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To be frank, there was nothing strange about him. But to the simple folks of our village anyone from the outside world was strange and mysterious.

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The Mysterious Old Man He came like the wind, as it from nowhere. As the gently wind ruffles the placid surface of a still pond, his visit caused small ripples on the smooth surface of the peaceful life that prevailed in our small village. At that time none of us had the foggiest idea of the shape of things to come. Perched on the sea- facing slope of a hill that forms part of a mountain rampart along the seaboard, our village was a perfect haven for anyone who hated modern civilization. It took a half day's walk by a footpath to the nearest town. The march of time has left us behind by a decade. In a way we were happy that the wind of change did not blow in our village. We are contented with life as it is, for it is very much the same as it used to be for centuries. Our village folks were mostly fisherman and peasants. The fertile land and the bounteous sea were very generous towards us in their gifts. ...read more.


Having paid for his drink, the stranger went along the foot-path that led towards the nearest town. Those who saw him leaving hoped that they would see no more of him in our village. They were proved wrong; he was there again on the next day and the next. He frequented Aseem's coffee shop; meanwhile news of the stranger figured prominently in the gossip of our village. They all had something to say about him. But opinion varied as to whether his frequent visits were a good omen of bad. Elderly people like Mr. Tan and old Haji were decidedly against it, for "such strange visitors often bring some misfortune with them," they argued. It was really startling news to us when we heard that the old man had rented out a room in Madam Ho's house. Madame Ho was a widow; her only son, Chen, the village carpenter went to town in search of work. The old woman was living alone in a three-roomed house. We were a bit puzzled when we heard that the old man was going to stay among us. ...read more.


Murder was committed in Madam Ho's house. The mysterious old man lay in a pool of blood. A ten inch dagger, plunged into his chest, had skewered him to the floor. Utter panic gripped the whole village. Fear and consternation could be seen on every face. Ahmed alone had a head cool enough to act wisely. Having instructed the curious crowd to keep clear away from the dead body, he sent his boy, Sam to the Police Station in the nearest town, but before San reached there, the police were already on the scene. They had caught the scent of the murder somehow or other. The Inspector in charge of the police surveyed the scene of murder with an expert's glance and asked, "Didn't he have any personal belongings such as a bag or a box?" "Yes, he used to carry such a canvas bag," volunteered Ahmed. "It is missing, but I didn't expect to find it. There is a reward of $5000 for this rascal. Murder was his business. He is the third of the notorious 'Five Diamonds' to meet with his end. Now, the remaining two who have got away, will slit each other's throat for that canvas bag. It contained a fortune in diamonds and precious stones. ...read more.

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