THE SHIFTY LAD
the good things she had heard, a voice shouted close to her ear ' Robbery ! Robbery ! Robbery ! ' The suddenness of it made her jump. The naughty boy had managed to change his voice, so that she did not know it for his, and he had concealed himself so well that, though she peered about all round her, she could see no one. As soon as she had turned the corner the Shifty Lad came out, and by running very fast through the wood he contrived to reach home before his mother, who found him stretched out comfortably before the fire.
' Well, have you got any news to tell me ? ' asked he.
' No, nothing ; for I left the church at once, and did not stop to speak to anyone.'
' Oh, then no one has mentioned a trade to you ? ' he said in tones of disappointment.
' Ye—es,' she replied slowly. ' At least, as I walked down the path a voice cried out " Robbery ! Robbery ! Robbery ! " but that was all.'
' And quite enough too,' answered the boy. ' What did I tell you ? That is going to be my trade.'
' Then your end will be hanging at the bridge of Dubhn,' said she. But there was no sleep for her that Mght, for she lay in the dark thinking about her son.
' If he is to be a thief at all, he had better be a good one. And who is there that can teach him ? ' the mother asked herself. But an idea came to her, and she arose early, before the sun was up, and set off for the home of the Black Rogue, or Gallows Bird, who was such a wonderful thief that, though all had been robbed by him, no one could catch him.
* Good-morning to you,' said the woman as she reached the place where the Black Gallows Bird lived when he was not away on his business. ' My son has a fancy to learn your trade. Will you be Mnd enough to teach him ? '