you leave something in here?”
“Did you think it was a human head, Mr. Crogan?”
“Miss Jack, I know of one human head that would look good wrapped up in paper. but thank you.”
She almost allowed animation to show on her face. Then she looked through him. “It was not my idea. You may thank my father.”
“At least allow me to thank you for bringing it, Miss Jack. A most unpleasant bundle for a young lady.”
“1 do as I’m told.”
“I’m sure you do, Miss Jack, but thi, bundle’s so bloody.”
“What’s a little blood on my handV’ I’m not Lady Macbeth.”
“You said. Lady Macbeth?”
“You know of her, Mr. Crogan?”
“I do. But she didn’t stand around with blood on her hand. She tried to wipe it off. Go down to the flume. I’ll bring you a towel.”
He had adopted the patient tone of an adult reasoning with a child. She caught the change in his voice and glared at him, then turned, her hair swinging, and went down the steps. She placed her feet like an Indian, at a slight inward angle, enough to keep them from pointing straight ahead. The broad shoulders and the trim rump were Indian, her complexion and the oval of her face were not. Nor was her insolence.
He completed his sweeping and put the broom outside. He wrapped his towel about a cake of soap. There was still coffee on the stove and he filled the plastic cup of his thermos bottle. He stirred canned milk into it, gambling on the probability she would not need sugar.
She sat on a log, some feet from the flume, elbows on her knees, fingers extended and dripping.
“Here’s the towel,” he said, “soap, too, if you need it.”
“And a cup of coffee.”
“You know,” Crogan said, “I find it hard to believe you’re Charlie Jack’s daughter. Charlie has good manners. If he hadn’t wanted coffee, he’d have said. No, thank you.”
She wiped her fingers on the corner of the towel. “What did he say when you offered him Whisky?”
“Whatever he said, he wasn’t rude about it.”
“Okay. You give whisky to Indians. Give me some.”
“I give whisky to big sensible Indians. To small savage Indians, I give coffee. Now take the cup and say, Thank you." “Thank you.”
“There’s no sugar in it.”
“I don’t take sugar.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
Crogan sat on the log, a good ten feet away, and regarded her with the same caution he would have accorded a stick of blasting powder. Poison and explosives both came in small packages, but neither was so prettily wrapped. The shirt was broadcloth, the slacks were tailored, the sandals with their wide, white heels and interlaced straps had not been chosen from a catalogue. Charlie must be making a fortune in fish. The body itsell looked expensive, red toenails, red fingernails, red lips, shadow applied to the corner of the eyes to slant them, the swinging hair. The lily was gilded to the pom. of being exotic. “I left the broom outside,” he said.
“You can have it,” she said.
“Did your father say so?"
“Oh, him! He can buy a new one.” “You had quite a load, broom in one hand and meat in the other. You’re not dressed for it.”
“I told him that.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, do it. Just do it.”
"He’s a pigheaded Indian. One of these days I'll tell him. too. Go take this broom over to Pat Crogan. he said. I asked him, who’s Pat Crogan? My friend, he said. Where is this Pat Crogan? I said. Over at the beach, he said, where we pick the cascara behind the shack. Send one of the kids. I said. I'm sending you. he said.
I said. I’m not going. It’s three miles. I'll ruin my sandals. Go barefoot, he said. I'm not carrying the broom, I said. Do you think I'm a witch? No. I don't think you're a witch, he said, 1 think you’re a — anyway, he said, you're taking that broom and a couple of pounds of meat. I said, I hope Rise and Shine sees me.”
Crogan was interested. She had put the plastic cup on the log to gesture with her hand, and she made a drama of the story, scowling as she repeated her father’s words and then looking mild and reasonable as she gave her own.
“Why did you hope the horseman would see you?” he asked.
She widened her eyes. “If you saw an Indian carrying meat through the bush, miles from a butcher shop, would you think it was beef, Mr. Crogan?”
"I see what you mean,” he said.
"It was out-of-season venison, Mr. Crogan, a virginal young doe. Shot yesterday.”
"A virginal young doe?”
“Exactly. Do you think sex matters when it comes to something you can eat?”
“Of course it docs. I'd eat good. You wouldn't.”
“You’d be no good, Mr. Crogan. Did you ever roast a piece of old stag?”
“Miss Jack, are you hungry?” said Crogan.
“I got the impression you were. 1 have bread left. I'll make you a sandwich. A canned-corned-beef sandwich.”
“That sounds good.-’
“Canned corned beef is probably old bull. Miss Jack.”
“1 don't mind.”
“Fine. I thought I had better tell you.” “Do you want me to help you make it?”
“Good heavens! You stay where you are. Miss Jack.”
"I’m not mad at you.”
"I’m mad at my father.”
“You must have said. Why should I carry a broom to some tramp you met on the beach?”
"I won't repeat what I said. Mr. Crogan.”
"Where did you read of Lady Macbeth?” “School.”
“Indian school! I'm convent. St. Ann's Academy, Victoria. B.C.. from that high.” "Ah! the Sisters of St. Ann,” Crogan said, "they teach their girls such exquisite manners.”
“Sure they do. Look at me.”
