Dressed in rags, a mongrel at his heels, the man stopped before a busy chai shop at the station. The chaiwala took one look at him and turned away in disgust. The man sighed. With a loud whistle, the Avon heaved to a stop at Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
An old man with a weary face approached the tramp. He was dressed strangely, and the chaiwala noticed the motif of a queen with a crown on his cloak. The stranger took a close look at the tramp, and his eyes lit up.
“Ah, so you’re here. I have been going mad. But no, I shall not weep”, he said and quite simply thrust into the tramp’s palm a coin (Was that gold? thought the chaiwala) bearing the same queen’s face and left.
The chaiwala barely had time to register his surprise that a gentleman came along, humming a little tune to himself. He seemed to be looking for someone, and as before looked surprised and thoroughly happy when he saw the poorly dressed man.
“Oh have I missed your songs, for if it isn’t music that be the food of love, what is?” As before, the tramp made no comment but was quite richly rewarded with a coin (that had to be gold!) that had funny writing on it. The chaiwala could make out I-L-L-Y before the man pocketed it.
If he had been surprised before, what he saw next shocked him. A tall, hefty black man made his way to the little shop. He was accompanied by a woman, shockingly beautiful and dainty. He felt too weak to even wolf whistle; he was not sure if he was capable of whimpering then. The couple appeared to be bickering about something when they spied the tramp.
“I have not deserved this” said She.
“Rude am I in speech, how can I help that?” shot back He.
She sighed, nodded at the tramp, handed him an old hanky with (Wait, what!) gold embroidery and turned. Infuriated, the tall man nodded hurriedly and left as well.
The chaiwala turned open mouthed to the man in rags whose pockets now bulged with gold.
“Who are you?”
The man smiled, and in his eyes the chaiwala suddenly saw magical places far away and in a time unknown and surreal.
“I? I am but a fool”