Friend or Foe

Friend or Foe by Brian Gallagher Read Free Book Online

Book: Friend or Foe by Brian Gallagher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Gallagher
seconds, then suddenly the leader turned on his heel and made off after his men.
    ‘Oh my God!’ said Gladys, breathing out in relief.
    ‘Janey,’ said Joan, ‘he looked mad!’
    ‘What should we do?’ asked Ben.
    ‘Nothing,’ said Emer, her voice a little shaky. ‘Sure what would we do?’
    ‘We could go to the nearest police station or RIC barracks,’ suggested Jack.
    ‘And inform on Volunteers?’ said Emer.
    ‘For God’s sake, Emer, they threatened us!’
    ‘I know, that wasn’t very nice. But even if you wanted to, there’s no point reporting them. It would take forever to get from here to Tallaght – they’d be long since gone.’
    Jack realised that this was true, but he still felt uncomfortable ignoring what had happened.
    ‘Look, there’s no point letting it spoil our day out,’ said Emer. ‘So let’s have our lunch and go for our swim and just enjoy ourselves. OK?’
    Jack hesitated.
    ‘Please, Jack.’
    Jack looked at her, then nodded in agreement. As far as he was concerned this wasn’t over, and he’d give a description of the men to his father tonight. But for now he could see Emer’s point that there was nothing to be gained by spoiling the day. ‘OK,’ he said. ‘OK, then.’

    ‘Here, I’ve a good one for you,’ said Ben as he sat basking in the afternoon sunshine on the banks of the River Dodder at Old Bawn. ‘Why don’t they let elephants swim in Tara Street Baths?’
    ‘Why don’t they?’ asked Joan.
    ‘Because they might let down their trunks!’
    Gladys turned to her brother. ‘That’s a bit rude, Ben.’
    ‘Yeah, but it’s funny,’ said Joan. ‘Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud, Glad.’
    ‘I’m just saying,’ protested Gladys.
    Emer didn’t want her friends to start squabbling, so she interjected. ‘Here, I’ve another swimming joke, and it’s not rude. Why did the teacher jump into the river?’
    ‘Why?’ asked Joan.
    ‘She wanted to test the water!’
    The others laughed, then Joan stood up. ‘Talking of rivers, let’s jump in again!’
    ‘OK,’ said Ben, and he and Gladys rose to join her.
    ‘I think I’ll just sit in the sun for a while,’ said Jack.
    Emer had wanted to talk to him alone, and this was her opportunity, so she turned to Joan. ‘You go ahead, I’ll follow you after a bit.’
    Joan gave her usual cry of ‘Gang way!’ then jumped into the river. Ben and Gladys followed her in, and the three of them splashed about.
    Emer was pleased at the progress her friends had made in the three weeks since they had joined her club. She turned to Jack. ‘You’ve all done really well. You’re swimming much better now.’
    ‘Thanks. Getting the hang of the breathing really helped.’
    ‘Right.’ Emer looked at him, a little uncertain how to begin. ‘Jack …’
    ‘Yeah?’
    ‘You’ve been a bit quiet since … since earlier with the gunmen.’
    ‘Have I? Sorry I … I didn’t mean to–’
    ‘It’s OK. It’s just …’
    ‘What?’
    Emer hesitated. She really liked Jack, and they had become closer this summer since she had saved him from drowning. She was afraid that what she wanted to say might put their friendship at risk, but she felt she had to speak up. ‘I know normally we don’t talk about … well, my dad being in the Volunteers and your dad being a policeman,’ she began.
    ‘There’s no point,’ answered Jack. ‘Just ’cause they’re on different sides doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.’
    ‘No, of course not. But the thing is … well, friends should be honest with each other. And what happened earlier, it made me think that maybe we’re on different sides too – but I still want us to be friends.’
    ‘How are we on different sides?’ asked Jack.
    ‘You wanted to report the gunmen, I’m on the side of the Volunteers.’
    ‘I understand you being loyal to your dad, Emer. But that man threatened us.’
    ‘I know. It was scary, and he shouldn’t have done it. But apart from that, I believe in

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