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20120413

As long as she felt the ground descending beneath her feet she knew she could require no surer guide. And besides, no map had ever yet been devised which could lead her to where she was going tonight, nor one which could ever even hope to describe her destination. The opposite; a map shows where one has come from with the same clarity as it does where one is headed, in fact with probably even greater clarity since one has already populated its ciphers with one’s own experience and familiarity. But where she had come from was a place she had resolved never to visit again, a resolve which any map...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 5 - Views: 899
20120415

Stowecroft, April 14th 1724

To Mrs Abigail Soames, my beloved daughter, I dedicate this journal. Herein I commit to posterity my recollections, my confessions and, not least, the last will of this wretched and aged sinner who, though he departs this world with his faculties intact, finds this in truth more of a curse than a blessing, and proof if proof is needed of God’s intention that His justices be administered first and His mercies second. For when an alert mind has aught to remember in old age but the steps its owner took to his own undoing, and little more to deduce therefore than...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 3 - Views: 680
20120416

In which Titus receives his commission, sails to Ireland and we learn of the background to the Irish Survey.

“The Land of Ire” was how old Killigrew had jokingly paraphrased it in his comedy at the Theatre Royal playhouse, and Titus had laughed with the rest of the audience at this parody of a land well known for a populace quick to anger at the slightest provocation. But it was the pun “mire-land” that sprang more readily to Titus’ mind now, and not just with reference to the island’s equally infamous bogs. The mere mention of the country, as he had been gloomily and repeatedly...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 631
20120416

Soon the fury of the elements themselves put paid to quiet contemplation, however sullen, in any case. McGregor could no longer hide his frustrations as the ship was wrested from his control and into that of the waters beyond Lundy Island. Here, where the Bristol Channel ended and the Irish Sea began, strong currents and gale force winds vied for ownership of the vessel, and soon, even with their sails tied up for fear of losing them, they were careering at a rate of knots in no particular direction – first this way and then that until soon even McGregor had to admit that his bearings had been...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 597
20120417

They say now Abby that those were dark times. They colour their memories so with a gloomy palette of their subjective choosing. On the contrary, those were bright days to start with - gay and carefree, when all seemed possible. Anything could be achieved by anyone who dared. London was like a beautiful woman just recovered from long tribulation only recently resolved. For years she had been stifled by Puritan excess and then, no sooner was she rid of that curse than she fell to pestilence and had her heart torn out by the Great Fire. Now she was making up for lost time and with a vengeance. They...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 665
20120418

It was nothing more clamorous than the benign bleating of sheep that finally woke Titus. For a few surreal seconds his sleep-addled mind tried to fathom how he had transposed himself in the night from a castle dormitory to a farmyard barn, but it slowly dawned on him that he was still recumbent in his cot and that the sheep’s cries were drifting in through the open window. Peering out through the grill to the street below he discerned several dozens of the beasts, and then noticed with delight a most welcome ornamentation to the surroundings – a small inn bedecked with a sign advertising the sale...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 761
20120419

I have already said earlier in this journal how much I liked the man Titus Perry. In better circumstances I would have been proud to call him a friend. But then, in better circumstances Abby, you would have been known to me as a daughter should, and I to you as a father, so we both know that things cannot always be as we would wish them.

When we work for a greater good we walk a fine line between aiding and betraying those we love. Sometimes the former will wear the guise of the latter, and as such will it be recognised and remembered. But for me there was no equivocation. I crossed...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 8 - Views: 809
20120419

Once on the street Titus mulled over his morning so far. Being questioned and threatened by a rude and arrogant army captain was not a great start to any man’s day, and he felt a dark mood overtake him. Almost the first Irishman he had spoken to since arriving in this wretched land had somehow contrived to include him in an intrigue that he did not understand, let alone welcome. Well done Titus boy, he thought. Not a wet day in the place (though this would shortly be rectified, given the elements) and already privy to treachery - obviously political and possibly treasonable to boot! The soldier’s...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 681
20120420

Captain Quinn was a man with whom Titus had worked before – an Irishman who, while still a youth, had chosen a career in the king’s army after the death of all belonging to him during Cromwell’s siege and destruction of his hometown Drogheda. He had managed somehow to flee to France where he had joined the army of Charles in exile. On the king’s return he had served with honour and distinction for many years until, by the time Titus first met him during a survey of the Severn Estuary, when Quinn had been appointed to head up the company of engineers assigned to Titus’ aid, he was already a man...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 668
20120421

What is a lifetime Abby? I am testament to the fact that one man can live many. And in any case it is not a temporal thing. A year in the gutter, once survived, is equal to many lifetimes’ experience indeed in more genteel society. My own graduation from that world had aged me beyond death itself, so often had death been my companion in that hellish place. And they say that in hell a day lasts a thousand years. Believe me, they speak truly. All is relative – time, experience and demise. And all are really only facets of the same thing, this illusion of life to which we adhere.

I mentioned...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 593
20120422

The stench of the city assailed his nostrils. In London much of the more noisome professions had been relocated outside of the city after the great fire. Here in Dublin no such cleansing had occurred. The stink from the fishmongers in Fishamble Street and the fleshmongers who faced them from their new location across the river still vied with that of the scavengers’ carts heaped with offal and dung who plied their way amongst all their stalls. The stinking black ooze of the Liffey at low tide and the open sewers that gouged a network of fetid canals through its banks of slob failed to mask the...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 643
20120423

The old man’s room was little more than a monk’s cell, its furnishings restricted to a cot and an old chest with a wooden top worn so white with use that it had obviously doubled as a seat through its long life. The weak evening daylight that shone through the small half-moon window set high in the wall under the vaulted brick ceiling barely illuminated the tiny room, but in the faint light Titus could see that the plastered walls were clean and thankfully free from damp, even after the recent wet weather, and that the flagstone floor had been covered with a rush mat that lent the cell an air of...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 1 - Views: 610
20120423

From another man this might have sounded a mere sentimental plea. From Cormac it carried all the weight of a command. It was obvious to Titus that a refusal of this request carried with it a risk of something greater than simply disappointing his friend, especially after Cormac’s amazing admission in their converstaion. If, as he had said, the old man saw in Titus the man he himself might have been, had politics not robbed him first of his future and then of his past, then it was not just to the mapmaker’s conscience that Cormac was appealing. It was to the ghost of his own lost self that he had...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 546
20120423

“Very well, so you followed me from the warehouse to the bridge - am I right? - and eavesdropped on DeLacey’s conversation with me.” There was no response, so he continued. “And it was there that you heard me state my intention to come here, and who I intended to meet.” He wondered privately how much else she might have overheard on the bridge but kept his suspicions to himself. For now it was important that she be allowed tell her story in her own words.
“I did not follow you to the bridge.”
“You didn’t?”
“Not quite sir, when Briar dispersed us, I was afraid I would be too conspicuous...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 576
20120423

He strode down the winding lane with fresh purpose, passing hovel and alehouse, knacker’s yard and tenter field, and finally the lamplit gateway to the Earl of Meath’s old townhouse that marked the beginning of the city proper, without giving further thought to any lurking menace in the shadows on the way. It is a peculiar and delusional quirk of human nature, but when a man is confident of a peril that definitely awaits him, he is less conscious or afraid of those that only might, however foolish or naive such assumption might be. His now furious pace was facilitated by the fact that it was at...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 589
20120427

Another word of advice Abby, if you can take such from a father you would be forgiven for despising. When a political man speaks, listen intently. His words will always skirt the truth so your ears must listen beside the words, and between them, for their real meaning.

But it is not as though he lies by nature or design. It is because he cannot help but misrepresent the extent of his knowledge. In this world knowledge is power Abby; a snippet of information can, if used judiciously, topple an empire. A man who lives for power must know this and it shapes his very language. He is as unable...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 567
20120509

Collier’s guestrooms above the inn were large and basic, judging by those which stood open; the majority were simply roughly pine-panelled chambers containing a bed, a trestle chair and a lockable armoire in which a guest could store clothing and valuables. The rooms lined both sides of a surprisingly lengthy corridor that wound its way along several levels, proof that the inn had expanded over the years into its neighbouring buildings. Each door had a number but also a symbol chalked upon it, an obvious courtesy to the inn’s illiterate guests. One locked door far into this passage, marked simply...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 707
20120510

Titus had not given it much thought before, but he could acknowledge that DeLacey had a point in what he said. The impending end of a regime must inevitably bring with it a frenzy of activity on the part of politicians to attain power, or even simply to retain it perhaps, as the favourites and pets of the old king are discarded and vacancies open for those of the new incumbent. A long period in which the king ailed before he died would certainly prolong this activity, and make it all the more intense no doubt. But to class it as rebellion was surely a little far-fetched, however disrespectful...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 588
20120510

An awkward silence ensued in which both DeLacey and Arran simply sat and looked to Titus, awaiting his response. The words had been said impassively, but this had simply added to their import and the longer the silence lasted the greater that import grew. Eventually Titus asked the obvious question tentatively. There was no tactful way of phrasing it. “Ormonde is dead?”
Sir John started at the question. “No, Mr Perry, we have lost him. He is missing.”

There are some occasions when comprehending the sense of individual words lends little or no comprehension to their meaning combined....
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 538
20120511

Titus was disgusted by Arran’s remark, but hid it. The man’s obvious faith in torture as a means for eliciting the truth was unjustified, and the unanswered questions that remained were evidence enough for it. For all his confidence in the intelligence procured from the smuggler, Arran was still relying a little too heavily on speculation, Titus felt, or else the man was being less than forthcoming about all the sources for his information regarding the incident. Indeed one such piece of information, be it speculation or fact, could not have come from anything squeezed out of Tramaine. “You said...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 587
20120511

Titus’s father had once imparted a curious if memorable piece of advice to his then adolescent son, and time and practice had proved its value over the years. A man who entreats you for agreement, but insists that you provide it with a simple and immediate ‘yes’, deserves only ‘no’ for an answer. There were, he said, only two reasons why a man would try to restrict your response so. One was that he was not interested in your reasoning – a sure sign that he suspected reason might work against him – and the other was that he was vain enough to presume that he had, in his argument, done all the reasoning...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 578
20120514

For Collier to fully open up, Titus suspected it would be necessary to make him understand that it was not only this strange English mapmaker who was insistent on learning what he might know. Collier’s earlier admission that DeLacey and he enjoyed something of a business relationship had already resolved Titus to use the threat of Ormonde’s right-hand man’s displeasure in enhancing his promise of dire consequences should the innkeeper withhold information. Of course in doing this he would have to admit the truth; DeLacey had seen Collier’s letter. But even if such a threat had not been necessary,...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 508
20120514

One comment that Collier mentioned in the course of their conversation reverberated in Titus’s mind after the innkeeper had left the room. It was enigmatic, but it also in some way satisfied Titus’s curiosity regarding where the root of Collier’s allegiance actually lay; a man with such obvious sympathy for his Catholic neighbours but a pronounced conviction in his own faith would be rare to find in England. When asked why he was so sure that James Butler alone could impose a solution to Dublin’s dilemma, Collier had replied gravely. “He is one of us. Well, he knows us best, is what I’m trying...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 535
20120514

It was time for the mapmaker to make his courtesy calls, starting with the Surveyor General. William Robinson’s offices were situated in a large house of his own design in the newly opened suburbs near Oxmanstown Green. This was land owned by Sir Humphrey Jervis – another man who Titus hoped to meet that day - and that in itself contained a small irony. Jervis was very much a Corporation man; he had even served as Lord Mayor a few years previously. Indeed it was his influence with the municipal authority and strong contacts there that had helped him assemble his large holdings on the north bank...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 669
20120516

I rode the lanes of Ireland like a man possessed. In fact I know now that I was possessed by a sense of freedom in that indefinable and indefinite place in a way which I had never experienced in England. On horseback, at full gallop through the leafy avenues and lush meadows in this land where those virtues so often bloated by man’s vanity elsewhere of truth, honour, loyalty, fealty, sacrifice and glory had here atrophied to the point of naked destitution, all the uglier to behold therefore against the hideous beauty of the very land that had stripped them bare, I realised that I was no longer...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 532
20120518

