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Twisting and careening like a Saturday night drunk, the Frieda plunged into the darkness ahead. Soon we were lost in the fog, but we could hear the liner's signals as she tried to pick us up. Rescue meant loss of the cargo, imprisonment for the crew and death for me. For nearly an hour we plowed through the dark not knowing where we were going. Open water was what we wanted. But the constant tooting of fog-horns told we were still in crowded channels.
Two months before I had escaped from Londonderry Prison with a bullet through my thigh. Harassing Black and Tans, raiding arms'-stores and picking off a few policemen, were classed as murder by the British authorities. They tried me on twenty odd charges, found me guilty on all and sentenced me to death for each one. Not wishing to die twenty or more times I had taken a saw, sent me in a loaf of bread by a lady friend, and cut my way out of the hospital ward of the prison. Mind you they were fattening me up so that I would be in good condition to die.
After my escape, Michael Collins calmly asked me to go back into the very place I had escaped from and bring out Frank Carty, who was also wounded and also under death sentence. Collins said this ought to be simple for me, having learned the ropes in my own escape.
It had always been the boast of the officials of Londonderry Prison that no prisoner had ever escaped from there. But I had made my escape without help. Hence this jolly little job which, of course, was all for the glory of Ireland.
My first move in releasing Carty was to learn the exact cell in which he was being held. This I did by sending girls, friends of the Republic, in to see him. I sent several at different times. I was afraid to trust to the ability of any one of them to determine just where he was located; also I wanted to establish communication with him so that he could cooperate with me when the time came. In this job I nearly lost my life and the first attempt was a complete failure. Londonderry is a prison within a prison. It is built on sloping ground and its rear wall, which is on the downhill side, is over sixty feet high. Backing up against the outside of this wall is a row of houses in which people lived who were reputed to be hostile to the Republic cause. Some were and some weren't.
In one of these houses I made my headquarters, and from its roof, when everything was ready, I tackled the high wall. My plan was to scale the two walls that surrounded the part of the prison in which Carty was held; then climb to his window, cut away the bars, and help him descend the rope.
Owing to the fact that Londonderry held a number of political prisoners, and because I had broken their boasted record, extra guards armed with machine-guns and searchlights were at every corner of the jail and in the sentry-boxes on top of the walls. They were taking no chances of losing another prisoner.
With my face blackened and wearing black gloves, so as not to throw off any reflection of light, and wearing heavily padded clothes to avoid being cut by broken glass cemented on top of the walls, I took a long
three quarter inch rope with a grappling-hook on the end, half a dozen steel saws, a brace of guns and a flashlight, and scaled the outer wall. This had to be done in clockwork time, for every few minutes a searchlight was played along the wall. Watching for the light to flash by I waited with the grappling-hook ready, crouching in the shadowsslowly the sweeping rays swung by. Then I threw up the hook, pulled till the rope hung taut and climbed up.
I got over the first wall without great difficulty, though my hands were bleeding from glass cuts and I had cut an ankle. Crouching against the inside of the wall, I waited to get my breath and to be sure that I had not aroused suspicion. Next I dodged around some outbuildings and up the slopes until I reached the inner wall. This was not such a tough proposition. It was only about twenty feet high and they seldom played the search-lights on it. I made the top I made the top of the wall all O. K. but, by ill luck, when I slid down the other side, I landed on top of a pile of garbage cans. There was a clatter and banging you could have heard a mile away. Immediately the whole prison force was racing all over the place. Search-lights and hand torches flashed in every direction.
There was no place to hide and to run would have meant certain capture. I did what I always do in a tight place, something bold and unexpected. Quickly doubling the rope up I shoved it into a garbage can. Then I whipped out my pocket torch and commenced flashing it around. It was so dark the black clothes attracted no attention, and no one suspected a man who stood out in the
middle of a prison yard flashing a torch around him, of being up to mischief. I scurried in and out among the guards, turning my light here and there. There were some trucks lined up against a workshop. In the bottom of one, there was a tarpaulin. Watching my opportunity, I turned out my flash and slid under the canvas.
