Chapter 17. Black and Tans. Squabbles.
Power struggle in IRA – Bulkeley takes his girlfriend for a drive – Mrs Grimsditch informs – – Conlan becomes a spy –
Mr Horner returned from his business trip to Killarney. He found his wife and children very distressed. There was not a scrap of food in the house nor a penny to buy more. His wife told Horner that he had to go and sell the farm for 100 pounds. Horner knew better than to defy the IRA.
”I have a cousin in England. Maybe we can go and live with her” said Mr Horner.
”What will we do for money?” said Mrs Horner in distress.
”I do not know. I have only ever run by own farm. Who wants a man like that aged 40?” said Mr Horner.
”No I mean to buy food?” said Mrs Horner.
”That hundred pounds seems like a lot of money at the moment.” said Mr Horner
”Let’s go to the police.” said Mrs Horner.
”Not on your Nelly. Ruth have you taken leave of your senses? I would be shut as soon as I left the station. I shall go to the solicitor right now. We have a week to sell the furniture. You go and ask the neighbours for food. Ask Rev Playfair. He is a kind man. He will not let us starve” said Mr Horner;
Mrs Horner continued to suggest informing the Royal Irish Constabulary that they had been the victims of severe crimes. Yet Mr Horner was adamantine in his refusal. Eventually Mrs Horner gave him her uxorial deference.
Mr Horner went to the solicitor and sold the farm. Within the week the Horners were on the boat to Swansea and never returned.
The IRA camped deep in the woods. They had an old woodburner’s bothy as their HQ. They roasted a freshly slaughtered cow. There was plenty of food left over to carry home to their families.
”I am glad you got that bastard Horner” said Thompson ”he was a cruel landlord.”
”He was rents too high and wages too low. If a man was a day late on his rent he was evicted” said Nagle shiftily. Even Nagle seemed to sense the hypocrisy in what he was saying. Conlan was nauseated. The Horners were fairly bad but for Nagle to take the moral high ground against them? That revolted Conlan but he chose to restrain himself and go along with the general opinion of the situation.
”No more they will pay rent” said Conlan
”Ah now they will” said London ”We are the masters now.”
”But we want to free the people from feudalism. The land to him who works it. It is exploitation. Why should a man pay rent on the soil he tills?” asked Conlan
”Come on.” said London ”IRA needs the money. Besides we deserve to be rewarded for our service to Ireland”
Conlan was stunned into silence. He had joined the IRA to help the working man and not to extract high rent from him.
Hendricks piped up ”Now we got a lot of money I need more wages.”
London retorted ”You do not”
”Ah come on I am a full time soldier like” said Hendricks
”FUll time bowsy more like” said London. Some laughed at Hendricks. Hendricks looked very sour at this.
”I need a promotion. I am not a volunteer – lieutenant maybe?” Hendricks asked naively.
”You will not be promoted” said London ”we need a man with leadership qualities”
”I am a leader. I am in the front of the column when there is fighting to be done. And I know all the rebel ballads. I have killed enough enemies.” said Hendricks in self glorification.
”You can get promoted when you are a decent soldier.” said London scathingly.
”Decent soldier?” Hendricks jumped to his feet and pulled a revolver on London. ”Who is the decent soldier now London?” He was breathing heavily.
London remained calm and did not look at Hendricks. ”Now put that gun down”. said London placidly. London had no gun on him.
The others looked very nervous and held themselves taut. What should they do. Take sides? Pull a gun on Hendricks? Or see which way things went.
”I will not. You will apologise.” Hendricks was seething and there was rage in his expression,.
”Ok I am sorry Hendricks” London said very tranquilly and with merely a hint of affectation in his voice. Hendricks was not enough of a bright spark to detect the falsity in London’s tone.
The other men looked on not daring to move. They wondered what to do. None of them had a gun. One who held a newspaper chose to bury his nose deep in its folds as if it could be thought that he had not noticed the scene.
”You got to sound like you mean it” said Hendricks crying.
”I mean it. Hendricks. You are a great soldier for Ireland. I was only messin ‘ . Now will you ever lower your revolver.” said London.
”Not on your life London. Why don’t we go and attack the English? All this excuses and delay. We only ever rob houses. If I was in command we would have wiped out them English sons of bitches long ago.” said Hendricks
”I already explained that we have to get reinforcements. We are low on ammo. Wait for the right moment. Plan” said London.
