PAPERBACK BOOKS
STRANGERS

Strangers is the engrossing memoir of a Kiwi couple who volunteer for overseas work with their church. They are sent with their four young children to a remote valley in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea.

With candour and insight, Wendy Baker deftly evokes the tension, hilarity and occasional horror of trying to blend into an alien society. Buoyed up at first by the spectacular mountain scenery and a cheerful sense of adventure, the Bakers settle in for the long haul among their friendly but often unfathomable neighbours, many of whom still live in Stone Age conditions. But as the stress of culture shock begins to take its toll, these rather naïve Christians are also shaken by a series of dismaying insights into the organisational leaders they serve under.

The intrinsic drama and comic relief of this narrative make it a gripping story throughout. Wendy Baker is a natural storyteller.

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ISBN: 978-1-921574-10-8 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 224
Genre: Non Fiction

Cover art - Wendy Baker

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Author: Wendy Baker
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2009
Language: English

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About the Author

Wendy Baker lived in Tawa, New Zealand until she graduated from Wellington Teachers College in 1974. She then taught primary school for a year in Levin before being sent to Raetihi for two years’ country service.

After her marriage to John, she taught in Waiouru for another year then put her career on hold to have a family. The couple moved to Auckland and spent three years in Papakura, where a second baby was born. They studied at the Bible College of New Zealand in Henderson for two years, living on campus, before moving to El Rancho Christian camp in Waikanae where Wendy worked part time as a kitchen hand until their third child was born. In 1987, the couple lived at Te Nikau Bible Training College in Paraparaumu where Wendy worked part time and was a part-time student. She gave birth to their fourth child while John worked as the dean to prepare for overseas missions. The following year, the family went to Enga Province in Papua New Guinea, where Strangers is set.

Returning to New Zealand in 1992, Wendy did voluntary religious teaching for several years to keep her hand in, while being a full-time wife and mother. After that, she spent six years lecturing in hermeneutics and spiritual formation and working as a district advisor for the Churches Education Commission.

When John’s health forced him to stop work for a while, Wendy did a three-year stint as a relief teacher in primary schools and began writing Strangers in her spare time. Now she fits her writing around her work as an adult literacy tutor.

Prologue

    “Let me get this straight,” said Dad. He put down the electric jug with a shaky hand and stared at me. “You’re moving to Papua New Guinea? You can’t be serious! What about the children?”

    “We’ll take them with us,” I said, flicking a nervous glance at John.

“You must be mad!” Dad exploded. “Take three little children to live in some backward, poverty-stricken, disease-ridden third-world country?”

I cleared my throat nervously.

“Actually, it’ll be four. That’s our other news. We’re expecting another baby in October.” Dad’s bottom lip hung loose and quivered, and I tried desperately to introduce a lighter note. “We wouldn’t be real missionaries though. We won’t be hacking our way through jungles to convert the heathen and all that stuff. We won’t have to wear baggy shorts and pith helmets, and get eaten by cannibals.” I lifted the enormous teapot he insisted on using even though I’d bought him a nice little china one last Father’s Day. “That’s just what churches call their ex-pat workers – missionaries.”

Dad paced up and down and I eyed him guiltily as I poured the tea.

“You want adventure, I suppose that’s it,” he growled. “Excitement or challenge or some such nonsense?”

“Sort of.” I nodded. How could I explain to this scornful unbeliever something John and I barely understood ourselves – the longing to do something difficult and meaningful, the need to try out our faith in some harder field than the comfortable welfare state of New Zealand?

“It’s very healthy there, apparently,” I said, handing John his cup. He was trying to look concerned and untroubled at the same time – the responsible husband and father and the intrepid adventurer, rolled into one. “Our doctor in Waikanae lived in the Highlands for a while. Eternal springtime, that’s how he described it.”

“Eternal springtime?” scoffed Dad. There was an uncomfortable silence. “Well, I think you’re making a big mistake.” He came to the table to spoon sugar into his cup and stirred it grimly. “I just hope you’re not going to regret it.” He shook his head then changed his tone with an obvious effort. “Tell me about this job then, John. What does it entail, exactly?”

John leaned forward to explain the position he’d been offered and I began to relax. That’s the first hurdle over, I thought. The rest should be child’s play.

