Five polished, beautifully crafted short stories by the skilled Indian novelist whose The Vendor of Sweets (1967) reaffirmed his considerable reputation for successfully transmuting Indian folk idiom and mores into spirited and witty engagements. The title story concerns the happily lunatic meeting of an acquisitive American tourist and an ancient, impecunious goatherd. The American, mistakenly bargaining for a statue (in what might be called the ""public domain"") and the Indian, rising to a conversational occasion, chatter on in their own languages and frames of reference, like a mad Gilbert and Sullivan duet. The next story, more somber, probes for a deadly secret in the past of a young boy's beloved guardian. There is a tale about a charming, infuriating gardener and his bizarre village obligations; another about a devoted male nurse who indulges in a touch of drink and demonic mischief. The last brief, touching story comments on the helplessness of a young man faced with natural and supernatural forces trying to destroy his wife. With illustrations by the author's brother, this is a sparkling quintet.