Freedom Books and Plays


On the morning of the fourth day, a fresh breeze was blowing from the southwest as Peter came out early on the deck. For this day, he had waited with excitement for it contained the race for the prized Raheen Silver Cup, and his father had promised that he should be in his boat. The race was for centreboards, the name given to the popular sailing boats, which instead of a fixed keel possessed a movable centreboard made of lead. Fast and quickly manoeuverable, these boats had been the pride of various yacht clubs situated up and down the River Shannon. Since it was possible to lift the keel almost completely out of the water into a wooden compartment in the centre of the boat, they travelled more quickly through the water, but in squally weather there was a greater danger of capsizing, unless the centreboard was quickly and adequately lowered.

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One day, Martin had rowed across and asked if he could borrow Con for a while to help him take a drum of petrol from the jetty to the Rosanagh. Neither of the men asked Peter to accompany them. Together they rowed away leaving him crestfallen at the Christina’s stern. His father and mother were sailing and Dannie was busy in the engine room. From his cabin, Peter fetched the small telescope he had been given on his ninth birthday. Back on deck, it was easy to watch the progress of the two men. For a while they rowed towards the Raheen jetty, then they veered away to the right and headed down the bay. As the distance grew, Peter’s curiosity increased. So little of his life had contained suspicion, and now here were his two friends living a blatant lie right in front of his eyes. In the wheel house hung his father’s powerful binoculars, more useful now than the telescope, and with these he could see the boat heading for a clump of thick rushes. His youthful mind was now playing detective, and soon he discovered that other rowing boats were already hidden in the rushes. Soon all movement ceased and the boats lay concealed from both the nearby shore and Raheen’s busy jetty. Peter’s curiosity was now at fever pitch and he ached to hear the conversation that must be taking place. One thing did not escape his notice: the day and the time had been well chosen. At the moment all attention was centred on that day’s sailing race. Owners of yachts were far out on the lake, and all eyes at the Club House were following them.

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