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Mike Walsh



“Paula,” he sighed as though lost in thought; “She was born into the most distressing of circumstances and it weighed heavily upon her.”

I wanted to say something but hesitated. I got the impression the old man didn’t want his train of thought interrupted.  Then, as he absent-mindedly poked the fire’s embers my brooding friend found the words he wanted to say.

“Still a child, she had never known what it was to have a full stomach, wear a new dress, or to know happiness. They were hard times for everyone.”

“I imagine,” I smiled sympathetically.

“There was no self-worth, no dignity to life, and no hope. Her family was heavily in debt. Sure, her parents worked hard. To be honest a plantation slave likely lived a better life.”

“Was there any improvement in her situation?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” the old man brightened up. “Something happened in Paula’s life that changed everything. At nineteen-years of age she was gifted a brooch; upon it a symbol that changed everything.  You know, son, she always wore that brooch and swore it brought her good fortune. From that point on she was transformed into the loveliest and liveliest creature imaginable.

“Brimming with confidence she owed not a penny to anyone. Paula had a great job and everything to look forward to.

“Fan ~ tastic,” I murmured.

The old man’s shoulders shrunk. “It didn’t last, son. Her success brought her enemies, jealous rivals who would do anything to ruin her, to steal what she had earned.”

“I can’t believe it,” I replied but knew my friend was telling the truth.

“Rivals hated her and never missed opportunity to lie about Paula; constantly threatened and tried to harm the young woman.”

“It must have had a terrible effect on her,” I ventured.

The old man smiled. “Not really. Why should it?  She had much more than they had so how could they harm her?”

“But they did?”

“Yes, Paula when 25-years old was ambushed.”


“No, far worse than that,” my old friend muttered. “Paula was very badly hurt.  Her home was attacked and plundered, her family ~ well, who knows what happened to her family?”

“You’re serious?”

“I am afraid so.”

My friend smiled but bitterness tightened his lips. “Paula was repeatedly raped, her clothes torn and shredded, her cupboards were laid bare, and her prospects destroyed.”

“The sympathy for her plight must have been overwhelming.”

“On the contrary, her attackers and their accomplices, even those who hadn’t benefited from her ruination applauded. Her assailants accused Paula of attacking them and claimed she had it coming to her. The poor girl was denied opportunity to defend herself. You know, all these years on and they still celebrate the Rape of Paula.


“Ah, yes, her real name was Germania.”




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