Lying there I could hear the guards talking. They had made a thorough search in the prison yard and a count of the prisoners inside. Their conclusion was that the cans had been badly stacked and had fallen down of their own accord, perhaps helped by the wind.
For a couple of hours I stayed under the canvas. When the prison had settled down I crept out and went back for the rope; then I went to the part of the prison in which I had learned Carty was held.
Looking up to the third tier of windows I saw a face pressed against the bars. Then I counted the windows. Yes, that was Carty's cell, the eighth from the end. Unwinding the ball of twine, I threw the weighted end to him. He caught it and commenced pulling it up without giving me a chance to tie the end of the rope to it. This I attributed to nervousness and over-anxiety to escape.
Finally I got him to pull the rope up, but he didn't seem to know what to do with it. I had made careful plans and sent him full instructions and it annoyed me to find that he wasn't coöperating. After many gymnastics and signaling with my arms, I made him understand that I wanted the rope tied to one of the bars so that I could climb up to him. All this was taking time and daylight would soon be breaking.
His silence when I reached the window was the only part of my instructions that he carried out properly. I handed him a saw and we both set to work to cut away a couple of bars. Then I helped him out the window and down the rope. We had got over the inner wall without mishap, and I was congratulating myself that success was in sight. At the foot of the outer wall I whispered to him about the necessity of speed on account of the search-lights.
"All right," he said, in a voice that I knew was not Carty's.
"Who in the hell are you?" I asked.
"Joe Wright," he answered. The curse of Cromwell! I felt like busting his head open. But then I realized that the mistake had been mine and not his. I could not blame him for taking an opportunity to escape from prison without asking questions. I afterward learned that he was a poor half-wit serving a short sentence for some petty offence, and would have been released in a couple of months' time. All I knew now was that he was an Irishman in jail, that it was breaking daylight and that there wasn't time to go back and find Carty.
"All right!" I said, as the light flashed by. "Get ready!" Then threw up the grappling-hook and scaled the wall.
Bracing my feet on broken glass, I took hold of the rope to pull him up, but the rope remained slack. Perhaps it was the height of the wall made him lose his nerve, for he stood there looking up.
"Grab hold!" I yelled, and saw the light sweeping toward us.
Then I felt his weight on the rope,
and pulling frantically, got him to the top just as the search-light hit us.
"Jump!" I yelled, and measuring my distance, leaped on to the roof below and sprained my ankle.
"I-I can't!" he cried, and stood there in the full rays of the light.
There was a splutter of machinegun fire as I hit the roof. I looked up and saw Wright topple over toward the inside of the wall. The next day the papers were full of his attempted escape and death. Poor fool, here was a case of a man losing his life through losing his nerve.
After this miserable failure I kept under cover for a couple of weeks. First to let things settle down and second to give my ankle a chance to heal. Fortunately the authorities had not connected Wright's death with an attempt to free Carty.
Through underground channels I found a jailer who could be bribed. For fifty pounds he agreed to take a saw and a ball of twine in to Carty and to give me the exact location of Carty's cell. But he stipulated that the escape must take place on his night off duty, so that there would be no suspicion against him. Needless to say he got his fifty pounds, and I got Carty out of jail with very little trouble on the second attempt.
It was these successes against the guards of Londonderry Prison, and the fact that I hold a shipmaster's papers that caused Michael Collins and the leaders of the Republic to select me to make the attempt to run the British blockade.
Michael Collins summoned me to Dublin. Dressed like a priest I got through the British lines and reported. Collins asked me if I could bring a ship-load of guns from Ger
many into Ireland. I said I could. Then armed with forged passports and letters to German sympathizers, I set out for Berlin.
