The Angel’s Game read-along: Act Two, Chapters 9 and 10

Martín is driven home from Corelli’s place by a man in an ancient Rolls Royce. Very appropriate as the symbol of a Rolls Royce is an angel. As Martín leaves the car and walks to his home, he contemplates his situation.

I asked myself what I had done, and, choosing not to seek an answer, I set off towards my house feeling as if the whole world was a prison from which there was no escape.

So reality seems to finally be catching up with our hero. The euphoria of the money and his renewed health has worn off and Martín realises just how much trouble he could be in. But he chooses not to examine the situation too closely.

He comes home and opens the windows of his study, as it is a very hot night. Looking out over the city, he notices a girl sleeping on a doorstep in an alley. It’s Isabella. He also notices two men advancing on her. Martín does not really want to have anything to do with Isabella – or with the whole situation really – but even he realises that if he doesn’t do anything, the men will assault Isabella. So he goes downstairs and scares them off with a metal bar. He is willing to use the bar on the men and the one man immediately backs off. The other is still trying to scare Martín off with a knife, but when he realises Martín is not afraid to use the metal bar, he also backs off.

Martín takes Isabella to his house, makes her a bath and something to eat and puts her in bed. The following morning he goes to see her parents. Isabella had told Martín that her father wanted to kill Martín, so Martín goes in with a bit of an attitude, but it is soon apparent that the poor father is very worried about Isabella. Apparently Isabella had run away from home, as she felt that her parents didn’t understand her. It does not paint a very nice picture of Isabella at all, as her parents clearly love her and are worried for her.

Isabella’s mom is particularly worried. She tells Martín,

‘Only last night, just round the corner from here, two labourers on their way home were given a terrible beating. Imagine! It seems they were battered with an iron pole, smashed to bits like dogs. One of them might not survive, and it looks like the other one will be crippled for life.’

Now, why do I feel a chill down my spine?

Martín promises Isabella’s parents that he will keep Isabella safe and give her a place to live in his big house. He is determined to drive her away by being very cynical and strict and when he gets back to his house, he immediately lays down the law with her.

‘You can stay here under the following conditions: one, that you go and spend some time in the shop every day, to say hello to your parents and tell them you’re well; and two, that you obey me and follow the rules of this house.’

When Isabella questions what the rules of the house are, Martín simply says ‘Whatever I damn well please.’

Isabella hugs him and goes off to tidy Martín’s study.

I can’t figure Martín out, he clearly doesn’t want to have anything to do with Isabella, but he does promise her parents he will keep her safe and will look after her. We know from the previous chapters (we’re now almost halfway in the book) that Martín is not particularly altruistic, so why he takes Isabella on is a mystery. He does say he is determined to drive her away, so that is more in character for him. We’ll see how that all evolves.

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