Mannin, Ethel - Lucifer And The Child
Jenny Flower, another grubby street urchin from the London dockside, enjoys a rare outing to the country.
More than the countryside, however, as she wanders away and enters the deep woods.
Where, at age 7, she sees the stranger who seems to wear horns on his head.
“Hullo, witch,” he approaches, and she realizes there are no horns.
Never mind, Jenny saw what she saw.
Such is the initial, fateful encounter between the young girl, one with “bad blood” that runs in her family, and the individual she calls Lucifer.
For many, the story, a conflict between corruption and redemption, recalls Arthur Machen.
It does not seem so to me. The style is more modern and lacks Machen’s inimitable wordplay.
The portraits of the back alleys of London are vivid, set against the rising waters of war in the late 1930’s.
One is tempted, lured into wickedness, or one seeks it freely.
Jenny, who picks her side early on, is a troubled soul, at odds with the world.
Cheers to Swan River Press for reprinting this lost (once banned) gem.