I had no trouble in getting a shipload of guns which I sent to Hamburg and placed in the hold of a sailingsloop. Everything went fine until some over-officious customs' officers at Hamburg got inquisitive. They searched the vessel, found the guns and placed me and my crew under arrest. I took all responsibility and they let the crew go. I was tried, thought best to confess, and asked the mercy of the Court. This I got to full measure. The judge gave me a nominal fine, shook hands with me, wished me luck and told me to be more careful in my next venture. But my guns were confiscated so I had to go back to Berlin for another shipment.
Meanwhile the boys in Ireland were suffering for want of guns. I decided to get a steam-vessel and bought the Frieda. Now my crew was made up of Germans, Russian Reds and exiled Irishmen. I knew that I had enough of the last to keep the rest in order, and we were prepared to deal quickly and efficiently with any sign of rebellion. Every Irishman on board was stanch patriot and ready to die if need be. In the hold of the vessel we had a quantity of dynamite, and this was connected with a storage battery and could be fired at any moment. Three Irishmen had taken the job and sworn to blow up the vessel if we were seriously threatened with capture.
Suddenly the fog, which had been the cause of our collision, lifted; and
we found ourselves standing out in the rays of Eddystone Light. Off our starboard bow rolled a destroyer and immediately its search-light was on us. She was hauled to but we were cutting ahead at full speed. They signaled us to stop and, just before we dove into another fogbank, they sent a shot in front of us.
All night I had been praying for the fog to clear. Now I prayed for it to hold and grow thicker. Around us the lyddite burst. They were searching in the fog-bank and probably hoping to scare us into surrender. The destroyer was giving long and short blasts of her siren and these were being answered by other destroyers and coast-guard cutters. We already had a hole in our side just above the water-line which didn't make any difference as long as we were in fairly smooth water, but the slightest rough sea would mean our shipping water into the hold.
The Eddystone had given me a bearing and I made for the open sea. If the ship went down we would take to the boats and make for the French coast. Soon I realized that the destroyers were gaining on us. There were several in the chase now and they were sending a regular barrage of fire into the friendly mist that surrounded us. Something had to be done and done quickly, if we hoped to save the cargo. Generally in a tight place the most daring thing to do is the best thing to do. To attempt to dodge them by steaming in a circle was too obvious; so I took a desperate chance and ordered the engines to slow, stop and then astern, hoping that in the darkness and fog the enemy would race past us.
The ruse worked, and the line of
THE BOGY OF SEX
Life Is a Conclusive Denial That Sex Is a Central Interest
HE days of romance have passed. Love no longer hides in a tower room, wooed by music from afar. Love drives down Main Street in chummy roadsters and sits crosslegged on tea-room verandas. Neither is it blind nor shy nor tongue-tied. But in this realistic age the quest is limited. Young love shuns sentiment, it turns its eyes from beauty, singing few songs. The generation has but a single motto, "Male and female created He them."
The new emotionalism is not one of place or social level. It pursues us wherever we turn. Nor is the change confined to the less cultured classes or to the adolescent generation. Even as elderly women have bobbed their hair and given their knees the freedom of the city, so have they at the same time joined the ranks of the unblushing. Many a grandfather these days reads wistfully of glandular therapy. He has sympathy with Faust. The subject of sex has certainly stepped out of the boudoir, thrown off the hushed intimacy of the afternoon knitting, forgotten the privacy of marriage and taken its place at bridge table and club lounge. From three to three score and ten any aspect of it serves for casual reference or minute dissection.
Picture a parlor-grown Victorian with her mind, like her neck, wrists and ankles swathed in the tight conventions of modesty, overhearing two flappers discussing Freud. Their free use of ideas once hardly whispered, would be as horrifying to that ancient lady as their swinging pink legs or the cigarette ashes falling over their alleged dresses. Ladies of bygone days would have blushed deep maroon even to think the thoughts the present generation banter about as nonchalantly as it mentions shoe-strings or the latest dance. And each year conversation takes off another garment, as it We are in an age when the word "sacred" has gone back to the altar and there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed.