"Stick 'im Boy”
When the wary swordfish ‘fins’ off the Cape Breton coast, there is dramatic and hazardous sport afoot
“Well, this Sunday fishin’ ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. The minister spoke about it, too. He said from the pulpit: “I understand in my absence thirteen hundred dollars worth of fish was shipped. I feel quite sure half of it was caught on the Sabbath day when all of you should have been in God’s house.’ ”
WE STOOD on the cliff at Havenside, one horn of the bay of Louisburg harbor, and watched the swordfish fleet put out to sea. It was the same every day, the put-put of the earliest outgoing boats intermingled with the engine-sounds of the latest of the rum-runners to return. Before daylight one could not distinguish by the sound which were swordfish boats and going out and rum-runners coming in from the Lunenburg schooner, which had been lying off shore with a cargo of West Indian rum for three weeks past.
But now it was strong daylight, and one could see. The little rum-boats had all finished their night’s work; they had returned from the mother ship; only swordfish boats were visible. It was worth getting up early to see that tiny fleet pouring out from the harbor to the open sea through ‘The Passage’ a narrow gut of sea barely half a mile wide, the neck of the harbor-bottle, incredibly rock-girt. On one side was this point of Havenside, across from it and on the other side of ‘The Passage’, Battery Island, a barren, saw-toothed rock bursting from the white foam of the surf, on which once stood the chief battery of the French defences of Louisburg, before that strong fortress fell to the British. Now on a clear day, one could make out its present inhabitants, the seals, crawling on its rocks.
It was the same each day: from sunrise until midmorning the little boats poured out; from mid-afternoon until darkness they poured in—boats from Gloucester, and from all the New England coast; boats from Eastport and Fisherman’s Harbor; boats from Canso and from Dover, Isaac's Harbor, Arichat, St. Peter’s and all the Nova Scotia mainland coast; boats from down the other way, from the island of Cape Breton on which we stood, Scatari, Glace Bay, Sydney, Ste. Anne’s and Ingonish boats, all with girlish names, the Winnie May, Elizabeth, Rose Dorothy, the Blanche C. the entire gamut of fishermen’s wives, sweethearts and daughters!
Seventy-five sail in all; they bowled past, some now far out at sea. others just leaving their wharves, their engines put-putting their mainä’!, fores'l and jib up to help the engine, the fores’l always up to steady the boat; others beating through ‘The Passage’ opposite us. F ar away, we see the white sails of the distant swordfish fleet, closer to us pigmy figures at the mast-head, and in the bowspritcage like little gods on thrones, clear-cut and black against the distant blue. Everywhere, boats careening, white sails bellying.
“They got a hundred fish last Sunday,” the fisherman’s wife beside me observed gloomily, “an’ only half the fleet out. Maybe if they hadn’t gone out on the Sabbath they could have gone out all week.” For it had been ‘loppy1, a stiff breeze had held for days, and the boat3 had not gone out, for the swordfish only come up to the surface where they can be harpooned on calm, sunny days such as this one wa3, the first good day all week.
“You believe that?” I inquired.
T WENT out the next day with a fishing family, a -*• father, the ‘captain’ and his three big-limbed sons, for mostly the boats are family affairs, manned by ‘father’ and ‘the boys.’ But it was ‘loppy,’ just breeze enough to make the surface rough, little sun and nothing to attract the warm-blooded swordfish, which love to loaf along the surface, their fins thrust above it, soaking up the heat. Because of the roughness it was impossible to see them if they were there; so we got nothing. ‘Fisherman’s luck!’
The next day was Sunday, a good day to try again, I reflected, remembering the curse. So I was at the wharf atsixo’clock. I missed the captain and asked the reason. One of his sons laughed: “Oh some of the old folks, ’round here got to talking about us going out on Sunday . . . ’
“But how about you?”
“Oh, they’ve given us up,” said the younger generation.
