A Fisherman At Crescent Beach can be found in




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Weird Tales

JANUARY, 1951

"Some he gives up,
But the choicest he keeps.


A Fisherman
at Crescent
Beach

By ALLAN MASTERSON

THE SEA curved inward, sweeping toward brown dunes, rich green marsh grass and the land beyond. Out the other direction, water and sky came ultimately together; between here to there was the occasional sparkling white of sail, the trim mahogany box-shape of a single motor boat, and further, the rust brown of a plodding freighter.

The day and the scene copied the brightest, postcard; but it was a Tuesday—the water was mostly alone with, itself, playing with a stick, throwing seaweed idly up on shore as though biding time for the boat-crowded weekend to come.

As the rowboat, its outboard putt-putting it forward, came out from the bay mouth and moved into more open water, it was drawn as though magnetically to a fellow floating thing.

A cabin cruiser lay just off the beach, Crescent Beach—probably for the way it scooped itself out of the end portion of the Point. There were people diving from the craft. In the quietness of this bright, empty day their cries, their splashes, echoed clearly across the blue surface.

The whole scene was perfect, George Thornhill thought. The painted water underneath an artist's sky, the picture-book boat with its painted people, posing perfectly before they shattered the illusion with the motion and noise of swimming.

It made him put the outboard at trolling speed, its knobby nose still pointed true. He reached for his camera where it lay under some water-proofing (A photographer would rather be without his pants than his camera; wasn't it true).

He adjusted lens and speed, consulted his range-finder and other paraphernalia. Then he cut the putt-putt off and the little boat drifted; he rested his elbows on a cross seat,' marveling again at the brightness of water and sky and the casual, candid hm man scene of young people—they were young, he could see now—before him swimming and frolicking.

It was then that Thornhill became aware of something else. He became aware of it because it disrupted the composition of his picture. Another boat. It lay shoreward of the young people and their cruiser; it was small, dark-sided, blending into the darker mass of the background shore. Nothing more than an antiquated launch he saw. Its lone occupant hunched over, fishing.

Thornhill frowned. It somehow spoiled the picture. By itself, fine. But the cruiser, looming its high old-fashioned bulk above him as he drifted closer, was another shot. He liked his pictures the way he liked them. He put his camera down carefully and fussed the motor into life again. Annoyance, he told himself, was out of place on a day as lovely as this. But it was there. Now he would have to jockey to a new position, for he wanted that shot, the cruiser against the shore—nothing else.

Don't get so damn intense about, it! This is a holiday, time off... remember? It was true. The whole thing, the stiffly priced, creaky beach cottage rented for a month, the promise that he'd lay off. And here he was getting as annoyed as if he were doing this on one of his usual assignments for the big weeklies. Trouble was, he should have gone to the mountains. You know what they say about not listening to your best friends. Thornhill was that way about seascapes. He'd, photographed the sea from Silver Bank Passage and Fox Channel to Formosa Strait and the Sea of Azov. Some men; collect stamps or hunt big game; Thornhill's hobby was photographing the sea.

HE CIRCLED the pleasure boat. The four young, people aboard were in bathing suits—two boys and two girls, having fun with that indefatigable energy - of the young. They smiled and waved to him with the friendliness of people in boats to one another. Thornhill chugged slowly beyond them toward the fisherman. The man was intent on what he was doing. His boat was a low-slung launch, its long, low hull dark with age. Sternwards, an ungainly housing stood up, ugly and old-fashioned like the rest of the thing.

The occupant was swathed in the clothes of a person, certainly, who knew the water. A black, broad-brimmed slouch hat, a jacket of dark material, only the hands on the heavy pole held unmovingly over the water's side showed flesh. The rest of the man was covered against the sun which then, before noon, was already warm.

It was a strange contrast with the young people. They, the girls, in their scant bathing suits and the boys in their brief trunks, courted the rays of the sun. The fisherman, on the other hand, wise to the ways of sun and salt water, covered himself up. To the vacationer the sun is something to be sought out; to the native of the water, something to be avoided.

Thornhill turned his outboard-powered rowboat around in a great circle, careful not to come too close to the fisherman, for that was courtesy of the water.

As he swung around the bow of the other vessel, he looked over curiously. The hat and other garments so completely covered the man that it was hard to see that he was a creature of flesh, except for the big, gnarled hands that gripped the pole. The fisherman seemed intent only on that. For a moment in his circuitous course, though, Thornhill saw the other's face. It was a thing o...

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