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discouraged the smaller fry, mails were tried, was, in the for all they did, on oooasions words of the song, to “throw when attempts to trap the their bombs and run away."
IV. ESCORTING THE MAIL.
It was a brilliant morning - dark, silent, sly, suspicious. in the latter half of August They gave unmistakable signs when an officer, eight men, and of the restless and disturbed two drivers received orders to state of the country, looking form an escort to the Dolney at the troops as if they were mail. Dolney is a town distant Bomo unusual kind of monster some twenty-three miles from very rare in those parts, an the oity whioh boasts of Rooks' objeot both of curiosity and Castle among its possessions. fear.
The oar was & spooially Alertness and uncertainty geleoted oar, new, and in per- are the prevailing elements of feot ranning oondition, while life in these times. The necesthe drivers were old and tried sity of oontinual watohfulness hands who were sooustomed is constantly brought home. to the work. The men were Even when revolver practice armed with rifles and bombs, takes place close to the bar. and in the middle stood a raoks, an escort with fixed Lewis gunner, a keen, lively, bayonets accompanies the aotive man with shining black party down to the range, and eyes, who had seen much ser soldiers with their rifles at the vice during the war, and firing position and pointed at looked the very embodiment the surrounding hills lie on the of strength and efficienoy. The bank above the pit. first part of the journey lay All may be comparatively along the banks of & river quiet for twenty days, and on through small villages of grey the twenty-first something may stone. Oooasionally, rather to ooour to show that the country the surprise of the soldiers, is really in a state of war. they were cheered by the To a certain degree ander civilians—and the oheers, be it tranquil conditions, and to a emphasised, were not ironical, still greater extent in the exthe reason being that the part isting state of affairs, Ireland of the oountry through which reminds one of & foreign they were passing is one much country. There are many patronised by people of loyal parts of this land which, sympathies, retired sergeants owing to the soaroity of from Irish regiments, their buildings and the long tracks wives and families, and others of moor and plain that the still well affected to the British eye travels over with hardly rule.
a notable object to break the Farther on appeared people continuous vista, reoall the of a different kind and cast sweeping downs of Languedoo
and the unending slopes of that trade on the other side of Castile. There is no orowd- the St George's Channel. ing in of villages and parks It is said that men acquire and avenues of trees, while the nature of the animals they everything is on & large tend--that ballook drivers are goale.
silent and stubborn, horseThe people too have a very masters lively and animated, un-English appearance. It is muleteers human mules, and said that there is a great deal 80 on. Conversely, animals of foreign blood, partioularly acquire the temperaments of in the south of Ireland. Many humans, and so Irish animals of the people whom one sees display that easy indifferent on the quays of the ports in attitude to things in general the south and west of Ireland, which is obaracteristio of their as well as in the surrounding masters, and affords so much country, must be descended amusement to casual visitors from Spaniards who oame here who are not accustomed to it. in former ages to trade. There A donkey lying in the road as is & habit, when this is the car approaobed paid not mentioned, of repeating the the slightest attention to the absurd figment about their whir of the engine or the being descended from the ship- wild blasts of the horn. He wrooked mariners who were monopolised not half but oast on shore from the Armada. three-quarters of the highway, Bat those unfortunate oast- and the driver anable and aways oan soarcely have unwilling to pull op or slacken amounted to several thousand, his speed, passed by within an nor is it likely that they found inch of the nose of the animal, their way into almost every who gave no other sign of life Beaport town in Ireland. These than the lazy wagging of his ports did a considerable trade tail in the dust, while the with Spain in the sixteenth vehicle went in imminent risk century, and you can see its of embedding itself in the legacy in the aspect of the ditch. buildings as well as of the The Lewis gunder might people.
well sweep every tree and In Seville and Malaga the bush as he passed with the inhabitants love to congregate searching glance of a hawk, in the streets and talk. You for no country was ever more see the same thing here. In admirably made for an ambusSpanish towns there are an oade. Behind these grey walls, astonishing number of beggars. these grassy mounds, these There are oountless beggars too trees and hedges, there might in Ireland, and beggars who at any moment be a party of request an alms in the same the enemy ready to hurl their lordly way that the Spanish bombs, or pour in a bail of beggars affeot-not with the ballets. Every one of these downoast demeanour of the solitary, dark-looking loiterers oooasional individuals who ply whom the car rushed swiftly
past, might be in league with the soldiers as they cross the an assassin, and off to spread bridge and begin the steep the news directly it was out ascent. of sight.
