Presented to the
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
IRELAND IN TRAVAIL
E. A. N.
G. M. L
IRELAND IN TRAVAIL
BY JOICE M. NANKIVELL
AUTHOR OP "THE SOLITARY PEDESTRIAN"
AND SYDNEY LOCH
AUTHOR OF "THE STRAITS IMPREGNABLB"
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.
All rights reserved
I. 47 AGENT (S, L.) ....... 1
Called up Another acquaintance Below the
surface Through a window.
II. WE CROSS TO DUBLIN (J. M. N.) . . . . 10
On board After curfew We arrive.
III. I COME ACROSS 47 (S. L.) . . . 17
Stephen's Green On the stroke Cumann na
mBan Good advice.
IV. FINDING A ROOF (J. M. N.) 27
Mrs. Slaney We take a flat Au revoir.
V. WE SETTLE IN (J. M. N.) . . . , . 34
Mrs. Slaney indignant We dine.
VI. WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES (J. M. N., S. L.) . . 38
A Beau Brummell Signs of the times An intro-
duction Money for nothing A tram ride.
VII. THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN (S. L.) . . .48
The beginning The Celtic revival The Phrenix
Capital versus Labour Murder gang Bad
to worse Black-and-Tans Disturbed areas
VIII. AUTUMN WEARS OUT (S. L.) 66
The game of blufi Passers-by Wanted men
Templemore Our mutual friend Hard at work
A lonely life.
IX. THE HUNGER STRIKE (S. L.) 81
The great fastA Dublin funeral The night
watch A mysterious visitor Kevin Barry
X. BLOODY SUNDAY (J. M. N.) 94
Terrible news A Sunday evening Unhonoured
XI. AFTERMATH (S. L.) 101
In full cry In the crowd A chance meeting.
XII. VISIT TO A TOP STORY (J. M. N.) . . . . 109
Watching and waiting Money for nothing Au
XIII. FROM THE HOUSETOP (S. L., J. M. N.) . . .116
The Central Hotel A brief haven A top story-
Down below Lies, all lies 1 Loyalist and Repub-
lican The first raid England's market garden.
XIV. AN AT HOME (J. M. N.) 133
A Christmas box Old Meg Curlewed A Unionist.
XV. HEIGHT OF THE TERROR (S. L.) 142
Day by day Building a Republic President
De Valera The pendulum Irish Bulletin
Reprisals The gods must laugh.
XVI. THE MINISTER or PROPAGANDA (J. M. N.) . . 156
A piece of news An innocent man Real dotes
XVII. CAPTURE OF A CABINET MINISTER (J. M. N.) . 162
Mrs. Slaney is uneasy Open, the military!
Harbouring rebels His tea.
XVIII. WiNTBR WEARS OUT (S.L.) 170
Spreading the news A Republican Propaganda
Waste ! Waste I Day and night The City
XIX. MRS. O'GRADY'S FOREBODINGS (J. M. N.) . . 183
Mrs. O'Grady is prudent Enter Mrs. Slaney.
XX. To DUBLIN CASTLE (S. L.) . . 189
Raided again A new acquaintance A find A
late call The journey done.
XXI. INSIDE THE CASTLE (S. L.) 200
To bed The Auxiliary at home Into the fire
Thirteen at table An outing.
XXII. LOST : A HUSBAND (J. M fc N.) . . . . 211
A strained situation Gelignite ! Next morning
Dublin Castle In the maze Room 13 F
XXIII. LAST WEEKS OF WAR (S. L.) . 229
Spring and peace The Customs House The
Auxiliary Cadets A brisk affair Bally-
kinler Under the whip Mrs. Slaney indig-
XXIV. THE COMING OF SUMMER (S. L.) . . . . 244
Corner-boys Hands up Erskine Childers
The phantom army In Phoenix Park The
old order changeth.
THE EVE OP PEACE (J. M. N.) .
Ambushed Only another anibush Patriots
The final raid To rack and ruin.
THE TWELFTH OP JULY (S. L.) ....
North and South King William The great
day The trysting-ground Patches of splen-
XXVII. TKUCE (S. L.) 279
Changed times The final settlement The
last of 47 Dail Eireann Leave them there.
XXVIII. LAST OF IRELAND (J. M. N.)
An avatar Good-bye to Ireland.
XXIX. LOOKING BACK (S. L.)
Hag-ridden Two alternatives The hopeful
IRELAND IN TRAVAIL
IN the wonderful August weather of 1920, my wife
and I were in our London flat sighing for cooler
places. The season had come to an end with less
than its usual glory, and for days taxis and growlers,
topheavy with luggage, had been carrying fleeing
Londoners to country and to sea. The holidays
had begun ; but England, still limping from the
late war, had lost the holiday spirit : indeed the
world was restless as if it had come through painful
convulsions to kick spasmodically for a while. We
were restless too.
Ireland was one of the world's sores. It was
near at hand. Should we go and see for ourselves ?
The middle of August had come, and we could not
make up our minds.
On the hottest of those mornings I wandered
into Hyde Park, and where the riders turn their
horses about, on the very last chair of the row,
leaning forward, rubbing his chin on his stick, I
came across 47 Agent of the secret service. He
2 47 AGENT
had seen me coming along, and patted the next
seat in invitation as if we had met yesterday.
" I thought you were at the other end of the
He answered, " I'm here."
How I met 47 ; how it came about that he
revealed his secret to me ; how it was that we
became friends, has nothing to do with this story.
Sometimes I saw a lot of him ; sometimes he
passed out of my life for a year.
Before I had known 47 six months I had learned
this, that a secret service agent, if he is to be more
than a common spy, what the French term a
mouchard, a fellow who gleans his news among
servant girls and the like, must have something of
a statesman's vision to carry him on his way. He
must have that sense of the future which lifts him
beyond the individual and the matter of the
moment to think in nations and down centuries.
Thus is lessened the pang he feels as he bruises the
individual, as the vivisectionist tortures the beast
that beasts and men shall be freed of pain.
" Come to dinner to-night," I said. " We are
always talking of you."
" I'm crossing to Ireland to-night."
" Ireland ? Are you working there ? "
He nodded. "I'm going to make a beginning.
All the fellows who are resting have been called up.
Things are going from bad to worse."
" Are they worse than the papers make out ? "
" They are bad enough. I've not seen for
CALLED UP 3
myself yet ; but the Irish Republican Army has
grown into a moderately disciplined and fairly
numerous fighting affair, and seems to be getting
bolder. Thousands of the young men belong to it.
They don't wear uniform, and those who aren't
known to the military and police, and so aren't
on the run, live as ordinary citizens until they are
called on for some stunt. They're a secret organisa-
tion, and we ought to be the people for them."
" Are you glad to be off ? " I said.
" Damn glad," he answered. " I'll be able to
see for myself. One man tells you the country is
in the clutches of a murder gang, and the next that
some nobler spasm convulses it. All the same I
hear work in Ireland is trickier than Continental
stunts. On the Continent you have the majority
of the nation indifferent to you, and only the official
part to circumvent ; but in Ireland they say half
the nation is waiting to give a man away."
" Why didn't you come and say you were
" 1 got orders this morning."
"We have been thinking of having a look at
Ireland. My wife's interested in adoption work,
and wants to start it over there. We can't make
up our minds."
He looked round. " You ? "
" Both of us. D'you think we'd find it worth
while ? "
" Probably. Why not come over ? You're
people with nothing to do."
4 47 AGENT
44 If we do, we're going to be strictly neutral,"
I said. " We want to meet the other side."
He nodded. " It's not always easy. That's
what a good many want to do. You may do it
if you stay neutral."
" We're going to do it."
" Then make up your minds. You're sure to
run across me if you come to Dublin." He looked
at the watch on his wrist and said, " I must go."
But he did not get up.
" You've got the pip," I said.
"I'm glad to be on the road," he answered,
rubbing his chin on his stick again ; " but it's a
solemn business." He became suddenly very
stern. " An agent requires a better courage than
a soldier's. Once he enters enemy country he does
not hear a word in favour of his cause. The very
newspapers he must read denounce the Government
whose servant he is. Day after day he wages his
" The man I meet at the Hibernian Hotel at
twelve o'clock to-morrow is to be my 4 cousin,' as
we call it. It is my privilege to pour into his ears
all my troubles, and he will do his best for me.
Once a day, once or twice a week as may be
arranged, he will appear at this place or that place
at such and such an hour to take my information.
This information he will pass on to another man,
and this third man is the link with Dublin Castle.
44 My wife and I will have no other loyal
acquaintances, no other person in sympathy with
ANOTHER ACQUAINTANCE 5
us. While the Irish situation stays as it is we shall
have only each other to lean on. Now and again we
may pass an acquaintance in the street, and we
shall go by without a word, without a nod. How
many times must we join in the laugh against us ?
How many times must we sneer when we love ?
How many times must we applaud when we scorn ? "
He looked in front of him and said in a low voice,
" Betray once more, 47, that a traitor may be
destroyed. Deny once again, 47, that a liar's
mouth may be stopped. Listen this time, 47, that
some one else shall listen no more. Stifle your
humanity. Fight your lonely fight."
He got up, nodded, and departed.
I returned to lunch and told my wife I had
come across 47. She was thrilled now at the idea
of Ireland, and when lunch was over we had nearly
made up our minds. I had to leave her in the
evening, it was the case of a theatre, and as I walked
out of that same theatre, somebody was at my side.
He was the only other secret service man I knew ;
the introduction had come through 47. Such is
He was resplendent. The background of lights
and women and motors purring at the kerb was just
what he wanted. We strolled back together along
Piccadilly, and he was in his best vein. He asked
after my wife, and from her he got on to women
in general. He began to philosophise presently
and said :
" You can't beat a really good woman." Then
6 47 AGENT
he shook his head. " But most women are the
" Not all."
He drew up his lip like a dog.
" I remember once in Vienna there was an
actress, an agent of the Austrian Government, who
was so dangerous that one after another of our
fellows had to pull out half-way because they were
losing their heads." He nodded and went on
showing his eye-tooth. " But one day there came
along an agent less susceptible than the others
and he broke her neck."
" One of her unlucky days ? "
" Yes, he broke her neck."
There was a pause.
" The clock was over there. This agent looked
at it, and it had long gone midnight. She had been
home from the theatre some time. The supper
things were on the table : supper was over. She
was standing in the middle of the room, and when
she heard him coming up behind, she leaned back
bored for an embrace. She was unused to a refusal.
She had in mind to suck this man dry and after-
wards toss him away like an empty wine bottle.
She put her head back, smiling. He slipped his arm
round her neck and it's not difficult if you know
This man had the most wonderful personality
in the world. He grew more and more splendid all
BELOW THE SURFACE 7
" He who runs may read. In our service a man
receives certain payments for his harassing life.
The agent lives two lives at one and the same time.
He lives the life of the citizen, pays his milk bill,
shops with his women friends, breakfasts, lunches,
dines, and all the time he is living a second life
below the surface. He sees the moves in the war
raging about him ; he remarks man after man go
down. There is no cry. These are the deaths that
never get into the papers. If recorded at all they
are recorded as accidents or found dead. He sees
the messages passed at the street corners, and the
friend strolling at his side sees one man giving
another a light. He sees this wanted man go by,
he sees that sign put up, he asks himself why is this
man here, what is that woman doing there ? And
his friend recognises only the beggar girl whining
on the doorstep, and the cabman flourishing his
We were passing under a street lamp. He had
become magnificent. His eyes were shining. He
had swollen like a pouter pigeon.
4 When the time comes for us to leave the
service we cannot. We are offered rest, we are
offered peace ; at last has come opportunity for
our stretched nerves to recover. But we must
continue to be au courant with affairs. So nearly
every agent dies in harness.
44 But, of course, besides receiving payment, an
agent pays for this life. He makes payment in
several ways. One way is that* he finally comes to
8 47 AGENT
believe nothing, to trust nobody. He weighs up
what his best friend says. And another payment
is that the life brings a man in the end to neutral
feelings. He is cold sometimes yes. Wet yes.
Tired yes. Even a little depressed sometimes.
But not elated. Never surprised.
" It's fifteen years since I was surprised."
And then at Hyde Park Corner, the place where
I had last seen 47, he was gone, and I was left to
stroll home alone.
My wife was still up.
" I've just met our other friend," I said, shutting
" What does he say ? "
" He's going over in a day or two. He was at
the top of his form."
Then I gave out what I had been given, and she
listened with her eyes jumping out of her head.
Her mind, and accordingly my mind, was made up
half-way through. At the end she jerked upright
in the armchair and cried
" But let's go and see for ourselves, and I'll try
and get my ' Baby Exchange ' going. Let's."
" By all means."
This was very late at night or very early in the
Now it is time to ask if the world possesses one
true history book. History can only be approxi-
mate, for events are without limit, and man is
limited. Each observer of Irish affairs has been
watching Ireland through the windows of his
THROUGH A WINDOW 9
temperament and his opportunities, and where a
man has seen this thing, his neighbour has seen
Humbly, then, we put down what we have to
tell, endeavouring to fill these pages with the spirit
of the times rather than with a tedious list of
WE CROSS TO DUBLIN
" ANY firearms ? " A lamp flashed on a pair of
khaki legs. " Any firearms ? " asked the man
with the lamp again in a feeble attempt at cheer-
I was trying to be cheerful too ; but it was the
middle of the night and very cold, and I had lost
A soft cloud of steam rose from the engine of the
train that had just disgorged me.
All along the platform were weary passengers
and flashing lamps. A silk stocking slid to the
platform from my suitcase. The stooping Customs
man bumped his finger on a darning-needle and
muttered under his breath. A little farther along
the platform I could see a woman burdened with a
baby struggling to shut an over full portmanteau.
" Why are you going to Ireland ? " grumbled
the man with the lamp. " Last place to live in.
Right. Next, please. One minute, Paddy. What's
in that parcel ? "
A youth who was trying to slip through the
crowd stood sullenly.
ON BOARD 11
I was jostled up a gangway by the moving
people, still clutching my keys.
The boat was crowded. It seemed impossible
that any one else could get on, and there were
hundreds to come.
My belated husband had deserted me in the
confusion. I picked him up presently on the boat.
" Have you seen about a berth ? " he asked.
I shook my head and penetrated to the women's
cabin. It was the most uncomfortable place I had
ever seen. I struggled past heaps of rugs and
luggage, and stumbled over legs as far as the
stewardess, an overworked woman, who answered
me impolitely. There was no berth left, and I
struggled up to the deck again through the descend-
ing people with my heart in my boots. There was
nothing but a cold, hard seat and the whistling
Scraps of conversation reached us in between
the noises. People who had fared as badly as we
had stood about in sulky groups. Dour Northerners
clustered together and eyed a party of priests. On
the hatches some Tommies lifted up their voices in
song, and round the deck paced military officers
with suffering faces.
It was an evil night.
In the early morning I, who had never thought
to see a dawn again, caught a glimpse of Dublin
The shattered boatload poured along the plat-
form. I stood by the small luggage while my
12 WE CROSS TO DUBLIN
husband went to pounce on the rest from the hold.
A long-lipped porter weighed up my wealth.
" What time does the train go ? "
" It's been a choppy night."
" It has." An Irishman never says yes or no.
I learned that quickly. " Here's himself coming
My husband turned up. " You've been chris-
tened Himself," I said. " I'm going to call you
that while we're in Ireland."
" Do you feel pretty bad ? " he answered.
" Awful." I subsided on an unknown person's
luggage. Himself wandered about, and the long-
lipped porter, having decided we were worth while,
wandered after him doing as little as possible.
I was put into a train, and from that train we
emerged at last. Himself went to get a garry, and
once more I did sentinel duty over the luggage.
A youth with a dirty grey cap pulled over his
eyes and a trench coat on eyed me from behind
a pillar-box. I stared back and he seemed to
retire. Presently I saw his head round the other
side of the pillar-box. He chewed a small green
We piled our things up on the garry. The soft
clean air curled round my face and I breathed
The jarvey was a cheerful soul, and was pre-
pared to be talkative as we balanced ourselves on
the side of his swaying car. The youth who was
AFTER CURFEW 18
chewing a leaf propped himself against a lamp-
post and watched our departure. I wondered why
we fascinated him.
" Sure," said the jarvey, " I don't know how
I stand at all, at all, not from one minute to another.
It's this way, mum. First a Shinner comes along
and sez he, ' Jarvey, did ye drive a military man
home last night ? ' ' Faith,' sez I, ' and how
should I be after knowing if he was military or
not ? ' ' It's up to you, jarvey,' sez he, ' and
mighty quick, too,' and out he pulls a bit iv a gun
and sticks it in my stomach. And, mum, what is a
poor jarvey to do ? Then up comes another man.
4 Jarvey,' sez he, ' that was a Shinner you was
talking to. What were you after telling him ? '
4 He was no Shinner,' sez I. ' Glory be, how am I
to know his persuasion ? ' ' It's lies,' he sez quick
like, ' all lies, jarvey, and you find the damn truth
or it'll be worse for ye,' and out comes another gun
and into the stomach of me. Och, it's bad days,
and it's not I who be caring how soon peace
" You don't like either side, then ? "
44 Like thim ? Now what I'm telling you is
true. It was half-twelve the other night, and I
was coming home
44 After curfew ? "
44 It was. They let jarveys through. It was
half-twelve and I was coming home, when up runs
a man with a gun and on to my car. ' Drive,
jarvey,' he sez, 4 back along the road you've come."
14 WE CROSS TO DUBLIN
So I whips me horse and away we go. We had
gone a goodish bit when we sees the light of an
armoured car. Out skips the man. 'Your life
if ye split,' he sez, and disappears in the dark.
" The car spotted me at once. * What are ye
doing at this time iv night ? ' sez the officer. ' I'm
going back to me stables,' sez I. ' Where are your
stables ? ' sez he. ' Leeson Lane,' sez I. c Then
it do be away from your stables you are going,'
sez he. ' Get out iv that car, jarvey,' and all the
guns in the armoured car poked round at me.
" Sure it was two lorry loads iv military by this
time. ' Take him home,' sez one, * and let him go.
He's only a poor old jarvey.' ' Poor old jarvey be
damned,' sez the other, ' it's Mike Collins himself
maybe.' 'Have ye seen Mike Collins, jarvey ? '
sez the other. ' How should I be after knowing
him ? ' sez I. ' Who was the fare you put down ? '
4 There was no fare,' I sez. 4 1 took a party home
and was going back to stables and I fell asleep.
The old mare must have turned herself round.'
" They laughed at that, and the Black-and-Tans
was all for running me into the Castle ; but the
military, God save them, was for me being just a
poor old jarvey, and they stood by me and jumped
me into the car and drove me back to stables to see
who I was, and then they took me back to the old
mare and let me go. Och, but it was a night what
with one and another, and it was after curfew when
I was home, I was that tormented with them all.
They pulled me up every short way and jumped me
WE ARRIVE 15
into a car to see who I was and then back again to
the old mare. It's no time for a jarvey, mum."
We were rattling along the Liffey. The tide
was out and the few seagulls were investigating the
city's discarded biscuit tins in the mud on either
side of the water. All along the embankment were
men old men, young men, boys. They propped
the walls, they dozed upon the bridges, they
watched the Guinness brewery carts rumbling
backwards and forwards. Some looked at us with
blank faces ; but the majority looked into the mud
that the tide had left.
Finally we reached the hotel just as I was
beginning to understand the jarvey 's speech.
" How much ? " Himself let the coins in his
" Four shillings." The reply was given un-
blushingly. I could see the hotel porter reckoning
We had a large room looking down on the main
street. A stream of people passed.
" Give a poor old woman a penny, sir," I heard
a beggar woman whine. " Mother iv God ! a
penny for the poor old woman." She headed a
man off, running in front of him and jerking the
head of a wretched baby as she ran. " A penny for
the love of God ! "
The man escaped to be waylaid by two others.
:i What a lot of fa.t beggars ! " I exclaimed.
The chambermaid walked listlessly to the
window and looked out. A man in well cut
16 WE CROSS TO DUBLIN
clothes had tossed a penny to the ground, and the
beggars had fallen upon it.
" Those men do be spotters," said the chamber-
maid for my benefit.
" Spotters ? What do you mean ? "
" Spies," she answered briefly.
" How can you tell ? "
She sniffed. "They're not Dublin. They're
military. Will you be taking your breakfast here
or downstairs ? "
" Here, thanks. And get me a bath ready.
I'll go to bed for a bit."
The stream of people increased as I watched.
It was a listless stream. The only thing in a hurry
was a lorry of armed soldiers jostling at breakneck
speed through the traffic.
" For the Lord's sake, let's get some break-
fast ! " Himself exclaimed in the middle of my
I COME ACROSS 47
IT was past eleven o'clock when I left my wife and
wandered out of the hotel and across O'Connell
Bridge. The tide was high, and something about
the lights that lay upon the Liffey waters, and
something about the numerous bridges spanning
the river, brought me dreams of Venice.
It is said there is truth in first impressions. I
had a first impression of Dublin then. In that
shining summer weather the city, which was at
once so pleasantly conceived and so down at heels,
impressed me as some likeable person fallen upon
a sick bed.
Was it that I was reading into the face of the
city what I expected to see ? I had wondered at
the suspicion of the guests in the hotel, who sat
surly and apart. Now against the embankment of
the river shabby men and youths leaned, cooling
their heels. They smoked and spat and contem-
plated the traffic, which was controlled by mag-
nificent policemen as tall as trees. There appeared
to be a barbers' strike in progress, as outside the
barber's shop loitered sundry young men who
18 I COME ACROSS 47
would have been the better for a shave. These
people displayed a board with " Strike on Here "
printed in big letters, and whenever some customer,
maddened by a two months' growth of hair,
vanished into the shop, they would shout after
him in raucous tones, " Strike on there ! "
The crowd looked worried and suspicious of
itself, and surely it was evident to him who had
eyes to see that war, none the less real because
waged below the surface, was going on, and nobody
knew who was for this side and who for the other.
Yes, war rumbling through the streets in the
guise of heavy military waggons, tramping round
the corners in parties of tin-hatted soldiers, flying
up and down the quays in lorries choked with
dapper-looking men wearing Balmoral bonnets,
rushing up this road and that in Crossley tenders,
filled with less romantic men in black uniforms and
I passed over O' Council Bridge, up Westmore-
land Street, and out of it between two grave stone
buildings ; that across the way an eloquent
curving place, once a parliament, and now suffering
from a changed greatness as the Bank of Ireland ;
this, to my left, the grave grey face of Trinity,
with its arch like a mouth, through which could be
seen cobbled walks removed from the wear and
tear of the rest of the city.
Then to the left and up Dawson Street, past
the Mansion House, an uninspired building, into
one of the noble squares that the city possesses.
STEPHEN'S GREEN 19
The heart ol this square was a public garden called
Stephen's Green. I crossed the road, which was
wide and straight, and entered the park by a little
gate in the iron railings.
The sun poured out of the sky, and the place
was full of nurses and babies. Two lakes, divided
by a bridge, filled all the centre of the place, and
ducks and seagulls and small children disputed for
bits of bread round the edges. It was the scene
one meets in all city parks ; but it was specially
charming owing to the sun and the twisting
I was looking for a chair when I discovered
47 strolling down the path. He had seen me ; he
always saw me first. He looked just the same as
when we had said good-bye at Hyde Park Corner.
" So you came over ? " he said.
" You'll find it worth while."
The place was the best in the gardens for a
talk. Two chairs were beside us. We sat down
with mutual consent.
" I have been over a week," he said. " I put
up at the Gresham. That's in Sackville Street. I
had to get in touch first thing. I was to meet my
6 cousin ' in the lounge of the Hibernian Hotel,
Dawson Street, at a quarter to twelve. After a
talk with him I would know the lie of the land
better, and be in a position to set to work at once.
A fellow learns from experience how to cast the
net as quickly and as widely as possible."
20 I COME ACROSS 47
" How do you mean ? "
" The commercial traveller bustles from busi-
ness house to business house, finds his way into
the different billiard saloons, tests the merits of the
bars. The other people get going in their own
" I've never seen you in a hurry."
" Never be in a hurry. Don't delay in preparing
the ground ; but when that is done the experienced
fellow sits like a man beneath a tree, waiting for
the ripe fruit to drop into his lap. He has a golden
rule, which he never breaks. It is, do not ask a
direct question. What he must know must be
found out indirectly while he is yawning and
showing at best a polite interest. So it follows his
informant forgets what has been said ; but he
does not forget."
" Well," I said, " what happened ? "
" I found the hotel, which has a sort of Moorish
lounge, and got a seat where I could see everybody,
the door among other things. It was twenty
minutes to twelve, five minutes to the time. I
asked for nobody, I did not even ask for a
drink, as I did not want my voice to proclaim
me an Englishman and a stranger. I knew my
'cousin' would be on time, for time with us is
He leant forward in his old way, and began
rubbing his chin on his stick. It meant he was
going to hold forth.
" Time, exact time, is sacred. On Tuesday
ON THE STROKE 21
morning, at twelve o'clock by the nearest public
time, Agent 1 will push his barrow round a certain
corner. At the same time Agent 2, who is cycling
round the same corner at the same moment but
from an opposite direction, collides with Agent 1,
and in the fracas which ensues they are hemmed
in by the crowd. Agent 3, who has been detailed
to do a little business on the other side of the road
at two minutes past twelve, is agreeably surprised
to find everybody occupied on the opposite pave-
ment and nobody watching him. At four minutes
past twelve a motor car numbered with a certain
number slows up at a certain bit of kerb, and
Agent 3, who has transacted his little business,
gets in. But if Agent 1 is late, Agent 2 has no man
to collide with, no crowd is drawn to look on,
Agent 3 finds it impossible to transact his bit of
business, and Agent 4 slows his car up in vain.
Somebody is going to get into trouble.
" The few people in the lounge seemed the tag
ends of Horse Show week. There were three or
four women and half a dozen men, and they sat
over cocktails and coffee. Nobody was interested
" At one minute to the hour I sat back and put
up the sign, and a minute later a man stalked
through the door from the street. He took in the
room in a single aimless glance, and, still walking
forward, answered my sign. He smiled, I rose,
and we met as if we were friends expecting each
other. We made the third sign, the one that is
22 I COME ACROSS 47
made with the foot, and he asked the passwords
and I answered. This was while we were sitting
down. He asked me to have a drink ; but I wasn't
" ' Then come out,' he said, 4 for a walk about.'
He made a motion of his finger in the air like a
man walking about. He spoke very quietly, and
asked questions with his eyebrows.
44 We left the lounge and went down the hotel
44 My 4 cousin ' was between thirty and thirty-
five. He was tall and very lean. His chest was
narrow, and sometimes he looked delicate, and at
other times as tough as whipcord. His face was
as keen as a wild animal's. His black hair grew
backwards. He was inclined to walk on his toes,
and he trod like a cat. You never heard him
coming and going.
44 He brought me here, and we walked and
talked." 47 jerked his thumb to the left. 44 Up
that end is a waterfall which feeds the lakes, and
all the time we seemed to be getting to that or
leaving it. We watched the children if we were
disturbed, or talked about the birds, and my
' cousin ' I can't give you his name or number
was mad on them, and had a cupboard at home
full of pot plants."
44 Did he tell you how things are going ? " I
47 pondered this. 44 He thought there was a
lot of work to be done ; but the situation was
CUMANN NA MEAN 23
getting fairly well in hand. The people over here
are fearfully hampered by the powers that be."
47 looked carefully round the gardens without
turning his head. " Listen to this," he said,
pulling some papers out of his pocket. " Here are
one or two choice little extracts from the rules of
the Cumann na mBan, the woman's branch of
the Irish Republican Army, of which Countess
Markievicz is the head. The Countess is said to
go about with an armed escort, and to carry a
bag with a gun inside. The spring of the bag fires
the gun. It may be a legend. Here we are.
" As a start, members have to subscribe to the
following declaration : ' I, mindful of my high
responsibilities as an Irishwoman, am resolved to
do my part in the service of the Republic. I enrol
myself as a member of the Cumann na mBan. I
bind myself by personal attention to duty as a
member of this branch to aim at the highest degree
of efficiency which alone will make us a valuable
unit in the Republican Army. I pledge myself to
keep perfectly secret all matters connected with
the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan,' etc.
" This is what I am after : Rule 11. ' That
Cumann na mBan should be instructed in the use
of firearms.' Rule 12. ' That Cumann na mBan
include detective work and the acquiring of in-
formation about the enemy among its activities.'
" Dublin Castle has in its possession a full list
of the executive of the Cumann na mBan this
organisation of enemy spies yet none of these
24 I COME ACROSS 47
women are touched, but they are left to go about
their work as freely as they like. The Irish
Republican Army states that it is at war with
Britain ; the penalty for spies is death. These
women could quite logically be executed ; they
most certainly should be interned. But no, not
a finger must be lifted against them."
" What else did you glean ? " I urged.
" That these gardens were much used by the
Sinn Feiners. My ' cousin ' pointed out a man
loitering on a little switchback path over there
near the waterfall. He warned me most of us were
shadowed now and again, but in most cases it was
clumsily done. He warned me Sinn Fein was
everywhere, that one could trust nobody, that the
rot was even in the army and the police. The
question was dividing fathers against sons, and
husbands against wives. He urged me to believe
in nobody who was not of the brotherhood : he
need not have worried on that score.
" I was told to look out for men and women
sitting together on the park benches the man
dictating, the woman taking shorthand notes.
That's how they often dictate their dispatches.
" My ' cousin ' went on to say that after dark
motor cyclists carried the Sinn Fein dispatches
through the empty streets. One passed his house
at great speed at a certain hour every evening,
almost to the minute. He meant to get him.
" He told me, as I had guessed, that the bars
were the great places for passing information.
GOOD ADVICE 25
Important meetings were held in the houses of
trusted people and in the private rooms of hotels
with good escapes.
"He ended by announcing the Irish could
breed horses, grow flowers, and conspire, and that^>
was the sum total of their qualifications."
47 came to the end of his oration. He had told-
everything in a level voice, rubbing his chin on the
top of his stick all the time.
" That's amusing," I owned. " You must keep
" You'll be wise not to see too much of us,
though we'd both like to have a talk with friends.
They may start shadowing me at any time, and it
won't be worth your while to be seen in bad com-
pany. I'll tell you where I hang out ; but don't
turn up often. We'll run across each other now
and then like this."
44 1 don't want a bullet into me on your
account," I assured him. 44 Besides, I want to see
as much of the other side as I can. Remember,
I'm going to keep strictly neutral. Do you hear ? "
He grunted something, and did not seem much
interested. Then he said
" What are you doing now ? "
44 Looking for a flat, I suppose," I answered.
44 This is a good part of the town. The flats
are very dirty, but you may find something. We
were tied to a top floor."
44 How's that ? "
44 The top floor has many advantages, including
26 I COME ACROSS 47
the fact that it can be defended better than another
floor, and also that nobody has any business on
He was getting up as he said this. He waited a
moment, said, " We'll run across each other in a
day or two. Good luck with your flat."
He nodded, and was gone.
FINDING A ROOF
NEXT morning Himself and I breakfasted early
and went flat hunting. We went light-heartedly,
not knowing what was before us. I had started
with some idea of comfort and cleanliness : I had
made up my mind that my life should be comfort-
able as well as interesting. But that dream was
soon dispelled. The flats we saw had never seen
brooms since the days of Cuchulan, a man the
Irish are very fond of. We were eyed up and
down by frowsy maids and dilapidated landladies.
" God knows where we'll end if we get into any
of these ! " Himself exclaimed, in the middle of
u Now, look here, my poor husband, we must
get a flat. It's the basements that have put us off.
Don't let's look at basements, let's just see the
possibility of soap and water."
" That's a good idea ; but what shall we let
ourselves in for ? "
" We've got to die somehow some day."
We walked along a street in the neighbourhood
of Stephen's Green. Somewhere about the middle,
28 FINDING A ROOF
on the right-hand side, a cab was drawn up, and
luggage was being brought out by a bibulous-
" That looks hopeful," Himself said. " Some
one is clearing out."
We mounted the steps before the door was shut.
A middle-aged servant stood on the top step,
directing the cabman with his last load. She had
black hair, an apron, sand-shoes they had started
life white and her sleeves were rolled up.
" Are there any flats to let here ? " I asked
Before replying, she looked us up and down in
the Irish way.
" There are," she said, at last. " There do be
two, and some one's just after leaving now."
" Can we see any one ? "
" You can. Mrs. Slaney's upstairs."
We went inside.
The hall floor was depressing. The stair rods
endangered our ascent. The stair carpet had once
" I've not been able to sweep to-day," said the
servant. " The mistress was after giving the loan
of the broom next door, and it hasn't come back
" Mrs. O'Grady ! Mrs. O'Grady ! " screamed
some one below us. " When do I put the pud den
" Such a girl ! " exclaimed Mrs. O'Grady.
" She is like a headless cock ! It's half- four now,"
MRS. SLANEY 29
she answered. " Use your head ! That girl ! " she
exclaimed to me indignantly, " she doesn't know
the clock. Here you are, mum, a party to see
Mrs. Slaney sat with her back to the door,
trimming a hat. Her mouth was full of pins.
There were drying bulbs spread out on newspapers
over the floor.
44 Have you a flat to let ?" I asked, as she got
up from the chair and came towards us.
" Rooms to let," she corrected with a smile.
44 Yes, I have rooms to let." She eyed the creases
in Himself's trousers. 4e You're English ? What
are you doing in Ireland ? " She tried to question
us pleasantly. 44 You're army, of course ? I don't
know that I'd care to let my rooms to army people."
44 We are not army people," I assured her.
" Nothing to do with it."
44 You can't be too careful," declared Mrs.
Slaney. 44 I'm sure you'll understand that. Most
of the army people are doing spy work now. At
one time they were all right ; but that was before
the war. They were gentlemen then."
44 1 can give you references," I said.
We sat down.
She returned to her chair and faced us. Him-
self's hand strayed to a book, and he picked it up.
44 The Evolution of Sinn Fein ? " he read.
44 You're interested in Sinn Fein, Mrs. Slaney ? "
44 1 am," she said emphatically. 44 Everybody
in Ireland is since we were terrorised by the
30 FINDING A ROOF
English army. I'm a Sinn Feiner, and I have been
for some time. It is monstrous what England is
doing ! Monstrous ! Ireland will never forget it.
Look at all those young fellows that England is
murdering. The flower of Ireland ! Look at what
she's doing to-day ! "
11 I'm English, as much as I'm anything else,"
said Himself slowly. "I'm full-blooded British
anyway. But I'm interested in Sinn Fein, gen-
" Then you'll see things here that will make
your blood boil. Thank God, my son didn't die
in France ! How England clamoured about the
rights of small nations."
" It's a great pity that there is this feeling,"
said Himself lamely. " After all, the British Isles
are one geographically. They should be friends."
Mrs. Slaney snorted.
" Friends ! Ireland can never be friendly.
Ireland can't forget. Look how she has been
treated. Look what Cromwell did. Look at last
Thursday. They arrest the Lord Mayor of Cork
a perfectly innocent man. I suppose they'll treat
him the same as Lord Mayor MacCurtain."
" I thought the papers said the Lord Mayor
was presiding over an illegal court, and that a
stolen police cypher was found, and oh, lots of
other things," I ventured.
" Nonsense ! That's Hamar Greenwood and
his lie factory. I was talking to Father Murphy,
who tells me the Lord Mayor is a perfectly innocent
WE TAKE A FLAT 31
man, And, look, only the other night those soldiers
ran amok on the quays. They're here to terrorise
the citizens. But you want to see the rooms ? "
" I would like to."
We went downstairs. Mrs. Slaney trotted
busily a pace or two ahead.
" This is the flat." She opened a door leading
into a sitting-room.
" Nice and airy," she declared, bustling towards
a window, and vainly trying to put it up. " I must
get that sash fixed. There's a bedroom at the back,
and the use of a bathroom."
" How much ? " I asked, in a faltering voice.
" Three guineas. I give services for that, too.
It's cheaper than most flats, and the best situation
in Dublin. So near the Green."
" What are the services ? "
44 Mrs. O'Grady is a very good cook that goes
without saying ; and there is a housemaid as well.
You dine at night, I suppose ? "
" I don't like dinner served much after seven.
There's Mrs. O'Grady to consider."
44 It's early," I said dubiously, " but I see you
must consider the servants. We might think about
14 I'm afraid you must make up your minds
about them soon. I have several people after
them. Rooms are scarce now."
44 1 vote we take them," said Himself. " You'll
have them properly cleaned up for us ? "
32 FINDING A ROOF
"Of course," smiled Mrs. Slaney. "I am
always most particular about cleanliness. You'll
want them in a few days, I suppose ? I can set
Mrs. O'Grady to work to-morrow, and I'll have the
curtains taken down and the windows cleaned.
You could come in the day after."
Himself tried the door.
" The locks are out of order," he said.
" They are," Mrs. Slaney agreed ; " but no one
bothers about locks here. We're all friends. I've
always tried to keep that atmosphere in the house.
We need no locks. Until this trouble began, there
was not a more crimeless country than Ireland.
The front door has never been locked at night since
I came into the house."
" I should like these doors to lock," I said
sharply. " After all, I understand that the Black-
and-Tans raid frequently. It's not nice to feel that
they can walk in without warning."
" We can find you keys, of course." She soothed
me like a child. " You'll come, then, the day after
to-morrow ? "
" I'll look in to-morrow, probably, to see what
I shall want in the way of odds and ends, and
perhaps some of the luggage could come. The
heavy stuff has been at the station all this time."
"You'll like Ireland," said Mrs. Slaney to
Himself, ignoring my suggestion about the luggage.
" You'll find nothing but kindness in the South.
You must go to the North for bitterness. It's
wonderful, the patience of the Southerners ; they've
AU REVOIR 33
suffered so much and so long. Eight hundred
years ! But at last it has burst out. It couldn't
be bottled up any longer. Your blood must boil
at the wrongs of Ireland."
" I must hear all you've got to say later."
" Yes. I expect you'll be more Irish than the
Irish after a few months. It is always like that
with the English who come here. Are you passing
a pillar-box ? I'll get you to post a letter as you
go out. It will save me a journey. I haven't a
stamp in the house, by the way ; but you might
perhaps put one on, and we'll make it right next
WE SETTLE IN
THREE days later we took up our abode with Mrs.
She directed our arrival. She was like a busy
bird on several twigs. She did not seem able to
The flat had been imperfectly cleaned ; the
curtains had been imperfectly put up ; the window-
cleaner had not come, but was coming at some date
known only to himself; the door locks had not
" There are one or two little items I've over-
looked," Mrs. Slaney said. " I make a small charge
for cleaning the front hall. I allow Mrs. O'Grady
a little extra for that; and there's coal and light."
She looked at me uncertainly ; but I was not
prepared to do battle.
" Mrs. O'Grady hadn't time to clean the fire-
place to-day," she said. " She'll do it to-morrow.
I've had the walls brushed down. Well," she next
said regretfully, " I mustn't disturb you. Let me
know if you want anything."
She got as far as the door, then she burst out
MRS. SLANEY INDIGNANT 35
" Look at what the blackguards are doing to
the Lord Mayor of Cork ! What do you think now
of Lloyd George and Hamar Greenwood and their
lie factory, starving all those splendid young Irish-
men to death in Brixton and in Cork ? What must
decent Englishmen think ? "
I quailed under her eye.
" It's deliberate, cold-blooded murder. I was a
loyalist before 1916. The murder of those splendid
young fellows by the British Government after the
rebellion caused a thrill of horror through the
whole country. Why can't England leave Ireland
alone ? "
" It's a long story," said Himself.
44 A long story ! It's shameful ! And all the
talk of the rights of small nations." She quieted
a little, and said, " We must have some little talks
in the evening. I'll get Father Murphy to come
round. He's just had Father O'Hara from Cork
staying with him, and he'll be able to give us a
little of the truth of what's going on. Now I must
This time Mrs. Slaney was as good as her word.
I looked round, and found Himself in a trance.
" I wish the doors would lock," I said bleakly.
" Mrs. O'Grady tells me the house is full. I hate
the idea of people being able to come in and
out as they please. Especially when we're in
" No one will hurt you."
" I hate the feeling that they can prowl in
36 WE SETTLE IN
and out. It's not much to ask that the doors are
There was a timid knock. "ome in," I said.
A spikey little girl of fourteen or fifteen came in.
" Who are you ? "
44 Please, mum, I'm Polly, the housemaid.
Mrs. O'Grady wants to know if you want your
dinner at half seven."
" Yes, Polly."
" Well, it's half six now, and it's done, and
Mrs. O'Grady wants to know what she'll do
" Let it go for to-night," said Himself.
" Bring it in now. But do remember half -past
seven in future."
" We'll go for a long walk afterwards," said
Himself, trying to cheer me up. " It looks rather
interesting along the canal."
We moved mournfully towards the room where
our meals were to be served.
" You'll have all you want," Mrs. O'Grady said,
cheerfully dusting a small plate with her apron.
' 4 The little bell's lost, but you may call from the
top of the stairs."
" It's very early for dinner," I said severely.
Mrs. O'Grady sniffed. 44 It's this way," she
said. 4i That girl's bad with her feet. It comes
from running up and down all day for the woman
upstairs and wearing fashionable boots. I sez
to her, it do be to bed you should be going,
and it is the lady who has just moved into the
WE DINE 37
drawing-room flat is the grand lady, and will not
be after keeping you.' '
" She should stay away until she's better," 1
"It'd be a charity," declared Mrs. O'Grady,
earnestly, but with no sincerity. " But these
stairs do be terrible on my legs."
She threw up her hands and withdrew.
Himself was gazing into the soup like Melisande.
I, being a philosopher, started on mine at once.
WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES
HIMSELF and I had got a grip of Dublin at the
end of a week by using a map and doing a lot of
All this time Mrs. Slaney was becoming more
friendly. She swallowed rebuffs as an ostrich
We began to know by sight the people in the
neighbourhood. A number of officers lived in one
of the houses. Sometimes they were in uniform,
and sometimes in mufti. They went out at night
very late, returning during or after curfew as they
felt inclined. Usually a car called for them, driven
by a soldier, and it brought them back again with
a great clatter, when the street was doing its best
to sleep. These men carried guns in their pockets.
