At five o'clock on the following morning Ralph was roused by the landlord, who brought him a candle; he lost no time in dressing, buckled on his sword, looked to the priming of the double-barreled pistols Mr. Penfold had given him, and placed them in his belt. Then he went downstairs and put the handcuffs into the pocket of his great coat. He then went to the bar, where the landlord was kindling a fire.
"I want a bottle of whisky, landlord, a loaf of bread, and a big lump of cheese." As he was waiting for these, Lieutenant Desmond joined him.
"That's right, Conway, there is nothing like laying in a stock of creature comforts when you have the chance. Look here, landlord, get an empty bottle and put half the whisky in, and then fill them both up with water. Cut that loaf of bread in halves; in that way we can get it in our pockets. That's right; now do the same with the cheese. You and I may not be together, Conway, so it's just as well to divide the commissariat; to say nothing of the convenience of carriage. Now, have you got the handcuffs? That's right, we will be off at once."
The landlord went to the door with them and looked after them, somewhat surprised at seeing no soldiers about.
"What can they be up to by themselves at this hour of the morning?" he said to himself. "Well, they are two nice young fellows anyway, and I hope that they are not going to get into mischief. Now I will just make up the fire, and then sit down for an hour's snooze in my arm-chair. The captain said he was to be called at six. I suppose they are going out still-hunting somewhere. Well, I wish them luck; for when the boys can get their whisky for next to nothing they don't care about coming here, and small blame to them, for I shouldn't myself."
Not a soul was astir in the village as the two young officers passed along. They turned off at the lane leading to the sea, and after proceeding a quarter of a mile came to a point where the roadway ended, the path beyond this being merely a track. Here there was a gate across the lane, and a wall running right and left.
"We can't find a better spot than this, Conway," Lieutenant Desmond said. "If we sit down one on each side against the wall, a hundred men might pass along without noticing us."
"Which side shall we sit, Desmond?"
"We will sit this side," the lieutenant replied. "If we were the other side a man might possibly wrench himself way from our grasp, and might outrun us, but on this side of the gate he couldn't do so; for even if he did break away he would have to run back toward the village, the gate would stop his going the other way."
Accordingly the young officers took their posts against the wall, one on either side of the gate, and with their swords drawn awaited the coming of a messenger to the Red Captain.
"There is no chance of any one being here for another twenty minutes," Desmond said. "The sergeant will not rouse the men up till a quarter to six, therefore no one is likely to come along until within a few minutes of the hour. It's precious cold here, though the wall does shelter us from the wind a bit; still it's not a lively job having to wait here half an hour, with the thermometer somewhere below freezing point."
The time passed slowly. Occasionally they exchanged a few words in low tones, but as the time approached when they knew that the sergeant would be going his rounds to call the men they spoke less.
"It must be nearly six o'clock now," Desmond said at last. "The men would be called at a quarter to, so if any one is coming he will most likely be here in a few minutes. Hush! I think I can hear footsteps."
A few seconds later they dimly saw a figure running toward them at full speed. As it dashed up to the gate they sprang out and seized it. There was a sharp frightened cry.
"Don't make a noise," Desmond said sternly, "or it will be the worse for you. Where were you going?"
It was a girl of about twelve years old whom they had captured. She was silent a moment.
"Sure, your honor," she said in a whimper, "I was doing no harm. I was only running to tell Mike Brenan that his ould mother is taken bad with the cramps, and wanted to see him bad."
"Where do you expect to go to, you little liar?" Desmond asked. "We know what you are up to. You were running to tell some one that the soldiers were getting up. Now, if you are quiet and keep still no harm will come to you; but if you try to scream or to get away we shall hand you over to the police, and there's no saying whether they may not make it a hanging matter for aiding the king's enemies."
"I suppose we needn't fasten her?" Ralph said.