The boat, the Minnie L., named after the captain’s daughter, the sister of the three boys, was typical of her kind on that coast, an all-round offshore fishing boat, from which the owner-crew fished in their seasons, lobster, herring, cod, swordfish and mackerel.
She was no ‘banker,’ she never went so far as the Newfoundland“Banks.” Her activities were restricted to short runs off-shore, up to fifteen or twenty miles out, at home every night unless there was the misfortune of a bad storm which prevented.
Of ten tons register and thirty-eight feet length, the Minnie L., although dwarfed in size by many boats of the surrounding fleet, was known as a big boat, that is, she was larger than the average. For the sword-fishing, the lines used in other fishing had been cleared away, and the cage for the harpooner had been fastened on the bowsprit, and that was all. The cage had barely floor-
space to accommodate two large, boot-clad feet, and a circular fence of light iron bars that just reached abovethe knee.
The boat was a two-master; only one boat in the fleet had no sails. The fishermen looked upon her with suspicion and shook their heads: “You got to have sail if your engine gives out. It’s too risky to be without. I wouldn’t put out in a boat that didn’t have a sail.
There was room for’ard next the mast for a tiny cabin, into which we dived headfirst for various things; the engine, well housed against the heavy seas, was aft the other mast. On either side of each mast, resting handily against the gunwale, were tubs of tough manilla line, sixty fathoms, three hundred and sixty feet in each, one quarter-inch thick, coiled neatly like a whaler’s line, all ready for the lightning run of a fish. On one end of the line was the four-inch steel arrow-head. The other end trailed over the side of the tub, and fastened on to a tengallon oak keg, which, when a fish was stuck, would be tossed overboard for the fish to run away with, and exhaust himself. There were four tubs of lines, because when fishing was good the fish could be left to play himself out while the boat continued to hunt for others, and if lucky, might get all its lines over. The dory, that type of small boat peculiar to the Nova Scotian and Newfoundland fishermen, was hauled up on the side ready for instant use; beside it was a spear made by nailing the sword of a fish to a pole, for bleeding a captured fish when it was hauled alongside, thus ending its struggles.
The elder brother, the harpooner of the family, reefed one of the lines along the full length of his ten-foot harpoon and fastened the arrowhead on the end in such a way that when he struck the fish, the slightest turn of his wrist would release the pole, leaving the arrow with its line in the body of the victim. We had no sooner left the wharf than he swarmed out the bowsprit and climbed into his cage; the younger boy swarmed up the rigging to the mast-head, agile and monkey-like in spite of the awkward oilskins and heavy sea-boots in which all were clad, the other brother took the tiller, and straddling it like a child on a horse, steered with his legs.
Work commenced at once; all began to search the sea, for although the two-mile long harbor had only the narrow connection of ‘The Passage’ with the sea, fish sometimes came in, and only the night before, just at dusk, four had been seen at the Bell Buoy, or the ‘Bell Booy’ as the men called it, at the entrance to The Passage, and three more fish had come into the harbor to the wharves. But only one had gone back to sea.
As we got into the channel and headed for the narrow neck of The Passage, the wind caught us, the little boat heeled over, the look-out aloft lay almost on his side, but no muscle of his body moved to show he was aware. 'Under the six-inch peak of the little cap, which all the swordfishermen wore as an aid
against the sun in searching the sea, he peered steadily on all sides, his eyes at that altitude on a quiet day able to see a fin or even the body of a fish close to the surface a good mile away. His brothers, too, from their lower levels in the cage and at the tiller never ceased from looking.
Slipping through The Passage, one of many boats, we emerged into the open sea to the mournful tolling of the Bell Buoy. The white gulls wheeled overhead, the seals of Battery Island crawled off their rocks and dived, each boat set its course, and heeling over to the breeze plunged through the swells of an inshore breeze. Some made for Gabarus Bay and Guoin Island, where the day before the schooner Sunapee, coming up from Gloucester, had captured sixteen fish, making fifty in her hold.
But then she was big a three-master, with a crew of seven and five look-outs, with tall masts from which they could observe a great sweep of sea.
