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One of the 28th - a Tale of Waterloo

CHAPTER XI.

STILL-HUNTING.

"Now, sergeant, the men may as well fall in," Ralph said cheerfully, "and then we will set about finding this path. On which side do you think it is most likely to lie, Mr. Fitzgibbon?"

"I really can't give an opinion, sir. You see there is not a breath of wind to help us, and in this sort of light there is no telling where the sun is, so I don't know at the present moment which way we are facing."

"Well, we will try to the right first, sergeant," Ralph said. "I will lead the way. Let the men follow at a distance of about ten paces apart. I will keep on speaking. Do you stand at the left of the file, and when the last man has gone ten paces from you pass the word along. By that time I shall be about two hundred yards away. If I have not found the path then we will come back to you and do the same thing on the left. If we don't light upon the path itself we may come upon some rise or bog or something that will enable Mr. Fitzgibbon to form an idea as to where we are."

This was done, but beyond finding that the ground on the right was higher than that on the left no index as to their position was discovered.

"You see, Mr. Fitzgibbon, we are on sloping ground rising to the right. Now, does that help you at all?"

"Not much sir. The country here is all undulating."

"Very well, then, we must try a march forward. Now, sergeant, place the men five paces apart. Do you put yourself in the center. I will move on three yards ahead of you. I shall go as straight forward as I can, but if you think I am inclining either to the right or left you say so. The fact that the ground is sloping ought to be a help to us to keep straight. I wish it sloped a little more, then one would be able to tell directly whether one was keeping straight. Let the men speak to each other every few paces so as to keep the right distances apart."

Mr. Fitzgibbon placed himself by Ralph's side, and they started. For half an hour they kept on, then Ralph cried, "Halt. I am certain I am going downhill, it may be because I have changed my direction, or it may be because there is a change in the lay of the ground. What do you think?"

"It's impossible to say," Mr. Fitzgibbon replied. "It seems to me that we have been going straight, but when one can't see a yard before one one may have turned any direction."

"How long do you think that this rascally fog is likely to last?"

"It may clear up as the sun gets high, sir, but I must acknowledge that it may last for days. There is never any saying among these hills."

"Well, at any rate you must give up all idea of making a raid on this still, Mr. Fitzgibbon. That has become a secondary object altogether now. What we have to do is to find our way out of this. Hitherto I have tried what we could do in silence. Now I shall give that up. Now, sergeant, get the men together again. I will go ahead, and shall, if I can, keep on descending. If one does that one must get out of these hills at last. When I get about fifty yards I will shout. Then you send a man on to me. When he reaches me I will shout again and go on another fifty yards. When I shout send another man forward. When he gets to the first man the first man is to shout and then come on to me, and you send off another. In that way we shall make a regular line fifty yards apart, and I don't think any one can get lost. Should any one get confused and stray, which he can't do if he keeps his head, he must shout till he hears his shouts answered. After a time if he doesn't hear any answer he must fire his gun, and we must answer till he rejoins us. But if my orders are observed I do not see how any one can miss their way, as there will be posts stationed every fifty yards. You remain till the last and see them all before you. You quite understand? When each man comes up to the one in front of him he is to stop until the next man joins him, and then move on to the man ahead."

"I understand, sir."

"They must not be in a hurry, sergeant; because moving ahead as I shall, I shall have to move to the right or left sometimes so as to make as sure as I can that I am still going down. Now, Mr. Fitzgibbon, if you keep with me, between us we ought to find the road."

The plan seemed a good one, but it was difficult to follow. The fall of the ground was so slight that Ralph and the officer often differed as to whether they were going up or down, and it was only by separating and taking short runs right and left, forward or backward, that they arrived at any conclusion, and even then often doubted whether they were right. The shouting as the long line proceeded was prodigious, and must have astonished any stray animals that might have been grazing among the hills. So bewildering was the fog that the men sometimes went back to the men behind them instead of forward to the men in front, and long pauses were necessitated before they got right again. Ralph, finding the cause of the delays, passed the word down for the first man to keep on shouting "number one," the second "number two," and so on, and this facilitated matters. The line of shouting men had at least the advantage that it enabled Ralph to keep a fairly straight course, as the sound of voices told him if he was deviating much to the right or left.

"We may not be going right," he said to his companion, "but at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that we are not moving in a circle."

After some hours' marching Ralph, to his great delight, came upon a hill rill of water.

"Thank goodness," he said, "we have got a guide at last. If we follow this we must get somewhere. We need not go on in this tedious way, but will halt here till all the men come up."

