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.”He laughed.“Don’t be cheeky.” His face turned serious again.“You know the Samhain Fesh is only two days away?”“You mean Halloween?”“I mean Samhain—some of us still remember the old ways, and if you want to make a claim on being Irish, you should get to know your history.”“I’ve never made a claim on being Irish—I’m a Londoner,” said Maddy stiffly.“London is where you lived.This is where you are from,” said Granda.Maddy shrugged.She wasn’t getting into this argument again.“What about it?”“According to the old tales, the boundaries between the faerie realm, Tír na nÓg, and the human world break down around now.It means faeries are stronger, and they can walk among us.So, just for a little while.”“I know, don’t go into the castle.I don’t know why you can’t just say that, instead of making up all this faerie stuff.I’m not a baby.”“I do tell you, Maddy, all the time, but you don’t pay attention.”“I don’t get scared by the faerie stories either, but it doesn’t stop you from telling them.”Granda sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.He only did that when he was trying really hard to be patient and not yell.“Just this once, Maddy, listen to me and keep yourself safe.Anything could happen in those grounds, and no one would know where you were.”“OK,” she said in a small voice.Her grandfather went to leave the room, but he turned with his hand on the doorknob.“There is one other rule, Maddy.Well, it’s more of a warning really.”“What’s that?”“Whatever faeries promise you, whatever they try to tempt you with, it’s not real.You have to trust your heart, not your eyes, and turn your feet for home.”“Cheers.I’ll remember that as I try to sleep in the dark.”“Good night, love.Sleep well.”“I’m going to have nightmares after all that,” Maddy muttered to George as the bedroom door clicked shut behind Granda, but the terrier was already snoring.Great, she thought.I don’t have earplugs.Chapter ThreeMaddy was having trouble sleeping.Her arm was hurting, and she was still upset that Granda didn’t seem to be interested in punishing the boy who had done this to her.He always stuck up for her, so she didn’t understand why he wasn’t marching around to John’s house and banging on the door.Maybe he’s finally getting sick of me, she thought.She didn’t want to live here, but if her grandparents didn’t want her anymore, it meant living with one of her mother’s sisters.Maddy fancied that even less.She lay on her back and listened to the sound of the village.There was no sidewalk outside her grandparents’ house, and passing cars hummed by right outside her window.The beams of their headlights penetrated the thin cotton of her bedroom curtains and swept across the walls.Now and then she could hear talking and laughter and the click of a woman’s heels as people walked back from the pub.One couple stopped for a snog, and Maddy gagged at the wet sound.Why would anyone let someone stick their tongue in their mouth? she thought.Gross! George had his nose tucked in her armpit, and the amount of noise coming out of such a small dog was unbelievable.His nose whistled at the end of each snore, and he was farting—a lot.Maddy was keeping the sheet stretched tight across her face to give her some breathable air.Having him in bed with her wasn’t such a treat after all.She heard the creak of her grandparents’ bed through the wall behind her head as they settled down for the night.The pub closed, the chip shop shut its doors and turned off the lights, and the night grew dark and silent.But Maddy could still only doze fitfully.The glow of the streetlight outside threw the shadows of the trees that lined the square over her bed and walls.She watched shadow branches reach for her with knotted arthritic fingers, skinny versions of Granny’s tortured hands.The wind grew stronger and tossed the branches into strange shapes, but one kept appearing over and over again: a witch’s face, with a hooked nose and chin and a toothless mouth.Maddy stared at it with wide eyes that were scratchy from lack of sleep.She kept telling herself it was just a tree, but the way that toothless mouth muttered and gabbled at her as the wind rose to a moan made her feel like a toddler who was frightened of the dark.But she must have slept eventually because she was startled awake by George’s rumbling growl and a weird noise at the window.Something was scraping the glass, long strokes down the length of the pane that hissed in the quiet of her room.She put a hand on George to get him to be quiet, but the dog still kept his black lips peeled back from his teeth as Maddy crawled across the bed to the windowsill.Her curtains were hung on a pole, leaving a slight gap between the fabric and the window, enough for her to peer out without touching the cloth, if she pressed her face hard against the wall.She could feel the cold puff of a draft on her lips and see a sliver of the outside world with her left eye, the pearly glow of the white-painted sill and a slice of the velvety dark beyond it.But it was enough.There was someone at her window all right, someone with a long white hand that seemed to have too many joints and yellow pointed fingernails.The hand rose and trailed the tips of the fingernails down the glass, over and over again.Maddy’s eye rose and fell with the hand as she huddled against the wall, her skin in goosebumps from the cold.Then it stopped.The hand fell out of sight and there was silence.Maddy held her breath, her heart thudding in her ears as she listened for any noise that would tell her who was outside.Suddenly a bright green eye appeared right in front of her and stared into her own.Maddy screamed and scrambled back from the window as George rushed toward it, barking [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]