“I’ll make the sandwich. Miss Jack.” Crogan said. He decided as he mounted the steps that in appetite at least she was Indian. At the top he turned to look at her and found she was Indian in still another way. She was three feet behind him. He picked up Charlie's broom and swept the step. "You sit here.”
“You sit here or no sandwich.” "What’s wrong? Do you think you’ll have to fumigate the house if an Indian goes in it?”
"Miss Jack, you put one foot inside and I'll report you to your father." "What’s he got to do with it?"
“Just this. I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate me entertaining his daughter behind a door.”
"You know something?”
“Then you sit here.” He went inside. He had only four cans of beef, bought to be used when his bacon had become rank, and it annoyed him to open one.
She said, sitting sideways on the step, “Got pepper?”
“Lots of pepper.” She said. “Do you know why 1 am dressed like this and my face is made up?”
“I’ll tell you. The Maquinna comes in this afternoon.”
“You're to meet it?”
“I'll meet it. I ll get one of my brothers to take me down in his boat. We ll lay out in the harbor. I'll stay in the cabin. I'll get the brother next to me. You should see him. He's all Indian. Five feet ten and he looks more Indian than my father. You could balance a canoe on the top of his arm. He'll be standing outside, steering, wearing nothing but his pants, and maybe swinging a rock cod. Did you ever see a rock cod?
“It’s ugly. So’s my brother. He'll be swinging the rock cod and the boat will drift by the Maquinna as she's docking. Then he'll open his mouth and turn his eyes in cross-eyed. It's horrible. Everybody on the Maquinna runs over to see him. They're fascinated. Mr. Crogan. Then I jump out of the cabin, my hands on my hips, like this, and I look up. That's all. We just look up. Me and my ugly brother swinging the rock cod.” “They must be stunned.”
“Stunned! Mr. Crogan, every man, woman and child on the Maquinna—• I’d better not say it.”
“All right. Mr. Crogan, they wet themselves.”
“Here’s your sandwich.”
“No sense of humor, Mr. Crogan?” “Yes, but sometimes my sense of humor doesn’t function in mixed company.”
“Arc you a prig, Mr. Crogan?”
“I suppose so.”
She shrugged and gave her attention to the sandwich, biting with vigor, making a complete and enjoyable job of the munching. Now and then he could hear her teeth click.
He asked, “How was it. Miss Jack?” “Good. Did I say thank you?”
“Surely you must have. I’m surprised your father sent you down to bring a broom to me.”
“Didn’t he tell you he’d be sending a broom?”
“Well, he sent it.”
“I know, but I was just a stranger he met on the beach. Did he have to send an attractive girl like you?”
“Do I say thank you?”
“Never mind. Anything could have happened.”
• “What could have happened? You tell me.”
“If it had been my daughter—”
“Have you a daughter?”
“Are you married?”
“So anything could have happened. What?”
“Miss Jack. I’m surprised at your father.”
“You think anything could have happened. Nothing could have happened.” Circling her thumb and forefinger, she put them in her mouth and whistled. At the cliff-edge, out of the grass, Crogan saw rising a width of short, black, shiny hair, a crewcut, and a brown face almost as broad as it was long, wide shoulders under a black shirt, and, as the man stood, a wide body. He carried a gun. “Do you know him?” she asked. “No,” Crogan said, “but I recognize the rifle.”
“That’s my ugly brother, John Jack. Straight Indian. A real Siwash kid. You'd better wave.”
Crogan waved. In return, the Indian raised the rifle. Crogan asked, “Should I make him a sandwich, too?”
“Don’t bother. When I go up I’ll blow on him. Good-by, Mr. Crogan.”
“One moment. Suppose I had come down to the beach with a bottle of whisky?”
“And tried to make me drink it? A bullet would have gone past your ear, Mr. Crogan.”
“And if you had come into the shack?” “My ugly brother would have knocked on the door, Mr. Crogan.”
“I see. Good-by, Miss Jack. Thanks for bringing me the meat and the broom.” “He brought the meat.”
Crogan had not understood how meat bloody enough to stain her hands had not spotted her flannel pants or dripped on her shirt. He knew now.
Yesterday her father had climbed the same cliff, bowlegs sliding, great hands clutching grass. She kept her hands free, her body bent to the slope, hair parted and flat against her cheeks, hips pulling this way, that way, as she dug her toes in the loose earth. A virginal doe.
The brother helped her over the edge. They both looked at Crogan. The brother opened his mouth and swung the rifle slowly, like premeditated murder. He turned his eyes inward until nothing could be seen but the whites. She stood by him, spread her legs, hands on hips. They made a fascinating picture, and half of it was pretty. Crogan said, “You look like a couple of cannibals.”
She broke the pose. The brother shrugged. She said, “No cannibals around here, Mr. Crogan. We ate the last one yesterday.”
Crogan cut Charlie’s meat into chunks to be stewed in the frying pan. He added rice and water. His diet would be heavy in protein for the next two days.
He sat in the doorway of the shack built years earlier by the mysterious Inkster and for his lunch ate what was left of the can of beef he had opened to make a sandwich for Miss Jack. The wind blew cool, fluttered the leaves of the ram-
biers, nodded the grass on the hillside. The breakers were muted, their sound as unthreatening as salvos from distant friendly guns.
He planned a survey. The beach stretched two miles between its rocky curving arms. He could mark it out in segments of two hundred yards, walk about each segment with his gold pan, picking up handfuls, wash the grey sand down to black and keep on washing and count the colors. Where he found the greatest number, he would set up his sluice boxes and start hauling water. The problem would be water.
The air was heavy with the smell of cooking meat. The liquid in the pan bubbled softly. He put the pan in the rusted oven and built up the fire. He had a drink at the flume and started pacing, one to a hundred, one to a hundred, one to forty, two hundred yards.
The first sea beach he had ever walked on had been at Brighton, then Dover, in Charlie’s land of many tarts. There had been another. On a dull day in late summer he and thousands had taken an excursion to Dieppe. Dieppe had had a clean beach with promenade and sea wall, with grey-blue shingle and polished little stones. They disturbed the shingle, made the clean beach dirty, left junk and bundles by the sea wall. The bundles had hands that gripped, faces that kissed the polished stones. The bundles claimed the stones, and to know them, splashed them with a red as salty as the Channel water, and the stones were like red earth from the small province, red leaves from the mountain that centres the big town, berries in a muskeg, willow in October, rose-haw from the prairies, cut salmon from the coast. So did the cindered junk, the relics in the burned tanks, claim the loose stones that had stopped them. And for hours the bundles and the black flesh made the beach, the shore road and the sea wall a part of the new world, and Dieppe was Canada. Canada, that is, but for its concept and its monocled planning.
It was perhaps because he had his gold pan, or the tide in the morning was out, that decided him to work the black patches on the bar in front of Inkster’s place. The night had been calm, the patches left by the tide were small. The largest to be found was no wider than the gold pan. Their depth was disappointing. A scrape of the finger and yellow sand showed. A tidal pool had been left in the depression between the flats and the beach, and he squatted at its edge and started washing. He heard someone splash through the shallow w'ater and saw Charlie Jack.
Charlie looked over Crogan’s shoulder. “Don’t see any nuggets.”
“No. I don’t see any nuggets.”
“That’s because they got rusty, Charlie. I left them in the pan last night.”
“How was the meat, Pat?”
“Good. Thank you.” Crogan stood up. “There’s quite a bit left. Are you hungry?”
“Could take a little something. If you’re going up to the shack. I’ll go with you. But don't open the bottle. Don't think I came down here hoping you’d open the bottle.”
“I'll give you a nip to pay for the broom, Charlie.”
“That's what I came down for, Pat, the broom. We got no broom. Crazy girl left it here yesterday.”
“She said something about you buy ing another.”
“That's a good broom, Pat. The wife
wants it. You want me to buy you one next time I go to Ucluelet?”
"You’d better buy her one.”
“That’s a good broom, Pat. Site’s happy with it.”
“Have you a big family, Charlie?” “Not bad. I got five boys out of the last wife, bang, bang, bang, like that. This one’s shaping up pretty good, too.” “How many wives have you had?” “Three.”
“How do you get rid of them?”
“They die on you, Pat.”
“That’s too bad. Charlie.”
“They get a cold in the chest or a stomach-ache or fall off a fishboat.”
The tide was turning. Water moved in the pool and lapped the shingle, on the bar each breaking wave spread out and hissed over acres. Crogan could no longer work the black sand. He carried the gold pan and left it by the flume.
As they climbed Inkster’s steps Charlie said, “Don’t you open the bottle, Pat.” “A little drink won't hurt you, Charlie.”
"All right. I’ll take a drop. For you, that is. We’re old soldiers. You ask me
to do something and I do it. For you.” Crogan only asked himself if Charlie would still come visiting when the bottle was empty. He poured two ounces into the plastic cup. “Go ahead.”
“Aren't you having any, Pat?”
“Never drink in the morning, Charlie.” “1 guess I’d better take it now you've got it poured out, Pat. Pretty hard to put it back in the bottle.”
Crogan took the frying pan from the cold oven. “Sit down.”
Charlie drank, shuddered, and handed Crogan the empty cup. “B-r-r-r! Pat, a
drink’s a good thing for a poor old man who’s spent most of his life in the rain.” "How many kids have you now by the third wife, Charlie?”
“One. There’ll be another coming." "Maybe the poor old man doesn't spend enough time out in the rain. Sit down and help yourself. Do you want a biscuit?”
Charlie looked at the hardtack and shook his head. “No thank you. Not now. Pat. But I’ll put it in my pocket. Might get hungry. I’m walking in the bush looking over the cascara. Do you like neighbors, Pat?”
“I never have neighbors, Charlie." "Would you mind having neighbors for a couple of weeks? Where we used to camp has got black (lies. No Hies on the beach.”
“I’ll be glad to have you. Charlie.”
The sound of plane engines thundered overhead. Crogan looked out the door. A Canso, with air-force markings, the sunlight reflecting off its silvered body. Hew, at perhaps six hundred feet, along the line of the bay. It circled the horn of the far crescent, passed outside the little island, and made another sweep, disappearing over the cliff to the north.
