|Newspaper Title||Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Outwitted; Or, Diamond Cut Diamond|
Before the following Monday, Macpher- son had made arrangements with the police sergeant at Ballymore for two men, and had induced the apparently unwilling Jimmy to consent to act as guide. The youth insisted that they should start as soon as the short day had drawn to a close, as he assured Macpherson the distance was eight Irish miles, and that in many places the road was so steep and rugged that the whole distance would have to be done on
At the hour agreed upon Jimmy ap- peared to lead the party. So important was the capture they intended to make, and so sure were the men (who were fully armed) of the success of their expedition, that they took little heed of their guide, whose gaunt figure loomed weirdly through
the thick mist.
Up hill and down dale the three men followed him—round sharp corners, through narrow defiles—now in a deeply wooded glen, then following a narrow track on the steep, treacherous side of a hill, or picking their way carefully along the face of an overhanging cliff—mile after mile they toiled, no sound breaking the stillness but the call of the curlew or the plaintive whistle of the golden plover. Cold though the night was, Macpherson mopped his face vigorously as he puffed and panted in Jiinmy's wake. Steep climbing was always an unpleasant experience to the portly Scot, and one he did not take kindly to.
After several hours' weary tramping their guide intimated that they were nearly at their journey's end, and at the same time a smell of burning peat came through the thick air.
" Och, thin ! I can hear the rascils talkin'," exclaimed one of the men, in a low
" Whist yer gabbin' ! or they will be puttin' a bullet in ye," whispered his
"Be after followin' me," said Jimmy and, throwing himself down on his knees he crawled through an aperture in the face of the cliff, which, at first sight, appeared hardly big enough to admit a dog. The three men silently followed, and found themselves in a large natural chamber which opened into a still larger one, in which three men were busily employee distilling, while a fourth was filling jars from a large wooden tub.
Macpherson's heart beat high, and he was about to shout "Surrender in the Queen's name," when there came a crashing blow, a confused sense of something wrong
—and then unconsciousness.
When he came to, be found himself on a heap of straw near the fire, with the con- stables disarmed and secured beside him. Jimmy stood by the table—Witless Jimmy, no longer, except for a band of faded ribbon and a tuft of cock's feathers, but a strong, sturdy young Celt, who had personated the unfortunate youth. Black Ben, who was a giant in stature, stood near him, and on perceiving that Mac- pherson had recovered consciousness handed him a drink of whiskey in a thick- lipped glass. Macpherson swallowed the whisky.
" It's a gran' idee Sandy Maboneal, yer comin' this jaunt, jist to see ' Black Ben, at his lawful calling'. But as it's here ye've come to plase yersilf, it's stayin' here a few days ye'll be to plase me. As for thim villins as ye'ave brought wid ye, the treacherous thaves, bedade it's straight over the cliff beyant they'll be goin' if it's any trouble at all, at all, we'ave wid thim. An' now bhoys," he continued, turning to the men, "be closin' the door, an' it's a square male we'll 'ave; it makes a man mortiaI hungry, awaitin' for company."
A quantity of potatoes and buttermilk and a jug of whisky were quickly placed upon the table, of which the prisoners were hospitably asked to partake.
Macpherson, who gave himself up for lost, could not swallow a mouthful, for he fully realised that a snare had been laid for him, and that he, shrewd Alexander Macpherson, had walked into it. But the constables, determining to make the best of the situation, joined the men in their meal. As whisky flowed the shebeeners became convivial, but never for a moment relaxed their vigilance.
" Give us a song Pat," shouted a broad- shouldered fellow, whose swarthy face was so begrimed as to be almost unrecognis-
" Bedad Pat, show the exciseman what ye can do," laughed Shaun, " it 'twill raise his sperits, for it's glum he's lookin' !"
With a grin Pat complied, and favoured the company with—
" St. Patrick was a gentleman, He came of dacent people,"
Which was received with uproarious
" It's a rale turn ye 'ave for singin' Pat," Shaun remarked regretfully. " Shure it's nothin' at all but 'Garryowen' as meself can iver remember."
" The voice of ye's none so bad," Pat answered, condescendingly helping him- self to another bumper. "It's a gran' tune is ' Garryowen,' an' it's mesilf' as is a Limerick bhoy, an' I'm thinkin', it's the swatest spot in ould Ireland—it's there
I'd loike to be."
" Arrah thin, what wud ye do there ?"
" The divil a bit of me knows. Give us a verse or two of the ould song, an' I'll jine ye in the chorus."
Clearing his throat Shaun sprang to his feet, and seizing a shillalah he whirled it round his head, striking up,
" We'll bate the bailiffs out of fun,
We'll make the mayor and sheriff run."
Macpherson shivered. The singer was so realistic in his rendering of that wild bacchanalian song that he greatly re- gretted he was unable to follow the ex- ample of the mayor and sheriff and run. As the last wild whu, accompanied with a mighty upward bound, sounded through the cabin, Shaun, turning to Black Ben, remarked, " Shure it's Irish songs in plenty we know, but the divil a bit of me iver heard a Scotch one. Troth it's well we've trated the exciseman, so maybe he'll be after obleegin' us."
" Eh," shouted the men, " a song from Sandy."
Even the captive constables grinned ap- proval.
" For shure, wasn't it the ould gomral's fault as the bhoys had them in their power?"
" Man alive," cried the disgusted Scotch- man, " I can't sing ; I never sing."
" It ain't too late to larn, ye can begin now," Pat answered with drunken gravity.
"I can't, I tell ye," Macpherson cried wrathfully.
" The divil, but ye will. Shaun, beplacin' the gauger on the table. Ye nade not be afraid, it won't break wid the weight of ye, niver fear, it's mesilf as 'ave danced a
double on it afore now."
Macpherson, seeing that resistance was useless, mounted the table, where he glowered on his tormentors.
" Tune up man, tune up." " I can't, I tell ye."
" Niver mind what ye tell us, I tell ye that ye shall."
Macpherson moistened his dry lips.
"Shud ould acquaintance be forgot," cried Shaun mischievously, " sing it, Sandy
" Arrah thin, that's the one," shouted Pat, "whisht vor gabbin bhoys, an' hark
In a shaky voice, without the semblance of time or tune, Macpherson wailed through the song, the boys helping him with the chorus, "jist to put the heart in him," as they said.
" Bedad thin," cried Black Ben, "give me the songs of ould Ireland, there's a dale more life in thim agra. That's a droony sort of song, maybe it's yersilf as is out of time. Darby there jist ye strike up on the fiddle. As ye disremimber the songs, it's obleegin' us wid a dance ye'll be—a rale Scotch one. Mind, it's mesilf as wud be pleased to larn ye a jig, if so be ye wud
loike to larn."
A roar of delight greeted this speech.
" Begorra, now," exclaimed Darby, " I remimber the bhoys away there in Tippe- rary as taught Sandy Macguire to dance a jig on a hot gridiron, the mane informer."
" Hoult yer whisht, an' be tunin' up, Darby. Me eyes be dyin' for a sight of Sandy dancin.' Up, man ! what ails ye ? Yer teeth is chatterin' like a witless gos- soon."
Darby struck up a reel, and Macpherson warned by the angry gleam in Black Ben's eyes, mounted the table and danced a reel in a dreary funeral manner amidst roars of laughter, ironical cheers, and ex- clamations of, "Go it, Sandy ; it's a light fut ye've got—more power to ye."
" By the rock of Cashel, but it's a right step ye 'ave," cried Ben, as Macpherson sank back exhausted by his exertions, "Git doun, man, git down, I'll show ye the
Photo hy Nixon aud Merrilees Fremantle
rael thing." And springing on the table, he footed it enthusiastically, first with one foot, then with the other, with many a wild upward bound ; the higher and wilder the greater the applause.
"There," he exclaimed, as he sprang down, "that's a double, ye mane little thafe of an exciseman, widout the heart of a sparrer in ye, ye schamin' ould decaver. Now bhoys, it's time we turned in, for I
feel the chill of the marnin' on
me. Shaun, ye look after Sandy, an' the bhoys ginerally ye look after the polis." The boys, nothing loth, bundled the unfortunate police without cere- mony into an inner cave.