Midwife to the Fairies (Continued)

by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

And it was on my conscience. It kept niggling at me all the time. I couldn’t sleep, I got so I couldn’t eat. I was all het up about it, in a terrible state really. Depressed, that’s what I was, me who was never depressedbefore in my life. And I’m telling no lie when I say I was on my way to the doctor for a prescription for Valium when I realised there was only one thing to do. So instead of going down to the surgery, didn’t I turn on my heeland walk over to the Garda barracks instead. I went in and I got to talking to the sergeant right away. Once I told them what it was all about there was no delaying. And he was very interested in what I had to say, of course, and asked me if I’dbe prepared to testify and I said of course I would. Which was the truth. I wouldn’t want to but I would if I had to. Once I’d gone this far, of course I would.

Well, I walked out of the Garda station a new woman. It was a great load off my chest. It was like being to confession and getting absolution for a mortal sin. Not that I’ve ever committed a mortler, of course. But you know what I mean. I felt relieved.

Well and good.

Well. You’ll never believe what happened to me next. I was just getting back to my car when a young fellow. . .I’d seen him somewhere before, I know that, but I couldn’t place him. He must have been the fellow that came for me on the night, Sean, but he didn’tlook quite like him. I just couldn’t place him at all. . .anyway, he was standing there, right in front of the car. I said hello, just in case I really did know him, just in case it really was him. But he said nothing.He just looked behind him to see if anyone was coming, and when he saw the coast was clear he just pulled out a big huge knife out of his breast pocket and pointed it at my stomach. He put the heart crossways in me. And then he says, in a real low voice, like a gangsterin "Hill Street Blues," or something:

"Keep your mouth shut. Or else!"

And then he pushed a hundred pounds into my hand and he went off.

I was in bits. I could hardly drive myself home with the shock. I told Joe of course. But he didn’t have a lot of sympathy for me.

"God Almighty, woman," he said, "what possessed you to go to the guards? You must be off your rocker. They’ll be arresting you next!"

Well, I’d had my lesson. The guards called for me the next week but I said nothing. I said I knew nothing and I’d never heard tell of them before, the family I mean. And there was nothing they could do, nothing. The sergeant hadn’t taken a statement from me, and that was his mistake and my good luckI suppose, because I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d testified. I told the priest about the lie to the guards, in confession, to a Carmelite in White Friar Street, not to any priest I know. And he said God would understand. "You did your best, and that’s all God will ask of you. He does not want of us thatwe put our own lives in danger."

There was a fair one day at Baile an Droichid. And this woman used to make market socks and used to wash them and scour them and take them to the fair and get them sold. She used to make them up in dozen bunches and sell them at so much the dozen.

And as she walked over the bridge there was a great blast of wind. And who should it be but the people of the hill, the wee folk! And she looked among them and saw among them the same man who had taken her on the mare’s back to see his wife.

"How are ye all? And how is the wife?" she said.

He stood and looked at her.

"Which eye do you see me with?" he asked.

"With the right eye," she said.

Before he said another word he raised his stick and struck her eye and knocked her eye out on the road.

"You’ll never see me again as long as you live," he said.

Sometimes I do think of the baby. She was a dawny little thing, there’s no two ways about it. She might have had a chance, in intensive care. But who am I to judge?