" Those men are spies," Mrs. Slaney said,
coming in to borrow a little butter. " Look at
them going out in mufti. Do they think our
people are fools ? Absurd ! The Government lets
them go about like that, and expects them to get
44 They must get information, I suppose," I
A BEAU BRUMMELL 39
said. " After all, if they were no good they wouldn't
be kept on."
She threw up her hands.
" The Government pours out money like
water ! "
The men in this particular house fascinated me.
They came and went so often it seemed as if they
never slept. There was one individual I found
more absorbing than the others. He was about
forty, tall and immaculate. His ties and socks
were wonderful, his shoes the most beautiful suede,
his collar fitted as no other collar I have seen fitted
a man, and I am sure he wore stays. On his head
was a bowler at an extreme angle. He looked a
" wrong un," the sort of person you would not
introduce to your daughter. He usually made a
first sortie about eleven, and tottered towards the
Shel bourne for a cocktail.
Dublin intrigued me. The people are grubby
and intellectual, and crafty and philosophic, and
sublime and material all at the same time. The
fat beggars whine their piteous stories at every
corner, and the children tell the tale as glibly as
the mothers. Each person is more droll than the
next, and nobody really believes anybody else.
Every day provided a new excitement. I have
forgotten half of them now ; but one I remember
clearly. It happened during one of my first walks.
I was coming home across one of the bridges
over the canal on the south side of the city. Men,
women, and children were peering over into the
40 WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES
water, and I peered too. All I saw were four big,
important policemen, who seemed to be guarding
Then, in the middle of the canal, I discovered a
large oil drum floating with the Sinn Fein flag on
top. Below the flag was a placard " Spies and
While I was still gaping, as was everybody else,
a lorry load of troops, with tin hats and rifles,
" This is thrilling ! " I exclaimed.
At every window was a head, at most t\\o, in
some there were half a dozen heads, and the
crowd, which had fallen back before the troops,
drifted as near as it dared.
The capture of the bridge and the bank of the
canal was the matter of moments, and then there
was an armistice while two officers, displaying many
ribbons, discussed the next stage of the attack.
" Certain to be mined," I heard one declare.
" What would be the sense of the Shinners putting
a thing like that there if it wasn't ? "
" There may be a dead body attached. Some
poor devil gone west," answered the other. He
scratched his head. " Let's put a shot into it to
" Blow the bally canal to bits, what ? " declared
the first man, gaily. Then he became depressed.
" There must be a catch in it," declared the
second man. " Some one '11 have to go out and see
to it. Where the devil's a boat ? "
SIGNS OF THE TIMES 41
k; There's a boat the other side," said a police-
" Bring her across, what ! " cried the officer.
The policeman suddenly lost all joy in the day ;
but he got the boat. He gave it over to the officers,
who clambered in.
Some girls giggled.
The senior of the officers reached out his hand
and carefully drew the oil drum towards him. He
fell upon the notice and destroyed it, and captured
the Sinn Fein flag.
" Empty ! " he said, as he cleared the drum
from its moorings and they lifted it into the boat.
"It'll be full next time," I couldn't help
Everybody looked at me with one accord as if
I had done it. I started to depart, and the good
example set the soldiers scrambling into the lorry,
the policemen stalking off on their beat, and the
crowd drifting on its way.
Such adventures as this might be met with at
any street corner.
Everywhere there were signs of the times. All
day long the military lorries rumbled about the
city great brutal concerns crowded with armed
soldiers in tin hats, so that they looked like mouths
bristling with teeth. And faster than they rolled
the armoured cars like little forts on wheels. And
faster still and more furious, lighter lorries choked
with Auxiliary police and Black-and-Tans.
42 WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES
At any hour of the day one might walk on top
of a raid, though night was the more chosen time
for such things. There was generally a small
crowd of errand boys, beggars, and telegraph boys,
and other people with nothing important on hand,
kept at rifle's length by a line of Tommies drawn
across the streets ; and a hundred yards beyond
was the fatal house with lorries like empty mouths
before it the teeth having got out and gone
inside. These raids had a fascination for the passer-
by, although, nine cases out of ten, nothing was
to be seen, and the tenth time there was a chance
of being shot, as some one would try and escape,
or something would happen inside the house.
There would be days of special military activity,
when the bridges over the canals were held up,
and motorists had their cars searched for arms and
documents, and drivers their carts. At nights,
when dark fell and the cold crept through the city,
there came occasional cracking shots, which were
more frequent as the weeks went on.
Every morning a flaring poster of the Freeman's
Journal, the most violent organ of the National
Press, shouted out some fresh Government atrocity.
Yes, signs of the times everywhere, and most
eloquent where least was said, as in the public
places where never a word of politics was spoken.
But for a day the humblest person could get
out of it all. On Howth Head he could wander in
solitude. Up Killiney Hill he could climb and
feast his eyes on peace.
AN INTRODUCTION 48
One afternoon, in the lounge of the Shelbourne
Hotel, we were introduced to our acquaintance of
the wonderful waistcoats and socks. His clothes
were still as perfectly put on ; but he seemed less
at his ease than usual. Whenever some one came
in, he pivoted round, turning the whole of his
body in the movement, and every now and then
he beat his forehead with a beautiful silk handker-
" Oh, I'm rocky to-day, very rocky," he
declared, swallowing the last of the whiskey.
" It's a terrible place for a man to find himself in.
I was in uniform the other day, on the step out
there, trying to get inside. Suddenly a dear old
lady trotted up to me and grasped me by the hand.
' Let me thank you,' she said, c thank you in the
name of all the loyal women of Ireland, for coming
over here to defend us from those murderous Sinn
Feiners.' ' Yes, madam, that's all very well,
that's all very nice,' I answered, trying to get her
to let go of my hand ; ' but if I don't get inside
there with this uniform on there'll be a bit of day-
light let into me.' ' He mopped his brow, and
exclaimed, " Oh, my God, my God ! "
" Would you sooner deal with the women on
the other side ? " I asked.
"Oh no ; oh, not at all. Oh, nothing like
that about me. I know the other sort, too well I
know them. You meet 'em at the top of the
landing when you and your merry men dash into
a house full of beans. Oh, I know the sort. They'd
44 WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES
bite a man in the tonsils before he had his collar
on in the morning."
44 D'you raid houses ? "
44 That's me. That's me in the cold dark night.
That's unfortunately me. I'm always getting
myself into some trouble or other. As soon as I've
done with one stunt I say, Never again. But I get
rested ; I get full of beans ; I grow full of joy.
On a fatal day, six months ago, I met a pal. 4 What
are you doin', old bean ? ' he said. * Come to
Ireland. Come and chase Shinners. Wonderful
people, Shinners. All believe in the soap boycott.
It's money for nothing.'
" Money for nothing ! I felt full of joy. And
here I am up all night and all day, and feeling like
44 As bad as that ? "
44 Oh, terrible ! Out every night, out all night
long, hail and rain and frost. Rushing up stairs,
expecting a bullet on every landing. Tearing into
terrible slums where men and women and children
all sleep in the same bed, and you come away with
the itch, and where you have to crawl about with
your hand to your nose looking for patriots. And
they told me it was money for nothing. And then,
in the small hours, you stagger back to bed and
find an Irish patriot leaning against the door, and
you dodge by with your gun under your coat
pointing at him, and he swings about with his gun
under his coat, and neither of you has the nerve
to shoot the other, Oh, it's money for nothing.
MONEY FOR NOTHING 45
and the life fills a man full of joy ! " He beat his
mouth with his handkerchief, and muttered, " My
God, my God, my God ! "
" Poor man," said my wife.
He pivoted round. " And the Castle people
expect such wonderful things. Last night, oh,
last night I "
" What happened last night ? "
" Last night they said to me, ' Old bean, just
paddle down to Irishtown and watch a house there
for half an hour. Watch it from ten to ten-thirty,
and see if anything happens. We think it's a
meeting-place. Just watch for half an hour. It's
quite simple. Money for nothing ! '
"Terrible place, Irishtown. Have you been
there ? Then don't. Home of dock labourers and
navvies. I found my house, and in two minutes a
patriot who believed in the soap boycott came
and breathed in my face. And in five minutes a
dear old lady came and looked at me as if she
wanted to bite me in the tonsils. I began to feel
hot and bothered. It was cold, cold, cold, and there
was one lamp, which I seemed to be getting under
all the time. In ten minutes I was feeling like
death. Then, as the dear old bean at the Castle
suggested, something did happen. All the doors in
Irishtown opened at the same moment, and people
came rushing out. And one man shouted, in a
terrible voice, 4 There he goes, the C.I.D. ! J
" The C.I.D. did go. Oh yes, the C.I.D. went.
I butted into an old beggar lady, and knocked
46 WE MAKE ACQUAINTANCES
spinning. I rushed down one street and up the
next, and bowled over two or three children, and
a dear old girl who was trotting out of church full
of beans at having saved her soul. I trod on a
blind man and his dog, and the dog bit the blind
man, and all the other dogs barked, and all the
boys whistled, and the married women hitched up
their stockings, and the old men and the cripples
joined in the chase, shouting, 'There goes the
C.I.D.' And if I couldn't have heard 'em, I
could have smelt they were after me.
" And then I began to get a stitch, a terrible
stitch, and every yard I went it got worse. Money
for nothing ! Yes ! What ? I couldn't go another
yard, and I pulled out my gun and came about
under a lamp and waved it at them.
" It was money for nothing the first time since
I came over. They pulled up like a tide coming
against a wall the old girls, and the boys, and the
cripples, and the dogs, all treading on one another's
toes. And while I waved I tried to get rid of my
damned stitch. ' Now you stop where you are,' I
said, giving my gun a final shake, ' or you'll find
it the worse for you ! ' And round I went, and
started to run again. And all the dogs barked, and
all the beggars picked up their crutches, and all
the married women hitched their garters, and came
after me again. And I didn't know where I'd got,
and I charged over a few more blind men, and I
got the damned stitch again, and I stopped and
shook my gun at 'em, and we all lined up again,
A TRAM RIDE 4T
and then we started off once more. And then,
when the stitch was killing me, a tram came by,
and I made a running jump on to the step, and
dug my gun into the conductor's ribs. ' No funny
business with the bell,' I said. ' You let her rip.'
" And I waved my gun all round the tram, and
everybody tried to get off at once, and two or three
dear old ladies spread themselves on the floor, and
I said to one, ' Yes, madam, that's very nice, and
we'll bring you to at the other end ; but we're
letting this old tram rip just now.' "
He sank back in his seat, mopping his forehead
with his handkerchief, muttering, " Money for
nothing ! " Then he saw the clock, and beat his
mouth with his handkerchief, and cried, " My
God, my God, my God ! I was due somewhere
else half an hour ago." and seized his hat and
stick and hurried through the swing doors of the
Shelbourne into the street.
We found Dublin more interesting every day.
THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
DURING our first months, September, October, and
November, Ireland passed into a state of war. The
country had been going there step by step, by way
of raid and arrest on the one hand, and hedge and
ditch shooting on the other ; but the walk turned
to a run and the run to a slide when the system of
reprisals began. As summer turned into autumn,
and autumn wore out, the hate and terror engen-
dered by the deeds of either side were to beget the
shameful happenings of the winter, so that Ireland,
like a woman frightened during her time, produced
a monster when her hour came.
The three months saw the mellow sunshine of
an Indian summer exchanged for dreary autumn
skies, saw the tender mauves and lavenders of the
flowers in Phoenix Park flowers which for delicacy
of hue I have not seen exceeded in any part of the
world decay and change for hardier blooms ;
witnessed the soft starlight nights become the early
evenings and the discourteous hours when, through
the curfew at this time from twelve to three
wind swept the desolate streets. The months
THE BEGINNING 49
witnessed the fear, which had been gathering over
the land in clouds, come down upon the country in
To what page shall one turn in the book of
history, on what paragraph shall one put a finger
and say " Here was the beginning ! Here ended
Ireland's golden age."
Was it fifty years ago, was it a hundred years
ago, was the beginning made when Strongbow and
his knights crossed the Irish Sea ? Centuries
before an English foot had trodden Irish soil, Irish
kings had been perishing as soon as the crown was
settled on their brows. Then who shall place a
finger upon any page ? There is no place ; there
was no clean cut beginning.
Never have the gods been kind enough to Ireland
to give her a united national opinion, which might
have knit her together ; nor has Ireland succeeded
in absorbing her successive waves of invaders and
making them one people. The Celt with his hoary
tradition passes through the mists of long ago,
driving westward before him the Firbolg, the
inarticulate aboriginal of the country. In turn
follow other more masculine peoples, sweeping after
the Celt, sweeping to the west and the south the
melancholy Celt with his age-long memory.
You must go south and west to find the Celt, and
to-day you are not likely to find him pure anywhere.
But his mark is in many places. This Celtic blood,
when blended with other more masculine bloods,
makes a rich mixture.
50 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
As a result Ireland has become a house with
three tenants who are constantly calling upon the
landlord the first to tell him that he requires no
repairs to the house and is willing for it to be left
as it is ; the second declaring that the house is in
sad disrepair and that something must be done ;
the third announcing he will have nothing more to
do with such a shameful landlord. Thus the
Unionists, the Nationalists, and the Republicans.
The landlord all this while, hearing several
opinions and pleading inability to distinguish the
right one, does what is easiest and suits him best,
and leaves things as they are. It is small excuse
that Britain should have been so tardy with justice ;
but it is probable that she would have been swifter
righting Ireland's wrongs had she heard a united
voice in place of many.
The illustration of landlord and tenant suits
better than any other ; but it smacks unpleasantly
of possessor and possessed. Let us be clear. The
landlord of Ireland is that single people made out
of the four separate peoples of the British Isles.
Let us turn to a more profitable question.
When were the beginnings of Sinn Fein ?
Who shall say so late in the day what might
have checked the growth of this movement ? May
Sinn Fein have been a distemper which, contracted,
must be gone through with ? May it have been
something altogether different, a coming to rebirth
of a people, as the nearly drowned man is brought
back to life with pain and tears ? Is it that the
THE CELTIC REVIVAL 51
gods decide such and such a thing shall befall and
determine when it shall take place ? The Gaelic
League went before Sinn Fein like John of old.
" After me shall come another mightier than I."
It is sufficient that the movement had a beginning,
and like an avalanche gained way as it moved.
First, in 1893, the language movement and talk
of a Celtic revival. A Dublin professor becomes
inspired, and disciples gather about him to master
an antique tongue. Dr. Douglas Hyde, in every-
day life a pleasant sociable man, is touched with
the geist when he pleads for the Gaelic tongue.
The movement grows, pen and pencil are snatched
up, and the remotest country-side is explored for
folklore and fairy tales. There arrives the Celtic
illuminator with his paintbrush and his parch-
ment, and the Celtic jeweller, hammering out his
brooches old fashioned a thousand years ago.
The prophets awaken the seers of visions, the
dreamers of dreams. One dreams of the avatar
that is to come, and sees a phantom drummer
drumming about the land. A second, reading a
telegram of the Russo-Japanese war, receives the
intuition that Japan is the masculine pole of the
earth and Ireland is the feminine pole, and that
some mystic union of the two peoples will bring
order into disorder. A third, on Howth Hill, sees
bloody giant figures moving across the sky. A
fourth, on the top of a tram, sees letters of fire in
The national fire burning more brightly and
52 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
more steadily. All the while Arthur Griffith's
paper, The United Irishman, calling to the
nation to come together.
Then, about 1906, the birth of Sinn Fein, in
those days not a thing of the sword ; but a mild
and respectable movement claiming Ireland's right
to develop along her own lines to nationhood.
Half a dozen years and this movement making
little headway, then 1914, Ulster thwarting Home
Rule and the Citizen Army getting itself together ;
next 1916 and the Easter Week rising. A thousand
romantic men strike at Britain in her extremity and
rouse her at last.
Was that week which followed the Easter rising
the time when a pitiless policy might have brought
this movement to an end ? The general who
could ably have struck the blow was in Ireland at
the time. The movement was not yet a national
matter. A thousand men had stood together in
what they believed was a splendid burst of chivalry ;
but the nation was still impatient of them, thought
them a little ridiculous. A hammer was at hand
to be used. Had the blow fallen, would this live
thing called Sinn Fein have been killed outright ?
The hammer did not fall ; it gave a tap or two.
Sixteen men were executed, and numerous restric-
tions followed ; restrictions which did not affect
considerably the law-abiding citizen, but were
intended to fetter the growth of a distinctively
national spirit. Once again Britain was loth to
cripple, discovering a quality for which her enemies
THE PHOENIX 58
refuse her credit ; but for which she may receive
credit some day when national bitternesses have
gone out of fashion. She tapped here, she tapped
there ; and she succeeded in rousing to a renewed
courage that live thing, Sinn Fein.
Two years of repression, and the Irish Re-
publican Party coming to life again like the Phoenix
under the flag of Sinn Fein. Here a policeman shot,
there a house burned. The British Government
replying with a new repressive measure. Other
houses levelled, and in answer sterner repressive
measures ; other policemen murdered, and still
sterner repressive measures. So the descent into war.
It is understandable that the youth of Ireland,
represented by the Irish Republican Army and the
Cumann na mBan, should throw in their lot with
a movement which had a gentle beginning as a
Celtic revival. First of all the great European war
had passed most of Ireland by ; and the spirit of
combat and sacrifice, which had bred giants on the
Continent, must have trailed the fringe of its
garments into all corners of the British Isles. There
was the great Capital and Labour unrest, which
must have rippled across the Irish Sea in course of
time. The Irish peasant boy, with his plough and
his pigs as a horizon, with America as an ultimate
limit of vision, was in a state to welcome any change
in the procession of his days ; and along comes the
patriot with his splendid story.
The unprejudiced person admits that the
British Government passed by first challenges and
54 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
insults, and in the beginning the task of Irish
Volunteer was more exhilarating than onerous. It
presented itself to the gaping ploughboy as a great
adventure at little cost. Here was opportunity to
defy authority, to expand into something more
eloquent than a cowherd. So a beginning was
But in time the duties of a volunteer spelt more
than an inspiring game. They called ever and anon
for a man's whole courage. But there was come
a new thing to take the place of the bait of splendour
which had sufficed in the beginning. The flame of
a national being had burst alight. The prize of
sacrifice for an ideal was now offered to the dazzled
feeder of swine.
This burst of nationalism, which had been
lighted and fanned quite falsely by the first enthu-
siasts, penetrated from the cities to the villages ;
and the laggard to join the I.R.A. became inspired
by example. Thus the army swelled its ranks,
thus the national spirit was fanned as if by a
bellows. And a third agent went to work in
intimidation. The village lout who hesitated to
enlist found it the worse for him. That youths
joined the I.R.A. in haste to repent at leisure is
borne out by orders issued by Republican authorities
concerning deserters. But every wide movement
of necessity gathers a certain scum, and there is no
denying this national awakening was to turn many
a village clown into a staunch soldier of the Irish
CAPITAL VERSUS LABOUR 55
A fact to be examined at this point is the
surprising absence of people of breeding in the
ranks of Sinn Fein. The rank and file of the move-
ment was drawn from the working classes, while
the leaders for the most part belonged to the lower
middle classes. It would seem as if the Sinn Fein
movement was a peculiar national expression of
the world- wide conflict between servant and master.
Europe as a whole, the world indeed, was in the
throes of the Capital versus Labour question, and
the Sinn Fein movement was Ireland's personal
expression of the revolt of the humble person
There was, of course, a sprinkling of gentry in
The Dublin universities illustrated how opinion
and class went together. The students of Trinity
as a rule are gentlemen of birth, and as a body they
were loyal to the Crown ; the students of the
National University, who are drawn from the middle
classes, to a man declared for Sinn Fein.
I have tried to be free of prejudice as I tramped
the Dublin streets, yet I say out of my heart if one
met a prosperous person, a spruce person, such
person, nine times out of ten, proved a loyalist.
After a month in Ireland I could pick out the
Irish Volunteer. He wore a dirty velour hat, a
shabby raincoat, and generally had his hands in his
pockets. There was a youthful, cheeky type,
belonging to the National University, and there was
a dirtier, rather more prepossessing type, drawn
50 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
from the errand boy and working classes. There
was a better type still, which came from the
One had only to notice the Republican Volunteer
rubbing shoulders in the street with the British
officer, to comprehend these people belonged to
two poles, which could never meet. Barriers of
class, education, and standards were between them
it was Capital and Labour over again. The
British officer, from his stupendous height, regarded
the Sinn Feiner through the big end of the telescope,
classed all connected with Sinn Fein as " Shinners "
and valued them as such.
The Irish struggle did not develop along the
lines of an ordinary war. It was not the late
European war on a smaller scale. It was the case
of an immensely powerful man fighting the shadow
of a man.
The Republican Army had no uniform, or more
correctly found it impolitic to wear uniform, and
the volunteers were on and off active service as a
man puts on and off a coat according to the change
in weather. Your butcher, your baker, the man
who cleaned your boots might be an Irish Volunteer,
and when orders came, and opportunity, might
make an end of you. A franc-tireur I understand
this type of soldier to be ; but in reality the I.R.A.
had many of the strengths and weaknesses of a
numerous and hastily built up secret service.
The British Government had to contend with
another difficulty it could not make a straight
MURDER GANG 57
ahead attack, it could not level every house in a
row. The Government had the power to do this ;
but not the opportunity. They were fighting only
the shadow of a man. In every row half the houses
might be friendly ones, and who could say which
were which ? For it was only in the winter of
1920-21 that the nation became welded, and that
one could count on most people in the street being
followers of Sinn Fein.
On the one point of uniform the British Govern-
ment was able to stigmatise the Irish Volunteers
as murderers, and this stand it took up, applying
the phrase " murder gang " to them. The Irish
Volunteers had to pay the penalty of being termed
murderers, of being hanged as murderers when
caught red-handed instead of getting the treatment
of prisoners of war ; but more than balancing these
disadvantages was the boon of becoming this
shadowy foe, which could not be brought to bay.
Unless the country was flooded with troops and
artillery and such a plan had many difficulties
in the peculiar circumstances the affair was likely
to be long drawn out. A long-drawn-out campaign
was all to the advantage of Sinn Fein. In the
first place the world must gradually come to notice
the Irish resistance, and the " murder gang " cry
of the British Government would hardly ring true
if operations were drawn out to the length of a war.
Again, time was to the advantage of Sinn Fein in
recruiting its strength. As, month after month,
raid and arrest went on, and the cities and country
58 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
places were patrolled by troops not of the country,
and wrongs and injustices followed one upon another
wrong houses were raided, wrong arrests were
made friend after friend, neutral after neutral
became foe. The impartial observer could see the
nation laid on an anvil as it were and welded into a
blade of defence.
The shoot-and-run murders continued in the
country places, from the country murder found its
way into the cities ; and the phantom enemy
continued to move round and about but would not
come into the open. I heard an exasperated
soldier cry out, " Let us give them ten days to get
uniform and then declare war properly. Let us
treat every man taken in uniform as a prisoner of
war, and let us shoot out of hand every armed
man caught out of uniform. Their war, as they
call it, will be over in a week."
There was truth in this. As a fighting machine
the I.R.A. was outnumbered and so ill equipped
that had pitched battles taken place, it would not
have existed on the seventh day. Consequently
the disadvantages of no uniform were far outweighed
by the advantages.
I have no doubt the Republican leaders weighed
up things and decided on the course of action they
considered most profitable, and though for pro-
paganda purposes an outcry was made when a
volunteer, caught red-handed, was hanged, yet I
believe the Irish leaders saw the logic of this, and
looked upon the event as one of the misfortunes
BAD TO WORSE 59
of war. I have always found the leaders to take a
more professional view of things and to be less
emotional than the follower on the skirts of the
As matters went from bad to worse the British
Government proceeded to wage the war in the only
way that was possible. In the beginning, increasing
difficulties had been met by arming the established
police, and by drafting more troops into the
country. The police of the cities took to carrying
revolvers on duty ; but these very arms were to
prove a source of danger. One gun or ten guns
were equally useless to a man standing up all day
as a target. What use are arms to a man when any
person in a crowd may step up to him and shoot
him ? The man who shoots first lives longest in
this type of struggle.
The I.R.A. was, on the whole, systematic in its
plan of aggression. It dealt with its avowed enemies
and did not meddle with those who left it alone.
It regarded such people as the Dublin Metropolitan
Police as passive rather than active enemies, until
the constables came on duty armed.
The police perceived their new danger and
presently petitioned the authorities to relieve them
of their arms, which petition was granted.
The city police did not show up in a courageous
light ; but undoubtedly their position was a diffi-
cult one. A certain sympathy for their own
countrymen may have been at work ; but in the
main the negative attitude they adopted came from
60 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
an appreciation of the British Government's
inability to protect them.
The situation during the winter of 1920-21 was
a striking illustration of the manner in which a small
organised body can intimidate a far larger dis-
organised body. The fear created in the country
by this struggle below the surface was incredible ;
the boldest seemed numbed. A man might have
been murdered in broad day in the Dublin streets,
and not a policeman have lifted a finger. The
uniformed men on point duty would have gone on
waving the traffic this way and that.
The attitude of the police was reasonable.
While they stayed neutral they were safe ; as soon
as they interfered they became marked men. And
once they were marked men they stood up in the
streets as a target until somebody stepped out of
the crowd and shot them dead.
A similar spell had fallen upon the civilian
population. Most people desired nothing better
than to be let go about their business in peace.
They might have loyalist sympathies, they might
have Sinn Fein sympathies ; they kept their
sympathies to themselves and such friends as they
were sure of.
And nobody was sure of anybody.
Thus it was the British Government could get
no support in Ireland.
The following illustrates the condition of
A stone flew through a Dublin shop window, and
the shopkeeper came running out and demanded
what the stone thrower meant. The man retorted he
had thrown the stone because he felt like it, that
he was a Sinn Feiner, and he defied the shopkeeper
to touch him. He demanded for his services a
cigarette, which he was given. A policeman on
point duty was close by, a crowd was looking on,
and nobody moved in the matter. The shopkeeper
returned to his shop. The stone thrower was
unlikely to have been an Irish Volunteer, probably
he was a hooligan ; but the announcement was
sufficient to place everybody under a spell.
As matters went from bad to worse the British
Government found it necessary to supplement the
troops in the country, and an auxiliary body of
police was recruited to reinforce the country police,
who were dotted about in isolated barracks. The
recruits, many of whom were Irishmen and ex-
service men, wore black uniforms and tan bandoliers
and so earned the name of Black-and-Tans. They
were armed with rifles, they rode in lorries, and
they swept about the roads at breakneck speed.
In addition to the Black-and-Tans, the Govern-
ment recruited a second auxiliary police force,
which came to be known as the Auxiliary Cadets.
The recruits were all ex-officers and wore a most
dashing uniform, which culminated in a Balmoral
bonnet perched at a jaunty angle. These people
were also armed with rifles, and rode in lorries.
They were more in evidence in the cities than the
62 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
These reinforcements were to assist the search
for active members of the I.R.A. and to raid
suspected houses for arms and documents. But
before you can arrest your man it is necessary to
know his whereabouts and if he be guilty or not.
This work could not be undertaken by such military
and police forces as were in commission, and the
British Government met the situation by extending
the operations of the secret service. The Sinn
Fein organisation was one gigantic secret service,
and only another secret service could cope with it.
This strange situation of an immensely powerful
man fighting the shadow of a man continued.
Justice was ready with the prison and the hangman ;
but there was no murderer for the scaffold. But
the secret service was bringing in all the time little
bits of information that Paddy Murphy was
responsible for this, that Denny Burke had done
that. It was useless to arrest Paddy or Denny as
there was no concrete proof, for no witness would
come forward because of intimidation or out of
sympathy, and until the courts martial sat, should
a man be brought to trial, no civil jury would
convict for like reasons.
The police were scattered through the country-
side in isolated barracks. In course of time these
barracks were roughly fortified with barbed wire
and sandbags. In the undisturbed districts as
often as not the police found themselves cut off
from social amenities through the villagers regarding
them with suspicion and fearing to hold comrmmi-
DISTURBED AREAS 68
cation with them lest they fell under suspicion of
being sympathisers and informers. The police
waited month after month, never venturing far
from barracks, in a state of siege by an invisible
In the disturbed areas the life of the Crown
forces was unbearable. Not a man, woman, or
child but had been taught to look on them with
contempt and hatred. They found themselves
picked off as opportunity availed, and they were
powerless to say whose hand had pulled the trigger,
thov^h probably every villager knew, and knew the
road the gunman had taken.
They were out in all weathers patrolling the
roads and scouring the country for the phantom
army, which never materialised, though it left
frequent marks of its presence in trenches dug at
the turn of roads, in trees felled across the path,
and in walls torn down for an obstruction. Indeed,
at any hour, at any favourable spot, it might
materialise, round a sudden corner, over the
shoulder of a hill, from some wooded height above
the road. A volley of shots would pour down, and
the gunmen would make away across country, of
which they knew every inch of ground. The
nerves of the police must have been stretched to
the breaking point during those patrols, so that
hate was breeding in them like maggots in meat.
The recognised policy of the I.R.A. was to
harass the Government forces continuously ;
orders were issued to that effect, and in cases of
64 THE BIRTH OF SINN FEIN
isolated barracks it was the practice to fire occasional
shots at the windows night after night with the
idea of keeping the inmates on the qui vive for an
attack, which was never to take place. Occasionally,
if sufficient volunteers were in the neighbourhood,
a barracks would be attacked, the attackers bringing
with them the materials for setting the place on
fire, and so forcing the garrison to capitulate.
When it is borne in mind that the attackers
frequently arrived in force, it is strange they met
so seldom with success ; but the hit and run policy
must have been on the whole demoralising to the
volunteers. I do not think, when their number
and equipment are taken into account, any other
policy could have been adopted, nor do I wish to
suggest that the volunteers had a lesser share of
courage than other men. They are part of the
British nation, and many fine soldiers have come
from Ireland. But when a soldier goes to battle
in the belief that in nine chances out of ten he will
come away without a scratch, in fact that all he
will be asked to do will be to fire one or two shots
and then away, he gets that sense of safety before
all which is likely to be fatal to his daring.
The phantom enemy continued to fail to
materialise ; but little by little Government agents,
swimming up and down in the sea of Sinn Fein,
found out who were the responsible Republican
leaders in their districts, captured documents
gave further evidence, and the police came to know
in time whether the butcher standing politely
behind his counter was always a butcher ; whether
the baker gave up kneading bread on occasion and
produced a gun from under the floor, and so on.
They came to know whether the grocer held
meetings at the back of his shop after the shutters
Then one day some constable in most cases a
marked man who had been shifted from another
part of the country strolling through the village
to buy a stick of tobacco, would get fired on by
half a dozen men round a corner. The chances
were the assassins belonged to another district, as
it was a policy to send volunteers to work in a
district where they were not known. The men who
fired the shots were gone when the police arrived
to their murdered comrade ; but the butcher, the
baker, and the grocer were behind their counters
like worthy tradesmen. These very men, guiltless
of this crime, had possibly done similar work in
another neighbourhood ; it was known they were
members of the detested phantom army. The
police, filled with hate, fear, and worn out with
weeks of vigil, turned upon these people and their
shops for their just revenge.
Up went the town.
These were the circumstances which brought
about the reprisals.
AUTUMN WEARS OUT
SEPTEMBER wore out ; October wore out ; Novem-
ber arrived. The long, unkind evenings of those
months seemed a forcing ground for the terror,
which was going about like a disease that one
person after another catches. The private citizen,
who asked only for peace, seemed to pass to and
fro looking neither to right nor left, as if he feared
above anything else to stir the curiosity of some
partisan of the British Government or of Sinn
Some evening walks I took through the chilly
streets, seeing the lights and the shining mud,
hearing the clamour of the paper boys shouting of
other policemen shot, of other homes gone up
in flames, have fixed those days for ever in my
And still the shaking, groaning lorries, crammed
with troops, rumbled round the corners, and still
the lighter flying police cars fled up one street and
down another. In alleyway and shadowy doorway
stood waiting figures to be seen by him with eyes
pickets posted to give the alarm to the meeting
not far away ; and in the bars and the coffee-
THE GAME OF BLUFF 67
houses the man with eyes saw the messages passed,
and might occasionally hear passwords exchanged.
My French barber says one day, as his razor
wanders round my Adam's apple, " I go. Zees
country is no good to me."
" What's up ? " I ask, speaking like a ven-
"I go out zees morning. I go by Merrion
Square, arid a young man come up to me and look
into my face, and he say, ' Life is sweet.' ' It
ees,' I sez, and turn round and come back home.
He have mistook me for some one else. I take no
more reesks. I stay here with ze door locked until
I can sell ze beesness."
An acquaintance of mine is rung up on the
telephone. " Who's there ? " he asks.
" Irish Republican Army Headquarters speak-
ing. You have been observed going about with
Captain Jones. This acquaintance must cease."
" Captain Jones is "
" The conversation is closed."
Captain Jones wonders why he has lost a friend.
Some one else receives with his breakfast egg the
following warning. " You are ordered by the
Republican Authorities to leave the country
within thirty-six hours. If this order is not com-
plied with, you will be suitably dealt with. By
But threat and intimidation were not the privi-
lege of one faction. The following reminder was
received by a number of the members of Dail
68 AUTUMN WEARS OUT
Eireann, the Republican Parliament, which met
when it could in secret session
" An eye for an eye,
A tooth for a tooth,
Therefore a life for a life."
The worthy burghers of Drogheda were startled
one morning by the following poster
" Drogheda, Beware !
"If in the vicinity a policeman is shot, five of
the leading Sinn Feiners will be shot. It is not
coercion. It is an eye for an eye. We are not
' drink maddened savages ' as we have been des-
cribed in the Dublin rags. We are not out for loot.
We are inoffensive to women. We are as humane
as other Christians, but we have restrained our-
selves too long. Are we to lie down while our
comrades are shot by the cornerboys and ragga-
muffins of Ireland ? We say, ' never,' and all the
inquiries in the world will not stop our desire of
revenge. Stop the shooting of the police, or we
will lay low every house that smells Sinn Fein, and
" (By Order) BLACK-AND-TANS."
These shorter days of sharper winds I would
cut across Stephen's Green to the top of Grafton
Street, finding the gardens a more desolate place
than on the brilliant August morning I had strolled
in them first. One's travels seldom took one into
the arms of the Sinn Fein leaders, who were " on
the run," and moved about as opportunity allowed,
sleeping nightly in different houses ; but one did
meet prominent women now and then, for the
PASSERS BY 69
British Government, fatherly and sentimental in
this to the end, continued to leave women severely
alone, except in one or two exceptional cases.
Round about the Green one would come upon
the tall black figure of Madam Gonne MacBride,
looking like a cypress tree, or get a glimpse of
what one believed to be the Countess Markievicz,
muffled up in mediaeval fashion. In the distance,
with firm tread and firmer aspect, a dispatch case
always in her hand, would appear Mrs. Sheehy
Skeffington ; round a corner, at her tireless trot,
Mrs. Desmond FitzGerald in her green dress ;
occasionally the charming figure of Mrs. Despard,
the Lord Lieutenant's sister, slowly pacing with her
stick, like a fairy godmother in a Christmas story.
Once in a blue moon one did come upon some
badly wanted man. Three times, during the most
violent spasm of the struggle, I passed the most
wanted man in Ireland. In each case he had an
escort of eleven.
One of these escorts I met coming up Grafton
Street, and two moving parallel with Stephen's
Green. The men walked in pairs, their hands in
their pockets on their guns and their bombs. In
the crowd each pair kept a few yards apart, when
the streets were empty they increased the distance,
to lose the appearance of a military formation.
But the man who knew what to look for could still
pick them up. How was it these escorts could
move about unchallenged in the face of troops, and
police, and spies ?
70 AUTUMN WEARS OUT
In the first place, most of the Sinn Fein leaders
were not known by sight to the Government agents.
This, more than any other reason, gave them
immunity during those final two years. Secondly,
these men, with their armed escort, only appeared
abroad on rare occasions, for a few minutes,
perhaps, when they left one meeting-place to reach
another. The ordinary Dublin Metropolitan police-
man, who might recognise them, was of no more
consideration than a lamp-post. If necessary, he
would have waved the traffic back while they
marched across the road.
There was more danger from some Government
agent, swimming up and down in the crowd like
a predatory fish ; but a solitary man could not
arrest twelve men, and he could do no more than
shadow them to their destination, and then was
the difficulty of getting back to Dublin Castle with
the news. The telephone exchanges were full of
Sinn Fein spies who would give warning.
In the course of their travels these escorts would
be passed by constant flying lorries, choked with
Auxiliary police. A Government man, theoretically,
could call upon these people for assistance ; but he
himself was much more likely to meet his end than
the men he was shadowing. The Auxiliaries always
travelled at breakneck speed, sweeping round
corners like a train. The slower the pace, the
better the target they made for ambushers. The
only way our man could have halted them would
be by walking into the middle of the road and
WANTED MEN 71
holding up a hand. The Auxiliaries would not
have pulled up ; but, with one accord, believing he
was about to hurl a bomb, they would have arisen
and shot him to bits.
The Sinn Fein escort would have gone on its
Occasionally, these wanted men went about
without escorts, trusting in fate. In such cases
they would be unarmed, for occasionally pedestrians
were searched for arms. There were always
rumours that in this street or that street some well-
known man had been seen cycling along, perhaps
Michael Collins (Minister of Finance), Richard
Mulcahy (Chief of Staff), or Charles Burgess
(Minister of Defence), the three most wanted men
in the land men whom fate and a Celtic renais-
sance had placed astride a bicycle and set higher
than a king.
Time and again military and police united in
their efforts to get hold of the Republican leaders ;
but generally without result. Extraordinary pre-
cautions were taken for their safety. If a meeting
was to be held in a certain house, the streets would
be picketed for a great distance round by peaceful
citizens leaning smoking against doorposts, and
other worthy townspeople propped up against
lamp-posts, spitting. Not a fly could have got
through the final cordon without the agreed-on
signs and passwords. 47 told me once it was
necessary to produce a tram ticket of a certain
value, dated the previous day, and folded in a
72 AUTUMN WEARS OUT
certain fashion. It was said on occasions street
musicians were posted with orders to play certain
tunes in certain events. Many of these stories were
true, some legendary, no doubt. 47 was an in-
structor who taught me well, and tramping Dublin
streets, I saw much that was not given to ordinary
passers to see, and was told much that must not
In the midst of this strange time, while the new
movement was aiming to push Ireland into the van
of progressive nations, there occurred one of those
mediaeval happenings which only take place to-day
in Ireland, of all parts of the British Isles.
The statues of Templemore began to bleed.
The story goes that on a Friday evening
statues of the Blessed Virgin, the Crucifixion, the
Blessed Virgin with the child Jesus, and St. Joseph
with the Holy Child, belonging to a newsagent at
Templemore, began to ooze blood from heart and
mouth. At the same time the statues in a nephew's
house also started to ooze blood, and the nephew,
a young man of nineteen, had a vision of the Blessed
Virgin. The Blessed Virgin ordered the young man
to make a depression in the floor of his room, and
immediately after there was a miraculous flow of
At once cures were effected, the first being that
of a little girl in the last stages of consumption,
who was carried into the house and restored to
perfect health. The elders of the town gathered
about the statues and offered loud prayers, giving
their thanks to God that the town had been saved
from the rage of the Black-and-Tans on the previous
Monday night, and that none of the innocent
citizens had been destroyed.
The local clergy, as a whole, were chary of
expressing their opinions ; but in spite of their
silence a great pilgrimage began from all parts of
Ireland, travelling to Templemore on horse, on
foot, on bicycle, in gig, in dray, in dogcart, in
jaunting car, bringing the sick in body and the
sick in soul. There was an amazing scene in the
yard at the back of the house, where the statues
were placed upon a table covered with a white
cloth. Townspeople and countrypeople, grand-
mothers, and their grandchildren, husbands, wives,
knelt in a crowd about the table, murmuring their
prayers, and touching the statues with beads and
This miraculous bleeding, which caused Ireland
momentarily to hold her breath, as if supernatural
intervention was coming, became a nine days'
wonder, and then was no more. This week it was :
next week it was not. Perhaps it could not survive
the arrival of the Daily Sketch reporter with his
gimlet eye, his notebook, and his camera.
Once or twice I passed 47 in the street, but he
took no notice of me, and I let him go in case he
had business on hand. He would not come to see
us, as the acquaintance might be unhealthy, and
we did not like to look him up without an invitation.
Finally, I dropped him a line telling him to
74 AUTUMN WEARS OUT
meet me in the Botanical Gardens if he were free.
I wandered down to the water in the hollow, and
there he was coming across the little bridge. A
yard or two off he waved a hand in salute ; we
joined up and strolled down a sheltered walk. He
took a cigarette from me, and started to smoke
without saying a word.
" How do you like life ? " I said.
" It's interesting," he admitted. Looking up, he
added grimly, " Are you finding your way about ? "
I agreed Dublin was interesting.
" What have you seen ? " he said.
" Plenty of your chaps about. At least every-
body says they're in your line. Every man serving
the Government seems to be called a Black-and-
Tan, but now and then some more exact person
than the rest hisses into your ear, 4 Those men are
secret service.' '
47 said quietly, " Those fellows you see aren't
the old secret service. They've been got together
to meet this emergency."
He proceeded to wind up. He was not a talka-
tive fellow ; but he could be communicative when
he liked. I have no doubt I was the only audience
he had had for many a day.
" A secret service isn't built up in a day. An
agent should be chosen after long, long observation.
After courage more important than courage,
really your man should possess the power of
holding his tongue.
" Our service has always been limited, and it
OUR MUTUAL FRIEND 75
was a good deal chopped up in the war. Then we
were faced with this business. We had to be
reinforced holus bolus. The men had to be trust-
worthy, and the authorities decided to enrol
ex-army officers. I dare say this was as good a
choice as any other. But it has its drawbacks. We
work in all strata of society, and we should belong
to all classes of society. The military man is
limited. He is likely to be loyal and courageous ;
but his caste prejudices are his ruin. He calls his
enemies Shinners, and smiles at their efforts."