***

 Chapter 1

    “It should take us about five hours, if we’re lucky,” said Simon, our Australian host, checking the ropes on the roof rack of the battered jeep. “And whatever you do, don’t get out of the car till we’re there, especially if we get separated.” He splashed around to the other side and planted a heavy work boot on the car door to heave down on a rope, adding another smear of mud to the paintwork.

“You’re kidding,” I snorted. “Five hours in a car with our kids, without stopping?” Simon dropped his hands to his hips and turned to face me, and I threw up my hands in surrender.

“Okay, sorry.” I’d forgotten I was the newcomer, a mere woman. He was the team leader with a whole year’s experience under his belt already. I turned away and leaned in the back door to tuck three-month-old Jordan and his favourite teddy into a little nest on the floor among the sacks of flour and rice, where he could squirm safely until he dropped off to sleep. On the other side of the car John wedged one-and-a-half-year-old Tammy in between Kim and Jay on the back seat. She clutched her little bag of provisions and leaned against her big sister with her new red gumboots stuck out in front where she could admire them.

“Okay?” John asked. The three blond heads nodded solemnly.

“Oh, and you’ll need this,” said Simon, handing John a four litre bottle of engine oil. He patted the rusty bonnet of the jeep. “This thing leaks a bit.” He strode over to his own ute, slammed the door and started the engine, leaning a hefty elbow out the window. “All set?”

I pulled a nervous face at my husband over the roof of the jeep, thinking how pale and thin he looked after Simon’s bulk. The morning sun glinted on his glasses as he took a deep breath and grinned at me.

“Right then. Here goes.”

“Let’s get on with it then.”

I hunted for a non-existent seatbelt as we crunched down the driveway behind the ute, into the pot-holed streets of Mount Hagen, the last outpost of civilisation before our new home in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The sealed highway was flat at first, striped with the shade of spindly pine trees that towered over the sugar cane like elongated power poles. Conversation was impossible over the roar of the jeep and we stared at the tattered clumps of banana trees, huts and straggly gardens that whizzed past the windows, so different from the smooth wide fields we were used to in New Zealand. When we turned off the tar seal onto the metal road into the hills, the views changed. Vertical walls of rock slid into place as we rounded hairpin bends, their tops invisible behind drifting cloud. John’s knuckles whitened on the steering wheel as a bottomless ravine opened up beside the road, jagged spears of undergrowth gleaming in the shadows.

“Hey, look up ahead. A waterfall!” The kids and I stared at the drifts of foam that fanned out in slow motion before smashing to bits on the rocks, wetting our windows as we trundled past, but John gripped the wheel in grim concentration. He’d hated metal roads ever since his army days in Waiouru, when an inexperienced driver had skidded them both off a back country road, and a new rattle he’d just noticed in the engine made him oblivious to the scenery.

When the first grass huts came into sight, snuggled in a clearing, Tammy climbed onto Kim’s knee to press her nose against the window.

“Do people live there, Mum?”

“Looks like it,” I said. “Look, the pigs are digging the garden.”

“Will our house be like that?”

“No, of course not,” I laughed, mentally crossing my fingers. “Ours is a proper house.” Please God, let it be, I thought.

Now we could see kau kau gardens with women clearing the drains between waist-high mounds, swinging their spades in a graceful rhythm with their babies curled up in string bags on their backs. Others were trudging along the road, bent almost double under bulging loads of produce, with spades and toddlers balanced on top, while their men strolled behind carrying only a bush knife. Everyone smiled and waved as we rattled past.

Another hair-raising bend, then another. Now we were deep in the bush. I looked sideways at John, praying for him under my breath.

“You alright, Johnboy?” He bared his teeth at me in an unhappy grimace, rather than yell over the noise of the engine, and I knew he was worried about the car. We’d had only one day in Hagen before setting off on this final leg of our journey, so when Simon told us another ex-pat had offered a jeep on loan we’d accepted, rather than go shopping for our own vehicle straight away. Simon had taken John to see the man.

“Twenty-seven years old, you reckon?” said John, looking doubtfully at the battered khaki heap. “Will it get me to Laiagam?”

“Yeah, mate, no worries,” was the cheerful reply. “She’s in good nick. Just return her in good condition when you buy your own car next time you come in.” John walked around the jeep, frowning.

