It was the sort of night that made honest folk bar their doors and shut their windows tight, so they couldn’t hear the wind howling around the houses like banshees, or the sound of muffled hooves as the smugglers’ ponies went by. Out at sea, a small vessel was pitching and tossing in the turbulent waves, its sails hard reefed to slow its progress as it neared the shore. At last the lookout’s icy vigil was rewarded: ‘A light, a light, up on the cliff top on the port side.’
‘Prepare to lower the sails and throw out the anchor,’ the captain shouted, and the vessel came to a trembling halt. The crew rushed to undo the ropes holding the barrels filled with brandy, silks, tea and rare spices, ready to unload into rowing boats the village men had launched from the beach. The barrels were then loaded onto the backs of waiting ponies, who were led up the narrow track to the top of the cliff were Isaac Gulliver was waiting.
As dawn broke and the wind dropped, they heard the galloping hooves and clashes of steel of the approaching Revenue men.
‘Duck behind this hedge and stay quiet.’ Gulliver ordered. The men crouched, holding their own breathe and the ponies’ noses to stop them from neighing to the passing horses.