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|Tales of the Fish Patrol||Jack London|
The King Of The Greeks
|Page 4 of 8||
"Here! You! What do you want?" he shouted.
"Keep going," Charley whispered, "just as though you didn't hear him."
The next few moments were very anxious ones. The fisherman was studying us sharply, while we were gliding up on him every second.
"You keep off if you know what's good for you!" he called out suddenly, as though he had made up his mind as to who and what we were. "If you don't, I'll fix you!"
He brought a rifle to his shoulder and trained it on me.
"Now will you keep off?" he demanded.
I could hear Charley groan with disappointment. "Keep off," he whispered; "it's all up for this time."
I put up the tiller and eased the sheet, and the salmon boat ran off five or six points. Big Alec watched us till we were out of range, when he returned to his work.
"You'd better leave Big Alec alone," Carmintel said, rather sourly, to Charley that night.
"So he's been complaining to you, has he?" Charley said significantly.
Carmintel flushed painfully. "You'd better leave him alone, I tell you," he repeated. "He's a dangerous man, and it won't pay to fool with him."
"Yes," Charley answered softly; "I've heard that it pays better to leave him alone."
This was a direct thrust at Carmintel, and we could see by the expression of his face that it sank home. For it was common knowledge that Big Alec was as willing to bribe as to fight, and that of late years more than one patrolman had handled the fisherman's money.
"Do you mean to say - " Carmintel began, in a bullying tone.
But Charley cut him off shortly. "I mean to say nothing," he said. "You heard what I said, and if the cap fits, why - "
He shrugged his shoulders, and Carmintel glowered at him, speechless.
"What we want is imagination," Charley said to me one day, when we had attempted to creep upon Big Alec in the gray of dawn and had been shot at for our trouble.
And thereafter, and for many days, I cudgelled my brains trying to imagine some possible way by which two men, on an open stretch of water, could capture another who knew how to use a rifle and was never to be found without one. Regularly, every slack water, without slyness, boldly and openly in the broad day, Big Alec was to be seen running his line. And what made it particularly exasperating was the fact that every fisherman, from Benicia to Vallejo knew that he was successfully defying us. Carmintel also bothered us, for he kept us busy among the shad-fishers of San Pablo, so that we had little time to spare on the King of the Greeks. But Charley's wife and children lived at Benicia, and we had made the place our headquarters, so that we always returned to it.
"I'll tell you what we can do," I said, after several fruitless weeks had passed; "we can wait some slack water till Big Alec has run his line and gone ashore with the fish, and then we can go out and capture the line. It will put him to time and expense to make another, and then we'll figure to capture that too. If we can't capture him, we can discourage him, you see."
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