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When the story opens, two Englishmen Belcher and Hawkins are held as prisoners by a group of Irish Rebels in Ireland. The men argue a lot on issues concerning religion, politics and capitalism as they play cards. All these men are accommodated by an old lady at her cottage. She also participate in their arguments and scolds the whenever they despise her. She is also a very religious person.
The story is narrated by Bonaparte and Noble, his compatriot, forge friendship with the captives. The third Irish Man, Donovan, who is in charge of the group, remains aloof. He tells Noble and Bonaparte that the men are not prisoners; they are hostages and will be killed if the English authorities kill the Irish prisoners in their custody. The new shocks Bonaparte making it difficult for him to face the English captives.
A few days later, an intelligence officer, Feeney, come to report the killing of the four Irish Captives by the English and as a result Bleacher and Hawkins are to be executed that evening.
Donovan creates a story about a transfer to get the Englishmen out of the cottage and letter tells them the truth on their way to the bog. Hawkins tries to plead with the Irishmen not to kill them stating that he would not shoot them if their positions were reversed and even asks to be allowed to join the rebels and betray the English.
Bonaparte is apprehensive about the execution and wishes that the Englishmen escape. He would let the escape since he regard them as humans and not some anonymous enemy. The Englishmen are taken to the end of the path where Noble and Feeney are waiting.
Donovan first shoots Hawkins at the back of his head. Bleacher notices that Hawking is not dead and request Bonaparte to shoot him again. He is then shot by Donovan at the back of the head and also dies. The Irishmen burry the Englishmen in a shallow grave and Feeney takes his leave as the others return to the cottage. The old lady asks to be told what they have done to the prisoners, but she gets no answer. She falls on her knees to pray and followed by noble. Bonaparte gets out of the cottage looking in the sky feeling lost and small. He states that he didn’t harbor the usual feeling about things anymore.