Girl Auction


Part 2

Molly is now called downstairs to be ‘inspected’ by the dreadful Paudhaun, aka

‘The Dacent Boy’ who is on the hunt for a slavey/wife . And his vicious mother? – I must mention her. And even their poor innocent house cat has been made savage!

When reading this tale, be aware that in those far days of doubtful birth registration, girls were often wed even younger than the legal marriage age – set disgracefully for girls at the tender age of twelve; for boys, fourteen.

…Now Molly is standing on the bottom stair-step, in the shadowy candle and fire-lit old farm kitchen; our narrator, her small sister, is hiding behind the bannister, watching and listening……

“C’mere, young wan,” the father snapped. Molly stepped down onto the kitchen floor. Stepped no further. As soon as her feet touched the flagstones, something utterly mysterious happened. It was a night of hard frost; there was a frigid stillness all over the world, yet suddenly, from nowhere, came a tiny whirling current of air – a very small sí gaoithe {shee-gee – ‘fairy wind’}. It riffled through Molly’s hair, then brushed the candle in Paudhaun’s jam-jar lantern – and out went the light.

“That tiny breeze – it seemed to have a faint glow about it – then swiped my face – softly, gently – as it spun its ghostly way up the twisting stairs. I then heard the windows panes in our room rattle lightly, as if some wee spirit was seeking to get away, to be out of this unhappy house.

Whatever strange entity had entered our home – drifted through our kitchen playing its own small games, and then eddying away out into the dark frigid fields – we were unafraid. Afterwards, we both felt the same way about it: maybe it was a little message from our dear mother – a reminder that love existed still, somewhere in our lives.

The two men hadn’t seemed to notice the strange zephyr; maybe they weren’t intended to. They only cursed the doused light. The candle was re-lit with a twig from the fire.

…”Go ahead, now, Paudhaun – she doesn’t look it, but she’s of age now, so nothin’ to stop you, boyo! Look all yiz wants to – yiz’ll be seeing a lot more of her soon, anyway,” laughed my father, using that coarse voice that always came on him in drink.

Molly still didn’t move. Not a muscle, not a shiver or shudder. You couldn’t say the same for me…

The Dacent Boy now moved over, right in front of her. You could almost hear the shrill cries and pipes, and smell the strange spices and aromas of an Eastern Slave Market.

He lowered the candle down, almost to her insteps, and then lifted the glimmering light slowly up along her body, lingering in a sickeningly obscene fashion over the full length – and the conjunction of – her legs. Up then along the cotton dress that clung to her hips and waist, and even more slowly on to the soft swelling outlines of her forming womanhood.

There was a sharp intake of breath – and the light swung away, sharply.

It hadn’t even reached the girl’s proud face. But her face, of course, was of no interest to him. And his glim never reached the russet brown hair – the loveliest jewel in the young life of Molly Connolly. He knew – but without caring – that she was staring coldly past him, her eyes fixed on a non-existent point, away behind him. A thousand miles behind him….

Molly, in spite of the horrible scene, effortlessly preserved her dignity – and didn’t ‘give an inch.’

“Well, what d’ya think now, Paudhaun?” asked my father, in that slleeveen-ish whiskey-voice of his. The Dacent Boy came back with just two words. Two ignorant, degrading words “She’ll do”.

Himself and my father now moved towards the door, muttering to each other. Then the clear cold voice of Molly spun them round. “Is the Fair over, then, father? How much did that lout bid for this animal you’re selling? Was he the only bloody bidder? “ In a sudden rush of drink-fuelled fury father roared “get back up to yer bed, yeh filthy-mouthed young tramp, yeh – I’ll soon be rid o’ yeh – snotty little bitch! Paudhaun’ll bloody fix yeh – he’ll put bloody manners on yeh!”

Molly didn’t know how near the mark she was about another bidder. There had been another suitor – but she knew nothing of his offer. She now held father’s bully-stare, until he broke; then she turned quietly and came up the stairs to the bedroom. I had just got in the door in time.

“You were listening – weren’t you?” she asked. I nodded. “No matter, I would have told you, anyway”. I started crying, but she gave me a hug – and a little shake. “None o’ that, now, Babsie – {my ‘pet’ name} – “did you hear everything? Bloody hell!” – {language, Molly!} – “did you see the way that filthy lutheraun looked me up and down? You’re too young to know, but that kind of look spells big trouble. He’s got me in his head now, and I’ll have to watch where I walk, what I do.

“Don’t think different, Babsie – that lad’s out to get me.. I could see it in his dirty feckin’ oul eyes. If he can grab me up that lonely lane that we have to travel, the brute can do anything he wants to me. And who’ll be around to save me – or naysay him? I’m ‘promised’ – and that’s it: fair game for him now, for the tramp.

“Make no mistake, Babsie – the ‘deal’ is done. Money has changed hands. I’m afraid now, but more for you than myself… who’ll look after you if I’m gone?….

To be continued……

Ned E.


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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