“The market of Umuike is a wonderful place,” said the young man who had been sent by Obierika to buy the giant goat “There are so many people on it that if you threw up a grain of sand it would not find a way to fall to earth again.”

“It is the result of a great medicine,” said Obierika. “The people of Umuike wanted their market to grow and swallow up the markets of their neighbours. So they made a powerful medicine. Every market day, before the first cock-crow, this medicine stands available to buy ground in the shape of an old woman with a fan. With this magic fan she invites to the market all the neighbouring clans. She invites in front of her and behind her, to her right and to her left.”

“And so everybody comes,” said another man, “honest men and thieves. They can steal your cloth from off your waist in that market.”

“Yes” said Obierika. “I warned Nwankwo to keep a sharp eye and a sharp ear. There was once a man who went to sell a goat. He led it on a thick rope which he tied round his wrist. But as he walked through the market he realised that people were pointing at him as they do to a madman. He could not understand it until he looked back and saw that what he led at the end of the rope was not a goat but a heavy log of wood.”

“Do you think a thief can do that kind of thing single-handed?” asked Nwankwo.

“No,” said Obierika. “They use medicine.”