“Muss es sein?” I asked. “Shall the clouds return after the rain?”

“Not according to the wireless. The wireless said it would be fine all weekend; sunny and warm.”

“But look above you. The stars are darkened and the evil days have come.”

“In other words you are contradicting the report of the Weather Bureau?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Sorry sir, that’s not allowed.” He looked over his shoulder and clapped his hands three times.

Four enormous guards appeared from nowhere and gripped me by each of my limbs. They lifted me from the ground and I remember dropping my pallette. I was borne away and clapped into jail for the rest of my natural life.

At this point I awakened to the nightmare screams of my landlady’s idiot son. They came through the door, which I leave open at night since my room is underground and has no windows, and were right on schedule. He is reliable as an alarm clock. In fact, I often think he is not an idiot at all, but diabolically shrewd and given to putting antic dispositions on, which is not an uncommon trait in England, especially before a foreigner.

He looks insane enough, yet one can observe him for weeks at a time and fail to catch him in one irrational action. Also, he is near-sighted to the point of blindness. His range of vision is less than a foot. Beyond that he sees absolutely nothing. If he reads he must hold the page three inches from his eyes and screw his face into a fiendish squint. Yet he never wears glasses and so gives that impression of unbearable intensity and perpetual straining common to near-sighted people and to the deaf.

However, I knew he was insane from the very first moment I saw him, which was when I rang the bell here two months ago after seeing there was a room to let. I had been evicted from my previous room on Boxing Day because of a lesson I tried to teach my colleague boarders.