You remember I told you about when I took a shortcut through the cemetery. The night was cold and I was very hungry. Miriam’s warm dinner made the choice for me.

I took the shortest route down the path between the graves. Almost immediately I was sorry I had made that decision. In the moonlight, shadows were dancing grotesquely on the graves. I was not afraid. I don’t want you to think that. But if you had felt that wind and seen those shadows writhing on the graves you would understand that this was no ordinary night.

The pit was in the dense shadow of a cluster of bamboo. I did not see it at all. Suddenly I was falling, straight downwards, head first. My fall could not have taken very long, but it seemed to me as if I had stumbled upon the gates of hell and was heading straight in.

I must have hit my head on the bottom because I came to on a dusty floor. It was pitch dark. Tentatively, I felt around me and I found only steep dirt walls that went higher than I could reach. I realised that I was in a grave that must have been dug that day, no doubt in preparation for some unfortunate who had just taken the bigger plunge – to eternity. I was trying to reach up to the top when I heard the whistling. It was getting steadily louder and seemed to be coming down the path I had taken. I listened.

Coward, I thought, whistling on his way through the graveyard. That was not something I would ever do. But then – I whistle very poorly.

Before I could think any further the whistler tumbled over the edge of the pit, just missing me. He got to his feet with his back towards me, cursing in a most ungentlemanly fashion.

Instinctively I reached out and lay a hand on his shoulder, I spoke in my most soothing voice. “My man,” I said, “no need to worry. You’re among friends. We will look after you.”

Without turning around, he burst away and leapt out of the grave in a single stride. I never discovered who that man was, but I heard his cries growing fainter as he fled away through the cemetery.

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Finding Company in a Grave