Charlie said, “He’s looking for somebody.”
Charlie took a last piece of venison. “Trolling boat went out of Ucluelet yesterday and never came back.”
“Was it supposed to be back?”
“It was supposed to be back at eight o’clock last night. Never came back." “What do you think happened?”
"Must have been an accident. I know the fellow. Herbie Hogashima. Went out by himself, l ots of things could have happened.” He pushed the tin plate away. “Pieces will wash up. Maybe Herbie too.” He held out a package of American cigarettes. “Smoke?”
"I quit, Charlie."
“Only knew one soldier who didn’t smoke. Schoolteacher. Didn't like him."
“Last year I lost my makings in the bush, Charlie. I went a month without tobacco, so I quit.”
The cigarette looked small against the broad brown face. “You a Catholic, Pat?”
■ “The name is Crogan. Patrick Aloysius Crogan. What else could I be?”
“That’s good news you’re a Catholic.” “Why?”
"I don't know."
Two ounces of rye whisky diluting through stewed venison could, Crogan thought, have no great effect, but he glanced at the big head and into the brown eyes behind the gold-rimmed glasses. He saw that he himself was being examined. Then Charlie turned to the table and used Crogan's tin plate for an ashtray.
“You want to get back to your gold pan, Pat?”
“No hurry, Charlie.”
“Don’t let me forget the broom. How did you like my girl?"
“A remarkable girl, Charlie.”
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“She could go to college. Educated right up past the neck.”
“I don’t doubt it.”
“Pretty, too. huh?”
Crogan nodded. She was worth more than a second look. A sergeant with Antony might have touched such a face, ruffled such hair. It could have smiled at Nero, passed Paul in Athens, shaken Peter as it said. You. rube, you were with Him. "She's as cute as a bug. Charlie.” "Some chicken. She can make baskets, too.”
"Ah. she cooks, Pat!”
"1 guess, Charlie, she could make you a mess of liver, elk liver, deer liver, bear liver, cow liver, your liver, any kind of liver, in oolichan oil?”
"You like oolichan oil. Pat?”
"I don't know what it is.”
"Fish. Pat. You fill a tub with oolichan lish. leav& it in the sun maybe three weeks, fish goes rotten, oil comes up top. You want me to bring you a bottle?” "No thanks.”
"1 say my daughter's healthy, Pat.” "Good.”
"You should see her round the house, she's as sweet as sugar. No bad words. No fighting. Soft words to everybody. I'll show you. One of you kids take this meat and broom over to my friend, Pat Crogan, 1 said. Is Pat Crogan the miner on the beach, she said, who was so polite and gave you the glass of whisky? That's Pat Crogan. I said. Then let me take it, parent, she said, we're talking Somass, don’t send one of the kids, send me. You're all dressed up. I said, you don't want to carry meat. I am your oldest child, she said, I think it is my duty to thank the kind man for being so nice to my parent. That's what she's like, Pat.” "How’ old is she?”
“She's twenty-one. Just the right age.” "Right for what?"
"Well, it's a good age."
"She didn't carry the meat."
"Yes, she did.”
“No, she didn't. Her brother did, the big one with the rifle.”
“You saw him?"
“I saw him, and I’m sure he saw me through the sights."
Charlie put a hand on his breast. "I get a feeling when 1 think of my kids. That boy! He says, let me carry the meat, sister. That's the kind of family 1 got." "You didn't know he was coming?” "No.”
"He had your rifle.”
“You saw it?”
"Certainly I saw it.”
“Pat, this is how that happened. All morning he'd been after me. Let me kill something, parent, let me kill something, parent. I got fed up. 1 gave him the rifle.”
“Perhaps he wanted to kill me.”
Edging the rocky south arm of the bay, a yellow single-engined plane followed the shore line. From the noise, Crogan took it to be a Harvard.
“1 guess they haven't found Herbie Hogashima,” Charlie said.
The plane broke its course. Wings slanting, in a wide spiral, it started to take altitude.
Crogan asked, “Is there a field around here, Charlie?”
“They built one between here and Tofino during the war.”
“How far away?”
“Ten, twelve miles.”
“This fellow can't find it.”
“He can see it from up there.”
“No, he can't, Charlie. He'll be looking out the wrong window or holding
his map upside down, he’s in the air force.”
“You should have been around when the Japs shelled Estevan.” Charlie said.
“What’s at Estevan?”
“A lighthouse, a little up from here. Japs did it dirty. They came on a Saturday night when the air force was having a potlatch.”
The yellow plane had disappeared. Crogan said, "I guess they gave up looking for Herbie."
"I didn't think he'd come back to Ucluelet.” Charlie said quietly. “1 told
him, don't come back, Herbie.”
“Were many Japs fishing out of here?” "Lots, but not one after Pearl Harbor. Good fishermen. Good friends. But they had a gang that gave the white boys trouble. Nets cut, boats bumped. They wanted all the fish. They didn't bother us men in the Brotherhood. They started to but there was a sad accident. Herbie was the bad one. Once he followed me out of Kildonan. I’ll get you. you yellow son of a bitch, he yells. 1 laughed. Yellow son of a bitch. There was another Jap boat about half a mile behind him.
