reached London, General Foster and Lord
Derwentwater were taken to the infamous Tower along with the
other English nobles. The rest of the defeated army including
Dermot and Brigadier Calum Mac an Tòisich were taken to the
horrid prison at Newgate under the stewardship of its ill-
famed warden, Long John Langley. Once there they were con-
fined in its worst dungeon, the cavernous and notorious
Dermot who was the Seventh Baron Sleevelooker, an
English title, was no little put out by this treatment. He
was intent upon getting himself admitted to the Tower and to
spending his last days where so many great Gaels before him
had ended theirs. Nevertheless, the brigadier convinced him
that this was no time to stand on ceremony.
"Our Stuart cause needs you, a mhic-ó. Better here as
plain Dermot Dunleavy, Popish Traitor, than there as Barún
They sat in blackness, their nostrils assailed by the
foul odor of human ordure. The stone walls sweated cold slime
and the earthen floor was muddy with urine.
"What's the difference? We shall be tried and hanged.
Death has more honor there than in this shit hole," replied
"True it is s shit hole, but so is the Tower and there
are more doors here and more prisoners. With a few guineas in
the right palm, it should not be too difficult to give this
evil lair the slip, as dark as it is."
"Do you mean that we can buy our way out of here?"
"Of course, my boy. Must we not buy our food here? Must
we not pay for the putrid straw on which we sleep? All is for
sale in this Whiggish land. Imprisonment? Freedom? It's a
mere matter of money in the right hands. Everything is a
business with the Saxons," he laughed scornfully. "Law.
Government. It's for sale to the highest bidder. Féile and
flaithiúlacht are foreign words, not in their vocabulary.
While the Gaels compete in giving wealth away, these
miserable dogs grasp at it as if it were the woman of the
white breasts. Like the cripple who begrudges us our stride,
they want us hobbling like them, And they use that Bible too
to get at us. That hellish book from Dún Éideann and those
miserable travelling preachers, thumping on it while they
preach Election and Predestination. 'By my cloak! Better you
learn what's right from the lays of the Fianna, from Fionn
and Oscar and Oisín than from those stone-hearted prophets!"
Having digested the bigadier's short homily on Calvinism
and the Rise of the Commercial Classes, Dermot asked excited-
ly, "How much would it cost then to buy me freedom?"
"I don't know exactly but fifty guineas in the right
palm should do the job."
"And where will I get fifty guineas? Draw a cheque on
King James's credit?"
""It's no so dark as it seems," said the brigadier.
"Speaking of darkness, with that blackamoor of yours free to
wander the streets of the city, there is no telling what
monetary marvels might occur!"
"What can one half-starved black man do against a world
"Haven't you heard of black magic, my son. The power of
our ancient druidism, by necessity, pales in comparison."
wasn't druidic wizardry that Toussaint had in
mind that very day but food and shelter. Stumbling through
the streets, his stomach empty, his head light from hunger,
he at first had assumed the sign for Le Coq D'Or Inn was a
mirage, an hallucination brought on by lack of sustenance.
But the tavern was real enough and he went round the back to
see if he could find work, attracted by the familiar language
and symbolism of the golden rooster. Impressed by his command
of French, the innkeeper, a Huguenot refugee by the name of
Jacques Cahors, fed him royally with the freshest of foods
and the oldest of wines. Jacques was, in fact, tired of his
present waiter, a Londoner, "qui parle français comme une
vache espagnole." He immediately hired Toussaint, whom he
christened le coq martiniquais, in his place.
When Toussaint first got the opportunity, a fortnight
later, he visited his liberator in Newgate's Middle Dark,
bribing his way in by treating the guards to some still warm
pommes frites from the Coq D'Or. Jacques Cahors had invented
these square-cut fried pototoes while a field cook with the
French Army. They were fast cooking and tasty. Un mets
militaire de la grande vitesse as he called them, When the
Edict of Nantes was revoked and the Reformed Faith outlawed
in France, Jacques had perforce to leave l'armée et la patrie
but took his recipe for fried potatoes with him. Cahors con-
sidered pommes frites humble food, fit for himself and his
staff but not for menu of his restaurant where only haute
cuisine, "high kitchen," was offered. Strange yet needless to
say these new-fangled potato snacks were a grand hit with the
Newgate guards who up till that time had survived on a diet
of porridge and fat dripping.
