Girl Auction


Part 7

“I’ve explained to you that if father finds us out, he’ll have me locked up until he can get that Paudhaun swine married to me. If that happens, we’re both done for. Then who’d help you? And who would you have to give cheek to then – smart little Missy? I know it’s hard on you, Babsie – but it’s harder on me – we’re both goners if I get things wrong.

“Be Gránuaile, Babs – I know you can. Then we’ll get out of here. Go soft and cry-babyish, and you’ll end up with just father and Barker unntil you’re sent down the same road as me.”

This sharp statement by ‘Big Sis’ got through.

The seriousness of what was now starting to happen suddenly registered in the sharp brain of the cute little operator. This was not a game.

All her small life she’d tried – and mostly succeeded – in having ‘the last word.’

A sweetie she was, for sure, but many’s the time Molly silently rolled her eyes – and sympathised with whatever future poor fellow would be saddled with ‘Little Miss Smarty!’

Maybe better the Babs should be a nun? Great! But cripes! The poor pupils! Forget that one…

Anyway, even now, in spite of their looming travails – and travels – Babsie would still like to chip Molly over her secretive arrangements. But, wisely, she decided to let that one slip; for the present, anyway. And mainly because Molly – somewhat like a watchful sheepdog mother with a bold puppy – could deliver a very sharp nip indeed.

“Ah, well,” thought the fractious little maid, “I’d better look out. I’m sure she wouldn’t leave me behind … but I’d sooner not chance it!”

The house was gone very quiet now. Barker would be out in the hall, near the back door, and MeeMee huddled up on the hob, as close as was safe to the dying griosach in the grate. No doubt dreaming of slow mice: and her kitten-days – when Molly and Babs had saved her from certain death, after she’d been kicked to bits , all her bones broken, even her tail. Trying to eat cattle food when she was spotted, on the brink of death. Even now, her back legs so damaged and crooked she couldn’t jump up on a chair!

The children loved her very much – in the days when ‘love’ was more than the cliché it often is now – so over-used it mostly means zero.

So, in the dim weaving curling yellow light of the guttering tallow candle, Babsie sat, watching in wonder the arrangements Molly was making – and with even more amazement at the accoutrements pulled out from under her bed!

“Here, Babs,” go Molly, quietly, “help me untangle these ropes and sticks – we’ll lay it across from corner to corner – have it ready to drop. We’ll tie the top ends to my bed – shift that over to the window, last thing.” They worked silently, doing the untangling on the bed.

When this was done, and the ‘ladder’ carefully laid out flat on the floor, ready, they both changed into their ‘day clothes’ – which were basically one of everything.

No ‘dressing gowns or evening dresses’ – small stock indeed. Molly’s few decent ‘Sunday clothes were put in with Babsies dress, and that was that. Nothing else was travelling; old shoes were thrown in the corner. The less weight the better.

Babsie threw a longing glance at her few much-loved books. Then swung the gaze back to Molly. A hard look back – and that was it. She didn’t have to ask to know the unspoken answer:

“OK – the books – or MeeMee?” No contest.

Molly now, with her ears cocked, laid her finger to her lips. The sound came to them of their father rising up the stairs. Then shuffle along to the ‘far room’ at the end of the house. The clicks of the door opening, then closing. Soon the groan of the old springs. And then, at last, the echoing snortling snores.

“The last time we’ll have to listen to that ape, thank God.” said Molly. The Babs was a bit shocked at this. But could she disagree with the statement? Not really ….

The only sound downstairs was the lonesome chirp of the night-loving cricket, in the cracks of the stonework behind the fire. {A long gone sound now…}

The waiting was almost over…..

“Right, now, Babsie, this is where we begin. First of all, we’ll have to recover your bloomin’ MeeMee cat from the back of the fire. If that cranky puisín starts bawling and carrying on like she usually does if disturbed from her ‘beauty sleep’ – we’re in trouble.

“So if himself does wake up and go down to see what’s going on, just tell him you thought the Mee looked sick and pukey, and you’re bringing her up to look after her. “No, don’t, don’t – leave it to me – I’ll go down with you. “You’re no good at the lies, Babs – nor should you be. But the truth would land us both in more trouble than we could ever handle, ending up with me married to that wretch Paudhaun – and you stuck here on your own, with father.

“Just the odd time, Babs, sad an’ all as it is – truth can ruin you. This is such a time.” A very long speech from Molly, was this – but it needed saying. The junior miss had insisted on MeeMee travelling; Molly had known there’d be at least one request that she’d have to give in to. Arguing with ‘small sis’ could be exhausting – the junior Connolly sibling never ‘let go of her bone’ – until she had her little way! The ‘cat concession’ could be dangerous; but on this vital night in both their young lives – everything was. The father might well have already ordered ‘the Banns called’ for tomorrow – and then order her away to work at any tick of the clock for the ‘intended – and his hateful mother – until the ceremony. Money for drink was the main – the most powerful reason – for this fine decent daughter being set up for a life of squalid misery. But the soon-to-be ‘vanishing bride’ had a premonition – had felt in her bones all evening – that this night and time was fixed

in stone – was the best chance they’d ever get. Not a great one – maybe just ‘the least worst’ – but any later time would only be getting even more dangerous. Molly felt she had been given a sign, this very night. She felt that the spirit of her dear departed mother was with her, and would help them through.

“Right, let’s get to hell out of here, B!” she now says, urgently – and little sis gasps again at the tough new language! The house was silent, apart from the rootling snores down the back-end of the upstairs. The two girls now slipped quietly over to the door, opened it slowly, and peeped out. All clear. Time for the first of many silent, dangerous, moves….

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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