"Not fasten her! Why, she is as slippery as a young eel, and if you take your hand off her for a moment she would be off like a hare. No, no, we must make her safe. Beside," he whispered in Ralph's ear, "she would scream to a certainty if she saw any one else coming, then they might strike off and get round us. No, no, we can't run any risks; there is too much depends on it. Now just sit down there, young woman, by the wall. We are not going to hurt you, but you have got to keep quiet. Now put your feet together." Desmond took out his pocket handkerchief and folded it, and tied the girl's ankles firmly together. "Now then, Ralph, do the same with her wrists. That's right now. Wrap that shawl of hers three or four times tightly round her mouth. That's it; let her breathe through her nose. Now you keep a sharp watch over her, and see she doesn't wriggle out of these things. If you see any one coming clap your hand over her mouth, and see she doesn't make a sound. When he comes up you can let go and help me if necessary; it won't matter her giving a bit of a scream then."
"Now," he went on, this time speaking aloud, "if that girl makes the least noise, run her through with your sword at once. Don't hesitate a moment."
"Very well," Ralph said in the same tones. "I will silence her, never fear."
Ralph sat down close to the girl and watched her sharply. They had fixed the shawl as well as they could, but he felt sure that by a sudden effort she could free her mouth sufficiently to scream. She sat perfectly still; but in about three minutes he saw her suddenly throw her head back, and in an instant he clapped his hand over her mouth. She struggled violently in spite of her bonds, and tried to bite; but with the other arm he held her head firmly, and succeeded in preventing the slightest sound escaping her. Then he glanced up the path. As he had expected the girl's quick ear had heard approaching footsteps that were inaudible to him. A figure was bounding rapidly toward them. As it reached the gate Desmond sprang upon it. There was a sharp scuffle for a moment.
"All right, Conway. I have got him."
It was a lad of some fifteen years old this time. He struggled furiously till Desmond placed a pistol against his head, and told him that he would blow his brains out if he was not quiet, and taking out the handcuffs fastened them on to his ankles.
"There is no fear of his doing any running now. Just come and sit down by this wall, my lad, and remember if you make the slightest sound I will run my sword through your body."
The lad shuffled to the wall and sat down. Ralph released his grasp of the girl.
"This is a regular young wildcat, Desmond. She very nearly got my hand in her mouth, and if she had she would have bitten a piece out. Well, I shouldn't think there will be any more of them."
"No, I should think not. They would scarcely send off more than two messengers. However, we must still keep a sharp lookout."
But no one else came along, and in a quarter of an hour they heard the deep tramp of a body of men approaching, and Captain O'Connor soon came up at the head of the company.
"Well, any news, gentlemen?" he asked as the two young officers stepped out.
"Yes, Captain O'Connor. We have two prisoners—a girl and a boy. They came along about ten minutes apart, both running at full speed and evidently going with messages. We put the handcuffs on the boy's ankles, and tied the girl's with our handkerchiefs."
"Sergeant, tell off two men and let them take these prisoners back to the village, and guard them carefully till we return. They may as well keep the handcuffs on the boy's ankles, and untie the girl's; but let one of them keep a tight hold of her arm, and be sure that she doesn't slip away."
Two men were told off for the duty, and the march was then resumed. Daylight was faintly breaking when they reached the edge of the cliff. Ralph, with ten men, was posted at the spot where a slight track was visible going down into a sort of gulley. Captain O'Connor then proceeded with half the company to the right, Desmond taking the remainder to the left; each posting men at intervals along the edge of the cliff, and placing parties of four at every point where there appeared the smallest probability of an ascent being practicable.
All were ordered to load at once. They were to make prisoner any one coming up the cliff, and in case of resistance to fire without hesitation. The two officers then returned to the spot where they had left Ralph. It was now nearly broad daylight. Leaving the soldiers they went a short distance to a point where the rocks fell away precipitately, and from here had a clear view of the face of the cliffs.
"We had better wait here for a time," the captain said. "The chances are that before long one of them will look out from their hiding-place, and perhaps make his way up to the top to look round. If he does, that will give us an index as to the direction at any rate of their hiding-place. Now, I will take the ground in front; do you watch to the left, Conway, and you to the right, Desmond. We had better lie down, or on this jutting point we may catch the eye of any one down there before we can see him. Keep a sharp lookout lads; it will save us a world of trouble if we can see one of them."