Once inside the
Middle Dark and supplied with a torch by
a satisfied guard, Toussaint was joyfully reunited with his
liberator. But the joy soon dissipated when Dermot informed
him that the price of freedom was fifty guineas. The most
elementary mental arithmetic showed that he would have to
work the better part of twenty years to save that princely
sum from his wages as a waiter at Le Coq D'Or. Work he would,
the black decided, though for that man who had gotten him his
"Mon ami," he said. "No matter how long it takes,
Toussaint Finale will be there!"
But a kinder, gentler fate intervened in the piteous
case in the form of the warden's missus, Lucy Langly. Lucy
was a robust woman with a taste for good food and a head for
money. The lingering odor of pommes frites attracted her to
the guardhouse later that evening. Hearing of the black man,
she informed the guards to seize him the next time he arrived
and bring him to her. That night, still stimulated by the
fatty delicious fragrance, she attacked her husband Long John
Langly and had her way with him. Unsatisfied, she dreamt that
she was none other then the Queen of Sheba and lay with the
entire Nubian army.
finally arrived in Scotland, but his progress
was short and he was soon forced to withdraw once again to
the Continent, due to the dithering ineptness of the Earl of
Mar, who frittered while the Whigs flooded the island with
By the time Toussaint got another opportunity to leave
the inn, Foster, Lord Derwentwater, and Lord Gascoyne had
already lost their heads in the dreaded Tower. Their skulls
were jammed on pikes to be picked cleaned by ravens while
their quartered bodies were burned and their ashes tossed
into the shit-filled River Thames. Indeed, Death's bony hand
had been seen writing in the sky above Newgate the day he
again knocked on the door of the guardhouse with a large
pillow case filled with fragrant pommes frites.
"Cor'!" shouted the guards in unison as they laid eyes
once again on the African. Surrounded by rusty halberds, he
was brought immediately to Warden Langly's quarters. As usual
at this hour, Long John lay drunk abed. Though closed in the
next room, his harsh snores shook the plates in the kitchen
Lucy dismissed the guards and quickly unstuffed the pil-
low case, stuffing her own face with this golden trove of
luscious cooked spuds. When she could no longer go on, when
every winkle and cavity in her robust body was stuffed with
gloriously sodden pommes frites, she declared, "I'll give you
anything for the recipe."
Toussaint motioned toward the door behind which her
spouse still raucously snored.
"Don't worry," she replied. "He does what I tell 'im or
"The price is freedom for my friend, the prisoner
Dermot Dunléavy, his friend Luc du Barry, and any douzaine
other men that he names."
"Done," she replied wiping her hands joyously on her
smock. "They'll be a fire tomorrow night in the Middle Dark
and God knows how many poor devils will perish in it!"
She giggled wickedly.
"But in addition to providing the recipe," she con-
tinued, "you must move in here at Newgate and cook for me.
You don't know the plans I have!"
"D'accord," said Toussaint. "It's a deal."
He smiled exposing a row of yellowing teeth..
"You're an ugly devil but I think I like you. What's
your name?" she asked.
"Oooh! Lala!" she groaned approvingly. "French. Is you
one of them you-go-nots?"
"No, madame, I am martiniquais."
"Cor' blimey! I'll drink to that. I bloody will."
told Dermot of the agreement and plan and
Dermot was so delighted that he embraced the former slave and
kissed his cheek. He then suggested that they double-cross
the avaricious Lucy. He instructed Toussaint to wait at Le
Coq D'Or the evening of the following night and they would
come for him.
"Après cela, La Belle France!" he declared.