“Take it, mate,” urged Simon. “We’ve got to get to the bank yet, remember. It’ll do in the meantime. You’ll need the four-wheel-drive.” John was swayed against his better judgement. It was the first mistake of many.

*

An hour out of Hagen, when he shifted into four-wheel-drive for the first big hill, there was a metallic clunk, and we graunched to a stop in a cloud of smoke. John thumped the wheel in exasperation and heaved himself out onto the road. Simon was nowhere in sight.

“You might as well get out, you lot,” he said, leaning back inside. “The place is deserted.” The bonnet squealed as he dragged it open and peered in.

Jordan was sound asleep in his blanket on the floor, but the older three climbed out and stood in a row beside me, shivering. We’d stopped at the foot of a rocky spur, facing a pine forest. The children huddled in the warm diesel fumes, as if the car was a time machine that might disappear and leave them stranded if they stepped away. I warmed my hands on the dented panel and looked around me, dazed by the sudden silence. You could almost imagine it was a time machine, I thought, staring out at the untouched landscape. Here by the car it was 1988, but just over there, beyond the edge of the road, it could easily be a hundred years ago, or even a thousand.

“Can I do anything?” I called back to John.

“Wait on, I just have to ... Where’s that spanner? Hang on a minute, that shouldn’t be ... What the ...?”

I left him muttering to himself and crossed the gravel to a palisade of sharpened sticks that followed the upward curve of the road and disappeared around the shoulder of the hill. Behind it, the pine forest sloped away, grey light slanting through the tops. Smoke drifted between the trunks, and away in the distance I could see the fringed edge of a thatched roof outlined against a sparkle of moving water. There was no sound of life, not even a bird. Then as I watched, gesticulating figures appeared in silhouette against the river. Shouts went up and as they ran towards us through the trees, I remembered Simon’s warning.

“You kids! Get in the car!” The children retreated hastily and locked the doors and I went to stand by John as we were surrounded by Engans.

Smile, I reminded myself. And don’t stare. But it was hard not to. The ring of greasy-skinned, flat-nosed, frizzy-haired faces around us struck me as the most grotesque assembly I’d ever seen outside of a nightmare. The men all hefted bush knives and leered, showing brown stumps of teeth, and the women, weighed down with mud-smeared babies and toddlers, smiled with a disquieting vacancy. Two bare-chested old ladies pushed their way forward, laughing through tears as if overjoyed to see us. They took my hands in mud-crusted fingers that felt as thin and hard as chooks’ feet, and I shook hands, smiling, but my smile froze when they started patting my uncomfortably full bra (Jordan was due for a feed any minute), alternately with their own shrunken breasts. I glanced round for help, but John was fiddling under the bonnet again.

Then I met a more alert kind of gaze, a young boy, who beamed at me like a fan recognising a favourite star. I smiled back, relieved to see an intelligent face.

“Yupela go we, Missus?” he asked.

“Ah, let’s see,” I gulped, my mind racing over a list of stock phrases. John and I had practised with Pidgin language tapes and books to prepare for this moment. “Um, mipela ... go long Laiagam.” The boy giggled and waited expectantly. Now it was my turn to ask something. I searched my mind for a conversation opener, hoping I’d assembled the words in the right order. “Um ... Mama bilong yu ... stap we?”

He stepped back and pointed to a house just visible among the trees. “Em stap long haus.”

“His mother’s in the house,” I crowed, clapping my hands. I hoped the kids were observing my success. Then I pressed a finger to my lips to think again. “Okay... Nem bilong mi, Wendy. Nem bilong yu, husat?” The boy’s teeth gleamed.

“Nem bilong mi, Loo-kars.”

“Lucas?”

He nodded, beaming, and we shook hands, just as Simon’s ute appeared at the top of the hill.

“What happened to you?” he yelled as he crunched to a halt beside us.

“We’re stuffed,” said John. I hovered nearby while the men did some makeshift repairs, hoping Simon would explain his nerve-wracking warning about not getting out of the car, but he didn’t mention it, and I made a mental note, as he towed us up the hill, to take his advice with a grain of salt from now on.