”Yerra shut your gob London. Tis because you are half English. You ;love them English and that is why you don’t get us to kill them” said Hendricks. “I would Attack the English even if we only had pitchforks;”
”I am not English at all” Jim London remained placid.
”With a name like London?” said Hendricks incredulously.
”I might have had a great great grandfather who was English but I am Irish to me toenails.” London retained his equanimity. ”Now William. You are my pal. Please put the gun down.”
”Now. From now on I am taking command of this unit and we go on the offensive tonight. We storm the barracks. No more waiting and plotting. Attack!” said Hendricks.
”All right man. Have it your way. I ceded my command to you. I am demoted to volunteer and you are the commandant now.” said London benignly.
”Hurrah!” said Hendricks beaming. He lowered his revolver. ”You all heard him boys.”
”We did” they chorused.
”All right so we are agreed” said London.
”We are” Hendricks relaxed
”We shake on it?” asked London
”We will” said Hendricks a smile brightening his face.
London got to his feet and shook hands with Hendricks. ”Congratulations commandant” he said to Hendricks ”Now I must go for a piss.” He saluted in a manner which managed not to seem mocking.
”Permission granted volunteer London” said Hendricks proud as punch.
London went to the rear of the bothy. He saw his rifle stacked there. He then popped his head around the corner. London saw Hendricks sitting again with his back to him. Hendricks was chatting gaily and was more childlike than ever.
London then grabbed his rifle and walked rapidly the 10 yards to Hendricks. He put his rifle to the back to Hendricks head. Hendricks heard something and was moving his head slightly as if to turn and see. London pulled the trigger at point blank range.
There was a large hole in the back of Hendricks head. The gun report resonated around the trees. The others were stunned into silence. Hendrick’s head oozed blood as his body lolled onto the leaf carpeted forest floor.
London then looked at the others unrepentant. He paused a moment. ”That is what will happen for any insubordination. Hendricks was a mutineer. Any IRA man who draws a gun on a senior office will be shot dead without warning!”
The others looked on aghast. Conlan had to admit to himself that London had resolved the situation in an ingenious way. He could not cede his authority to Hendricks. He could not overthrow Hendricks by any means less drastic.
London also realised he must be less parsimonious with pay in future.
BULKELEY’S TWO DUTIES
Bulkeley was relaxing with the two of his men he was closest two. Moore, the Irish veteran together with quick witted Limtay. All three were smoking. Moore smoked sparingly but this was mostly for reasons of miserliness.
”We have cleared out these marauders” said Bulkeley ”We have done a damn good job.”
”Tis a fine job we have done sir but I fear they will be back” said Moore.
Bulkeley looked at him and noted the wisdom on Moore’s face. If there was anything about Irish policing that Moore did not know then it was not worth knowing.
”You reckon?” said Bulkeley.
”I wish I could say different but the IRA have laid down deep roots. Situation is all right around here but in the rest of the country it is getting worse by the day. I read it in the newspapers” said Moore.
”Well it is around here I am concerned with. Out of our district is none of our business” said Bulkeley trying to be optimistic. ”By the way I have come to like Ireland I no longer go home on leave. I just go off for a day here and there.”
”I noticed when we accompany you to the station” said Limtay.
”Yes, well I have bought a car. I know it costs a lot but a young man has to indulge himself. Never thought I could afford one. Got it from a family leaving Ireland in a hurry. Keeping it up in Mallow. Might drive it back” said Bulkeley proudly.
” A motorcar. That’s great like” said Moore.
”She is a real beaut” said Bulkeley ”While I am earning good money might as well enjoy myself. Never know when one of these IRA blighters might get me. There could be a bullet with my name on it.”
”Well sir so long as we go around in groups of six I think they will not challenge us” said Limtay
”Nonsense four is enough. We have the rotters licked” said Bulkeley.
”Sir, are you staying in Ireland for leave because of a certain Miss Wells?” Limtay asked naughtily.
Bulkeley wondered whether the man had gone too far but relaxed. ”Yes it is” he smiled with satisfaction.
”Good for you sir” said Moore ”You may be staying in Ireland longer! he quipped.
”I am starting to like Ireland more and more. Not just because of Miss Wells. I have made friends through the church. Now the IRA in these parts is beat I can lead an almost normal life. Riding to the hounds. I see what those Somerville and Ross novels were about” said Bulkeley.
