“No,” thundered another voice I recognised. Bastard Jacob was back on top of my list. “She’s bidding with my money and I don’t authorise that bid,” he shouted to the auctioneer. There was a scuffle at the back and Jacob hurried away dragging Jilly with him. The auctioneer waited until they had left.
“Kneel,” said a voice from behind me. I knelt, keeping my arms in the air.
“Will anyone start the bidding with £50?”
Fifty quid? That auctioneer was now on the list. That’s just insulting.
Someone bid £50 and my auction was underway. My price rose to £25,000 fairly quickly but tailed off there. The auctioneer looked round. “Any more bids?” he asked.
“Thirty thousand,” announced a new bidder from the middle. I got a good look at him. Forty-ish, farmer type, flat cap. He looked confident. I didn’t like him.
“Why’re you bidding for that you burke?” This other guy was fairly close to flat cap. Another farmer type, but this one was old and wizened. Seventyish was my estimate. Small, slender and wiry. He looked like a typical hill farmer. One who works hard every day of his life and drops dead while working, with no warning whatsoever. He implied he would sell me on quickly, but I was already above his budget. Would I get a chance if he bought me? I couldn’t work it out. Things were happening so fast.
Flat cap stared at him with hate in his eyes. These two were enemies. Can I play on that? I lowered my arms and immediately received a shock, a small reminder shock, on my arse. My arms raised themselves.
“Are you really that stupid?” Flat cap said to hill farmer. Look at her details. It would be a negligible cost to add tits and arse and amend her face and that’d pay for itself many times over in a year’s time. Use that time to train her to within an inch of her life and you’re done.”
I wondered why the auctioneer was letting this argument go on. These two must be known around here. They must have money as well. Or, one of them has the money. An auctioneer wouldn’t stop an auction for anything less. At least one of these bastards was important to the auctioneer.
Hilly sneered. “Fast profits are far safer. What’ll happen if she dies? Or if she doesn’t train up? That’s possible you know. Or don’t you know that?”
“Fuck off you old git.” Flat cap turned his eyes back to the front.
What a witty rejoinder. I could do better than that. I reckoned I could work this one. Not the other one though.
“Thirty five thousand,” said Hilly before the auctioneer could restart the auction.
“Forty,” answered flat cap immediately. This was a grudge match. I’ve heard of them. It’s possible for bidders to get so wrapped up in the auction grudge they forget budgets and everything except outbidding the other. What did this mean for me? I didn’t know. It was happening too fast for me to think.
“Forty five.” An immediate response from Hilly.
“Fifty.” The auctioneer didn’t interfere. If they were going to leave him out of it while they bid themselves into a frenzy, then, so be it.
“Sixty.” As soon as flat cap said that he seemed to shudder and realise what he had done.
“Sixty five.” Hilly smirked at flat cap, who turned puce. There was a pause.
‘Oh shite,’ I thought when the bidding stopped.
The auctioneer eventually filled it. “We have a bid of sixty five thousand,” he announced. “Are there any more bids?” He looked at flat cap who stared back but said nothing. Then he looked round the crowd.
He was just about to sell me when flat cap shouted, “Seventy thousand,” in a tone that said, no more. He looked round at Hilly, who smirked back at him as if to say, ‘I made you bid seventy thou. Now what’re you going to do?’
I started to congratulate myself. If flat cap could lose his mind so easily, then I stood a good chance of getting out of this.
I had a problem. There was a reserve price of £75,000 on this one, but I had auctioneer’s privilege. I could sell her at £70 thou and normally I would. But Mr. Coleman looks as if he’s about to burst. I bet old Connors deliberately did that. Normally I’d sell, but Mr. Coleman is a great friend of this auction, but so is Mrs. Potts, the seller. Mr. Connor is not.
I came to a decision.
“No sale. Reserve price not reached.” Mr. Coleman looked greatly relieved and Connors looked annoyed. I’d made the right decision. I’d refund Mrs. Potts her fees as well, but privately. That should take the sting out of her anger and hopefully, she’ll continue to use us.
That pleased the crowd all right. Those two must have been at it before. But I couldn’t work out whether or not that was in my favour. What would Modesty say? She’d say, ‘Start again from where you are now,’—that’s what she’d say. I thought all that as I was bundled out and reshackled by the goons. They gave me no chance and, believe me, I’d have taken even the smallest chance. I’d have preferred to die there and then than go on with this. But Modesty said I had to go on and find another advantage, so I tried to think positive. That was very difficult, but I did try.
Eventually, after a few hours chained to a post in what had to be a holding area, the bint Veronica took charge of me again.
She was guiding me to somewhere, presumably some sort of transport, when a voice I never wanted to hear again called out “Excuse me, Mrs. Potts.”
The bint told me to stop and we stood and waited for Jacob the cunt to approach.
“I do apologise for disturbing you Mrs. Potts, but, if you don’t mind, I’d like a word with you about your property here.” He meant me. I told you he was a cunt.
She smiled at him. “No problem at all Mr. York. What can I do for you?”
“Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve been told you are unhappy with the auction of your property this morning. I did hear it didn’t reach your reserve price, but it was within auctioneer’s discretion and he chose not to sell. The bid then was at seventy thousand pounds. If that’s true, can I assume your reserve was at seventy five thousand?”
Oh for fuck’s sake I wished they’d get on with it. I was very tired. I’d been up all night and the bint had had the goons add on extra chains for her protection. They were digging in and they were getting very heavy.
“Yes,” she answered.
“Well, in that case, I’d like to make you an offer of the full seventy five thousand for her.” He looked like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
‘Tell him to fuck off,’ I mentally screamed at her.
She paused, then smiled. “I have to tell you that the auctioneer refunded my auction fees. So, I’ll sell her at seventy thousand.”
He beamed. “Thank you indeed Mrs. Potts. You are very honest. Will you want to hold on to her while I have my manager pay your fee?”
‘Of course you do you stupid twat. He’s twisted. Can’t you see that?’ I may have been a little incoherent just then.
“Of course not Mr. York. You’re well known as a man of your word. Here’s my card. Please have your manager transfer my fee on Monday. There’s no need to get the poor man to work on a weekend.”
“You are most gracious Mrs Potts.” He said this as he beckoned a couple of goons over.
“Please transfer this cargo to my transport,” he instructed them. They actually touched their forelocks in their desire to follow his orders.
I didn’t like this. ‘Keep your spirits up girl,’ I told myself. ‘There’s bound to be something I can exploit. I just have to wait for it to happen. Then, I’ll kill the bastard.’
They came to see me the next afternoon. All dressed up for a Sunday’s afternoon’s convivial conversation. Jacob York and Abbey Cornish came into the stable where I was shackled inside a horse’s stall. I suppose I was honoured the fucking horse wasn’t in there with me. At least I’d been fed and watered and had a bucket for other necessary functions. The stable girls seemed to be well used to non-horses in their charge. Not one of them came anywhere near me except where absolutely necessary. They didn’t talk.
“Here she is Abbey,” said the civilized bastard. “All ready for you. Will you be able to take her today?”
“Yes. I did come prepared,” the bint answered. So that’s how it was. The bint was going to train me. Good luck with that, cunt.
Then there was the sound of a galloping horse and the dulcet tones of another voice I recognised reached our ears. My host turned around saying, “Hello Jilly. I didn’t know you were coming today.”
“Just thought I’d stop by after the gallop, don’t you know.” Her voice tailed off when she saw me. “Jacob. You bought her?”
He smiled at her. “Yes, I bought her. And at thirty thousand less than your starting bid.”
“Oh poo,” Jilly answered. “What’s thirty thou?” She said this as she approached me, whip in hand. This was going to hurt.
Jacob stopped her though. “Not now Jilly. Abbey here is going to train her for me. She’s taking her away tonight and I don’t want Abbey to have to deal with wounds from this establishment.”
I always thought the phrase ‘looking down your nose’ was just a figure of speech, but Jilly tilted her head back and literally looked down her nose at Abbey. I remembered that scene. Perhaps I could use it later.
“Oh yes?” said Jilly, with a voice straight from the haughtiness shop. “I don’t approve.”
“Well, I do and that’s that.” I was getting used to Jacob’s mannerisms and thought he was starting to sound annoyed.
‘Good,’ I thought. Maybe I can add just a little bit to the tension around here. I stared at Jilly with a smirk on my face. Jilly’s lips pursed when she saw me. Silently she turned and strode off to the main house. I, naturally, hadn’t been allowed in there.
That smirk confirmed my opinion of her. She was going to be my most difficult charge, probably ever. I was determined to do the job properly and effectively.
We all returned to the drawing room and conversed about this and that for the rest of the afternoon until I left. I was glad Miss Norfolk would be out of my way. That girl had let the livestock get under her skin. She wanted to ‘punish’ Gillian whenever she saw her. That made me impressed with Gillian’s idea, and particularly her targeting. She would definitely get a chance to get away if Miss Norfolk was in charge, or even generally around. Miss Norfolk must never be left alone with Gillian.
Jilly and Gillian? I never thought of it before, but their names are so similar. Some of Gillian’s thinking must be rubbing off on me because, once I thought that, I immediately realized there could be scenarios where a mix up between the names could occur. Normally, that’s all it would be, a mix up. But with Gillian actively looking to exploit any situation, there was a possibility of a serious security breech occurring. Those thoughts reinforced my intuition that Miss Norfolk and Gillian should never be left alone together. Perhaps changing Gillian’s name to her pedigree name sooner rather than later would be useful? I made a note to bring that possibility up with Jacob on Tuesday, when he visited to see my arrangements for himself.