They wanted to see me wave my rifle at Herbie and get me in bad with the police. The big boat I got now was Herbie's. 1 paid the government nineteen hundred for it after they took the Japs away. You couldn't buy it for eighteen, twenty thousand. I bought boats for my boys and my cousins. 1 told Herbie. I said, don't come back, Herbie. And he comes in yesterday in a twenty-foot gillnetter. 1 told him. Now something's happened. Maybe I got the second sight.”
Let me kill something, parent, let me kill something, parent!
“Were many boats out yesterday, Charlie?”
"About a dozen.”
“Were the boys out?”
“For a while.”
“Were you out?”
Charlie put a fresh cigarette in his mouth. He struck a match on the table, brought the flame to his face, not watching it, his eyes on Crogan. “I was out foi a while.” He heaved himself to his feet, his body as thick as a bear, his bowlegs inches apart, the better to support it. “Thanks for the drink, Pat. Could I have some flowers?”
“Do you like flowers?”
“What good are flowers? I’ll take them to the girl. When she came back, she said, he’s a nice man, parent.”
“I'll cut them for you, Charlie.”
“They can be pulled. I only want about six. You know who gave Inkster this bush?”
“My first wife.”
Crogan took the ramblers from Charlie, went inside, cut the torn stems, and tied them. Against the wall, they had been daubs in a sheet of pink color, without distinction, so many books in a library when one has no particular book in mind, but now each was singular and had its charm, its difference, each head bent its own way. “Here they are, Charlie. Don’t eat them.”
C harlie felt his pocket. “No. I got my biscuit.”
He carried the ramblers as a child would, arm bent at the elbow. The flowers were false notes, and so was the broom on his shoulder, and added nothing to his dignity. He should have had a deer slung around his neck, the gill of a cod, a halibut, a salmon hooked to his fingers. Not flowers, but flesh that was dead.
“You like my girl, Pat?”
“She’s a credit to you, Charlie.”
“You want to know more about her?” “What’s her name?”
“Jack, same as mine. Monica Jack.” “Where did her mother come from?” “That’s a hell of a question!”
“Where did she come from?”
“Pat, 1 got drunk. I got shrapnel in the neck and in my arm. When they let me out of the hospital I got drunk.” “How did you meet her?”
“For a week I got drunk, Pat. But don’t think she was one of those English tarts. She was Welsh. I don’t know how I met her.”
“Were you married in the Church?” “God! no, Pat. I think it was a post office.”
“Meet the rest of the family?”
“I met her sister. You know. Pat, those people got their language? They sing it like the Siwash up at Bella Bella."
"What did the girls do?”
"Daytime? Mine worked in one of those restaurants where all you get is a bun and a cup of tea. Sister had a kid.“ “How did the wife like it out here. Charlie?”
"Was the marriage happy?”
“No. I had a cold bed. It took her eight years to give me the girl.”
“How old is big John?”
“There’s no Welsh in him. Was he adopted?”
“You saw John?”
“Yes, with a rifle.”
"Always laughing, John. Full of fun. I got to be getting home, Pat.”
Crogan returned to his gold pan. What water he needed he took from the flume. In the pan. a film of sand floated, moving like a mush of honeycombed ice on a lake. He shook the pan. corrugating the water into little waves, but the film would not go under. He poked with his fingers. The holes he left disappeared as soon as he stopped making them. He thumped the pan on a log. Nothing happened. He was about to slosh the film over the side when he saw a minute gleam of yellow. He recalled reading, the gold is very fine, perhaps forty to fifty thousand colors to the ounce, its thinness is such that by capillary action it floats. Even as he looked he lost it. The particles of sand, the magnetite, the quartz, the granite and the ruby, lay on the water like a carpet and reflected light. He only found the yellow again when he shaded the film with his hand. From the fir log he pulled a sliver, the length of a match, dipped it under the gleam and slowly raised it. He twisted the sliver from side to side, holding it in the shadow of his body. Gold, un-
like yellow quartz or yellow mica, did not lose color when shielded from the sun. He used his pocket lens. The speck, for all its embryonic size, was a nugget. Its surface had both bumps and valleys. He turned the wood to gauge the gold’s depth, and the yellow drained out of it, disappearing. Flake gold, as thin as goldleaf, as delicate as spider silk. If Inkster had sluiced it, he certainly had lost most in the sluicing. Crogan sat on the log. the gold pan at his feet, and thought of his boxes.
He looked up the beach to where he had left them with his Swedish saw and tent, by the trickle from the clay bank, and saw Charlie. He thought Charlie had climbed the cliff behind the shack and taken to the trail.
Charlie and his dim view of the Britannic tart! Yet a sudsy English girl, a Soho tramp retiring into marriage, pale but proud, might have conformed to tribal life, to oolichans and clams, to fish scales and the splutter of a gas boat, with more aplomb than some uncertain product of a Welsh side hill. Perhaps not the cricketer and earl, the guardsman and the vicar’s auntie, but the otherrank English could adapt themselves to circumstances. It might be that Charlie had not liked the London girls because he did not understand them. Charlie spoke a language whose consonants had value and whose vowels were unaffected and modestly kept their place. What associations could he have had in a town where a haitch and a ho and a har and a hess and a hee spelt orse or the name wasn’t erbert olmes?
