Girl Auction


Part 3

It’s a different way round with a bauhoc like Paudhaun: no right father would give his daughter – never mind a dowry – to such a wretch. So he has to pay. A dowry paid to get a girl into that smelly den – to cook and skivvy for that lutheraun – and his old badger of a mother? Out of the question. But for cash coming the other way? It’s happened to others, Babs – it’s happening to me. It was fast work, I can hardly believe how quick. Christ! The way that lad looked at me made my blood run cold.’’

“Any decent father would run the swine out of it at the point of a shotgun. But we haven’t got a decent father, the curse o’ hell on him – so it’s no good ravin’ on about it. Tonight, Babsie, peeping down into that dark kitchen, you saw two notorious dangerous b**t**ds.”

‘Cripes, Molly, you’re doin’ a woeful lot of swearin’! I never heard the likes from you before!’

“Did you ever see a strange pig in the house before, Babsie – or have an amadhaun shamble in to bargain for my living body? That question is your answer, girl: learn from it. That’s why I swore.

Because I was helpless. And I felt like doing more than cursing, down there.

“Babs – you didn’t know it – but I learned how to use that gun below, in the corner. That nice boy, Simon Flynn, told me about it one day when you were laid up with pneumonia, last year. He came by looking for a strayed bullock – so he said, anyway – and I asked him in for a cup of tea.

Couldn’t have done so, of course, if father was around; though small chance of that.

“Simon was sitting at the table, while I fanned the griosach under the kettle, and asked me if he could look at the gun. “Ah” he said, wonderingly – “a ladies weapon – a double-barrel .410! And a nice one, too. I’ve only seen one other: our parish priest – an odd lad but a good one – bought it for his housekeeper, Maggie Denny, to frighten crows away from the currant bushes, and scald crows from the chickens. Mags is a good old type, and let me have a few shots. Grand gun, light, no ‘kick’ at all. Very same as this one. Small – but they’d stop a lion in his tracks.”

So I asked him to show me how to use it. A bit cheeky, maybe – but he was the kind of young man we don’t see often – polite, well-mannered – made me feel easy asking him anything. We went out the back, and I tried several shots. He showed me how to tuck the stock into my shoulder, told me it wouldn’t hurt if I ‘held it firm.’ T’was far easier than I thought it’d be. For some reason, I’ve always thought I might need the knowledge – and help – of more than an ash plant, at some dire horrible time. God help me, but I looked at that gun several times, tonight.”

“Oh, Simon Flynn, ay?” I asked {ignoring the seriousness of our situation – and smirking a bit}!

“A well-mannered young man’, bejay! Why didn’t I hear about him before?”

“Well, missy – I have more important things to do now than satisfy your ‘little oul woman’s

curiosity,’ so I have” go Molly smartly, her eyes flashing – but with a bit of a blush. ‘More to this than meets the eye,’ said I, to myself. But there it had to end – for the present, anyway.

“That’s how I’ve had to think, since mammy passed away on us. She asked me, at the end, to try as hard as I could to look after you. I promised, and have kept my word, as well as I could. I think mam knew there’d be nobody for us, Babs. She found out too late what a lug she’d married, and I’m sure he was the death of her.

“When she was gone, I had nobody to advise me about dangerous times and places. She would have warned me about things such as swimming on our own down the river, like that hot day last summer. And it isn’t the fear of deep water at Elm Tree Hole I’m talking about.

“You didn’t see what I saw that day, Babsie. But it sure made me a careful girl, ever since.”


“If anything horrible comes our way,” Molly said, speaking very quietly, “father’ll either be drunk, or not here at all. So us ‘big talking’ would be no good – we’re just young defenceless girls. For such as we, this fine big world can suddenly turn deadly dangerous.

“I’d better say a few things, Babsie, tell you a few truths that you don’t know much about, while I wait for those two downstairs to finish their dirty bargaining; bad cess to ‘em, anyway. Just listen – hear me out: I’ll keep my voice low.

“Most men are as good as gold, Babsie – although tonight’s carry-on in the kitchen rather contradicts that. That crithacaun Dacent Boy below is certainly an exception. He’s fit for anything, believe you me – I’m not just name-calling – nor was I cursing – – for nothing.

“I saw him in the bushes, staring at us, down at the river last summer, when we were swimming in the ‘Elm Tree Hole.’ We had nothing much on, there being nobody about – as I thought.

“You were taking your turn on that old fallen tree, getting ready to jump back in at the deep bit, when I spotted him. I can tell you, I got a fair fright – mainly because there was nobody within a mile of us, and that browl had his clothes off – and he nowhere near the water!

“You probably remember snipping and snottying at me for suddenly dragging you out onto the far bank, just when we were having great fun – but I’d rather put up with you being chippy than stay there. I felt a chill of cold danger in the air, that lovely July day – and knew we’d better get away from there – and quick…

To be continued….

Ned E.

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