47 stopped, looked round suddenly and said,
44 Have you seen our mutual friend since you came
over ? "
44 Not once," I told him.
44 1 have passed him a couple of times. A
fellow I know told me he bewitches them at the
Castle of an evening with his piano. Well, he told
me once that when he was working in Germany
during the war, before putting a foot over the
frontier he turned over what he would be, and he
decided to be a farmer. Accordingly, hour after
hour, he practised a farmer's slouch. He sat down
and invented his farm. Hour after hour he lived
in imagination on that place, until he saw it so
clearly that he could walk over every inch of it,
discuss every foot of it, and he said he had only
to close his eyes to see it all again the chestnut
mare with the wall eye, the duck with rheumatics.
He tried to sell the place to me,"
44 Did you buy ? "
7G AUTUMN WEARS OUT
" He knew his job ; but what is happening now
is pathetic. These ready-made sleuths, who are
the best-dressed men in Dublin, have been arriving
in batches. Men with eyeglasses appear suddenly
to sell bootblacking. Men in spats turn up to
explain they hold an agency in condensed milk.
These people fill the lounges of the best hotels,
drink together, and talk confidently together."
" And," said I, breaking in, " the barmaids
ogling them explore their inmost souls, and the
waiters bearing them cocktails pass on to Sinn Fein
headquarters the pearls that drop from their lips."
He smiled. " Not as bad as that. I don't sup-
pose they give much away apart from themselves ;
but wherever there is a decent lounge they can be
found gobbling like turkeys in a farmyard
turkeys that have not heard of a Christmas dinner.
I have seen one of those peaceful commercial
travellers drop an automatic pistol in the lounge
of the Shelbourne Hotel, and I slunk into the lift
in horror. I have seen a commercial traveller in
spats leaning over a bar talking to a dimpled bar-
maid, while a gentleman at his elbow, in a shabby
black velour hat and a dirty trench coat, took down
his particulars. Even my ' cousin,' who has many
of the best qualities of an agent, the keenness, the
tirelessness, and so on, is attacked with this autumn
madness, and any of these evenings if you care to
hang outside his house, you will see a Government
car rattle and bang up to the door, you will see
half a dozen sleuths file up into his house, and
HARD AT WORK 77
presently they will come down again with him.
These merry gentlemen get into the car and rattle
away on some raiding expedition. And, of course,
in the shadows on the other pavement, is a gentle-
man in a black velour hat and a dirty trench coat."
" Do you think some of them are going to be
done in soon ? "
47 shrugged his shoulders. " Most of these
chaps are doomed by the Castle people to a double
life. By day they pass as peaceable citizens. At
night they disappear into the Castle, rig them-
selves out in military clothes, and turn out again
to raid and arrest. By Gad ! they work for their
living all right ! There's a legend that Sinn Fein
agents watch the Castle gates all day to get descrip-
tions of all who go regularly in and out. There
are spies inside the Castle too, and officials in high
places in whom the Sinn Fein rot has set as a fungus
attacks a tree."
44 You're fed up," I said.
44 A bit. I'm a bit fed up. It's a nervy game.
We're getting in a lot of stuff ; but we're up against
a pretty big thing. Half the nation are ready to
help the Sinn Fein intelligence. The joke is the
women one meets never cease singing the praises
of their own intelligence people, and in the same
breath they damn us for spies."
44 What's the opposite show like ? "
44 They're not better than us I don't think
they're as good ; but they have the pull of working
in their own country and having the backing of
78 AUTUMN WEARS OUT
three parts of the nation. They all look the same ;
but most of our fellows are another caste."
' You'd think your chaps would get no in-
formation. People would know them and tell
" It's not easy to get hold of good stuff ; but
man suffers from the inability to keep his secrets.
People with a little bit of news burst to tell it, and
sometimes the least thing is worth a lot. It may
be the link that was wanted to complete the chain."
47 broke a leafless twig off a bush and began
bending it in his fingers.
" Agent 1 reports that at 10.25 he found a
dead man at such and such a spot, and a hatless
man with a smoking gun running away. Agent 2
reports at 10.30, five minutes away from Agent 1,
he saw a hatless man, panting hard, jump on a
tram going to the station. Like Agent 1, who
found the body, he was not able to get a description
" Agent 3 reports that as he left the station by
the 10.50 train, a hatless man jumped into his
compartment. He was able to get a full description
of this man, which was, etc.. etc. The man got out
at such and such a station.
" In a certain room in Dublin Castle a man sits
putting together the reports, which come in helter-
skelter. He finds these three make up an interesting
story. Records are looked up, the description
tallies with a certain man, in whom Dublin Castle
has been mildly interested for some time. Inquiries
A LONELY LIFE 79
are made where the gentleman in question left the
train ; the gentleman in question is secured, and he
finds himself asked a number of questions that
but there's no need to go on with the story."
47 shrugged his shoulders. c ' What's the time ? ' '
he said next, and looked at his watch.
" You're not going yet," I said. " I haven't
seen you for a month. The tram fare here and back
is sixpence. I want my money's worth. What's
your wife doing nowadays ? Tell her we sent all
sorts of good wishes."
47 frowned. " It's a lonely life for a woman."
he said, " and a nervy one, too. Of course, one
always is meeting new people, always going from
door to door ; but in his heart a man is as lonely
as a desert islander. Never a word spoken in favour
of his beliefs. Never, never, never ! "
A fish moved in the running water which was
the boundary of this side of the gardens. It
brought 47 out of the brown study into which he
" They're trout," I said. " I saw them earlier
in the year, when the sun was about. We'll come
and give your wife a look up."
" Not yet," he answered. " I expect it would
be all right ; but wait a bit."
" Don't be too long, or we'll come along in spite
of you. Do you mean you are shadowed ? "
" Not as far as I know. Did you ever hear
our mutual friend's receipt for getting rid of a
follower ? "
SO AUTUMN WEARS OUT
4 When you look behind and find what you
suspected is a fact, and the man in the dirty velour
hat and shabby raincoat is still hanging a hundred
yards behind, saunter to a shop window. In a
minute your friend will follow suit a few doors
down. Directly he has chosen his window, you
find you have seen all you want in your window,
and you go along and look in at his window. There
you both stay. But sooner or later somebody has
to move, and you make sure that he does. Directly
he moves off you follow him. By the time he has
gone down two streets and found you at his heels
he wonders what has happened. At the end of
another two streets he makes a bolt for a passing
tram. He won't come on any more expeditions
44 That sounds simple."
44 It wouldn't do you much good if you stayed
all the time in the same place. You'd soon get
picked up by somebody else. I'm off."
44 1 wanted to hear how you think things are
44 I've not made up my own mind yet. I'll tell
you next time."
Without any more fuss he started to walk away
down the path, and I let him go. It was some
weeks before we saw him again.
THE HUNGER STRIKE
I TOOK the tram back to College Green, and found
the paper boys raising a great clamour there. The
first of the Cork hunger strikers had died. As I
left the tram and threaded through the crowd
towards Grafton Street, I felt that, like myself, all
these people I was rubbing shoulders with were
fearful this was an augury of more terrible
For more than two months the incredible fast
of fifty Irishmen had been capturing the public
imagination, and, according to the Nationalist
Press, the imagination of half the world. Interest
in the fasting men had lasted through eight weeks
of fierce events violent deed followed daily by
On August 12th, Terence MacSwiney, who had
succeeded to the office of Lord Mayor of Cork on
the assassination of Lord Mayor MacCurtain, was
arrested, and with other prisoners to the number
of fifty-one, went on hunger strike.
This represented a definite battle it had a
beginning, it had an end between the British
82 THE HUNGER STRIKE
Government and Sinn Fein ; and as the Cabinet
acted with a consistency it had seldom shown
before and was not often to show after, Sinn Fein
suffered a defeat. There had been many previous
hunger strikes ; and the authorities had invariably
given way at the eleventh hour.
It is curious to look over Dublin newspapers of
that date and see the black headlines, which
announced, morning after morning, the straits of
the Irish " martyrs." Back come those gloomy
weeks when days were shortening and cold and
damp were returning to the land again.
I find what seems to be one of the first entries.
" Lord Mayor, Terence MacSwiney, arrested
Thursday night in the City Hall. The (Republican)
Arbitration Courts were sitting, and about fifteen
persons were arrested with the Lord Mayor."
At his trial the Lord Mayor, as chief magistrate
of the city, declared illegal a court martial which
sat to try him in Cork, and those taking part in it
were liable to arrest under the laws of the Irish
He was charged with (a) having a police cypher
under his control ; (b) having in his possession a
document likely to cause disaffection ; (c) having
made a seditious speech on the occasion of his
election as successor to the late Lord Mayor
" A perfectly innocent man ! " as Mrs. Slaney
Throughout his trial the Lord Mayor behaved
THE GREAT FAST 83
with dignity, and at the end said, " I wish to
state that I will put a limit to any term of imprison-
ment you may impose. I have taken no food since
Thursday, therefore I shall be free in a month.
I shall be free, dead or alive, within a month."
But the Lord Mayor was to be alive two months
The National Press began a campaign for the
release of the hunger strikers. Before the fast
was many days old the following headlines had
" Lord Mayor unable to speak. Signs of the
end. Deathbed message." " Sinking very
rapidly." In smaller type, " Cork captives dying."
" Just fading away. Deathbed scenes."
But to the embarrassment of the Press, which
as usual lacked restraint, the strikers delayed
dying, and week after week passed, until all fasting
records were broken. Little by little the fury of
the Press abated, and presently the " martyrs "
were shifted from the leading columns to less
A cloud gathered over the affair. Then threats
were tried. The Medical Officer at Cork Prison
received the following letter :~
" As your professional attendance upon the
eleven hunger strikers in Cork Jail gives a tinge of
legality to the slow murder being perpetrated upon
them, you are hereby ordered to leave the jail at
once, and the country within twenty-four hours oi
this date 3 p.m. 6th Sept. '20.
84 THE HUNGER STRIKE
" Failure to comply with this order will incur
" O.C. No. 1 Brigade, I.R.A."
With the majority of the nation the strikers
remained national heroes, " martyr " was the word
most commonly used in connection with them ;
but as the fast became more and more incredible, a
section of the public began to experience doubt.
All sorts of rumours were afloat that the Lord
Mayor could not return to Cork owing to the rage
of his friends that the Catholic Church was
troubled and divided whether this decision to
starve should be considered as suicide or not. In
the meantime prayers were offered for the strikers
in thousands of homes, and tears stole down
thousands of cheeks at thought of the men suffering
" One of God's miracles ! " frequently declared
Mrs. Slaney, as the fast passed from fifty days to
sixty days, and went on towards seventy. And
this belief in Divine intervention was common to
What would happen if the Lord Mayor died ?
It was hinted there would be some terrible reply
from the Irish Volunteers.
Now, when the strikers were becoming legendary,
one of them had died, and crisis had returned like a
" Monstrous ! " Mrs. Slaney exclaimed, meeting
me at the top of the stairs. " Monstrous ! So at
A DUBLIN FUNERAL 85
last they have murdered that splendid young
Irishman ! They'll murder the others before they
have finished their bloody work ! "
The British Government murdered two others,
or two others decided to murder themselves,
according to one's politics, and it looked as though
the British Government had the strength of mind
to murder the lot ; but before this could be done
Sinn Fein gave up the battle, and Arthur Griffith,
the acting President, called off the strikers. Victory
went to the British Government, and there were
no more hunger strikes.
Did these men, who had suffered a long illness
and a painful death, die for nothing ? No. In
spite of doubts as to the strictness of the fast, the
sacrifice made by them helped in the hardening
process the nation was undergoing.
It had been intended to bring the dead Lord
Mayor to Dublin ; but this was forbidden, and the
coffin was taken by ship to Cork. Sinn Fein replied
by ordering a day of mourning, and presented
Dublin with the shadow of a funeral, flowers taking
the place of the coffin in the hearse. Citizens were
ordered to close their shops, and those whom
sentiment for the Lord Mayor did not persuade to
renounce a day's trade, put up their shutters upon
warnings that they would be wise to show visible
marks of respect.
I went down to O'Connell Bridge to see this
funeral without a corpse. The day had turned into
a Sunday, and the streets were filled with the
86 THE HUNGER STRIKE
proletariat. The Mass, which 1 had listened to at
the pro-cathedral, had been a stupendous ex-
perience. Every inch of the stone pavement of
the great church had been covered with kneeling
humanity crying out dolorous Latin cries to the
chanting of the priests, and fingering countless
rosaries. The flood of feeling flowed this way and
that like waves heaving in a sea. I did not know
whether to marvel at this spectacle or to sneer at
it. Were we in this mourning church wrapped in a
flame of sorrow, which was going to weld the nation
into a metal out of which an everlasting sword
could be forged : or more truly were a few tricksters
playing on the easily wrought feelings of a not quite
adult nation, which, childlike, weeps as easily as it
laughs ? Labour and Capital over again ! Look
right, look left who here was not drawn from the
working or shop assistant classes ? As I heard
these people calling out the sounding Latin phrases,
I shook my head.
The press upon O'Connell Bridge was tre-
mendous, and presently the hearse came round a
corner. It was filled with flowers. After it rolled
a Dublin funeral, only there went by a greater line
of shabby carriages than even Dublin usually gets
together. One looked and looked, and still more
horses came round the distant corner.
In the following of this funeral marched Irish
Volunteers and Cumann na mBan. They left no
impression on me other than being dusty and
riding on the top of a wave of emotion, which
THE NIGHT WATCH 87
might set them down as quickly as it had lifted
them up. Again it was Labour versus Capital, the
servant against the master. These people were the
same as the kneeling congregation, and the majority
of them were growing up.
But this demonstration was a manifestation of
that resolution which was affecting the nation as
new blood poured into the veins of an ansemic man.
Whether the exaltation was enduring enough to
carry the nation to a renaissance, to a splendid
rebirth, or whether it was sufficient and no more
to take this people through a struggle with Britain,
was a matter for a prophet. A temporary state or
a lasting state, its existence could not be denied.
One of these nights a man started signalling
from a house which looked upon the back of our
own. We watched him from our beds. He had a
lamp, and lived in a top story. The signalling con-
tinued at intervals over a period of several weeks,
and what came of it all I do not know ; but it made
these nights more mysterious watching this lonely
man and his lamp high up in the attic.
Then, one evening, Mrs. Slaney started to act
in a peculiar manner. About ten o'clock she began
fluttering up and down the stairs, and when I
suggested locking the front door as usual, she said
she would do it. A quarter of an hour later I
caught her fluttering on the stairs, and this time
she was unable to contain herself. She took me
into the half dark of one of the landings.
" I am putting up a friend for a night or two,"
88 THE HUNGER STRIKE
she said, avoiding my glance. " He's a Sinn
Feiner, and he doesn't want to go home. I'm
giving him the little spare room at the top of the
house. He has to come after dark, as he doesn't
want it known where he is. I don't want a word
said to anybody."
" Is he on the run ? " I asked brutally.
" Well, not exactly that ; but he has a little
work on hand, and he doesn't want to be disturbed.
He thought it was safer to come round here in
case they should think of raiding his flat during
the next day or two. Ah ! "
A gentle knock had come to the front door.
Mrs. Slaney fluttered down to the hall, where, as
usual, no light was burning.
She managed successfully to manoeuvre our
mysterious caller into the upper reaches of the
house ; I heard no more of them, and nobody
seemed to have noticed his incoming or his out-
going next morning. But the following night
Mrs. Slaney, who made the journey to the hall
shorter by drifting into our rooms early in the
evening, began to fidget as soon as the clock had
turned ten. The gentle knock came at last, and
she bustled down to the hall.
Somebody had to make the visitor's bed, and
on the morrow Mrs. O'Grady, on her knees on a
piece of newspaper raking out our fire, sniffed, and
said, " Terrible, times ! "
" What's up, Mrs. O'Grady ? " we inquired.
" Ah," said Mrs. O'Grady, sniffing again, " the
A MYSTERIOUS VISITOR 89
woman upstairs is always up to something or other.
She's always after keeping in with somebody."
" Who's it now ? "
44 God forgive her for having a man like that
in the house these times. Risking us all ! There's
my man downstairs, he says the Black-and-Tans
have only got to know there's some one here, and
they'll come and take every man in the house off
to the Castle, and perhaps burn the house down."
44 If that's the case, Mrs. O'Grady, these do
indeed be terrible times."
" That woman doesn't know how to treat decent
people when she do get them in the house," went
on Mrs. O'Grady, passing over my wit. " Now,
what right has she got to have a man like that
with you here ? Now you're what I call class. I
said to himself downstairs, I said those new people
that have taken the drawing-room flat, they're
class. They're the nicest lady and gentleman
we've ever had here. They're class."
We changed the conversation.
But I was in some part to solve the mystery
that evening, for this time Mrs. Slaney had arranged
to leave the hall door on the latch. Our visitor
must have come in unheard and gone upstairs.
Mrs. Slaney, strangely enough, was spending the
evening in our rooms, and had brought down, as
far as I remember, a tray with coffee things on.
When she proposed retiring, I carried this up for
her, and going ahead into the sitting-room, found
there, in a corner by the fire as if he had been
90 THE HUNGER STRIKE
warming his hands at it, and still with his overcoat
on, the mysterious visitor. He looked round like
an animal caught in a trap, and then he said good
night in answer to my good night. I was only a
moment putting the tray down and going.
I tell this story because this man's advent was
to be my downfall later on. I did not then know
who he was ; but his identity leaked out in time.
He bore the most picturesque name in Ireland
Barrel Figgis and he wore the most romantic
beard. He looked like some mediaeval personage
stepped out of a picture. He was a novelist, a poet,
a dramatic critic, and other things. Not very long
before he had been nearly hanged at a drumhead
court-martial held by some irresponsible, and it
was whispered among the philistines that he went
about the country afterwards selling pieces of the
true rope. He was not one of the recognised Sinn
Fein leaders ; but he had been fairly prominent
in the cause, doing propaganda work, and he had
been imprisoned. There was only one such beard
as his in Dublin his own and it was said he
refused to part with it, even when he went on the
run, although by so doing he added materially to
the chances of capture.
He visited us three or four nights, and then
departed as unostentatiously as he came.
So every day brought its new event, and the
weeks stalked by in grim procession.
Early in November, the execution of Kevin
Barry caused another of those demonstrations,
KEVIN BARRY 91
which revealed the national temper. On the bleak
morning a vast crowd gathered in the yard of
Mount joy Prison and recited the Rosary, standing
and kneeling together some time before the execu-
tion, and continuing in prayer until the hour of
execution was passed, when they quietly withdrew.
Since his capture in the skirmish outside the
King Street bakery, Kevin Barry, who was a
medical student, eighteen years old, had joined
the number of national heroes. He was young, he
was a soldier of the Republic, it was repeated every-
where that he had been tortured by the British
military authorities, and in spite of his treatment
he had refused to speak. The nation set itself with
a will to the making of this new hero.
" Splendid ! " declared Mrs. Slaney, returning
from her baby club. " You should have been there
this afternoon to hear those mites singing of Kevin
Barry. We all helped to teach them, and they
picked up music and words at once. Where, but
in Ireland, would you find such quick children ? "
Poor little devils ! Taught their prejudices
before they know what they are doing. As soon as
they can stand put into the strait- jacket of a
narrow national patriotism that thing which has
had its uses, but now should be out of date.
There is every reason to suppose that Kevin
Barry met his death as a soldier would wish to
meet it ; but that is no reason why one should not
look sternly at the facts of the case. The scrimmage
outside the bakery was not a glorious affair. The
92 THE HUNGER STRIKE
Irish Volunteers, guns in their pockets, posed as
civilians until the chosen moment, and Kevin
Barry alone did not make good his escape. A
woman said, in my hearing, " Was there ever a
country like Ireland for the number of patriots
and martyrs ? Look at Kevin Barry a boy of
eighteen ! "
What of the two British soldiers who were killed
in that skirmish, one of whom was said to be
sixteen ? Did they not give their lives for their
country as surely as did Kevin Barry ? What of
the men who have perished in every corner of the
Empire for generations back ? Their numbers
must be as the sands of the seashore. But some
peoples use words more easily than others, and
those who work for the inarticulate must expect
their epitaph short and sharp.
Before the anguish of that tragedy was over
there came a new shout from the Nationalist Press :
" Expectant Mother Shot Dead."
A countrywoman was killed at her cottage door
by a stray bullet fired from a lorry passing along
the road. " Expectant Mother Shot Dead ! " The
headlines struck one like a blow in the face.
And all this while increasing ruin and arrest.
Tales of girls' hair cut off because they talked to
the police. Tales of the police stripping men,
beating them, and sending them home naked.
Tales of men tied to chairs and thrown into the
river. Tales of men who waited in ambush hour
after hour for their quarry to come round the curve
NOVEMBER ENDS 93
with an insatiable lust of hate. Tales of ferocious
reprisals when homes were looted and the in-
habitants driven into the fields to couch with fox
and hare. Who dare give the story in detail : one
would never be done. Deed of terror replied to by
deed of terror, and never an attempt by the
partisans of one side or other to reach the truth,
and give that exact truth to the world, and tell
that exact truth to themselves.
Three furious November weeks passed away.
SUNDAY, November 21st, Himself and I went to
Howth, and spent all day by the sea on that wild
bit of foreland, which Dublin City has not managed
to tame. It was getting dusk as we came back on
the tram. The ride is long, and it was too late in
the year for the tops of trams. We were soon
shivering and wanting to be back home. Then
something happened to make us forget the wind,
As we came among the houses the reflection of a
great fire caught our eyes. It was on the far side
of the water, a strong, clear blaze, as if a ship were
; ' We must get along and see it," said Himself.
" What the deuce is it ? "
" Government supplies, I bet. The Auxiliaries
got bored and went to sleep, and the Sinn Feiners
came along." But I was not joking in my heart.
I was feeling uneasy.
We did not go to the fire when the tram stopped
at Nelson's Pillar. It was too late and too cold.
We climbed down into the middle of an ugly-looking
crowd. A lorry passed quite close to us.
TERRIBLE NEWS 95
" Hallo ! " Himself exclaimed, " there's a
dead man ! "
We stared after the lorry. The booted feet of
a dead man poked out of one end. The crowd
stirred unpleasantly. What had happened ? More
lorries, full of armed men, were following the first
one. An armoured car rolled by. They all passed
over O'Connell Bridge and fled down the quays
towards the Castle. From the Castle another
stream of lorries passed towards the fire.
A newsboy came quite close calling out some-
thing, and we got a paper. There, in great lines
across the page, we read, " British Officers Murdered
In Bed." We went home astounded.
The flat seemed unusually still. Mrs. Slaney
heard us and came down the stairs before we had
shut the door. She looked a little shaken.
" Have you heard the news ? Dreadful !
Horrible ! But I have no doubt they deserved it."
" You can't approve of this ?"
" No, I don't approve of it. I don't approve
of shooting at all ; but you must remember how
the Irish people are goaded."
Without warning there was the sound of firing
outside. We crowded to the window in time to
see an armoured car rolling by at the end of the
road, and people flying in all directions. A Lewis
gun on top of the car was firing shots into the air
" That's blank cartridge," Himself said. " It's
to clear the streets."
96 BLOODY SUNDAY
" There ! " Mrs. Slaney exclaimed. " Why do
they terrify innocent people like that ? No wonder
the people of Ireland are bitter. Ireland is the
most crimeless country in the world when she is
Mrs. O'Grady came in with our teapot.
" You'll feel the better, mum, iv a cup of tea,"
she declared. "It do be dreadful, and all those
beautiful young men."
" I can't understand why we didn't hear the
shooting this morning," I said. " It must have
been all round."
" I'll leave you to your tea," said Mrs. Slaney,
who wanted to stay. " You won't be going out
to-night. Perhaps you'll come up and see me."
"I'll probably go and see what the fire is,"
Himself answered. He turned to me. "It'll
do you good to get out."
Mrs. Slaney retreated, and Mrs. O'Grady nodded
her head. " It'd be a charity to leave her alone.
She's that frightened it would do her good." Then
she went out.
" Well ? "
" What a haul," Himself exclaimed.
" How about poor 47 ? " I cried.
" He must be all right. His name's not in the
paper. We must look him up."
" Look his poor wife up." And then I said,
" Let's have tea and get out for a bit. I hate the
feeling of this house."
" We'd better get back before it's late. It's
A SUNDAY EVENING 97
sure to be a disturbed night. I expect they'll
make curfew earlier after this."
As soon as I got into the street I felt better.
The moving people gave me confidence, although
all through the city there was a feeling of fear such
as I cannot describe. Rumours of the Croke Park
affair, where a dozen people had been shot by the
police at a football match, were being whispered
abroad ; but nobody seemed to know much. We
remembered the dead man in the lorry.
The fire was burning out. We saw it now and
then through the openings of the streets ; but we
never got as far as it. It had long been dark, and
I soon found the night was getting colder and colder.
Presently I began to think a fire at home would be
less dismal than this tramping about in the dark.
After half an hour everybody seemed to have gone
indoors, and there was danger of being curfewed
if a sudden change was made in the time.
We went back.
When we were indoors again shooting began all
through the city. Patrols were probably firing more
blank cartridge to clear the streets. Down the roads
tramped soldiers in tin hats, and armoured cars
rolled by. We put out the light and leaned from
the window watching. Now and then some passing
officer, fearful of a bomb, would shout, " Keep your
In the middle of it all Mrs. Slaney bustled into
the room, giving us no time to answer her knock.
" I have just been talking to a leading Sinn
98 BLOODY SUNDAY
Feiner," she announced, " and those men who were
shot this morning were all spies. I told you that
our boys must have had something definite against
" I don't think it makes it a bit better," I
declared. " A life is a life, and it's frightful to
sneak into a man's bedroom while he's asleep, and
kill him in front of his wife."
" It's disgusting," exclaimed Mrs. Slaney, " to
think that English officers and gentlemen will
descend to such things. Monstrous ! Before the
war such a thing was never heard of."
" I think it a pity the Sinn Feiners murdered
them." I stuck to my guns stoutly.
Mrs. Slaney borrowed the paper and departed.
" Her Sinn Feiners are all spies too," I said, as
soon as she had gone. " What's she talking
about ? "
Himself nodded. " In any case I take off my
hat to spies, Sinn Feiners or British. They have
to be brave men. I should think a spy wants all
the qualities of a soldier, and many more besides."
That was all I got out of him. We went to bed
soon after, but not to sleep, at least I did not.
Desultory shooting and bombing went on all night.
After " Bloody Sunday " as it came to be called,
the world drew a horrified breath over the men who
were shot in bed. " Poor So-and-so shot asleep.
Frightful ! " What of his wife who was not shot,
but who lost her reason three days after, and three
weeks after lost her life and her baby's life ; his
UNHONOURED AND UNSUNG 99
wife, who for the rest of her brief life saw men
filing into the room, heard the sound of shooting,
heard the raiders laugh, saw them wash their hands
after the killing ?
What of the other wife who cried out to her
husband and tried to help him escape through the
window, and saw his broken body on the window-
What of the wife, coming from her bath, who
was confronted with five men with revolvers ?
Pausing outside the bedroom door where her
husband was sleeping, she faced them, appearing
not to notice their revolvers. " Do you want my
husband ? " she asked, smiling. " He has just gone
out, but do come in and wait." Her face was
untroubled. " Or perhaps you can leave a
message," she said. " I always take my husband's
messages, you can trust me."
The man mumbled something, and the party
What of the wife who was held by two men
while her husband was shot in front of her ? When
the raiders had left she found her husband still
alive. She rushed into the street, looking wildly
for a doctor, praying no doubt as she ran. She
found a man and ran up to him.
" My husband has just been shot," she gasped,
" but he is alive. Will you get a doctor, quick ! "
" Alive ! My God, I'll finish him ! " He went
up the steps pulling out his gun.
The Sinn Fein women fought and suffered for
100 BLOODY SUNDAY
their men equally well, lied for them, fetched and
carried for them. The men had the limelight;
but with few exceptions the women were unknown,
and were content to be unknown. There was no
reward for their services. I wonder how far a
national movement would go if there was no public
recognition for any one. A man unable to read
about himself and his hunted companions would
cut a sorry figure. A man hanged for his cause
would go far less steadily to the scaffold without
the support of the newspapers and the crowd.
But I fancy a woman would acquit herself in all
circumstances because her greatest instinct is
THE officers met their ends in their beds, in their
baths, at shaving. One and all were shot in cold
blood, and, extraordinary to relate, no defence
seems to have been made. In every case the
victim was taken unawares. This veritable
Slaughter of the Innocents could only have occurred
to such a race as the British. These officers, on
a par with their behaviour in the hotels, went to
bed in an enemy country with unlocked doors and
locked-up guns. That supreme British contempt
for the enemy at once the making and the undoing
of Britain limited the imagination of these people
to such an extent that though they were engaged
upon what is allowed to be most dangerous work,
they could not conceive calamity falling upon
Some time afterwards I spoke to a Dutchman,
and he held up his hands and cried, " Here am I
who would not go into a strange house without
making inquiries and locking my door ; and these
men come into an enemy country and go openly
about their work ; and at night lock up their guns
and go to sleep with the door open. Ach ! "
The Sunday death roll in no way represents the
magnitude of the plan. There were several escapes
people were not at home, wives tricked the
raiders ; but more far-reaching than these things
was the fact that there seems to have been a serious
miscarriage in the Sinn Fein plans. One story
goes to relate that a list of eighty victims was
prepared, and a number of Irish Volunteers gathered
on Baggot Street Bridge, or one of those bridges
over the canal, waiting for guides who did not
The men detailed to carry out the work of
assassination took no more risk than was essential
to the undertaking. In every case they called in
overwhelming numbers on their victims.
The task was not glorious ; but when one
examines the circumstances, what other means
had Sinn Fein of getting rid of such dangerous
enemies ? Man for man, an agent of the secret
service should greatly exceed the value of a soldier.
His power lies in his secrecy.
The penalty of secrecy has always been death.
An agent knows this, and is reconciled to the law.
It is just enough. But the men who carried out
the work of assassination wore no uniform, they
too worked under a civilian cloak. The pot came
to destroy the kettle.
It was now towards the end of November, arid
getting dusk soon after the middle of the afternoon.
IN FULL CRY 103
There were long damp depressing evenings and
interminable nights. That extraordinary terror,
which had been coming in puffs, was at last sweeping
through Ireland like a wind.
It is curious what one recalls looking back over
a troubled time. It is an atmosphere rather than
events. There come back to me those early
darkening afternoons when people passed sullenly
with bent heads, and the paper-boys raced through
the mire, bearing their printed aprons which told
of fresh ruin. I remember meeting on successive
days three carts fallen over on their sides because
a wheel had run away.
I do not remember in any other city, great or
small, this kind of accident, and I asked myself
were these errant wheels, which had run away
because somebody had forgotten to screw them up,
a sign, a portent that Ireland was not quite an
adult nation ?
On one of these evening walks, in Dawson Street
I think it was, I saw a horse that had jumped into
an area, and was standing down there unhurt,
eating hay and oats, unable to be got out. For a
minute or two I joined the crowd, which was
gaping through the railings at this accident. But
while we all gaped we were gloomy and suspicious
of one another.
For with greater fury than before, the Crossley
tenders, choked with police, raced up and down
the streets ; searching, searching, searching for those
butchers, those bakers; those candlestick makers
who laid aside their aprons now and then when
the hour was propitious and grasped a pistol in
their hands ; those candlestick makers, those bakers,
those butchers who never seemed to leave their
counters and untie their aprons from their middles.
By day, by night ; in storm, in calm, the flying
wheels splashed through the mire. Knock, knock,
knock. " Open ! The military ! " Knock, knock
knock. " In the King's name ! " Up rattle
windows. Out poke heads. " Open, open, or we
break in the door."
The butcher's wife, the baker's mother, the
candlestick maker's aunt open the door as slowly
as they dare, and the stream of police sweep in
like a tide down into the cellar, out into the garden,
up into the attic, through the skylight, everywhere
in an instant that the hunted man may not escape ;
peering into grates for ashes of burned papers,
pulling out mantleshelves for hidden arms, ex-
amining picture frames for secret documents ; and
when all is done clattering down from attic and
up from basement, pouring down the steps and
climbing into the tender, and then at breakneck
speed to the next house on the list. Bang, bang,
bang ! " Open ! The military ! "
In the week that followed the murders of the
officers, the British Government made the supreme
effort of this tremendous police hunt operations
in Ireland never assumed the proportions of a war
and in three or four days the prisons were filled.
The British Government was altering its tactics,
IN THE CROWD 105
and finding a solution for dealing with this will-o'-
the-wisp enemy by arresting all suspects, in
preparation for lodging them in one or other of
the internment camps under construction. In
Dublin the arrests of that week numbered hundreds,
and among the prisoners was Arthur Griffith, the
father of Sinn Fein.
The funeral of the officers passed along the
Liffey, and all the world and his wife went down
to the quays to see. Shops were shut, sometimes
after a little persuasion by mourning Black-and-
Tans, and the streets were left empty. The
crowd was reverent ; and cases of lack of feeling
were rectified by Black-and-Tans posted in lorries
at points of vantage. Hats that did not come off
as the gun carriages went by were helped off, and
three young men who were disrespectful were
thrown into the Liffey.
A Mr. Goodbody, of Cork, who was jammed
against me, said to a friend, " Michael Collins him-
self is in the crowd. He do be a profitable man to
look at. Indade, and he would have made a good
king in a sporty country. But he is headstrong,
Said an old woman, striking me in the stomach
with her elbow, to a friend, " Och, 'tis a beautiful
sight this, and sure it's a pity they had to kill those
beautiful young men."
" Indade," said the friend, poking me over the
appendix, "it's our boys I would like to see dressed
out like this. Give me the military, I sez, and not
they Black-and-Tans. It will be a grey day for
Ireland whan she sees the last iv the military."
" Sure," said the first dame, "it is our boys
will be all in green then, and that'll be a grander
sight for ye."
" Och ! " exclaimed a second friend, making
use of my toes to see better, " the Black-and-Tans
came to us the other day, and I was sitting over the
fire. * Who's there ? ' I sez at the bang on the
door. ' Open, the military ! ' sez they. ' I will
not,' I sez. ' We'll have to break in,' sez they.
' Break away,' I sez, 4 I don't have to pay for
it,' I sez. ' It's the landlord as does,' I sez."
The funeral passed, the crowd dissolved ; for
some reason I wandered about the streets without
going home. In course of time I was surprised to
find it had got dark. I came across College Green,
sauntered up Graf ton Street, which was crowded.
The mud was shining as usual, and the paper boys
were shouting some catastrophe. I had come to
the corner of Wicklow Street when a man turned
quickly into it from Grafton Street. He was hi the
shadow, but I knew him anywhere. I overtook
him in a stride or two.
" Good night," I said.
" I saw you," 47 answered, " but I was in a
hurry. Come my way a little." He slowed up.
The street was dark and nearly empty.
" They didn't get you ? "
" We saw no sign of them."
44 How's your wife taking it ? "
A CHANCE MEETING 107
" She's right enough. She's been a bit jumpy
because we've no arms. I'm off to the Central
Hotel now to see my * cousin. 5 Most of our lot have
been called into the Central. My wife says she
won't stick it any longer unless I have a gun, so
I'm off to see about one."
44 1 don't wonder at her."
He nodded. " The last few days have been
" You people aren't going into the Central ? "
" We're banking on the chance we aren't
suspected. If we go into the Central it won't do
us any good when we come out."
" I see that."
I think 47 was rattled that evening in spite of
his matter-of-fact words. At this time a man had
to cope not only with his own fear, but with the
national fear that was suffocating everybody, so
that each man had to bear more than his own share.
There was a touch of bitterness, a touch of philo-
sophy, and more than a touch of pathos in 47's
voice as we walked along the gloomy street.
44 We chaps last just as long as we are undis-
covered. Discovery may take place to-day, to-
morrow. A man may make a slip ; but if he makes
a slip he probably knows what he has done. But
somebody else may have made the slip. He may
leave his Sinn Fein friends in smiles ; he may go
back to cold faces. This state of things plays the
devil with the nerves.
44 A soldier, after the battle, lies down among
his companions, safe, secure, knowing no harm can
come ; but an agent is never safe, never secure.
This minute, next minute the ground may have
opened under his feet, his secret may be out, and he
standing alone against a nation. The curtain may
hold an assassin, the street corner may conceal the
bullet. While he eats the foe may be drawing
near ; while he sleeps they may be coming. Shall
he take this road ? Shall he take that ?
" After some time in the service he becomes
like a beast of the field. Danger comes on the
breeze, in the rustle of the grass, in the shadows of
the trees. While he eats he listens. While he
sleeps he plans."
I interrupted him. " I've got to get home now.
Tell your wife we'll be along to see her to-night."
" She'd like it," he admitted.
4i We'll be there quite soon."
" I don't think it will matter. We haven't
been shadowed as far as I know."
" So long," I said, pulling up.
" So long," he said, going on.
I turned round and went back to Grafton
VISIT TO A TOP STORY
As soon as Himself and I had had dinner, we went
to look up 47's wife. There was no time to waste
if we were to get back before curfew. I was longing
to see her after all this time.
They lived in a top story. A dilapidated
servant opened the door, and gave us a peculiar,
sidelong look. She did not know us, but she stood
aside and made no effort to show the way up.
The house seemed grubby in the dim light of
the hall. The windows showed the city's dust and
fog ; in the better light the curtains would have
revealed the dirty hands of maids who had tended
the fires and then pulled the curtains across the
windows. How well I knew it all ! And then the
house grew more and more dilapidated as we
mounted. There was an ancient meat safe at the
foot of the last lot of stairs with a cat asleep on
top of it.
The final flight of stairs was bare, and we made
the steps creak as we went up.
Her ears were ever atune to footsteps, and the
sound of ours brought her out on the landing.
110 VISIT TO A TOP STORY
" You ! " There was relief in her voice.
"Hallo! All well? My dear, you look seedy. "
She laughed, but her laughter did not ring true.
" It was nice of you to come." She shut the
door behind us.
" You are seedy," I said, looking at her care-
" I'm all right," she answered. " This is funk ;
pure, unadulterated funk has brought me to this.
I'm behaving in a beastly manner, really. The
only thing I haven't done is run away. Some day
I'm afraid I will."
" But your husband's all right ? "
"For how long? To-day? To-morrow?
There's not a door that will lock. You know Irish
doors. He's out now. I made him go and get a
gun. I said if he didn't I wouldn't stay another
day. One man against a dozen hasn't much chance ;
but an armed man can do more than a man with
" It's terrible terrible," 47 's wife went on.
" There is no one to talk to about the risks. My
husband won't talk. He thinks it's bad for me.
But it's driving everything in, it's strangling me.
I can't sleep. I'm always afraid. Sometimes I
hear noises and footsteps, I am afraid of the noises ;
sometimes there is silence, I am afraid of the
silence. People come to see me, I laugh and talk,
and try to show I am listening, and really every
sound outside is more important to me. Even up
WATCHING AND WAITING 111
here I can hear the front door bell ring. I haven't
felt so bad this afternoon because I'm alone, and
if they called it wouldn't matter."
" You're safe in this house for a time, anyway,"
Himself declared. " Sinn Fein isn't going to repeat
the dose just yet. Every one is lying pretty low.
No one wants to come into the limelight."
" I realise all that in the day ; but at night it's
" Night's really the safe time," said Himself.
" I should think it's not much of a job trying to
get about during curfew."
She laughed shakily. " My husband has said
all that before. I know I'm a coward ; but I shall
be better if we have the gun. I'm thinking, think-
ing what we'll do if they come all night long I'm
thinking. We've only one heavy stick, which I
hang on the end of the bed. I've planned it out.
When they knock at the door, my husband will
open it, and as the first man comes in I will throw
the water jug at him, and my husband will hit his
wrist with the stick. He may drop his gun, and
we can get hold of it. My husband says assassins
bore him, and won't talk about it, and so I have to
keep my feelings to myself, and they are going
in in all the time."
" Talk to us now," I said.
" I'll put on the kettle," she answered, getting
up. " It won't take long boiling. What's that ?"
I had heard nothing. She leaned out of the
112 VISIT TO A TOP STORY
" Well ? "
" There's a car," she said slowly. " It looks
like a Government car. There are five or six men."
I looked out. " I know that front man," I
cried. " He lives near us. We met him at the
Shelbourne once." I beckoned to Himself to look.
" I know him," she admitted. " What does he
want ? He would never be sent here with a mes-
sage. We told him to keep away."
The men descended from the car and came into
" He'll bring in every Sinn Feiner in Dublin at
his heels," I suggested.
" My dear, he's not important enough, though
he thinks so himself."
In a minute there was the sound of single foot-
steps coming up the stairs.
" He's alone, anyway."
The next moment the man of the beautiful
waistcoats and socks came into the room. He was
subtly changed. His hair was less sleek, his clothes
were not so well brushed, and the silk handker-
chief, which he used to beat his brow and mouth,
had got crumpled.
" Oh, my God ! " he exclaimed, as he appeared.
" What a lot of stairs ! " He saw us, hesitated,
and said to 47's wife, " How's our friend ? "
" He's all right," she answered coldly.
" Good ! Went up to the Castle on Sunday.
Saw them there safe by Gad ! so safe. Lots of
fellows, well fed fellows, happy, cheery fellows.
MONEY FOR NOTHING 113
They had a long list of names, all the brotherhood,
and they were ticking off the chaps who were
killed. ' How's 47 ? ' I asked. 4 All right,' said
one chap, after a glance at the list ; ' at least, we've
had no word through about him.' ' My God ! ' I
said, ' I must get along and see for myself.' '
" Who are your five friends ? "
" An armed guard. You couldn't expect me to
go about without an armed guard. Every Shinner
in Dublin is at my heels."
" My dear fellow, didn't it strike you that by
bringing an armed guard clattering into the hall
you would be likely to turn the Sinn Fein attention
to us ? "
Our friend laid a soothing hand on 47's wife.
" Have you been out much since the affair ? "
she asked abruptly.
" Every day and every night. No peace.
Nothing like that about me. But it doesn't matter,
for I can't sleep. My God ! and I was told this was
money for nothing ! Money for nothing, and the
life filled a man full of joy ! "
" You've got nerves."
" Nerves ! By Gad, nerves ! Hear her." He
pivoted round towards us, showed he had recog-
nised us, and smiling, said, " How are you ? " He
came across and laid a hand on my shoulder. He
was the type of man who touches women. Then
he jerked round again to 47's wife.
" Pitchforked in, I was. Never knew a thing.
Didn't know enough to keep my mouth shut, or to
114 VISIT TO A TOP STORY
change my clothes when I went down the slums.
Looked on all men as brothers. Thought they
loved me as I loved them. I haven't slept for
months. Let me talk. Let me get it off my chest.
I'm all for peace, I am. I always have been, and
somehow I always seem to get flung into some
beastly mess. Some one said, ' Come and chase
Shinners, old bean.' And here I am, but the
beastly Shinner's always chasing me. Every time
I go out some one follows me, sometimes a man,
sometimes a woman. The life's killing me. Wat-
kins you know old Watkins he and I got digs
together at last, and took it in turn to keep watch
while the other slept. I got wind up in case he
dropped off. I didn't dare go to bed without my
guns in case some one came in, and I always had
the feeling that I'd shoot Watkins by mistake
some night, or get the old woman in the stomach
when she came in with the hot water in the
" Hush, old man," said 47 's wife.
" Hush ! That's it. Hush ! If I don't talk,
I'll go mad ! None of the fellows at the Central will
talk. We're all in the Central Hotel now. They
hang in corners brooding on their sorrows. They
don't care about mine. The chaps at the Castle
don't talk. They don't know what it is to be out
" It's what you're here for."
" Splendid ! What I'm here for ! " our friend
exclaimed. " I'll be killed next ! Mark my words.
AU REVOIR 115
No ; don't let's talk of death. It makes me feel
all hot and bothered."
" Hush," said she, again.
He put a hand on her arm. " I must be on the
move. I'll tell the fellows at the Castle 47 is all
right." He came across and patted my shoulder,
and waved to Himself. And then he clattered down
the stairs to his escort in the hall. A minute later
we heard the engine throb and the lorry drove
The kettle was boiling, and we drew our chairs
up to the fire.
FEOM THE HOUSETOP
TEA was over when 47 came in. He was out of
breath from climbing up the stairs ; but he seemed
satisfied with life and pleased to see us.
" So you got here ? " he said.
My wife made room for him beside her. " Come
over and get warm," his wife said. When he came
across she said eagerly, " What luck ? "
His answer was to put a hand into a pocket and
pull out an automatic pistol.
" That's better," she exclaimed, almost happily.
" Now I'll stop worrying. Have you plenty of
bullets ? "
" Enough," he answered. " I hope you've got
something left over there. I'm devilish hungry.
I'll hide this thing in the mattress for the present."
He went off, and when he came back he had
left his coat and hat behind. He was given the
best place by the fire, and was soon busy eating
everything that was left.
" Did you bring any news back ? " she presently
demanded impatiently. " You never tell me
THE CENTRAL HOTEL 117
anything What did your ' cousin ' say ? Did
you see him ? "
" I did. It was dark when I got to the Central.
There were any quantity of loafers in the opposite
doorways ; but I think it was too dark to be
recognised. There was a bit of a delay while the
sentry unchained the gate. I had to give my
4 cousin's ' name before he let me in. The hall was
full of soldiers. They look after themselves all right
there. It was a damned relief to be somewhere
safe at last. I haven't felt as well off for months.
" My ' cousin,' who was away at the Castle,
came in in a few minutes, and we pushed a way up
the crowded stairs, went past the out-of-work
sleuths at the bar, and into his bedroom. I told
him what I wanted. He produced a number of
guns from sundry portmanteaux ; but these were
not for me. One was as long as his arm. He told
me he'd take me to the Castle and get me something.
" He wouldn't do anything until he had had
something to eat. We went into the dining-room.
Depressed sleuths were at tea. My ' cousin ' was
the same as usual, making a gesture do for a word.
;t ' That was a bad show on Sunday,' I said.
4 What are all the fellows in here going to do ? '
" ' They'll stay here a bit until we're re-sorted.'
" ' I suppose most of them are known to the
opposition show now ? '
*' He nodded. * Several of the chaps were
getting warning letters before the Sunday show took
place. We'll have to shift ourselves about a bit.'
118 FROM THE HOUSETOP
" ' Very busy ? '
" c Going all day. We've got two or three big
fish in the net lately.'
" Presently we left the depressed sleuths at tea,
passed the out-of-work sleuths at the bar, and
pushed a way down the stairs, which were full of
men going up and down. It was pitch dark outside.
46 The last thing my 4 cousin ' did, as we stepped
into the dark, was to raise his eyebrows for me to
follow. He stalked like a great cat down an alley,
which is one of the ways to the Castle. There were
sundry loafers in the lane, of course. Two police-
men, who touched their hats to us, let us through
" It was too dark to see anything. We seemed
to be crossing a great yard. We skirted the lower
edge of this, and the ghost of a charming chapel
moved past us, as foggy land goes past a steamer.
We stalked along a line of dreary buildings into a
doorway among many other doorways, and up a
dirty wooden stairway. There were landings, and
doors which had not seen paint for years, and on
the door was the word 4 Intelligence.' We mounted
turn after turn, and came presently to a shabby
room with packing cases and odds and ends of
ammunition in it, and nothing else. With a lift of
his eyebrows and a wave of his hand, my ' cousin '
went off on his toes, and I sat on a packing case
cooling my heels. The electric light burned through
a smeary globe ; there was nothing to look at odds
and ends of uniform, odds and ends of ammunition.
A BRIEF HAVEN 119
Outside the windows the dark was curling like a
fog, and there were occasional shouts from the
yard. I waited a full ten minutes, tapping my
heels and feeling wonderfully safe.
" I seemed on land, and you " he nodded to
his wife" out in the city, a waif swimming in a
friendless sea. Here were people ready to defend
my beliefs. Here were people who upheld my
traditions. That profound loneliness, which is the
tragedy of an agent's life, for a brief space was no
47 had dropped his chin in his hands, and was
looking into the fire. He threw up his head.
" My ' cousin ' came back. He was standing in
the doorway before I heard him. He lifted his
eyebrows, and I slid off my packing case, and we
passed down the passage into another room with a
cheerful fire and people at work. This room was
crowded with papers and typewriters, and though
the people there sat in glum silence and went on
with their work, nevertheless it seemed the best
room I had ever been in.
" The fire was burning up, and in a box to the
right was a mongrel bitch with a litter of blind
pups. They were never still, and tugged at her all
the time, rolling over with warmth and pleasure.
A man sat on a stool gazing at the coals, and now
and then he would put his hand among those
rolling things, and the bitch would lick it. I envied
" Another man smoked on the edge of a table,
120 FROM THE HOUSETOP
and a third man, a man who worked so furiously
that he never raised his head, was standing with
his back to a window, leaning over a high desk
overwhelmed with papers. On a sheet he had an
endless list of names, down which he was running
a finger. With another hand he opened a directory
and looked up addresses, and constantly he referred
to the stack of papers.
" This great round-up was bringing in a mass
of information, and each new bit of news opened
up fresh avenues. I soon gathered from this man's
exclamations that he was going through the latest
batch of information, and arranging fresh raids.
" He mentioned some name or other. ' I am
going to get the blighter to-night, I think,' he said.
All the while we were there he continued to run
his finger up and down the pages and give instruc-
tions ; and one could visualise the lower end of
the Castle yard, and the great gates through which
we had come, near which lorries, shaking with
armed men, waited to be loosed in torrents down
" My ' cousin ' went to something, which was
half a desk and half a table, and opening it with
an effort, for there was a great weight of books and
papers on top, he pulled out an automatic pistol,
somewhat the worse for wear, took it to pieces, put
it together again, loaded it, and fumbling among
debris at the bottom of the desk, he rescued a spare
magazine and a handful of nickel bullets. All these
things were presently handed over to me."
A TOP STORY 121
His wife interrupted him. " Don't tell me what
you have brought back is no good ? "
" No ; it's tip-top," answered 47, hastily.
" It wants a good clean, that's all. I'll fix it up
to-morrow. Anyhow, I stuck it into a pocket, and
we went back to the Central for my ' cousin's '
guns, for he was going to look up his wife in her
flat. The one which was as long as his arm he
thrust into a tremendous pocket, and a second he
kept in another pocket, with his hand on it. So
we sallied forth, and I have no doubt on the
way passed many a citizen of one persuasion
or the other prepared for eventualities like our-
" In Graf ton Street our ways parted. My
' cousin ' lifted his eyebrows and disappeared."
" Are you still hungry ? " his wife asked, as
soon as 47 had done speaking. "I'll cook you
" That'll do me," he answered, nodding his
head. " This early curfew is the devil. You
people haven't got too much time."
" There's an hour," I retorted, looking at my
watch. " It wasn't much of a pilgrimage here.
You're pretty snug. Up in the roof isn't as bad as
" No place like a top story," 47 said. " No one
has any right on your stairs then. And there's
usually a skylight ; and a man can put up a good
show through the skylight. The skylight here is
pretty handy. Come and look."
122 FROM THE HOUSETOP
4 You're not taking him on the roof ? " his wife
" He can put on a coat. We won't be a minute."
" He'll freeze."
" Not me," I said, getting up.
" Stick on something," 47 suggested, getting up
too. " It isn't a bad night."
" You're off your heads ! " his wife retorted,
from her chair by the fire.
We wrapped up, and 47 led the way through
the skylight on to the roof. The ascent was tricky,
but no worse than that. One had to mount on the
banisters and haul oneself through the skylight,
and one day the affair would give way, and the
escaping sleuth would be precipitated among the
advancing assassins. However, this did not happen
" Don't show yourself," 47 ordered, as we
shinned up. " People creeping about roofs at night
aren't popular in this city."
He bent double and crept behind a chimney
stack, and waved me to follow. I glanced through
the skylight before I went. One could see down
half a flight of stairs. From here a man really
could put up a show, as he had said.
We were among the chimneys, like birds in a
nest. We were in a forest of chimneys, in a
mountainous country of roofs. The house was on
a hill, the house was tall ; we could see everywhere.
The night was sharp, and as a consequence the sky
was filled with stars. And below, all over the
DOWN BELOW 123
place, were the city lights. The roar of life came
faintly up from down there, and here we seemed
removed and secure, as if this perch were a rock
which the sea of terror could not submerge. Yet,
now and again, some drops of spray seemed to
outleap the waters and dash against our mouths,
as, with headlights which tore great holes in the
dark, the Crossley tenders, filled with armed men,
raced through the streets, and on their heels rolled
armoured cars from which poked the Lewis guns
I could not see. We followed these grim pro*
cessions as they fled. Presently it was as if the
city had become a pot, and we up here were in-
toxicated by the rising vapours.
On 47 it acted as a drug. His tongue was
loosened, he became prophetic.
" Can you feel it ? " he said, cupping his hand
as if it held water. " Can you feel it coming up
to us ? Of course you can. I mean the terror,
the rage, the hate. Can't you see through the dark
to the police on their way ? Can't you see through
the houses as if they were glass, to the hunted men ?
Loyalist and Republican in all those hearts the
same passions hate, and fortitude, and cruelty,
and loyalty to their beliefs, and terror. In this
whirlpool of passion can the spiritual endure ? "
He peered between the chimneys. His face was
a blur ; but he began to permeate the atmosphere
with the feeling which he left out of his lowered
" Sometimes I think," I put in, " that in the
124 FROM THE HOUSETOP
evolution of man the gods choose certain people to
develop by trial certain qualities. Courage, forti-
tude, idealism has Ireland been chosen for a year
or two as the forcing ground for these ? "
" Who knows ? " he answered vaguely. " These
qualities are being bred here ; and treachery and
cruelty and hate."
" Don't you feel the quality of this struggle is
spiritual ? Don't you feel something hard and
pointed like a sword blade there, though covered
with the rust of every vile passion ? "
" If there was nothing of the spirit here,
could men be brought to contend so long and so
furiously ? " he answered. " But what are we to
do with these passions, evil as well as good, that
we have raised in the name of idealism ? Nothing
that has been created can die." He peered out
between the chimneys.
" Look down there," I said. " Fear and hate
and a certain exaltation. Of course, in this
struggle Sinn Fein has the exhilaration of the
small man against the big man. However right
the big man may be, he cannot have much zest in
an unequal show."
Then it was that 47 became like a prophet on
" Truth ! Truth ! Who shall find truth in all
this untruth ? One begs and begs for bread, and
receives always a stone. Lies, lies, lies ! Who can
get at the truth now ? Can it ever be found ? I
am tired of stones. Who will give me bread ?
LIES, ALL LIES! 125
" No man down there wants the truth ; no man
down there would listen to the truth ; one wishes
to shout his case louder than the other, that is
all. The people lie, the papers lie it is lies, all
lies ! "
" And this thing which makes men mad is
called patriotism," I said.
He turned round from gazing at the city.
" There you have it. There is one voice speaking
the truth. Patriotism, how it limits a man, in
judgment, in sincerity, in his horizon.
" Nowadays, can nationalism be other than a
rather poor thing ? It was useful in the past, but
it was only a stepping stone to better things. First
individual against individual, then family against
family, then tribe warring against tribe, nation
striving against nation. Only to-day the in-
spiration that all nations may be bound together.
Has man been deceived ? Can nationalism and
patriotism after all be false gods ? "
I, harking back to his cry of " lies, all lies,"
interjected : " Here is the truth spoken by Loyalist
and Republican in the golden age before all men
were liars :
" ' You started it,' the Republican says. * For
generations we asked you for more generous
legislation, and you made promises and broke
them. Then we took up arms.'
" ' My dear fellow, you have hit the nail on the
head. We were continuously unjust,' the Loyalist
answers ; ' but listen to the excuses. Either the
126 FROM THE HOUSETOP
peoples of the British Isles are one nation, or else
they are several nations, of which more than one
resides in Ireland. We have to listen to so many
opinions. You Sinn Feiners want to break right
away, the Nationalists want Home Rule, and the
Ulster people want things to stay as they are.
Naturally, this decision does not help us to do what
we are disinclined to do."
" ' The majority want a republic ; the majority
should rule,' answers the Republican.
" ' My dear sir, might I suggest the argument
is illogical out of your mouth ? ' answers the
Loyalist. 4 If the part, Ulster, must be given to
the whole, Ireland, then the part, Ireland, must
be given to the whole, the United Kingdom. And
only a few who cry "Up the Republic" earnestly
and intelligently want that same republic. After
the rising of 1916 you had few friends, and the
people have only been bludgeoned into desire for
a republic by the cries of the leaders, by the
presence of British troops, by the repression and
the personal injustices attendant on the political
situation. This feeling is false, and would quickly
pass on a return of normal conditions.'
" ' There is a great deal in what you say,' the
Republican admits ; ' but what of the atrocities
committed by your people ? How can we forget
those ? *
" ' I cannot deny the atrocities,' answers the
Unionist ; ' but are you not to blame ? What is
your army other than a collection of people who,
LOYALIST AND REPUBLICAN 127
while it suits them, masquerade as peaceful
citizens ? '
" The Republican answers, ' Your accuracy and
penetration are extraordinary. As a military unit
we are corner boys and assassins ; but in the
circumstances, how can we be otherwise ? '
" ' True, very true,' the Loyalist assures him,
4 on that last point I see with you eye to eye.
Against such odds there is no other method you can
adopt, unless you went in for passive resistance and
boycotted England on a grand scale ; but, of course,
a nation cannot be organised to that type of cold-
blooded resistance it must have the stimulus of
war. As things are, if you were to come out into
the open, your army would be no more in a week.
But if I give you that point you must give me this.
The excesses of the military and the police have
been caused by the type of war you wage. Our men
don't know friends from enemies, there are no rules
of warfare, consequently they take justice into
their own hands.'
" The Republican winks. ' The intelligent
among us realise this. The outcry we raise is for
" ' Ah ! ' cries the Loyalist, winking back, c it is
the same with us, and our shout of murder gang.
We use it to stimulate our followers and justify
ourselves. Your leaders know and our leaders know
that we are both out to win, and we must use every
trick and shift. For, of course, we both have a
contempt for the mob, haven't we ? The mob is
128 FROM THE HOUSETOP
necessary to us, but its opinion is worth nothing.
Once the mob enthusiasm is raised, it will swallow
any lie. it will shout any slogan.' '
My oration appeared to have sent 47 to sleep.
I came to a full stop. When he began, it was on a
line of his own.
" An empire, an imperfect instrument, is nearer
the co-operative ideal than separate states watching
one another. Therefore, when Ireland, a part,
demands to break away from the whole, it is an
effort towards old tribal days, and I am out of
sympathy. And if the whole feel they are en-
dangered, in justice to themselves they are at
liberty to deny the demands of the part."
" You grudge Ireland independence ? "
He passed over my interruption. " But, of
course, a vigorous national life and a noble national
ideal are undeniable advantages. Then how
reconcile these two things the liberty of the
nation with the safety of all nations ? It is
the old difficulty of reconciling anarchy with
socialism, those poles with equally strong claims."
He paused and said, " Yes, there is a way out."
" Dominion status ? "
He nodded. " That will allow Ireland internal
development, and that will keep her within the
Empire, and there will be no breach made in the
" Do you expect that to be the end ? "
" I hope so." He switched his mind elsewhere
again. " It's in bigger things than Ireland I'm
THE FIRST RAID 129
interested at bottom. It is in world questions
the class wars and that kind of thing."
" Would you regret working against Com-
munism, if you were ordered to ? "
" Not necessarily, for one can sympathise with
a thing, and yet find it unworkable, and a menace.
In the van of all these movements march men with
the seed of truth, who are so far ahead of time that
if they leapt, and the world leapt after them, the
world would fall into the ditch. It is evolution
which alone will bring the masses after these people.
And so these prophets must be destroyed that the
world may not fall into the ditch. I do not hate
what I kill. I have nothing against the body that
collapses at my feet. I thrust with the sword of
my mind. My victim and myself, may we not both
be honest men caught in the toils of life ? " 47
moved. " Here, I'm freezing. We must get inside. "
I was sorry for 47's wife as Himself and I left
her at the top of the uncarpeted stairs. She looked
small and tired, and very much alone, and I have
no doubt she felt all those things.
But I must hurry on. That night witnessed
our first raid.
It was four in the morning, and bitterly cold.
The knock at the door, or rather the crash on the
door, was shattering, and brought me straight up
" Go back." It was Himself on the landing.
130 FROM THE HOUSETOP
" Don't be frightened. It seems to be the
I continued to sit up, shivering. There was the
rush of many feet, like the rush of hundreds of
sheep after being penned up. The house filled
" Hands up ! " somebody shouted. I visualised
Himself shivering on the landing with his hands
above his head.
" Unarmed. Right. Put 'em down. What's
your name ? "
Himself gave his name.
" Who's in the house ? Who's in that room ? "
" My wife."
The door burst open, and armed men raced
through into the room beyond. They appeared to
look at nothing, but I suppose they took everything
in. They had guns strapped up and down their
legs and round their bodies, and balmoral bonnets
on the backs of their heads. One immense specimen
was left to guard me. He stood by the empty
fireplace and eyed me. I eyed him back again.
Presently he smiled.
" You look cold." I said, for he was shaking
under his heavy coat.
" More tired than cold. Been at this without
a break for three days and nights. It's ! "
He left the rest to me.
A series of heavy thuds overhead made me
" It's all right," he said soothingly. " Only
ENGLAND'S MARKET GARDEN 131
the chaps searching. The lady upstairs is a bad
" What ? "
" I advise you to clear out. She's coming into
the limelight soon. Oh, we know all about her."
" She's harmless enough," I said. " She talks
" Some people blow too hard." He pulled off a
glove and breathed on his fingers. " What a
country ! What a country ! What brought you
here ? The Irish are mean enough to pick the flesh
off the bones of a flea."
44 Well, it's curious enough ; but it will never
be anything more than England's market garden,
whether it's a republic or part of the Empire."
44 There are some fine men in the movement."
44 Fine ! " There was contempt in his voice.
44 And you an English woman ! "
44 Not English Australian," I corrected gently.
44 Therefore I may be counted neutral, more or less."
He laughed. 44 More or less. But which ? "
I shook my head.
44 All the same," I said, 44 you do make a mistake
in thinking the Sinn Feiners are inferior."
He caught me up, and refused to let me con-
44 Inferior ! Of course they're inferior ! Look
at them skulking round corners ; look at them
hiding behind women. They can't conduct an
ambush in a decent manner. Oh no ; they must
132 FROM THE HOUSETOP
wait until the kids are coming out of school, then
they chuck their bomb. We can't hit them then.
Oh no, they're not a decent race. The German is
honourable. The Turk is honourable. The nigger
is honourable. But not a Shinner. Stick up for
any mongrel race you like, but not the Irish."
His torrent of words left me gasping.
" I've just come up from Cork," he said, after a
few moments' pause. " If you want to see the Irish
patriot in all his glory, go to Cork."
Himself came into the room. He had managed
to seize a coat from somewhere ; but he was shaking
" I think they're nearly through," he said. " I
hear sounds of going."
" We have just been discussing the Irish," I
The sound of many feet clattering down the
stairs cut my remarks short. My new acquaintance
joined the ebbing tide and was gone.
AN AT HOME
" You were able to come. I'm glad," my hostess
exclaimed. " You know every one."
Himself drifted to a far corner, where I lost
I made my way across the great warm room
towards the fireplace. Tea was progressing merrily,
and I was soon seated with a cup in my hand,
eating potato cakes hot from the kitchen.
There were about thirty people present grave
professors, elderly people who might have been
doctors or lawyers, one or two who looked like
decadent poets, and lots of wives. Everybody was
talking. This man had been in the post office
during the Rebellion, that woman had carried the
Sinn Fein flag somewhere else on that occasion.
They told racy stories against themselves and
against the British Government.
" The other day," a priest next door to me
began, " I was in Talbot Street at the time of
that shooting. You remember ? "
" I remember," said a woman, dropping her
cigarette into her saucer. " Yes, do go on."
134 AN AT HOME
" I was in the pork butcher's shop. As a matter
of fact, a bullet nearly got me in there. Quite near
enough. I haven't got the sawdust out of my
pants yet, I hugged the floor so close. I went out
as soon as it was safe. The D.M.Ps. had gone ;
you know the way they go. One of the boys was
stretched in the middle of the road. There wasn't
much life left in him, not enough to suffer. I
knelt down beside him, and the crowd drifted
back. A Tommy was standing near, with his
hands on his rifle and his tin hat on his head. He
wasn't taking any notice of me. There were other
wounded people. All of a sudden an old beggar
woman shouldered her way through the crowd to
the Tommy. ' Och,' sez she, ' take that tin lid
off iv ye while his riverince is saying his
prayers. 5 "
Some one leant above me with a jug of cream.
" Cream ? " He poured cream into my cup
and sat down by my side with the jug in his hand.
" What a life we lead," he said. " Have you been
raided yet ? "
' Yes, not so very long ago."
" Did they take anything ? "
" Our breakfast, and a copy of Balzac's ' Droll
Stories.' But they were a very decent lot."
" You were lucky. They are light-fingered
gentlemen as a rule."
" I expect some of those stories aren't true."
" Not true ! " exclaimed another man. " My
dear lady, I know a family near Cork who are
A CHRISTMAS BOX 135
constantly raided by the Black-and-Tans. The
same man is always in charge. Just before
Christmas he called upon them with a revolver in
each hand and said, ' I've called for my Christmas
box. Make the cheque a decent one, as I've had
a lot of trouble with this house."
" I know two old ladies," said somebody else,
" Unionists by the way. One night at dinner
time a party of officers arrived and captured the
house. The man in charge told them there was
a man on the roof; but he told them not to be
disturbed, and to go on with dinner. He came
back after a little, apologised, and said he'd made
a mistake. They discovered afterwards that he
had cleared the house of everything valuable."
" They've got splendid opportunities, of course,"
said my friend, balancing the cream jug on the end
of the sofa. " I don't mind looting so much as
man-handling. I can tell you some of the boys
get a bad time when they are interrogated."
I swallowed my tea reflectively.
" There are cases of torture that we never hear
of," said a new woman, drawing close. " I know
of several cases in the country where the boys
were caught, rolled in barbed wire, then flung on
the ground, and the Black-and-Tans jumped on
them ! "
" They must have got sore feet," I suggested.
" I know of a policeman in Limerick," the
woman went on, " who beats every third woman
136 AN AT HOME
he meets. He kicked a crippled child from one
side of the road to the other in one kick. And
then the English people are surprised that the
Irish people hold out. The Irish are the most peace-
loving and spiritual people in the world, and they
must overcome wrong."
" We know the men who do these things,"
said the man beside me. " Twenty years will
make no difference. We'll get them."
" Well, I'm all for peace," I declared. " But
then I'm not Irish."
He laughed. " Do you think we'd have got
very far if we hadn't let a little blood ? "
" I think it might have taken longer to wake
up the Government ; but it could have been done.
Women got suffrage ; no blood was shed. The
woman's war was the only clean one waged, I
think. Why not be satisfied now with the blood-
shed you've had, and try something else ? "
" No ; the lion's tail must be twisted. It will
be twisted before we've finished. Ireland's only
a pin point ; but she's pushing right into the heart
of the Empire."
There was a pause, and a snatch of conversation
came from somewhere else.
" I saw Mrs." I couldn't catch the name
" yesterday," a woman said. " She's working very
hard, and, of course, her husband will kill himself
" Who is that ? " I asked.
" She's an American ; but she always calls the
OLD MEG 137
Irish ' my own dear people.' Her husband is an
Englishman ; but he has an Irish soul."
Our hostess advanced.
" Has any one heard of the Minister of Propa-
ganda lately ? I love that man. He's the only
man among you with wit. Tell me, somebody,
what is going to happen."
There was a general shrugging of shoulders as
she settled in a chair.
" The British Government will give in."
" But what of poor Ireland in the mean-
time ? "
" Things have been quiet for a few days," I
" An unnatural quiet," said a second priest.
" Something is brewing for the Black-and-Tans.
How our boys can gull them ! "
People came towards us attracted by our
laughter, and an old lady whose name I could not
catch, and whom I never saw after that evening,
drew into the circle.
" Things are getting worse," said our hostess.
" I can't go down the street without danger of
being run over by armoured cars, and the soldiers
just look as if they are going to stand up in the
lorries and fire into the crowd."
" We weren't talking of Curfew," said a pallid
youth ; " but let us, because I want to tell you the
story of old Meg."
"Old Meg? Who's old Meg?" our hostess
138 AN AT HOME
" You must know her. The dirtiest beggar
woman in Dublin."
" I know her," a woman exclaimed, " a dreadful
old creature. She tore her dress open in front of
me the other day in Wicklow Street, and said,
' For the love iv Heaven, lady, buy me some
combinations. It's after perishing with cold I am
this minute, and you in furs. Look at me poor
bare body. It's you have the good heart, lady,
and you've never felt the cold.' ' Indeed,' I said
indignantly, ' I have. I feel the cold very much.
Cover yourself at once, you disgusting old woman.
Do you see the policeman looking at you ? ' ' Him ! '
she said scornfully, ' I take no notice iv him. It's
a son I have in the I.R.A. Give me the price of
the combinations, lady, and 111 let you go.' ' I'll
do no such thing ; but I'll give you a shilling if
you promise not to go near the public-house with
it.' ' Indade, an' shame on ye, lady, why would
a poor old woman like me be going near a public-
house ? ' "
" That's Meg," said the youth. " She's a great
character, and her mother and grandmother
begged on the streets. She was curfewed outside
my house the other night. Must have been the
night you gave her the shilling. Drunk ? I
heard a commotion and leaned out of window,
and there she was defying the British Army. But
they collared her. ' What're you doing out now ? '
asked a Black-and-Tan, sticking a revolver where
her belt should have been. ' It's going home, I
am,' said Meg. ' For the love iv Heaven give me
a copper.' ' It's a bullet I'll give you, you old
vermin. Get into that lorry quick.' ' That,' says
Meg, * that ! I'm after being a lady now. Och,
and it's me great-grandfather who was after being
a king.' 'You'll be after being a corpse if you
don't get a move on.' They made a start, and sud-
denly she saw me. ' Hallo, dearie,' called out the
descendant of kings, ' I'm curlewed ! '
" The Irish beggars are priceless," exclaimed
the second priest, who had rolled and twisted with
laughter until the tears ran down his cheeks. " You
heard about the flower- women the day Lord French
was attacked ? "
" No," said our hostess. " TeU us, father."
" Two old flower- women watched the whole
thing. ' Did ye see the bullets flying ? ' said one.
' I did, indeed, and a grand sight it was. Did ye
see the boys all standing there cool and steady,
firing at Lord French? And a lady with him.
"Let me get out," sez she to he, "let me get out,"
sez she. "This is no place for me," sez she.
"Let me get out," sez she. "You will not," sez
he to she, " and you will not," sez he.' "
" And now for a last story," said the second
priest, getting up. " The other day a friend in
Cork was searched by the Black-and-Tans just
before Curfew, for arms, of course. As usual after
going through his pockets, the gentleman went
through his pocket-book, took all he had, which
was five pounds, and also took his silver watch,
140 AN AT HOME
My friend, who isn't a man to sit down under things,
went over to the officer in charge and said what
had happened. The officer came up and told the
Black-and-Tan to return the loot. The man
grumbled and hauled out of his pocket a dozen
watches, and a bundle of notes. ' Take which
is yours,' he said, swinging the watches, and he
held out a handful of notes. It was quite dark,
and when my friend got under a light, he found
he had got a gold watch for his silver one, and
ten pounds for his five."
In the middle of the laughter that followed
the story, the priest made his exit.
We followed suit, and we were not many steps
on the way when the old lady I had noticed came
up behind us.
" I have something to say," she said. " I
hope you won't be influenced by what you hear
over here. When I see strangers like you I am
always so afraid of what will happen to them.
The Irish are such good pleaders. But it's all
lamentable. I am as Irish as anybody ; but I
wish this was over, with all my heart I wish it.
It's not a clean war. It's having a frightful effect
on the young men. Kill, kill, kill is all they think
of now, it's all they talk of, and what will they have
at the end of their lives, what battles can they fight
over again ? I can't sleep at night, I hear them
talking as old men. 4 1 got him in his bath,' one
will say. Another, ' I got him in bed.' And
another, ' He was visiting his wife. I shot him at
A UNIONIST 141
tea. 5 They have dirtied Ireland's name, say what
they will, they have done that. Doesn't the most
sympathetic American squirm when you compare
this to the American War of Independence ? I
think so. I read the other day of the Poles object-
ing to the comparison with the Polish struggle for
freedom. People who hate England pretend to
sympathise with us for their own ends ; but there
is not a nation that, at heart, does not hold
our methods in contempt. We are called ditch
murderers, and the expression is justified."
Her face was working with emotion. We had
come to a corner. She said good night and was
HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
PASSING from bad to worse, the year drew to
As if the fury of those days were breeding them
and putting them upon the streets, the shaking
lorries increased in number ; and the flying
Crossley tenders swept by in the hunt hunting,
hunting, hunting for the elusive foe, which was
everywhere and nowhere which was on the
pavements, which was behind the counters of the
shops, which was wrapped in the uniforms of tram
conductor, of railway porter, of postman, which
made use of any refuge that it might help the infant
Republic to take a place among the nations.
Terrible tales were whispered in those final
weeks of the dying year. Tales of frenzied men
hunted by bloodhounds. Tales of pitiless am-
bushes, of police slaughtered to a man, and the
bodies hacked to pieces with axes. Tales of
savage reprisal following on shameful deed, of
burned shops, of deserted farms, of peasants gone
to couch with fox and hare. Tales of new pro-
clamations and new restrictions falling alike on
guilty and innocent.
DAY BY DAY 143
" Auxiliary Division, R.I.C., the Castle,
" Whereas foul murders of servants of the
Crown have been carried out by disaffected
persons, and whereas such persons immediately
before the said murders appeared to be peaceful
and loyal people, but have produced pistols from
their pockets ; it is hereby ordered that all male
inhabitants of Macroom, and all males passing
through Macroom, shall not appear in public with
their hands in their pockets. Any male infringing
this order is liable to be shot at sight."
Tales of bridges destroyed in the country
places to impede the movement of Government
troops, and other bridges leading to the market
towns blown up as reprisal by forces of the Crown.
Tales of gross murder of isolated police replied to
by tales of blindfolded prisoners taken at dead of
night to lonely places and there told they were to
die, made to kneel praying and listen while a grave
was dug, and this play-acting done, the victim
promised life if he would say was his neighbour,
the butcher, a peaceful citizen or a follower of Sinn
Fein, did his friend, the bootmaker, who so amiably
dusted his shop of a morning also in the dark of
night dust a gun which came up from under the
boards. And could the kneeling man rise to meet
this fierce hour and refuse the information, his
thwarted captors returned him to his cell.
Tales that the golden age of robbery had come.
Criminals in all countries hear of the anarchy
144 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
abroad and take tickets to the distressed country.
Armed men emerge from the lanes and the alley
ways and rob by night and by day. It is whispered
some of the robberies of the Ulster banks are carried
out by Irish Volunteers acting under orders, it is
shouted that some of the highway robberies are
conducted by out-at-elbow Black-and-Tans, acting
without orders and trying to turn an honest penny
in an unfriendly land.
Then, in the midst of war, rumours of peace.
The dove flutters a moment into sight, and takes
wing again. Father O'Flanagan, Acting President
of the Irish Republic, telegraphs to the British
Prime Minister :
" You state that you are willing to make peace
at once without waiting for Christmas. Ireland
also is willing. What first steps do you propose ? ??
The telegram was sent when Sinn Fein was hard
pressed. Many of the leaders were in prison, the
rest were hunted day and night. It was imperative
to keep a tight hold on supporters if the movement
were to hold together. A sudden gesture of this
kind might be taken as a sign of panic and begin
a general rout. There was a day or two of heart-
searching in the Republican camp, and ' Watch-
man,' in one of the Nationalist journals, came
forward with the warning that if the nation was
not to be stampeded it must remain as cold as ice,
calm as a summer lake, and wary as a fox going
on all its toes. The mysterious Michael Collins
BUILDING A REPUBLIC 145
emerged from his obscurity with a second letter
in which he thanked nobody for refraining from
murdering him, and told the nation to " stop
talking, and get on with the work."
The dove clapped its wings and fled away, and
ere the sound of its flight was lost news came that
as reprisal for an ambush in the public thorough-
fare, the City of Cork was in flames. The machinery
of war was in motion again.
Deed of terror following deed of terror, the days
wore out, Christmas came and went, and the year
came to an end.
Hampered but still free, fettered but not
completely bound, finding the draught of difficulty
as a sick man finds a strengthening medicine,
through all that came and went, Sinn Fein con-
tinued with the building up of the Republic.
Republican Courts, which had been suppressed,
continued in existence, sitting when and where
they could, judges, lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants,
and all the following of law, flitting from place to
place like birds bereft of a nesting ground, against
all legal tradition taught to be sparing of argument,
as at the very moment of judgment, they might
have to snatch up bag and baggage, and judge,
lawyer, plaintiff, and defendant make tracks to the
hills. Yet in the face of opposition, because of it,
these courts met with considerable success. Clients
arrived in the hope that the judgments given would
be more lenient than in the established British
Courts, clients came from patriotic motives, from
146 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
motives of adventure, and not least because they
dared not stay away. Intimidation was present
here as elsewhere.
For both parties in the struggle had great belief
in the weapon of intimidation, and there was
taking place one long competition in intimidation
between the Crown Forces and the Republican
Volunteers. The strange situation had arisen of
two Governments claiming to rule the country,
and neither one able to protect its adherents
from the other, nor able to control its own
The inner circle of Sinn Fein held council when
it could, framed its policy and issued its edicts.
Cabinet Ministers might sleep each night in a new
bed, those of them who were not sleeping night
after night in one of his Britannic Majesty's prisons ;
but their words were not without weight. In their
offices in attics and in cellars, they built up the
It was told that the Minister of Finance found
time to acknowledge all funds, although the very
rumour of his name sent the gates of Dublin
Castle back upon their hinges and a host of armed
men abroad. Again and again his offices were
captured, and his very signature found damp upon
some cheque, yet with the choicest of his corre-
spondence he was gone to some new attic, to some
new cellar, there to begin again.
The Minister of Commerce, passing from place
to place like any Ishmaelite, issued his edicts that
PRESIDENT DE VALERA 147
such and such British goods should be boycotted,
and the unwilling shopkeepers dared not disobey.
The Minister of Propaganda, pedalling, pedalling
his ubiquitous bicycle, interviewed foreign jour-
nalists, got together his facts for the day's issue of
the Irish Bulletin, all the while thanking the dark
for its cloak, thanking the cold for an excuse to
So the work of the Departments was done, nor
was it probable that it would be undone, for man
thrives on difficulty. The danger to this national
awakening was not then, it was going to be later
on in the easy days of peace.
The old year came to an end, and the first day
of the new year brought Sinn Fein Ireland a happy
augury. It went from mouth to mouth that
President De Valera had returned from America.
Everywhere the question was put, " Is he come ? "
" Where has he landed ? "
47, whom I ran across about this time, told me
he received reliable information of the President's
whereabouts within a few hours of the landing, and
he had passed on the news to Headquarters. It
was decided that no steps should be taken to arrest
the President, and henceforward to the truce in
June, the difficulty for the agents of the Crown was
to avoid coming in contact with him.
This was not the story told by Sinn Fein, who
made it known that the astute President, aided by
the Republican secret service, was making ridicu-
lous the clumsy efforts of the Crown Forces to
148 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
capture him, and patriots chuckled over their tea-
cups. The awakening was a rude one. Auxiliary
police, raiding the grounds of a house in the Black-
rock district, found digging potatoes a mysterious
person with side whiskers, who was possessed of
important papers. He was escorted to the nearest
barracks, where it transpired he was no less a man
than the President of the Irish Republic. He
received an apology and was released.
The patriots of the teatables were thunderstruck,
and more insulted than if their President had been
maltreated. Some there were who received a shock
from which they never recovered.
It was in these dark days my wife and I first
made acquaintance with A. E., first saw presiding
over a circle interested in mysticism and the occult
this benevolent and rather giant person, wrapped
up in an ancient greatcoat, and all crowded into a
chair. There was not a wrinkle to speak of in his
face, as if a serene mind had allowed him to pass
trouble by, and through his spectacles looked out
eyes as blue as the sky.
On the wall were two pictures by his hand of
visions he had seen in some uncommon hour. For
this man, who is gaining an international reputation,
was many-sided, and each side exceeded the stature
of an average man.
He was a painter of some ability, and better
than his painting was his poetry, and better than
his poetry was his prose, and better than his prose
were his ideas ; and more astonishing than his ideas
THE PENDULUM 149
was the facility for expressing them. He seemed
informed on half the subjects in the world, and a
question would start the stream of eloquence flow-
ing. Never was there such an example of rich
payment received from trained concentration and
years of clear thinking.
The new year started as the old year had ended
in fury and ruin.
One of the dreariest of those afternoons, when
evening was sweeping up out of the Liffey in the
guise of a river fog, I found myself upon O'Connell
Bridge watching a line of soldiers holding up
traffic and searching motor cars. Standing there
as chilly of thought as I was chilly of body, I
became intuitive like a prophet, so that I was ready
to open my mouth and prophesy.
Militant Sinn Fein had reached the limit of its
popularity with the nation, the swing of the pendu-
lum had got to its end and would come back again.
It had been a melancholy task for loyal people
watching the Republican ideal spreading through
the country like a disease, finding week by week
the British Empire losing the Irish nation, first by
tens, then by hundreds, then by thousands, and
for this reason above others, that Irishmen be
their opinions wrong, be their deeds wrong were
being hunted down in Ireland. The case of the
deserting Unionists was the case of the man who is
willing to beat his own wife, but who takes her part
when an outsider appears to do the business.
Waiting on the bridge this evening, watching
150 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
the fog rise off the river and the soldiers search the
cars as they drove up, I knew the Sinn Fein militant
policy had reached the limit of national sympathy
and patience. As restrictions grew worse, as trade
grew worse, that numerically greatest portion of
the population to whom ideals are a consideration
secondary to material prosperity, would look more
and more askance at the people who were bringing
them to ruin.
The Republican cry was a false cry as far as the
Irish nation was concerned. Only a minority of
the people were genuine in a desire for the Republic,
and many who shouted " Up the Republic " had no
idea what they meant. A band of enthusiasts had
struck a spark, and now the country was wrapped
in the flames of a national passion ; but the majority
of the people had been caught in the conflagration
through circumstance. The psychology of the
crowd had operated, the spirit of the herd.
Now that the youth of Ireland, who had been
cheated of the European war, had had a fill of
struggle, the time was at hand when the wise
fireman, dragging his hose after him, might get
into position to put the fire out.
Ireland suffered under a genuine grievance.
The taxation was unjust ; there were other in-
justices. But if a truce could be called and an
offer made which put right what had before been
wrong, the dream of a Republic would pass away
as a man's dream passes away in the morning.
Let the tension be slackened and life find its true
IRISH BULLETIN 151
values again, and all the shouts left in the throats
of the true Republicans would not trouble the
nation again. The effort had been used up, and
the gods do not give such passion twice in a genera-
tion. They are chary of their gifts.
Thinking this, I waited on the bridge, wondering
how long would go by before some one in the crowd
fired at the soldiers, whereupon the soldiers would
return the compliment, and there would follow a
stampede, and I would be offered the choice of
being shot to death or crushed to death. But
nobody drew a gun on this occasion, though another
time, very soon afterwards, I was on the same spot,
and somebody in the crowd threw a bomb or fired
a shot, somebody who was well down a side street
a moment afterwards, and the soldiers fired into
the brown as I expected, and a woman was killed.
But the dove of peace, which had fluttered into
sight for a day or two before Christmas, had fled
away, and was not yet to be seen back again, and
during these first weeks of the new year it became
evident that spirit was to descend yet farther into
I take the following quotations haphazard from
issues of the Irish Bulletin (the Republican organ)
of that date. Such remedies as these were tried to
cope with the situation.
" On Saturday night, January 1st, Auxiliary
Police raided a dance hall in Lisduff, co. Leitrim.
The dance was interrupted, and the dancers ques-
tioned and searched. They were then compelled
152 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
to sing ' God save the King ' and denounce
President De Valera, after which they were ordered
out of the dance hall, shots being fired after them."
" A Proclamation has been issued by Major-
General Strickland, English Military Governor in
Cork, prohibiting the use of motor-cars, motor-
cycles, and pedal cycles between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
in the Martial Law area, which now extends over
one-third of Ireland. This order comes into force
on the 20th inst."
" On the afternoon of Friday, January 14th,
1921, Auxiliary Police arrested So-and-so. All the
men were prominent merchants in the town. . . .
The men were taken to the local barracks and were
then formed into a procession and compelled to
march through the town carrying Union Jacks and
trailing the Republican flag in the dust. An
itinerant musician was compelled to head the
procession playing a banjo. At the rear of the
procession a large party of Black-and-Tan Con-
stabulary drove in a motor lorry cheering and
shouting. After they had marched through the
town the merchants were forced to kneel down in
the public street and kiss the Union Jack, whilst
the Constabulary burned the Republican flag."
" On Wednesday, January 26th, Constabulary
rounded up many of the prominent residents of
Fermoy, co. Cork, marched them to the bridge in
the centre of the town, where they were compelled
to paint on the walls such inscriptions as ' God save
the King.' ' God bless the Black-and-Tans.' '
" On Friday, January 28th, at Leitrim, men of
all ages and classes were commandeered by Con-
stabulary and marched to parts of the road were
' ambushes might occur.' There they were com-
pelled to fell trees and cut down hedges on both
sides of the roads."
" On Wednesday, February 2nd, a number of
the residents of Glanworth, co. Cork, were com-
mandeered and were marched out of the village.
They were then compelled to remove trees which
had been felled across the roads (by the I.R.A.)
some time previously."
" On February 4th military and constabulary
rounded up over a hundred men in Listowel, co.
Kerry, including elected representatives, merchants,
professional men, etc., formed them up into parties
and marched them out of the town to various
country roads across which trenches had some time
previously been dug. There the parties were given
picks and spades and compelled under threats of
being shot to fill in the trenches. The weather was
very inclement, and no discrimination was made in
selecting the victims age or illness being no pro-
tection. Mr. John W. Galvin, proprietor of the
Central Hotel, who was suffering from heart affec-
tion and asthma, was among those forced to fill the
trenches. During the work he complained of heart
trouble, but was compelled to continue. While
being marched back to town he fell dead."
From the Irish Independent of January 1st.
" Martin Con way, one of the victims near
Bruff, is stated to have crawled four miles after he
had been wounded, while he was acting as a sentry
near Caherguillamore House. He was tracked by
a bloodhound, which had accompanied the police
party, and he immediately fired at the hound,
killing him ; but was himself killed by the return
fire. Mr. Conway was a prominent Sinn Feiner,
and had been on the run."
154 HEIGHT OF THE TERROR
Independent of January 4th.
" Afterwards, it was stated, a bloodhound was
employed in a search for Tobin, and a pool of blood
was found on the mountain where the wounded
man had evidently rested. On Sunday morning
his dead body was found within a hundred yards
of his mother's house, whither he had evidently
crawled from some place of hiding during the night.
He had his coat under his head, and had evidently
lain down to die."
Tragic to read ? Yes. Regrettable to read ?
Yes. But the Crown Forces were victims of cir-
cumstances no less than were the Irish Volunteers.
The trouble began by Britain refusing to concede
certain Irish claims ; this led to outrage, and out-
rage to reprisals, and reprisals to a state of civil
war. The reprisals were carried out to intimidate
(and to a certain extent the reprisals did justify
themselves), to satisfy thwarted effort, out of con-
tempt. I have spoken to several Auxiliary Police,
humane men, men who had taken part in the Euro-
pean War, and not one of them spoke of the Sinn
Feiner as an enemy and an equal, as he might have
spoken of a Frenchman or a German. If it were
suggested the reprisals were unworthy, the answer
would be, " Good enough for them, the swine ! "
Yet the Irish Volunteer believed himself to be
serving an ideal. I quote an extract from General
Lawson's report, dated December 30th.
" The captains . . . appear to have been . . .
as a class, transparently sincere and single-minded,
idealists, highly religious for the most part, and
THE GODS MUST LAUGH 155
often with an almost religious sense of their duty
to their country. . . . They fought against drunken-
ness and self-indulgence, and it is no exaggeration
to say that as a class they represented all that was
best in the countryside. . . . They and their
volunteers were trained to discipline, they imbibed
the military spirit, and then as now they looked
upon their army as one in a very real sense, an
organisation demanding implicit obedience and self-
abnegation from rank to rank. . . . They stood for
much that is best in human nature. . . . There is a
spirit of a nation behind the organisation . . .
sympathising with and believing that those who
belong to the I.R.A. are fighting for the cause of
the Irish people."
The Irish Volunteers, lacking numbers and
equipment, were forced to conduct the fight by
any method they could, and the Crown Forces, if
they were to get in a blow at all, had frequently to
get down on hands and knees, and meet the enemy
on their own level. Such are the humours of life.
Surely the gods must laugh as they watch, or,
indeed, are they wiser than man believes, and order
these complex events that he, weary of reading
from the old lesson book, may have his attention
caught by old truths put in a new way, and learn
again the lessons of fortitude and restraint.
January came to an end, February came to an
end, and the disastrous tale of deeds continued ;
but the days were getting longer, and the cold was
going out of the air, and a man felt when the sun
came back again, peace also might return.
THE MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA
ONE March morning Mrs. Slaney rapped at the door.
Himself was out. I put down my pen with a
" I see you have c engaged ' on the door,"
she said cheerfully, "but I must come in for a
moment to tell you something. It's very bad for
you to sit writing like this, you should be out in
the sun. We don't get much sunshine as a rule at
this time of the year."
She shut the door, walked over to the sofa, and
lowered her voice.
" I've let the hall flat," she said. " I had to
come and tell you."
" But you let it yesterday ? "
" I know . . . but " she rustled with excite-
ment " but I am writing at once to put those
people off. On second consideration, it is most
unsuitable. They are so young and only just
married, later on it might mean a baby, and I have
to consider my other tenants, you and your husband,
for instance. You remember I asked you before
I took that musical man upstairs. There's a
A PIECE OF NEWS 157
great art in making a household run on oiled
44 You're pleased with the people coming to-day,
then ? "
She hesitated, and then she said, " I must tell
you. I trust you. I know you won't talk." She
must have thought I looked puzzled, for she went
on nervously, " I've let the hall flat to Mrs. Fitz-
gerald." She paused to see the effect of her words.
44 Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald. Her husband is
Minister of Propaganda. Now I feel that I've
done something for Ireland ! No one will take her,
they are so afraid of raids ; but I made up my mind
" Mr. Barrel Figgis has made this place rather
popular with the Black-and-Tans. Is it wise
from Mrs. Fitzgerald's point of view ? "
44 Of course it is. I met Mr. Figgis only yester-
day, and he told me he was sure the house wouldn't
be raided again."
44 How on earth can he tell ? "
44 Mr. Figgis has a wonderful brain. I think
he's the brains of the movement myself. Besides,
I'm not afraid of the Black-and-Tans. I'm an
Irishwoman. Look at the sacrifices Irishwomen
have made. Mr. Fitzgerald isn't going to live
here. He's coming sometimes after dark for meals.
Mrs. Fitzgerald and the baby will be here. I don't
want the people upstairs to know who she is.
After all, Fitzgerald is a common enough name.
They can think she's a widow."
158 THE MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA
" There's a baby. I thought you wouldn't have
a baby ? "
" But this baby is a grown baby. It's eleven
months old, and its mother says it's a very good
baby, it makes no noise at all."
" Of course, one can only prove that,"
" There's one other thing." Mrs. Slaney moved
uneasily. " It's about the baths. You and your
husband have always had as many baths as you
wanted. We must make a little difference in that
rule now, and treat you like the others. This
weather you can't want more than two baths a
week. Perhaps in summer we can make some
other arrangement." She went on to the Minister
of Propaganda. " Poor man, he will be delighted
to get a flat where he can have his meals in comfort.
He's been on the run for a long time now. It's
shameful an Irishman should have to live like that.
I shall soon get to know Mrs. Fitzgerald, the baby
will be the link ; and I shall hear everything that
is going on. I must go and write my letter."
When I spoke to Himself about it afterwards,
he said, " I suppose those people will be all right
here. I wouldn't like to go bail. Since the last
raid men always seem hanging about. I suppose
they give the house a look up now and then. The
less we know about things the better."
But we were not the only people in the house
A week later, when Mrs. Fitzgerald had already
been settled in a day or two, the door opened
AN INNOCENT MAN 159
cautiously and Mrs. O'Grady, dustpan in hand,
came in with the air of a conspirator.
" The mistress is after setting the hall flat,"
she said mysteriously.
" I know. I thought they had been in a day
" It's bad luck she's bringing on everybody.
She's always that frightened she'll not be noticed.
She'll be noticed now. Never fear, the Black-and-
Tans will be burning the place down one night."
" Mrs. O'Grady, what do you mean ? "
" She's not telling you who's in the house, not
she. She's a mean, mean woman, and it's black
trouble she's bringing on us all. Well I know it.
I do say to O'Grady of a night that your husband,
mum, is the only gentleman as has been in this
house since the Captain left as had these rooms
before you, and he wasn't any great gentleman so
as to speak. She doesn't know how to treat nice
people when she does get them. She's set her
flat to Desmond Fitzgerald, that's what she's after
" Mrs. O'Grady ! "
"I do be going blind, but not so blind ; and
it's himself as had his pictures in the papers not
long ago. God help him. It's on the run he's been
ever since the Sunday shootings, though a more
innocent man never drew breath I'm hearing those
who know say. It's the mistress will bring trouble
on him if he sets a foot in this house. It's 'Mrs.
O'Grady,' she'll be saying, 'hold your tongue or I'll
160 THE MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA
get shot iv ye.' But she'll tell. There's not one
person she'll meet that she won't tell, she'll be that
swollen with pride."
" You've seen him ? "
" Indeed and I have. He comes on his bicycle
after dark, and he knocks and she lets him in. Did
ye hear the set-to with the mistress and Mrs. Fitz-
gerald over the key last night ? Now she won't
give Mrs. Fitzgerald a second latchkey, and himself
there standing on the steps of a night with all the
Black-and-Tans in Dublin looking at him. I've
seen him indeed ; but I wouldn't know him, for he's
that quiet he won't look at ye, and he's muffled up
round the neck that ye can't say what's his eyes
and what's his chin."
" Well, let's do our parts and not talk."
" And who should I be talking to ? There's
only O'Grady and Polly, who's sharp enough her-
self for a young girl, God save her, and on Sundays
I go to my sister regular, and she so full of her own
troubles that she's no time for mine. Will you be
wanting your tea now ? "
" No, thank you, Mrs. O'Grady ; I'll make it
" And what would you be doing that for at all ?
I'll be wetting my own tea when I do go down, and
I'll do yours at the same time and send it up by
Mrs. O'Grady was about to withdraw when
she waxed enthusiastic.
" The baby, he's a dote ! " she exclaimed,
REAL DOTES 161
" a dote, and exactly like his father, and there are
two beautiful boys away at school, real dotes.
There's a photo of them on the mantelpiece. My
legs are run off me this minute what with the
mistress upstairs and Mrs. Fitzgerald downstairs,
and it's extra she's after charging for the flat ; but
it's no extra she's after giving me."
il Well, I hope they'll be all right."
" Indeed, mum, and I don't like it, not at all,
at all. Only the other morning, when the luggage
was outside the door, three men passed and looked
down into the area, and Polly says they were Black-
and-Tans in civics."
" Rubbish, Mrs. O'Grady, they couldn't know
" Couldn't they ? " She tossed her head.
44 Couldn't they ? " she repeated darkly. " There's
trouble coming to this house, and don't you
She gave a sniff and departed.
CAPTURE OF A CABINET MINISTER
HIMSELF was out ; but I was not alone. Mrs.
Slaney sat upon my sofa, and Mrs. Slaney smoked a
cigarette, and once again Mrs. Slaney poured into
my dulled ears the story of Ireland's martyrdom.
" It's going to be a cold night," she said, in the
middle of a fiery sentence.
" Cold ? " My voice was like the night. " I
must take my bulbs in from the window ; I don't
want them frost nipped now." I rose and went to
the window and opened it with difficulty, for the
sash had never been mended.
" I really mustn't stay long," said Mrs. Slaney,
staying where she was. " I have letters to write.
Are those tulips ? They have come on."
" Yes." I carefully placed the last pot on the
floor, shut the window carefully, and crawled up
from my lowly position on the floor. There was
silence for a moment after that. Mrs. Slaney
smoked thoughtfully, and I returned to my seat.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a shrill
whistle. It made us start.
" I wonder if Mr. Fitzgerald is in ? " saidjMrs.
MRS. SLANEY IS UNEASY 163
44 1 don't know," I said, staring from the lighted
room into the dark outside.
" You hear him come and go, I suppose ? "
" I seldom hear people come and go. I don't
listen. After all, it doesn't interest me."
" I always feel so uneasy when he's in the house.
Poor hunted man ! You've not seen him, I
suppose ? "
I shook my head. " Never."
" Awful for Mrs. Fitzgerald ! Those brutes
might shoot him at any moment. But I suppose
she's used to it."
" Perhaps he gets a certain amount of fun out
of the life. No man can call it dull eluding the
" Fun ! Being hunted to death like the vermin
of the fields. Fun ! Battered from pillar to post.
The military are getting more and more audacious.
I often wonder where they will stop. Women are
frightened to have a bath now in case they come in,
and they raided a convent the other day. Thank
goodness, there was an outcry at that ! A convent
which had never admitted a man inside it. And at
night. I heard the Mother Superior said the nuns
behaved magnificently, there was no outcry from
them, and when it was all over they went to the
Chapel and tendered thanks to the Blessed Virgin
that they had come to no harm."
" I heard it said that the raid was conducted
with great civility."
44 Yes. I believe those special raiders were not
164 CAPTURE OF A CABINET MINISTER
a bad lot of men. But the indignity of it !
Would nuns intrigue and be interested in politics ? "
" I really couldn't say. You know best, of
course. But there must have been some reason
for the raid."
" None whatever. It was simply to show their
power. The love of terrifying people. But they
didn't terrify the nuns."
" A Unionist told me the other day that the
Irish question would be settled only when education
was taken completely out of the Church's hands
and no religion was taught in the schools. I believe
" Every man and woman worth the name in
Ireland would die before they consented to such a
" It'll come to pass. What's really wrong with
Ireland is religion. You can say what you like.
The religion is distorted, people aren't balanced
about it. I'd like to see a wave of agnosticism pass
through the country, and after that people might
take up religion at its true value."
" Of course we both think so differently. But
I tell you that such a thing can never happen in
A blaze of light shone suddenly into the room.
There were loud sounds of throbbing engines. We
both started to our feet when a knock, which
should have roused all the dead in Ireland, shook
the front door.
Mrs. Slaney's hand flew to her heart.
OPEN, THE MILITARY! 165
4 What's that ? 5! I hardly heard her voice
above the noise.
She moved towards the door and then back
again. Again the house was shaken with the
Mrs. Slaney put out the light.
" Don't do that," I said sharply. " You'll draw
She put it up again, and ran out of the room
and halfway up the stairs, as if she remembered
something. Then she turned and came back,
I went out on the landing. By this time Polly
had opened the front door, and figures in uniform
poured into the hall. " Open that door," the first
man ordered, pointing at the Fitzgeralds 5 sitting-
room. " Wide." Polly obeyed, and the stream
poured in. Others were coming up the stairs when
a shout, " Got him ! " halted them. " It's all right,
boys ! " The people on the stairs went down into
the hall again, and began to go through the pockets
of the coats hanging there.
" His bicycle I " exclaimed the officer in charge.
" Put her on board, some one."
Mrs. Slaney and I leant over the stairs. I
wondered if Mrs. Fitzgerald felt as upset as I did.
The murmur of voices mounted all the time
from the flat below. There was an occasional
laugh. Through the half-opened door, which
showed us the sitting-room, we could see the baby
laughing and being handed round by the Auxiliaries.
The infant Fergus created a good atmosphere, and
166 CAPTURE OF A CABINET MINISTER
seemed delighted with his new friends, who had
wakened him to search the cot. Finally Mrs.
Slaney gathered herself together for the attack.
The Auxiliaries seemed delighted with their
capture, and were obviously ready to be amiable.
Mrs. Slaney descended upon them, her wooden
heels tapping as she walked, and the light from the
hall lamp glinted on a tortoiseshell comb that rose
from her hair.
" Who is the officer in command of the raid ? "
A youthful Auxiliary turned towards her, the
baby kicking in his arms. His revolvers rested
peacefully round his waist and in holsters on his legs.
" The officer in charge." He beamed upon her
as a friend.
A tall gaunt man, with a face like a red Indian,
appeared in the doorway.
" Who wants me ? "
" Are you the officer in charge of this raid ? "
" Yes, madam. Is there anything I can do for
" Are you the blackguard who murdered those
unfortunate boys at Drumcondra the other
night ? "
A cold shiver ran down my spine. Mrs. O'Grady,
hovering in the shadows in the hall, withdrew to the
basement. I heard the shuffle of her sandshoes.
" Will some one take the baby, please ? "
Mrs. Fitzgerald, unconscious of the question or
of the storm it raised, came out of the sitting-room.
HARBOURING REBELS 167
" He ought to be asleep. Where's Mrs. O'Grady ?
She could take him downstairs."
I went down and took the baby, while Mrs.
Slaney and the chief of Auxiliaries eyed each other.
44 What reason have you for arresting this man
in my house ? " Mrs. Slaney demanded. " A
perfectly innocent man."
" Enough, madam." Like Pharaoh, the man
had hardened his heart. " Are you the owner of
this house ? "
44 1 am."
" Then perhaps you can explain why you let
this flat to a rebel."
"I let the rooms to Mrs. Fitzgerald," Mrs.
" You didn't know who she was, I suppose ?
Come, Mrs. Slaney, did you know who Fitzgerald
was or not ? "
"I let the rooms to his wife. He only has his
44 You are in a very serious position, Mrs. Slaney.
Do you know the penalty for harbouring rebels ? "
I was mounting the stairs with the infant Fergus,
to tuck him up on our sofa, when I ran into the
musical man who lived over our heads.
44 Do you think they'll search the house ? " he
44 If Mrs. Slaney annoys them enough they will."
44 I've a paper here they don't search women,"
The infant Fergus whimpered at that moment,
168 CAPTURE OF A CABINET MINISTER
and I rolled him up on our sofa. The man of music
had followed me. He held a newspaper cutting in
" I got this out of the paper this morning.
They mightn't like it."
I read it. " There's nothing in it."
" You wouldn't keep it ? "
" Oh, I'll keep it ; but burn it if you like and get
another paper to-morrow." As I spoke I put it in
my pocket. He was very young.
Mrs. Slaney bustled into the room, her eyes
" The unfortunate man ! They'll murder him
before he reaches the Castle. She's taken it
wonderfully ; but what else would you expect from
an Irish woman ? Did you hear that man talking
to me ? The brutality of him. But he couldn't
frighten me. Can you let me have a scarf ? It's
such a cold night, and I promised Mrs. Fitzgerald
to let her husband have mine ; but it's a long way
I got Himself 's own scarf, and followed after her
as she bustled downstairs with it. Preparations
for departure were going forward. I heard Mrs.
O'Grady sniffing in the dark under the stairs.
" Ready ? " said the man in charge.
I could just hear Mr. Fitzgerald's answer. Mrs.
Fitzgerald tucked his neck with eager fingers.
She followed him to the step.
HIS TEA 169
The clutches grated as the lorries turned. The
armoured car rolled after them. In a minute it
was all dark again outside.
I went to the basement to find what Mrs.O'Grady
was doing. She was in tears on a chair near the
" I'll never get over this night, at all, at all.
And him with his lovely hair and his beautiful
smile; him that will be dead before morning. It's
lucky you are. It's you have your scarf round the
neck of a fine young Irishman, and O'Grady's is
there, too, for I gave it to him last thing. Sure, but
I do be glad he's finished his dinner, it's the last
dinner he'll take maybe. And there's his tea, not
half drunk in his cup, just as he left it. I hadn't
it in me heart to throw it away. It's black trouble
has been brought on us all, and it's blacker will
She rose from her chair and produced a box of
matches from some mysterious pocket, and lighted
the gas stove for me.
"God help him!" she exclaimed. "There's
WINTER WEARS OUT
OUR road came in for a spell of peace after the
departure of the Minister of Propaganda. From
time to time other houses up and down the way
had been looked up by the Crown Forces ; but for
a while the neighbourhood seemed to pass out of
the public eye, and the lorries rolled down other
I had been out when the Auxiliaries made their
call, and I returned to find a gaping congregation
at the mouth of our street, and outside our house
the glaring headlights of an armoured car, and two
great shadowy lorries, which were rilling up again
with men. As I reached the door, a neighbour, on
tiptoe with excitement, called from her top door-
step, " They've raided your house again, and
they've taken a man out of it."
I had come as the curtain was falling. The
engines of the lorries were humming, and first one
lorry moved off and then the next, and the armoured
car rolled on their heels. In a few moments the
street, which had been filled with noise, became
SPREADING THE NEWS 171
quiet again, heads went in from windows, and
people retreated from doorsteps.
But our door remained open, and on the top
step, in the hall light, stood a little group of
women : Mrs. Slaney, upright and defiant, Mrs.
Fitzgerald gazing wistfully into the dark, and my
" What do you think of this ? " Mrs. Slaney
demanded, turning terribly upon me as I came up
the steps. " Any honest Englishman must blush
for what his Government does."
While I was searching for a happy answer, Mrs.
Fitzgerald said something which gave me a peep
into her mind.
"If it weren't for the work," she said, " it's a
good thing in some ways that this has happened.
There was always the chance he might be shot in
the street. He's safer where he is. And he
wanted a rest."
" There you are, Mabel," said a voice, and Miss
Gavan Duffy, sister of the Sinn Fein Ambassador
to Rome, came up the steps.
" They've just taken him," Mrs. Fitzgerald said.
" I heard," Miss Gavan Duffy answered, making
me wonder at the speed at which news travelled
Mrs. Fitzgerald had become all energy. " I
shall have to go down and let the newspapers
know," she said. " They'll have it in to-morrow
morning like that. Once it's in the papers the
Castle people are less likely to do anything to him."
172 WINTER WEARS OUT
" I expect he'll be all right, Mabel," Miss Gavan
Duffy suggested. " There's not much time for
you before Curfew."
" Are you expecting anything to happen to
him?" I asked.
Mrs. Fitzgerald turned in my direction. " It
will be all right if I let the papers know he has been
taken. The Castle people can't deny things then.
It's on the way to the Castle and during interroga-
tion that our people sometimes come in for a bad
time. Once they are properly lodged they are all
right. Desmond will probably be interrogated
to-night. There is a captain " I forget now what
name she said " who was wounded in the war and
seems to be a degenerate. He takes a delight in
torturing our people. Desmond may come before
him to-night. It makes a difference whom our
boys go before when they are up for interrogation."
Before the night was much older, I believe Mrs.
Fitzgerald, true to her word, was on her way down
town to hand in her news at the newspaper offices.
We saw very little of her at first after that
evening. She lived underneath us with a nurse
and the infant son, Fergus. There were two other
boys at school.
There was no more tireless worker in the
Republican cause. She worked all day, and for
a while after her husband went she worked all
night keeping his propaganda work up to date,
I suppose. Mrs. O'Grady, kneeling on a piece of
newspaper before our sitting-room fire of a morning,
A REPUBLICAN 173
would sniff and say, " That woman's light is never
out. That woman's writing there all night. She'll
kill herself if she doesn't mind. She's that pale
each morning she looks like a ghost. And what
now, if the Black-and-Tans come back again and
find what she's got there ? "
" Och, Mrs. O'Grady, indade and these do be
terrible times," I would answer.
When Mrs. Fitzgerald was not at work below
she was in the streets, hurrying, no doubt on the
business of the Republic, from house to house.
She never walked, she went always at a trot. She
seemed always behind time, always at the end of
her tether ; always ready for any new work that
might have to be done. If all she did in a day
were well done, she must have been one of the most
useful members of the Cumann na mBan.
Yet, as was the case with numerous other
prominent women, the British Government never
took steps to put an end to her activities, though
it was common knowledge that as the men were
taken, the work fell more and more upon the
shoulders of women.
For days after her husband's arrest, Mrs.
Fitzgerald kept very much to herself, partly, no
doubt, because of her press of work, partly because
her work was confidential ; but also, I think,
because she was sensitive and loth to intrude.
In the beginning it was " Good morning," if we
passed in the hall or in the street ; then she came
up one day to get the address of some publishers
174 WINTER WEARS OUT
for her husband's plays, and so the acquaintance
made headway. One evening, on some errand or
other, I penetrated for the first time into her
She was reading at the table in the small circle
of light cast by the lamp, and she looked immensely
lonely. It was as though there was just the circle
of light where she sat reading, and outside that the
dark the dark room with high lights here and there
on the bookcases, the dark city in a greater circle
outside, and encircling the city the darkness one
felt resting over the land, over the troubled world
for that matter. I do not know if she felt as I felt
about this, she looked as lonely as any creature I
I cannot recall whether we had said " good
evening" we had said no more than that when
furiously, wildly on the silence, a volley of shots
burst out near Stephen's Green, abruptly as light
flashing out of darkness. The shooting continued
for several seconds, seconds which any one unused
to shooting would have reckoned as minutes, and
then wore out in the customary fashion, odd
shots coming from a greater and greater distance,
as if a running fight was moving away from us.
Mrs. Fitzgerald threw up her head, not in fear,
hardly with a startled movement ; but as though
hearing the battle afar off, the thunders of the
captains and the shouting. I forget what we said
at the end of the shooting, remarks were fatuous in
the circumstances ; but in those moments I had
seen more clearly than ever before the stupendous
waste of energy caused by man not having learned
to work in harmony with man.
If ever there had been an attempt to reach the
truth of the Irish story, that effort had long ago
been expended. Nobody wanted the truth now,
neither Loyalist nor Republican, and it was difficult
to remain in Ireland and be a bystander. It was
necessary to take up the cudgels for one side or the
other, and to lie for the side you chose.
That honest men were to be found holding to
either opinion, and that rogues were to be found
holding to either opinion was as absolutely a fact
as that there had just been firing going on ; but
neither man, woman, nor child desired such an
unpalatable truth. It suited the Republicans to
label all members of the Crown Forces as jailbirds
and assassins, to state this for propaganda purposes
at the tops of their voices, to bludgeon themselves
into believing it to be the case.
It suited the Loyalists to call the Irish Volunteers
a murder gang, though the long resistance of the
Republican army, and the numbers enlisted in the
ranks had long confounded this statement. It
suited Loyalists to hypnotise themselves into this
belief, otherwise they might have stopped short
with their mouths open in the middle of a shout,
and demanded of one another was there not some
justice in the Republican cause.
Faugh ! a man grows cynical if he contemplates
too long this state of things, and asks himself what
176 WINTER WEARS OUT
is any controversy other than a handful of thinking
men leading a mob against a second handful of
thinking men leading a mob, and the mob some
blundering animal which can be made wild or tame
as it is stroked or beaten. Never is it fed with the
Yet fundamentally all men are the same.
Those Black-and-Tans, those Auxiliary Police
who had been shopping in Grafton Street at Christ-
mas, went shopping in armoured lorries, and when
the lorry stopped at the shop door, and the shoppers
went inside, guards with rifles were posted in the
street. Such trouble and risks did these people
take that their wives, their children, and their
friends should be remembered at this time.
And no doubt the Republican Volunteers, such
of them as were lying out on the bleak hillsides,
such of them as frequently had to retreat into caves,
turned in thought at Christmas to such gentle
things as mothers, lovers, wives, and children and
their toys. A few months after this struggle was
done, the " murder gang " and " Hamar Green-
wood's assassins " would be living as friends again.
Waste ! Waste !
Looking at this woman who sat here so lonely,
who once must have been pretty and still was good-
looking, with the light from the lamp falling upon
her fair hair, which was neither gold nor brown nor
red nor auburn, but a blend of those colours, I felt
the pity of the fact that she was using her energies
against the British nation instead of with it.
WASTE! WASTE! 177
She had chosen the thorny instead of the smooth
path of life, for I understand she had been reared in
easy circumstances ; she had borne three children
during her difficulties, she had witnessed raid and
arrest, she had had her furniture and clothes
destroyed, and she had had to do battle for herself
and her children while her husband was in prison.
She was tireless in helping on the Republic, which
was her creed, and she never complained. She
was only one of others like herself.
All day long and all night long the lorries and
the armoured cars rolled up and down the streets,
and the patrols of armed men tramped round the
corners Loyalist energy to meet this Republican
energy. What waste that the two energies should
be employed against each other !
Or is it that the gods have longer vision
than mortal men, and afflict man with an
idea that, like rain upon a plant, difficulty
shall water his spirit, and it shall sprout and
flourish ? Is it that men live and live again, the
spirit working in matter and mastering it life by
life ? If this be so there seems a plan in confusion,
use in wasted effort, hope in hopelessness.
The acquaintance with Mrs. Fitzgerald grew,
though circumstance set limits upon it. Her work
kept her to herself. All sorts of people used to
call, and I do not doubt some of them were of
interest to the British authorities. Once she must
have held a meeting of some importance, because
a picket, who seemed to have cross eyes, stood
178 WINTER WEARS OUT
outside the house and glared at me when I came
home, and I thought he was there to assassinate me.
But though we never shared the secrets of her
work, the acquaintance grew, and she gave us peeps
into her life,
She was an out-and-out Republican, and con-
templated nothing short of the Republic. I was
sure she was doomed to disappointment, and hinted
this once. She answered :
" It we do not get a Republic at the end of this,
there will always be a Republican party, and I shall
belong to it. We will never give up the Republic."
A minute later she said an illuminating thing.
>4 We are not in sympathy with England. We
would sooner make an alliance with some country
Although she held extreme views and had
suffered for them, I found her far less bitter in her
statements about the enemy than the sympathisers
who gave sympathy as a sole contribution to the
movement. She spoke of the Crown Forces in a
professional manner as part of the obstacles to be
got out of the way. She would have shown them
no mercy ; but she bore them no more rancour
than was necessary. She was used to dealing with
them, knew all the tricks of the trade, and made
use of her advantages.
This same Mrs. Fitzgerald, I came to find out,
mother of three children, woman of so many duties
that she went at a jog-trot in the streets, this Mrs.
Fitzgerald was a most romantic person. Her first
DAY AND NIGHT 179
hero had been Padraig Pierce, a leader of the 1916
Rising, and she had called one of her boys after
him. The man to fill his place was Michael Collins,
Mick as she called him, the Republican Minister of
Finance, who used to be spoken of as "a certain
minister," the phrase whispered from person to
person, as if his name spoken aloud would blast the
lips that uttered it.
She spoke quite simply of being battered from
pillar to post, of having her household gods damaged,
of doing without them, of the frequent difficulty of
getting a roof over her head, yet I believe she
thought wistfully now and then of the fleshpots she
had given up for the Republic. She reminded me
of those women who have been drudges for the sake
of their children, and who point fiercely at what
they have produced when some scented, jewelled
creature passes by.
I have spoken of her at length, because she
represented a type of Irish woman whose sincerity
and generosity could not be denied.
Seldom a day went by without sound of ex-
plosion near or far, seldom a night went through
without shooting, it might be an intermittent shot
or two or a sudden volley breaking out wildly on
the quiet, followed by desultory shooting, growing
fainter as the exchange of shots passed down
It was too early yet for the weather to be chari-
table, for days to lengthen appreciably or nights to
shorten ; but one had the fancy that the sun was
180 WINTER WEARS OUT
on the way back from happier lands, and when it
returned peace might come with it, that honourable
peace without which neither side would stay a hand,
that honourable peace which seemed so impossible
to conceive and to bring about.
It was a case of wish being father to the thought,
for matters were continuing to go from bad to worse.
The Republican Volunteers appeared to be adopting
a bolder policy, and some of the skirmishes which
took place deserved the name. From the private
citizen's point of view, the situation had become a
great deal worse. Volunteers had taken to am-
bushing the military lorries in the streets, and this
method of campaign was the last drop in the cup
of woe of the peace-loving person.
The arguments the Republicans put forward for
this step were sufficiently sound in their way.
They declared the enemy used the streets on their
work of raid and arrest, and obtained special pro-
tection. Where the Republican policy was most
open to criticism was in the fact that the Volunteers
made flagrant use of the protection afforded by the
The Volunteers could have operated in deserted
places, the outlying streets and so on ; but such a
course increased personal risks. There was greater
likelihood of discovery from loitering, there was
more chance of coming under the return fire from
police lorries, and the neighbouring getaways would
not be good. When a busy street was decided on,
it was chosen for its escapes, for the opportunities
THE CITY AMBUSHES 181
afforded the ambushers of mingling with the crowd
until the chosen moment, and thirdly, because, after
the attack, the Volunteers could become the crowd
again, and the ambushed troops would not know
where to shoot.
In nine cases out of ten it was the inoffensive
citizen who paid the penalty of other people's
political views. In the exchange of fire some
harassed bystander was generally brought to the
ground. Finally, public nerves were so stretched
that sudden explosions brought about stampedes,
and it is on record that the backfire of a motor-
cycle caused women near at hand to faint.
The climax was the Grafton Street ambush,
when sixteen passers were wounded by bomb
splinters. There were no casualties among the
police, and the ambushers got away unscathed.
It is possible in the beginning there were more
casualties among the Crown Forces than were
acknowledged ; but casualties on either side were
few. On the heels of the weapon of offence follows
always the defensive weapon. It was not long
before stout wire netting, sloped at such an angle
that bombs aimed at the lorries rolled off on to the
ground, was stretched over the tops of the lorries.
" Chook, chook, chook ! " cried the rebel children
as the police flew by, and the following mot went
the rounds of Dublin, " The Boers put them in
khaki, the Germans put the tin hats on them ; but
it took the Sinn Feiners to put them into cages."
" Four years, five years," Mrs. Erskine Childers
182 WINTER WEARS OUT
said to me one day, " our people can carry on like
this, and by that time England will have experienced
a social upheaval and Ireland will have come into
In truth, the Irish people would never be over-
come by this glorified police hunt. Though the
leaders might be netted one by one, others would
spring up like wheat in their places. Where one
man went down another would rise up. Old women
of seventy carried the guns to the Volunteers in the
fields. Children as high as one's hip acted as spies
and messengers. The nation was in travail, but
the nation was exalted. The military force which
the British Government saw fit to use could only
bleed, it could not kill.
MRS. O'GRADY'S FOREBODINGS
MRS. O'GRADY rose from the ashes in the fender
one morning, and balancing herself so that she
threw her minimum weight on her bad leg, said :
" They do be saying that poor Mike Collins is
" Michael Collins ! "
" Himself. I was after hearing it from my
priest, who knows the priest who attended him."
" But, if he is dead, why should they hide it ? "
" And why should they tell ? Mike's given the
Government a long run for him sure enough, and
faith they're running still. But he's dead and
buried for all that under another name." She
sniffed and lowered her voice. " People do be
saying as how all those officers were shot for him,
and there'll be worse to come."
" I don't believe he's dead. It would surely
" Nothing slips out in Ireland if it's not wanted
to. If it's never to come out that Mike's dead it
never will. And why should the Irish people be
184 MRS. O'GRADY'S FOREBODINGS
after giving the Government the satisfaction of
knowing they killed him ? But it's a wonderful
little island, Ireland is ! You never saw the like."
" No, I never really did," I said with all earnest-
" And you never will."
I watched the door close behind her. Of course,
Michael Collins was not dead. Then what did
Sinn Fein mean by throwing dust in the eyes of
the public through the mouths of the priests ?
The door opened and Mrs. O'Grady returned
with a duster.
"There's another thing," she began. "We
don't know all that is going on, nor half. Things
will be worse before they're better. God help us,
they're bad enough now. And the mistress is mad,
too, she wants the house noticed. Sure, she'll get
all the notice she wants, and more." She became
" What do you mean ? "
" What I can't say. And there's men always
after watching this house. There's Black-and-Tans
in civies in the road this very minute."
" How do you know they're Black-and-Tans ? "
" Polly Pluck knows them all. She lives just
behind Beggars Bush Barracks. There are spies
everywhere, and you never know who you're
" That's quite true. You be very careful,
" Me ? The Irish are born careful. They need
MRS. O'GRADY IS PRUDENT 185
to be. The best known saying round these parts
is never trust the heels of a horse, the horns of a
bull, or the smile of an Englishman. And it's
true." She came near, flourishing her duster and
peering at me. " It's been on me mind to tell
you, for I sez to Polly Pluck, the lady what has the
drawing-room flat has more brains than the lot of
us put together, and it's she will know what
" Well," I said, " go on, Mrs. O'Grady."
She shuffled. " Bedad, I may keep me thoughts
to meself, as O'Grady was after saying only last
night. The fewest knows, the least harm, sez he,
and it's himself is mostly always right."
" Something Mrs. Slaney has been doing, I
suppose ? "
She tiptoed to the door, looked out, shut it
carefully and then came back to me, looking as
mysterious as an ostrich which is about to bury its
head in the sand.
" No, I don't trust the mistress that far," she
declared, waving her arm. " But it's meself that
I keep me thoughts to. She's up to something,
and if you'd seen what I've seen in this very house,
you'd know it too. And it's Polly Pluck who
knows it. She's a smart little girl, is Polly ; but
I don't trust her. Blowing hot first and then cold,
and first this way and then that, walking out one
week with a Black-and-Tan and the next with a
Shinner. If you can't be for one side, I sez, for
land's sake be for the other, and don't go chopping
186 MRS. O'GRADY'S FOREBODINGS
and changing like a cock with no head. But do
you think she'll listen. Not she."
" Why do you stay here, Mrs. O'Grady, if it's
so dangerous ? "
44 It suits me," she declared. " I could leave
to-morrow and get a place where you'd be proud
to eat your dinner off the floors, and a kitchen,
mind you, that I wouldn't mind living me life in ;
but this suits me."
" I think you are very stupid to stay."
44 1 do be, mum, I do be. But it suits me.
I've had me fortunes too."
44 Really ? "
44 Yes, mum. Real fortunes. The first I spent
going to Killarney. I stayed at the best hotel.
Och, and a grand evening dress and all to me back.
I had peaches, not sixpenny peaches, but peaches
worth four or five shillings, and my sister, who
hasn't spent a penny of hers yet, called me a fool.
I may be a fool, and she may feel a lady with her
money in the bank ; but she'll never feel as I did
in that evening dress."
44 What happened to the other fortune ? "
44 1 bought a burying ground with it. My
father had a burying ground, but there was only
room for one more in it, so me brother having the
name, we thought he should have it. I was afraid
O'Grady would put me anywhere, and I wouldn't
like that. I'm come from Brian Boru. though you
wouldn't think it to look at me now, but there was
a time when I was as particular as yourself about
ENTER MRS. SLANEY 187
me boots and gloves." She sighed. " Well, I can
rest easy, and I have my grave, and room in it for
O'Grady, too, though I've seen as much of him as
I want in life, and that's the truth."
Himself came into the room brisk for a walk.
" Well, Mrs. O'Grady," he said cheerfully, " so
O'Grady was ambushed last night ? "
44 Indeed, and he was, sir." Mrs. O'Grady
stopped as she spoke, and tweeked a chair cover
straight. 44 It shook him."
44 Terrible times, Mrs. O'Grady."
44 They do be terrible times. Sure, but we're
used to terrible times in Ireland. It was the same
when I was a girl, and before I was a girl. Why,
my grandfather was murdered out there on the
Wicklow Hills. There was terrible times then.
It's me mother I've heard tell of them over and
over again. Never trust the English, she said, and
I never have, no, not the length of me arm, nor my
children either. Ah, well you don't have to go
streeling the streets for news in Ireland."
There was a tap at the door, which made us all
jump, and the next minute Mrs. Slaney bustled
into the room.
44 Mrs. O'Grady, I've called you three times,
what are you doing ? "
44 I'm after taking the orders for dinner."
44 You won't mind if I take Mrs. O'Grady away,
I'm sure," she said. 44 You're going out, I see.
Are you going near the Electric Light Company's
offices ? It would save me a trip. No ? Grafton
188 MRS. O'GRADY'S FOREBODINGS
Street ? Now, I wonder if you would buy me a
sixpenny saucepan at Woolworth's. Mrs. O'Grady
burnt my little cocoa saucepan last night."
She hurried from the room, Mrs. O'Grady going
"Well," said Himself, "I thought you were
going to refuse any more errands ? "
" She didn't give me time to answer."
Mrs. Slaney bustled into the room again.
" Excuse me coming in again. Father Murphy
is coming to-night. He has just come back from
Cork, and has met a priest who came from the
place where Father Griffin was murdered. I have
asked him to meet a woman who is interested in
the Peace with Ireland League. I'd like you to
come to-night, too, you might find it interesting.
The Peace with Ireland League is going to do
wonderful work. Lady Bange brought out a
splendid pamphlet. Just plain facts ; but the
Government suppressed it. That's freedom and
justice. That's England's way of protecting small
nations. Monstrous ! Now, I'll not keep you any
longer. You won't forget the saucepan ? "
She trotted out of the room,
TO DUBLIN CASTLE
MRS. O'GRADY'S forebodings were to prove them-
selves only too true. The fatal evening came at
the end of an April day when the Crown Forces
made a great haul of propaganda in Molesworth
Street. Rumour had it they had penetrated into a
basement and found there the temporary offices of
the Irish Bulletin, the official organ of Sinn Fein.
Six typewriters and two tons of literature to do
with propaganda were borne off in triumph to the
Castle. Rumour also had it that Barrel Figgis had
incriminated himself to his beard. A neighbour
received word over the telephone that Figgis's
flat had been raided, his typewriter smashed, the
bindings of some of his books destroyed. Figgis
had gone on the run, and warning came to us to get
anything seditious out of the house, as it was likely
to be raided for him at any time. By five in the
evening Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald had got all her
stuff away, a man carrying it off in a sack through
There was more of winter than spring these
190 TO DUBLIN CASTLE
days, as one knew as soon as it got dark. We were
sitting after dinner as close up to the fire as we
could get when at our sitting-room door came the
knock which we knew better than Poe ever knew
the knock of his raven.