Charlie was a small figure far up the beach, the broom no longer discernible on his shoulder. Crogan wondered if he still carried the ramblers, arm bent at the elbow. He wondered, too. if like the yellow Harvard and the Canso, Charlie was looking for Hogashima's body.
Let me kill something, parent!
Let me do it myself, boy.
But it was all conjecture, all stupid intuition, all shadow of a doubt.
He spent two days attempting to estimate the number of colors in a half-pan of sand taken from the tidal patches. He kept count with pencil and paper. No matter how much he shook and juggled, rotated and sloshed the pan there was always a film riding the water, showing a yellow speck, sometimes three or four, and as the sand became concentrated, sometimes ten, twelve, sixteen, twenty. He gave up counting. If he had to wash out five or six pounds of black sand, film by film, the tally would take a week. He decided to deal with the sand as he would with any other placer dirt, rough wash then fine wash until he had it down to a spoonful which, in a minimum of water, could be gyrated around and around the bottom of the pan and made to spread in the pattern of a comet. I his he did. The results were satisfactory. Disregarding all the specks he had washed away, one pan gave him sixty colors, another seventy. and there was one that gave him ninety-five.
Ninety, or, for convenience, say a hundred colors to five pounds, and. say forty thousand colors to the ounce. So, in every ton of sand, one ounce. I hirty bucks.
The comet tails were more than a peppering of yellow on black. Much was grey, a flannel grey, the shade of Monica Jack’s tailored pants. The black itself was curious. It was obviously metallic
but it would not respond to the pull of
The grey could be a gold-bearing telluride. and the black, gold, but arsenical.
Nitric acid, if he had some, would allow him to make a test. He decided to go to Ucluelet.
Crogan shaved and changed to his good clothes. He remembered that the truck on its way south from Tofino passed the beach about ten on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the information was useless, his watch was unwound and he had no calendar.
He climbed the cliff, noticing the imprint of a nail - studded boot, which would have been Charlie’s, and the clear design of the Cuban heels on the sandals of his daughter. On the edge he saw where ugly John had hidden in the grass.
The trail was well marked. It was wide enough for a wagon, and had been made long before Inkster had taken out gold in thirty-four and -five. From the reports he had read of the bay, Crogan tried to recall particulars of any party who had spaded sand at the south end in such high hope that he, or they, had cut and cleared a two-mile road to haul supplies with horses. He knew of none. He ticked them off, those who had found gold in amounts sufficient to be recorded, those who had promoted stock companies and, as far as he knew, found nothing. There was Inkster, and before him the father and son at Lost Shoe Creek. Their operation had stopped when the father died. There had been the man with the cyanide barrel. Then the promoter who, on the strength of spiked assays, had floated a company. Then Larson who came only in the winters and worked after each storm. The outfit with the gas engine and the amalgamed copper bowl that spun like a cream separator. They had skidded a road but not this road. And a Mackenzie who before and during the First War had paid for his groceries with gold dust, as Crogan himself had done at Soda Creek.
Two hundred yards from the cliff the spongy ground hardened. Crogan saw the shell of a two-story black-weathered house whose windows were gaping holes. It no longer had a door. In the clearing beside it, a dozen apple trees, greybarked and mossed, clung to each other with dead brittle branches. The house explained the road. Some damn fool at the turn of the century had taken out a homestead. Someone with stars in his eyes who thought pork came from salai berries, milk from muskeg. Some unsociable squatter.
Crogan could appreciate the truck driver not knowing of the trail’s existence. Its mouth was jungled with currant and elderberry, and there was a
wide stretch of graveled land between it and the Tofino road.
He passed nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing but the cawing of crows on his walk to Ucluelet. There he saw twenty or thirty houses, a wharf, a gas float, two or three stores, and on the water a few gillnetters. empty rowboats, and two packers, side by side. The truck that ran on schedule to Tofino was in front of a store. Crogan knew now it was not any day in the week but a Monday, a Wednesday, a Friday. He saw the driver come out, a galvanized washtub in his hand, the blue price tag fluttering.
Crogan asked, "Are you in the market for a jug of five-star, four-x, swampwater moonshine?”
"Well, how are you?” said the truck driver. “1 wonder how that story got started.”
"I wonder,” Crogan said. "Going back today?”
"As soon as 1 get the mail cleared from the Uchuck.”
"When is she due in?"
“About half an hour.”
"Got room for me? The trail w'e were looking for is a mile this side of where we stopped.”
"Sure. A dollar will take you.”
"All right. Where could 1 get some nitric acid?”
“To flavor the stuff."
"Yeah. ha. ha! Nitric acid. Get you some battery acid.”
“You'd better ask one of the boys in the store.”
On the wharf two men sat on a pile of luggage. An Indian woman, irongrey hair in braids, her dress a checkerboard of blue and yellow, was jigging for sea bass. Three Indians, all men, all young, leaned with their elbows on the railing of the ramp, looking at the water. A little w'hite girl, with missing baby teeth, ran in and out the store door. Three old men, white, out ot the sun. waiting, veins blue and swollen, eyes rheumy, occupied a bench on the porch.
