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"What call had they to be altering the old way," she asks, with cold and deliberate passion, "if it t'wasn't to spite us?"

I confess Miss Kerrigan Ballyboreen; on the contrary, gives me creeps. I have no the half-door is always wide foundation whatever for the open, and the postmistress feeling, unless it be the un- shows you inside and follows, pleasant effect of those extra- there to engage you in conordinarily pale pink-rimmed versation. Miss Kerrigan is eyes, with the lank frame of not a great talker as talkers grey hair narrowing the large go in Ireland, but she can face. The official entry to speak, and to the point when Ballyboreen post-office further needful. She can even become arouses feelings of embar- eloquent upon certain subjects. rassment. Why, when the One of these is the varying office is situated in one of changes in the routine of postal two adjoining cottages, the duties, for she abhors changes. sole door must needs open For example, the introduction into the one in which Miss of the telephone into the recepKerrigan and other members tion and transmission of teleof her family live is a mystery. graphic messages is a rankling But so it is. In order to get source of indignation. into the office you are obliged to make your way through Miss Kerrigan's kitchen, which is very dark, being lit by a three-foot square window, reinforced by the flames of a turf fire which burns smokily on the open hearth, with a pot hanging over it. There is always some one eating in a corner, and few things are more embarrassing than to intrude upon strangers during a meal, despite the fact that public meals are favourite festivities of our high civilisation. When postal business compels me thither, I can feel myself sneaking through that living-room in hot shamefacedness to the office, which is separated from the other by a half-door in the partition wall. The half-door has a ledge intended, doubtless, to form a counter, at which customers may stand and parley with the official on the other side of it. But one never does that in

Another and even more bitter diatribe is aroused by any mention of the National Health Insurance Act.

"I declare to God!"-Miss Kerrigan always folds her arms across her ample bosom when she utters this "that was the sin of the worrld, so it was ; as if we hadn't enough to do, an' more than we could do, without that. An' the dear knows"-a thin scornful laugh outs the acrid words through"there's as many have died since that came out as ever died before it, and more, for them doctors 'll let ye die now for the fun of it, when they wouldn't be getting the money from ye."

This dark and dreadful insinuation awakes in me mocking echo of the dulcet

oratory which introduced these "rare and refreshing fruits" to a sick world.

"What do you want?" With this question, Miss Kerrigan whirls round upon a small barelegged child who has been standing upon one foot, the other tucked up beneath her faded red flannel petticoat, in apparently charmed oontemplation of myself. The little girl gives a violent start and lets her second foot drop precipitately to the ground. "Me ma wants a stamp," is the reply in a voice husky from sudden shyness.

"Why couldn't you say s80 sooner?" With morose dignity Miss Kerrigan approaches the grimy receptacle in which her books of stamps are contained. "Is it a penny or a halfpenny or & three-halfpenny stamp yer ma wants?" she asks severely.

"Three - halfpenny," is the still huskier reply, and the applicant tenders sixpence in silver.

The postmistress of Ballyboreen pushes the required stamp over the table, and counts the coppers with growling hauteur. She gives a halfpenny too little, then reotifies the mistake with an air of exasperated patience.

"They're a nuisance these three-halfpenny stamps," I interpose, partly to appease her, and partly to relieve my own embarrassment.

"They're a ourse, and that's God's truth," is Miss Kerrigan's response. "What are they for, in God's name, but

to rob the poor and puzzle ye in yer change?"

To this I have no reply ready. Before I can think of one, Miss Kerrigan's sister thrusts in her head and gazes at me with an amiable if slightly vacant smile.

Miss Kerrigan's sister is a dwarf and misshapen.

It is said in Ballyboreen that she's "not right." Legend affirms that three days after her birth her mother "awoke in her bed and saw her own child-may the Lord of Mercy preserve us!-being snatched out of the cradle by a fairywoman, and another' left in its place. An' sure, she (the mother) let one screech, and the right sense left her. They got the priest, and he brought holy water, but she never did a ha'porth of good, and they buried her that day week."

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Supernatural talents are, in consequence, ascribed to Miss Kerrigan's sister, and great eare is taken to be civil to her. Perhaps it is owing to this that when, one day, I take my letters to the post, and she interposes herself between the slit in the front wall of the post-office in which you insert them on their way to regions beyond, and myself, I meekly await her pleasure.

"Not within," she announces mysteriously, "not within there."

The day is hot, and I am tired, and bored by the interruption; nevertheless, sudden suspicion awakes in me.

For weeks past, at or about midnight, a thin quick whistle

has resounded through the woods and round the crossroads at Bally boreen, and we all know, though we may not choose to say so openly, what it means. It is the call to arms, Sinn Fein arms, and the drilling has been going on night after night in flagrant defiance of the rulers of Ireland.

rigan's sister aside grandly, for even if she is "not right" I will not allow her to cow me.

As I try to push my letters into the slit, I wonder if she can see how my hand is shaking. Whether she can or not, one thing is clear-the letters won't go in. Perhaps Miss Kerrigan's sister has "bewitched" the box-anyhow they fall out again at my feet. Stooping to pick

Conspiracy, a new conspiraoy, flashes before me through the summer haze. Arms, them up, a horrid wave of drilling, risings-nay, Rebel- sick panic goes over me, and lion once more. 1916 is not I turn from heat to cold, with so far away that its details nauseating sensations. are forgotten. Is Ballyboreen post-office to be the headquarters this time? Heaven knows, it looks innocent enough with the sunshine on its lowly whitewashed walls and roof of brown thatoh. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Miss Kerrigan's aura envelops it with a sinister atmosphere. What if? And if -?

I confess to a wild impulse to run away, regardless of my plain duty or anything else. For my duty is quite clear it is, if anything is wrong, to inform the authorities at once; but the authorities are far away-they generally areand Miss Kerrigan is near: that reflection makes me long to run away even more strongly than before. Shame, however, goads me to try a desperate plunge after my fleeing courage. If I am worth my salt, I can at least make an attempt to discover what is

wrong with Ballyboreen post-office. I wave Miss Ker

When I raise my head Miss Kerrigan herself is standing at her open door looking at me. A minute or a century, I know not which, passes as we face one another. She is the first to speak.

"Is it the letters," she says composedly, "that ye'd be after posting? Here"-she stretches out a large hand-"I'll post them for ye. Sure, the box is full up.'

The last words clear my brain. Ballyboreen box full up indeed at this time of day, or at any time! Suspicion gives way to certainty, and with it comes that desperation which nerves cowardice. I grip the letters more firmly. Miss Kerrigan may no doubt be His Majesty's postmistress, but she is not to be trusted. As if she had divined my thoughts, she smiles, and the smile makes her eyes look paler and the eyelids pinker than ever.

"Come inside then and I'll clear the box for ye."

I hesitate: is it a trap?

Miss Kerrigan turns about it cool. 'Tis easily jaded with the heat, and that's a grand wire cage, and the dra-ft comes through it like a big wind."

and-I follow her inside. As usual there are people & couple of men-eating at the table in the dark corner. Are they?

"Tis too bad," Miss Kerrigan is saying with great geniality, "but sure I didn't think there'd be e'er a one seeking the letter-box so early in the day. I do put the meat for the week in there to keep

Forth from the official receptacle for the outward mails at Ballyboreen post-office Miss Kerrigan draws carefully- & leg of mutton. . . .

Like the man in the Scripture, I opened the door and fled!

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We all know that there are WE in this world certain places where one cannot reappear, after the lapse of no matter how many years, without running across a friend. Among such places the Yacht Club in Bombay must assuredly rank high, for that eminently comfortable spot means many Easterners, as it does to me, either civilisation's first foretaste or her last fare. well, according to whether ours is a homeward or an outward journey.

Last April I made one of my periodical descents on the Yacht Club. The war was over at last, home leave had been reopened, and I had found myself among the favoured few selected to go with the first batch. Mine had been the very ordinary story of a regimental officer throughout the war-Egypt, Gallipoli, Egypt again, and then Mesopotamia. My battalion had been selected finally to form part of the post-bellum garrison of Assyria, and I had just completed the wearisome journey by desert, river, and sea from Mosul to Bombay.

The boat from Basra had got in only that very morning, and as the leave- boat sailed next day, I had had a busy time. So it was late

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when I got to the Yacht Club, and I found the big downstairs bar room already crowded. But most of the crowd were boxwalas, none of whom I happened to have met, and at first I could not see a single face I knew.

However, I had not long to wait for the expected friend, and I could not have asked for a more welcome one; for I had hardly got my drink when the swing-doors opened, and in came dear old Douglas Rowland. Douglas is a political. A certain summer, a few years before the war, had found me shooting in Ladakh, that quaint old Western Tibetan kingdom, now an outlying province of the dominions of His Highness of Jammu and Kashmir. At that time Rowland had been in charge at Leh, the former Tibetan capital, in whose great bazaar the traders of half a continent forgather on their way to India, bringing with them in their pony-packs the brick-tea of China, and the borax and the wool, the musk and the turquoises of Tibet, the carpets of Bokara, and the felts of Kashgar and Yarkand. A bad go of snowblindness had driven me in to Leh-for treatment by the Moravian Mission doctor there

1 The Political Department is India's Diplomatic and Consular Service.

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