מאת Ruth Rendell
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It was the first dead body he had ever seen. At first it had been a shock and had made his heart beat faster. Now he knelt down and looked at the dead girl curiously. Something unpleasant had happened to her face; it was swollen and a greyish-blue colour, and her eyes protruded under strained shiny eyelids. She had been very fair, a blonde, he could tell that by her pale brows and lashes, though not by her hair, for someone had clipped all that off very close to the scalp.
She lay on her back on the grass within the avenue made by the great standing stones, between the ninth and tenth of them on the northern side. It was still early in the morning, 8.30 or so, and he supposed she had lain there all night. The sun was shining and there was an east wind blowing which set the clouds tumbling and their shadows rushing across the shallow hills and the craggy outcroppings. The shadows of the perpendicular stones lay parallel to one another like the teeth of a giant's comb. It was very cold, the biting brilliant cold of April in the middle of England. The girl was dressed in jeans, a thick sweater and a thick quilted jacket. She had been a slender, tallish, very young girl. He had known at once that she was dead. Now for the first time he touched her skin, the skin of her forehead, with his fingertips. It felt like marble, like the angel on the Tace tomb in Chesney churchyard, as cold and as unyielding.
His instinct was to lift her up and carry her down the hillside to the village. He was strong enough to do that without effort. But memories came to him of books he had read and films he had seen. She must be left there for the police, he must get the police. What a climax to a moorland walk! He had left home a little before eight, having put a cup of tea on the bedside table next to Lyn, walked through the village and climbed the fell. An ordinary walk on the moor, such as he had taken two or three times a week for years and years. What had he been thinking about? A kitten, of all things. He had been thinking about buying Lyn a kitten for her birthday, and as he came up to the great dolmen, had paused to look at it for the thousandth time, he had seen the bundle on the ground. An incongruous coloured speck among the green and the grey. A patch of red and blue with the head of a damaged doll.
After a while he got up from his knees. He had a strange sensation that for many minutes he had been holding his breath, though he couldn't of course have been doing that. The girl's eyes were exactly like the turquoise blue marbles he and Peter Naulls had played with as children. He took in deep breaths of the clean, icy moorland air. High above him a hawk hung like a pendulum. The wind had torn open a rift in the clouds and the sky revealed was as blue as those dead eyes. He turned his back abruptly and walked away. He walked back the way he had come and let himself out by a gate in the railing where a metal notice planted in the earth read: Department of the Environment. Ancient Monument. The Foinmen. The hawk dropped to the ground, rose again in a flurry of striped feathers.
In those parts where they call hills foins and mineshafts soughs, the paths that ascend the hillsides in hairpin bends are crinkle-crankle paths. He made his way down the crinkle-crankle path that traversed Chesney Fell. He took long strides and he walked fast but he walked easily too and without great exertion. His body was a strong vigorous machine which the moor had developed and sustained. He wore an anorak over a wool sweater with a polo neck and he wore tough cord jeans and walking boots. He was twenty-nine but he looked younger because his hair was fine and very...
- Ruth Rendell is the author of Road Rage, The Keys to the Street, Bloodlines, Simisola, and The Crocodile Bird. She is the winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. She is also the recipient of three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America and four Gold Daggers from Great Britain's Crime Writers Association. In 1997, she was named a life peer in the House of Lords. Rendell also writes mysteries under the name of Barbara Vine, of which A Dark-Adapted Eye is the most famous. She lives in England.
מו"לRandom House Publishing Group
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