“They are from not far away them two cousins. Castletownsend” said Moore. “One of them is related to that admiral. He is a kindly old gent. Any boy wants to be a sailor in the Royal Navy like he can get a character reference off the old retired Admiral Somerville. IRA are not too pleased about it. But the admiral is so loved even the IRA will never harm a hair on his head;”
“Well that is nice to know that some members of the Crown Forces are exempt from assassination” said Bulkeley. “But back to the IRA. We have the buggers on the back foot here. I am worried that they are too powerful in the rest of the country;”
*”Tis the Irish fighting spirit sir; We set the world ablaze when we fight for the king. These IRA morons I have not truck with them. They have got it into their head to fight for a republic and they will not give up easy. The Irishman is a doughty warrior whether is cause is good or bad. These IRA gossoons are devoted to their cause even if tis rotten. Like the Connaught Rangers ; we are the boys to face all dangers/ We are the Connaught Rangers Same; as the Royal Dublin Fusiliers ; Left turn, right turn this is the way we go; Charging with fixed bayonets the terror of every foe!”
Bulkeley is discombobulated>. What to make of Moore paying tributes to his foe. Bulkeley decided to be complimentary “Well you Irish are a martial race. Mass produced great military leaders like Lord Cavan, Kitchener, Wellington; Wolsey; Sir Henry Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia and Gough”
Bulkeley wondered whether this was a natural pride for Moore to take in the actions of other Irishmen even though they were his Deadly foes. Or was there some latent sympathy for the enemy? If Moore could not be trusted then no one could be.
Bulkeley went to the post office in Macroom. There had made a phone call to Miss Wells’ school. Unusually the school had a phone. He made an arrangement to meet Miss Wells there on Saturday and take her for a drive to a local beauty spot – a lake.
Bulkeley wore civilian clothes as he stood in the day room. He wondered whether she could ask him about previous girlfriends. If so he thought he had better give her an honest record. Clear the air. That would make a clean breast of it rather than some untruth being discovered months down the line.
”Limtay, I am going to propose to her” Bulkeley said fidgeting.
”Sir I have seen you face fire but I have never seen you scared till now” said Louis.
”I am scared” said Bulkeley ” A little woman is more terrifying than 10 000 Huns; What’ll I do if she says no?”
”Allow her time sir. You have only known Miss Wells a few weeks” said Limtay ”Don’t you think you are rushing this?”
”I have bought the ring. Better to go for it now than chicken out. She might think I am a playboy and then jilt me so she can find someone else” said Bulkeley. “I wish I was having to charge a kraut machinegun rather than pop the question; ”
”Calm down sir. Just be brave. Ask – try it might work. If not it probably not a definite no. If she says no it will mean she needs more time to think about it. But why are you doing to ask her to marry you?” said Louis.
”I am in love you fool!” Bulkeley. shouted with exceptional animation. Then Bulkeley realised the indignity of the sitution and recovered himself. He turned the colour of beetroot in embarrassment at his outburst. Was it the head injury making him do this?
Limtay shrank back. He had never seen Bulkeley so demonstrative. ”Sir give it time.”
”I might not have time. Moore is right. He knows Ireland. The IRA might come back and kill me. I cannot miss out on marriage and… and on .. well you know.” said Bulkeley
”You mean in the war you never?” said Louis not daring to finish the question.
”No. Some chaps were going to those officers’ brothels. I have natural urges same as the next man. I waited in the queue once but at the last minute I decided not to go in. Seemed about as erotic as an abbatoir. A production line of fornication with raddled old wenches. VD for sure. No thank you. So I have kept myself clean for her. Miss Wells. Rosemary. She is the one!” said Bulkeley.
”Good luck sir. You are going to take her for a drive.?” asked Limtay
”Yes told you got the motorcar over there. Impress her.” Bulkeley said.
”Are you sure that is wise you not having any protection?” said Louis.
”Limtay I am going to propose I can hardly have a bevvy of RIC man around me. How romantic would that be? Besides I am taking my trusty Webley service revolver. ANy rebel getting within range of this will never survive” said Bulkeley.
”Well I suppose you are in civvies. No one will know you are an RIC officer” said Limtay.
”That’s right.” said Bulkeley.
