Girl Auction


Part 17

Now, deep in Bilzies Wood, the two girls move silently, one each side of the phantom ‘Barker’. The Mollers now has the Four Ten shotgun at military ‘high port’ – and will unhesitatingly riddle any human – or spectral – enemy who shows up. If – and it’s a big ‘if’ – she sees it in time. The gloom on the Hazel Path is such that only a silhouette against the faint starlight could be defined. But, the girls hope, Mr Madra may have a few tricks up his doggy sleeve – so to speak.

They have stopped for a few minutes, listening and trying to sense any danger that might just be lurking in the skeoch and briary undergrowth, or standing sideways amongst the birches.

On their collective minds, of course, was the Dacent Boy, and his infamously witchy oul ma. The Dacent has been – and still is – on the prowl, trying to win back Molly, who was ‘traded’ to him for some shiny sovereigns, by her drunken old father.

Now the Dacent Boy was on his way – again – to ambush them. This they had all guessed, even after the madra tore lumps out of him in the Five Acre, and sent him scooting howlingly across the rushy bogs after the Salley Tree battle.

The four travellers had no idea where the next attack would come from. Molly thought it could be right here, in the darkest part of the wood. Babsie mused silently that he might be

waiting near the Long Road stile – which was their target. The road ditch it sat on was an insurmountable skeoch-bush barricade, that ran from the Dungratton River to the ‘Glory’ – another fast flowing torrent. So, that was Babsie’s guess.

The Dacent Boy had now crossed over the two-arch Dungratton Bridge, and was once

again out in the frozen fields, tracking relentlessly – slow and silent and sly and savage – towards the southern edge of Bilzies Wood. Dacent had figured out roughly the time it would have taken the small band to get through to the stile, and guessed – very accurately – that they were about half-way there. Up the spouts of the double barrel Purdey he carried – stuffed with many heavy black leaden messengers of death – rested two cartridges, each sleeping hale and handy in its own comfy blue’d-steel chamber…

Now ma Dacent, who – unknown to any of the tiny band in Bilzies Wood – had more than a passing knowledge of Molly Connolly’s innocent friendship with Simon Flynn. In case you’ve forgotten, reader, he was the handsome young fellow who’d tutored the Mollers in the use of the Four Ten shotgun – back on a summer day that seems like ancient history….

This sound and innocent lad was now very firmly in the sights of the oul Wiccy ma. Somehow, she’d sensed that he was associated with the runaways – and that he would figure in this night’s proceedings – and might just be the unknown quantity that would get the girls clear of their current dangerous station. But ma D suddenly realised she had big probs! Her list of evil spells were specifically targeted at — dark-haired people! And Simon’s wavy hair was gloriously flaming red! “Oh, jaypers!” she croaked savagely, “Oh, Nick’s knickers to it!

The Dacent moves now with great silence through the saplings and whin bushes on the edge of the Bilzies, estimating that he’d intersect the runaway’s path somewhere short of the stile.

Dacent was cute enough to know that the area close up to the outlet from the Hazel Path would be closely studied by that ‘bl**dy hound.’ “Cursa Nick on all Holy Canines” he go, in a sudden slouch of rage.’ Now he has started to decipher a few of the shadowy images that are twisting, like black crows in the wind, inside in his one-donkey-power mind. Something dark and sinuous, and extremely sinister, is gradually emerging from the moiling background of his fragmented thoughts. What can he see, in his mind’s eye? He sits down on an old tree stump, tries to collect the very few thoughts available to him. ‘A shepdog I needs’ he

grumbled to himself, ‘to round up me addled thinkies!’ Now the shape in his mind becomes clearer. A pair of strange orangey-yellow eyes swim out of the dark mists occupying most of his ‘headquarters.’ Dacent closes his eyes, tries to draw more of the apparition into conscious thought, into describable shape. Suddenly, an increase in “legibility” – if we can call it

that. He spots a weird foggy image of a dangerous-looking head slowly materialising from the dark shades in the back of his brain. A gently swirling shape – like black clouds twisting,

mingling and moiling with each other on a stormy day – was now closing up on those frightening blazing lamp-like eyes – which were becoming increasingly slit – and a strange cold golden fire burning in their bottomless depths. “Cripes, ma – what the Divil are you up to? Go aisy – g’way oura that, ya ghoully Ghostie yoke!! I mean, ma!”

The Dacent is beginning to wonder if catching a bride is always such a difficult and dangerous project! “Cripes! tis a wonder anyone gets shackled, so it is!” All he has to go on

– is his own experience of this one {not-the-least-bit-romantic} chase.

Meanwhile, on the Hazel Path, there was a small conference. Well, a word between Milly and the Babsie – who seemed to be able to interpret the ghost madra’s little growls and info-snarls. They were trying to figure what plan to use, as they expected a Dacent assault at any minute. The madra had a ‘sixth sense’ which told him that an evil spirit was abroad in Bilzies Wood this dangerous night. The girls were aware that Dacent would do anything to get the

Mollers, and that his ma was sure to pull in on his side with her box – or cauldron – of black magic tricks. Molly knew one basic fact: Big M had ne’er a clue – any more than themselves – about what dire weapons they’d have to defend against! He’d probably find out a few seconds before the two girls: not much time, folks – but quick enough to raise a weapon to ‘High port’ – and that might be the vital edge that would save them.

For the present, anyway…

To be continued….


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




Previous Farewell to the coal market as Parliament House is demolished
Next The Miracle on Bridge Street