At noon, a small crowd of soldiers and others had gathered at the front gate of the hospital, expecting the truck from Mohenjo-Daro. It was hot and there was little wind, but everyone waited, stuck there at the gate in the sun on account of their separate and respective desires to move away from the events of the previous evening. Everyone was dressed in light clothing and light colors, which reflected the sunlight - from a distance, through the inevitable heat distortion, the group might have resembled angels, or devas, waiting at a rural bus stop.
Irene was wearing the clothes that she had arrived in, and at her feet there was a small case containing the books and personal effects that she had taken from camp. Nearby, Peter was as empty-handed as the night he had arrived. To replace his torn pajamas and the hospital clothing he had been wearing, he had been outfitted with a freshly pressed kurta-pajama combination. His heavy boots stuck out incongruously from beneath the long shirt - but aside from this, his height, his lack of a beard and a proper taqiyah cap, his light skin and European features, and finally the fact that he was smoking, Peter was the doppleganger of Doctor Ayub, who waited beside him.
It was not long before the cloud of dust could be seen rising above the scrub and few visible buildings in the vicinity. From a distance, the group could easily see that the approaching truck was filled with people. In the front passenger seat, Irene recognized Professor Humphries, and behind him several soldiers and workers – but no John Daniel. The truck, a relatively new and already worn Depot Hack, rattled and rolled to a stop at the gate, grinding the road. Humphries was the first out. He scarcely greeted Peter and Irene, and immediately, as though the relief of saying it could not be forestalled any longer, he said, "McCormick's postponing the dig."
"Why?" asked Ayub. Soldiers and workers were hopping out, the boots clopping onto the ground. Irene noticed that they were stepping around something on the floor of the automobile.
"He feels it is unsafe. Something happened last night." Humphries looked to the truck bed. "Doctor? This is John Daniel, he's been injured." The soldiers began to carefully pull John from the Hack, feet first. Humphries turned to Peter and Irene. "I think it's just temporary, but you'll have to get your things from camp. With you, Peter, this is two of our people who have met with serious injuries." Looking back at John Daniel, Humphries added, "I think he's been scared out of his wits by something. I don't think he can talk. I don't like it." He paused, considering what he had just said. "The artifacts will be brought up tomorrow. By then, Major McCormick wants archaeological personnel off the site. Miss Howell says he can make arrangements for your boo-"
"Well, tell me, man!" interrupted Ayub. "What happened to him?" The soldiers brought the stretcher to the group. Apart from his mouth and the hint of his English-style moustache, nothing could be seen of John Daniel's face behind the wrappings. Perhaps padded with cotton balls, his eyes seemed to bulge beneath the dressings.
Humphries answered, "I found him like this in his tent this morning. He said he fell from the riverbank in the night and crawled his way into camp. But since then, he's been unresponsive."
Ayub leaned over John and peered into the bandages. "How do you feel?" he asked. John, apparently conscious, turned his head away from the doctor. "We have another unresponsive man inside. You see, something happened here, too . . ."
Peter's attendant, Bhakti, had been standing quietly by. She clutched her satchel tightly on her shoulder and stared at the ground.
(Image of a 1920 Depot Hack, not filled with people, from the Model T Ford Club of America.)