Page images
[blocks in formation]


I FIRST saw him in the ing and heeling. I took the village on Sunday morning shoes to him on Monday mornwhat time the churches of ing. He was at his bench in the various denominations the little old dim room wherein empty themselves of their he had plied his cobbling for congregations. He was more than half a century. slender youth, and carried His greeting was as cordial himself buoyantly. He wore as man could make it.

Не a Donegal tweed suit of paid me florid compliments on modish pretensions, pale-green my looks, and declared it was Books, stout brown brogues, growin' younger I was, every and a sham-velour Homburg day! hat, The green socks and It was at this point that my whitey - grey tweed provided friend the Rebel entered. He two out of the three colours strolled in apparently in the of the Sinn Fein spectroscope, enjoyment of leisure. He still and I expeoted that an orange wore the Homburg hat, which tie would oomplete the trinity; he did not trouble to remove. but his tie was of & revolu- His grandfather introduced tionary red, and went ap- him with a slightly timorous propriately with the handsome manner. I fanoied I caught bush of close-curling oopper- & shade of anxiety in Mosey's coloured hair which billowed wrinkled, bronze-coloured face, out at the back of his head but the youth responded to under the Homburg hat, and my greeting with politeness, suggested Bolshevism and just tinged, perhaps, with anarohism and all the isms faint superciliousness. pertaining to revolt. His This interohange of ameni. face was good-looking, dark- ties over, I unwrapped the eyed, olean shaven,

well. paper round my shoes and nourished.

showed them to Mosey. He He turned in at the gate examined them critically, releading to “Mogey” Doyle's marking en passant that the cottage, and I was informed price of leather would frighten that he was Mosey's grand- the heart out of ye! However, son, The former had been a in the end he stated a price, friend of mine in days of and promised to have the yore, and I had resolved to "little shoes” (Mosey invari

I pay him a visit to renew old ably added this adjective to aoquaintanoe, and also to every lady's boots or shoes)

a pair of shoes; for ready in a couple of days. Mosey had a oure of soles, I was on the point of deand I knew his skill in sol. parture when my old friend's

[ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors]

grandson suddenly made a Later in the day, I was
wild snatch at the shoes. He coming baok from the river
peered into their interior with through the woods when whom
savage intensity, then with should I see approaching but
anaccountable violence flung Mosey. I made to pass him
them from him as if they had by, but he stopped me.
stung him.

“ Whist !” he said mysteri"Made in England !” he ously. “I'm huntin' you this hissed at his grandfather. hour back; what I'm wishing

I looked at him blankly and to tell you is this : leave the then at Mosey. The latter shoes ready and I'll come up refused to look at me, but he for them this evening, and I'll took up the paper, wrapped do them for ye betther than it round the shoes again, new, and,” he winked, "sure and handed the pareel back the divil a ha-porth he'll ever to me.

know about it." * What-what is it?" I ex- “Mosey," I said, feeling an claimed helplessly. The old soute spasm of mirth, "are msn made dramatio passes you a Sinn Feiner ?with his hands.

Ah, God love ye, no, I'm “'Tis not me," he said mag- not, but,” he lowered his voice, nificently, “that'll lay a hand “the way it is now, ye have to to a boot or & shoe made in humour them if yo want to get England till Ireland is free." yer life in these days."

A wild desire to laugh seized He had laid one bony, bigme, but knowing the Irish veined hand on my arm and peasant I orushed it. But I was gazing at me with a looked from Mosey to my strange, deprecating, affeotionRebel, and he looked at me, ate expression quivering over and blatant gwank-no other his face. word expresses it-irradiated “In that case," I observed, him from head to foot. Again “I think you're very foolish I wanted to laugh, and this to time I did. I turned to Mosey. He interrupted me quickly.

“Well, good-bye, Mosey," I "I give yo me worrd an' said; “I'm sorry you can't there's millions more like me oblige me, but I'm really not in in Ireland this day." any pressing need of the shoes; “Well," I protested, "if I they can wait till I get baok were you I'd see that young to London, though I'd rather grandson of yours further yeu did them. They wouldn't before I humoured him.” be the first you've soled for He looked distressed. me.”

“Ye would not," he said He mattered something in- pleadingly; "sure him and audible, and I went out of the the whole of them is up in little dark dirty room into the an element, and that's God's glowing sunshine, with the truth; 'tis too much they shoes under my arm and con- know and too much larnin' fused wonder in

my mind.

that's pat into them, and they

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

don't know what to be at pay in me day it's the quare next; but if I was to thwart forobune I'd be leavin' bebind him, the Lord knows what he'd me." go and do; and what would I I could feel my mouth fall do if I was to see him hanging open foolishly. by the neck on a tree as many

“Then I suppose he de& one before him hung out livers English lettere," I said there "-he pointed—“on Gib- stupidly. bet Hill?”

"Oh, faith he does, English I was silent from sheer help- and Irish and every letter lessness.

that's in it,” he replied blandly. “But ye'll give me the little “He's a smart boy, mind ye !"

” shoes now; sure it'd go to me “ He is," I agreed. heart to deny ye anything." “But,” his voice and his eyes

“Very good, Mosey, I will. grew eager, "ye'll give me the But if he finds out, don't little shoes; sure he'll never blame me.”

know a word about it.” “ The divil a taste he'll find “Yes,” I said, “you shall out. Surs and how would he have them.” I'll keep them hid tight and do He beamed upon me as if I them when he's out with the were making him a present of letters.”

them. “Letters, I I ejaculated; Walking through the village " what letters ?

the following day, a searlet “The post, to be sure." bioyole Aed past me with the “Post!