The next night, as plotted, a smokey fire was started in
the black depths of the Middle Dark. Dermot, Lucas, Calum Mac
An Tòisich and his son Séamus, and ten hand-picked heroes of
Clann Ghiolla Catain disappeared through the gates....[and
escaped eventually to France].
back in Lo'ndon, Toussaint was ensconced
in a cramped but comfortable room next to the warden's
quarters. Had Dermot and his friends succeeded in finding
the Coq D'Or restaurant, they would not have found Toussaint
there, for he had been collected by a squad of burly warders
sent out by Lucy Langley who, suspicious by heredity and
environment, did not trust the martiniquais to honor his
bargain. The next morning while his liberator slept snugly in
Dick Turpin's camp, Toussaint was wide awake and explaining
to Lucy Langly the proper cutting and cooking of pommes
"First, you must remove la pelure, or the skin, from the
pomme de terre, or po-tah-to. Then trim the ends and sides
with a furious blow of the knife. Alors! You have a perfect
rectangle of white flesh. Seize it and cut into slices of un
demi-pouce, one half inch of thickness. D'accord! You must
cut these slices encore une fois to the length of a demi-
pouce. Voilà! The perfect shape to absorb the fragrant fat!"
Piles of firm white potato flesh were soon being bathed
in cauldrons of hot fat. The rich fragrance filled the mean
and narrow streets of Newgate with an odor that brought water
to the mouth of even the most grim porridge eater. No odor
had done as much for the downtrodden hearts of the poor since
the incense had been removed from the church of the Grey
Friars some generations earlier. "It's like 'eaven," said one
ragged passerby, proffering a ha'penny for a small portion of
"'Eaven, Hindeed!" answered Lucy and that very afternoon
Ye Heavenly Spudde Shoppe was born, its sign complete with
neat ranks of potatoes, flanked by white feathery wings and
crowned with golden halos. Soon Lucy and Toussaint were not
only supplying prisoners, visitors and screws with snacks, as
first intended, but half of Newgate town as well. In addition
to preparing and cooking the firm, white flesh of these tasty
Peruvian tubers, Toussaint also found himself obliged to
service the white not so firm flesh of Lucy Langly, nights in
his cramped room and days in the even more cramped, spud-
stuffed pantry of the cook shop.
"Oh my dark snack!" Lucy was wont to cry as she was
overcome with intense bodily delight. As she had always been
a food enthusiast, such cries brought no reaction from her
husband, who was often in earshot during these encounters. Of
course, Toussaint knew that one could not cuckold forever
even the dullest bête and so derived little joy from these
strenuous sessions. He would always imagine amid her ecstasy
that one day soon his other head, harder and ever more valu-
able than the one between his legs, would be gracing Warden
Langly's pewter plate as that of St. Jean Baptiste had done
One Friday morning in a penitential mood, remembering
his Saviour's death on Calvary, he breaded some flaky white
flesh of cod and absentmidedly bathed it in boiling fat as he
would pomme frites. He did this for several Fridays running
until Lucy could not longer resist the temptation to taste
the golden coated fish even though she was afraid she'd be
struck down by the God of Abraham and Jacob, as she held
Friday fish-eating to be the height of Popish superstition.
A bite of fish followed by a bite of potato. Fish, Potato.
Fish. Potato. Potato. Fish. She swooned in ecstasy like a
love-starved maiden who had just been awakened by her
handsome prince. It was only with difficulty and a basin of
cold water to the face that Toussaint was able to revive her.