We made the other way, past Gooseberry Cove and Lorembec or ‘Big Lome Head,’ beyond Portnova Island until we had passed Cape Breton which is the uttermost point of Cape Breton Island, until we sighted Scatari Island, that trap of ships as bad as Sable Island farther up the coast, except that it is not so near the main trans-Atlantic routes.
Two weeks before a Norwegian ship had floundered there and five men drowned.
A few miles out we passed a solitary cod-fisherman in his dory, tugging stoutly on a thirty-pound cod which gleamed like silver as he flipped it in; occasionally we passed others; they had been out since two in the morning when they had gone to catch their bait of squid before it was light, and they would soon return home.
The harpooner came aft. “Breezin’ up,” he said gloomily, shaking his head. “Yep, too loppy,” the helmsman agreed. “Fish won’t fin a day like this. Can’t see them, if they did.”
THE seas increased and we laid our course into them, well out to sea. At times they broke over us so completely we came out on the other side, gasping, the water pouring off our oil clothes, and the fishermen laughed. “Good thing we aren’t layin’ our course that way,” and one pointed, “oritwouldberough,” We were drawing away from the other boats, but in the distance, farther out, we made out a large square-rigger. “That’s the rum-ship,” one of them observed. Except for that we were alone; even the land now was visible only as a faint line of opalescence on the horizon, and in that increasing swell, so far out, our small boat seemed very small indeed, as the immensity of the open Atlantic yawned ahead and we drove deeper into it. She took the seas bravely, and after each sousing shook herself free like a horse, and plunged onward again, but for the most part rising and falling lightly. The perches of the harpooner in the cage and the look-out on the masthead were flung about so viciously one expected to see them discharged through the air, like pellets from a catapult, but they remained immovable, frozen to their posts as though they felt no shock, riding their precarious perches as unconcernedly as good riders on bad horses; but the motion made others realize that in a small boat one does get the kick of the ocean, and seasickness becomes a subject of earnest speculation Nor did it help matters, when an extra big one came, to hear the harpooner gleefully shout:
“Here she comes. Will we go over her or under her?”
At last he crawled back to us. “This is no good,” he shouted to his brother.
“Better put about and stand closer in!” So put about we did.
Bowling along at eight or nine knots—nine or ten miles—an hour, the brothers, discouraged in the fishing, talked about it. “It was like old times to have the fish come into the harbor like they did last night; no one was expecting them. It’s gettin’ fished out now, so many after them all around the coast. They’re fishin’ ’em all the way from Gloucester to Cape North and Bay St. Lawrence, clear to the end of Cape Breton;
but here at Louisburg is where most of the boats come when the fish are runnin’. A hundred and fifty of ’em here last year; only seventy-five this year. These are the best grounds. Just as many boats at it as ever but they’re more scattered. A lot now fishin’ off Glace Bay. They say there’s lots of fish there this year.”
“In the old days they used to pitchfork them right here in the harbor. That was before they knew the fish were any good, and didn’t regularly hunt ’em. Pitchfork ’em right off the wharves. I’ve heard it said the old people used to say: ‘Goin’ to be a storm to-morrow; the sword-fish are “finnin’ ”. An’ there would be a storm sure enough after a hot, lazy day when the fish were loafin’, ’cause they’re a warm-blooded fish an’ like such days. There wasn’t much demand for them until about 1909. Fish were as low as seven cents, and never got over ten cents in the Boston market. Now the price is around twenty cents there, nine cents dressed for us here. Last
week there was 2,500 fish on the Boston market, and they were as hungry as ever for them. Last year it was thirty cents, but fishin’ was bad. This year it’s bin good so far; we got two hundred and fifty in one day here this year. There’s no closed season. Get ’em any time. But the hot-weather time is best, from early August to the middle of September. Get ’em to the end of October though. There’s good money in it when you can catch ’em. We got twenty-four on our boat so fur this year, all but six of them we seen. That’s about seven hundred dollars, about thirty dollars a fish. We reckon if we can make a thousand dollars in a season on the sword-fish, we done well.”
