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Authors: Alex Haley

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    conversations in his uncle's house, at the dinner parties, where he was

    allowed to sit and talk with the older guests, and was included in their

    conversations. His nerves tingled at the sense of revolution and

    rebellion that was the undercurrent of all their talk, however guarded

    they might be in front of him.

    He came to love and respect Eleanor, whom he had never known well. The

    red-haired passionate young woman and her wealthy, deeply committed

    husband, Oliver Bond, were frequent visitors to his uncle's house, and

    brought with them a sense of danger and glamour and excitement,

    It was Eleanor who questioned James about his political beliefs, for she

    had heard something of his adventures with Sean, in Ballybay, and it was

    she who cautioned him.

"I must warn you to keep in strictest confidence whatever

you see and hear in this house," she said, when they were

alone together. I

    Jamie, in awe of his sister, swore that he could be trusted with any

    secret, and told her how he had kept to himself the information that

    Father Moran would say mass. Eleanor nodded, and seemed satisfied, and

    gave him books to read by Rousseau and Thomas Paine.

    The books introduced him to concepts of democracy, and of the equality

    of all men, and he began to sympathize with

    BLOODLINES 19

 

the plight of the poor as he had sympathized with the peasants. He cheered

as lustily as any when Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his beautiful wife, Lady

Pamela, rode by in their carriage.

    Lord Edward was now the commander of the revolutionary forces. The

    British knew this, but were loath to touch him, because of his title and

    position, and because he had not yet given them any great cause. But the

    very sight of him offended them, just as it enthused the masses, for he

    wore simple clothes, his hair was close-cropped in the peasant style, and

    his lovely wife was dressed in peasant linen with a muslin apron.

    With a young man's zeal, Jamie had mistaken the function of revolution;

    he saw virtue in poverty and felt guilty because he was not poor. The

    appalling contrast between the desperate masses and the few rich was so

    overwhelming that he thought he had found the cause he had been looking

    for. Again, it was Eleanor who instructed him.

    "It is not just for the poor and the peasants," she told him. "it is for

    all of us. It is for Ireland. When we are free of foreign domination,

    when we rule ourselves, then we can address the problems of the masses."

    Jamie knew he was teetering on the very edge of tumultuous times, and

    longed to be closer to the center, although he was, by his relationships,

    nearer than many. He spoke to his uncle Henry, and begged to be allowed

    to join his association.

    "It is not altogether your youth," Uncle Henry said, shaking his head

    slightly. "It is that you are so new to the idea."

    But Henry saw the potential of the young man, and did not dash his hopes

    entirely.

    "But I would say you are a fair possibility," he said, and smiled.

    Soon after Christmas, Oliver Bond and Eleanor came late at night to

    Henry's house, and whispered the depressing news. A great French fleet,

    led by Wolfe Tone, had sailed into Bantry Bay to invade Ireland and begin

    the conquest of the British, but had been forced back by foul weather.

    Oliver correctly predicted the bloodbath that was to come, but looked to

    the future. They would strive for the revolution, and they would succeed,

    but without French help. The disappointed nationalists retired and licked

    their dashed hopes for

20 ALEX HALEY'S QUEEN

 

a while, but the violence of the British reprisals against the people

stirred them, and the coming spring brought them renewed vigor, renewed

hope, and renewed determination. But thev needed more men.

    o on a cold and rainy April night, Jamie went with his uncle Henry to

    a guarded garret in the slums of Whitechapel and was admitted to the

    association of United Irishmen, and swore his solemn oath. Jamie's

    youthful soul thrilled to this new world of whispered plots and plans and

    secret passwords, and the inclusion in the company of men.

 

That summer, Jamie went home to Ballybay for Sara's wedding to Jimmy

Hanna, who was now tutoring Washington. Jamie was a hero to Washington as

Sean was a hero to Jamie, and Washington reveled in his company. His

father was surprisingly affable, perhaps because, with most of his

children living in Dublin or America, his position was more secure. Jugs

wept, and overfed Jamie, convinced he had lost weight, when he was merely

growing taller. Quinn shared a welcoming mug of poteen with him, and Sean

welcomed him as if there had never been a difference between them. Sean

was aware of some change in Jamie, and obviously approved of it, but did

not question him closely, nor could Jamie have told him of his new

political associations, because of the binding secrecy of his oath. But

now it was summer and they were young men, anxious to test their

burgeoning manhood and growing muscles, and they passed a pleasant season,

fishing, and boxing and wrestling, and getting into young men's trouble.

Jamie gave his virginity to a buxom peasant girl, who had long had Sean's,

under a hayrick, drunk on cider.

    Of all the good summers of Jamie's life, this was golden, for underlying

    their pastoral idleness was the growing whisper of rebellion.

 

Still the call to arms did not come, and, back in Dublin, Jamie chafed at

the lack of activity. They seemed to be doing nothing, getting nowhere,

and the British were still riding roughshod over the Irish community. He

poured out his frustrations to Eleanor, and she listened, and nodded her

head gravely.

"When?" he cried, for if anyone knew, it was Eleanor.

    BLOODLINES 21

 

    "When Ivers or Carlow is come," she told him, and he could see the

    twinkle in her eyes.

    It was the whispered password that got them into their meetings: "Is

    lvers or Carlow come?" The two names were changed frequently, for fear

    of traitors, but the substance remained the same, and one day, when the

    given answer would be yes, Ivers or Carlow is come, the revolution would

    begin.

    Ivers, or Carlow, came the following March, but not in a way that any of

    them expected or wanted. Rioting by peasants farther to the south, in

    County Wexford, persuaded the British that it was time to destroy the

    leadership of the United Irishmen. A traitor came to them, Thomas

    Reynolds, a silk merchant, who had been in Paris during the Terror, and

    was appalled by the mob rule. After the debacle of Wolfe Tone and the

    French fleet, he was persuaded by his wife that perhaps they should

    reconsider their commitment to the Irish cause. Both were social

    climbers, both realized what patronage from the British could do for

    them, and as the possibility of Irish victory receded in their minds,

    Reynolds turned his coat to the British.

    Oliver Bond himself opened the door to the three burly men whose faces

    he did not recognize.

"What do you want?" he demanded.

    "Is Ivers or Carlow come?" the first man said, smiling. It was the proper

    password, but still Oiiver was confused, and hesitated a fraction too

    long. The men burst into his house, and arrested all who were gathered

    there. United Irish guards keeping watch on the house from the Brazenhead

    Inn, across the street, were astonished to see the reinforcing British

    troops that now arrived, and, knowing the game was lost, some scattered

    into the night to wam the others. Those remaining saw Lord Fitzgerald's

    coach arriving, and rushed to head him off. He needed no second bidding

    but whipped his horses, and drove, hard as he could, toward Whitechapel.

    The troops gave chase, but as they came to the slums, word spread like

    wildfire, and the poor people thronged into the streets behind Lord Ed-

    ward's carriage, and blocked the passage of his pursuers.

    A lookout got to Henry's house just before the soldiers, and raised the

    alarm. For himself, Henry saw no point in flight, but worried for his

    nephew. He gave Jamie a little money, and

22 ALEX HALEY'S QUEEN

 

told him to get to Ballybay, where he would be safe. Jamie was reluctant. He

had a young man's need to prove himself.

    "This is just a skirmish, not the battle," Uncle Henry urged him. "You are

    more useful to us free than in prison. Go free and fight."

    He pushed Jamie out of the back door, and returned to the hallway, where

    the -soldiers were already battering their way inside.

 

Jamie crept through the back alleys and lanes to the slums, where he used

the password to find friends. He was sheltered for the night, and in the

morning they guided him to the outskirts of the city. They cropped his hair

and put him in peasant clothes, and found a friendly farmer, who hid him in

his cart and took him to his home county. Along the way they heard the news.

The conditions of martial law were to be made stricter, harsher. British

troops would now be dispersed throughout Ireland, and free-quartered

wherever they chose. It was Crown-ordered that the association of United

Irishmen be crushed by whatever means necessary, and many of the leaders

were now in Newgate Prison, following the arrests in Dublin. The Sheares

brothers and Oliver Bond. Uncle Henry, although not a ringleader, was with

them. Lord Fitzgerald, who had not been caught, was in hiding somewhere in

the city, and Lady Pamela. Eleanor had not been arrested, as women were not

considered dangerous.

    At Rockfield, Jamie bade farewell to his farmer friend, and made his way on

    foot, under cover of night, to Carrickmacross and thence Ballybay. He

    avoided the towns,and villages, slept in the hedgerows, and used the money

    his uncle had given him to buy food at peasant cottages.

    On a moonlit evening, he reached his father's house, and saw half a dozen

    British soldiers gathered around a campfire on the front lawn. He sneaked

    through the grounds, made his way to the stables, and scraped his nails on

    old Quinn's door. The hostler, rubbing sleep from his eyes, was immediately

    awake when he saw Jamie. He dragged the boy inside, shushed him to silence,

    and closed and barred the door.

    "The sodyers are after ye," he said. He hid Jamie under the bed, and went

    to find Jugs. She came to him in dead of

    BLOODLINES 23

 

night, and held him to her, and wept for him. The soldiers had come for

him, and were waiting in case he should come home. His father was

practically a prisoner in his own house, a suspect despite his past record

because of Henry and Eleanor, and their known association with the United

Irishmen. Jamie's membership was also known, and, despite his youth, a

warrant was out for his arrest, as brother-in-law to the traitor Oliver

Bond, and nephew to Henry Jackson. Jugs had a message from his father,

given in case he should come home.

    "Don't come here, and I may yet be able to get us out of this."

    Jamie was touched, for these were almost the kindest words he had ever

    had from his father. But he despaired. He could not stay in his father's

    house, and had nowhere else to go. Jugs came to his rescue again. Quinn

    created a distraction with a horse, causing it to bolt in its paddock,

    and the soldiers mocked and jeered the old man's apparently feeble

    efforts to calm it down. Jugs led Jamie through the night and took him

    to a small, abandoned barn on a nearby property,

Sean was there, in hiding from the soldiers.

    Jamie smiled in relief when he saw his old friend, and Sean was

    astonished at the muddy, peasant-clad, crop-haired young man who stood

    before him.

    "Is Ivers or Carlow come'?" Jamie whispered with a grin, and Sean grinned

    too, and hugged Jamie hard.

"Yes," Sean said. "He is come."

 

    3

 

They talked until dawn, and made their plans. They were not

safe in Ballybay, and they needed to fight, for they were

young, and their blood ran hot for their cause, and they were

men of Ireland, and their country was bleeding. Sean had

heard, as Jamie before him, of the riots to the south, in County

Wexford, and they looked at each other, and nodded their

    24 ALEX HALEY'S QUEEN

 

heads, and knew, without voicing it, where they would go.

    Maureen and Jugs made food for them, and wept in their hearts, but would

    not show their tears to their sons, for they were women of Ireland. Old

    Quinn gave them two nags from the stables, workhorses too old to work,

    who would otherwise have been sent to the knacker's yard, and justified

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