Four RIC men on a donkey cart accompanied Bulkeley to the nearby railway station. He wore a dark grey pin striped suit and black leather laceups. He carried a pyjama suitcase as he would be staying in a hotel overnight. The head constable had a dark brown trilby on his head. Bulkeley looked very dapper.
“That is a very nice bag of fruit you got on sir” said Short.
“Bag of fruit?” Bulkeley furrowed his brow;
“Suit sir; Bag of fruit = suit” Short elucidated.
Bulkeley could never fathom Cockney rhyming slang.
Bulkeley entrained and made his way to Miss Wells. From Mallow station he got a jarvey to drive him to his car which was parked outside the Wells’ parents house. Bulkeley then drove to the school. He parked at the private side and Miss Wells was there to meet him. The headmistress came out too. Miss Dorsett was a woman of 5’10”. Her iron grey hair was piled up as was the Edwardian fashion. She wore a long brown dress that was dignified but shapeless. It could certainly kill a lustful thought at a hundred paces though Miss Dorsett was over the half century mark and non pulchritudinous.
” Good day Head Constable” said Miss Dorsett grandly ”Miss Wells told me that you were coming today. I am so pleased to see she had an attractive young man after her.” She extended her long gnarled fingers and the shook hands.
Bulkeley felt diffident in the intimidating presence of this severe headmistress.
”I am so pleased to meet you headmistress” said Bulkeley.
”Yes well some of the girls may be about town. Do make sure there are no scenes which could be regarded as scandalous.” said Miss Dorsett
”Certainly Miss Dorsett I shall conduct myself in an exemplary fashion.” said Bulkeley.
”Very good we do expect Miss Wells to set an example of right living to our pupils” said Miss Dorsett. “I expect you to be the perfect gentleman;”
Rosemary Wells wore a pale green dress. The neckline was a little below the throat and it hung down to mid calf. She wore a simple necklace and bracelet. She had dressed her hair especially for the occasion.
They drove out of the gates. It was a splendid summers day. Rosemary Wells had seldom felt so glad. They drove up the hill towards the lake.
”Rosemary I have been thinking a lot lately about us” the words came out a little too fast. He had rehearsed them a hundred times in his head. He just had to spit them out before his courage failed him.
”Yes … about us. Me too” she said biting her lower lip.
”Well I know that I have not known you very long. A few weeks. We have only met 8 times isn’t that right?” asked Bulkeley.
”Eight? I have not counted. Seems about right” said Rosemary.
”I counted because it is very important to me.” said Bulkeley.
They passed some rough looking men on the road. These men wore dark and torn clothes. They had thick stubble and turned their faces away as the car went past. Bulkeley was so concentrating on his speech that he did not bother to think why these men might be trying to avoid their faces being seen.
Bulkeley parked the car at a remote spot by the lake. He put out his hand and held hers. ”We have walked hand in hand. I kissed you – even on the lips.”
”Yes, I know. I only did that with one man before” said Rosemary.
”I do not mind. You are not a child. I have had other girlfriends. The one I thought I would marry ended it in the last year of the war. She married an old civil servant. But because I have met other women I know you are the right one for me.” said Bulkeley.
”I am the right one for you?” she flushed fully.
”Yes, Rosemary. He reached into his inner pocket and brought out a black leather box. That is why I want to offer you this” he opened it to reveal a ring. He breathed deeply and looked down to gather himself. Then he looked into her eyes ”Will you marry me?”
”Oh William. I don’t know what to say? Let me think about it” she turned away and fanned herself.
He felt dejected. His heart raced. What a ninny he had been. ”You are saying no?”
”No, I am not saying no. Please William. Give me time. I am not sure” she looked away and tears welled in her eyes.
Bulkeley cursed himself. Limtay had been spot on. But this was only a maybe – not a no. He had laid down his marker at least.
”All right. I am sorry. Will you think about it.” said Bulkeley
”Yes, certainly.” said Rosemary.
”May I have a kiss at least?” asked Bulkeley.
”yes of course” she giggled through her tears and their lips met. His hands wandered over her firm nubile body. She pushed them away.. ”William… please. I am a good girl. This will have to wait.”
”Till marriage?” said Bulkeley
”Of course what do you take me for?” said Rosemary; No self respecting Young lady would say anything else.
