2 The MagiMar 16th, 2008 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Writing
A retired army officer sees the arrival of foreigners
Yes, it’s Angus here.
I’m keeping well, old chap. How about yourself?
And the good lady?
Splendid. You wanted what?
To hear about my strange encounter? My, news does travel fast.
Reggie, I tell you, it was an odd sort of episode. You know me; I take people as I find them. Too long in nasty places not to realize that there’s good and bad in every nation. I’ve met some tough fellows in my time, but these chaps were something else.
I don’t know where they were from. Took them to be Arabs – the long robes, etcetera. Word was that they were from further east, but you wouldn’t have asked them. You wouldn’t have asked them very much, they had the sort of faces that didn’t invite questions.
I’ll tell you something, they were hard men. Faces like leather and the chap I shook hands with in the city had skin like sandpaper. Kept themselves to themselves; alert all the time, constantly watching, missing nothing, always on guard. Wouldn’t have wanted to get on the wrong side of one of them on a dark night.
What were they doing?
That’s the odd thing, Reggie, that’s why news has reached even your ears. They were looking for a baby.
Why? I don’t know why. Something political – it’s hard to keep up with the intrigue here. It was their odd quest that made me curious.
They were hard to follow; they travelled at night mostly, taking their bearings from the stars. Even if I had got near, I wouldn’t have understood them; their language was unlike anything I’ve heard before.
Anyway, I tracked them for a few days. Was convinced they were lost, they suddenly stopped at a very ordinary house in the early morning and got very excitable. There was much shouting and unpacking. I thought that they had maybe lost something or something had been stolen, but no. They start sprucing themselves up, and then they get various things out of their baggage and they go into the house.
It was all very odd. They spent a while in the house and came out even more excited. Then they gather their pack train and go off in the opposite direction to the one they came, riding as fast as the poor animals can go. Didn’t know what to do, follow them or check out the house. The gammy leg decided for me, I couldn’t keep up with the pace they were setting, so turned back to the house.
This is the really odd bit, the house was nothing special, but there was this feeling, this sense that there was something there.
I watched the place for a couple of hours, the couple seemed agitated. They were packing to leave and then they set off westwards. It was strange; it was if there was a presence going with them. Couldn’t understand it, couldn’t understand it at all.
Course the religious ones here talk about a Messiah. ‘Don’t be daft’, I told them, ‘what sort of Messiah lives in a little house and gets visits from strange foreigners? No-one would believe in a Messiah like that.’
All the same, Reggie, there’s something going on.