The jumble of destruction
In the east the sky turned from black to purple and, as the stars faded, to light-flushed blue. The earth was quieter, trembling from time to time but with no great violence; almost gently. Matthew came down, cold and cramped, from his perch, and stretched his stiff limbs.
The path that ran past the vinery led to the Margy farm. The glass lay like a frozen lake, laced with driftwood that was the shattered structure of the houses. Beneath it, like drowned vegetation, lay the crushed green plants, spotted and splotched with red. Just beyond was the smashed heap of the packing-shed in which, the previous afternoon, over fifty trays of fruit had been left ready for picking up this morning. More than a quarter of a ton of tomatoes. Matthew averted his head and carried on down the path.
Somehow the sight of the Margy farmhouse was more shocking than his own had been. It was the same idiot’s heap of bricks and granite blocks, rising only a few feet from the ground. Matthew walked slowly forward. There had been some idea in his mind that he might be able to help, to rescue someone trapped. The sight before him disposed of that. He walked round the pile, finding no reference point that he could recognize. All sorts of things were jumbled together – curtains and crockery, smashed furniture, the gaunt finger of a standard lamp, a book lying open, one page weighted down with a fragment of slate. And, towards the centre, a human arm stretched out, in protest or supplication. It looked very young and white. The daughter, probably – Tessie, who was to marry the young chap from the garage at the end of summer. Matthew turned and walked away.