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The meanly furnished room was hardly better lit than the landing, the only illumination coming from the fire blazing in the hearth.The effect was strangely disturbing; as the firelight struggled over the walls, the room seemed to shiver and move, almost as though the place were alive.
Boney will never jump the ditch.’ ‘Oh, Bonaparte is determined to have his army cross the Channel.Something to warm me cockles would be grand.’ The man made no move to serve Kit. My nom de guerre is General Chaos.’ ‘General-fecking-Chaos! ‘Sure enough, General.’ ‘I understand you are the leader of the United Irishmen active in the north of England.’ Now that was a straightener and no mistake, Kit having been cautious to a fault to ensure only a handful of trusty Wexford lads knew what he was about in England. and, as a consequence, one of whom it was best to be wary. How do I know you’re not one o’them Intelligence Bureau coves who’ve been giving those intent on liberating Ireland from the grasp of the English such a wonderment of grief? Habeas corpus is no longer suspended―’ ‘Habeas corpus,’ laughed Kit. Masked by shadows he might be but that he was English was made obvious by his accent and his well-put-on suite of clothes signaled he had money.‘So would you be “A Friend” who sent the note that summoned me here, ’cos if you are, boyo, you’ve been sadly misnamed.’ ‘No. ‘I’m listening, General, but of a certainty I’d like to know what’s Ireland to an Englishman like you? ’ ‘Because in return you – and other similarly-minded Irishmen – will help me.Me cacks are soaked through and I think there’s an icicle growing out o’me arsehole.’ Without waiting for a reply, he tossed his sodden coat and hat onto a chair, strode over to the fire and made an exaggerated pantomime of rubbing life back into his buttocks, all the while careful to ensure the pistol he had hidden under the flaps of his redingote remained out of sight. ‘And keep a civil tongue in that empty Irish head of yours.’ Definitely English army, Kit determined; he had the same disdainful tone of voice all English officers had, as though they went through life with a dab of shite lodged permanently under each nostril. Time to show this bug the mettle of the man with whom he was dealing. ‘Don’t lose your dander with me, boyo, or you might lose yer fecking teeth as a consequence.’ An angry Blondie made to rise from his seat. Kit did as he was asked, maneuvering the chair such that he could keep both the General and Blondie in view. ‘If you are settled, Mr O’Malley, perhaps we could turn our attention to business.’ This was said in a careless enough manner but there was no denying the touch of iron in his voice.Still Blondie remained silent, watching him with unblinking eyes. ‘I’m after having a scoop o’ whatever you’re enjoying yerself. ‘A very appropriate one, as you will discover.’ ‘Well, if you’re General Chaos what does that make the blond dangler with the barking iron set in front of him and the sour look on his mug … Puke though he undoubtedly was, the chances were he could handle himself and the pistol. This was a man used to giving orders and having them obeyed. I’d better rely on me wits than English justice to avoid a stretching.’ ‘I appreciate your concerns, Mr O’Malley, but if you truly wish to remove the English yoke from about the neck of Ireland you will listen to me and my proposition.’ Kit leaned back in his chair and considered this strange General Chaos.I have placed my plans before him and he has agreed that to subjugate England an invasion is vital.’ Kit admitted himself impressed.
For the General to have gained the attention of Bonaparte himself was something the Irish had never been able to do.
Suffice it to say, I have undertaken a careful study of the attempts made by the Irish to free themselves of the English ‒ most especially the jumble that was the 1798 rebellion – and my conclusion is that they are incompetent revolutionaries.’ Kit felt his hackles rise. It is impossible to plot a rebellion if your adversaries – the English – are kept informed of your intentions by leaders so enamored of their own self-importance that they are unable to keep their mouths shut.’ Uncomfortable though it was for Kit to acknowledge it, he knew what the General said was correct.
The English were always so fecking contemptuous of the Irish, but one day … He had been in Paris to witness the wrangling between Wolf Tone, Charles Teeling and Napper Tandy, vainglorious sots to a man and more intent on their own fame than the freedom of Ireland. ‘It is said the Rebellion of ’98 failed through mischance and misfortune but the truth of it is that we were led by dunties, feckless bastards who couldn’t take a shit without someone calling instructions to them through the door of the jakes.
Kit decided that to stand on ceremony would be a mistake. ’ he said in a jaunty manner emphasizing his brogue for all he was worth. Kit tried again, ‘D’you mind if I take a place by the fire?
It’s desperate drooky weather out there; I fecking near drowned what with the rain plumping down in staves and all. ‘I would be obliged to you, Mr O’Malley, if you would join me in a drink and consider a proposition I have for you.’ He used a foot to push out a chair set against the table at which he was seated and then poured Kit a bumper of brandy. ‘That’s grand, that is,’ he said smacking his lips. The old bald fella’s so cold he’s fit to drop off.’ The General ignored Kit’s banter.
Conversations with their Generals are punctuated with too many “peut-êtres” to inspire confidence.