Crogan went inside. Everywhere was a bewilderment compounded on trestles, piled on shelves, pickles, popcorn, pork, soap, soup, sausage, axes, aspirin, cotton by the bolt, dresses for the housewife, oilskins for the man. olives for the fancy, baby pots, boots, bottles, ammunition. doorknobs, pink, white, hard candies, fish hooks, red onions, brown onions, crackers, cheese. Baby s Own Medicine, tapioca, tea, potatoes. Owner, lady in the drygoods, butcher, man by a keg of nails.
“Could 1 get some nitric acid?” Crogan asked.
The man said, “No nitric acid.
“Do you know where 1 could get some?”
The man shouted to the owner, "You got nitric acid with the drugs?
“Nitric acid?” said the owner. “Hell, no. Who wants it?”
Crogan said, “1 11 talk to him. He found the owner half-buried in piles of work socks. “Do you know where I could get nitric acid?”
“You’d need a permit to buy that stuff.”
“I have a miner’s licence."
“Are you the fellow on the beach?” “Yes.”
“How are you making out?”
"I’ll know when I get some nitric acid.”
“Don’t think you’ll get it here. Who would have it in Alberni?”
“I'll send for some.”
The man by the nails said, “You can't
ship nitric acid through the mail.”
“Hell,” said the owner.
“Give me tw'o loaves of bread, a dozen eggs and a pound of cheese,” Crogan said. “I'll pick them up later.”
The old men w’ere still on the porch, waiting. The little girl had gone. The three Indians on the ramp had turned and were facing him. They leaned against the railing. The position hunched their shoulders, broadened their
chests. They had crewcuts. They looked at Crogan. The big one rolled in his eyes. His jawdropped.
“John!” Crogan said.
“Hello. Mr. Crogan.”
Crogan stepped off the porch.
John said. "This is Tom. this is Augustine. my brothers.”
“Hello. Mr. Crogan.” The smiles were wide and white, the voices soft, the manner shy. But Crogan knew how to make a Jack comfortable. He said, “I’m hungry. Let’s get some chocolate bars."
“We have no money, Mr. Crogan.”
"I have. Come on. We'll sit on the porch.”
They followed him. He heard John talking their tongue to the others. Augustine came with Crogan into the store. He said. “Don't buy anything for us, Mr. Crogan.”
“Those old men out there, they know my father."
“Doesn't Charlie let you eat chocolate or drink Coke?"
"He wouldn't let us drink it in front of them, and them not having any, Mr.
Crogan. They’ve only goU'the old-ïïgè pension.”
“I’ll buy seven bottles. You pass them around, Augustine.”
They sat on the step and John introduced Crogan to the old men. “This is Pat Crogan,” John said, and, to Crogan, “My friends.”
The old men bustled, moved their feet, unintentionally prodded each other with their elbows. They hawed, hummed, their eyes bright behind the water that was on them. They slipped the chocolate into their pockets. It was not the chocolate or the bottles that pleased them, they had been accepted, they had forgotten they were waiting, Charlie’s ugly John had said hello. They asked after Charlie. Charlie was a good man. They don't come better than Charlie. Crogan said, “No rifle today, John?” “Not today, Mr. Crogan. We just brought Augustine’s boat over to get my young brother. He's had his tonsils out. The Sisters thought he'd better take a week at home.”
“Where does he go to school?” “Kuper Island.”
“What kind of a shot are you with a rille, John? Could you knock a bottle of whisky out of a man’s hand, say, at forty yards?”
“Yes, Mr. Crogan.”
“Without hurting the man, John?”
“I don't know.”
There was no banter in John's eyes, only a sudden realization that, after all. a bottle of whisky could have a body behind it.
Crogan said, “So you offered to carry the meat for your sister, John?”
John said, “I didn’t offer nothing.” Augustine cleared his throat. He took an imaginary pair of glasses from his eyes, blew on them, wiped them with a sleeve, put them back, and gave John the stare of a disturbed gorilla. He said, “John, you carry the meat. Parent, I’m carrying the rifle. Oh, my God! John, you carry the meat. But, parent—Shut up! What kind of a boy have I got? I’ll lean on you, John. I said, you carry the meat.” Augustine’s voice faded, “The parent wants me to carry the meat, sister.”
The mimicry was good. Crogan laughed. The old men tittered. The brothers heightened the effect by looking at each other with stony faces.
“You’re a good boy, Augustine,” John said. “You’re a good boy.”
Tom pretended he had glasses. He took them off, polished them and put them back. His voice dripped with love. “You're a good boy. Augustine. Lots of fish. You take it easy, Augustine. You go to Ucluelet and bum around. Here’s fifty cents, Augustine.”
“You’re a good boy, Augustine,” John said. “A hundred and thirty dollars worth of fish. Here’s fifty cents. Bum around. Buy yourself a wristwatch, Augustine.”