This first mishap had disabled the gearbox and now we could only grind along in second gear, and had to be helped up the worst hills by the ute. The jeep broke down again and again, then it started to rain and the journey began to feel like a nightmare as the predicted five hours stretched into six. The kids withdrew into glum silence in the back seat. John’s head was aching from clenching his teeth and I was just about at my wits end with a restless baby and toddler. Then, just as we pulled into Wabag, a bush town with a row of dilapidated stores and a police station, still an hour’s drive from our destination, the axle broke.

We all climbed out yet again into the drizzle. After a weary consultation with John, Simon flagged down a passing police van and asked the driver to take me on ahead to Laiagam with Tammy and Jordan, promising to get the others there as soon as he could. I squashed reluctantly into the crowded van, where my babies immediately became the centre of attention, and we were off again.

My new chauffeur was a policeman, immaculate in an epauletted uniform shirt, making use of his work vehicle to drive a van-load of relations home to Laiagam after a shopping expedition in Wabag. He spoke English well and pointed out landmarks as we wound through the mountains. An hour later we emerged from the bush in an open valley. “Here we are, Missus,” he announced. “This is Laiagam, the government station.”

At last I get to see what a government station is, I thought, craning my neck to see, as my mind went back to when I’d first heard the term. It was six months ago, when the National Secretary of the mission made a whirlwind visit to our small residential church campus in New Zealand to interview us for the PNG job. Somewhat to our surprise we found I wasn’t to be included in the interview, being only the wife and therefore not an essential part of the team, but I was shown to a chair at the back and graciously allowed to listen as John spoke to the three church leaders around the Principal’s desk. I waited in vain for one of them to ask me what I thought of the whole venture – it was my idea, after all – but it wasn’t until they got to the handshakes and congratulations that the National Secretary turned to me with a smile.

“Ah, Wendy,” he said, glancing at his watch. “Was there anything you wanted to ask at all?” I hurried up to the front before he could change his mind.

“So, what’s Laiagam like?”

“Laiagam?” The little man smoothed the see-thru fringe over his bald spot as he paused to consider. “Oh, well, it’s the main centre for the region, you know. Densely populated area.” He crinkled his eyes at me and turned away to find his briefcase.

“And ...?” I prompted. A hundred urgent questions buzzed in my mind. Is it civilised or backward? What kind of house would we live in? Is there a school? What will our life be like there? I seized one at random.

“So it’s an actual town then? Is it very big?”

“Oh.” He seemed mildly surprised at my persistence. “Oh, it’s a great place. A government station, of course.” He snapped the case shut and gave me a reassuring nod as he moved towards the door. “As I said, it’s a main centre. Good, healthy climate.” He was gone and I was left staring after him, none the wiser.

*

Now it had started to rain again, and bending forward to peer through the swish of wipers, I couldn’t see any sign of civilisation, only a few tin shacks dotted among the trees.

“There is the haus-sik, Missus.” I caught a glimpse of a collection of log cabins with wide verandahs in an overgrown paddock. So there’s a hospital of sorts, I thought. But where were the houses? Where were the shops? It was a main centre, right? Shouldn’t there at least be streets and footpaths? I tried a different window, wondering if there had been some mistake.

“Here is the police station,” pointed the man, not noticing my uneasiness. “That’s the jail behind it.” I had a fleeting view of a shed on stilts, flanked by banana trees. “And there is the biggest of the stores.” Another windowless hut stood back from the road in a patch of mud, with two concrete steps leading to a dark doorway. He glanced back, misinterpreting my silence. “There’s two others as well, besides that one.” I looked at the other passengers to see if it was a joke, but they were calmly gathering their belongings ready to get out as the van drew to a stop.

“You wait, Missus,” the driver said, as they climbed down. “The Highlands Training Centre is in Mamale, up the other side of the valley.” I forced myself to breathe deeply as we set off again, over a river, through a pine forest and across a deserted clearing.

“This is the market place,” said my tour guide. “Wednesdays and Saturdays are the best days to come.” Then we were climbing again, slipping on greasy boulders as we chugged our way up between gardens that covered the hillsides on either side of the road. There was still no town, only scattered dwellings of flax or tin, crouching in the wet undergrowth, with smoke seeping up through thatched roofs or iron chimneys. My lips had gone dry with suspense. In the whole seven hour journey I had not seen a single ‘real’ house. What on earth was I bringing my children to?

