“An interjection, kind reader, if you’ll allow one: It may be argued that stories should not sprawl in this way, that they should be grounded in one place or the other, put down roots in the other or the one and flower in that singular soil; yet so many of today’s stories are and must be of this plural, sprawling kind, because a kind of nuclear fission has taken place in human lives and relations, families have been divided, millions upon millions of us have travelled to the four corners of the (admittedly spherical, and therefore cornerless) globe, whether by necessity or choice. Such broken families may be our best available lenses through which to view this broken world. And inside the broken families are broken people, broken by loss, poverty maltreatment, failure, age, sickness, pain and hatred, yet trying in spite of it all to cling to hope and love, and these broken people – we, the broken people! – may be the best mirrors of our times, shining shards that reflect the truth, wherever we travel, wherever we land, wherever we remain. For we migrants have become like seed-spores, carried through the air, and lo, the breeze blows us where it will, until we lodge in alien soil, where very often – as for example now in this England with its wild nostalgia for an imaginary golden age when all attitudes were Anglo-Saxon and all English skins were white – we are made to feel unwelcome, no matter how beautiful the fruit hanging from the branches of the orchards of fruit trees that we grow into and become.”

The letters showed her that the material success of America had impoverished the spiritual lives of Americans, but she also saw that success was by no means evenly distributed across the broad populous nation, and the absence of material well-being was spiritually impoverishing also. America no longer taught its lovers how to spell.

The record warns us of the frailty of even the greatest endeavors, and the consequent need to be resolute in the pursuit of love, as strong as a lion in his prime, and as unbreakable as a holy vow; and never to give up hope.

At that exact moment, an osprey flying directly overhead sent them a communication. The communication landed splat on the map of the United States and obscured the city of New York; after which the osprey, having nothing further to communicate had completed its role in our story and flew awa.

‘Ugh,’ expostulated Sancho. ‘Fucking bird.’

But Quichotte was clapping his hands. ‘This is it!’ he cried.

‘This is what?’

‘The sign. The hunter has guided us, and the hunt is on! We must go immediately where we have been told to go.’

This is the Sign?’ Sancho demanded with some indignation. ‘My transformation from a figment into a flesh-and-blood person, that’s not the sign? _Birdshit is the sign?’