Before the civil war broke out he wavered... For months it was uncertain which
way he would jump, but on the day fighting broke out, Lofty drove off in his
brand-new car, wearing a bandolier and Sam Browne belt and a
sombrero pinned up at one side by a tri-coloured rosette. He had turned up
the two ends of his moustache at right angles. In the back of the car sat Paddy
Donovan and Jim Roche, two of the plumbers, with Service
rifles between their knees.
He refused to be associated with the irregulars. 'Lead me into a trap, those
fellows would,' he declared. They have no real military experience.' So he
went to a retreat of his own in the Wicklow mountains,
twenty miles from anywhere, commandeered a house and set up his general headquarters.
The first thing General Flanagan did was to examine the beds. He groaned;
a heart-rending groan that chilled the blood of his raw troops. Next day he
dispatched a lorry to the city to bring back a new spring bed and
mattress for himself. On the third day he daid he was going clean mad. 'Cabbage!
Cabbage! Cabbage!' he shrieked. 'Is it any wonder the Irish people are split
like Moses' rock? People with minds that never rise
above salt meat and cabbage! Merciful God, what sort of misfortunate bloody
race are we at all?'
Eventually he had to send back the lorry to bring out his cook and a comfortable
armchair. 'There isn't a chair fit to sit on in this confounded house... No
wonder we Irish are the world's laughing-stock...
And listen, my dear good fellow, as you're about it call into McFadden's and
bring out a couple of bottles of their best sherry.'
The people of the house were so overawed that they went to the home of a relative
to eat their meals in peace, but it turned out later that they thought he was
Then for two or three weeks he had nothing to complain of. Every day he went
out on the hill, his sombrero cocked on one side of his head, and with a powerful
pair of field-glasses surveyed the country
round. 'Movement of some sort to the west,' he would announce with bloodless
calm whenever a herd of cattle raised a dust on the distant highways.
© Macmillan & Co. 1936