It was half an hour before the sergeant arrived.

"We have got a guide now, sergeant, and can push on. I suppose you have no idea what stream this is, Mr. Fitzgibbon?"

"Not at present," the officer admitted. "There are scores of these little rills about. They make their way down from the bogs at the top of the hills, and there is nothing to distinguish one from the other."

They now tramped on briskly, keeping close to the little stream. Sometimes the ground became soft and marshy, and it was difficult to follow its course; but they went straight on and after three more hours' marching came upon a road that crossed the stream over a little culvert. There was a cheer from the tired men as they stood on hard ground again.

"Now, the question is shall we turn to the right or the left, for we have not the faintest idea as to the points of the compass. What do you say, Mr. Fitzgibbon?"

"I should say that it is an even chance; but at any rate whichever way we go we are sure to come in time upon a hut or village, and be able to find out where we are."

"Very well, then; we will take the right," Ralph said. "Form fours, sergeant. We shall get on better by keeping in step. Now, sergeant, if any of the men can sing let him strike up a tune with a chorus. That will help us along."

There was a little hesitation, and then one of the men struck up a song, and with renewed life and energy they all marched along. It was nearly an hour before they heard the welcome sound of voices close by. Ralph halted his men and proceeded toward this sound, and then discovered what the fog had prevented them from seeing before, that they were passing through a village, the voices being those of some women who were brought to their doors by the sound of music, and who were somewhat puzzled at the, to them, mysterious sounds."

"What place is this?" Ralph asked.

"It is Kilmaknocket."

"Bless me!" Mr. Fitzgibbon exclaimed, "we are twenty miles away from Ballyporrit if we are an inch."

"Then it's evident we can't get there to-day," Ralph said. "We must have come more than that distance since we halted in the night. Now, my good woman, I have a party of twenty men here, and we have lost our way in the hills, and must stop here for the night. How many houses are there in the village?"

"There are ten or twelve, sir."

"That is all right, then. We must quarter two men on each. I will pay every one for the trouble it will give, and for something to eat, which we want badly enough, for we have come at least twenty-five or twenty-six miles, and probably ten more than that, and have had nothing but a bit of bread since we started."

"It's heartily welcome you will be, sir," the woman said, "and we will all do the best we can for you."

The men were now ordered to fall out. The sergeant proceeded with them through the village, quartering two men on each house, while Ralph went round to see what provisions were obtainable. Potatoes and black bread were to be had everywhere, and he also was able to buy a good-sized pig, which, in a very few minutes, was killed and cut up.

"We have reason to consider ourselves lucky indeed," Ralph said, as he sat down with the excise officer half an hour later to a meal of boiled potatoes and pork chops roasted over a peat fire. "It's half-past four now, and will be pitch dark in another half-hour. If we had not struck upon that stream we should have had another night out among the hills."

Ralph's first measure after seeing his men quartered in the village was to inquire for a boy who would carry a message to Ballyporrit, and the offer of half a crown produced four or five lads willing to undertake it. Ralph chose one of them, an active-looking lad of about fifteen, tore out a leaf from his pocketbook, and wrote an account of what had happened, and said that the detachment would be in by two o'clock on the following day. Then directing it to Captain O'Connor or Lieutenant Desmond, whichever might be in the village, he gave it to the lad, who at once started at a trot along the road in the direction from which they had come.

"He will be there in four hours," Mr. Fitzgibbon said. "It's a regular road all the way, and he can't miss it even in the dark. It's lucky we turned the way we did, for although it was taking us further from home it was but two miles along the road here, while, if we had gone the right way, it would have been six or seven before we arrived at the next village."

"I think we are lucky all round," Ralph said. "An hour ago if any one told us we were going to sit down at half-past four to a hot dinner of pork and potatoes we should have slain him as a scoffer. It would have seemed altogether too good to be true."

Ralph had no difficulty in purchasing whisky, and be ordered the sergeant to serve out a tot to each man with his dinner and another half an hour later, and by seven o'clock there was scarcely one of the tired men who was not already asleep. The next morning they started at eight o'clock, having had a breakfast of potatoes before they fell in. Ralph rewarded the peasants generously for their hospitality, and the men set off in high spirits for their tramp, and reached Ballyporrit at half-past two in the afternoon.

"You gave us a nice scare yesterday, Conway," was Captain O'Connor's greeting as they marched in. "When twelve o'clock came and you didn't come back I began to think you must have lost yourselves; and a nice time we had of it till your messenger arrived at eight. It was no use sending out to look for you on the hills. But I went out with a party, with two or three men to guide us, to the end of a valley, up which a path went; beyond that there was no going, for one couldn't see one's hand. I stayed there an hour, firing off guns once a minute, and as there was no reply was sure that you must be a good distance off, wherever you were; so there was nothing to do but to come back and hope you had found shelter somewhere. Come in, lad; I have got some hot lunch waiting for you. Come in, Mr. Fitzgibbon. It's lucky I didn't catch you yesterday, or I should have considered it my duty to have hung you forthwith for decoying his majesty's troops among the hills."

"Well, Conway, you didn't bargain for all this when you offered to change places with me," Lieutenant Desmond said when they were seated at table.

"No; but now it's all over I am glad I did change, in spite of the tramp we had. It has been an adventure, and beside, it was a good thing to learn how best to get out of a fog."

"How did you manage, Conway?" Captain O'Connor asked; "for once lost in such a fog as that on those hills there really does not seem anything to be done."

Ralph related the various steps he had taken, and how, eventually, they had come upon running water and followed it down to a road.

"Well, I really think you have done remarkably well, youngster. I shouldn't be surprised if we have some more tramps before us, for I had a letter this morning from the colonel saying that the fellow known as the red Captain, a notorious scoundrel who has been with his gang committing all sorts of atrocities in Galway, has made the place too hot for him at last, and is reported to have made his way down to the south coast, somewhere in this direction; and we are ordered to keep a sharp lookout for him. He is an unmitigated ruffian, and a desperate one. He has shot several constables who have tried to capture him, and as he has three or four men with him nearly as bad as himself I expect we shall have some trouble with him. There has been a reward of a hundred pounds for his capture for a long time, but so far without success. One man, whom he suspected rightly or wrongly of intending to betray him, he killed by fastening the door of his cottage and then setting the thatch alight; and the man, his wife, and four children were burned to death."

That evening, just as dinner was over, the sergeant came in and said that a woman wished to speak to the captain.

"What does she want, sergeant?"

"She won't say what she wants, sir; only that she wishes to speak to you privately."

"Show her in then, sergeant."

The sergeant brought in the woman and then retired. As soon as the door closed behind him the woman threw back the shawl which had hitherto almost covered her face. She was about twenty-five years old, and strikingly pretty.

"What can I do for you?" Captain O'Connor asked. "The sergeant says you wish to speak to me on some particular business."

"Yes, sir; sure, and it is very particular business."

"You don't wish to speak to me quite alone, I suppose?" O'Connor asked, seeing that she hesitated.

"No, your honor; seeing that these gentlemen are all officers there is no reason in life why they should not hear what I have to say. But, sure, sir, it's little my life would be worth if it were known outside these walls that I had been here. My name is Bridget Moore, sir, and I belong to County Galway. Well, your honor, there was a desperate villain, they call the Red Captain, there. He was hiding in the hills for some time near the little farm my husband holds. We did not know who he was—how should we? but thought he was hiding because the revenue officers were after him on account of a bit of a still or something of that kind; but we found out one day, when he had been taking too much of the cratur and was talking big like, that he was the Red Captain.

"My Denis was troubled in his mind over it. Av coorse he was not one to inform, but he had heard so much of the Red Captain and his doings that he was onaisy at the thought of having him as a neighbor. He wasn't one to pretind to be frindly when he wasn't, and the captain noticed it and took offince, and there were mighty high words between them. One night, your honor, he and his gang came down and broke in the door, and tould Denis he was a black-hearted informer, Denis said it was a lie, and they were nigh shooting him, but at last they said he should have the choice either of joining them or of being shot; and Denis, being druv to it, and seeing no other way to save his life, was forced to agree. Then the villains made him kneel down and take a great oath to be faithful and secret.

"I was away off; for I had caught up the child and run out by the back door when they came in, but I crept round to a broken window there was, so that I could hear what was said. When they took him away wid them and went off, I followed at a distance, for I wasn't sure whether after all they didn't mean to murther him. But they went up to the hut where they lived at the edge of the bog, and as they seemed more friendly like I went back to see after the child, who was left all alone. The next morning I took it over to a neighbor and asked her to keep it till I came back. Then I went up to the hut again and found it was empty.