”I know you are as chaste as they come. I would want nothing less.” said Bulkeley.
”Actually” said Rosemary carefully,” I have thought about it. Your proposal”
Bulkeley was taken by surprise.
”Yes and?” he said
”Yes. I accept!” she said with a Duchenne smile.
Bulkeley’s heart bounded. Was he hearing right? ”You say yes?”
”yes” she yelped. He fell on her and snogged her again. He felt a swelling loyalty towards her and a swelling groin.
He ended the kiss and said ”that was quick thinking.”
”Well – I thought this is what love is. Go for it. A whirlwind romance.” She kept to herself that she had reasoned that she would not get a better offer. It seemed a bit reckless to her but with Protestant men leaving in droves she had better be on Bulkeleys boat.
They went for a walk by the lake. It was sublime afternoon.
”Let’s go down to town for tea” said Bulkeley.
”Then we must tell my parents” she said seeming faintly daunted.
”Shouldn’t I have asked your father’s permission first?” Bulkeley looked a trifle worried.
”Maybe. You are going to have to get their permission anyway. I cannot wed without their say so until I am 21.” said Rosemary.
They got back into the car and drove down the hill. Rosemary was ripening all the while. It was the most blessed day in Bulkeleys life. Maybe the Lord had spared him in the war for this day. She was his destiny; Bulkeley felt he was in clover. He pictured babies n the rug in front of the family hearth; He could not wait to make an intimate study of her body.
The car drove around a sharp bend. There was a pile of logs blocking the road. Bulkeley looked at the margins of the road. The margins were far too narrow. He could not drive around. There were thick woods on either side.
”Sorry about this sweetheart” said Bulkeley clambering out of the car ”I will shift these in a trice and we will be on our way.” As he began to lift the logs he wondered if there was something sinister about these logs being there. People do not simply leave logs blocking a road by chance.
Several shots rang out and hit Bulkeley in the back. He fell face first onto the road. ”Argghh ” he cried out in anger and pain. His hand went into his jacket for his revolver.
Rosemary was dumbstruck for a moment. Had she just heard what she had thought she had heard? She then started to wail.
Two masked men rushed out of the woods. Rosemary was terrified to see them approach.
”No don’t hurt him” she implored them ”He is my fiance” It was quite something to call him that.
One of the men could not resist a chuckle at that. He walked up to Bulkeley whose breathing was very laboured. Bulkeley’s hand was on his revolver but Bulkeley’s strength was fading fast. He was losing so much blood that consciousness was slipping away. The IRA aimed his rifle carefully at the man’s and fired several shots into his face.
”No open casket” he quipped and the two stalked off.
”That was fucking great” said London laughing.
”Twas” said Adams.
Rosemary was suddenly seized by fury rather than grief. She got out of the car and hurled abuse at the men. ”Cowards, brutes … bastards!” she shrieked. She could not believe she had said that word. It was the first time in her life that word has passed her lips.
The men were stunned by her screaming and turned around to her.
”Let’s finish off this bitch too” said Adams
”Ah no let her go” said London. They then ran into the woods
”He is not dead” she said aloud and lowered herself onto his corpse. ”Wake up William” she shook him ”Wake up wake up. My Fiance. My husband” she kissed his lips and blood trickled out. She clung to his corpse for almost an hour before she accepted that he was dead. She walked down the hill in floods of tears.
A telephonist in the post office had been an IRA supporter. This Cumman na mBann woman heard when and where Bulkeley was going. The Clountreem IRA were some miles east of their usual hunting ground. Based on this news they had moved to Mallow and staked out an ambuscade.
Bulkeley was not back from leave on time.
”Most unusual” said Limtay when he noticed that Bulkeley was an hour late. Bulkeleys meteoric rise in RIC circles had been due to his efficiency and energy in combatting the IRA; He was a stickler for punctuality. It was not like him to be unaccountably tardy.
An army lorry drew up outside the barracks.
”What is going on?” said Sergeant ”We never get a lorry on this day of the week.”
An army officer got out holding an official document – so it looked like. He knocked on the door
Louis walked to the door and unbolted it.
”Lieutenant Weldon reporting” the officer saluted. His expression was melancholy.
Limtay returned the salute. ”I am Constable Limtay. We are very surprised to see you. Something wrong?”
