Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 33

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I was getting desperate: the whole thing seemed at once so horrible and so impossible. There must be some villanous trap at the bottom of it.

"If you don't tell me more about this fellow Power, Mike," said I, "I'll blow your brains out on the spot: either you or he are villains." And I valiantly pulled out my only weapon, the door key, and put it to his head.

"Och! are you mad, thin? He's a broth of a boy; and I'll tell ye. Shure he knows all about the red-coats, case he's an arthillery man himself, and that's the way he's found out his gran' combustible."

"An artilleryman?" said John. "He told me he was a writer for the press."

"Bedad, thin, he's mistaken himself intirely; for he tould me with his own mouth. And I'll show you the thing he sowld me as is to do it. Shure, it'll set fire to the stones o' the street, av' you pour a bit vitriol on it."

"Set fire to the stones? I must see that before I believe it."

"Shure an' ye shall then. Where'll I buy a bit? Sorra a shop is there open this time o' night; an' troth I forgot the name o' it intirely! Poker o' Moses, but here's a bit in my pocket!"

And out of his tattered coat-tail he lugged a flask of powder and a lump of some cheap chemical salt, whose name I have, I am ashamed to say, forgotten.

"You're a pretty fellow to keep such things in the same pocket with gunpowder!"

"Come along to Mackaye's," said Crossthwaite. "I'll see to the bottom of this. Be hanged, but I think the fellow's a cursed mouchard—some government spy!"

"Spy is he, thin? Och, the thief o' the world! I'll stab him! I'll murther him! an' burn the town afterwards, all the same."

"Unless," said I, "just as you've got your precious combustible to blaze off, up he comes from behind the corner and gives you in charge to a policeman. It's a villanous trap, you miserable fool, as sure as the moon's in heaven."

"Upon my word, I am afraid it is—and I'm trapped too."

"Blood and turf! thin, it's he that I'll trap, thin. There's two million free and inlightened Irishmen in London, to avenge my marthyrdom wi' pikes and baggonets like raving salviges, and blood for blood!"

"Like savages, indeed!" said I to Crossthwaite, "And pretty savage company we are keeping. Liberty, like poverty, makes a man acquainted with strange companions!"

"And who's made 'em savages? Who has left them savages? That the greatest nation of the earth has had Ireland in her hands three hundred years—and her people still to be savages!—if that don't justify a revolution, what does? Why, it's just because these poor brutes are what they are, that rebellion becomes a sacred duty. It's for them—for such fools, brutes, as that there, and the millions more like him, and likely to remain like him, and I've made up my mind to do or die to-morrow!"

There was a grand half-truth, distorted, miscoloured in the words, that silenced me for the time.

We entered Mackaye's door; strangely enough at that time of night, it stood wide open. What could be the matter? I heard loud voices in the inner room, and ran forward calling his name, when, to my astonishment, out past me rushed a tall man, followed by a steaming kettle, which, missing him, took full effect on Kelly's chest as he stood in the entry, filling his shoes with boiling water, and producing a roar that might have been heard at Temple Bar.