At last the road levelled out slightly and the car drew to a stop. “Here we are, Missus. The Mamale mission house.” The driver swung open the back doors and picked up my suitcase and the bag of groceries. “The training centre is down there, behind that bamboo.” This is it, I thought. With a thumping heart I scooped up Jordan in his blanket and helped Tammy out. Drizzle ran down my face as I turned to look at our new home.

*

Pale yellow weather-boards were the first thing I noticed. Fly screens on windows, a corrugated iron roof. Thank God, it was a proper house. The policeman carried our bags up the concrete path to the lean-to porch and I followed, carrying Jordan and leading a crumpled, sticky Tammy by the hand, so weak with relief I hardly noticed when he drove away. No-one answered our knocks or calls but the door was open, so I stepped inside.

It was a good-sized room, sparsely furnished with heavy wooden furniture on bare floorboards. In the kitchen next door a fire was popping and crackling in an iron stove and a shiny blue kettle on top was just coming to the boil. I spread Jordan’s blanket on the yellow lino in the warmth of the stove and lay him on his stomach, and he looked around with a baby’s calm amazement, turning his head in wobbling jerks while I unloaded supplies on the bench as a statement of ownership: bread, margarine, tinned corned beef, peaches, bananas, milk, tea and milo. This is my house, I told myself, plonking them down. I have arrived. I looked around with hands on hips. What to do first?

“Shall we go and find the bedrooms?” I said, holding out a hand to Tammy.

“Me a bedroom too?” She scrambled to her feet and we left Jordan with his teddy and rattle and went to explore. Tammy claimed a corner room for herself and Kim that had twin wire-wove beds and a wardrobe of fire-engine red that filled a whole wall, and began unpacking her Dr Seuss Alphabet book and other essential possessions onto the empty bookshelf. I tried the old-fashioned light switch by the door, round like the top of an apple, with a bulbous stalk, but there was no answering light from the neon tubes overhead.

The shower in the bathroom was a bucket on a rope in an alcove of corrugated iron, and there was no washing machine in the laundry, only an iron wash-tub on a stand under a single brass tap, with a nail banged in the wall for a towel. But when I opened the window, I forgave the primitive facilities. Smooth poles of bamboo rustled and squeaked just outside, and it was so quiet I could hear the raindrops plopping softly onto the sodden leaf-mould below. I leaned out and there was the bush-clad mountain, and a vast sweep of misty valley beyond. This was our new home. I whispered a prayer of thanks for the loveliness of the scene, and another one for John and Kim and Jay, still out on the road. As long as they arrived safely and we were all together, I could see us being happy here. If not ...

Don’t think about it. I resumed my exploration instead.

There were two living rooms, but only enough of the chunky furniture for one. I tried out an armchair and raised a cloud of dust from the lumpy cushion. Kapok, I discovered, undoing a rusty zip to investigate. Not comfortable.

The walls were lined with woven flax, brown with age. The floorboards were also brown, with traces of old varnish, and the ceilings were of chocolate-coloured paper. But the gloom was more than made up for by the bright cotton drapes hanging in unmatched pairs in windows and doors. I grinned, thinking of John’s conservative tastes. What would he think of these eyeball-slapping clashes?

Speaking of John – I looked at my watch, trying to ignore the knot of tension in my stomach. They will get here, I told myself firmly. And they’ll need a hot meal and a cup of tea when they arrive. I put another chunk of firewood on the fire and got to work in my new kitchen.

*

Loud honks from Simon’s horn warned me they were coming before the ute hove into view, and after a quick check through the window – yes, there were four smiling faces waving at me – I hurried to make the tea. When he was given his introductory tour by Simon, John flinched at the garish colour scheme too.

“It’s bright, isn’t it?”

“It could permanently damage your eyesight,” I laughed. But my poor husband was shattered and in no mood to joke about the decor. Soaked to the skin, deafened by the roar of the jeep, he got into some dry clothes and sat through the makeshift meal of corned beef and pickle sandwiches in a daze, too tired to eat, until Simon heaved himself to his feet.

Our team leader was not a man to mollycoddle newcomers. He’d already told us his motto the night before – “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire,” so John pulled himself together with an effort as our new boss began firing off a list of instructions.

“This here’s the radio,” he said, leading the way into the office and checking that we were both paying attention. “Your sched times are twice a day, at 5.15pm and 7.15am, right? Don’t miss it. That’s your only contact with the outside world.”

