Part 14

The dadser is showing slight signs of remorse at his treatment of the girls, since their mother died. Whether he is genuine in these expressions or not – only time will tell…

Molly had just been thinking that however things went, ‘the Babs would make a fair fist of things – probably better than herself’ – when the father suddenly surprised her with a quiet warning – spoken completely without hostility: which was amazing: “Mollers – don’t be too sure you’ve seen the last of the Dacent Boy.”

Aye, her mind had just been straying back to her resolute little sister, standing just behind her, watching out for the dire Paudhaun – although they were both sure he’d legged it for his mammy’s place.

Now, she had to take on board this unexpected warning about Paudhaun. Even more strange was her father’s retreat from bluster and threat. But Paudhaun was the big worry. She had only one cartridge – even if she decided to use it – which we’re not sure of. If the Paudhaun returned – she could only ‘wing’ one of them. Then they were done for. Either man was easily capable of capturing both of them – would only have to grab one – and the other couldn’t – and wouldn’t – leave the field All these images flashed before Molly’s unblinking eyes, as she stared hard the man who fathered her. He’d only ever been prevented from completely 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, more or less helping her on her way….

Bitterness at these sad 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 trigger-pressure as it would take to pluck a September rose – and he’d be gone.

Now – the problem: fight or flight? She cursed herself for not taking an extra few cartridges. What to do? They couldn’t all hold position out in this Siberian bloody field. She also didn’t know how long the aura of warmth would last – it could switch off any tick of the clock – then they were in big trouble: only movement would keep a bit of life in them then. So, she spoke to her father. “Mr Connolly” {this hurt him, genuinely} – “Turn your face from me for a second or two.” Fear took over Mikey then, and in a trembling voice he pleaded “you’re not going to shoot your daddy in the back, are you, girl? You couldn’t be that bad, surely?” “Just turn around, Mikey – or you’ll only have the one leg to do it on! And don’t look back at me! Do it!” Seeing the Four Ten suddenly deflecting downwards, he gulped – and obeyed. Turned, slowly. As soon as he was completely facing away, he heard the metallic snap as Molly ‘broke’ {opened} the shotgun. He knew the sound well – but any action noise from the weapon was welcome: it was noise that he’d never hear that frightened him.

A few seconds, then a small slap of metal as the gun was closed up again. We know, reader, that Molly Connolly would never fire a fatal shot at her father. But he didn’t. Which was no bad thing. What with having heard her blow the big scian away out of the Paudhaun’s paw – and how quick she was to throw down on him – and all this nasty ‘Mr Mikey Connolly’ stuff – and the lip of her! He felt he knew nothing at all about this daughter. ‘But one good sure thing – God Bless the Mark! – was that it’s not the Babs who’s the oldest – I could be in real trouble then! No ‘go back’ at all in that one!’

Aye, he was thinking clear enough, now: and she’d obviously broken the breech to shove a fresh cartridge into the right barrel. ‘Cripes! My big mouth! Mentioning the Paudhaun! That’s why she’s reloaded!’ Now came the ‘click’ as a hammer was thumbed back. A terrible sound. Fear took him over, again. As it was probably meant to. “Turn around, Mr Connolly” came the chilly order. He did. Slowly. Carefully. as you do in such situations… The weapon was once more horizontal: but ideas of a ‘rush’ were long gone from his head. His days of gambling had taught him one sure thing: when an adversary held all the top cards – quit.

Fleeting regrets are now flickering through his mind, regarding his {ill}-treatment of their deceased mother. And the gambling and drinking away of money that could have made their little lives a lot less hard, a lot more more bearable.

Anyway, Molly is now sick of the sight of him. His loutish selfishness had been bad enough: this cringeing wasn’t much better. Funny; she’d never taken him for a coward – until now. So, he should have been mightily relieved when Molly suddenly – out of the blue – says to him: “Mikey Connolly! Boyo – it’s time you weren’t here!” He could go! Life wasn’t going to end! But this strange scene – two little girls, a strange ghostly shepdog – the Paudhaun wounded – a gun in the dim starlight – his daughter holding it trained on him – he at her mercy: who could have imagined it? There was no warmth in daughters’ voice. Yes, he knew he was free to go, in safety. But, oddly, he didn’t want to run away. Not because of bravado, or Dutch courage. Mikey had never dreamt that life would come to this kind of pass. That day he’d be alone in the world. The same as nobody dreams of death. Not pleasant subjects. Now, with the girls gone, life would be a lot colder, a lot bleaker. Rogue as he was, they gave him many small pleasures. Why hadn’t he been kinder to them? Well, that was an un-answerable one. Like us all – maybe he didn’t know the luck he had: now it had run out. But, starting

this late-on to show regrets and sorrow would make him look a fair hypocrite. Then again – this was his last chance to leave them with some kind of good memory of him. One thing he knew: they would never return to the house. So, he looked straight at his eldest girl, who’d lowered the muzzle of the Four Ten towards the ground. But it was still ‘cocked.’ “Molly, I know you won’t believe me, but I am sorry I wasn’t better to you two. I can tell it’s all over, but I wish it wasn’t. Is there anything I can say that would do any good.” Before Molly could answer, a small firm response came – from Babsie. “Yes, father, there is something you could say that would help.” Great! Help from the wilful one! He was amazed! “Right, Babsie – what can I say that will improve things, girlie?” Silence for a few seconds, then the clear small voice came again: “You can say ‘Goodbye,’ father.”

To be continued….


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