" Come in," I said, and stood bowing by the
The door opened, and Mrs. Slaney entered.
" I thought you might like this morning's paper,"
she said, smiling from one to the other of us.
She joined us on the sofa, and took one of my
cigarettes. Silence reigned until she had had a puff
or two, and then she broke it.
"It is perfectly monstrous what those brutes
did this morning to Mr. Figgis. They have raided
his flat four times to-day. They wantonly destroyed
his typewriter, and I hear they have damaged the
backs of a number of his books. He has such a
choice library. A most cultured, refined man."
" I suppose they smashed his typewriter because
he used it for seditious work, and they probably
pulled the backs off his books to see if he had any-
thing hidden behind. They often get information
that way," I suggested.
" Nonsense, they take a pleasure in wanton
" What's that ? "
There came into the street the noise of powerful
engines. In two or three seconds the sound had
risen to a loudness which filled every empty space.
We threw up our heads, and Mrs. Slaney flushed.
RAIDED AGAIN 191
I went to the window, drew the blind aside, and
peered into the dark. Under the window there
were blinding shafts of light from acetylene lamps,
and pitch dark everywhere else. Two lorries had
drawn up to the door, and men were leaping
" They've come again," Mrs. Slaney exclaimed,
her hand on her heart. " They're after Mr. Figgis."
There were two lorries, one a bomb-proof affair
like a chicken coop, and the other unlike a chicken
coop. Before Mrs. Slaney had stopped there came
a thunderous knock on the door.
I held the door open for her, and she bustled
out of the room and down the stairs. For a moment
her voice dominated everything in the hall, and
then it was lost in the noise of many men tramping
into the hall and bounding up the ancient stairs.
I made a dive for my MS.
" They'll be coming in here," I said. " It'll be
a beastly nuisance if they disarrange things. I
wouldn't be surprised if they found Figgis upstairs,
only he'd be a fool to come."
I had got the MS. in a bundle when the door
was thrown open, and men covered with guns
poured in. This was only a tributary of the main
river, which continued to flow into the upper reaches
of the house.
" What's your name ? "
I gave my name. " This lady is my wife."
" Where's Figgis ? "
" Haven't seen him for months."
192 TO DUBLIN CASTLE
" He was here last night."
" Was he ? "
44 Are you a friend of Michael Collins ? "
" Haven't met him yet."
Suddenly the tributary left off questioning and
joined the main stream, in which, through the open
door, I caught sight of several acquaintances who
had visited the house on other occasions. We
finished tidying the valuable things, so that if the
rooms were searched we could show what was there.
Then a terrible man in khaki, the man in khaki who
was always in charge of the job, climbed the stairs.
He looked redder, fiercer, and more morose than
ever. He stalked in and looked us up and down.
" What's your name ? "
I gave my name. " This is my wife."
44 Are you Irish ? "
44 What are you doing in Ireland ? "
44 We came over on business."
44 What business ? "
44 1 had a scheme of child adoption I hoped to
get going," said my wife.
" Where is it ? " he demanded, as if we would
pull it out of our pockets.
44 It was a frail plant," I answered, 44 and is
now no more. First the Catholics came, and said
to me, will you please be giving up that work for
its after converting our children to Protestantism
you are. Then the Protestants came and said they
to me, will you be after giving that up, please, for
A NEW ACQUAINTANCE 198
it's converting our children to Rome you have in
mind. The plant was frail and it died."
" Why didn't you go home ? "
" We stopped to write a book."
He grunted and said, " What do you write ? "
I showed him the MS. on the table. " This is
some of our stuff."
He came across and took up some of it, and
looked through it as if he thought very little of it.
He flopped it down on the table and stalked out on
to the landing, and called down the stairs in a great
" Hi, two more of you fellows come up here.
There seems to be the only man in the house in this
room, and not a damn one of you looking after
A good-looking, refined and most dapper little
man answered this request. He came into the
room and, finding a woman there, seemed consider-
ably embarrassed. He began a perfunctory search
of our belongings ; but when the man in khaki
went to the top of the house, he looked behind a
picture or two and sank into a chair.
The door had been shut. A depressing silence
fell. The little man in the chair was the neatest
Auxiliary I ever saw, and in spite of the rake of his
Balmoral bonnet might have appeared in any
drawing-room. By his voice he was quite well bred.
" I'm fed up with this job," he announced,
breaking the strained silence, and giving my wife
the benefit of most of his attention, " but I've had
194 TO DUBLIN CASTLE
no say in it. I'm a major in the Regular Army in
India and came home on leave, and then they
bunged me over here, and made me join up in the
Auxiliaries. I sent for my wife then, and we were
among the people called on by the Shinners on the
November Sunday. I was out, and they insulted
and intimidated my wife, who was going to have a
child. She has been semi-paralysed since, and I'm
waiting to do in one or two Shinners before returning
" There's a catch in that story somewhere," I
thought, and the result of my scepticism was that
we all sank into another silence, hearing only the
movement of many people trampling overhead.
There seemed a great deal of talking below, and
occasionally the high, quick voice of Mrs. Fitzgerald.
I knew they would find it a case of Mother Hubbard
with her, unless some brilliant searcher of seditious
papers had discovered the secret of the infant
Fergus. But let that secret rest !
Presently the trampling seemed to be getting
louder, and coming down from the top of the house.
Was Mrs. Slaney coming down in chains ? The
door was thrown open, it was the habit of these
people to throw a door wide open so that nobody
could shoot from behind it, and in stalked our
morose acquaintance in khaki. Behind him I saw
two men staggering downstairs with a portmanteau,
and thought, " Begad, they've captured some-
thing." But there was no Mrs. Slaney in chains.
Our friend stuck his legs apart, balanced on
A FIND 195
them, and said, after looking round the room, " You
had better put a coat on. It's a cold night."
This made me look up. " Eh ? " I said.
" You're coming with us," he answered.
" Coming with you ? "
" We've found ammunition in the house," he
announced, " and we're taking every man in the
" Ammunition ? "
" Oh yes, you know nothing about it, of course.
It was in Mrs. Slaney's bedroom."
" But I'm a married man," I expostulated.
" How am I likely to know what's in Mrs. Slaney's
bedroom ? "
A brief three-handed conversation, in which my
wife joined, took place, and at the end of it I sub-
mitted to fate, and wrapped myself in my oldest
overcoat. The last of the party had tramped
down the stairs. The raid was over.
Mrs. Slaney came in looking double her size
" You've got me into trouble now, Mrs. Slaney,"
I said, or something to that effect. " They've
found your ammunition, and they're taking me to
" Monstrous ! " she exclaimed. " Iniquitous !
Just a few war trophies." She turned on our
morose friend. " I swear to you I did not know
what those things were."
" You mean to tell me you don't know bullets ? "
196 TO DUBLIN CASTLE
He turned away from her and grunted at me,
" Come along." Mrs. Slaney marched out of the
Finishing my toilet with a scarf, I followed in
the descent, the man in khaki, our dapper guard,
and my wife making up the rear. The front door
was open, and all the cold and dark in the world
were coming in through it. The black of outside
was blacker because of the lorry lights, and the
said lorries were now cranked up and humming to
be off. Men were climbing into them by the back.
The hall had emptied of raiders. At the bottom
of the stairs we found Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Slaney,
and a tearful Mrs. O'Grady standing in a circle like
chickens come round a trough, and in the middle of
them, miserable as a whippet in the wind, O'Grady
in a bowler and a threadbare overcoat. They had
plunged into the bowels of the house and captured
him. There was no check in the tide and I seemed
to be passing through the hall and down the steps
like a boat passing an island. There were upraised
women's voices. Mrs. Fitzgerald was quite col-
lected and giving advice. My wife was ordering
me to wrap up. Mrs. O'Grady was calling upon
the saints to help her poor man.
Mrs. Slaney had the last word. " Iniquitous ! "
she exclaimed in my ear, as I was looking for the
top step. " But now you will be able to see for
yourself what our splendid young men are
experiencing every day."
As I have said there were two lorries, one like
A LATE CALL 197
a chicken coop and the other unlike a chicken coop.
We were told to get into the chicken coop. This I
at least was most agreeable to do, as I had no
desire to be a target of homeless Sinn Feiners.
Then with a flourish we were away under the eyes
of many interested people hanging from upper
windows. We raced through the deserted streets.
It had been raining, and the roads shone wherever
the lamps fell upon them.
We were the second car. There seemed in our
lorry two sorts of seats, a bad sort, and a worse
sort, wooden planks resting on boxes, and rolls
of wire. We sat, about a dozen all told, on these
things, and except for O'Grady and myself, every
man had a rifle and about three guns apiece. At
the end of a minute we were about to fly down
Grafton Street, when the front car came to a halt
and began to run round. This time it took the
lead down Kildare Street, and we after it, and we
all came to a stop this side of the ruined Maples
Hotel, at No 29, which was Barrel Figgis's flat.
" They're after him," I thought. " They are
very optimistic people."
Figgis's flat was under the roof, and there was
no light burning. Half the Auxiliaries left the
lorries, filed up the steps, and a great banging began
at the door. The sound echoed down the streets.
Then a light appeared at the top of the house, the
window opened, and a woman in a nightgown
leaned out. I thought it was Mrs. Figgis ; but it
turned out to be Mrs. Coneray, president of the
198 TO DUBLIN CASTLE
Woman's Franchise League. The knocking never
ceased, the figure above disappeared, and presently
the door opened, and the Auxiliaries were swallowed
up in the dark of the passage.
There followed a long wait in the cold.
Suddenly a man at my side leapt round like a
cat spotting a mouse. Everybody waked up.
" A man ran across the road just then," he called
out. " At the mouth of Molesworth Street. I
swear he did."
One or two Auxiliaries mooched backwards and
forwards across the road with their rifles under
their arms. One of these, with his rifle at the ready,
went as far as the corner of Molesworth Street ;
but he came back saying there was nothing to see.
There was another wait, which was shortened by a
small chatty individual who came up to our lorry
and began to talk to me through the wire netting.
He chatted like an old acquaintance.
" We took Desmond Fitzgerald," he said, in
the pleasantest fashion. " A bad house that."
" Is it ? " I answered.
" Figgis was there lately," he went on.
" So I am told. I never saw him."
" Why are you there ? "
" I don't appear to be there just now."
" Why don't you move ? "
" No need to. You've done it for me."
The door opened, and the Auxiliaries came
filing out. Never a word was said. They climbed
into the lorries, and we began to tear round the
THE JOURNEY DONE 199
corners at the previous breakneck speed. Soon
we were racing past Trinity and the Bank of
Ireland. In the middle of College Green an
armoured car was at work with a searchlight,
turning the beam slowly across the face of Trinity,
lighting up the windows one after another. Not a
fly could have crawled unnoticed upon that surface.
We took no notice of them, nor they of us. For a
minute we were racing along Dame Street, and then
with a sweep we were turning in to the Castle Gate,
the great doors were pulled apart, and we were at
a standstill within the Castle Yard.
INSIDE THE CASTLE
IN a few seconds the lorries were empty and every-
body was disappearing into the dark. A voice had
cried out, " Come along, boys, the bar's open for
Not everybody succumbed to the magic of those
words, for O'Grady and I were led away to the left
to a place which must have been a guardroom.
The spell of the army was upon everything. There
were endless unbrushed passages as a start, and
everybody we came upon seemed to come to life
suddenly, and to wave us on to somebody else.
In the guardroom we were delivered over to
The room was of no special size, shape or
description, and had only one attraction, which
was a fire. The windows were sandbagged. There
was a table at which a strenuous Auxiliary sat
writing; two other Auxiliaries nodded over the
fire ; and to one side of the room were three baths,
and in each bath slumbered an Auxiliary. On some
biscuits, not the edible kind, on the floor slept
two young prisoners. The strenuous Auxiliary
TO BED 201
reluctantly put down his pen. The two men
nodding at the fire watched out of an eye each.
As a start we were prodded all over for arms
and seditious documents, and I was told to give up
" Any money in it ? " demanded the strenuous
Auxiliary, as I was passing it over.
" Thirty bob, I think," I answered.
" Well, count it and see," he ordered, " or
you'll say we pinched it."
I counted it and handed him the pocket-
book, which he went through page by page, asking
me to explain every likely-looking sentence.
Finally he slapped it back at me on the table. He
waved a hand at some dirty biscuits and dirtier
blankets, which were stacked in a corner.
" You can take some of those," he said, " and
doss on the floor."
I nodded to show I was grateful for the favour,
and O'Grady and I explored these biscuits. I
wondered if O'Grady had ever been in as bad
straits before. I had had to put up with all sorts
of beds in my life, beds on the bare earth, beds on
the rolling sea, most bitter barren beds ; but they
had not taught me to be friendly to the colour of
these blankets. However, O'Grady seemed to find
what he wanted, took off his boots, put his hard
hat on top of them, rolled up just as he had been
standing, and was asleep before I had made a first
choice. Before long the men nodding by the fire
came across. .
202 INSIDE THE CASTLE
" The old un's got down to it quickly," one of
them said with admiration. " The old dog for the
" You can doss by the fire there," the other one
said to me, jerking his hand to a place by the side
of the fire.
I took him at his word and emigrated with two
blankets which seemed to have known fewer
generations of Sinn Feiners than any of the others.
I grew more friendly with them as gradually I
became warm and sleepy.
But I never quite fell asleep, and though it was
late when I lay down, what remained of the night
was ages long.
It was a very restless place. People came in
and out, cheery people, people in evening dress who
had dined well, people in uniform who seemed to
have nothing to do and no desire for bed. Now
one Auxiliary arose out of his bath like Lazarus
come out of his tomb ; now a second sprang up
like a jack-in-the-box and the first sank back again.
All the while the strenuous Auxiliary continued to
write, and to this day I believe he was at work
upon his reminiscences. Finally, an Auxiliary, who
had arisen from his bath and not gone back again,
started an argument with the strenuous Auxiliary
about who burned Cork. He was serious and
anxious to get at the truth. They produced paper
and worked at the answer with a will.
The Auxiliary from the bath proved there were
only a small number of his fraternity in Cork at
THE AUXILIARY AT HOME 203
the time, and that most of them, including himself,
were in hospital having pieces of bomb taken out
of them. He said there were over four thousand
soldiers in Cork, and God knew how many Shinners,
and it was either the military or the I.R.A. ; but
the Auxiliaries were blameless. This argument
lasted a very long time, and caused books to be
tossed about, and feet to be shuffled, and other
things to happen unconducive to sleep, and it must
have worn out the Auxiliary from the bath, for at
the end of it he sank into his bath again like a
corpse sinking into a grave. The strenuous
Auxiliary returned to his writing.
The Auxiliaries who lived in the baths were thin
Auxiliaries ; there was a stout Auxiliary dozing
on a chair on the farther side of the fire. He was
middle-aged, and had something of the look of a
father of a family ; but there was never a moment
when he was not picturesque, with his rifle at his
hand and his Balmoral bonnet on his head.
Whatever might be one's feelings towards these
men, there was no denying they were a fine type
active, young, for the most part in splendid physical
condition, and most romantically dressed. I kept
on dozing and coming to again, coming to and dozing,
for I would suddenly be aware of everything of
the room full of miscellaneous and dreary things,
of the sandbagged window with the Lewis gun in
position, of the men nodding on their arms, of the
two young prisoners rolled up in one blanket, of
O'Grady dreaming of Mrs. Slaney's basement, and
204 INSIDE THE CASTLE
of the kindly fire next door to me leaping up the
chimney and then all would pass away again.
About breakfast time everybody awakened. I
sat up blinking with my tongue sticking to the roof
of my mouth, O'Grady felt himself all over and put
on his boots, the youthful prisoners came to, and
the Auxiliaries emerged from their baths and stayed
Breakfast came in ham and eggs in a pile, and
pyramids of bread. These encouraging things
began to disappear down the throats of the
Auxiliaries ; but half-way through the feast some-
body heartened us a little by announcing we would
get something later on. And in time we found
ourselves sitting down to ham and immense wedges
of bread and butter. While we ate somebody
cleaned the Lewis gun, pointing the muzzle at the
pit of my stomach. The last wedge of ham was
eaten, and that was the end of whatever good time
O'Grady and I had at the Castle.
We were still looking at our empty plates when
an escort turned up, and O'Grady and I began a
new journey, down winding passages where the
plaster was peeling off walls and roof. We seemed
to be going on and on into the bowels of the Castle ;
but at last came round a sudden corner into a small
chamber given over to a military guard.
The soldiers looked at us resentfully, as if they
thought us a disturbing influence ; but the sergeant
of the guard came forward, shuffled some dreary
papers, produced a bad pen, which he straightened
INTO THE FIRE 205
upon the wooden table, found some worse ink, and
proceeded to give a receipt for us. After that
transaction I gathered we no longer belonged to
the police ; but our new possessors seemed to
distrust their possessions until we had proved
beyond a doubt that we were our fathers' sons.
This I found a more difficult thing to do than it
sounds, and it took several sheets of official paper.
These papers were slapped on top of a pile of
others, and we were told to go through an ancient
wooden door, past a sentry with fixed bayonet.
Through the door we went into the most dismal
place I have seen in my life.
Verily we had fallen from the frying-pan into
The room was no size at all, with one long high
window boarded up to the top so that little light
got in and the gas had to burn all day. There was
a good fire leaping in the grate ; but the air was
stale and thick, and hazy with tobacco smoke.
There was nothing but the names of past prisoners
written in pencil on the walls from which the
plaster was falling, and in a corner some blankets
filthier than those we had left behind us. Three or
four men sat on the ground round the fire talking
They looked up as we stood just inside the door
discovering what had happened to us, and beckoned
us to the fire. We joined the sad circle.
" Have you got in here, too ? " said a dark
fellow like a Spaniard.
206 INSIDE THE CASTLE
44 It looks like it," I answered, gaping at the
" What was the trouble ? "
i; They found some ammunition under somebody
else's bed and said it was mine."
My listener looked respectful. " Ammunition !
That's bad," he said.
Everybody was smoking. The smoke curled up
and made the thick air thicker. O'Grady pulled a
pipe out of some part of him, and I found a cigarette.
" How long are we going to be here ? " I said.
" Until you go up for interrogation."
44 When's that ? "
44 Sure and it's the same day sometimes, or it's
two days or three days."
4t And what happens after that ? "
44 Indade, and if you can explain things you can
go. And if you can't it's to Ballykinler Internment
Camp you go."
46 What's that like ? "
44 Sure, and I hear tell it's not bad in summer.
Plenty of sports and games, and a chap gets a rest ;
but it's no place at all at all in winter, but wind and
Somebody else joined in the talk.
44 They got me on Monday. They had me up
for interrogation two days ago and put me back.
They put you back to find out more about you.
One of them says to the other, reading it off a
paper, this man's a lieutenant in the I.R.A. Their
intelligence men are very good."
THIRTEEN AT TABLE 207
The man like a Spaniard spoke. " When they
got hold of me one man said to the other, ' Take
care of this fellow, we want him. He's a prominent
Sinn Feiner.' "
I found everybody rather inclined to hint at his
value as a Republican ; but I had no intention of
following the good example when I went up for
interrogation. I found in these people the trait
common to all men who come together in difficulties.
They made a great show of cheerfulness and good
humour, finding a joke in everything and laughing
At long intervals a new prisoner came through
the door, and eventually the number had grown to
thirteen. The arrival of a new companion always
wakened us up for a little, and then the spell of the
place fell on us again. The atmosphere was too
devastating to think in, to read in ; we passed the
time on our backs, pacing up and down in twos or
singly, now and then wearily playing cards and
sleeping. And everybody who was not asleep
smoked until the air was like a fog.
Lunch time came. A couple of us went away
under escort and returned with two tin dishes laden
with food. There was food and to spare, and good
food too ; but strange are the ways of Dublin
Castle, and there was nothing to eat it off or with.
Among thirteen people there were three or four
plates, a couple of knives, a couple of forks and a
spoon. We had to eat in turn. I saw that my
turn never came. If you keep a bird in a cage you
208 INSIDE THE CASTLE
should see that the cage is clean. These people,
who were of inferior social position, two were rail-
way porters, may not have been squeamish ; but
the conditions were unnecessary, and gave the Sinn
Fein party a genuine handle for their propaganda.
There was a gallon of tea for us, and not one cup,
and an apologetic sergeant could only produce five
jam jars of different sizes. Yet countless prisoners
have lain in Dublin Castle.
We asked for coal, we got coal, and the place
was never chilly. " Eat as much as you want,"
the sergeant said, " but don't get more than you
can eat or there'll be trouble about it." The
contrast was extreme between the accommodation
provided and the readiness of our guards to make
us comfortable. I found no man who was not
accommodating. One had only to knock on the
door and the guard opened it to grant any little
request he could, such as purchasing cigarettes or
a pack of cards. When night came along one
soldier gave up his blankets to us because we had
not enough to go round.
The man like a Spaniard had seen the inside of
" A man is better off when it's their minds they
have made up what they're going to do with him,"
he said. " Sure, once a man's sentenced conditions
are better. It's these places where they grab chaps
and keep them for interrogation that are worst."
At night, when we rolled up in our blankets, we
covered the whole floor. I was to get an intimate
AN OUTING 209
glance into Catholic life. As each man finished
taking off his boots and such clothes as he thought
fit, he knelt upon his blankets in the most natural
way in the world and said his prayers. Nobody
seemed to think there was anything strange in this
behaviour ; but it was surprising to a stranger, and
proved how intimate a part of a Catholic's life his
religion is. The fire was made up last thing to last
through the night.
For three days thirteen of us stayed in an
atmosphere which was foul in the beginning and
staling all the time.
The third day we were told to get ready for
exercise, and were taken under escort to a back
yard of the Castle where we wandered wearily up
and down, while female servants looked down on
us disdainfully from upper stories. In the middle
of our wanderings somebody arrived with a chair,
and a sprightly young man, waving a diminutive
camera on very long legs, so that it looked like some
breed of spider, invited us to take the chair in turn
and be photographed. At the same time another
gentleman with a waxed moustache and a very
penetrating eye jotted down his personal reflections
upon our looks. This was for the Castle archives.
Tears came into the eyes of poor old O'Grady when
he had to suffer the indignity of the chair ; but I
disguised myself behind a three days' growth of
beard and remained unashamed. After the photo-
graphy we were headed back to our cell, to staleness,
to boredom and to dreary contemplation.
210 INSIDE THE CASTLE
The end of my adventure came as suddenly as
the beginning. We were exercising next day. A
sergeant of Military Police tapped me on the
shoulder and said, "This way." I started at his
side and we crossed the Upper Castle Yard, and
then the Lower Castle Yard, and finally we came
to the main gate. He gave a flourish of his hand
and said, " There you are. You are free."
Not to be outdone, I also waved my hand.
" I'm to walk out there ? "
" You're free."
" What about the other fellow, the old man ? "
" I don't know anything about him. He'll be
out in a few minutes."
" But I've not got my gear. I must go back
and get it."
He looked scandalised. " You can't. You're
free. You can't be in the Castle without a permit.
You must go. You have no right here. You must
go. The other fellow will bring your bag."
" I didn't want to come, and you brought me
here. Now you want me to go, and I don't want
to go without the old man and my gear."
" You are free, and you can't be in the Castle
without a permit." He was shocked to the root
of his being.
LOST : A HUSBAND
WE stood shivering on the steps, and watched
Himself and O'Grady climb into one of the lorries.
Himself was wrapped up well enough ; but I had
a pang at the sight of O'Grady, who was elderly
and had on a threadbare overcoat and scarf.
Mrs. Slaney denounced the British Government
until the last sounds of the wheels had died away.
I listened dazed. A plait of Mrs. O'Grady's hair
hung down her back. The spell was broken by
Mrs. Slaney retreating upstairs ; but with a bound
Mrs. O'Grady outstripped her, and towered above
her with her hands raised over her head.
" God forgive you for a wicked old woman !
God forgive you, for I never will. You're a wicked,
wicked woman, Mrs. Slaney. Do you hear me ? "
" Hush, Mrs. O'Grady ! " Mrs. Fitzgerald urged.
" Hush. You'll say something you'll be sorry for
later. Mrs. O'Grady, be quiet."
" Be quiet ! I cannot with himself all perishing
of the cold. And the cough on his chest something
awful. It's dead he'll be before he reaches the
Castle. You wicked, wicked woman, you were
212 LOST: A HUSBAND
after knowing those bullets were there." Her
voice rose and cracked, and she became in-
44 Now, Mrs. O'Grady, pull yourself together,"
ordered Mrs. Slaney, sharply. " Pull yourself to-
gether at once. You're hysterical. O'Grady will
come out of this all right, he'll come to no harm.
Indeed, it will be good for them both to experience
what hundreds of our splendid young men are
suffering every day. Come upstairs and I'll give
you a little wine. Come up all of you. It's things
like this, trials, that bring us close together. Mrs.
Fitzgerald will tell you that. It is trials that have
Mrs. O'Grady mouthed words that never came.
We could only catch an occasional croak of " wicked
" We'd better go along, too," said Mrs. Fitz-
gerald, "for Mrs. O'Grady's sake. We little
thought when we watched Desmond drive away
that night that the next person would be your
44 No, and I don't quite know what to do about
it, or who to go to."
44 You'll go to the Castle the first thing in the
morning. And if you can't do any good, I should
suggest finding a Unionist solicitor. I can only
send you to Sinn Feiners, and they have all been
mixed up in court-martial cases, which make them
useless as far as the Castle is concerned. If you
could get a Unionist for your husband it would be
A STRAINED SITUATION 213
better. You must do everything quickly. Am-
munition is a serious charge."
We had reached Mrs. Slaney's quarters. They
were upside down.
" Look at this ! " she exclaimed. " Monstrous !
They have no respect for sex or age. They thought
they would terrify me ; but I'm not afraid, not if
the whole British Army were to come. I never
flinched once, and the man in charge was abomin-
ably rude. I showed them that an Irish woman,
and an elderly and helpless one at that, could face
them. I never flinched."
Mrs. O'Grady had recovered her voice.
" It's black trouble you've brought on us all,
and it's worse you'll bring. Leaving bullets under
your bed where little girls can find them."
" What do you mean ? "
Mrs. O'Grady shook.
" You can't pretend that you didn't know
those bullets were there, not to me, mum. Little
Polly Pluck told me on them weeks ago, and it's
little sleep either O'Grady or me has had ever
My mind leaped back to the day Mrs. O'Grady
had talked so mysteriously.
" Do you mean to say that you kept such stuff
there ? Why didn't you send it to the proper
quarters ? " demanded Mrs. Fitzgerald. " If you'd
told me, I could have had it all taken away by the
"A few war trophies ! " Mrs. Slaney exclaimed.
214 LOST: A HUSBAND
"A few simple war trophies of no interest to
"The Auxiliaries thought them interesting," I
"Yes, mum," chorused Mrs. O'Grady.
" How did I know what they were ? Would I
have kept them if I did ? My son sent his port-
manteau home from France and these were a few
trophies. I didn't know they were there. I didn't
know what they were. I told the officer in charge
so. ' Are those bullets ? ' I asked him, and you see
he believed me."
" Do you mean to tell me," said Mrs. Fitz-
gerald, " that a woman of your age doesn't know a
bullet when she sees it ? "
" I don't believe you, mum," declared Mrs.
O'Grady. " Not if you was to go down on your
knees, and what's more, those never came home
from France, for I went through everything in
your room at Christmas time meself, and that box,
too, and they were never there then. You'll
remember, I was looking for your shoes, which you
had with you all the time."
" I declare I didn't know what they were.
Dumdum, he called them. There were some little
ones, too, loose, or he said there were."
" Have you anything else ? " I asked.
She shuffled, but we had got her in hand.
" Well, they didn't find everything. I told my
beads all the time, and they didn't pull out the
shutters. I had some things there. And they
GELIGNITE ! 215
must have tripped over a revolver a dozen times.
By the goodness of God, they didn't find everything."
" You'll get rid of all those things at once, Mrs.
Slariey," I said. " You'll burn the papers and get
rid of the revolver and whatever else you have.
They'll come back, you may be certain of that."
" You must get rid of them, Mrs. Slaney," said
Mrs. Fitzgerald, taking up the chorus. " Our
people haven't authorised you to keep them. It's
Mrs. Slaney sought to pour oil upon troubled
waters. " I'll make you tea," she suggested.
44 We'll all feel better then." She hurried out of
the room to make tea.
" She's an astonishing woman," I said bitterly.
Mrs. Fitzgerald looked thoughtful. " She said
something about gelignite. You'd better see that
she gets rid of that."
" Gelignite ! " I exclaimed.
44 If they raid again and find gelignite it will be
44 1 don't feel I can battle with her to-night," I
said. 44 I'll see her about it to-morrow."
44 There's a uniform and a rifle in this very room,
too, under the books in that cupboard ! " said Mrs.
O'Grady. 44 She's got stuff stowed away every-
where, and nobody knows it better than myself."
44 But why has she got it ? " I demanded,
44 unless the I.R.A. leave it here."
Mrs. Slaney came in briskly with the tea.
44 The I.R.A. don't leave stuff with people they
216 LOST: A HUSBAND
can't trust absolutely," declared Mrs. Fitzgerald.
" I can assure you that they wouldn't leave it here.
Mrs. Slaney, you really must get rid of everything.
It will be fatal if anything more is found. Thank
goodness, they didn't search the house the night
they took Desmond. Nothing would have made
them believe that it wasn't his."
Mrs. Slaney was ruffled.
" I call the attitude of you all most extra-
ordinary," she retorted. " You're making a great
deal out of a very little. We'll have some tea. It
will do us all good."
She became busy at the tea-tray.
" I'll tackle her in the morning about it," I said,
getting up. "I'll see her now about wiring to her
son as soon as the office opens. He must claim the
" Of course, he'll claim it," Mrs. Fitzgerald
agreed. "He'll catch the first boat across to-
morrow, and wire ahead to the Castle."
" You're not going," said Mrs. Slaney, as I
turned to her. " Have some tea first, it will pull
you together. I'm quite proud of my household.
You all behaved very well. No Black-and-Tan
can boast that he terrorised us." She beamed on
me. " It's a pity about O'Grady and your husband,
of course ; but it might have been much worse."
" I've got to straighten up our flat. I must go,"
I said. " I want to be at the post-office as soon as
it opens. Will you write out a wire for your son
to-night, and I'll send it off."
NEXT MORNING 217
44 A wire to my son ? We can't bring my son
46 Mrs. Slaney, what do you mean ? " Mrs.
Fitzgerald exclaimed. 44 You say the stuff is your
son's. Of course he must claim it."
44 Oh, I know you're thinking of your husband,"
Mrs. Slaney said to me, 44 and I'm thinking of my
son. I can't bring him into it."
44 Mrs. Slaney, my husband and O'Grady are in
prison, do you understand that, and they are
charged with a serious offence. I insist on the
44 1 told the officer I was willing to go instead
of them. But he laughed. And now you want to
bring my son into it."
44 Your son's in the army. It's quite easy for
him ; and if it isn't, it's the least he can do. After
all, the stuff isn't mine ! I expect you to get rid
of everything you have in the house, too."
44 I'll do anything, anything. I'm a broken
woman. I'll write the wire in the morning. I
promise I will."
44 Very well. Good night. I'm going to
I was up first thing in the morning ; but Mrs.
O'Grady was up before me. She looked as if she
had not had a wink of sleep.
44 I'm after getting your breakfast now," she
said to me. 44 I'll send Polly up with it. Sure, I
thought I heard them coming a hundred times, and
you're looking washed out yourself, mum."
218 LOST: A HUSBAND
Ten minutes later Polly clattered up with an ill-
fried egg upon an ill-warmed plate. She expressed
excitement in every movement. Her eyes snapped
as she put down the plate in front of me.
" Polly," I said, " I want you to go up to Mrs.
Slaney. Take this pencil and paper and ask her
to write out a wire to her son. I'm ready to go as
soon as you come back."
I had scarcely poured out my tea before Mrs.
O'Grady came back in place of Polly.
" The mistress says she'll not give you the
address. The meanness of her. c I didn't know the
bullets were there,' sez she to me, 4 and when they
showed them to me I didn't know what they were.'
' I don't believe you, mum,' sez I. * Not a wink have
I slept this night,' sez she. 1 1 was just after settling
down when you disturbed me. No one thinks of
me. You can just take that pencil back,' sez she."
I got up. " Thanks, Mrs. O'Grady, I'll tackle
her myself. I'm going to get that address."
Mrs. Slaney called " Come in " to my knock.
She had prepared a line of defence.
" I've been awake thinking of you all night,"
she said. " L I haven't closed my eyes. I know it's a
terrible thing for you ; but I don't think we should
wire to my son. It can do no good. I'll just go
along this morning and see one or two men I know.
Men with wise heads, who will advise us well."
" What objection have you to wiring to your
son ? I am sure your son would hate to know his
bullets had got two men into difficulties."
DUBLIN CASTLE 219
" My son is so highly strung. He was a shell-
shock case, and he's never been the same."
44 My husband was worse than a shell-shock
"If it was a question of that, I would say
nothing ; but my son has a sprained ankle."
" A sprained ankle ! "
" They're not at all sure that he hasn't seriously
hurt his foot. They may have to operate. They
may have to do it to-day."
" And if they do he can still send a wire. Mrs.
Slaney, time is very precious. I can't leave those
two men there without making some effort."
" They were only war trophies." Then to my
relief she took the pencil reluctantly. " What do
you want me to write ? "
44 Simply his address. I'll do the rest."
She put the pencil down.
44 Hadn't I better write to my son ? Yes, that
would be better. I'll write straight away now, and
then I can explain things so much better."
44 I'm going to write to your son, Mrs. Slaney,
you needn't do that. But the wire's to go too."
She gave in, and ten minutes later I was sending
Then I went to the Castle.
The Castle yard was full of lorries, there were
soldiers and Auxiliaries everywhere, and men in
mufti walked busily about, though as far as I could
see they had no business.
It is an easy matter to get a husband locked up ;
220 LOST: A HUSBAND
but, until I laced the Tommies at the Castle gates
and stated my case, I did not know what a difficult
matter it is to get one unlocked. Ammunition
sounds so simple. It sounds so simple to say that
it belonged to somebody else, and you had no
knowledge of it. But the word ammunition changes
the expression on every face in Dublin Castle.
There seemed no one to go to. I was sent from
guardroom to guardroom. I sat upon hard forms
while weary Tommies dawdled off to mysterious
inner rooms with a paper which I had filled up and
signed. At last there came one Tommy, brighter
than the others, who returned and said briskly,
" This way," and I grew hopeful.
This way proved to be across the yard and into
another building with other ill-swept corridors, with
other stairs which proclaimed that un wiped feet
had climbed them for many years. The Tommy
left me and disappeared through a door.
I sat beside a small table, and one or two men
eyed me. After some time the Tommy emerged.
44 Wrong," he said cheerfully. " Fill this up."
He pulled another slip of paper out of a box, and,
while I wrote on it, argued with one of the lounging
men as to which was the best place to take me.
44 Room 8," declared one man at last. 44 He's
shifted lately, but I think he's Room 8. Anyway,
Room 8 will tell you."
Once more we made our way along dirty
passages, and climbed up and down unswept
IN THE MAZE 221
" It's Room 11," declared Room 8 to our in-
quiries. " You'll find what you want there."
" They've been shifting," the Tommy apologised
to me. He stopped a man he knew. " Who's the
best person to go to ?" He jerked his head in my
The man rubbed his chin with his forefinger.
He thought for a long time.
" I don't know," he said at last.
" Have people never been here to inquire
before ? " I asked the Tommy.
" Lots," he replied cheerfully. " Things have
been shifted round a bit lately. I was in armoured
cars before. Wait here." He disappeared from
my sight into Room 11. I propped up a wall and
Presently the door of No. 11 opened cautiously,
and a pair of eyes stared at me.
" Come in here," ordered the owner of the eyes
mysteriously, as soon as he had madfe up his mind
that I was not dangerous.
It was a medium-sized room filled with photo-
graphs. There were photographs all over the walls,
all over the table, all over the chairs. The Tommy
The people in attendance upon the photo-
graphs, both male and female, stared at me
" Fill this up," said my mysterious acquaintance.
He put a form before me in secretive fashion.
u Haven't I filled up enough before ? " I asked,
222 LOST: A HUSBAND
looking sadly at the slips in his hand. I dipped the
pen in the ink, and prepared to write again.
The man leaned over my shoulder confidentially.
" You've come to sign on as a woman searcher ? "
" What ? "
" A woman searcher ? "
" Good Heavens, no ! " I cried. " If you had
troubled to read those papers you are holding you
wouldn't have thought that. Your people arrested
my husband last night because they found am-
The look of horror on his face stopped me. I
glanced all round at frozen faces. Everybody
seemed to have been turned into stone. At last
the spell was broken. My mysterious acquaintance
jerked himself to life and pushed me out of the room.
" The wrong department," he hissed. " Good
God, you should never have got in here ! "
The Tommy slid slowly off the window sill.
" All right ? " He seemed an old and tried friend.
" The wrong department," I said drearily.
" Why, don't you know your way about your old
Castle ? "
" It's a tricky sort of a place." He scratched
his head at the thought of its trickiness.
An officer was crossing the yard. I hurried
after him, stopped him, and poured forth my wrongs.
He listened attentively, guiding me as he walked by
my side with gentle motions of the hand.
" Room 18," he said with a smile, as we stopped
outside it. "I think you will find what you want
ROOM 13 223
in here." He knocked on the door and went in,
leaving me outside. Presently he came out again.
" Go in. This is right."
" To the last day of my life, I'll never forget
your goodness," I murmured.
He nodded and disappeared round a corner.
Room 13 was an agreeable surprise after my
dreary journey. Here was comfort ; here a fire ;
here the carpet was swept and fairly new, and the
tables were dusted. Over six foot of man rose from
behind one of the tables.
" So you've had trouble getting in ? " He was
polite. " Come over near the fire." He indicated
an armchair, and his manner was helpful. " Now
what can I do for you ? "
" It's about my husband," I began. The fire
gave me confidence. Ammunition seemed a milder
charge in here. I poured forth my woes. He made
no comment until I finished. " Well ? " I ended.
" Of course, he is a perfectly innocent man ? "
" But he really is. Would you expect my
husband to know what was under another woman's
bed ? "
44 I'd make it my business to know in these
times," he declared. 4t Your house hasn't much of
a name. Figgis was probably up to no good there.
Fitzgerald was arrested there. And now this
charge of ammunition. Why should I believe
your husband ? Of course, I'm not suggesting
that he isn't innocent. But, good God, if you'd
heard that story as often as I have ! Do*you know
224 LOST: A HUSBAND
that Figgis was seen going into that house only two
days ago ? "
I shook my head.
" It's true."
;; If the ammunition was such a crime, why not
arrest Mrs. Slaney, and earn the thanks of us
all ? "
" Ah, there you have me. Look." He walked
over to the window and pointed to a large building
opposite. "Irish Office. Causes us more trouble
than all the Shinners put together. We can't
arrest half the people we would like to because of
them. They tie us hand and foot. The public is
so sentimental. Women can always get interest
roused, and questions asked in Parliament. Yet
we know the women are as deeply in it as the men.
Oh, we know all that is to be known about them ;
but we've got to leave them alone."
"I see. Then you intend to keep my hus-
band ? "
" I don't know about that. Mrs. Slaney's son
should communicate with us soon, and if he can
establish his claim to the stuff, your husband will
be released. Do you know any one who would be
ready to answer for him ? "
I mentioned 47's name, and he became interested.
" He's away now," I said, " or I would have gone
to him at once."
" He'll not be back for some weeks," said the
man. " If he can vouch for your husband, it will
be all right."
F COMPANY 225
" Some weeks ! My poor man will be dead by
" Not he. He's very comfortable where he is.
You can send him in anything you like. He has
others with him, and they're all very happy."
" There's nothing more that I can do ? "
" Nothing at the moment."
" A solicitor can always see him, I understand ? "
" Certainly. Any time that you like." I got
up to go. "I haven't been able to give you much
satisfaction ; but you'll get him back as soon as
Major Slaney claims the stuff." He walked to the
door and opened it for me. " If there's anything
I can do for you, come along and let me know."
" There's nothing, thank you."
The Tommy had either died or deserted. I
found my way back into the Castle yard. As I hesi-
tated there, a man detached himself from a group
and came smiling upon me in the warmest fashion.
" Good morning," he cried. " So you came
along to look us up ? "
I tried to place him, but the effort was too much
" You don't remember me ? "
" I'm afraid not."
He laughed the heartiest of laughs. " Your
memory is short. Why, I arrested your husband
" Did you ? Then perhaps you can tell me how
he is?" '
" He's splendid. We're F Company. We take
226 LOST: A HUSBAND
special care not to manhandle our prisoners. We
take a pride in getting them to the Castle in good
condition. Shall I see you to the gate ? "
" Thanks, I know the way."
My coldness did not chill him. He smiled
pleasantly after me.
I travelled far that day; but the end of it brought
no reward to my efforts. Mrs. O'Grady had become
dumb, and had resigned herself to the worst. Mrs.
Slaney had retreated into the fastness of her bed-
room, where I followed her to do battle about the
" You call this gelignite, I suppose," she said,
unearthing a tin and showing it to me.
" Where did you get it ? "
" It's wonderful for pot plants," she declared.
" I got it to make the plants grow."
She put it away like a squirrel storing a nut.
The following day I went to a solicitor.
He was pessimistic. " It's not much of a job
going to the Castle ! " he exclaimed. " There are
Sinn Feiners always watching. I shall be shot as
a spy." But for all that he went. Returning to
lunch, I met Mrs. O'Grady in the hall.
" No news, mum ? "
" And her upstairs going about this way and
that just as if it wasn't her fault. 4 God forgive
you, mum,' I sez, ' for I never will.' She thinks
nothing of me, never a word, but it's ' Mrs. O'Grady,
have you swept the stairs ? ' 4 Mum,' I sez, 4 the
stairs can wait with them two away like this.'
4 Nonsense, Mrs. O'Grady,' she sez, ' rubbish !
Work will pass the time for you, so it will. Nothing
like being up and doing, and keeping yourself
"How I wish they'd take her ! "
44 It'd be a charity, mum ; but there's not one
of us but would wear ourselves thin to get her
44 1 wonder. Mrs. O'Grady, send up lunch as
soon as you can, please. I'm off to see what I can
do this afternoon."
" Shall I order something in case they get back
for dinner ? "
I shook my head. " Time enough when we see
them, Mrs. O'Grady."
44 It's a drop of gin I'll have ready for my man,
God help him, if the life's still in him."
The next day at five o'clock I walked into the
solicitor's office. Himself was there. A chastened,
saddened Himself. An older, dirtier Himself ; but
a free man.
The solicitor was laughing. His success had
exhilarated him. 44 Take him home and feed
him ! " he said.
44 Where's O'Grady ? "
44 He's on the way."
44 Go home and tell Mrs. O'Grady, and get a
44 You keep out of sight of the Castle now,"
said the solicitor. 44 Look me up again. I didn't
228 LOST: A HUSBAND
hope for much success, I can tell you. I thought
it would be a court-martial. When I was at the
Castle I got in touch with somebody over the
telephone, who said, ' Ask your client if he knows
anything of the I.R.A.' "
We departed home.
Mrs. Slaney was in the hall to greet us. She
wrung Himself by the hand.
" What an experience ! " she exclaimed. " Now
you will be able to write about what happens every
day to our splendid young Irishmen."
CHAPTER XXII 1
LAST WEEKS OF WAR
WE did at last seem to be putting the winter
behind, and like divers in a sea, to be coming out
of darkness and cold. Spring did seem to be
arriving. The sun shone, the days lengthened, and
the leaves began to poke out of the barren boughs
of the lilacs and the hawthorns across the way.
One could not do other than grow cheerful with the
carolling birds. And surely the Republican Volun-
teers lying out on the mountains, and surely the
police driving up hill and down hill, found time to
do as we other men were doing ?
These Volunteers lying in ambush, drunk with
patriotism and hate, must have been aware of the
high blue sky, of the bright white clouds ; they
must have raised their eyes now and then from the
turn of the road round which their prey was to
come, to watch the birds wildly wheeling ; they
must have felt the strong grass pushing up.
And the police driving, driving, driving, furious
and foiled, seeking, seeking, seeking their invisible
enemy, above the throb of the engines must have
heard a little of the singing in the hedges, through
230 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
the reek of petrol must have drawn in a little of the
bouquet of the flowers.
With spring came rumours of a change in policy.
It went from mouth to mouth that the British
Cabinet was debating a definite peace offer, which
would prove acceptable to the Republicans, or as
an alternative, the making of real war.
Could Britain survive the humiliation of a
truce ? Yes. Her very might permitted her to
take this step. Her strength was so overwhelming,
and so plainly had never been exerted to any extent,
that she could make an offer of peace without
mortal injury to her prestige. There were no doubt
Republican Volunteers, men who had never had a
taste of real war, the war of heavy rifle fire and
shell fire, who believed the Republican Army the
equal of the British Army in the open field ; but
these men could not be many.
The rumour came and went, and came again.
Rumour brought other news besides talk of
peace. The return of the sun had laid the bogey
of the long winter nights ; but winter had left a
mark upon a good many people. Rumour said
the men on the run were at the end of their tether.
The barber to Michael Collins reported that the
Minister of Finance jumped out of his skin at any
sound. The barber experienced a good deal of
difficulty shaving the Minister. Possibly the said
Minister used a safety razor ; but the whisper was
a sign of the times.
" What I notice most about our boys is the way
SPRING AND PEACE 231
they have aged," Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald said
to me. " Some of them, who were quite young
men at the Rising four years ago, walk and talk like
I asked Mrs. Fitzgerald how the leaders with a
price on their heads kept their nerve day after day,
and her answer was they had no time to think of
danger because of the work to get through. These
people slept in a different house most nights of the
week ; but all arrangements were made for them,
and when they laid down to sleep, be it by night or
by day, they knew those round them put their
safety first of all things. They knew they were the
chosen of a nation, which had lifted them out of
obscurity in a few brief years, and this must have
been a stout prop to their courage. Nevertheless,
I have been assured the life told on the stoutest,
for in this warfare, carried on below the surface, it
was in the most secure moment a man found
So spring brought rumours of peace, but did not
bring peace. Attacks upon the Crown Forces had
increased, and though the Republican Volunteers
had returned to their old ambushing tactics, having
found the open skirmishing too costly, they carried
out daring coups now and then, which helped to
restore the damage to their reputation caused by
their tactics in the cities.
Then one day I met a neighbour who told me
her greengrocer, one of the I.R.A., had announced
that the six weeks to follow were to be the worst
232 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
weeks of the struggle. Lo ! anything might
happen to anybody at any moment, and the most
obscure citizen might find all in an instant that
though the age of chivalry might be dead, the age
of romance still existed.
One sunny day, when the wind was shaking
open the lilacs across the way, a thin stream of
smoke curled up into the sky over the river, and
the word went round that the Customs House, the
most beautiful building in Ireland, was in flames.
I turned my steps that way. The wind was
high, and there was little hope for the building. I
came in good time to the shabby streets, which
have an end upon the quays. The stream of smoke
was rolling up, filling all one part of the sky. I
judged the building must be in its death throes.
At last, through a gap in the streets, I saw the
Customs House straight before me on the other
side of the river, and on the quays on this side all
the world had gathered. When I emerged from
my dive into the mean streets, I came against a
wedge of several thousand people. They were from
all parts of the city ; but swallowing up all the others
were the denizens of this slum quarter.
There were women with babies, women without
babies, and women who might have had babies with
them had the Volunteers delayed their operations
for a few weeks. There were urchins with boots
and urchins without boots, and half-grown people
hi their fathers' coats, and other half -grown people
in their mothers* skirts, and children who would
THE CUSTOMS HOUSE 233
grow up into touts, and other children who would
grow up into beggar-women and flower-girls.
And here and there, like islands in a sea, were
prosperous citizens ; high and low all brought to
a single level by their curiosity. And, of course,
there were Republican Volunteers in the crowd, and
perhaps agents of the British secret service.
To the man who could bide his time the crowd
presented a gap here and a gap there, and I slipped
into this place and slipped into that place, and
presently had a front row view of what was going
forward. The Liffey held us in check. It was a
high tide, and the wind sent the wave-tops into the
air in spray. A quay was on the farther side, and
rising beyond, the lovely building of the Customs
House, that morning doomed to death and now in
" Sure, and it's the clock is still going, God save
us," said a lady on my left, drawing a shawl round
her infant's face, and giving it a jerk to send it into
" And Lady Liberty standing up there so brave,
it's her we must see come down," answered her
" Indade, and I hear tell it's Lady Hope up
there," retorted she of the baby.
I looked up at the statue of Commerce, which
crowned the dome of the building. It seemed the
final prize to which all the flames were leaping.
There was a great to-do going on on the
farther side, but the building was large, and the
234 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
space before it ample. The place was picketed by
military, and every now and then some Govern-
ment motor would dash up or roll away, bringing or
carrying off military .officials, police officials, and less
glorious officials in mufti.
Upon the face of the building firemen were at
work, pigmy people of no consequence beside the
statue, who nevertheless seemed to be making a
last stand like warriors driven to the corners of
For the wind blew steadily, and every now and
then sprang upon the great stone building in a
squall, and the tops of the waves which held us
where we were, would fly off in spray. And the
fiery heart of the building would glow and redden
and become fiercer, and the firemen would doubly
toil at the hose, which looked like the dead body of
some great sea-serpent lately come out of the river.
Their backs would bend, and it would come after
them ever so unwillingly. And other firemen,
creeping about the grey face of the building upon
their ladders, would peer at the molten heart
through some gaping window, and direct tons of
And then the wind would sigh and fall again,
and the water roaring down upon some outwork
of the conflagration would batter it to death ; and
a new wind springing up would blow like a giant's
bellows upon the quenched sparks, blow a new fury
of destruction into them, and they would leap up
THE AUXILIARY CADETS 235
" Och, it's a grander sight than the Post Office
in Easter week/'
44 It is, it is."
Moving to and fro upon Butt Bridge, and moving
up and down the quays, were Crossley tenders with
their load of police. Now and then a gust of rage
would seize those people, as indeed rage was con-
suming all Ireland now, the tender would awaken
to a new pace and come running in the direction
of the crowd, and a panic like a live thing, would
seize us ; we would start running and bunch up
into the alleyways. The car would roll down to
where we had been, and the men would lean over
its armoured sides, shaking their guns and grinding
their teeth, as if their dumb lips were shouting for
the phantom enemy to come out of the crowd and
give them battle. The car would back and turn,
and roll up the quay towards the bridge again, and
we would come out from our holes like rats.
" Indade, and it's shooting ye they would be if
ye was to look at them," said a stout lady in a shawl,
gazing up the quay after the departed enemy.
" It's grand they look in them hats," said her
daughter of twenty, who had enjoyed the scuttle
into covert, and was wiping her nose on her
44 And it's meself," agreed the mother, " will be
sad to see the last iv the military, thieves and
murderers as they are. It's a grand sight is the
44 Sure, and it's our boys are going to show them
236 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
the way out iv the country. And it's a grand sight
our boys will look in green."
" They will. Them Auxiliaries be good fighters.
I hear tell this morning they got out iv their motors
and stood up there, and banged away with their
legs apart and their rifles to their shoulders. I
hear tell there was a girl standing by, and one iv
them Auxiliaries, sez he to she, ' Lie ye down,
mum, or it's shot ye'll be,' and he puts her on the
ground, and his foot in the stomach iv her for to
protect her, and he goes on shooting, and it's not a
minute after he falls dead atop iv her with a bullet
to the heart."
At the end of one of these panics, when the
police had retreated up the quay and we had
emerged into the open, I found myself in a new
place. I started to gape across the river again
just as somebody beside me said, " How's the
world treating you ? " I found 47 at my elbow.
"Hallo," I said.
" Hallo," he answered.
" Where have you sprung from ? "
" I came along to see what was doing."
" They've made a good job of it ?" I suggested,
nodding over the river.
" They have," he admitted. " About their best
stunt up to date."
"Did you hear how they did it ? " I asked.
" They arrived this morning in covered lorries,
and brought the straw and paraffin with them. I
hear our people " he dropped his voice as he said
A BRITISH AFFAIR 237
our people " have got over a hundred prisoners
at the Castle, so I don't know how many there were
on the job at the start. The Shinners took the
Customs House people by surprise, and, of course,
there was nobody armed to put up any resistance.
They dismantled the telephones, herded up the
clerks into one part of the place, chucked paraffin
and straw all over the place, and set everything
alight. They had taken the precaution to send
men to hold up the firemen at the two nearest fire-
stations. The coup was well planned, and they
would probably have got away scot free ; but there's
a story that some pickets standing on the bridge
saw a tender of Auxiliaries coming along, got ner-
vous, thought they were discovered, fired on them,
and that gave the show away. In two minutes our
fellows were pouring out of the Castle, and in five
minutes the place was surrounded. I understand
the Shinners inside went on with the work and
completed it before they thought of escaping.
Some of the fellows taken had petrol on their
clothes. There was quite a good show for about
twenty minutes between the Auxiliaries outside
and the Shinners trying to get out."
" Did some chaps get done in ? "
" Quite a lot."
" They seem to have got the laugh on you fellows
this time," I said, nodding over the river again.
" They have," he agreed.
We stayed a few minutes watching the fire, and
then I said, " How did you find things up North ? "
LAST WEEKS OF WAR
He gave me a look meaning there were better
places for talking, and we wormed our way to
another part of the crowd. The view was not as
good ; but there was plenty of elbow room.
" Have you been back long ? " I asked.
" A day or two."
" Well, what about things ? What's the good
of you if you don't amuse me ? "
" I found the people up there another race as
far as outsides go to these people. In a way they're
the complement to the Southerners. If you could
scrap the religious question so that North and South
could intermarry, I believe a first-class race would
be produced. I had a look over the internment
camp at Ballykinler while I was in that part of
44 What did you think of the place ? "
44 It was an internment camp. It doesn't
pretend to be anything better than that. But
it was quite a good camp as far as internment
camps go. There are about eighteen hundred
fellows there in two big enclosures they call cages.
Men can go on the run in there if they like. That
gives you some idea of the size of the place."
44 It's pretty country, isn't it ? "
44 In good weather ; but the men can't see much
more than the mountains. Weather has a lot to
do with making a place of that sort bearable or
not. The fellows who arrived in the winter must
have found it pretty ghastly ; but the fellows
arriving now haven't much to complain of beyond
the loss of their liberty. In fact, fellows from the
slums and from poor country homes were never
better off in some ways."
" That may be ; but it must be pretty deadly
putting in time."
" They've plenty to do, especially if they like
work. The organisation there is quite good. The
men are more or less under military discipline, their
own military discipline. There's a commandant,
who is an internee, to each cage, and orders trickle
through from him. In fact, I find responsible Sinn
Feiners saying that it would be a good thing for
the nation if all the uneducated fellows could be
roped into one of these camps for a bit."
" They're educated free, gratis and for nothing ? "
" Arrivals are taken to the commandant's office
and are put through it there, for they are very afraid
of spies, and everybody suspects everybody else.
Each hut has an intelligence officer to find out what
he can about his men, to prevent them talking
rashly, and to keep note of all that goes on outside
the cages. They try to take the numbers of motor-
cars, to remember any faces they can get a glimpse
at for future reference, and to glean any information
" But what's taught ? "
" Irish first and foremost. There used to be
daily drills ; but it has been put a stop to. There's
not much doubt that they still hold military classes
in the huts. There appear to be all sorts of other
240 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
classes book-keeping, shorthand, and lots of com-
mercial things. There's a sprinkling of educated
chaps among the others. Let's see what else ?
There's football and that kind of thing. There are
shops of sorts, too. A young chap can knock a bit
of fun out of things. The people who find con-
ditions hardest are elderly cultivated men, and, of
course, it must be the devil for fathers of families,
who must be wondering whether their people are
starving or not."
44 What are the rations like ? "
" The same as the soldiers, and if anybody goes
short it's the soldiers. There'd be such a fuss
otherwise. At first the Tommies cooked for them ;
but they made such a fuss they were allowed their
own cooks, and the military cooks were left to do
their worst among their own people. There are a
good many food complaints, chiefly from chaps who
never had a square meal in their lives before. Their
people send parcels, to the sorrow of the censors,
who have to probe into cakes and gape into pots of
jam for messages. And some devoted mothers
send meat, which goes bad."
" To the still greater sorrow of the censors ? "
" The fellows have built their own chapel and
furnished it, and services are held by an interned
" I suppose letters are censored ? "
44 Every one of them. It's the devil's own job.
I gave a hand for a bit. I found it stupefying. Of
all the letters I opened, only one remained in my
UNDER THE WHIP 241
mind five minutes after. It was an in-going letter,
a love letter from a girl, a school teacher. This
delightful writer had ideals and liked nice things,
and he, it seemed, was rather uncouth. She was
telling him what he must be dressed in, and how
he must look when he came first to see her after
release. There were pages of the letter full of tender
urgings and gentle reasonings. A fellow feels rather
guilty having to put his nose into a thing like that."
I nodded my head.
" One thing the letters did, they proved how
thoroughly the rank and file were under the whip of
the leaders. On the days of the out-going mail
some leading spirit seemed to order what opinion
was to be expressed on this or that event, for in
most of the letters there was a single well-turned
sentence blooming like a rose in the desert of
illiteracy. The brain reeled finding the same thing,
said more or less correctly, over and over again.
Oh, and another thing these letters did was to make
one realise how real a thing religion was to a good
many of these people."
I was looking at the burning building. " I don't
believe that dome is going to go this afternoon."
" Neither do I, and I can't wait for it anyhow."
" Were you at the camp long ? "
^ Only a day or two. I was on other business.
" When are we going to see you again ? "
" We'll run across each other soon. I don't
suppose I shall be leaving Dublin again."
242 LAST WEEKS OF WAR
I knew once 47 intended to go nothing stopped
him. I gave a flourish of my hand, and he flourished
his and left me.
He had not gone very long when the Auxiliaries
paid us another of their intermittent visits, panic
swept over us again, and we retreated to our holes
to the sound of hundreds of steps pattering on the
quay. These terrible men came along again, lean-
ing over the armoured sides of the car, flashing their
eyes, grinding their teeth, waving their guns and
crying, " Move along there," and then, their fury
eased, they turned the car about and sped back to
The crowd had thinned a good deal since I
came, and there was plenty of room to move about.
This time who should I run across but Mrs. Slaney ?
She was standing very stiffly contemplating the
" It seems rather a pity," I said.
For once she appeared a little abashed. A great
flurry of wind came along, and the inferno within
the stone walls glowed, and flames pushed through
the stone crevices here and there, leapt out of the
windows, climbed through the roof, and turning
into smoke, went whirling into the sky. Great
pieces of charred material went floating like black
birds into the air. All eyes were fixed on the clock,
which continued to tick.
" It was the most beautiful building in Ireland,"
Mrs. Slaney said. " Many a time I have been in
there when I was a girl with my cousins, who held
MRS. SLANEY INDIGNANT 243
their heads very high on the north side of the city.
It seems unfortunate that the Volunteers should
have considered it necessary to burn it." Then the
old fire came back. " But England is to blame,
England for what has happened. The Customs
House represents to us the very heart of England.
After Dublin Castle everything that is iniquitous in
English rule is most strongly represented by that
building. England has caused the ruin of that
place just in the same way as she caused the destruc-
tion of the Post Office, another of our beautiful
I departed before very long, vanquished. The
clock was still going at the time ; but it had stopped
before next morning. The following afternoon I
was down that way again when the dome, which
seemed to be supporting the statue of Commerce,
capitulated. The flames pushed through its joints,
like the edges of some starving tongue thrusting up
from within ; it crumpled, it palpitated, it curled
in agony, it disappeared. But the statue stood,
defying the lust of the great crowd gathered to see
it crash down to the pavement, and was standing
high over the wreckage after the last spark had been
This coup of the Republican Volunteers, though
one of the most brilliant they had carried out, was
never mentioned with special satisfaction even in
the ranks of Sinn Fein. There was regret in the
note of rejoicing. Ireland had lost her finest
THE COMING OF SUMMER
WITH the arrival of June a long dry summer made
a beginning. The leaves were thick upon the trees,
the birds had done their spring singing and were
sending their families out into the world, and the
nursemaids and children had all come back again
to Stephen's Green. The babies that had filled the
perambulators of last year toddled beside the
wheels this year, and new babies were lying upon
the old cushions.
But political affairs showed no alteration, and
though it was fixed in everybody's mind that the
British Government was about to make a change in
policy, an overture of peace or a fiercer war, there
was no sign of this, and affairs were more acute.
But these days could not desolate a man as the
winter days had done, for now there was sunshine
and now there was light.
One morning, as I wandered in the direction of
Stephen's Green I saw Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald.
She must have come in from her cottage in the hills.
I wanted to ask her something ; but she was moving
at her own special pace, which resembled nothing
so much as the tireless trot of a wolf, and perceiving
I would have to hire a side-car to overtake her, and
being without funds, I went into the Green and fell
upon a seat in a muse. The nursemaids, the chil-
dren and the cereopsis goose from Australia drifted
out of my vision.
I revived to see walking by me ten Republican
Volunteers or ten of the murder gang, according to
what were one's political opinions. These people
wore trench coats, the pockets of which were
swollen with guns and bombs, and they looked
very self-conscious. They had come up Grafton
Street and in by the main gate there, and they were
crossing the Green in couples to the farther end.
They must be going to blow up somebody, I thought,
and fell into a muse again upon them.
Of course these people were only corner-boys.
They were corner-boys in the strictest sense of the
word. They were on the way to a corner where
they would throw those bombs and let off those
guns, and then they would depart home as hurriedly
and as safely as they could. They were corner-boys.
And yet they were something more than corner-
boys. The type of warfare they conducted brought
them few casualties ; but one had only to see those
self-conscious anxious faces to know it was not the
joy of murder that impelled them on the way.
These people, who had just walked by, were going
to render a certain service at a street corner because
they believed their country needed that service.
Why deny them any lustre that was theirs ?
246 THE COMING OF SUMMER
I fell out of my muse about ten minutes later
when I heard the roar of a couple of bombs and
some rifle fire. Bullets clipped the leaves overhead,
and I felt ruffled, They must have blown somebody
up, I thought, and fell into a second muse.
As a matter of fact they had nearly blown my
wife up, and also several women with perambulators ;
but the only person who got shot was an old beggar
woman sitting on the steps of St. Vincent's Hospital.
My wife said when the bombs were thrown and the
Auxiliaries were firing back, the Volunteers seized
the perambulators and hustled them and the frantic
nurses into the shelter of Stephen's Green. Whether
this act was to protect the children, or whether it
was to take suspicion off the Volunteers, she could
not make up her mind. Let us give judgment for
I awakened from my second muse to find a gun
being flourished at my stomach, and a fiery
Auxiliary, an ex-officer and a loyal gentleman or
one of Hamar Greenwood's hired assassins, according
to a man's views, ordering me to " go over there
and be searched." I looked " over there," and saw
all the men in the Green bunched together and the
Auxiliaries searching them. I started to go over,
and the Auxiliary flew after another solitary in-
dividual. There were half a dozen bushes on the
way I could have dropped guns behind.
In a minute or two I had joined the bunch of
men. I began to feel in a hurry all of a sudden,
for it was getting towards Iunch-time 3 and when a
HANDS UP 247
queue was formed, I took an opportunity to get
into the front of it. It was after I was well in
position that I remembered my pocket-book had
entries in it, names of Sinn Feiners and titles of
pamphlets, which might cause these gentlemen in
Balmoral bonnets to prick up their ears. They
might feel it on their conscience to haul me off to
the Castle to explain myself, and it was easier to
enter the Castle Yard then to leave the Castle Yard.
I became humble. I withdrew, I evaporated, I
murmured after you, sir, and I went crabwise to
the last place in the line. It took me twenty
minutes and a good deal of bother to pull the
necessary leaves from my pocket-book without
being noticed, tear them into little bits, and
sprinkle them in the grass.
When my turn came the Auxiliary said without
touching me, " You'll do."
" Search me," I demanded.
He smiled, patted my pockets, and said,
" You'll do."
They knew the sort of man to look for.
But, of course, anybody who knew the ropes
realised the searching of this line of men had been
pathetic, for over on the seats sat nursemaids and
little typists, and other high-heeled and short-
skirted people. If any of the ambushers had had
the misfortune to be shut in the gardens, their guns
were not on them. They would be in some bush,
or they would be in the dress of one of those demure
218 THE COMING OF SUMMER
It was nothing strange to be stopped by the
military in the street and searched for arms, and
the custom was growing to let women carry the
guns until they were wanted and receive them again
afterwards, for women were not allowed to be
searched except in emergency by women searchers.
The British Government was paternal in some things
to the end, and earned the righteous scorn of
Loyalist and Republican alike.
About this time we paid visits to Mrs. Erskine
Childers. Her house was one of the rocks of
Republicanism. One met there the more extreme
Cumann na mBan, and as the Cumann na mBan
consisted of women they were nearly all extreme.
It was whispered that all sorts of people on the run
visited the place ; but the ordinary visitor to the
house never met these people. It was necessary
for Mrs. Childers to lead an inactive life, and her
energies had gone into her intellect. She sat all
day in her library dipping into her books, and she
had become very well educated politically.
The rule that the convert makes the fiercest
apostle held good in the case of these two of Mrs.
Childers, an American citizen, and of Childers, the
Englishman, who in earlier years had served
Britain and the British Empire in the army and
the navy. The nationality of Mrs. Childers, and
the fact that she was a person of breeding in a
movement where most of the followers belonged to
the people, made her valuable, and all wandering
strangers whose sympathy it was desirable to
ERSKINE CHILDERS 249
enlist, were taken along to her with the words,
" Oh, you must see Mrs. Erskine Childers. She
can tell you so much." Mrs. Childers, refined,
daintily dressed, intellectual, lying on her couch,
put them right upon the wrongs of Ireland.
The strangest of the birds of passage that
passed through Ireland during these troubled
times were Americans, who, one and all, belied
their national reputation for shrewdness. Those
I came across in Ireland were emotional, simple
individuals, ready to credit any well-told
What of Childers himself, the toiling Childers,
the small harassed man, for ever pedalling his
bicycle ; Childers who, of all those hard-working
people, outworked all others ; Childers who looked
as though he might die and still sit upon his bicycle
with his legs going round and round ? This toil-
ing Republican, whom the British Government ^
in the strangeness of its ways left free, was he a
man with a broken heart, and this very fever of
work the effort to escape his sorrow ? Was there
truth in the whisper that he was a disappointed
English naval man, who in pique had thrown
himself into Irish affairs ? Then, indeed, he was
a small man, and all his furious pedalling would
never bring him balm. But if his work for Ireland
represented truth to him, so that no doubt ever
came to make him irresolute, so that he never
thought hungrily of his own country which he had
forsaken, then, indeed, he was bigger than the
250 THE COMING OF SUMMER
common run of man, and his toil may have brought
repose to his spirit.
Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald had a cottage in the
hills, not very far from the city. We made oc-
casional pilgrimages there. The two-mile walk
from the^ station was nothing on those first kind
summer days. There were pools of shade for the
traveller to wade through under the trees ; the
lower lands were golden with gorse ; the sky was
high and serene. Yet the country bore more marks
of ruin than the city.
An occasional gaunt building, such as the skele-
ton of the Customs House or the General Post
Office, was all the wear and tear the city showed,
though observant people could find bullet holes in
a good many windows, some of them small and
clean as if an augur had bored them, others
brutally done, so that the cracks had run all about
the pane. Sometimes a great plate-glass window
would be annihilated, sometimes the fragments of
some bomb leaping from the pavement would tear
a score of holes in a door and stay embedded there ;
but next day the glazier would be along with his
putty and the decorator with his paint brush, and
there would be nothing to see.
It was different in the country. One came
upon trees felled across the road, or lying prone,
leaving just enough space for the cart of the
marketing peasant. One came upon walls tumbled
to the ground, and a pyramid of broken masonry
Jying in wait for the hurrying police tender.
THE PHANTOM ARMY 25i
Round abrupt corners one stepped into trenches
dug across the road to receive the front wheels of
some military lorry shaking upon its way.
Military and police presently took with them
little bridges to engineer the lorries across the
trenches, and so with a bare halt went throbbing
on their way ; but the graves set in the road for
leviathan fare stayed there unattended, yawning
for the poor peasant and his cart. Nobody filled
these gaps, perhaps from patriotism, perhaps
because such busybody act might call down the
vengeance of the Republican Army hanging some-
where in the hills, or equally probably because the
tired peasant, having negotiated the yawn with
his own wit, left other people to be as wise as he,
and went on home, looking neither right nor left,
in case he saw more than was wise.
But summer had come quite indifferent to these
things ; and by wood and hedge and stream it
had arrived a-blooming ; it had gone rolling up
and down the hills, and into the shining sky.
Those who knew the way about the slopes of
these hills could spy outposts of the Republican
Army, men moving about the hills with telescopes,
sometimes the flutter of a signalling flag. What
a draught for bold youth this mountain air ! The
veriest bent-backed clerk, taken out here from his
city office, would begin to straighten and stamp in
the high romantic manner ; how then some fiery
country boy led to these high places and told
Ireland's fatal story ? High up there, each man
252 THE COMING OF SUMMER
his individual eagle, staring down with unfilmed
eye upon the faint white roads netting the fair
country, they could mark the hurrying police
tenders and exult at their freedom.
These hills held caves where men retreated in
extremity after the police had raided the farm-
houses that usually gave them shelter.
On a shoulder of the outside range of these hills
high enough for the sea to be seen, so near to Dublin
that the city seemed to be lying a few miles away
in a smoky pool Mrs. Desmond Fitzgerald had a
cottage and a garden plot. She dug in the garden
while there was excuse for digging, and it was there
she seemed to soften for a few moments, and let
some of this Republican load, which she had taken
upon herself to carry, fall off her back.
To the peasants of that hamlet, which went
climbing up the pass for a mile, she must have been
some one come from the bigger world, a sojourner
with people whose names were in the papers, on
whose heads was a price, to stimulate the cottagers
and hold them to their purpose, to refill the cup of
village louts drunk with the grandeur of the times.
The fact that the Republicans were a small man
fighting a giant was worth a second army to them,
for however just the big man's cause, his efforts
against a smaller man are thankless, and the world,
which never goes to the roots of a matter, has no
sympathy to give him.
On the British Army and the Police fell none
of the glory the gods were raining down. They
IN PHCENIX PARK 258
carried out their orders under the most adverse
conditions, and got the knocks and fatigues with-
out the applause. They must have had to prop
their energies now and then with the remembrance
that though the nation whose servants they were
had little interest in their doings, dismissed them
with the morning bacon and the propped-up news-
paper, their thankless task had as great use as any
which trumpets heralded and all the world streamed
out to cheer.
One day I ran across 47, in Phoenix Park of all
places. Some tender moment had brought him to
walk among the flowers there. It was one of the
few times I saw him before he saw me. He seemed
to be communing with himself, like a monk pacing
a cloisteral retreat. I supposed he was wondering
how long his lonely vigil was still to last.
I crossed the green behind him and said, " Hallo,
I see you have the pip."
"I've not got the pip. I've had enough of
" It's a tip-top day."
He pondered this, and then said something that
surprised me. It showed which way his thoughts
" The heart of a giant must beat under an
agent's coat. He goes alone about his work. He
goes unpraised about his work. He has no armed
men at his back. To-day, alone. To-morrow,
alone. Every man an oyster he must open. Ha,
ha ! he cries, and joins once again in the laugh
254 THE COMING OF SUMMER
against what he loves. He waits, he waits. He
watches, he watches. That is the order of his day.
Let him open his eyes a little wider, let him prick
his ears a little sharper ; some hurt may be coming
to the country he serves. He grows tired in the end.
" But he must not grow tired. Here and here
and here he steps lightly, surely, certainly. And
how does he open each golden gate ? His key ?
He concentrates on what he takes in hand to the
exclusion of everything else."
We had fallen into line and were stalking over
the lawn. 47 began again after a few steps.
" Our mutual acquaintance has a story that on
a Continental stunt it was necessary he should
become a waiter, therefore he chose a waiter in his
hotel, and sat down for six weeks and watched him.
He looked at no other waiter. He looked at
nothing else. He learned how a waiter waited for
a tip, how he coughed on the plates, how he picked
his teeth with the forks. That mutual acquaintance
of ours knew the way to go about things."
" Are you people any nearer clearing things
up ? " I asked. " By gad, you all seem to work
hard enough for your living. The Auxiliaries and
the Black-and-Tans are going day and night." He
made no answer, and I added, " I may as well tell
you the Sinn Feiners can go on for ever at the
present rate of things. You might have netted
them all in the beginning ; there are too many of
them now. You've pricked and pricked and pricked
them until youVe pricked the whole nation alive.
THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 255
Why do you people delude yourselves by making
statements every few weeks that the Irish situa-
tion is well in hand ? It's pathetic to listen to you,
and the awakening must come sooner or later."
" It's beginning already in a few places," 47
answered. " You'll find there's a change of policy
before long. The police chase will turn into some-
thing that can be dignified by the name of war, or
there will be an offer made and negotiations will
begin. You'll find it will be negotiations. Whether
war or negotiations the issue will be the same.
Ireland will obtain a full measure of self-govern-
ment." He stalked on a step or two and said,
" For the old order is changing and the British
Empire, whether it likes it or not, is going to
change from a number of nations dominated by a
central power to equal nations linked by a common
" It's time you got a move on," I retorted.
" India and Egypt are starting to go along the
same road as Ireland. There are the same symp-
toms to recognise the disease by. Kidnappings,
assassinations, and plenty of intimidation on both
sides. Why not give India and Egypt what they
are going to get gracefully instead of having them
threaten it out of you ? "
47 shrugged his shoulders and suffered from one
of his bursts of philosophy. " Perhaps it is written
the history of man is to be one of confusion and
pain from beginning to end. So does the spirit
master matter and gather its experience."
THE COMING OF SUMMER
After that we wandered round among the
flowers, which were a new lot and as good as usual ;
then we took our separate ways home.
" It's a longer au revoir than usual.'* I said,
flourishing a hand.
" How's that ? "
- " I'm off to Ulster for the twelfth of July. I'm
thinking of going quite soon."
" You may find a change when you come back.
Peace or something of the sort."
" By all means."
My road always lay through the centre of the
city, and coming to College Green one met the
inevitable paper boys bawling their wares, and if
one still had curiosity enough to buy another issue,
one opened it to find " Auxiliaries capture a Number
of Armed Civilians," or " Mysterious Death. Man's
Body found in Field. On the Victim's Breast was
pinned a piece of paper bearing the words ' Spies
and Informers beware. By Order. I.R.A.' "
THE EVE OF PEACE
THE concussion of the bomb nearly threw me off
my feet. For a few moments I thought that I was
hit. In a dream I could see people falling, and I
realised that things were darting by me like fast
and furious flies. The lorry had slackened speed,
and the Auxiliaries were standing up shooting. A
man prone on the ground a few yards away raised
himself cautiously on his hands. Then I came to
life. At the same moment a man in the gutter
decided that the moment to retire had come. He
scrambled to his feet and, crouching low, dashed
past me round the corner. Others ran with him
wildly. The fire became concentrated on the
corner of the wall. I stepped in a panic into shelter,
picking up a child as I stepped. Women fell over
perambulators after me, nurses abandoned babies
and snatched them up again, children were flung
from side to side and were pushed into shelter by
people who wanted shelter for themselves. The
child I held was about three. Its face had grown
a dull red, and it caught its breath until I thought
it would burst. The only thing to do was to smack
258 THE EVE OF PEACE
it. That took its attention off other things, and it
howled and breathed quite naturally. There was
no longer an ambusher to be seen.
" What a life ! " I exclaimed to a woman beside
" Terrible," she declared indignantly. " I de-
clare this is the third ambush I've wheeled my baby
into this week. I can show you a bullet hole
through her pram top this very minute. People
ought to be ashamed throwing bombs in a crowd."
" Indeed, the Shinners are only doing their
duty," broke in a girl. " Why do the Black-and-
Tans shoot back ? It's only babies they hit."
" And aren't the Black-and-Tans doing their
duty, too ? " retorted the woman with the baby,
who was thoroughly roused. " Indeed, and the
Shinners are taking no risks, they are not. Did ye
ever see a Shinner yet that came out in the open ?
Did ye ever see the Shinner that "
I walked home, leaving behind me a heated
argument, and feeling rubbed up the wrong way.
I decided I was quite glad to be joining Himself in
the North in a day or two.
Mrs. O'Grady met me at the door.
" It's yourself that's all right ? I was after
saying a rosary for you this very minute. God
save us ! It's the worst we've had yet. I thought
the house would come down."
" I was right in the middle of it. I made sure
I was hit at first. In fact my head is still ringing."
" And so it would," Mrs. O'Grady agreed.
" O'Grady is the very same. Miss OTarrell is still
out, and the mistress is in a fuss over it to be
She tramped off in her sandshoes to get my
lunch, and I went into the sitting-room.
The door opened suddenly and in bustled
" Such an explosion ! " she exclaimed. " I'm
glad you weren't hit. I was wondering where you
were. Miss O'Farrell isn't in yet. I hope she's all
" Nice place to ambush," I said, feeling aggres-
sive. " The street was filled with perambulators."
Mrs. Slaney flushed.
44 1 have no doubt the Sinn Feiners find it
necessary," she answered. " Why do the soldiers
take advantage of the perambulators ? They've
no business to pass down crowded streets as they
do. They do it for protection. They have no
business in Ireland at all. Well, you've really
been ambushed ? You can write home to Aus-
tralia now, and tell them all about it."
Another crash cut her sentence short, and she
" That seems to be in Stephen's Green. Do
you think that child will ever get home for her
dinner ? "
44 She won't leave the office if it's not safe."
The shooting stopped, and we went to the front
door to see what was to be seen. There were people
running all along the street, and the jarvies from
2<)0 THE EVE OF PEACE
Stephen's Green had whipped up their horses and
taken refuge in our direction. A tender of Auxili-
aries drove slowly, the men in it looking this way
and that for suspects.
" Brutes ! Blackguards ! Threatening the
people like that I I'd like to make faces at them ! "
" Please don't while I'm here."
" Ah, but that's how I feel. And our boys
aren't always responsible for the bombs. Three
people told me that they saw the big ambush last
night, and that the soldiers threw the bomb de-
liberately themselves . ' '
" What for ? "
" So that they could have an excuse for firing
at the crowd."
" Well, I saw the bomb thrown to-day, and they
certainly did not throw it themselves. A bomb
isn't a toy, Mrs. Slaney. I shouldn't think many
soldiers would throw the bomb for the pleasure of
ambushing themselves. The man that threw it
this morning was standing beside me, and he fell
flat on his face when it was thrown, and then he
scuttled away among the babies and the perambu-
She changed the subject. " When are you
joining your husband ? Mrs. O'Grady wants a
holiday, so I have given her next week. You and
I will be alone. Miss O'Farrell is going away for
a few days at the end of this week."
" Really ? " I made up my mind quickly.
"I'm going away at once."
ONLY ANOTHER AMBUSH 261
" Oh ! " Her face fell. " I had pictured a nice
little time together. I thought perhaps we could
get our meals together. It would save you, and
would be company for me."
" I'm afraid I'm going next Friday."
44 Well, I must try to get some one. I can't stay
in the house alone. O'Grady isn't much good."
She went slowly upstairs, and I remained on the
doorstep watching the people grow calmer. While
I watched Miss OTarrell came hurrying home.
" I've had a dreadful time, "she said breathlessly.
She looked shaken. " There was an ambush in
Stephen's Green a minute ago. I had to lie on my
tummy for ages listening to the bullets flying over
me. I was too terrified to move."
44 That must have been the last ambush."
44 Yes. I don't think I'm a national hero.
I'd hate to be shot." She talked over her shoulder
as she mounted the stairs. " It's made me fear-
fully late. I've hardly time for my lunch."
44 Wonderful spirit the Irish girls have," said
Mrs. Slaney, two hours later, as she encountered
me on my way out. "Little Miss OTarrell wasn't
at all put out by her experience this morning.
' Only another ambush,' she said, when I asked her
why she was late. Wonderful spirit, and it's all
through the nation. You can write to Australia
about that. It's little incidents that make the
I was alone in the flat for another three days.
The rest of the house had gone a-holidaying. and
262 THE EVE OF PEACE
there was only Mrs. Slaney overhead. On Monday
Mrs. O'Grady would have flown, or rather limped,
from the basement. On these nights sleep was
impossible. Crash after crash shook the silence,
and the rattle of rifle fire was never ending. Some
nights the concussion was so great that every time
I put the window up it was shaken down again.
When it was very bad I pulled down the blind,
feeling rather like the soldiers on guard at the
ruined Customs House, who crept into their bell
tents at night when they were being sniped from
the neighbouring roofs. It was a poor security,
but it was security of a sort, and the only security
granted at that time to the citizens of Dublin.
One night I saw a figure running down the
opposite pavement, and crouching against the walls
of the houses. The man came to a garden with a
tree hanging over a fence. He had time to get on
top of the fence under the tree before the Auxiliaries
rattled down the street after him. He stood quite
still on top of the fence. I could only see a shadow
where his toes must have been sticking out, the
rest was hidden in the branches of the tree. The
Auxiliaries dropped out of their lorry and searched
up and down. The toes did not stir. I began to
take a passionate interest in those toes. There is
an appeal in anything hunted. After a little the
lorry filled again and rattled away. The toes still
remained without motion on the top of the fence ;
but later when I looked they had gone.
Mrs. Slaney grew more and more warlike as
the days passed. Probably she passed sleepless
nights too, and the strain was telling on her.
:t Wonderful to have a husband a patriot," she
declared on one occasion.
I remembered the wives of the patriots I knew,
and recalled them to her memory.
" Rubbish, Mrs. Slaney," I said. " A patriot
isn't more of a hero than another man. Look at
the limelight a patriot gets to help him. If there
was no limelight, no publicity, a lot of the patriots
would be a sorry crew."
I had said rather more than I meant out of
exasperation ; but it was Mrs. Slaney's fault.
I made my way into the street thinking over
my theory. Political patriots held no monopoly.
There were heroes that worked and died unheard of,
heroes of exploration, of medicine, of religion, of
literature, anything one liked to name. My musings
came suddenly to an end. I had almost stepped in
a pool of blood. It began halfway down the steps
of a house, and continued to the gutter. It looked
as if some one had carried a bucket of blood and
had thrown it down the steps. I looked at it with
a feeling of nausea, which increased at the sight of
a dog's footsteps running through it. Far along
the pavement those bloody footsteps led me on my
way. Here the owner of them had lingered sniffing,
here he had chatted to a friend, here he had hesi-
tated. It was a long time before the little red
footsteps became less plain, and still longer before
they died out altogether. I turned a corner, and a
264 THE EVE OF PEACE
hundred yards in front of me lay another pool of
blood. The horror of killing swept over me again.
These two pools stirred something in me that the
riddled windows had never done. Those red foot-
steps had brought the red ruin that was upon the
land home to me far more than any raid or fear
of a raid had done, more than any ambush. They
seemed to sum up the whole case against war, to
lay it red and bare upon the pavement. Ireland
could never do without England, nor England
without Ireland, for man cannot do without
The next morning we were raided for the last
time. It was at eight o'clock. Mrs. Slaney had
gone to Mass, and I was alone in the house, except
for O'Grady, who had finished polishing the brass,
and had retired to his own quarters to make ready
to go to work. I was used to my sitting-room
filling suddenly with men armed to the teeth,
therefore it was not upsetting to welcome them
again, I had a pile of Irish Bulletins, the forbidden
organ of Sinn Fein, in the bottom drawer of my
desk, and the recollection of them was the only
thing that made me uneasy.
" Where's Mrs. Fitzgerald ? " demanded an old
friend with a scar running down his face.