For half an hour they lay quiet, then Desmond suddenly exclaimed:
"There is a man among those fallen rocks halfway up the side. There! he is gone. Perhaps we shall see him again in a moment."
For five minutes they lay with their eyes fixed on the rocks that Desmond pointed out, but there were no signs of life.
"Are you sure you were not mistaken, Desmond?" O'Connor asked.
"Quite certain. He suddenly appeared by the side of that gray bowlder, stood there for a moment, and sunk down again. I expect he must have got a view of one of the men somewhere along the top."
"We will wait another ten minutes," O'Connor said, "and then we will take a party to the spot and search it thoroughly. There is the coast-guard boat, so there is no fear of their getting away by water."
Another quarter of an hour passed.
"It is no use waiting any longer. Go along the line, one each way, and bring ten men from points where they can be spared. We will leave them at the top of the path and take the party there down with us. There are only four or five of them, and ten men beside ourselves are ample for the business."
The arrangements were soon made. Before starting on the descent O'Connor said to the men: "We wish to take the fellows who are hiding down there alive if possible. They are the gang of the fellow known as the 'Red Captain,' and have committed a score of murders; but if it is absolutely necessary you will of course fire. There is one man among them who is there on compulsion, and is less guilty than the rest. He is a fair-haired man, and I should think you would notice the difference between him and the rest. Whatever resistance they make it is not probable that he will join in it. At any rate, do not fire at him unless it is absolutely necessary to save life. Now see to your priming before we start, and fix bayonets. Mind how you climb over these rocks, because if any of you fall your muskets may go off and shoot some one in front of you. Wherever it is possible scatter out abreast of each other, so as to prevent the possibility of accident. Now, then, march!"
Leading the way, Captain O'Connor descended the little track. It extended but a short distance. Beyond that a chaos of fallen rocks—the remains of a landslip many years previously—stretched away to the shore.
"There is no working along these sideways, Desmond," Captain O'Connor said after they had climbed along for some little distance. "We had better make straight down to the shore, follow that for a bit, and then mount again to the spot where you saw the man."
It was difficult work, but at last the party reached the shore. Lieutenant Adcock, who was himself in command of the boat, had watched the party making their way down the rocks, and now rowed in to within a few yards.
"Good-morning, lieutenant," Captain O'Connor said. "I think we have got them fairly trapped; but doubtless they would have made off if they hadn't seen you on the watch outside. It's that notorious scoundrel the Red Captain of Galway who is, I hear, hiding here with his gang."
"Indeed!" the revenue officer said; "that will be a capture worth making. Shall I come ashore with four of my men? I expect they are more accustomed to climbing about among the rocks than yours are, and I should like to lend a hand."
"Do, by all means," Captain O'Connor replied. "I see you have got ten, and six will be quite enough in the boat, even if they do manage to get down and embark, which I don't think they will. Your men are all armed, I suppose?"
"Yes; they have all carbines and cutlasses. Now, coxswain, I leave you in charge. Row out a quarter of a mile, and if any boat pushes off you are to stop it and arrest all on board. They will almost certainly resist, and in that case you must use your arms. Now, the four bow oars get out and step ashore."
When the lieutenant and his four men had landed, the boat again pushed off, and the party on shore made their way along over the rocks at the edge of the water until they were opposite the rock where Lieutenant Desmond had seen the man appear. Then the ascent was commenced. The four officers went first, the men following in a line.
"Bear a little to the left," Captain O'Connor said; "it is likely to lie somewhere in that direction. The man we saw would have been making toward the path and not from it. Keep a sharp lookout between these great rocks; there is no saying where the entrance to their hiding-place may be."
Almost as he spoke there was a sharp crack of a rifle, and the bullet struck the rock on which he was standing.
"Come on, lads!" he shouted, "the sooner we are there the less time they have got to fire;" and with a cheer the men hurried forward, scrambling recklessly over the rocks. Again and again puffs of smoke darted out from the rocks in front; and one of the soldiers fell, shot through the heart.
"Don't stop to fire!" Captain O'Connor shouted as a yell of rage broke from the men; "you will do no good, and it will only give them more time."
A dozen more shots were fired. One of the coast-guard men was shot through the shoulder; but this was the only casualty, for the quick movements of the men as they scrambled over the bowlders disconcerted the aim of those above. Breathless and panting the four officers gained the spot from which the shots had been fired, the men close up behind them; but not a soul was to be seen.
"Wait a moment till you get breath, lads," their leader said. "They can't be far from here. We will find their hiding-place presently, never fear."
As they stood panting there was a shout from above. The soldiers were standing along the edge of the cliff, looking down upon the fight. Sergeant Morris waved his arm.
"They have made away to your left, sir!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "We have just caught sight of them among the rocks!"
In two or three minutes Captain O'Connor led the way in that direction.
"Keep your eyes sharply about, lads. No doubt the place is cunningly hidden. Search among every clump of bushes between the rocks."
Presently the sergeant shouted down again from above:
"I think you are far enough now, sir! We did not catch sight of them beyond that!"
For an hour the search continued, but without avail.
"They must be here somewhere, lads!" Captain O'Connor said. "We will find them if we have to stop here a week, and have provisions brought down from the village. It's pretty evident there is no opening between the great rocks or we must have found it. We must examine the smaller bowlders. They may have one so placed that it can be dropped down over the entrance. That flat slab is a likely-looking place, for instance. Three or four of you get hold of it and heave it up."
The men gathered round to lift it. Ralph stooped down and peeped under as they did so.
"Hurrah!" he shouted, "there is an opening here."
Several of the others now got hold of the stone. It was up-ended and thrown backward, and the entrance to a passage some three feet high and two feet wide was revealed.
"I can smell a peat fire!" one of the men exclaimed.
"This is the entrance, no doubt," Captain O'Connor said. "See, the bottom is evidently worn by feet. The passage must have been used for a long time; but it's an awkward place to follow desperate men into."
"It is, indeed," Lieutenant Adcock agreed. "They could shoot us down one after one as we go in. They would see us against the light, while we should be able to make out nothing."
"Surrender in there!" Captain O'Connor shouted. "You can't get away; and I promise you all a fair trial."
His summons was followed by a taunting laugh; and a moment later there was a sharp sound within, and a rifle bullet struck the side of the entrance and flew out.
"It would be throwing away one's life to go in there," Captain O'Connor said. "At any rate we have got them secure, and they must come out in time. But it would be madness to crawl in there on one's hands and feet to be picked off by those scoundrels at their ease. Now, lads, two of you stand by this entrance. Keep out of the line of fire, and be ready with your bayonets to run any one through who comes out. Let the rest scatter and search round this place. They may have another entrance. If so, we must find it. In the first place, it may be easier of entry; in the second they might escape from it after dark."
Again the search began.
"Do you think it is likely to be higher up or lower down, O'Connor?" Lieutenant Desmond asked.
"There is no saying, Desmond; the passage seems to go straight in. I should fancy above rather than below."
For a long time they searched without success; then Ralph, who had gone higher up the rocks than the rest, came upon a clump of low bushes growing between some large bowlders. There was nothing suspicious about them, and he was just turning away when he perceived a slight odor of peat smoke.
Silently he made his way down to the captain.
"I have found another entrance," he said. "At any rate I think so; for I certainly smelled smoke. If we go quietly we may take them unawares."
Captain O'Connor passed the word along for the men to gather silently, and Ralph then led the way up to the clump of bushes.
"Yes, I can smell the peat plainly enough. Now, Conway, do you search among the bushes. Carefully, lad, we don't know what the place is like."
Cautiously Ralph pushed the bushes aside. He saw at once that these had been carefully trained to cover a large hole. This was about three feet wide; and descended at a sharp angle, forming a sloping passage of sufficient height for a man to stand upright. Captain O'Connor knelt down and looked in.