Titus , who was feeling hungry, decided to strike while the iron was hot and take advantage of this unexpected conviviality on his driver’s part to enquire of him if he knew perhaps a good place in the locality where one might get a decent meal. The question seemed to lift the man’s humour even more and he immediately suggested a roadside tavern in the hamlet of Raheny through which townland they were now indeed passing. The proprietor and his wife kept a neat establishment with excellent fare, he said, and this he could back up with personal experience of the place. In fact so frequently had he...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 663
20120520

And so it was that Titus found himself in the unexpected, disconcerting, but not altogether uncomfortable position of being escorted down Dam Street by two young ladies, arms akimbo, both of them obviously relishing being spotted on such a promenade, at least if the animated “Bon soirs” and “Good evenings” imparted to anyone who even looked sideways in their direction were any indication. Letty and Ezzy proved to be diverting company too. Between their enthusiastic salutations to all and sundry they plied him with tales of the ‘Trinity Boys’ - seemingly social acquaintances of theirs, despite Ezzy’s...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 676
20120520

The ancient parish of St Stephen, which Titus knew had been marked on ecclesiastical inventories dating from before Dublin itself had existed as a Norse town, had in recent years acquired a whole new importance as the site of the Corporation’s new development to the southeast of the old city walls. Much of this building was nearing completion and one rule of tenancy for its inhabitants was the strictly enforced obligation to hang a lantern outside each property from sunset to curfew. Since curfew these days was rarely sounded most people played safe and left enough oil in each to burn itself out...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 611
20120521

“From what Jack has told me your secretary is a resourceful man.” She reassured him.
“That he is, though I’m afraid his resourcefulness might not be up to the peril I’ve placed him in today. I sent him on an errand this morning that carried much more risk than I innocently assumed at the time, and have only begun to realise with what I have learnt today.”
“From me?”
“In part, yes.”

Titus had already realised that if he was to gain any meaningful intelligence from Sarah Reilly it would have to be through dialogue, not blunt inquisition. It did not cost him a thought therefore...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 544
20120522

Wednesday started with a blue sky and if that was a good omen for the day ahead then it was the only one Titus could see. Everything else augured ill. Flitch had still not shown up, and Titus had slept fitfully through the night, uncomfortable in his cot and woken by every sound. In the dead of night the old castle contrived to produce a dialogue of its own, its ancient rafters and floorboards conversing in a strange language of creaks and groans that echoed around the whole structure like some ghoulish canine spectres exchanging long distance parleys on a moonlit night. When he did eventually...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 563
20120523

Titus was dismayed when he reached the blacksmith’s shop at the corner near Collier’s tavern to see two constabulary soldiers standing a little distance up the street. They were chatting casually; one leaning against a wall while the other gesticulated languorously with his hands, neither heeding the inn entrance at all. In fact so pointed was their determination not to look in the direction of its door despite its proximity, it seemed, that one could not but assume that this was exactly what they were most interested in – they, like their commander, were obviously crudest when they attempted subtlety...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 643
20120523

A mumble of affirmation came from the assembly.

“Good.” His speech had been made stridently, as if it had been prepared beforehand, and Sarsfield’s almost smug appearance at its denouement, despite having being himself contradicted, somehow suggested to Titus that in fact the whole exchange had been rehearsed. But Hamilton had not yet quite exhausted his theme. He relaxed and sat back again into his chair, and in more measured tones continued his discourse. “Gentlemen, there is something else that marks this out as something other than a normal abduction, if such is a term one can use....
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 576
20120523

Titus felt that there was much regarding the issue of the Gaelic Earls that had been left unsaid, but all parties seemed to acknowledge that this was not the place to say it. The discussion returned to the rather more prosaic topic of which men had been selected for which posts in the new regime. Arran and Talbot had the names written on screeds of paper that they read from, and for the most part each name was met with a murmur of approval from Hamilton and the rest of the company. Sometimes Hamilton sought some clarification of someone’s identity, and once or twice openly vetoed an appointment....
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 682
20120529

DeLacey’s friend in Kinsealy was doing very well for himself, Titus thought, as they approached the house. It could well have been in deepest Hampshire – three storeys of brick and timber-cage frame, windows of bottle glass panes and expensive sash design, and with a thatched roof of contrasting shades typical of a dwelling enlarged and repaired on more than one occasion over many years. It stood in a large park surrounded by tall impenetrable hedgerow, another proof of age, on a small rise that afforded a view across the nearby water to Lambay Island, the first landfall of the Viking invaders...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 538
20120529