"A day or two after that I found out from a man who run a still, and knew the Red Captain well, that he had made up his mind to lave Galway and come down south, where he had some friends; so I just shut up the house and walked down here. Now you know, your honor, that I don't come here for the sake of the reward. Not a penny of it would I touch if I were dying of hunger, and sooner than be pointed at as an informer I would throw myself over them big rocks. But they have got Denis, and either they will make him as bad as themselves—which I don't think—or they will shoot him; and if they don't shoot him he will be shot one of these days by the soldiers. What I want you to promise, your honor, is, that if I point out where you can lay your hands on the villains, you won't say who tould you, and that you will tell your soldiers not to shoot Denis.

"You will know him aisy enough, your honor, for he is a dacent-looking boy; and when the time comes you will find he will do what he can to help you. I found out who the people were that the Red Captain had come down to, and I watched and watched their place, till one day I saw him come there. Then I followed him and found out whereabout they were hiding. I kept about till, that evening, I had a chance of spaking to Denis for a minute. He is broken-hearted, your honor, but he daren't lave them. He said they had sworn if he ever tried to run away they would hunt him down; and the Red Captain said that he would send information to the poliss that it was Denis who helped him fire the hut when those poor cratures were burned, and would say, he had been in the thick of it all along; and how could he prove the differ? So he daren't for the life of him move, your honor; and tould me to keep away and go home, for I could do him no good, and if they caught me spaking to him they would kill the two of us."

"I promise you willingly," Captain O'Connor said, "I will not say who pointed out their hiding-place, and if your husband does not join in the resistance he certainly shall receive no hurt. If he is caught with them I am afraid that I shall be exceeding my duty in letting him go; but surely he would have no difficulty in proving that he had only accompanied them in consequence of their threats."

"That's what he couldn't prove, sir. That's just what they tould him: if they were caught themselves they knew there was no chance for them, and they would all swear together that he had been with them all along; and how could the boy prove that he wasn't?"

"Well, Mrs. Moore, I will try and strain a point," Captain O'Connor said. "You see, people sometimes escape after they are taken, and I think we shall be able to manage somehow that Denis shan't appear at the bar with the others; and if it should turn out that cannot be managed I will engage to make such representations to the authorities that your husband shall get off free."

"Very well, sir; then I will tell you where they are to be found. I can't take you there, your honor, but I can tell you whereabout it is. There is a footpath turns oft from the road at the end of the village, and goes straight down to the top of them big rocks that come out of the sea. Well, sir, a few hundred yards to the right of that there is a sort of break in the rocks, and there is a track goes down there. You won't see it onless you look close for it, and it gets lost a little way down, becase the rocks are all broken about and heaped on each other. It's down there they go. There's always a man on watch not far from the top; and there is generally a gossoon from their friends here somewhere at the edge of the bog behind, who would run forward and tell the man on watch if he saw any soldiers coming from here. So you will have to be mighty careful; but they are down there, sure enough, somewhere.

"Denis tould me there was no chance of their being taken, for they have got a little boat hid away down among the rocks by the water, and if the alarm was given they would make off in that. I can't tell you any more than that, you honor; but I should think that may be enough to help you to find them."

"I should think so too, Mrs. Moore. And what do you propose doing yourself?"

"I shall go off, sir, at once. Folk have been wondering at me, and asking where I came from and what I was doing here, and I want to get away. If it came to the Red Captain's ears there was a woman about he might guess it was me, and if he did he would like enough shoot Denis and make away. I can't see as I can do any good by stopping, and I may do harm; so I will go over to Dunmanway and stop there till I hear what your honor has done. If I find Denis has got hurted I shall come back, if not I shall go home to the farm. Maybe your honor will tell him I shall be expecting him there."

Captain O'Connor accompanied her outside to see that no one spoke to her, and when he saw her disappear in the darkness he returned to the room.

"I think you have had a lucky escape, Conway," he said as he entered. "The matter is explained now about your being watched and questioned, and it is very lucky that they did not quite make up their minds you were a spy; for if they had you may be sure they would have had no more hesitation in putting an ounce of lead into you, and throwing you over the cliff, than they would in shooting a sparrow. Well, this is an important piece of news. The authorities have for a long time been trying to lay their hands on this scoundrel and his gang, and if we can catch him it will be a feather in our caps, for he has defied all their efforts for the last three years. Now, we must arrange the line of battle, how it is to come off, and when.

"In the first place we must arrange with the coast-guard to have a well-manned boat somewhere along the coast to cut the scoundrels off if they try to escape by sea. The attack must be made by daylight, that is evident, for half the men would break either their legs or their necks if they tried to get down in the dark. I think it will be best to place half the company along the top of the cliffs, posting two or three men at every point where it looks possible that they may ascend, then with the other half we will go down on this track she speaks of and search the whole place thoroughly. If they are there we must find them sooner or later; and find them we will, if the search takes us a week."

