'Guardian Angel' - Extract
An extract from Chapter 7 of “Guardian Angel”
Martha, who has taken on the persona of Mrs Susanna Ravenhill, has fled from her enemies to Merthyr Tydfil, where she is involved in good works in the slum district known as “China.”
On one occasion something happened which I do not fully understand to this day. Around dusk, at the end of a difficult afternoon during which I had seen a mother and her newborn baby die, I was walking through China towards the arch which led to the Penydarren Road. This archway was always guarded by Rodneys, in case the police should appear. Most of the urchins knew me, and normally they gave me a cheery greeting and let me through. But on this evening they were accompanied by some older boys who had obviously been drinking, and they started to taunt me and to throw stones at me. I could not understand it, and I became very afraid. I was already exhausted because of the traumas of my afternoon in a miserable hovel, and I did not have the energy either to speed my steps towards safety or to berate the boys for their lack of respect. A stone hit me on the temple. I felt blood running down my cheek. I fear that I became giddy and fell to my knees on the dusty trackway, with the taunts and the jeers of the boys swirling around my head and rising to a climax inside and outside my head. Suddenly I was aware that the boys were transfixed, and silent; and as I looked around me I saw that they were holding their ears as if they were being deafened by some unbearable noise, and at the same time trying to cover their eyes from some intolerably bright light. I could hear nothing, and see nothing untoward. Then they all turned on their heels, and ran away. I climbed to my feet and looked around me, and saw a fair-haired child standing about twenty yards away, beside one of the great brick supports that held up the bridge. He was smiling. It was Merlin -- of that I have no doubt. But as I looked he faded away and then disappeared into thin air. “Merlin?” I asked. “Is that you?” But there was no reply, and no sign of life apart from a few rats on the river bank.