Star Called Henry (The Last Roundup)
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Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets.
By Easter Monday, 1916, he's fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a Republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike.
took him? —I don’t know. —He didn’t even believe in religion, I said. —Worse yet, he said. —He believed in nothing. A wandering bloody Bolshevik. —They killed his wife. —My arse they did. More wives. You fuckin’ eejit, man. Listen to me one last time. He was a spy. We had evidence. Witnesses. He got what was coming to him. Fair and square. Like the others. The ones you dealt with. I wouldn’t have had the bastard bumped off just because he was a Jew. But listen here, while you’re sitting
of the business? —I’m going to kill him. —I see. She didn’t move. —You are a very handsome man, she said. —So I’ve been told, I said. —But flattery isn’t going to get you far. —And money? —No. —You are stupid, she said. —Probably, I said. —Where will I find him? —Here, she said. —But not right now. —I’ll wait. —I am not a prostitute – I don’t yet know your name. —That’s right. —Little boys, little boys. I am not a prostitute, mysterious man in a suit that is not his. I am not a
right. God save the fuckin’ King. —Call yourselves men? You’re only molly men. —Wait till the real Army catches yis. —Yis’ll taste steel then, I’m tellin’ yis. —You’ll have to go away, ladies, said Collins. —It’d take more than a big-eared country boy to make us go away. —What’s under your hat, love? Collins gave up. —Shoot the first one that tries to get in, he told me. —Up you go now and defend your country. I climbed back up to my perch and looked out. —Ah now, there’s a man.
other little Henry sitting beside her on the step. I looked up and hated him. She held me but she looked up at her twinkling boy. Poor me beside her, pale and red-eyed, held together by rashes and sores. A stomach crying to be filled, bare feet aching like an old, old man’s. Me, a shocking substitute for the little Henry who’d been too good for this world, the Henry God had wanted for himself. Poor me. And poor Mother. She sat on that step and other crumbling steps and watched her other babies
escaped from a bun that shone like a lamp behind her head, even on the miserable day we were standing in. —Four, I said. —Maithú, Henry. A mass of the finest brown hair, endless hair that was dying for fingers to comb it. Hair that had once washed over me. —It was the leg that did it, she said. Her hand reached out and she wiped some of the rain off the mahogany. —You still have it. —I do. And there they were, the little brown buttons, running the length of the same brown dress, like the