"Who is this Red Captain?"

"I believe his real name is Dan Egan. He was mixed up in some brutal outrage on an inoffensive farmer, had to leave the county, went to Dublin, and enlisted. He went out to Spain with his regiment, was flogged twice for thieving, then he shot an officer who came upon him when he was ill-treating a Portuguese peasant; he got away at the time, and it was months before he was heard of again. It was thought that he had deserted to the French, but I suppose he got down to a port somewhere in disguise and shipped on board a vessel for England. The next thing heard of him was that he was back again at his native place. The police here were of course ignorant as to what had become of him from the time he disappeared; but the fellow made no secret of what he had been doing, and boasted of having shot the officer.

"The regiment was communicated with, and by a comparison of the date of enlistment and the personal description there was no doubt that the man who had enlisted as Mark Kelly was Dan Egan. Of course every effort was made to capture him, but in vain. I believe the peasants would have informed against him, for he was hated for his violence and overbearing way, but he soon established a sort of terror in the district. He was joined by three or four of the greatest ruffians in County Galway, and unless the whole of these had been captured at one swoop, vengeance would be sure to fall upon whoever had betrayed him.

"He has killed four or five police officers at various times, and I should say twice as many peasants who have ventured to offend him. He and his band levied a sort of blackmail in the district, and woe betide the small farmer who refused to send in a sheep or a bag of meal once a month. Their cattle were killed and their ricks set on fire; and so in a short time he had the whole neighborhood under his thumb. Whenever a party went in pursuit of him he was sure to obtain early information. Not from love, but from fear; for it was a well understood thing that any one seeing a body of police and failing to send instant word would suffer for it.

"Just as we left I heard that a company of foot and a troop of cavalry were to be sent from Galway to search every hut and hiding-place in the district, and I suppose that it was this that drove him down here. He has red hair and beard; and it is this partly, and partly no doubt the fellow's murderous character, that has gained him the name of the Red Captain. He is a prize worth taking, and if we can lay hands on him and his band together we shall have done better work than if we had unearthed a hundred illicit stills. At any rate we will lose no time. I will write a letter at once to the revenue officer at the coast-guard station. I shall mention no names, but say that we hope to make an important capture to-morrow morning on the cliffs here, and asking him to send a well-armed boat at daylight, with instructions to stop and arrest any boat that may put out from the shore. If the revenue cutter happens to be lying off his station, or within reach of a messenger, I will tell him to have her off the shore if possible."

Captain O'Connor at once wrote the letter. "Sergeant Morris," he said, when the non-commissioned officer came in, "I want you to take this letter yourself to Lieutenant Adcock at the coast-guard station in the cove three miles along to the east. It is of the highest importance. I want you to see the officer yourself and obtain an answer from him. Take a man with you, and carry your side-arms. Don't go along the cliff, but keep to the road till you come to the lane that leads direct to the village in the cove. Just tell the landlord to come here, will you?"

"Landlord," he said, when the host appeared, "I want you to lend a couple of long greatcoats and two hats or caps of any kind. I am sending two of my men off on a mission, and I don't want them to be noticed. It does not matter how old the coats are so that they are long."

"I will get them your honor. I have one that will do, and will borrow the other for you in no time."

"You see, sergeant, I don't want your presence in the village to be noticed. You know how these fellows hang together. The sight of two soldiers in uniform there would be sure to attract attention. Choose a man you can rely on to play his part cleverly. I tell you to take your side-arms, because I happen to know that there are men about who, if they suspected your mission, would not have the least hesitation in knocking you on the head. This is no question of finding a still, sergeant, but of making the capture of one of the most desperate bands in the country; and it is well worth taking the utmost pains and precaution to insure everything going well."

"I understand, sir. I will take Pat Hogan with me; he has plenty of the brogue, and can talk the language too. So if any one should speak to us as we go along he can do the talking, and no one will suspect that we are not a couple of countrymen."