"This looks more possible," he said; "but it's very steep. I should say it is not used by them, but acts as a sort of chimney to ventilate the cavern and let the smoke out. At any rate we will try it; but we must take our boots off so as to get a better hold on the rocks, beside we shall make less noise. Blunt and Jervis, do you go down to the other entrance again. It is likely enough that they may try to make a bolt that way if they hear us coming. Keep a sharp lookout down there, and be sure no one escapes."
"Don't you think, Captain O'Connor, that it will be a good thing to enter from there also the moment a row is heard going on within. Their attention will be taken up with your attack, and we may get in without being noticed."
"That's a very good idea, Conway; and you shall carry it out. Take two more men with you, and make your way in as soon as you hear us engaged. But remember that it is quite possible we may not be able to get down. This passage may get almost perpendicular presently; and though I mean to go if possible, even if I have a straight drop for it, it may close up and be altogether impracticable. So don't you try to enter till you are quite sure they are engaged with us, otherwise you will be only throwing away your life."
"I understand, sir," Ralph said as he turned to go off. "If you get in you can reckon on our assistance immediately; if not, we shall make no move."
Ralph now took up his station at the mouth of the cavern with his six men, and lay down just in front of the opening listening attentively. He could hear a continued murmur as of many voices.
"Get ready, lads, to follow me the instant you see me dive in," he said. "I am sure by the sound there are more than four men in there, and Captain O'Connor may want help badly."
Grasping a pistol in his left hand, and his sword in his right, Ralph listened attentively. Suddenly he heard a shout, followed by a volley of imprecations, and then the discharge of a gun or a pistol.
In an instant he threw himself forward along the low narrow passage. He had not gone more than three or four yards when he found that it heightened, and he was able to stand upright. He rushed on, keeping his bead low in case the roof should lower again, and after a few paces entered a large cabin. It was dimly illuminated by two torches stuck against the wall. In a moment a number of figures rushed toward him with loud shouts; but before they reached him two of the soldiers stood by his side.
"Fire!" he shouted as he discharged his pistol, and at the same moment the soldiers beside him discharged their muskets.
A moment later he was engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand conflict. Several firearms had flashed off almost in his face. One of the soldiers fell with a sharp cry, but those who were following rushed forward. Ralph narrowly escaped having his brains dashed out by a clubbed rifle, but springing back just in time he ran his opponent through before he could recover his guard.
Just at this moment a big man with a shock of red hair and a huge beard leveled a blunderbuss at him. It flashed across him that his last moment had come, when a man behind leaped suddenly upon the ruffian's back and they fell to the ground together, the blunderbuss going off in the fall and riddling a soldier standing next to Ralph with slugs.
For two or three minutes a desperate struggle went on between Ralph and his six men and those who attempted to break through them. Sturdily as the soldiers fought they had been driven back toward the entrance by the assailants, armed with pikes and clubbed guns. There was no sound of conflict at the other end of the cave, and Ralph felt that the attack there had for some reason failed.
"Shoulder to shoulder, lads!" he shouted. "We shall have help in a minute or two."
He had emptied both his double-barrelled pistols. His sword had just broken short in his hand while guarding his head from a heavy blow. He himself had been almost struck to the ground, when there was a rush of men from behind, and the rest of the soldiers poured in.
"Give them a volley, lads!" he shouted; "and then charged them with the bayonets!"
The muskets rang out, and then there was a shout of "We surrender! we surrender!"
A minute later the men were disarmed. There was still a desperate struggle going on on the ground.
"Here, lads," Ralph said to two of his men. "Secure this red fellow, he is their leader. One of you bring a torch here."
The light was brought. It was seen that the man who had sprung upon the Red Captain's back had pinioned his arms to his sides, and held them there in spite of the efforts of the ruffian to free himself. Two of the soldiers took off their belts and fastened them together, passed them between the back of the man and his captor, and then strapped his arms firmly to his side. The man who held them then released his grip.
"Stand over him with fixed bayonets, and if he moves run him through. Now, where's Captain O'Connor?"