Augustine looked at John, John at Tom, Tom at Augustine. Neck veins stood out, their foreheads sweated, their eyes were glazed. Augustine rocked himself. John squeezed his Adam’s apple. Tom. puffing wet noises like a swimmer, suddenly and insanely yelled. That did it. The brothers fell over themselves. They spluttered and hooted, beat the porch with their hands, wiped their eyes. Crogan laughed with them.
One of the old men asked, “Did you know the Crogan who had the sawmill on the Canal?”
“No,” said Crogan, “but I would like to ask you something. Did you know a man named Inkster who worked the sands at Wreck Bay in thirty-four and thirty-five?”
“His name was Mackenzie,” the gaffer said. “He was crazy. He talked out loud to himself.”
“No, no. Mackenzie was on the beach at the time of the First War. This fellow’s name was Inkster.”
“Inkster?” the gaffer said. “There was a man on the beach. Maybe his name was Inkster. He went to the United Church. On Sunday afternoon he’d walk in for the night service. Charlie’s wife was boarding here. They'd walk to church together. Maybe his name was Inkster."
“Did you ever talk to him?”
“Oh. I talked to him.”
“I never talked to him about gold. Charlie’s wife was a little woman.”
“You don’t know how much gold he was taking from the beach?”
“I don’t know. She was a little woman. She asked me for a root of my
Answer to Who is it? on page 3g Elaine Grand, the CBC-TV personality who’s become a leading figure in British television, commuted to Toronto last year to appear on Chrysler Festival.
rambler rose. That was on a house I had. It burned.”
Crogan was aware that ugly John. Augustine and Tom were looking at him.
“Do you have a brother,” the gaffer asked, “who runs a sawmill on the Canal?”
A voice said, “Do you have a brother, a D. D. Crogan. who’s a county-court judge in Alberta?”
“Dennis Dalton, yes,” Crogan said, and turned. Rise and Shine, dressed in red tunic, stetson, side-arm, lanyard, yellow-striped britches, riding boots, spurs, was five feet from the porch. He had a small show of military ribbon on his chest. “How do you know," Crogan said, “I have a brother?”
“1 can get information when I want it.”
Crogan looked at the tunic. “Circus in town?”
“No. Court in Alberni.”
Crogan looked at the ribbons. ‘'Overseas?'’
“My outfit was in Jamaica.”
“You get medals for Jamaica?” “These were for Hong Kong. Hello. John. Augustine, Tommy.” He pointed to the empty Coke bottles. “Is that how you're selling it, Crogan?"
“Those were free samples. I just ran out.”
“How are things in Morinville?”
“So you know I was brought up in Morinville?"
“Oh, sure. I'm from Alberta, too.” “What part?”
“Ah! the solid Ukraine.” Crogan said. “That’s right. We ate beet soup and my father wore sheepskins.”
“Do you know my brother?”
“I just know he is your brother.” “What’s your name, constable?”
“You won't believe it. Feodosy.”
“And they call you?”
“Say, do you know where 1 could get some nitric acid?”
"Not here. There’s no call for it. The inhabitants throw bottles and knives at each other, not acid. Perhaps John could get it for you. The Jacks always seem to have a boat going to Alberni."
John asked. “Do you want to go to Alberni, Mr. Crogan? I'll tell my father.”
“John, suppose 1 give you a couple of dollars, then whoever is going can bring me back some. You can buy it at any drug store.”
“Do you have to sign for it?"
"John, 1 don't know. I've always shown my miner’s licence."
“I'll tell my father.”
“Do you think he could get it?”
“You could go with him. Mr. Crogan.”
The horseman was looking at the two men sitting by their luggage. John made a low sweep with his hand. C'rogan knew the gesture meant the business is finished. He knew, too. why Charlie would like to take him to Alberni. There was a liquor store in Alberni.
Crogan spoke to the horseman. "Did they find the Jap yet, Hogashima?"
"We did. We found him on your beach.”
"I didn’t see you.”
“I guess not. He washed up at the far end.”
Ugly John rose. He spoke in his own language to his brother. He said, “Thank you, Mr. Crogan. We have to go now. We need gas.” He nodded to the old men and to Rise and Shine. Crogan kept his eyes on them as they went down the ramp, wide, wide shoulders, black, glistening hair, toes in, legs a little bowed, not nearly as much as Charlie’s.
"How was the body?” he asked. "Any hole going through it?”
“Pretty rough,” said Rise and Shine. "Something had been biting on him. Maybe crabs. Maybe dogfish."
"Any bones broken?”
“The back of the head, perhaps. Hard to tell. It was squashy. He could have been bumping against rock on his way in.”
“How do you think it happened?” “Well, in the first place, his boat should never have been on the water. It was a tub. It might have opened up on him. In the second place, the engine could have quit and he could have pounded against a rock. He could have hit a deadhead. He could simply have fallen overboard.”
"Were there any other boats out?” “There were some Indian boats out, but nobody seems to have seen anything.”
"Was there an inquest?”
"This morning. Death by misadventure."
"No autopsy, I suppose.”
"Not here. We would have had to send the body into town for that. Did you know this Hogashima?”
"No, I didn’t know him. I'm just trying to figure what could have happened.”
FLORENCIA BAY PART TWO