I glanced outside before I answered. Mrs.
Fitzgerald was considered formidable enough to
merit more lorries and armoured cars than her
husband. Wherever I looked were Auxiliaries,
and the house was filled with them.
THE FINAL RAID 265
" Mrs. Fitzgerald has gone. I've had her flat
for two months now," I answered.
" What's your name ? "
I gave it.
He softened perceptibly. " You have the same
Christian name as my wife. Now we shall get on
" I'm glad."
" All these things are Mrs. Fitzgerald's, I know
them," he said, looking round the room like an
auctioneer in fancy dress.
" I took the flat over from her."
" That's her desk ? "
" I must search it."
" Please do. You'll only find my manuscript
in there ; but do go through it. I'd love you to.
I'd like to be sure somebody read it. Publishers
are such unkind people."
I heard a smothered oath from the other room.
The door was open, and I saw an officer with my
stocking bag. He had evidently run his finger on
a darning needle. He cast the bag from him, and
turned his attention to my chest of drawers.
The officer in charge opened the top of the desk.
The Bulletins were in the bottom drawer ; but one
that I had been reading was on top of the desk.
It lay face downwards almost under his hand. I
couldn't make up my mind whether to take the
bull by the horns and own up to them, or try my
luck. My luck stood me in good stead. He
266 THE EVE OF PEACE
picked up a horoscope I had been casting. He had
another attack of humanity. He put down the gun
he had in his hand, and turned to me with the map.
" By Jove, are you interested in astrology ? I
started it during the war, and before I came on
" I started it when Curfew was long and life
became perceptibly shorter."
He propounded the map to me, as if he loved to
hear himself on the subject.
" Is there anywhere I can go for lessons in
Dublin ? "
I told him where to go, wondering what the
feelings of the meek astrologers would be when an
Auxiliary armed to the teeth stalked into their
He flung down the map on top of the impious
Bulletin, and then ran his hand through the mass
of papers and letters. He stooped to the first
drawer, then to the second ; but my luck held
good. Halfway through the second drawer he
straightened up and said
" I'll take your word for it."
44 Don't do that," I said. " Better finish your
He laughed. " No, I'll trust you." He walked
to the door of the other room where the searchers
were busy making hay. " Stop searching," he
said. " Mrs. Fitzgerald isn't in the mattress."
After that we stood a few minutes in light con-
TO RACK AND RUIN 267
The tenders went off down the street with a
flourish. At every window as usual a head was
watching, and a few of the more da? ng spirits
hovered upon their doorsteps. The day had begun
Mrs. Slaney returned five minutes after. I
think she was glad to have missed the raid, although
she declared that she wished she had been present
to let the men have her opinion of them.
Worse things happened in Dublin every day.
The Sinn Feiners began to carry out their " execu-
tions " in the streets. Two Auxiliaries were shot
coming out of a Graf ton Street Picture House. It
was said a woman pointed them out, and when the
dying men were lying on the pavement nobody
dared go near them. Two more Auxiliaries were
shot while they were sitting at tea with their wives.
The kidnappings were going on. The military and
police never rested, and all night long there was
shooting. People were sick to death at the state
Nobody ever said what was at the bottom of his
or her heart, for nobody was sure of the other
person's beliefs, and everybody feared the power
of the opposite side. Meanwhile the country was
going to rack and ruin, and was there a human man
or woman who did not long for peace ?
THE TWELFTH OF JULY
Now that the height of the summer had come, and
each day was hotter than the last, there began an
exodus from Dublin of all who had opportunity,
and among the speeding guests was myself. I left
my wife behind and winged a flight to Ulster, being
primed that I would have taken no true stock of
Ireland until I had examined the strange race that
moved, and lived, and had its being in the north-
east of the country. It was said that the first half
of July was the season to study these people, as
their national fury waxed greatest at that time of
year, reaching its most notable height on the twelfth
of the month, and thereafter abating.
The end of June found me setting out upon my
The train that drew me out of Amiens Street
railway station, Dublin, and disgorged me at
Belfast, did undoubtedly take me out of one country
and set me down in another. I left Ireland and
came to a Scotland, not a Scotland identical with
that over the sea ; but a Scotland that smacked
of the other Scotland in speech, in hardihood, and
in the make of mind that, in the face of a Catholic
NORTH AND SOUTH 269
Ireland, made its sons cherish the stern old beliefs
of Covenanting days. Behold some later race,
vigorous, masculine, most tenacious, had breasted
an intervening sea and found a footing in Ireland.
New influences coming upon the fathers had
modified the children ; but time had not yet worn
out the original mould.
Go north and you will find the answer to the
question, Why are the Irish always divided ? The
north-east quarter has the same winds as blow
about the rest of Ireland, has the same roads as
those on which the rest of Ireland walks, grows the
same grass ; but has another people in whom it
breeds a separate vision. The statement that
Ireland absorbs all who come to her, making them
her own, is a poet's dream or a politician's romance.
The two Irish peoples are poles apart the
Orangemen masculine, stern, uncompromising,
when they are spiritual, alight with the steady
burning fire of Puritan days taken out of some old
history book, touched with mediaeval narrowness,
energetic, clean ; Catholic Ireland, feminine and
temperamental, poetical, easy going, lazy, able in
dream to conceive the noblest ideal, unfitted in
character to carry it to a conclusion, broad where
the Orangemen are narrow, pliable where the
Orangemen are rigid.
Why did the old Covenanting blood never flow
into the Celtic veins as other blood has done ?
Have political differences been all the cause ? Is
the Orangeman's love of Empire as uncompromising
270 THE TWELFTH OF JULY
as he says ? Is Celtic Ireland's hate of Britain
implacable ? I for one do not believe that Ulster's
love is so burning hot ; nor am I sure that Celtic
Ireland's hate of Britain is so undying. The Irish
flame burns up now and then, fanned by a new
generation of leaders ; but when the bellows cease
to blow there seems to be no fire.
The answer is religion.
It is not strange that these two peoples should
be divided in religious belief, for a man's tempera-
ment leads his beliefs, and the teachings of the two
Churches fit the types of mind. The Protestant
Church, offering a father's stern love, fits the self-
reliant Orange temperament ; and the Catholic
Church, which holds out a mother's universal arms
to the tired spirit, answers the Celtic need.
The religious bigotry of this part of the world
was astonishing to a stranger. It was mediaeval
in vigour, and it was undeniable that the Protestants
were the real offenders. There was a certain reason
for this state of things, inasmuch as Catholic Ireland
greatly outnumbered Protestant Ireland, and the
weak man is always up in arms. At those seasons
when the Protestant God seemed to demand of His
devotees a greater fury of worship than usual,
there would come a gust of religious intolerance,
which brought the Middle Ages back again.
How soon will these two poles, which are the
complement of each other, meet ? If these two
peoples would come together, and the hardy
northern blood flow into the numerous gentler veins
KING WILLIAM 271
of the South, so that a new race, stiffer than the
South, more imaginative and tolerant than the
North, should be bred on the ancient hills, in the old
dales, Ireland's golden age, which poets have sung
about so long, might return again.
They told me in Dublin that the annual fury of
these northern people begins to wax on the first
of July, and reaches its height upon the twelfth of
the month ; but before the end of June the Orange
drummer has taken his drum from its cover and the
canes to beat it off the shelf, and on the fine even-
ings, after work, when the summer warmth is heating
his blood, he sets himself to a preliminary drumming,
his insistent summons rolls down the street, and a
careless world is reminded that once upon a time
a certain King William of immortal memory
crossed the Boyne River to the sound of drums
and fifes. The fifeman has dusted his fife and
blown a preliminary roulade, and those who are
not musicians have cleared their throats to cry
the more vigorously "To hell with the Pope."
This year, on the eve of the twelfth, greater
events were to befall than the stout Orangemen,
in their black and their orange sashes, dreamed of.
The murderer was to come forth, and the world
was to receive him as equal. First, the South full
of rumours, then, while men shook their heads in
disbelief, news that peace had come. Out of the
blackest clouds the dove had swooped back into
sight, had alighted after endless flight and folded
272 THE TWELFTH OF JULY
Morning brought news which evening elaborated ;
evening's news had staled at breakfast time. Post-
haste the rumours came. Negotiations ! Truce !
As if a magician's wand had waved them forth,
the Sinn Fein leaders became flesh and blood,
emerged into the daylight. A pause in the hunt !
An armistice signed ! The phantom army have
taken their fingers from the triggers of their guns ;
the police have switched off the engines of their
It was said men with beards like goats and with
the talons of wild beasts descended from the hills ;
the patriots who had gone to bed with the owls
and the rabbits returned like demigods home.
Oh, disillusioned Ulster, whose comrade, whose
bigger brother, whose ally of so many oaths has at
this most exalted season of the year, under your
very nose, at your very front door, eaten his words,
plucked the scornful phrase off his tongue, called
traitor friend, called assassin comrade, taken his
hand out of yours and thrust it into the palm of
your enemy !
Oh, drummers, roll your drums; oh, fifemen,
shrill your fifes : not all your notes, not all your
drumming will bring back your belief in Britain.
But before you condemn too bitterly, search
the hearts of those who have done this. Pity, then,
may take anger's place. The story has ended as
most human stories end. High speech has worn
itself out in wind, enemy has met enemy on a
common level, each giving something to the other,
THE GREAT DAY 273
each receiving something from the other, as all men
must who rub shoulders on this planet.
If in man's sight this pact has brought humilia-
tion on Loyalist and Republican alike, it may not
be so in the sight of Heaven. Man's memory is
short, he remembers the ends of things ; but the
gods, to whom the past is the present, and yesterday
is to-day, recall the days of difficulty, the hours of
labour and the moments of sacrifice, and do not
look to the result so much as to the making of the
On the twelfth of the month a brazen sun climbed
up into the sky, and after an early breakfast we
came out of our doors garbed for the fray. All the
world was there, and half the world was wearing
orange sashes, and as a man was of low or high
degree in his own Orange lodge, so was his sash
pricked over with fewer or with more silver
The men came forth in dark suits newly lifted
from chests of drawers, with sombre bowlers on
their heads ; the women, following a happier
tradition, wore frocks that vied with the coloured
sashes, but iron rule demanded gloved hands.
We were a village going by train to a rallying-
ground. Our lodge and our band went with us.
The big drummer had his cottage at the end of
the row, and every now and then came such a roll
of drumming as I have heard many a time in an
African village. It wakened memories of palms
and fevers and alligators. The fifes were being
274 THE TWELFTH OF JULY
tested, flights of notes fell from the air. The ear
was tickled and then cheated, and then another
flight tickled it again. Round a bend of the road
came a rolling and a shrilling, and then banners
waving in the sun. Other villages were marching
in to join us to the rallying-ground.
The train came in, and I was lifted up on the
first wave of a swelling tide, and sent into a carriage
through the gaping door. First me, and after me
the world. There surged in men with pikes, there
surged in men with Bibles upon poles, there surged
in children munching sweets, there surged in women
with babies and without babies ; and when from
my corner I looked to the door, and wondered when
would some one put out a hand and close it, there
followed in other men with drums and other men
with banners, and ever more men with spare drum-
heads, and ever more children munching sweets.
The engine jumped from a standing position,
the carriages jumped after it, in our carriage we
rolled a single time forward and backward, and
then we were jerking through the country, past
birds I could not hear, past flowers I could not
smell, under skies I could not see.
The stations came. We stopped at every one
of them. Nobody got out ; but another fife and
drum band got in, and other men with Bibles upon
sticks, and other men with pikes, and other men
with banners, and other fluttered women, and
other munching children. We left a following on
the platform waving us on our way. Then we
THE TRYSTING-GROUND 275
jerked over the final mile or two, and sounds of
drum and fife, and glimpses of road where banners
waved and bands played told us of Orange lodges
rallying to the try sting-ground.
The trysting-ground of Ballynahinch was full to
the brim, and certain of the people who had arrived
there were also full to the brim. The day was
another of those blazing days this spendthrift
summer was so prodigal of, and many a wise man
passed between swing doors, passed several times
between swing doors, before falling into line for
the procession. As there were ever more lodges
coming in from the country, and ever more wise
men passing in between swing doors, those who
were already inside could find no way out, and
whether they ever got out, or whether they are
sitting there to this day, I am not able to tell.
All things start at last, and the procession
moved on its way.
Across the high street, at a spot where a hill
began and went winding up, was an archway,
which seemed to be the holiest ground. From the
arch dangled all sorts of symbols, most of which I
have forgotten : one was a wooden ladder ; these
same symbols the stout Orangemen wore in silver
upon their sashes.
I stood beside this arch, and fifty-seven lodges
went drumming up the hill. Ha, drummer, whip
those parchment faces 1 Where are your long
canes ? Whip and whip again, until the veins at
your wrists swell and the blood spouts forth. W T as
276 THE TWELFTH OF JULY
ever Protestant wrist made that grew tired, for is
not the Pope himself within your drum ? As the
new lodge approached the arch, the pike men ran
before, lifted their pikes on high, put the heads
together, and the rest of the company, lifting their
hats in deference to the arch, passed through.
Ha, you, big drummer, need not lift your hat !
Are you not doing enough whipping and whipping
and whipping those two parchment faces between
which writhes His Holiness ?
The last lodge went up the hill, the squeal of
fifes and the roar of drums were on ahead. I
fell in with the great following which followed
We went up, and up, and up, and so did the
sun in the sky. There was lemonade to buy, but
that was not for me. There was beer in the town
behind, and that was for all who fell by the way-
side. We licked our parched lips. Mothers herd-
ing small children before them cried as they came
to water, " Hi, Willie, come out of that ! There's
a wee Pope in that pond ! "
The ascent was done, we flowed into a large
field where people had rested their banners against
the trees, had put their fifes and drums upon the
grass, and were drinking ginger-beer and eating
bananas. On a wooden stand certain speakers
were collected, and round there the press was
What, is the wound so deep ? One after another
you stand upon that rough wooden platform in the
PATCHES OF SPLENDOUR 277
fiery sun, and speak as if all old ties were broken
now that Britain holds out a hand to the enemy,
and offers it equality and respectability.
In good time I had had my fill of the speakers,
and wandered away, turning over the history of the
last seven years. Surely humour was its chief
ingredient ? Ulster had been Celtic Ireland's best
friend. Had Ulster not made difficulties in the
beginning, Ireland would gladly have accepted a
limited measure of self-government, and there
would have been no Sinn Fein to sweep the country
like a wind. Seven years of external and internal
difficulties, of irresolution and changing opinion on
the part of the British Government, the steadfast
following of an ideal on the Irish side, had brought
two-thirds of Ireland a wider measure of self-
government than it had previously conceived, and
had left Ulster as she was in the beginning, but
soured alike with friend and foe. A story like all
human stories muddled and painful and ludicrous,
and with its patches of splendour.
As I came to the lower end of the field on the
way to the railway station, nine drummers stood
drumming in a row. All the exasperation of those
seven years of British half-measures had passed
into those eighteen arms, into the swelling veins of
those wrists, into the eighteen hands which grasped
the long canes that whipped so passionately the
eighteen great parchment drumheads. Nine Popes
writhed in those drums as eighteen canes beat on
and on and on, lest if they stopped a moment His
278 THE TWELFTH OF JULY
Holiness would step from out the Vatican, his triple
crown upon his head, and hearing of Britain's
apostasy and Ulster's loneliness, would then and
there put out a hand, and gather every Orangeman
upon that green to Rome.
Now that an armistice had been signed, and
Dublin was again the centre of affairs, my wife and
I packed up at the end of the Orange celebrations
and returned home. We arrived in the middle of
another blazing hot day, and as we rattled from the
station on a jaunting-car, Crossley tenders full of
unarmed Auxiliaries with towels about their necks
passed us, going in the direction of the sea. It
was an astonishing sight, and more eloquent than
all the newspaper accounts.
There had been no public rejoicings to speak of
at the turn of affairs. For a night or two fires had
been lighted in the streets, and small boys had
danced round them, and the public had shown a
reluctance to go indoors and to bed ; but the late
hours were little more than an expression of the
people's satisfaction at the liberty which had
followed the lifting of the Curfew. Irishmen and
the British troops in Ireland took the cessation of
hostilities in a sober spirit, as if every man carried
a hidden sorrow. The gods had humbled all alike
and given victory to none.
But though soldier and civilian both felt some-
thing of the melancholy that follows the cessation
of all protracted trials, public satisfaction at the
new conditions was undeniable, and as the truce
continued opinions were expressed with a freedom
unknown during the reign of terror. It was
evident the man in the street had longed for stable
conditions, and was eager to accept the compromise
which had been effected.
Republican leaders who had managed to elude
capture to the end had come down from the
Olympian heights. They had magically material-
ised, and might be seen in the streets rubbing
shoulders with common men, dining in restaurants
off forks that previously had gone into common
mouths, wiping their lips with napkins that before
had known less glorious patrons. They were
joined soon by such deputies of Bail Eireann as
had been in prison and in internment camps, and
were unconditionally released for the furtherance
of the negotiations.
Young men, romantic men, high-spirited men
had gone up to the Olympian heights two years,
three years, four years before ; there came down
sober men, weary men, nervy men, and men with
blood upon their hands. Rumour had long had it
that many of the Olympians were on the verge of
collapse, and rumour had been true. Chastened
demigods came down to walk among common men
The Sunday after our return we went out to
CHANGED TIMES 281
Mrs. Fitzgerald's cottage. Her husband, the
Minister of Propaganda, was out of prison, and
came wandering in from the dining-room. Under
his eyes were marks of wear and tear. He was one
of the least provincial of the Dail deputies, had the
easy manner of a travelled man, and gave glimpses
of an educated mind. The Minister of Commerce
turned up during the afternoon. He had been
much hunted before the armistice ; but he had not
been taken. He looked very strung up, and
admitted he had nerves. " I shall dye my hair
if it starts again," he announced. " There's
nothing to beat that." Later two uniformed Re-
publican officers dropped in from a camp on the
hill at the back. It was astonishing to sit among
these people who had been shadows a few days
The camp at the back of the cottage was a
military centre for the district, and now and then
the local volunteers were reviewed there. They
came from all points on bicycles and on foot, the
new generation, the young men, the people who
were most affected by this national birth, this
Irish renaissance. Some leader of the Republican
Army would be there to review, a man who a few
weeks before had a price on his head, and who
could not have been seen by common men without
permits, passwords, and all the paraphernalia of the
Sinn Fein underworld.
The astonishing thing about these materialised
Irish Volunteers was their youth. The country
had been given into the keeping of boys, and even
the leaders of the movement were nearly all young
men. Elderly people shook their heads ; but I
believe the omen a good one, for Ireland suffers
under the burden of her antiquity, and only young
men can bring her a new life. One looks forward
fearfully, but with hope, to the new Ireland that
is being hammered into shape. Ploughboys and
shop assistants wield the hammers.
The days passed, and the long hot summer
drew to an end.
Auxiliaries and Black-and-Tans continued to
drive in state to their daily dips in the sea, and one
never again saw them with anything more formid-
able than a bath-towel round their necks. In
course of time the British Government came to
the conclusion that idleness in the erstwhile enemy
land of Dublin was not well, and rumour said the
bathers were to be sent away on leave. It is a
fact that after a while the strange spectacle of these
people come out of their wire cages and sitting
unarmed and unharmed in open Crossley tenders
with towels round their necks took place no more,
and the sounds of lorry wheels were not heard
again in the noble squares of Dublin city. But
the memory of these people stays behind with
Cromwell's memory, and Strongbow's memory.
I believe that the secret service also took its
departure at this time, for that part of it which
I knew, that is to say 47, made its exit.
We had a note one afternoon asking us to see
THE FINAL SETTLEMENT 283
him off by the evening boat train. We went down
in plenty of time. She was there beside him. He
seemed the same as usual, neither greatly elated
nor greatly set down at his departure, while she
was unfeignedly glad to be away and said so.
44 I'm glad you didn't make your bow without
letting us know," I said.
44 How many more years are you staying ? "
44 We came here to see it fixed up."
44 It's going to be fixed up," he answered.
44 Temporarily, at any rate."
44 Are you quite sure ? "
He nodded, gloomily, I thought. 44 You'll find
it fixed up at any price. But the Government
won't have to pay a very big price. The extreme
people won't want to take this ; but the nation
as a whole want it, and they'll help to see it
44 Some time ago, one night it was," I said, 44 1
met an old man waving about on two sticks and
baying at the stars. He asked me if I'd like to
know how the Irish question would be settled. I
said certainly. He stopped waving on his two
sticks, stopped baying at the stars, and cried out,
4 The extremists will meet the extreme extremists
in the Rotunda at Rutland Square, and there will
be a final battle to the death. If nobody is left,
then it will be settled.' "
44 But," put in 47's wife, thankfully, 44 we shall
not be there."
" We're jolly glad we came over," I said.
:t We've got some first-hand tips for running a
revolution, and if the same sort of thing starts in
another country one will know how much of the
papers to believe. I hope things are going to hurry
up and finish now, for we're off, too, before long. I
wish Ireland every good luck and a speedy growth
to greatness, but I'm ready to transfer my at-
We had cut ourselves off from the others and
were side by side. " You've no departing pangs ? "
47 shrugged his shoulders. " Not really. One
feels the usual regret at leaving places associated
with pretty tumultuous hours in one's life." He
turned and said with feeling, " I have only to stop
at any street corner and those dark Christmas days
come back. By gad, they wore one out while they
lasted ; but everything is over in the end. I'm
glad to be off, though one makes acquaintances,
friends even, that a fellow is sorry to lose, even on
a job of this sort."
" You can do your job and make friends ? " I
" Why not ? " A moment after he said, " You
get used to keeping your work entirely apart, a
sort of falcon sitting on your wrist. You make
friends like anybody else ; but this hooded bird is
waiting ready for the game when you start it. Or
there's some presence behind your chair, like the
slave at a Roman general's triumph, telling you
THE LAST OF 47 285
you are a servant, and greater than you is the
Empire you serve."
" No," he exclaimed, " I wouldn't stay another
day. My job here is done. I want to get to some-
thing ahead. I'm like that now. The wandering
fever has got me for keeps. We'll have a spell
when we get over, we're looking forward to it, and
it'll be damn fine for a few weeks. We'll go and
watch summer turn into autumn somewhere, and
we'll be content enough until the old thing happens
again. It's happened too often not to expect it
once more. One will begin by getting restless and
talking about a change of scene, then one will want
to know exactly what is going on, the truth, not
the stuff the newspapers dish you out. Then I
shall begin wondering when I shall hear from
" And about Christmas time," I interrupted,
" when there's nothing but wind and rain, you will
be working again, homeless, friendless, the whole
catalogue of lesses. I sailed round Cape Horn
once in a four-masted barque for the fun of the
thing. It's the last thing I ever mean to do again.
All the men were like me, thanking God when they
saw land. But most of them had only been a few
days ashore after six months at sea when they had
had their fill of land. I left them disappearing into
the wind and the dark."
A few minutes later the train had taken them
away from us and we were on the way home.
Weeks passed with affairs still in the balance,
and we began to talk of going. Public interest in
the negotiations never abated. Most days of the
week a patient crowd waited outside the Dublin
Mansion House to see the Republican leaders come
and go. Summer was drawing to an end, and the
days were often wet ; but the crowd never lost
patience, and stood in lines marshalled by Re-
publican police, who seemed as numerous as crows.
There were constant rumours of a break in the
Downing Street negotiations ; but the longer the
truce continued the more unready people were to
return to old conditions.
The delegates came back from the preliminary
London conference, and the first of the public
meetings of the Dail was held in the Dublin
Mansion House. Fitzgerald, the Minister of Pro-
paganda, gave us tickets.
Long before the hour all Dublin was outside.
All Dublin wanted to be inside ; but there was
not room for a tenth part of Dublin. The morning
was wet ; but the crowd kept its spirits and cheered
at every excuse. A multitude of Republican police
kept order. These people wore no uniform, and
were very young ; but arrangements inside and
outside the Mansion House were admirable. The
Republican police were still amateur policemen, and
if a question was asked half a dozen of them sprang
forward to answer it. One was overwhelmed with
The great round room was choked with people,
BAIL EIREANN 287
except for a roped-off space, full of easy seats,
waiting the coming of the Bail deputies. The
Speaker's chair stood beyond and above, and to
one side was the Press gallery, and to the other
places for distinguished visitors. An Indian in a
pugaree was among those people.
A gallery, packed with more people, circled the
room ; higher than this, against the walls, were
coats of arms of all past Lord Mayors. In Ireland,
that land of imagination, all Lord Mayors have
armorial bearings. A man with a flashlight
camera was getting his apparatus ready.
There was a burst of cheering, and we rose to
our feet. The applause lasted for a couple of
minutes, and then died down like a wind subsiding,
and behold all the empty seats were filled. All over
the place people were digging and tapping one
another, and pointing and whispering, and staring
and asking. Many of the Bail deputies had been
nobodies before they went on the run ; but after
the day of their disappearance from among common
men, their names had flowered like plants in a
Eamonn Be Valera, the President of the Re-
public, sat at the end of the front bench. A tall
man with a good figure, and a speed of movement
that told of his foreign blood. After years of
storm had he brought his ship safely into harbour ?
Never had he been placed higher in popular affection
than then, and perhaps never would be placed so
On his right, so close that their elbows touched,
was a greater than he, Arthur Griffith, the father
of Sinn Fein. They had asked him in the beginning
to be the first President of the Republic ; but he
had refused the laurel wreath, seeing greater freedom
in a secondary position, for the man placed in the
higher seat must dance at the bidding of the crowd.
A man nearly as broad as he was high, a cold man,
a man with a great head, he sat motionless all that
morning, never speaking, twisting his moustache
now and then, oblivious of the public eye, seeming
content to be overlooked, satisfied to see about
him this meeting, which his eloquent pen and his
devotion had done so much to bring about.
On his right, touching elbows again, was the
man whom public imagination had lifted highest of
all. The man was Michael Collins, on whose head
had been a reward of four thousand pounds, the
Minister of Finance, as he was now called, " a
certain minister " as he had been referred to in
conversation during the terror ; Mike, as he was
affectionately known to his followers, Michael the
Mild as the Ulster Press bitterly described him.
He was a young man on the way to corpulence.
His skin had a deadly pallor. His face was large
and handsome, and yet one fell into a muse,
wondering was it a cruel face, or was it a sensual
face, or was it a feminine face in spite of its strength,
for something was wrong with it. Now and again
he tossed his head back with all the charm of a
boy. There were legends that he had gone about
LEAVE THEM THERE 289
as a woman, that he had passed into officers' clubs
disguised as an officer, worming secrets out of
people. He would have made a giant woman. I
think these tales were legends and no more.
There may have been men present who had
worked as hard and suffered as much as those
three ; but those names meant most to the public.
The remainder of the deputies looked what they
were, several score of men, mostly young, mostly
from the lower middle class, some few elected for
their ability, the majority chosen because they were
in prison or on the run at the time of the elections,
and their election was a gesture of defiance to the
British authority. When presently they spoke,
some of them were inarticulate, and, no doubt, in
good time the same popular feeling that raised
them up will set them down from their seats, and
put others more fitted in their places.
But whether they stay there or go back to
private life, responsibility has put an early mark
on them, and they have learnt lessons while they
are young which most men do not learn until
Above them all, filling the Speaker's chair,
lanky, folded like an idol, sat Professor MacNeil.
He rested a hand on either arm of the chair and
never stirred, even when he growled out a few
words in Irish that seemed to come from a subter-
Leave them there. Those men have brought
Ireland to the point on the road where she now
stands. They have made her dream dreams and
have shown her splendid visions. They took on a
great responsibility. Can they guide her the rest
of the way to peace and greatness ? They must be
trusted. But the glass is troubled.
Ireland has become self-conscious. Youth, for
a while at least, has taken the place of age. The
glass is troubled and wants clearing ; but youth
can do most things.
LAST OF IRELAND
" GOD save us ! " Mrs. O'Grady exclaimed to
Himself when she heard of the truce, and to this
day I have not made up my mind whether the
exclamation was one of hope or despair.
She had summered in the stifling basement and
had grown thin. She toiled hopelessly upstairs
with sweat upon her forehead, she limped hopelessly
downstairs, groaning with the burden of living, as
she stooped to gather into her hands some par-
ticularly obvious trail of dust left by her broom.
As she grew lean the man in the street filled
out with the new confidence of the truce. He
sunned himself at the shop doors, and heard un-
moved the sounds of motors back-firing.
One of the avatars who roamed Dublin and
called on us now and then, grew prophetic over a
lobster salad in the little flat.
44 Ireland's only hope now is from the North,"
he said thoughtfully. " The Bail is becoming
respectable. It has lost its soul."
44 You expected them to reject the terms ? "
292 LAST OF IRELAND
" Not at all. I expected them to accept. Sinn
Fein has grown respectable. The North is the only
hope." He put a lobster claw on the carpet and
brought his great foot down on it. " That's a sight
you wouldn't see out of Ireland," he said : "an
avatar cracking a lobster's claw."
44 The carpet belongs to Desmond Fitzgerald,"
I answered. " So you have the spectacle of an
avatar cracking a lobster's claw on a Cabinet
Minister's carpet, a sight which certainly could not
be seen outside Ireland."
44 It's like this," he continued. " Ireland is one
of the spiritual poles of the earth, and the salvation
of the world must come through her. The mould
of Western civilisation must be broken up. It's
rotten. If Ireland can stay as she is and not sink
back into the materialism of other countries, she
has the power to strike the blow that will shatter
the present system. There is no sham in the
North, the Ulsterman is fundamental. He holds
the germ of spirituality in him like every Irishman
does. The North will come to blows with the
South. That will start the whole thing. It's
going to be a bloody fight."
44 1 suppose the Irishman's spiritual," I an-
swered. 4t He is certainly always saying he is.
Personally I believe he mixes up spirituality with
an astonishing ability to shift his point of view
and make it fit the occasion. Look how the truce
is being broken every day in the most barbarous
way, and no doubt the truce breakers salve their
AN AVATAR 293
consciences by saying they want a Republic and
not a Free State, and that they are holding to a
spiritual ideal. You people can be material
enough. Irish landladies can hold their own with
any landladies in the world."
44 The trouble will start quickly," the avatar
announced. " It will start over the boundary
commission, I don't know how I know, but some-
thing tells me. A clash between England and
America will follow, the colonies will be divided
among themselves. The British Empire will go.
Europe will go. In Ireland, nursed through all
the chaos, will be a small group of people who will
undertake the reconstruction of the world."
44 I'll wait and see if it comes off," I said doubt-
fully. " Ireland's rather a small place to be as
important as that : Personally, I think she's too
old to influence the world very much now. Her
psyche was arrested in the days of Cuchulan.
She's pagan at heart. Christianity fits her like a
hair shirt. She's ages old. You want a new
people to regenerate a world."
44 You're right. I feel the pull of pagan
44 I've been told that all through the west of
Ireland the peasants still take their old pagan
relics out of hiding and worship them as soon as
the priest is out of sight."
44 It's true. Don't you feel the very mountains
of Ireland are sacred ? How can a people like us
throw off our past ? "
294 LAST OF IRELAND
44 Shoddy days, shoddy days," Himself an-
swered, coming out of a trance in the corner.
44 Let's hope the world isn't too old to get better-
I was at A. E.'s on Sunday evening. Madam
Markievicz was there, and Barrel Figgis, and James
Stephens the poet, and the rest of them, and some
one brought up De Valera's letter to Lloyd George,
the one where he says that Lloyd George offers
Ireland margarine when Ireland wants butter.
Madam Markievicz excused the use of such phrase-
ology in political correspondence. 4 Ah, Constance,
Constance,' A. E. remonstrated, shaking his head.
Then Figgis, who has the happy knack of getting
in a thrust all round, said, 4 The days seem to have
gone when Cromwell chose Milton for his secretary,
so that his despatches might be written in the best
Latin of the period.' The thought that De Valera
had a poorer literary taste than Cromwell upset us
so that we all went home. If the new world is to
come, let it come soon."
The avatar rose to take his departure. 44 Good-
bye," he said. 44 It's an awful thing to be the only
sane man in the world."
Mrs. Slaney was full of rage at the iniquities of
Lloyd George when she first heard the British offer ;
but after a talk with Father Murphy, who pointed
out that the terms were all that Ireland desired, she
shifted her ground, and became a staunch Free
Stater. From then on her fear was lest the Re-
publicans should upset the Free State and send
Ireland into anarchy.
GOOD-BYE TO IRELAND 295
The last day in our old flat came. Mrs. O'Grady
shook hands with bright round tears rolling after
one another down her face.
" God save us ! " she said, " but I feel as if my
own children were walking out of the house this
very minute. Indeed, and I never looked to see
the day when you would go."
Later came the good-bye to Ireland. It sank
into the sea. Its own peculiar soft atmosphere
hung over it and passed into a sea haze.
Two days later I was having tea with a friend
" My dear," she said, " what an awful time you
must have had. Of course you were awfully brave
" There was no special danger if you didn't
interfere," I assured her.
" No danger ? But they are murderers ? "
" There are plenty of murderers in the world,
and they aren't all Sinn Feiners."
" But they murdered women. Look at the
women they shot, and by order, too. More than
one woman. We shot no women. And look at
their terrible Sinn Fein regiment, the Black-and-
" But, my dear, the Black-and-Tans were
British Government police," I gasped.
It was no use. She smiled in a superior manner.
" You think I don't know," she said, " but I've
followed every line in the papers about the Irish
question ever since you were over there. I was
296 LAST OF IRELAND
always so afraid you might have been shot in an
ambush, and I should so hate not seeing it. I
remember seeing in the paper I cut out the para-
graph to show you, but I lost it that the majority
of the Blaek-and-Tans were Irishmen."
" But a Government force."
" Nonsense. I'm sure you're mistaken. I must
look for the paragraph. More tea ? "
Years of Sinn Fein propaganda had accom-
plished no more than that.
OUT of the whirlpool of lies, misunderstandings,
prevarications, distortions, inaccuracies and pas-
sions which go to the making up of history, can one
secure some of the causes and effects connected
with the Irish struggle since the Sinn Fein move-
ment put aside pacific methods and became
militant ? Are there conclusions to be drawn ?
Three separate traditions seem to have been
welded together for the purpose of uniting Ireland
in a common cause. One tradition is the political
tradition that Ireland possesses a national individu-
ality, and must continue to struggle for the ex-
pression of that individuality until it is obtained.
A second tradition is the Gaelic tradition, that
Ireland must revive and cherish the Gaelic spirit,
the Gaelic culture, the Gaelic language and litera-
ture. The third tradition is the tradition that
internal affairs must be altered and improved.
These three traditions came together in the Sinn
Fein movement. The Irish Republic was to be
an independent republic, it was to be as far as
298 LOOKING BACK
possible a Gaelic republic, and as a state it was
to be an example to the world.
Each generation of Irish leaders, to grind their
patriotic axes, have insisted that Ireland is a
conquered country, suffering the fate of the con-
quered. The statement is too sweeping. Ireland
has been part of a united kingdom with a common
legislation. She has suffered to a certain extent
from the too centralised parliament at Westminster,
where her local affairs have frequently been crowded
out. She has been legislated for as an industrial
country when she is in reality an agricultural
country. She has suffered from absentee land-
lords, another effect of centralisation. She has
suffered in other ways ; but she has suffered most
of all from herself, from her inability ever to become
united, to hold an individual opinion, to cease being
hag-ridden by religion, which has starved her
There have been bills passed for the rest of the
British Isles which have not been passed in Ireland
owing to the veto of the Catholic Church. One
has only to compare the educational differences of
the Irish people and the Scottish people, two nations
of the same size, to comprehend what a heavy
reckoning the Catholic Church will have to answer
to some day.
The Catholic Church has allowed ignorance and
superstition. A certain intolerance can also be
laid at its door, but not in any great degree. But
in Ulster, Protestant Ulster, Protestantism has bred
a ferocity of intolerance, which is astounding in
the twentieth century. Ireland staggers about
with these two religions upon her back.
The old cry, Home Rule Rome Rule, was
probably a false one. One of the results of the
struggle for Irish independence has been the
breaking of the power of the Catholic Church.
The young men have in part educated themselves,
and prevailing conditions have, whether for better
or worse, matured their characters before their
time. There is still a profound reverence and love
for the Church ; but the day has gone when it
can dictate to the nation. While Sinn Fein was
in its infancy the Church condemned the movement,
when it grew strong the Church had to walk beside
it with trembling steps and grave forebodings.
The young generation of priests threw themselves
into the Republican movement body and soul.
But Ireland is still hag-ridden. So long as
North and South take their religions as violently
as they do, the two parts of the Irish nation can
never come together. It does not look as if North
or South will relinquish its belief. Protestantism
fits the vigorous masculine Northerner, Catholicism
suits the feminine, imaginative, easy-going South-
erner. Because Ireland is Ireland the two religions
make a fence which keep the peoples apart. It is a
calamity. What a people might the intermarriage
of North and South produce !
So this fated nation has never had a single voice,
and the British Government has perpetually
300 LOOKING BACK
listened to several contrary requests in place of
one demand. The result has been that those
things which ought to have been done have been
left undone. One of the things which ought to
have been done was to give Ireland such few original
privileges as she asked a very long time ago.
Let us pass on.
The history of Ireland has been a series of
periods of agitation, sometimes culminating in
open rebellion, alternating with periods of quiet,
at the end of which time political firebrands once
more bludgeoned the people into discontent.
There had been such a period of calm, and then
came the birth of the Gaelic League and a Celtic
renaissance to herald in Sinn Fein. It was a
bellows for the Sinn Fein spark.
The manner in which the British Government
dealt with the Sinn Fein situation when it did
become a menace showed lack of imagination and
lack of information. Two errors in policy were
made, and in the second case the error was per-
sisted in. Irishmen of all shades of political
opinion have informed me that the irresolute
conduct of the Cabinet over the Irish conscription
issue during the European war was directly re-
sponsible for subsequent happenings. The young
men of Ireland had become impregnated with the
bellicose spirit which was abroad in the rest of
Europe, and that spirit must finally find a way out
through some channel or other. A firm conscrip-
tion policy would have caused it to flow outwards
TWO ALTERNATIVES 301
to the discomfiture of the Empire's enemies ; the
irresolution of the Government caused it to flow
inwards. The British Cabinet was harassed at
the time, and did not dare to put the issue to the
test. The youth of Ireland took the Government
change of mind as a sign of weakness, all the world
knows with what results. Irishmen of all political
opinions have assured me conscription could have
been carried out.
The second case has been happening before my
own eyes during the last eighteen months, and has
been evidence of the lack of imagination and the
little knowledge of the Irish temperament in
There were two alternatives for dealing with
the Republican movement. One was to strike it a
hammer blow while it was in its infancy, using all
the impedimenta of war if necessary, aiming at
speed in all things. The other alternative was to
be generous and give a satisfactory measure of
Home Rule.* The course the Government did
adopt was doomed to failure. The Irish are
a sensitive people and a spirited people. Public
opinion in Ireland was dead against the Easter
week rising of 1916, the British soldiers were cheered
when they arrived ; but four or five years of
repression, of Irishmen hunted by Englishmen, of
* The Government would not contemplate the first
alternative. It was from the beginning most loath to hurt
unnecessarily. It was most reluctant to punish. This
quality of humanity has been denied by its enemies ; but
it would be unjust here to pass it over.
302 LOOKING BACK
mistaken arrests, of wrong houses raided, of troops
tramping Irish streets, of police and more police,
brought about the alteration in feeling. From my
personal observation I am under the impression
that the British Government was continually being
misinformed on the progress made against the
Republicans, and while, like a cancer, Sinn Fein
was sending out new shoots about the country, the
British Cabinet was officially told the movement
was collapsing. Thus the matter was spun out,
and first in tens, then in hundreds, finally in
thousands, Loyalists went over to the other camp.
I saw it for myself. It was obvious to anybody
The Government's influence was further weak-
ened through its affection for Ulster. Though
there was repression in the South, repression which
was reluctant, but which grew more and more
vigorous as difficulties increased, the Government
had not the moral strength to adopt a firm attitude
to the North. To be found with arms in the South
and to be found with arms in the North was a
different matter. Absolute impartiality through-
out the length and breadth of the country and iron
firmness in the beginning might have done much
to mend matters ; but the Government proved
human, and was unable to belabour a man for
Again, the Government was hampered by the
spell which fell on the civilian population at the
mention of Sinn Fein. The Republican movement
THE HOPEFUL PRESENT 303
manifested itself as a gigantic and spreading secret
society, and the civilian population was as putty
in its hands. It was illuminating to the outsider
to discover with what ease a small organised, ruth-
less body of men can overawe and control a vast
It is time to speak of the type of war waged.
The Republicans called the struggle a war, and
used war's phraseology in connection with it ; but
it never assumed the proportions of war. Call it
a war and say that it was one of the most inglorious
wars ever fought. Own at the same time that it is
difficult to suggest what other means of aggression
Sinn Fein could have adopted in the face of its
military inferiority, and acknowledge also on behalf
of the Crown Forces that there was no means of
striking at the enemy other than by reprisal.
Loyalist and Republican were caught in the web
of circumstance. If one judges the struggle by
its outer manifestations, it astonishingly lacks
elements of glory ; but if one searches below the
surface one finds alike in Republican and Loyalist
the usual qualities bred of war, energy, courage,
That is in the past now, and Ireland is in the
hopeful present. Sinn Fein has left Ireland with
her internal affairs in her own hands.
The door of an enlightened and ordered future
is here : it is not yet open ; but the key has been
given into the hands of Irishmen. Will they throw
it wide open, or will they stay arguing outside ?
304 LOOKING BACK
Is there to be another Kali Yuga, a dark age,
because Irishmen have split again ? Let Ireland
remember the words of " a certain minister " and
stop talking and get on with the work. She is
still drunk with nationality. Let her work off her
intoxication as quickly as she can, keeping nation-
ality's choice qualities, a fine inspiration, a noble
ideal ; but rooting out the faults of nationality,
provincialism, prejudice, narrowness. She has won
her separation ; let her not now set about working
herself too much out of the world. To have a world
influence, to produce a world people, she must stay
within the world.
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IMAGINATION AND FANCY, or, Selections from the
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