Everywhere there is a ragged And yet how strange that anoared-for look, as if nothing one should conneot all the that had been begun had been features of this country only properly finished off ; as if in with thoughts of death and every one someone had strife. How cool and delight- started off enthusiastioally to ful the streams appear glitter- do something, and then ing in the sunlight; ono's had suddenly wearied of it, thoughts inevitably turn to and left off in the middle. the trout and salmon larking The barracks stand high on in the pools beneath the the top of the bill in a comwillows, and longing arises for manding position like a a fow days' sport free from mediæval fortress. It is selany other oare or distraction, dom that they stand anywhere And then there is the soene else in the chief towns of of the far-off mountains as the Ireland; and the sight of summit of a bill is reached, these towering strongholds and the long expanse spreads contributes another cause for out before the hurried travel- the resemblance to places lors. They seem so peaceful remembered abroad. In Winunder the soft mists that ohester and Shrewsbury the olothe their farthest ridges. barraoks are not built on hills, And then the mail rushes down though there are hills to build through forests of beech and them on if such had been the pine into the village of Rath. intention. It would seem dooley. Soon after it ascends rather that the valleys had & steep hill, and from the been specially chosen for their eminence that it has gained, site. The gate opens, the oar oommands a view of a broad travels in; & tall silent staff river as noble as the Severn or officer with fair hair and blue the Thames. On its farther eyes receives the imposing bank stretch the spacious sheaf of doouments. They are lawns of a park, and its margin safe. He hands out others, a is overshadowed by majestio smaller packet, and during the elms. For a moment it seems interval the party of men as if a piece of England had regalo themselves on their been removed and taken into a frugal meal of sandwiches and foreign land. Then the eye oheese. travels farther to where the For a short moment they olosely-packed town of Dolney are among friends, and can olasters round its narrow, exchange & few josts and the winding, preoipitous street, news of the hour with their with its small low-fronted comrades. What & contrast houses, and the people orowd. between the neatness and ing shy and inquisitive at their orderliness of the barracks doors, gazing suspiciously at and the happy-go-laoky world outside. Not that there is any of that distance, there was a rooted antagonism between the boundary wall of about three troops and the people of the feet in height; on the left of country. If there is any the route this wall ran down enmity, it is a purely artificial into the park of Dolney to a one, oreated by the exceptional depth of ten feet. And half a oiroumstances of the moment; mile farther on the park gave for during long years the place to an immense wood soldiers of the garrisons and which stretobed away on either the folk among whom they side of the highway, the wall dwelt were the best of friends. still continuing Frequently they shared their When they entered the dark sports and amusements in the shades of the wood, as if in most perfeot amity. It is a answer to an irresistible intui. bitter reflection that a small tion, the men looked to their minority of mischief-makers rifles, and made sure where the has been able to ruin the good bombs lay. The Lewis gunner feeling that once prevailed, grasped his weapon more firmly and to replace it by doubt and placed his finger on the and suspicion and mutual dis- trigger, while the officer took trust.
out his revolver and laid it On their return journey across his knees. they passed along the northern They gazed intently into the side of the wide park of whioh thiok screen of foliage, which they had a sight on their hid the sunlight, for the sign arrival from the south. The of & head over the wall. outward journey had been the “Now, steady round the more important of the two, corner,” said & man's voice but the other might be equally between his teeth. “I've been perilous. And they were fully this way before. This is the consoious of this. If they had devil's death - trap.” Then been missed the first time, every one listened for the note whioh was possible, their pur- of the motor-born of the desuers might try to waylay spatoh-rider in front. But no them on their return. And sound oame. “Forrard away, the route which they would then. We're out of that." be foroed to take, at least for And the driver pressed his the first two miles out of foot down on to the accelerator Dolney, unless they were pre- and pushed baok his gear to pared to make a tremendous top speed. detour, was as well suited for All this had needed only an ambush as the road along a few seconds. The tension the valley.
relaxed slightly, an easy lightFor the first mile and a half heartedness was taking the it descended continually with place of the sombre attitude one or two sharp turnings, of expectation, and the ground on either side and then suddenly one of sloped away swiftly from it. them pointed to the man on On either side for the whole the motor bioyole. He was
holding up his hand and Pursnit through those trees, waving it. Sarely it oouldn't and in an unknown country, be-and then, without further was hopeless. So they pressed time for investigation, bang!!! on again full steam ahead, the just in front of the oar; and a despatoh-rider keeping only & soore of high - pitohed notes few yards in front of the oar, hummed through the air, with instruotions to shout on following the first explosion the appearance of anything by the smallest fraotion of a suspicious. second, like the sudden release Another ten minutes and of a group of angry hornets. they were topping & rise,
Then came briskly the leaving the forest far below, retort as the rap-rap-rap of as they rose into the clear the Lewis gunner out through air and the wide expanses of the bushes.
the hills. A glorious sensaAnd there was no further tion of triumph was added sound from the wood as it to the exhilarating inflaenoe lay there, contrasting with of the wind as it rushed the sunlight that broke in past. Far away before them above them, almost as blaok lay a series of orests, growing as night.
purpler and purpler in the The biogole had turned distance. And all round the round, the car had stopped. green of the trees in the “Are there any casualties ?” valleys oontrasted with the
“No; only one man, sir! bright colours of the heather Tarton, & graze on the ear,” that crowned the heights.
And then to the bioy olist Oooasionally down below them as he oame up to them: “And glittered the silver of some why didn't you blow your stream or lake, while a hawk horn ?"
poised himself above them for “I did blow it, sir, but I an instant, and then swooped oouldn't get any sound out with anorring stroke over a of it."
shoulder of the hill. (To be continued.)
VOL, CCVIII.-NO. MCCLXII.