So it was that "fish and chips" were born as the dish came to
be called by the hungry inhabitants of Newgate. And they were
cooked and eaten every day of the week to avoid any hint of
Popish superstition or sedition. The fame of Ye Heavenly
Spudde Shoppe spread throughout the capital and soon even the
great merchants and Whig worthies were making the pilgrimage
to Newgate. The shop was expanded and chairs and tables and
servers were added. So it was that within a year Toussaint,
being entitled to a third share of the profits, grew wealthy,
The other two thirds went to Lucy and her husband although
Long John did little except snore and otherwise not interfere
with his wife's schemes. As an escaped slave, Toussaint
feared such notoriety would prove his undoing, so he hired a
lawyer who through well-placed intermediaries in the port of
Liverpool was able to purchase his freedom from Mr. Lyle for
the princely sum of £200. Although he found the idea of pur-
chasing his own God-given freedom offensive, he thought it
the better part of valour. Meanwhile, his partner Lucy had
bought a coach-and-four and had added a large extension onto
the warden's quarters.
The shop had been good to her and she would would have
been more than happy to have continued operating it in her
accustomed fashion. Now a freeman and free to act as he
would, Toussaint had grander ideas.
"I want us to go public," he announced boldly.
Lucy first flushed then grew deadly pale.
"Cor' Blimey! You want us to do it in front of the 'ole
neighborhood, you do?"
She held a hand over her eyes as if about to swoon.
"Pas du tout, mon bête blanc! I mean we should form a
corporation and sell stocks. I have been listening to our
customers. These rich Whigs, n'est-ce pas? One of them, a
Monsieur Winter, has come all the way from L'Irlande to eat
our poissons et pommes frites. He has convinced me that
incorporating is the most logical and least dangerous course
if we wish to protect our investment. You see, we are repon-
sible for what we cook. If a hundred customers choke on fish
bones from our poissons then we lose our fortune paying them
damages. The same is true if our lard becomes rancid and they
are empoisonnés by our poissons. It is we who must pay. Mon-
sieur Winter says that man was created by God, but that Adam
sinned and we suffer for it. Because of this Original Sin, we
are responsible for our actions. But the corporation is not a
creature of God but of man, specifically lawyers. A corpora-
tion is a Second Creation, as Monsieur Winter explains it,
a creation that is free of Sin and Guilt. Mon Dieu! If a
hundred of our customers choke on bones or are poisoned by
poissons, we personally will not have to go to the Poorhouse
in order to pay for the calamity. We have only to let this
merveilleux creation, the corporation, go banquerotte."
"Cor' Blimey! Sounds like black magic to me!" said
Lucy enthusiastically. "This 'ere Missure Winter is sure a
clever fella, ain't he?"
"Ah, Monsieur L'Hiver! he is coming again tonight. He
is bringing his partner with him," he explained. "They have
capital they wish to invest with us. mon grand choux. We can
expand our business all over."
Uriah Winter and his partner arrived on the stroke of
midnight just as the last customer was leaving the shop, his
front stained with fat but his face beaming with satisfact-
ion. While the waiter lifted the empty chairs on the tables
and swept the floor, which was littered with scraps of fish
and potatoes, Toussaint led his guests through the kitchen
into the warden's newly furnished parlour where Lucy awaited
Winter's partner was a tall man in a black cloak. He had
sharp features and wore a goatee on his chin. Two piercing
eyes stared out from under heavy eyebrows. He looked young in
a mature way and Lucy found him thoroughly handsome save for
his teeth which were like chips of coal, blue-black and
"Well, girl, you can't have everything," mumbled Lucy,
casting a furtive glance at the stranger's crotch.
"What is your friend's name?" she asked coyly.
"Mister Jack De Ville," answered the tall stranger. "At
Messieurs Winter and De Ville explained how they wished
to invest several thousand pounds sterling in Ye Heavenly
Spudde Shoppe. What they had in mind was to open a series of
these shops throughout London and in nearby "centers of
population," as Mr. De Ville put it, including Oxford,
Cambridge and the historic town of Canterbury. Lucy was very
taken by his way of talking.
"You want to set up a chaîne des restaurants," said
Toussaint enthusiastically. using a metaphor drawn from his
long experience as a slave.
"By Jove," said Winter. "That's it exactly. A chain of
restaurants! All serving the exact same delicious fish and
chips! Tons of it!"