‘Hi,’ he said.
The girl turned around. She had flaming red hair and was solidly built. ‘Hi. I hope I’m not trespassing on anyone’s land?’
Kevin shook his head. ‘It’s played on most of the year. I’m Kevin O’Kelly.’ He stuck out his hand.
The girl took it. ‘Clare Fitzgerald.’
Kevin looked at her strangely. ‘You wouldn’t be related to Assumpta Fitzgerald would you?’
Clare nodded. ‘She’s my cousin. Do you know her?’
‘Yeah. This is her dog, Fionn.’
‘My parents died three weeks ago. She is my only living relative. I just travelled here from Australia.’
‘I’m sorry about your parents,’ Kevin said. ‘Listen, I have to take Fionn back. Do you want to come?’
Assumpta was juggling a plate of sandwiches in one hand and James in the other hand when Siobhan arrived.
‘Hi Assumpta. Do you want me to hold onto him for a minute?’
‘Thanks Siobhan. Peter’s unloading the rest of the stuff from the car.’
Siobhan took James and started rocking him when Kevin and Clare entered.
‘How are you Assumpta?’ Kevin asked.
‘Good thanks Kevin. Did you have a nice walk?’
Kevin nodded. ‘I got you a customer too.’
Assumpta smiled. ‘How are you?’ she asked Clare.
‘Are you Assumpta Fitzgerald?’
‘I’m Clare. Um, there was supposed to be a letter sent to you but the lawyers said that the Irish post is almost as bad as the Australian one so they gave me a letter to give to you.’ Clare handed her the letter.
Assumpta raised her eyebrow and took the letter. She skimmed the first few sentences. ‘You better come into the kitchen,’ Assumpta asked.
Peter raised an eyebrow at the newcomer in the kitchen.
‘Go and see how Siobhan is doing with James,’ Assumpta told him.
Peter nodded and left.
‘Well, so I am your only living relative?’
‘Although we’ve never met, I have heard a lot about you.’
‘Dad said that apart from me and Mum you were the prettiest girl in Ireland. He said you took after my aunt in looks.’
Assumpta smiled. ‘What am I going to do with you?’
‘I’m happy to work for my board. I’ve been working in pubs since I was ten.’
‘I’m not going to make you pay. And you will stay here. I think I’d like having a teenage girl.’
Clare smiled. ‘Thanks Assumpta.’
It had been five weeks since Clare had arrived. Peter had taken to Clare
kindly. So did the rest of the regulars. But, strangely enough, Fr Mac
and Kathleen disliked her as much as they did Assumpta. And Clare returned
it. Kevin and Clare had instantly
become best friends and played together on the football team.
‘Good morning Clare,’ Peter smiled, entering the kitchen.
‘Morning Peter. Is James still asleep?’
Peter nodded. ‘So’s Assumpta. Not surprising since James kept us up half of last night.’
Clare smiled. ‘He does have a pair of lungs on him.’
Kevin came in the back door. ‘Morning Peter, Clare. I was, uh, going to take Fionn for a walk. Do you want to come?’
Clare turned to Peter.
‘Go,’ he said. ‘They won’t be awake for ages.’
Clare smiled. ‘I’ll just get my jacket.’
‘Kieran, that’s not for playing with,’ Niamh groaned, taking his lunch off of him. She wiped him with a dishcloth.
‘Kieran still playing with his food?’ Ambrose asked.
‘You don’t set a very good example,’ Niamh replied, gesturing to him playing with his peas.
‘Water looks cold today,’ Clare said, gesturing to the Angel.
Kevin nodded. ‘You wouldn’t want to get splashed with it.’
Clare sent him a look. ‘Don’t even think about it Kevin O’Kelly.’
‘Or what Clare Fitzgerald?’
‘Or...,’ Clare splashed him with water.
‘Right that’s it!’ Kevin cried.
Soon an all scale water fight was on. Neither of them noticed Brendan fishing and splashed him.
They both solemned at once. ‘Mr Kearney,’ Kevin said.
‘Mr Kearney,’ Clare echoed.
‘Do you mind telling me what that was about?’ Brendan asked.
‘Sorry Mr Kearney. We didn’t know you were there. We were just fooling around,’ Kevin explained.
‘Well, go fool around further away. Understood?’
They both nodded.
Assumpta and James were awake when they arrived back.
‘What on earth happened to you two?’ Assumpta asked, as Peter hugged her from behind.
‘Uh, a little disagreement,’ Clare laughed as she and Kevin enjoyed their little joke.
Assumpta raised an eyebrow. ‘Well, go upstairs and dry off. The both of you.’
Brendan entered the bar. ‘Assumpta? Peter?’
Assumpta came out. ‘What’ll it be?’
‘What happened to you?’ Peter asked, gesturing to his damp shirt.
