Girl Auction


Part 9

And in a flash – it was in her hands! ‘This’ she thought grimly, ‘changes things. I’ll have control, I’ll have the edge, no matter who shows up or what happens.’

With no telephones, and roads going in all directions from the Five-Crossroads a few miles away, they were in with a chance. Cutely enough she’d made sure to mention her ‘Auntie May in Kildare’ a few times lately in her father’s hearing – so that’s the way they’d most likely start tracking. If they could still walk normally, that is…

One of the main facts Molly was relying on was that neither Paudhaun nor her parent had any close friends – and almost certainly none that would engage in a running chase through the dark countryside, in order to capture two young girls who were brave enough to make a desperate break for freedom. Being a clever girl, she’d figured that most people would actually wish them well.

They’d see it as a drama, after all – and good folk everywhere in Ireland love the idea of brave little heroines escaping grim and dire servitude. But first, they had to get away from this wretched farm – this was the place of greatest danger. Capture here – and they were done for…

Now, at last, they turned their backs forever on the only home they’d ever known. Leaving for always the place redolent with happy, and lonesome, memories of their dead Mammy, for whom they both had a deep love – and who – in their deepest hearts – they expected to keep them safe, from her perch at ‘The Right Hand of God.’ Aye, that’s how they always dreamt of her – and that’s where they each secretly thought she was. They were, after all, only very young girls, with a

deep faith in the ability of Heaven-Folk to help out in an emergency. Which, as we cynics always think, is a very chancey hook indeed on which to hang your hat. But, religious thoughts can be of great solace in hard places, so we wish good luck to the girls, who believe in them. They might need all the help they can get, from any quarter, before this night is out.

They’ve had to leave the dear old Barker sheepdog behind. The father was, hopefully, still asleep in his room, unaware of the odyssey his little daughters were embarked on. The Paudhaun was {again, hopefully} – asleep in his rancid den. By now, the ‘fight-or-flight’ instinct that lurks in all humans when life or safety is threatened, had quite taken over the fifteen year-old. If anyone suddenly fronted up, they’d be in mortal danger. ‘Us or them,’ she thought, grimly. And quite right.

Nothing stirred along ahead, in the shadows of the skeochs and ash saplings. Babs brought up the rear, glancing back, constantly. No worries anymore about the Banshee – or the previously dreaded ‘Tub O’ Guts’ – that odorous green Slime-filled Ghostie-blob spectre – who {allegedly} empties the contents of his unspeakable intestines over the heads of nocturnal wanderers. As he reputedly only assailed ‘bold boys’ – so tagged by fed-up Mammys – he was thankfully off the list of this night’s terrors…

A thought suddenly struck Molly. She stopped, turned, and looked at ‘little sis’, who eyed her back, levelly – as per usual. “Babsie” she said wonderingly, “do you not feel the cold? I expected, given these old thin duds we’re wearing, our teeth’d be chattering to beat the band – yet I’m still at least as warm as I was in the house. You seem to be the same! Did you twig it that you’re warm, in spite of the frost?” The wee one thoughtfully rubbed her hands together, and felt her ears. “You’re right, sis – I don’t feel any chill at all. I didn’t notice that until you said. Maybe it’s down to the worry and care that’s on top of us. Maybe we’ll only feel it later. But one of us should surely be shaking – and that’s me. I’m always froze. No, this isn’t usual, Mollers.”

Molly fell silent for a few seconds. Then she said, slowly: “I think it’s Mammy helping us, Babs. I thought the cold would bite our bones as soon as we were out the window. Yet ne’er a shiver. Have you been saying prayers, Babs, by any chance?” A grin from the small soldier: “I’ve said more tonight than in all my ten years, Moll – for both of us! I included you – cos I’ll never be a piano-star – if you don’t get us through!”

Molly suddenly knew that they would get to their destination. With the courage of the little one, and the help of the Mammy – they’d get through.

The pair have now almost reached the old salley-apple tree that Molly had earlier mind-marked as the point where she’d change course for the Tree-Bridge.. This would mean an unavoidable crossing of the open field, still palely lit by a faint moon glow, and made far more visible by the hoar frosted make safer their escape over the Dungratton River. The famous ‘Tree Bridge’ was nothing but the narrow bole of a long-fallen white ash tree. Ne’er a rail or branch to help you. Keep your balance – in the frosty glim of the Milky Way – or in you go. We can only surmise her reason for bringing this strange concoction. No doubt we’ll find out…

With her small – but brave – sister, Babsie, who is watching the rear. {A dote is the Babs: but a wilful wee crank, too, when thwarted!} Molly has in her hands a Four Ten shotgun {The ‘Ladies Gun’ – the ‘Poachers Gun’} – which Bridie’s brother Simon had taught her {secretly} how to use. I’m sure he never envisaged her sending leaden messages towards anything other than a rabbit or a pigeon…

Hearing the steady trot of the Babsie close behind, Molly knew that sharp small lady would keep a very close watch to the rear. ‘After all’ she smiled to herself, ‘a certain budding piano-star’s future career depends on us coming out on top this night!’

Just as she thought this, the smile was wiped off her face by a sudden violent commotion!

From a small gap in the ditch on the left, a large figure burst out in front of her!…..

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 The count down clock ticks closer to “Let’s Team Up to Clean Up” weekend
Next Written in stone