Molly Malone was actually a pretty girl under the layers of dirt and grime that she seemed to leave untouched because they acted as a first line of defense against evil-minded young lads looking for a quick taste of honey when the street pickings got a mite sparse.
Her father was not really a fisherman who made his living by going out on the waves and searching for all sorts of sea food to fill the bellies of the landlubbers who never left the safety of the harbor. His sea-faring days were over when he was discharged from his duties on a ship of the line. All he had to show for a decade of service was two coins and a piece of paper that commended him on not getting into too much trouble whilst in service.
Nate Malone never was a handsome man and now he was less appealing because he was missing most of the fingers of his left hand and had a vicious scar on his cheek where he was laid open by a chain whipped free by a passing cannon ball that landed in the ship's galley and not the powder magazine. It was a stroke of good fortune because it would have sent them all straight down to Davy Jones' locker in a flash of glory.
It was indeed fortunate that old Nate had a deep, rich voice that could be heard at a distance because his new trade as a fishmonger required him to reach as many prospective customers with his booming cries of,
"Get your fish right here! We got cockles, and mussels and crabs that will make your mouth water with delight. Fresh fish is what we got. Right here they are ready for the table. Come get your fish before they are all gone."
The old lady that had the fish cart business before him had died of some unknown malady but Nate was certain it had nothing to do with the fish business and certainly nothing contagious in the small shop right next to the dock.
Both Nate and his daughter Molly bunked in the back of the shop living from day to day on the meager living eked out from selling the fish in the poorer neighborhoods to families that fancied a taste of something different than the usual soup and bread.
Molly grew up learning the fishmonger trade watching her father put his finger on the scale more than once without ever being caught. She didn't think it was quite proper but she knew he did it more from habit than from malice or avarice and she sometimes imitated him when nobody was looking her way.
One of the drawbacks of the fish business was that no matter where she went she stunk to high heavens with the odor of seafood. It clung to her like a an invisible cloak of repugnance making young and old turn up their noses at her until she beat a hasty retreat with their coins in her little fist. On the other hand, it was probably the thing that insured no young lad was making a valiant effort to beat a path to her pallet to "break her in" to the facts of life.
It wasn't any unknown malady that did in poor Nate Malone but a runaway carriage belonging to the Hathaway family. The Hathaway's were well-respected members of the high society of the city. They considered the inconvenience of scraping Nate off their carriage wheels an imposition on their reclusive anominity and made no effort to compensate his daughter for the loss.
The fishmonger's daughter was forlorn at first at the loss of her only parent. However, she made the necessary arrangements for his burial and took up the business to insure a steady stream of income into the shrinking Malone household.
Molly had two cats. One was all white and she called it Angel. The other was a jet black kitty with green eyes that answered to the name of Scotty. They followed her wherever she went except she did not permit them to go with her when she was delivering the fish and other seafood items to the customers in the neighborhood. She stayed mostly in the poorer section of the city because the higher class folks generally only consumed products obtained by their servants at a much higher price per item. The fishmonger's daughter knew her fish were fresher and better tasting than most of the store-bought selections but she never tried to boost her prices because she was happy just making a fair profit rather than squeezing the poorer folk for their eating enjoyment.
Fridays were always her busiest day of the week.
She suspected it was because there were a lot of Irish in the neighborhood and they all tended to eat fish on Fridays from religious persuasion.
Friday night was her bath night. That was the night she filled the tub in the kitchen with hot water heated in pots from the stove and she soaked out all the odors from the fish from her nubile young female skin and her silky black hair hoping that she might meet someone of interest at the community center. Sometimes, she used the special soap that absorbed the odor of the fish best of all but she used it sparingly because it was so expensive and was imported from the south of France. That night she cut her hair a lot shorter than usual because it was so difficult to get the scent of the fish out of her tresses no matter how hard she tried.
She was fairly successful in getting rid of the odor but she knew it was not complete because she saw several cats following her on the way to the community center for the "mingling" of the unattached young people that were all searching for a candidate to keep their toes warm at night.
.... There is more of this story ...