”Yes there is. May I come in?” said Weldon;
”Certainly. Take a seat” said Louis.
”No thanks I have a section of soldiers out there. On our way to Dunmanway. We were told to divert here we have news to deliver” said the man looking away and then back at Limtay. ”Maybe you should sit.”
”All right” said Limtay intrigued and suspicious. He sat.
”Head Constable Bulkeley was shot dead yesterday.” said Weldon
”Dead!” said Limtay.
”Dead? Bulkeley? Dead”” said Sergeant.
”Yes. Dead. Head Constable is dead. ” said Weldon
”Oh my God!” said Limtay
”Pigs!” said Sergeant.
”What happened” said Limtay struggling to absorb the news.
”he took a woman for a drive up a mountain to a lake. Proposed to her she says. Then they were coming back and he was shot by the IRA.” said Weldon
”Proposed. Yes Miss Wells.” said Limtay.
”I will give you this” he handed Limtay an official letter and orders. ”The body was recovered last night. To be sent back to England for burial tomorrow. A new head constable will be sent out.” He saluted and left in a hurry.
Sergeant spoke up ”I saw we go and get ten Shinners and shoot the bastards.”
”Now Sergeant. We cannot do that. Illegal. Bulkeley said we had to build good relations with the people. Fight the IRA and protect the people” said Limtay
”Half the people here support the IRA” said Sergeant ”not just in thoughts. They is giving the rebels information. They is hiding their guns. They warn the IRA when we is coming.”
”Still that does not make it right to shoot ordinary people” said Louis
”Does it fuck. You want to win or not? The Jerries would sort this out double quick. When there were franc tireurs in Belgium they round up every man in the village and shoot him. The shooting soon stopped” said Sergeant
”We are British we do not behave like that” said Limtay
”Maybe Teacher was right and the Micks all are scum” said Sergeant fuming.
”Don’t be so angry man. I am hurt too. Bulkeley was not just an officer. He was a mate. But we are not going to murder in return.”
The IRA were staying in a Sinn Feiner’s farmhouse.
”That was a good hit” said Thompson.
”Certainly was. I am proud of myself” said London.
”It was my bullets finished him off” said Adams.
”Let’s raise a glass to that” said Thompson pouring out whiskey for them all.
”The question is where do we hit them next? I noticed that every Tuesday they walk to Lismanistry. Walk mind not ride. They done that the last five Tuesdays” said London
”They are getting slack” said Adams.
”Now they are lax we hit them” said London.
The IRA formed up in an ambuscade on the road to Lismanistry. London had chosen his spot cleverly. The IRA were concealed in a dense forest overlooking the road. There were open fields on the far side the road with no cover for the RIC to hide behind. The RIC were patrolling in groups of only four. London was confident that they could wipe them out and take their ammunition. The RIC no longer walked ten yards between each man.
Limtay checked the dead letter drop. He had not had a note from English in days. He did not expect to find anything.
To Limtay’s surprise there was a note ”Do not go to Lismanistry tomorrow Tuesday. IRA will be in ambush position there on the road from dawn till night.” Louis hurried back to his patrol.
”Quick fellas let’s go back to barracks” said Louis
”Why?” said Watkins.
”I have some news.” said Louis.
”You just been for a piss and now you have news?” said Watkins disbelievingly.
”Just believe me. I have news.” said Louis.
The patrol reluctantly agreed. Moore was acting head constable and he showed the note to him.
”Well that is it no patrol to Lismanistry today” said Moore ”this fella has never been wrong. No reason he would say it unless it were true”
”But why don;t we launch a counter ambush – come in behind the IRA.”
”That road is 5 miles long they could be anywhere” said Moore
”Come on this is our chance to exact revenge for Bulkeley” said Limtay
”Bulkeley does not want us to all get killed. We are very under strength as it is.” said Moore;
”Come on – there cannot be that many suitable ambuscades” said Limtay
”We are not going and that is final. We will just patrol here. No more than a mile from the barracks” said Moore. Moore’s word prevailed.
It was a gloriously sunny day. The IRA could not understand why RIC did not show up.
It was coming on towards evening and the men grew restive. Scouts had been into town and reported RIC activity was normal. The Fianna Eireann did not see the RIC going anywhere else.
The IRA withdrew two hours before sundown. They were deeply frustrated. They went to their backer’s farmhouse
”What the hell went wrong?” said London in the kitchen
”Fuck knows” said Thompson.
