Authors: Bali Rai
âOh, he's safe. He is back with his family.'
âBut why did you help him?'
Heera blew on her tea before replying. âHe is an innocent, just like your father.'
âAnd you saved him?'
Heera shook her head. âI just did what people like me do,' she said, confusing me.
âWhat are you?' I asked. âA witch?'
Again, she shook her head. âNo â I'm not a witch,' she said, smiling. âThough many people call me such names.'
âSo what then?'
She put down her cup and looked into my eyes. âI watch over people in this city,' she explained. âThat is all.'
âLike a guardian angel?'
This time she laughed out loud. âI have no wings. But something like that.'
âYou never answer a question properly. Why?'
âWhy not?' she told me. âBesides, you need to listen.'
I raised an eyebrow. âListen to what?'
Heera picked up her cup and took a sip.
âYour family must leave Amritsar,' she said. âYou know this, don't you?'
I nodded. âThe bandits and the police will come for us.'
âThe British too,' she added. âIt's unfair but that is the way of Life sometimes.'
âWhere will we go?'
Heera found a pencil and a scrap of paper. âDo you know exactly where your father's ancestral village is?'
I shook my head. She began to draw a map, marking out various places. When she was done, she gave it to me. âYou will follow this and leave the city, as soon as we get back to your mother.'
She shook her head. âIn two days' time many people will die here. Hundreds of people. In the confusion, people will think you died too.'
âWhy?' I asked, my eyes wide.
âIt doesn't matter why,' she replied. âIt cannot be stopped.'
âHow can you predict such things?'
Heera put a hand on my face. It felt smooth and cold.
âI can't say,' she said. âAll that matters is that you take your mother and your new friend to safety. That is your task, Arjan. Are you ready for it?'
âGood,' she said. âThis journey is almost over, my son. Now you start a new one. You must be brave and strong, Arjan. Your family will need it.'
We spoke some more and then my father opened his eyes. Heera explained what was happening and he nodded in sadness. I watched Shanti sleeping with her hair splayed out behind her, and wondered what Heera had meant. Why would I need to be strong for my family?
âWake her,' Heera said to me. âWe must be at your house by sunrise.'
o here I am. Packing with my mother. My father's injuries are worse than we thought. He is too ill to come with us. Heera is watching over him. When he's better, she will bring him to us.
Mr and Mrs Khan are sobbing now, and my mother is too. The sun is close to rising, and all around us people are preparing for work. It feels like any other day but it isn't.
Eventually, we set off. My mother sits next to me, wrapped in a blanket, as I guide the bullock and cart eastwards, away from the city and from the life we
had. Shanti is hidden beneath more blankets in the back. The bandits will look for her. We cannot risk her being seen.
Heera has warned me that our journey will be dangerous. It will take many days and we will be travelling through open country. There will be more bandits and army patrols â more danger. She has told me to be brave â to be a man. I don't understand why, but I trust her. My heart is heavy and my stomach churns but I can't let my fears stop me. With my father so sick, I have to stand up. I must get my family to safety.
The night run is over. It is time for the next journey to begin.
The Lost King
The compelling story of Richard III and the disappearance of the princes in the Tower.
A fascinating look at the brief reign of Richard III, told by the princes' nursemaid. What really happened to the princes in the Tower? Was Richard responsible â or has he been wrongly accused for centuries?
ISBN 9781472904409Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â£5.99
The Girl From Hard Times Hill
A working-class girl in 1950s Britain struggles to cope with changes in her life when her father returns from Occupied Germany. When Megan wins a place at grammar school, she must learn to cope with a new town and a school where she doesn't fit in. Can Megan adapt to her new life, and take advantage of a changing Britain? An emotional tale of growing up at a time of change.
ISBN 9781472904430Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â£5.99
Bring Out the Banners
Two young women from very different backgrounds become unlikely friends as they struggle for women's right to vote in the approach to the First World War.
A thrilling story of secret meetings, police oppression and social upheaval, as well as an accurate account of the Suffragette movement.
ISBN 9781408191866Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â£5.99
First published 2014 by
A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP
Bloomsbury is a registered trademark of Bloomsbury Publishing plc
This electronic edition published in 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Copyright Â© 2014 A & C Black
Text copyright Â© Bali Rai 2014
The right of Bali Rai to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved
You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (including without limitation electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue for this book is available from the British Library.
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