“Five-fifteen and ... hang on, I’ll just ...” John looked around the bare shelves for something to write on.

“Your call sign’s Golf Charlie, ours is Echo Kilo, for Hagen, and Kandep’s is Delta Echo.”

“Okay, can I just ...?” But Simon was in a hurry to get away.

“Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. See this switch?” He leaned across the desk to demonstrate. “You have it up when you’re talking, down when you’re finished. Okay?” John dragged his eyes back to the radio and made a determined effort to focus. “And don’t forget to say ‘Over’ when you finish, or other people talk over the top of you and no-one can hear anything. Got that?” John nodded, swaying slightly.

“Good. Now I’ll show you how to start the generator.”

He led the way across the squelching lawn to a little tin shed on concrete piles that housed the diesel engine and its array of dials and levers.

“Right. This is the power supply for the whole campus,” explained Simon, squatting on the gritty floor. “You fire it up at 6 pm and shut it down at ten.” John nodded again, letting the running commentary flow over his head. “... check the oil ... give this screw a half turn ... don’t forget to ...”

“Are you remembering all this?” I whispered as Simon turned away to top up the fuel tank.

“Who cares,” he muttered back between clenched teeth. “I just want him to go away so I can have a rest.”

“... and then you switch it on here and adjust this handle here, until it’s running smoothly, like this.” The machine came to life with a roar and began to skitter across the floor towards us like some kind of malevolent monster, and Simon reached over and batted the lever back up with his spanner.

“Yes, well, looks like the mooring bolts have come a bit loose,” he said gruffly. “You’re going to have to fix that before you use it.” He padlocked the door and clapped John on the shoulder as he handed over the keys. “You look done in, Mate. I’ve got to get to Kandep now but I’ll give you a call tomorrow at sched time and see how you’re getting on.”

“Thank goodness that’s over,” John groaned as Simon’s ute disappeared over the brow of the hill. He sank onto the chair nearest the door and let his head flop backwards, utterly exhausted, and I kissed the top of his head and tip-toed away.

*

I put the children to bed by candle-light that night, drawing comfort from the familiar routine of nappies, stories and prayers, with whispered ‘I love yous’ that shrunk the strangeness to a tolerable size. When silence settled on the house, John staggered to the kitchen where a candle flickered on the table.

“Is there any food left?” he croaked. I escorted him to the chair nearest the stove and fussed over him while he ate, cooing and clucking till he groaned in protest.

“Don’t push your luck, woman,” he chuckled, putting his arm round me and pulling me onto his knee. We sat watching the candle burn down on its enamel plate.

“Is it bedtime yet?” I stretched and yawned, making the flame flicker.

“Shall we go outside for a breath of fresh air first?”

“Why not?”

We stepped off the porch and followed the torchlight up the lawn under giant gum trees, then switched it off and stood arm in arm, drinking in the enormous silence. There was a different feeling in the air, a sense of high mountains and vast space. The night was pitch black, apart from a few stars above the horizon, and smelt of wood smoke and eucalyptus and mud.

I tightened my grip on John’s arm as a twig snapped beside me. “What’s that noise? Did you hear something just then?”

We stopped breathing to listen, staring into the dark, and jumped back in alarm as a jagged screech shredded the silence from a spot right at our feet. I switched on the torch with trembling hands as the scream went on, and we jumped again at the sight of a native tribesman crouched on one knee with a lethal-looking bow and arrow stretched taut, ready to shoot.

“I don’t think he’s joking,” John breathed, as the weapon aimed at both our faces in turn, and I quickly turned the torch back on ourselves and waggled my fingers in a greeting.

“It’s only us,” I trilled, dry-mouthed. “How are you?” John forced a smile and spread his hands to show that he was unarmed. The trembling arrow stayed trained on us for several seconds, then our attacker lowered it and rose to his feet with an apologetic laugh and began speaking very fast in Pidgin. We shook hands, weak with relief, and tried to follow what he was saying. It seemed he was the night watchman, guarding the grounds against the stil-man, and had not expected us to come outside in the dark. We thanked him for his diligence and retreated to the house with a new and unpleasant tremble about the knees.

“So this is Laiagam,” remarked John, when we’d remade the bed so the sheets were under the blankets instead of on top, and climbed into it. “Well, at least it’s not going to be boring.”

***

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