The silver spoon for stirring tea in the desert was found next to a metal cup with an engraved wavy pattern around the edge that had belonged to that indefatigable researcher of nostalgia Lemuel Cardington Swift who vanished without trace from his hotel room in the late summer of 1924. Under the antique desk was also found a leather-bound notebook in which the traveller had meticulously noted all manner of things in lilac ink. Among the precision sketches and scrupulous descriptions of yet unrecorded species of the flora and fauna of nostalgia, there were hasty notes relating to the acquisition of the strange silver object. The importance of a note was indicated by an exclamation sign written with a thick lead pencil in the margin. Here is the note:
“The caravan left the Chebika Oasis and set off on the road to the Atlas Mountains. Atop a tall dune, we observed a lone Bedouin with his kufiyya removed and legs crossed. I greeted him and, alighting from my camel, made a sign for the others to move away. The man clearly did not wish to be disturbed. I approached.
The Bedouin sat, his eyes unblinking and fixed into the distance. There were a khaki-coloured clay teacup and a small silver spoon in his lap. The cup was empty. As I was about to greet him, he made a gesture for me to keep silent. He was expecting something.