"That will do very well, sergeant. It is just seven o'clock now. If Lieutenant Adcock is in when you get there you ought to be back, well, before ten. It's about four miles by road. I would borrow a couple of heavy sticks if I were you. I don't think it at all likely there will be any occasion to use them, but it is just as well to be prepared. If, when you get near the village, or on your way back, you come across any one who questions you inquisitively, and seems to you to be a suspicious character, I authorize you to make him prisoner and bring him over with you. Knock him down if he attempt resistance. You may as well take a pair of handcuffs with you and a short coil of rope. The object of the rope is, that if you capture any one on your way to the village you had better handcuff him, gag him, and tie him up securely to a tree or some other object at a distance from the road, and pick him up as you come back. I need hardly say that you are not to go into any house in the village, not to speak to any one beyond what is absolutely necessary."

"I understand, sir, and you can rely upon me to carry out your orders."

"You had better fetch Hogan in here, sergeant. Tell him what he has to do before you bring him in, then we can see the disguises on you both; and it's better for you to start from an inn, where people are going in and out, than from one of the houses where you are quartered."

The landlord returned with the disguises almost immediately after the sergeant had gone out, and in a few minutes the latter came in with Hogan. The greatcoats were put on, the hats substituted for military caps, and with the collars of the coats turned up and the addition of two heavy sticks, the disguise was complete, and the two smart soldiers would pass anywhere as peasants.

"You had better take your gaiters off, sergeant. You look too neat about the feet; although that would not be noticed unless you went into the light. Here is the letter, put it carefully inside your jacket. There, now, I think you will do."

It was nearly ten when the two soldiers returned. "Here's a letter sir, from the revenue officer. He quite understands what is wanted, and will have a boat off the cliffs at daybreak with a well-armed crew. He does not know where the cutter is at present. She touched there two days ago, sailing west."

"You met no suspicious characters, sergeant?"

"No, sir. We spoke to no one until we got to the village, beyond asking a woman which was the turning from the main road. There didn't seem to be a soul about in the village, and we had to wait about some time before I could get hold of a boy to tell me which was the revenue officer's cottage. I left Hogan outside when I went in; but he saw no one, nor did any one speak to us on our return beyond one or two men we met passing the time of night, which Hogan answered."

"All the better, sergeant. The great object is secrecy. Now, leave these things here and put on your caps again. If you go to the bar the landlord has orders to give you a glass of grog each. Don't say a word as to where you have been, Hogan, but get back to your quarters. When you have had your grog, sergeant, look in again before you go."

When the men had gone out Captain O'Connor opened the letter, which merely confirmed what the sergeant said. When Sergeant Morris returned Captain O'Connor told him that the company were to parade an hour before daylight.

"Don't give the order to-night, sergeant; but go round from house to house yourself in the morning, rouse the men, and tell them to fall in quietly without beat of drum.

"Everything is going on well, boys," he said when the sergeant had left, "and I think we have a good chance of laying these scoundrels by the heels to-morrow. However, we must insure that word is not sent from the village, when the troops begin to get up. A stir an hour before the usual time is sure to excite remark, and as it is certain these fellows will have arranged with some one in the village for early news of any unusual movement, we must take steps to prevent a messenger passing. I propose that you two shall be astir half an hour before the troops; and that you shall, before any one else is moving, go along the path leading to the cliffs, stop a couple of hundred yards beyond the village, and arrest any one who may come along."

"Yes, I think that will be a very good plan," Lieutenant Desmond said. "No one shall pass us, I warrant."

"Don't forget to take your pistols; it is likely enough you may have to use them before the day is over. These scoundrels know they fight with ropes round their necks, and are almost sure to resist desperately. Now we will have one glass more, and then be off to bed. The day will begin to break about seven, and I will impress upon the landlord the urgent necessity of calling you both by five."

"I suppose we are to stay where we take up our station till you come along with the company, O'Connor, whether we take any prisoners or not?"

"Yes, that will be the best way, Desmond. If you have caught any one I will send them back with a guard to the village. No, it would not do for you to move before we come up, for there is no saying what time a messenger will go along. They may not take the alarm until just as we are starting, or even until they see which road we are taking. By the way, you may as well take that pair of handcuffs the sergeant has left on the table with you, otherwise if you do get a prisoner you would have to keep your hands on his collar, or he might make a bolt any moment. There is nothing like being on the safe side.

"You had better take up your post at some place where your figures will not be seen by any one coming along the road till he is close to you, or instead of coming straight along he might make a bolt round; and some of these fellows can run like hares. We must not let the smallest chance escape us. If we succeed in the affair we shall get no end of credit, beside the satisfaction of freeing the country of as desperate a band of ruffians as any that infest it, and that's saying a good deal. Now, here's success to our work to-morrow." O'Connor drained his glass and placed it on the table, and then rising and taking up his sword made his way to his room, his companions at once following his example.

 


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