On the far side of Smithfield Market Edna Sharrow can run no more and in the cool shade of a tree at the boundary of the churchyard turns to confront the girl who has followed her.
The girl is an ordinary girl. Slender. Grainy skin. Pale blue eyes and dirty blond hair scraped back. Dressed in a grey pyjama-like suit zipped up the front. Shoes like small white pillows. An unremarkable child of the stones, except that the black light burns within her.
Edna draws herself up and says that she will deal only with the master, not his familiar.
The girl shakes her head and says, He’s busy elsewhere, but I can help you. What is terrible is that she is not afraid. No, her look is one of pity. She says, I shouldn’t have sent you away. I should have helped you right away. But I was scared. I admit it. It’s my first time.
I don’t need your help, Edna says.
You poor old thing. You don’t know, do you. You don’t know that you’re dead.
And the black light beats around Edna like wings and she is falling away from the world. For a moment she catches hold of the tree and she remembers her mother holding her up in the sharp cold of a long ago Boxing Day, to see the hunt ride by.
Look at the pretty horses, she cries, and her heart leaps with the joy of the long-ago moment of lost innocence, and she falls through the door of the sky.