”I have an idea. You know that old woman saw us?” said Adams
”Well she just saw two of us not all ten” said London
”Still she might have figured out there were more. She is a Prod like. That Orangewoman must have told the RIC” said Adams
”Could be right” said Thompson.
”That widow. Mrs Grimsditch/ Oh yes. She is a poor Prod too. Doing it for money. Not just because she believes in it. Let’s pay a visit to her” said London.
That night London, Adams and Nagle went to Mrs Grimsditch’s house. London used the knocker on the geriatric’s door.
The old woman was still up. She came to the door and sounded oddly fearless as she called ”Hello” in a smoker’s voice.
”Open this door now!” said London angrily.
”Who is at my door” she said without a trace of worry in her voice.
”This is the IRA now open the door Mrs Grimsditch.”
”What do you want?” she said as she unlocked the door. ”I have nothing to steal”
The three masked IRA piled in. She stood aside. She was wearing a nightie and pale blue dressing gown.
”Sit down in the kitchen” said London
”All right” and the 70 year old woman with dense grey hair pottered in. Her face was deeply lined. Her voice was so roughened by cigarettes she sounded like a man. She lowered herself into a chair. ”Arthritis – tis fierce difficult to move” she said.
”Anyone else in the house?” asked London.
”Yes there is a boy here who helps me. He is asleep upstairs.” said Mrs Grimsditch
”What is his name?” said London
”Tadhg.” said Mrs Grimsditch
”Right – go get him” he turned to Nagle.
”Do you gentleman want some tea? Cake?” she was bizarrely unfazed by masked, armed men with guns in her kitchen. She took out woodbine from her pack and lit it up.
”Now Mrs Grimsditch. This is a republican court. You are charged with high treason to Ireland.” said London
”What?” her runneled face show exasperation.
”The IRA was in ambush position today and you saw us. Mam you went and told the RIC so they did not come.” said London
”I saw ye but I did not say anything to anyone” said Mrs Grimsditch. She was starting to sound perturbed.
Adams perceived that she was speaking the truth. That was why she had not been scared about admitting them to her house.
Nagle came down holding the 16 year old boy by the scruff of his pyjamas. He had bruises on the face where Nagle had pistol whipped him. ”Here he is the little shite”
”You told the RIC we were there otherwise they would have come on patrol” said London
”I did not and I would not have. I am not mad. I would be shot if I told on ye.” said Mrs Grimsditch
”You did and you will be shot” said London
The old woman looked horrified.
London turned to Tadgh ”was it you boy?”
”No it was not.” said Tadgh
”He only came here after dark. He would not have seen ye” said Mrs Grimsditch,
”Tadgh you are a Catholic aren’t you?” asked London softly
”I am” said the boy atremble.
”You will tell me the truth now as one Catholic to another. If you admit you told the RIC I will let you off with a warning. If you deny it then it is death” said London
”I did not tell anyone. I never even saw ye. I did not know ye were here till ye came to the house” he said very rapidly. His honesty was patent.
”You are found guilty of spying and sentenced to death” said London
”What sort of trial is that no judge or jury or attorney?” said the old woman.
”Say your prayers” said London.
”What? At least let the boy live. He did nothing. Neither did I but I am old” said the woman
”Ah shut it you old ghoul or we will beat you first” said London.
The woman was resigned to here fate. ”At my age I do not want to live much longer. My children are all grown up and I have 15 grandchildren”.
”Ah no please don’t kill me I beg of ye” said the boy ”You can give me exile anything” he was perspiring furiously.
London opened the door and said ”march the condemned to the road.”
”Out – out” said Nagle. He shoved his guns into the boys back and forced him to walk to the road.
The woman tottered slowly and showed no fear. Soon she said ”I cannot walk any further. Do it here if you must” it was 100 yards from the road.
”All right ” said London
”My last request is let the boy live”
”Ah put a sock in it you Orange bitch” said Mrs Grimsditch.
”No one in my family was ever in the Orange Order” she said angrily.
London leveled his rifle and dispatched her with a bullet to the heart.
The boy started to howl for the dead woman. Nagle put his revoler to the boy’s forehead and shot him dead. The corpses were dragged to the road and labels ”spies and informers beware” were attached
The house was ransacked and then torched.