Part 12

His teeth now chattered, and – in the chill of this frigid night – a river of sweat broke from his pores – and then his nerve went, completely. Falling to his knees, he started jabbering words that Molly could only barely understand. Some sounded like “your mother” others like “didn’t mean any harm” and a few about “sorry” – but ‘sorry’ for what she couldn’t decipher. He didn’t mention the Dacent Boy. She couldn’t pick out any cogent words from the whining and snuffling. And didn’t want to. And cared nothing for a single word he gabbled. It was all too late. Everything between them of any value was gone, in ruins. Her only reaction to his collapse, reader, was sad acceptance that she now had him well and truly beaten. There was no joy in it, no triumphalism. Not too long ago, the last thing in life she would have wanted was her father being humiliated. That she was the instrument in doing so gave her no pleasure, only the numb realisation that, as of now, she and Babsie were ‘orphans.’

There could be no going back from this hard confrontation in this frozen field, where all that was now to be heard was the pained snuffling of an oinseach, and the soft warning growls of his captor – the new and strangely unworldly shep dog, Barker. No return to the grey stone farmhouse of bright mornings and sunny June afternoons. Nor to the iron silences that preceded the sullen belt or kick on the dreary midnight door, when the stumbling fool that was their once-loved father returned at last, well bellied-up with porter, pocket-picked and emptied by the vile home-breaking bookies…

All these images flashed before Molly’s unblinking eyes, as she stared down the man who fathered her. He’d only been prevented from showing his innate cheapness and love of scum company by the good pleadings and example of a great wife. But in the end, he was true to form, letting her down, letting her go. Bitterness at these hard thoughts permeated Molly’s consciousness, and she felt no compassion or sorrow for the creature who was now, for the first time ever, in her power. As much pressure as it would take to pluck a September pear – and he’d be gone. {Reader – I’m saying that – the good girl thought no such thing.} It seemed an age since she’d sent the Paudhaun and his gun flying, but it was only a few minutes. Like they say about your life flashing before your eyes when deaths dark door swings open for you – so did many things flash fleetingly past the sweet blue eyes of Molly Connolly. But, bygones have to always be so: they are events that will never come again, and cannot be rectified – only sorrowed over, and wistfully wished away into oblivion….

The Four Ten was still trained, implacably, on the suddenly very cowardly father. Easy to bully when you have the whip in your hand, and the law and the Church behind any foul plan you come up with to ransom your little girl’s body and mind away to a Neanderthal brute, and his shrieking witch of a mother. Different altogether when that admirable young lady drastically turns the tables – and you’re suddenly hoping she hasn’t inherited too much of the b**t***s blood that courses sluggishly and darkly through your own rapidly-narrowing old arteries.

The faint light still about – more a starlight reflection from the white-rimed grass than the residue of the fallen moon – didn’t show his daughter’s eyes. He was glad of that. If something was going to happen, he didn’t want to see the eyes of her mother looking down from the sweet face of Molly Connolly – for the two were what is called ‘peas in a pod.’ However beastly he’d been, that he couldn’t handle – blue eyes staring down the sights of a gunbarrel, before a flash of white light ended it all. Let it come out of the dark, no warning, no last thought that this was the terrible end he’d so recklessly and brutally brought upon himself.

At last, Molly lifted the gun back to ‘high port.’ There was never a thought in her head to do the thing her father feared. The Paudhaun she didn’t give a hang about. Even his exit from the world of the living wouldn’t cost her a night’s sleep. What he’d have done to her if he’d got his way made her shudder with disgust. The thought that she might be saving some innocent virtuous girl from a life of degradation crossed her mind. But, there was no fear of the local cuties suffering such a fate. They all had good Mammys, and Daddy’s who’d run a pitchfork or sprong into the ‘Dacent’ if he even came in their haggard gate. Only in the direst circumstance would she have ‘pulled central’ on her daddy. And then who knows what would happen. Though she’d already thought that one out a bit, and had decided she’d leave the weapon beside him, and let whoever found him conclude he’d ‘done th’oul job’ on himself. But he’d surely be the cause of a search for the two girls, as nobody would have any idea where they were. Ponds would be searched, bogs and woods would be combed, anyone of low nature would be ‘visited.’ They might just be found. And Babsie would be the weak link, with her dislike for lies – even in her own interests. Molly wasn’t a liar – but whatever it took to reach freedom – well, she’d use or do.

Behind Molly, the snarling of Barker and sobs of Paudhaun had somewhat subsided. Over her shoulder, she spoke to Babs, out of the corner of her mouth: “How are things there, Babsie? Is everything all right?” A little hand touched her back: “Good as gold, Mollers – the Barker has things well under control. The P might need a doctor sometime soon, but sure that’s his problem! Carry on, Moll – I’ll yell if anything goes wrong – but the Barker won’t let that happen.”

The elder Connolly girl now looked down at her father, cowering on the frozen grass. All of a sudden, she wanted rid of him, wanted him gone out of her life, wanted the flower of her young life to start and grow again, in some far sweet garden. Away from this old dreary place, that no longer held any charm or loveliness. Two things she’d miss if herself and Babsie ‘made it through.’ One was the dear old Barker – about whose present form she was justifiably very puzzled indeed – and the other was her regular visit to the Mammy’s grave, beside the ivied back wall in the old cemetery. Having looked down the barrel of a gun at her father, she was all at sea in her emotions. How could a girl pull a gun on her father? How had it ever came to this? In her dreamy night fantasies, it had always been a prince of the far realms who would come to rescue her from the dire chains of poverty. A prince with golden hair, on a white charger, who’d pick her up from the endless drudgery that was the lot of a million girls. Most of whom would never see a beautiful picture, feel a sable or mink fur on their virginal creamy shoulders, or find a tall handsome hero to the foot of their waking bed, waiting to bear them away to the land of golden clouds and silver dawns.

Now it was all over. The hopes that had long survived – in the face of hard reality – were going away again, fading into time and moss, fraying like the leaves in November, wilting and waltzing away into crazy nowhere-land. Who to turn to? Molly knew that her mind had started to wander, that the night’s events were closing down her brain, that she’d have to get a grip……

To be continued….



The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of The Kilkenny Observer.


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