Suddenly there was a shout from aloft. The brothers sprang apart to their stations, the harpooner ran nimbly out the bowsprit and seized his weapon, but another shout recalled him. “Only a gull,” he observed regretfully, “floating”. Anything looks like a fish at a distance. Sometimes when the fish is down low you can only see a dark shape, but if he is near you can see his big eyes shine like a cat’s through the water. We don’t care how deep he is so long as the harpoon can reach him They often lay there sunnin’ themselves. Don’t move at all sometimes. Lay there like a log on the water, with maybe two inches, or maybe a foot, of fin showin’; the higher up in the air you are the easieritisto see them but the leastlittle draughtof wind, and down they go. One day a boat had six ‘cags’ out, and they seen seven or eight more fish besides what they’d stuck, swimmin’ ’round them, when it breezed up ever so little and in a few minutes there wasn’t a fin in sight.
“Might see a fin now,” he observed with a surprising lack of interest, that was explained when he added: “A shark, though. See that whale,” and he pointed to where a half mile away a geyser of water shot up high in the air, to be followed in a moment by the black mass of a playing whale, first his huge back, then a dive, then his tail, a performance he repeated every two minutes for the half hour we watched him. “The sharks stick around the whales. Lots of ’em around here. They fin too, just like a swordfish, but their fins are soft and whippy, not stiff like a swordfish’s. You can tell ’em a long way off. One day two sharks got after a sword-fish. We stuck, and before we could get him alongside they only left ninety-four pounds of him. They ate the rest in Boston,” and he laughed.
“Swordfish ’ll fight, too. They spear dories right along. That’s why we shove a dory off after one as soon as we stick him, so as to clear away with our vessel so he can’t run us down. It don’t matter about a dory. If it gets speared we keep close enough to pick the man up. Yesterday a fish put his sword clear through a ten ton schooner, the Rose Doherty, an’ made a hole so bad they had to put her ashore to-day to fix her up. The captain said he wouldn’t ha’ minded if only he’d got the fish, but he didn’t. Another run through a dory yesterday, an’ last week another broke his sword off in a dory an’ then swum off. It’s because when they get stuck they go crazy, Depends where you jab ’em. If they sound when you stick ’em, it’s all right, but sometimes instead of huntin’ bottom, they start after anything in sight, threshin’ around with their tails and swords, an’ run through anything they see.
“Last week, off Scatari, Cap’n Wadden got drowned. He was out with his two boys an’ when he stuck his fish, he must ha’ struck its backbone so the harpoon bounced back, or else he struck at it when it was down in the hollow of a wave an’ when the wave came up, his harpoon knocked him off the cage. Anyhow he never come up an’ that was the last his two boys seen of him. We got no chance in these things, once we go overboard,” and he glanced down at his oilskin suit and boots.
“An’ once, years ago, there was a captain stuck a fish bad, an’ it threshed around so he yelled to the man in the dory who was new at the game ‘Look out for that fish!: He’s wicked! Well, he was sure wicked an’ kicked up an awful fuss. In the excitement, the man in the dory
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fell overboard, an’ when they picked him up he was dead. Fright, they reckoned . . . It’s great sport. Some day somebody ’ll rig up an outfit to catch ’em on a rod, I s’pose. Tuna fishin’ won’t be in it with that.”
Suddenly, the speaker and his brother, without exchanging a word, and as though they had been gifted with some sense which I lacked, sprang again to their stations. Their attention had never wandered; as they talked they had watched and now they saw something which I did not see. The helmsman was the nearest and I turned to him. “Didn’t you see that fellow over yonder run out on the cage?” he enquired, and jerked a thumb in the direction of another boat a mile away. “They seen a fish an’ where there’s one there’s two, the Americans always say.”
“Do you run up on another boat when it sights a fish?” I inquired.
“Yes, when we see a boat is after a fish, all the boats around flock up. It’s all right so long as you don’t take the fish away from another feller. If he saw it first it’s his fish, but there might be more’n one there, or he might miss his fish. Then you got a chance at it. He’s got it!” he cried suddenly. “See! There goes the dory over. It’s a Tancooker, a boat from Tancook Island up around Chester,” he explained. “You can always tell ’em. They’re always painted green. Good boats, too. Them fellers are boatbuilders, every one of them, an’ fishermen, too,” he added, “good ones. Every man builds his own boats there. A fast bit o’ wood they turn out, too. Gettin’ on to noon,” he added anxiously, scanning the sun. “Not much use lookin’ fer them after three o’clock. They’re mostly down by that time.
We loafed along, cutting ever widening circles around the Tancooker, covering all the area in which they had found their fish. Other boats were doing the same The breeze had died down, the sun had come out, and there was an oily swell. “They ought to fin to-day if ever they will,” the steersman remarked.
“Fish Ahead ”
THE look-out strained forward eagerly at the mast-head, his body rigid with attention. The harpooner lolled in the cage, the weapon in his hands, his eyes sweeping the sea. “Fish A-h-e-ad!” It was the look-out. He turned an agitated face downward to his brother at the helm, and waved his hand to starboard; and the other jerked the schooner smartly over. We could see the fish from the deck now. “He’s finnin’! Showin’ good, too . . . Stick him!” he yelled excitedly to his brother in the cage. The latter did not answer him; he hung, poised like a striking hawk, waiting. Then he struck. There was a splash and the harpooner stood erect, the pole of the harpoon resting lightly in his hand.
The line began to run from the tub and the helmsman jumped to the keg to toss it over, but the harpooner waved him back. “Never mind!” he shouted. “He’s finished. A little one an’ I got him good. Throw her in the dory!” The other tossed the keg carelessly into the dory!” we gave it a shove off and as it struck the water, he leapt in like a cat and began to row. The line ran out of the tub and over the gunwale of the schooner while he stood off so close as to be within good shouting distance. The movement of the line ceased. “He’s finished,” the harpooner announced abruptly. “I’ll haul him ” he shouted, and began to do so from the schooner’s deck, for the line had only paid out a short distance. “Not worth while puttin’ the dory out for one like this,” he puffed between hauls as he bent over the line, pulling the fish in. “Sometimes you can get ’em this way, in fifteen minutes. Other times it takes an
hour or two. I’ve known ’em go four or five hours. Ready!” he shouted as his brother clambered aboard. The latter seized the wooden handled swordfish spear, and as the great sword and snout ofthe capturedfish cleaved the surface, he plunged the bony blade in behind its gills, making a deep wound from which the blood poured.
“There, that ’ll finish him,” he exclaimed, and straightened up. And so it did, for after a momentary expiring threshing, the fish rolled over until the white of his belly showed. The two worked with demoniacal speed as they took a hitch around the fish and with a block and tackle hitched to the main mast, hoisted the fish aboard, for there might be other fish about and every moment was a golden one.
“ ’Bout two hundred when he s dressed,” panted one of the boys. “Yep, a small one,” the other answered. But the fish without the length of his four-foot sword, was as long as a man and weighed as he lay on the deck all of three hundred and fifty pounds. Beautiful and silvery as he left the water, already he was beginning to turn a darker color and in an hour’s time, except for his belly, he would be black all over.
“He kills his bait with that,” observed the helmsman, touching the three-inch blade of the four-foot long sword. “Rushes in amongst a school of herrin’, slashin’ with it. Then comes back and eats them. Kills whales with it, too. Sticks ’em in the throat and wears ’em down.”
The two had barely resumed their stations when there was nother shout. “There’s one!” and in the middle distance we saw a quaint little toy-like figure in a cage lunge viciously forward, hold rigid for a moment, then straighten up, utter dejection in every line, as, missing his fish, tense muscles relaxed and the man slouched in the cage.
“There’s another!” cried the harpooner, and waved viciously at his brother at the helm. The latter jabbed the tiller and we put about within the length of the boat so the sails and boom slatted like a boy’s lath drawn overa thousand-picket fence, and we made like a hare for another boat on which tiny figures were rushing wildly about. Suddenly they stopped and the boat turned back. “He’s gone down!” was the verdict aboard our boat, and we turned back, too. Another boat scurried up to join the hunt, and in the distance others were beating toward us; the pack smelt blood. _
“Our fish now if we kin get him first,” said the helmsman worried, glancing at the approaching boats. “Them other fellers lost him.”
A few hundred yards distant the first boat paralleled our course, seeming to watch us jealously as the two boats, scarcely two hundred yards apart now, cruised slowly back and forth over the spot where the fish had disappeared.
“There he is! . . . Under yer feet!
. . . Stick him!” a voice roared in my ear, but it was not addressing me. The figure in the tiny bowsprit cage doubled like a jacknife to meet the fin just cleaving the water; we had met the fish as he rose; the harpooner drove the harpoon like a great stake, his lips drawn back over his teeth with the straining excitement. There was a wrench of his strong wrists, and he jerked the harpoon loose barely in time to keep from being jerked overboard by that first tremendous convulsion of the fish at the impact of the blade.
“Keep yer line clear an’ be ready to throw the keg!” screamed the harpooner with a face livid from bending and strain. The line leaped from the tub. No running this time. The edge of the tub smoked. “Let ’er go!” cried the harpooner. “Look out!” shouted the helmsman and gave
t ho empty keg a great heave that sent it spinning out into the sea.
"All together!” and we strained and pushed at the dory. As it slipped over the side, the helmsman and I fell in, landing on our heads. My smarter companion seized the oars, and began to row violently away from the schooner. The harpooner cupped his hands about his mouth: “Look out he doesn’t tickle the soles of your feet!” he shouted with a sudden access of humor, now that the first necessity of instant action had passed.
“Line all out!” he sang out again.
“Fish ’s sounded,” my companion remarked, resting on his oars. “Don’t like the way he acts though. I think he’s backboned. If he is he’ll be up in 2. minute an’ there’ll be the devil to pay.”
The ten-gallon keg was bobbing up and down, sometimes several feet under water, like a cork above a perch. “Here, let’s see what he’ll make of this?” my companion observed, and reaching for the line, took a twist with it around the thole-pin of our boat. At once the high gunwale of the heavy dory, two feet above the water, dipped down to it, and only then did my companion loosen the line. Ina moment the boat would have been filled. He laughed at the sudden escape, though like most fishermen, he could not swim a stroke.
We waited. “All right as long as he’s down. It’s when he comes up we got to look out,” warned my companion. “That is when he comes up of his own accord without being pulled. I’ll give him a try,” and he leaned over again and began to haul.
A Furious Struggle
THE fish came, but quicker than any hauling. His sword scraped the gunwale of the boat as he half leaped from the water in an upright position, his round, watery, goggle-eyes, larger than coffee cups, far out of the water, the tip of his sword shoulder-high. As he struck the water it boiled with the foam of his struggles as he threshed horizontally with head and tail over the surface, and the foam flecked with red.
We rowed to the slackened line and my companion seized it. “Pull him in!” he shouted above the din and began to row toward the schooner. But it was not so easy. The fish darted in circles around the boat, turning over in great leaps, twisting, striking, whirling in an agony of pain and effort to rid itself of the steel arrow which in one of its turns we saw had penetrated completely through the fish and lay flat against his belly. Again he ‘sounded’, but a jerk at the line restored him to frenzy and brought him up.
Afraid of being unable to recapture the fine excitement of those moments, I began to scribble the rough notes of a word-picture of the scene, the efforts of that crazed fish, and the sensations I experienced as each moment, I felt in anticipation that long sword ripping through the dory and up the length of my body. But the dory tossed now high, now low, in the gentle but regular swell, and at times my companion, in his anxiety to kill the fish, took a momentary hitch of the line around the thole-pin; but it was only momentary for whenever the fish felt the slightest pressure of resistance, he was off again worse than ever, and at such times the boat bounced like a ball, and my pencil and my note-book were torn a foot apart.