When he left the tavern, night had fully descended. The braziers were being lit and the scavengers were out in droves picking Winetavern Street clean. He climbed up its steep incline towards Christchurch and Skinners’ Row, his recent experience prompting him to keep extra vigilance towards what might lurk in the shadows, but with his mind nevertheless swimming with the implications of what he’d heard. He had no doubt that the younger James Butler was the ‘soldier’ he had seen with Briar that first morning in Collier’s, and also therefore the one in civilian attire outside the warehouse on the day...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 552
20120608

The religious man will tell you that there are two lives, this earthbound one where our spirit is caged and tested, and a heavenly one where it gambols for eternity in bliss or toils for ever in despondency, both options sounding much like Hell to me. This marks the cleric out to be a naïve fool.

The pagan will tell you that there is only one life, and heaven or hell are to be made and found within it. This marks the pagan out to be an intellectual fool, the worst kind of fool there is.

But there is another life that both men have missed, one which I dearly hope never to...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 574
20120616

The blazing sun of yesterday had proven ephemeral. As if to reinforce the sad truth that nothing - however well planned or burgeoning with promise - could last forever, the weather in this benighted land chose to make itself a reminder of that fact, changing its nature daily, and sometimes even many times a day. Today, despite the season, it had chosen to adopt an almost autumnal feel. The air was cold and barely moved except in the mildest protest as one pressed through it, and as the morning progressed the mist that crept upriver from the Irish Sea muted the colours and sounds around the city...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 558
20120616

He dismounted and greeted Robinson, who turned to scrutinise Titus momentarily, waved, and then returned to look again at the entertainment that was taking place before them and diverting all those assembled at the tavern. A deal had gone awry it seemed - mainly due to the fact that one dealer who obviously reckoned he had finalised the purchase of a particular beast earlier, had now seemingly interrupted a negotiation between two others involving the sale of the same item, or so the heated and voluminous argument between the three parties indicated. The large cob in question complicated the argument...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 602
20120616

Titus was as dumbfounded as Robinson had claimed to be. Now it was his turn to look around the room before speaking. “Did he say why he suspected Ossory?”

“Oh, still spying I see! Well, I’ll have another whiskey, so.”
Titus produced his gift of a bottle and Robinson laughed in appreciation at the thoughtfulness. “Now I know you are not related to Sir Petty-coats!” Then he grew serious again. “No, my boy, he did not alas. The younger Butler is a damned fool, I know that, and an ambitious one too. I didn’t think at the time that he’d be brazen enough to hatch such a plot. Nor do...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 647
20120617

Sarah and Lady O’Carolan were seated on a trestle bench outside the front door enjoying the early afternoon sunshine, Bran lying contently at their feet, as Titus cantered up the long drive. The dog barked loudly, Sarah jumped up and waved, smiling broadly upon seeing him. He returned her salute, dismounted and led the horse to the foot of the steps. Lady O’Carolan peered at him through her glasses, rapped her blackthorn stick against the bench and screamed “Martin! Come here!” Titus was about to correct her and remind her of his true name when a groom, presumably said Martin, appeared running...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 563
20120619

A large flock of small birds, a swarm of black against the grey, circled high overhead and escorted the rider as he plied the lanes back to Dublin. After a while the surroundings grew vaguely familiar and Titus realised that he had joined the route that Malachy’s carriage had taken coming back from his visit to Jervis two days before. When gaps in the hedgerow afforded it he could soon see ahead of him the wooded hill of Raheny and the grey gable of its ancient church at its summit. The memory of the fine meal he had eaten in Shiels’s inn on that occasion prompted his stomach, despite having been...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 649
20120619

The old man and I enjoyed many a discourse. Or should I say perhaps with more exactitude, that I enjoyed them, my fellow interlocutor may not have shared the sentiment. Often as we spoke I was reminded of a rather dreary play that I attended once at Drury Lane, set in the style of a Sophoclean debate between two players who pretended the roles of a learned mentor and his rather awestruck acolyte. Perhaps therefore the same medium will serve as a vehicle to best represent my memory of these conversations, though I hope with more wit than in Drury Lane. Allow me the indulgence of setting a stage,...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 610
20120717

