Literary Reviews, Page 11

"The Luck of the Irish" (continued)

Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men.... The fugitives' escape is threatened by a South Pacific typhoon that maroons them on an island. But their luck resumes when a small trading schooner is washed ashore by the same storm. The trio commandeers the ship, notwithstanding that the ship's captain and crew are fellow Irishmen, and once again heads across the high seas, destined for Peru where they hope to establish themselves in new lives with the proceeds of the stolen ship and its cargo.

Their chances look good until one afternoon, shortly before dusk, they spot a ship on the distant horizon. Hoping it isn't, but fearing it might be a British warship, Ambler readies his mates with their cover story. Ambler hits upon a scheme seemingly ingenious by virtue of its simplicity. He advises his mates that they will assume the roles of the schooner's captain and his undermanned crew.

He schools his less intelligent and savvy fellow conspirators on their assumed names and backgrounds, which he has learned from the ship's log and other papers. Since the original crew was Irish, they have no worries concerning a conflict of accents. Ambler meticulously alters the ship's log to account for the fictional whereabouts of the stolen vessel since its theft.

Being shrewd enough to realize he cannot hope to persuasively forge the erstwhile captain's handwriting, he concocts the idea of having one of the others of the trio write the fictional log accounts, which Ambler dictates under pretense of his having sprained his wrist in the typhoon. So meticulous is Ambler, that he even thinks to add a few drops of water to stain the log, thus giving evidence of the dripping-wet condition of the supposed first mate as a result of the storm when he first fills in for the injured captain. This, along with other similar thoughtful and nice touches; along with the Irishman's confidence in his ability to talk himself out of any jam, convinces Ambler that even if they should be boarded by limey sailors, that they will soon be on their way.

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