Conquered at Last
IT TOOK well over an hour to do it, but we got him alongside at last and bled him. That was the end.
“Better call it a day,” the boys said. It was mid-afternoon, so we made for port, with two fish stretched out on our deck, and as we passed and were passed by other boats, the crews shouted their news to each other. Some had seen none; one had seen six and missed them all; one had seen only one and had got that; another
boat had three; many had one; and sev-. eral, like ourselves, had two.
On the numerous wharves that dotted the head of the harbor stood loafers, fishbuyers, and the curious. All lent a hand to hoist the fish with block and tackle by the post set in each wharf for that purpose. Then all three fell to on the fish; the head was cut and sawn off; the fins and tail and entrails removed and tossed over the wharf. All along the wharves the white remnants of fish gleamed opaquely from the bottom. What was left looked like the carcass of a fat hog; the larger fish double the thickness of a large man; the meat firm, white and flaky, tasting like halibut. The sword of the larger fish, because it was unusually long and straight, was saved to be scraped of its thin film of black until it should be snowy white; then with a handle carved in the butt it would become a proper sword; and as a souvenir, one fisherman saved the gristly cavity of an eye to make a shaving-cup.
“I’ll save this, too, I guess,” said one of our crew, and amid a general laugh, the meaning of which I could not guess, he laid aside a large fin.
The fish was thrown on a wooden tray and eager hands carried it to the fishbuyers’ shed at the foot of the wharf to be weighed; the larger of the two weighed, dressed, three hundred and ninety pounds, at which the owners glowed; at that, over two hundred pounds of its weight had been thrown away in the dressing.
On every little wharf, other men were similarly engaged in cleaning, carrying and weighing their fish, and as far as one could see along the harbor, through ‘The Passage’ and cut to sea, the boats were pouring in.
“It’s early yet,” said the one who had saved the fin. “Let’s have some fun.” He nailed the fin to the edge of a foot-wide board, and a strip of lead on the other to make the board ride on its edge in the water. He tied two lines in the tub together to make a line over six hundred feet long, which he attached to the dummy-fish. “Guess that’ll fool ’em all right,” he remarked as he surveyed his creation admiringly, “especially after last night when seme of the fellers thought them fish in the harbor was dummy-fish and wouldn’t go after them. He placed his fish in the water;it rode nicely; the fin stuck up a foot above the water and no part of the board was visible. “Come on,” he said, “we’ll have some fun.”
We did. We steered as for the home wharf of our boat, just in front of the boys’ home on the hill, and when the line had all paid out, the fish began to follow us. We slowed down and so did the fish. The other boats were still coming in so we manoeuvred to bring our fish within their vision, and not without success. On the nearest there was a great scurrying to and fro; the harpooner rushed to the cage, weapon in his hand, but just as he struck, our harpooner chuckled and opened the engine wide, so that our fish dived as the harpoon fell.
We cruised aimlessly up and down the shore-line as though looking for something, coaxing our prey along. At times our fish swam boldly along the surface, his fin well up; then as the pursuers approached, we speeded up, the board went lower, and with it the fin, until as the other boat approached too nearly, we put on speed and the fin disappeared completely. Once the harpoon struck the board and stayed there and we hauled it and the other boat for some distance.
“Must be a tuna!” bellowed a man aboard the hunting boat but we towed him so hard the harpoon pulled out. At last our youthful crew let him kill his fish. He swore and said: "Next thing you know, them fellows'll have a flyin’ fish rigged up an’ get a fellow after that!”
Editor's Note.—Mr. Pearson will conclude his story of the swordfishers, in an early issue of MacLean's with a vivid description of the ‘Swordfishers’ Dance'.