Is he a postman?” Rebel on it. The bright buttons “Bedad he is, letter-carrier of ignoble servitude glinted in for the distriot, and he only the sunshine on his blue coat, eighteen; but he's & grand and the copper ourls were more scholar, glory be to God!

what ebullient and anarebioal than I never was. It's the fine life ever, bursting out under the they have now-bioyoles and small old-fashioned képi with motor-cars, and never soil their which the British Government hands. And for pay, oh! there's covers the heads of its postal nothing like the Governmint servants. He was whistling money after all. With rises as he went. to-day and rises to-morrow A couple of days later the and the war bonus on the top shoes reappeared in my bedof all, God bless us and save room beautifully re-soled. us! if I'd had the Governmint Well, well!

[ocr errors]




The Germans were busily although our objective was as engaged in getting all their yet oompletely hidden by the stores south of the Rufiji cloud-pack whiob floated in the river, over which, at a place air 500 feet below. The ground called Kibambawe they had immediately anderneath was built a bridge. An aerial ro. obsoured only at intervals, but connaissance had been carried rarely could we see objects outout over Kibambawe from side a radius of half & mile. Morogoro by Van der Spuy Ten minutes after leaving Beho and Hewitt (one of the Beho we passed over an extra“heavies"), and they had ordinary lake. There was no gleaned some valuable informa- sign of vegetation on or near tion. At the very moment of its banks, which seemed to be their arrival there, hundreds enorusted with some white of German porters were en- saline substanoe, and wisps of gaged in towing a big lighter steam were rising from its sur. up the stream, and with the face. We discovered later that machine flying at about 400 it was a hot soda lake. feet Hewitt had thrown them At last we sighted the river, into atter consternation by gleaming like silver through a means of his Browning pistol. gap in the clouds, and I began For some reason or other our to feel deliriously happy. After aeroplanes were not fitted with all, there was something very Lewis guns, a great disadvan- wonderful about being able to tage I always thought.

fly miles and miles ahead of The Staff was now desirous our forces, looking on things of having another reconnais- of tremendous military imsance over this place, and at portanoe, gazing as it were the first opportunity I was into the very soul of the sent out with Albu as pilot. enemy. The aeroplane is the Flying first of all to the X-Rays of modern warfare, Dathumi position we struok and on its skilfal use depends the Rafiji road, and followed the diagnosis of the enemy's this to its junotion with the plans and intentions. It was Kissaki road near to a large almost ludicrous to think that military camp called Beho a oouple of lads like ourselves, Beho.

to whom soldiering was merely There was very little of an accident of the war, should interest here and we wasted be able to see sights and make no time. Keeping within sight reports over whioh grey-haired of the main road, we had no and battle - goarred generals difficulty in finding the way, would ponder.

It was not long before we saw and the Mgeta too, was wild, the bridge, or rather the bridges waterless, and uninhabited, of Kibambawe. There were and the prospect of a forced two, connected by a sandy landing was not an agreeable island lying in mid-stream. one. Still the engine sounded There were groups of large by no means hopeless, although stone huts on either side of that beastly vibration grated the river, and a line of trenches horribly on one's nervous sys. ran along the southern bank. tem. Naturally the pilot had There was little sign of move- turned homewards at the first ment, and to all appearances sign of trouble, but we seemed the place was anoocupied. But to be orawling along at a the Germans by this time had snail's-pace. It always feels learnt what to expeot when like that with a failing engine they heard the drone of our over the enemy's lines—just as engine in the sky, and the first though you were trailing & thing they did in any camp sheet-anchor behind. was to prepare strong dug- Many long hours seemed to outs, to which they retired at pass before the Tulo aerodrome the sign of approaching danger, hovo in sight, and when we The niggers, on the other hand, finally switched off to land, were left to shift for them. our respective sighs sounded selves and were told to hide loud above the whistle of the in the bush. The water of the wires and struts. Rufiji was orystal olear, and

A couple of days later I the shoals and rooks of the returned from a successful river - bed were revealed with shoot to find that in my remarkable detail.

absence half the camp had In order to make a sketoh been burnt down, My own we dived down underneath the grass hut and everything inside oloud-paok, but the air was so it, inoluding more than a hunbumpy that we had to olimb dred films, my diaries for the baok immediately, and I had last four years, my cameras, to take advantage of the gaps field-glasses, shot-gun, and all in the cloud to complete my my kit, were completely dedrawing of the bridge, trenches, stroyed. It was a stunning and camp.

Hardly had I blow, and above all things I finished when the engine com- wept for my diaries and films. monood to miss and vibrate I was simply left with what I in & most alarming manner. had on-boots, books, slacks, There are occasions when the shirt, and helmet. pleasures of flight fade like the The shook of it all brought dow at sunrise. As an ob- on a nervous breakdown, and server, one's sole interest in

& day or two later I was life is immediately concentrated ordered to take & month's on the ground, searching for a rest at the Convalescent Home

a landing - place, and in East in Zanzibar. Afrioa one never found such On the third day following things. The whole of the my disastrous fire at Talo I country between the Rufiji arrived at Morogoro, where I

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »