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Published on August 13th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie1
Ann’s Story: Chapter Thirteen ‘The Auction’
On the day of the auction Ann found herself sitting among antique dealers and collectors.
The sideboard which she had polished with beeswax was standing amidst an array of other furniture including chairs, tables, mirrors and other objet d’art.
A few weeks before she had hired John Daly, a local removal man, to bring the sideboard to the auction rooms and the auctioneer Ted Sweeney had taken a photograph of the piece to put into a promotional brochure.
Ann felt both proud and sad as she now craned her neck to look at the piece her mother had so lovingly cared for.
She remembered how mother would get her to polish the intricate brass drawer handles with the brasso-soaked cotton wool she had pulled from a tin and how well it would look when the brasses were shining and the wood was gleaming. It was strange to see it now so out of place and far away from its familiar surroundings.
Ted Sweeney had put a reserve price of ten thousand euro on the piece and he had rung her to tell her there was quite a bit of interest in it.
Bidding was brisk on many of the early items on sale. Ann’s sideboard was ninth on the list, and as the time drew near, her heart began to pound faster and faster.
Finally, Ted Sweeney announced ‘Lot Nine, a superb example of a William IV Mahogany Sideboard, lovingly maintained. Who will start the bidding?’
Ann held her breath. Then the first bid of fifteen hundred euro came from a woman sitting right beside her. Ann sneaked a peak at her, she was an ordinary-looking woman with dry mousey hair much like her own. Ann wondered who she was and where she came from. But she hadn’t time to contemplate for long before another bid came from another part of the room. The bidding quickly reached three thousand euro, prior to a young woman on a phone bringing it to four thousand.
Ann never experienced such tension, and while she felt excited, she was also a little embarassed at how little regard she had had for the sideboard.
All at once, out of nowhere a new contender, a man wearing a white trench coat, entered the fray with a bid of five thousand, five hundred euro. It quickly turned into a two-horse race between the woman on the phone and the man with the final bid of eleven thousand euro securing the sideboard for the woman.
The room burst into spontaneous applause and Ann didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as the emotion of the occasion got to her. She wished she had someone with her to share in all the drama.
Afterwards she approached the young woman and congratulated her, telling her she was the former owner of the sideboard. The woman told her she was bidding on behalf of a collector in Dublin who believed she had secured a real bargain. Again Ann was taken aback at how valuable the sideboard was.
When Ted Sweeney handed her the cheque for ten thousand, two hundred euro, after he took his cut, Ann was over the moon. Along with her redundancy she now had over thirty thousand euro and around five thousand euro in savings.
A wave of gratitude and relief swept over her and she knew with her social welfare payments she would be okay for a while at least.
On her way back to Crowley she decided to treat herself to lunch at a nice restaurant. She ordered a starter of Butternut Squash Risotto followed by organic salmon with pea puree. It was absolutely delicious.
The meal gave her time to think of how much she wanted to spend decorating her house. She decided she could afford to spend five thousand euro, she knew it needed a lot more work, but painting and decorating was all she could afford at this time.
She also longed to go on a holiday. ‘When I get back I will ask Thelma will she come with me somewhere,’ she thought.
Thelma had arrived back from her business trip saying she had been in London but didn’t divulge any more information.
She brought back a beautiful rich, dark-red handbag for Ann as a thank you for taking care of her house.
Ann absolutely loved it and felt quite glamorous and sophisticated with it hanging over her shoulder with its large gold key hanging from the zip.
Thelma was enthusiastic about going on a holiday with Ann and between them they decided to go to Paris. Ann couldn’t wait as she had always wanted to visit Paris. She decided to invest in some new clothes to wear as she didn’t want to look dowdy beside Thelma who always looked fabulous.
She also bought a guide to the city and marked off all the places of interest she wanted to see like the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. She also wanted to go to the top of the Eiffle Tower and of course take a boat trip on the Seine.
Thelma wanted to go to the Moulin Rouge, Ann wasn’t sure as she didn’t like the idea of women dancing topless and thought it was exploitative.
But Thelma convinced her it was all very tastefully done and so the Moulin Rouge was added to the list.
For the next three weeks Ann could think of nothing else but Paris and was beside herself with excitement.
But there was still something about Thelma she couldn’t quite put her finger on that was intriguing her. She had recently seen her on at least two occasions getting into her car with one of her many evening gowns on a hanger and a make up case in her hand before driving away. Often it appeared she was gone overnight.
The next day she never mentioned to Ann where she had been. However, apart from that, she was still as charming and friendly as ever and outside her house there were now two massive flower containers displaying the most colourful blooms making Ann feel no better about her colourless dreary garden and drab house.
She still felt inferior to her and was annoyed with herself for clamming up sometimes in her presence. Still Thelma was persistent in their friendship and didn’t seem to notice how Ann behaved around her, or at least if she did, she never said.
Ann was hoping that she would be able to relax more with her on holidays and maybe Thelma would open up a little more to her too and reveal what her business trip was about and where she went on her evening expedition.