Titus struggled to move from where he’d fallen, his legs feeling at first as if the very bones within them had liquefied, his vain attempts to control them resulting only in uncontrolled spasms and kicks which simply slammed his body painfully against the floor beneath him. But as they slowly regained a more sturdy composition he found at last that his feet gained purchase and that he could just about propel himself, scrabbling and stumbling on all fours, across the floor. The air was filled with thick, acrid smoke, stinging his eyes so sharply that he was forced to keep them clenched tightly shut....
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 777
20121108

Arran smiled as he spoke. “I am not by nature an arsonist and much as I admit that I loathed the accommodation I am also well aware that there are less dramatic solutions to inadequate lodgings. Unfortunately both my motive in doing so and the problems I … indeed we … face are graver indeed than mere damp and chilly lodgings.”

Cuffe’s astonishment at this news finally got the better of him. Though he spoke spontaneously his words were delivered evenly. It seemed he was in no way overawed in the presence of men like Arran, and the disgust at what he had just heard was all the more palpable...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 493
20121108

Once in the carriage outside Jack began to regain some of his composure, and DeLacey questioned him softly about what he had learnt in his investigation. In a weak voice he recounted events as if he were speaking of someone else, though what he said gave the men some hope for Flitch’s safety, if not much. The bailiff Malley had indeed justified DeLacey’s faith in his investigative abilities. He and Jack had followed up several leads. Flitch had been sighted at different points, the distinctive white mare that he had taken from the castle stables being a great aid to his identification. The track...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 487
20121116

Jack apparently met with Lady O’Carolan’s approval once she had ascertained his Irish surname. Poor Captain Cuffe however didn’t fare as well when he arrived, handicapped as he was by the burdens of an English accent and a castle uniform, accompanied by three more of his men similarly attired who he had detailed for what he had only half-jokingly referred to Titus earlier as ‘the bog-striding mission’. She relented when Titus vouched for his character, though she expressly forbade his men entry to the house, admitting them only to the stables if they required shelter should it rain. She did agree...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 495
20121211

That evening they dined in Quinn’s kitchen. Flitch had not lied about the hospitality of the Quinns. His wife Grace and his daughter - also called Grace but who used the Irish form, Gráinne, as a pet name to distinguish herself from her mother - had both gone to enormous efforts to make a meal fit for royalty itself, and all had been invited to partake, even Bran, who tackled his share of the roast pork beneath the table with as much gusto as his human companions did above it. After the meal Quinn asked Titus did he wish to come help him rounding up the cattle from the fields – the walk would help...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 548
20121211

When they returned they saw that Jack and the carriage had returned also. The sound of laughter from the kitchen indicated that he had met with success in rounding up his troops in Dublin. Sam Wilkins and Jonathan Swift had indeed arrived and were seated at Grace’s kitchen table, tucking into some freshly boiled potatoes with relish, while attempting simultaneously to conduct a conversation with Jack and Cuffe’s soldiers. The air of hilarity they had generated was infectious, and Titus could not help smiling as he entered the room. He picked up a steaming spud and hopped it from hand to hand as...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 505
20130109

The old man and I indulged in many a protracted silence too. While in my case this was precipitated by the agony I was in, or through the application of my mind to ascertaining a method whereby I might escape my plight, in his case he justified his silences by claiming that they were what he called “Periods of Enforced Reflection”. This was a technique he claimed that he only truly learnt and understood the value of when he was in France earlier in his life. While travelling with a companion during one long French summer, they had ventured as far south as the mighty Pyrene Mountains, which divide...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 510
20130109

Easter Sunday started as any other day on Quinn’s farm. The cattle still needed to be milked and several of the sheep were lambing. Regardless of the religious calendar and in defiance of a jealous god’s retribution for labouring on the Sabbath or any other holy day, farm life kept its own agenda. Quinn woke Titus early – it was still an hour or more before daybreak – and they went immediately to the pen where the lambing sheep had been corralled. He had asked Quinn to rouse him once the day’s chores commenced and Quinn had taken him at his word, insisting that Titus accompany him to inspect the...
 
by nordmann - Comments: 0 - Views: 475
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