"I don't know, sir. He and Mr. Desmond and the naval officer went down the hole in front of us. We were following when the naval officer shouted up to us to run round to this entrance and make our way in there, for he could go no further."
"I am here, Conway," a faint voice said from the other end of the cabin; "but I have broken my leg I think, and Desmond has knocked all the wind out of my body."
Ralph hastened to the spot whence the voice came and found Captain O'Connor lying on the ground, and Lieutenant Desmond insensible beside him.
"What has happened?" Ralph exclaimed. "Have they shot you?"
"No. Hold the torch up and you will see the way we came."
The soldier did so, and Ralph looking up saw a hole in the top of the cave twenty feet above.
"You don't mean to say you came through there, O'Connor?"
"I did, worse luck to it!" O'Connor said. "The passage got steeper and steeper, and at last my foot slipped, and I shot down and came plump into the middle of a peat fire; and a moment later Desmond shot down on to the top of me. We scattered the fire all over the place, as you can imagine; but I burned my hands and face, and I believe the leg of my breeches is on fire—something is hurting me confoundedly."
"Yes, it is all smoldering!" Ralph exclaimed, putting it out with his hands.
"Have you got them all?" Captain O'Connor asked.
"Everyone; not one has made his escape. It would have fared badly with us, though, if Lieutenant Adcock had not sent down the men to our assistance. Where is your leg broken, O'Connor?"
"Above the knee," the captain said.
"Here is some whisky and water," Ralph said, handing him his bottle. "Now, I will see what has happened to Desmond," and he stooped over the insensible officer.
"He has got a nasty gash on his forehead, and I think his right arm is broken," he said. "I will pour a little spirits between his lips, and then he had better be carried out into the air."
This was done; and then Ralph went outside, and shouted to Sergeant Morris to bring down another twenty men.
"If you please, sir," one of the coast-guard men said, touching his hat, "I don't see any signs of our officer. Have you seen him?"
"No," Ralph said. "Perhaps he is still in that passage. You had better run up to the top and see."
Two minutes later the man returned:
"He's down there, sir; but he says he can't get up or down."
"You had better run down to the boat at once," Ralph said. "I see she is close inshore. Bring a couple more of your men up with you and a rope. If you tie that round your body you can go down and bring him up."
Ralph then returned to the cavern, where the men were still guarding the prisoners.
"You can march them outside now," he said. "Then make them sit down, and stand over them with fixed bayonets till Sergeant Morris arrives. Now let us look to the wounded."
An examination showed that two of the soldiers were dead, and three others badly wounded. Seven of the party in the cave lay on the ground. One only was alive; the rest had fallen either from bullet or bayonet wounds. Seeing that nothing could be done here Ralph looked round the cavern. He soon saw that just where Captain O'Connor had fallen there was an entrance into another cave. He reloaded his pistols before he entered this, but found it deserted.
It contained two large stills, with mash tubs and every appliance, two or three hundred kegs of whisky, and some thirty sacks of barley. This at once accounted for the cave being known, and for the number of men found in it; for in addition to the seven that had fallen six prisoners had been taken. The walls of the cave were deeply smoke-stained, showing that it had been used as a distillery for a great number of years.
"That is satisfactory," Captain O'Connor said when Ralph reported to him the discovery he had made. "That place where I came down is of course the chimney. Peat does not give much smoke, and making its way out through that screen of bushes it would be so light that it would not be noticed by any one on the cliffs. Well, it's been a good morning's work—a band of notorious scoundrels captured and an illicit still discovered in full work. It was a cleverly contrived place. Of course it is a natural cavern, and was likely enough known before the fall of rocks from above so completely concealed the entrance. I wish those fellows would come, though, for my leg is hurting me amazingly, and these burns on my hands and face are smarting horribly. Shout out to them on the cliff, Conway, and tell them to send at once to fetch Dr. Doran from the village. The wounded ought to be seen to as soon as possible, and it is likely enough that some of them cannot be taken up over the rocks to the top of the cliff. I dread the business myself."
In a quarter of an hour Sergeant Morris arrived with his party. By this time Lieutenant Desmond had recovered consciousness, and although in great pain from his broken arm was consoled upon hearing of the complete success of the expedition. The soldiers were furious on hearing that three of their comrades had been killed, and two of their officers badly injured.
"Sergeant," Ralph said, "bring four of your men into the cave with me. Now," he continued when they entered, "there is a pile of blankets in that corner; take one of them and fasten it across two of the men's muskets, so as to make a litter. Then we must lift Captain O'Connor carefully and put him on it and get him outside. It will be a difficult business getting him through the narrow entrance, but we must manage it as well as we can. But first let us thoroughly examine the caves; there may be another entrance somewhere."
Searching carefully they found a passage behind the stack of kegs. It was some eight feet high and as much wide. They followed it for a short distance, and then saw daylight. Their way was, however, speedily blocked by a number of rocks piled over the entrance.
"This was evidently the original entrance to these caves," Ralph said, "but it was covered up when the rocks came down from above. That would account for the place not being known to the coast-guards. I thought the passage we came in by looked as if it had been enlarged by the hand of man. No doubt it was originally a small hole, and when the entrance was blocked the men who made up their minds to establish a still here thought that it would be the best way to enlarge that and to leave the original entrance blocked.
"Well, it's evident we must take Captain O'Connor and the wounded out by the small entrance. It would be a tremendous business to clear those great rocks away."
Captain O'Connor and the two wounded men were with great difficulty taken through the narrow passage. The soldier who was alive was the one who had received the charge of the blunderbuss in his legs; he was terribly injured below the knee, and Ralph had little doubt that amputation would be necessary. The other man lived but a short time after being brought into the air.
Ralph now turned to the peasant who had saved his life by grappling with the Red Captain at the moment he was about to discharge his blunderbuss, and who had by his orders been left unbound. He was sitting a short distance from the other prisoners.
"Your name is Denis Moore?" he said.
"It is, your honor," the man replied in surprise; "though how you came to know it beats me entirely."
"I heard it from your wife last night," Ralph said.
"From Bridget?" the man exclaimed. "Why, I thought she was a hundred miles away!"
"She came down here like a brave woman to try and save you," Ralph said, "and gave us information that brought us to this hiding-place; but her name is not to appear, and no one will know how we heard of it. We promised her that no harm should come to you if we could help it, and, thanks to the act by which you saved my life, you have escaped, for being down on the ground you were out of the line of the fire of our bullets. Of course at present we shall treat you as a prisoner, as you were captured with the others; but I think we shall manage to let you slip away. Your wife is to remain at Dunmanway till she hears the news of this affair and that you are safe, and she bade me tell you that you would find her at home, so no one will dream that either she or you had any hand in this affair. Now, point me out which are the four men that belong to this gang that brought you down here."
"The man who has just died was one of them," Denis replied. "None of the other three are here, so I expect they fell in the cabin. They were in the front of the fight. I saw one go down just as I grappled with our captain."
"So much the better," Ralph said. "As to their leader, there will be no difficulty in getting evidence about him. The regiment he belonged to is in Dublin, and they can prove the shooting of his officer; beside, they can get any amount of evidence from Galway."
"Ay; they will be ready enough to speak out now the whole gang are down," Denis Moore said. "They would not have dared to open their lips otherwise. The other prisoners all belong about here. One of their party is the captain's brother. That's how it is they came to take us in. But I think they would have been glad to get rid of us, for the Red Captain's lot were too bad for anything; and it isn't because men are ready to cheat the king's revenue that they are fond of such villains and murderers as these."
In a short time the doctor arrived. He had brought a case of instruments with him.
"There's nothing for it but amputation here," he said when he examined the wounded soldier. "His legs are just splintered. The sooner I do it the better."
Sergeant Morris and three of the men held the poor fellow while the operation was performed. As soon as it was over the doctor applied splints and bandages to Captain O'Connor's leg and Lieutenant Desmond's arm, and dressed the wounds of three of the other men, who had suffered more or less severely.