‘I had a run in with Clare and Kevin down at the Angel.’
Peter and Assumpta shared a look.
The two in question came back downstairs. ‘Hi Mr Kearney,’ they mumbled.
‘What are you two up to?’ Brendan asked.
‘Well, if it’s okay with Assumpta and Peter, Kevin’s got some videos.....’ Clare said.
Peter nodded. ‘Have fun.’
Brendan shook his head as they left. ‘I can never quite get over those two.’
‘What?’ Assumpta asked, rocking James.
‘The dynamics of their relationship.’
Assumpta raised an eyebrow.
‘You know what I mean Assumpta. If they’re in it at all, they’re in it together.’
‘Have your coffee Brendan,’ Assumpta told him.
‘What is that?’ Donal asked Liam.
‘Well what do you think it is you eedjit?’ Liam asked, holding the object up for scrutiny. ‘Listen Donal, we’ve got to tell Mr Quigley.’
‘You can do it,’ Donal offered.
The next day, at the school, Clare and Kevin were kicking a ball around with some other kids when Thomas Gogan came up and caught the ball. He played around with it, staring at Clare intently.
‘What do you want Gogan?’ Clare asked.
Thomas smiled. ‘I know all about your family Fitzgerald.’
‘I know how your cousin seduced......’
That was as far as he got before Clare began pounding him. Before long, Clare and Kevin were involved in a full scale fight with Thomas and his friend. Brendan came up and pulled Thomas and Clare apart. ‘What’s going on?’
Clare remained silent.
‘I think we’ll have to take you two down to Fitzgerald’s.'
Brendan rang Michael Ryan to see to Thomas who had a suspected broken nose.
Assumpta was pulling Padraig a pint while Peter was rocking James when Brendan brought Kevin and Clare in.
‘What’s going on?’ Padraig asked.
‘These two were involved in a large fight. Clare the most. Neither will tell me what it was about.’
Assumpta looked at Clare who remained silent.
‘Kevin?’ Padraig asked.
‘It was nothing.’
‘I’m suspending the two of them for the rest of the day. And Assumpta, you might like to know that Thomas Gogan has a broken nose thanks to Clare.’
‘Wonderful,’ she muttered.
Clare went upstairs.
‘I’ll put him down,’ Assumpta said, taking James from Peter. ‘And I’ll talk to her then.’
‘Mr Quigley!’ Liam cried.
‘What?’ Brian asked, agitated.
‘We found another one,’ Donal said quietly.
Brian’s face went grave.
Assumpta found Clare in her room, playing her bodhran.’Want to tell me what it was all about?’ Assumpta asked, sitting next to her.
‘Nothing,’ Clare replied, putting her bodhran down.
‘Come on Clare. I know enough from my fighting days to know that you don’t fight over nothing.’
‘He just said something.’
‘That you seduced Peter out of priesthood.’
‘Clare, you fought him for something I did?’
‘You and Peter told me what happened. You didn’t seduce him. You both fell in love. Gogan had no right to say that.’
Assumpta smiled. ‘A broken nose eh?’
Clare looked at her and smiled. ‘Mrs Hendley’s not going to talk to you. Association with a thug and all.’
Assumpta put an arm around her. ‘I’ll tell you a secret. Kathleen doesn’t speak to me now!’
‘Mr Clifford,’ Kathleen said tartly, entering the pub.
Peter looked up from where he was washing up. ‘Good afternoon Kathleen. What can I do for you?’
‘I want to speak to that girl that lives here.’
‘Now Kathleen there are two girls who live here, you’ll have to be specific.’
‘The vicious thug that hurt my poor Tommy.’
‘Oh right. Padraig watch the till for me. I’ll just go get her Kathleen.’
‘No need,’ Assumpta, said, coming down with Clare following her.
‘Good afternoon Mrs Hendley,’ Clare said, smiling sweetly.
Kathleen frowned. ‘Why did you beat up my poor Tommy?’
‘He was being very offensive.’
‘Yes Mrs Hendley. I thought it was shocking that your grand nephew was
being offensive to good members of the Ballykissangel community. I mean,
if he had just been leaving people nameless, I could have tolerated but
to name them in front of the
young and innocent children of our time! I couldn’t let him go. I mean he even suggested that you were the village gossip!’
‘Shocking,’ Kathleen said, slowly going red.
‘I thought so too. That is something in our community that cannot be tolerated. Insulting the name of a well-respected Catholic woman is untolerable.’
‘Well, I must go and have a good talk with him,’ Kathleen muttered, leaving with a shred of dignity.
‘Nice speech,’ Peter nodded at her.
‘Comes from living in a pub most of your life. Hearing the old drunks sweet talking their way out of being booked.’ Clare smiled. ‘Village gossip indeed!’