…Mrs Onyeka from next door was also in her back-yard and when the bow was completed my aunt noticed her looking a little astonished, and gave her a straight look. Mrs Onyeka said, without a trace of sarcasm, “it is nice to get the paper, isn’t it!” and my aunt nodded a bit brusquely. The message boy was out of the gate by this time, and whistling ‘Rock Of Ages’ which as no doubt you recall, opens with the supplication, ‘Rock Of Ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee.’ My aunt felt it was a little too appropriate to be comfortable, and wondered why there was no indication in the bible that angels have a sense of humour. The headline, read again, said, ‘Government offical impatient.’
“For the next two days my aunt did not venture into the garden during the afternoons, and simply picked up her papers off her front door. There were no further messages.
On the third day, however, and quite by accident-or so she says-she lost count of the time and happened to be attending to the weeds around her tomato plant when the message boy arrived. He handed her the paper and said, ‘I shan’t be on this route again, I’m afraid. I’ve got another job.’ My aunt was quite distressed. ‘Why?’ she said, gripping the paper intently. ‘oh, something came up in the classifieds,’ he said, ‘nice to have known you.’ This time he left the garden whistling ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.’ My aunt, carrying on the tune in her head, looked down at the headlines and read only ‘crises worsens.’ Gloomily she stumped up the steps into the house humming to herself, ‘All things great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the lord God made them all.’ It was only after she had had her bath that she began to reflect on the message boy’s words. They were after all, the first connected statement he had ever made to her. What was it now? The classifieds-lots of opportunities-and then ‘all creatures great and small.’ Breathing a little harder she turned to the classifieds on the paper and the advertisement simply leapt out at her, ‘Joyce phone Dorothea immediately Angel.’ The only Dorothea my aunt knows is a rangy elderly female who is devoted to helping the needy and dogs and is someone my aunt does her best to avoid. Nevertheless she went to the phone and made the call, and said she was calling in response to the advertisement. ‘Well,’ said Dorothea in her usual igbo accent, ‘I never thought it would take an ad to make you call. Anyway you know what it is. Four weeks old. An absolute charmer. Nearly pedigree, and only 20 thousand .’ ‘What?’ enquired my aunt, confused. ‘The pup,’ said Dorothea, in patient tones, ‘the last of the litter. Great companion. Don’t tell me you can’t afford it.’ My aunt, of course, did not tell her that. she did not, for a moment, know what to tell her, and then, floating into her mind, came the words ‘all creatures great and small’ and the recollection that the 30 thousand she got from the radio station would pay for the pup quite exactly. ‘ All right,’ she said, ‘I’ll call for it this evening.’ When she put down the phone she looked unsuccessfully for the ad she had read, but did find a different one. That evening, full of anticipation and excitment, she collected her new pet.
“It was perhaps a pity that she had not listened more carefully to the message boy’s whistling, for surely he must have held the note a little on ‘great,’ as the ‘almost pedigree’ pup turned out to be almost a Great Dane, or even (for it was fearsomely and curiously round about the head) almost a St. Bernard. As it grew, and oh it grew quickly, one might perhaps have called it almost a pony. Whatever its breed, however, its character was never in question. It was a romper, a leaper, a destroyer, an excavator, and before the next six months were out, the garden looked more like a dirt race track or a flanders field than anything ever seen in Iba-estate before, and my aunt had to give up planting entirely and concentrated on needle work. That dog is still with her, and a terror to all in the street.” She emptied her glass and smiled demurely. “But your aunt still thinks the message boy was an angel?” I said. She circled her fingers round her glass cup. “oh yes,” she said, “she’s convinced of it and you cant argue with her at all. Only now she says it was a fallen angel.” I bought her another glass of gin.