Tales of the Fish Patrol
The King Of The Greeks
Big Alec had never been captured by the fish patrol. It was his boast that no man
could take him alive, and it was his history that of the many men who had tried to
take him dead none had succeeded. It was also history that at least two
patrolmen who had tried to take him dead had died themselves. Further, no man
violated the fish laws more systematically and deliberately than Big Alec.
He was called "Big Alec" because of his gigantic stature. His height was six feet
three inches, and he was correspondingly broad- shouldered and deep-chested.
He was splendidly muscled and hard as steel, and there were innumerable
stories in circulation among the fisher-folk concerning his prodigious strength. He
was as bold and dominant of spirit as he was strong of body, and because of this
he was widely known by another name, that of "The King of the Greeks." The
fishing population was largely composed of Greeks, and they looked up to him
and obeyed him as their chief. And as their chief, he fought their fights for them,
saw that they were protected, saved them from the law when they fell into its
clutches, and made them stand by one another and himself in time of trouble.
In the old days, the fish patrol had attempted his capture many disastrous times
and had finally given it over, so that when the word was out that he was coming
to Benicia, I was most anxious to see him. But I did not have to hunt him up. In
his usual bold way, the first thing he did on arriving was to hunt us up. Charley Le
Grant and I at the time were under a patrol-man named Carmintel, and the three
of us were on the Reindeer, preparing for a trip, when Big Alec stepped aboard.
Carmintel evidently knew him, for they shook hands in recognition. Big Alec took
no notice of Charley or me.
"I've come down to fish sturgeon a couple of months," he said to Carmintel.
His eyes flashed with challenge as he spoke, and we noticed the patrolman's
eyes drop before him.
"That's all right, Alec," Carmintel said in a low voice. "I'll not bother you. Come on
into the cabin, and we'll talk things over," he added.
When they had gone inside and shut the doors after them, Charley winked with
slow deliberation at me. But I was only a youngster, and new to men and the
ways of some men, so I did not understand. Nor did Charley explain, though I felt
there was something wrong about the business.
Leaving them to their conference, at Charley's suggestion we boarded our skiff
and pulled over to the Old Steamboat Wharf, where Big Alec's ark was lying. An
ark is a house-boat of small though comfortable dimensions, and is as necessary
to the Upper Bay fisherman as are nets and boats. We were both curious to see
Big Alec's ark, for history said that it had been the scene of more than one
pitched battle, and that it was riddled with bullet-holes.
We found the holes (stopped with wooden plugs and painted over), but there
were not so many as I had expected. Charley noted my look of disappointment,
and laughed; and then to comfort me he gave an authentic account of one
expedition which had descended upon Big Alec's floating home to capture him,
alive preferably, dead if necessary. At the end of half a day's fighting, the