I followed the old man as he stepped outside. He had a small bottle gourd tied to his waist and a square box under his arm that hung from a strap round his shoulder. He wore close-fitting workmens' trousers and a sleeveless shirt, both of light blue. His sandal socks were yellow, and looked as though made from skin or hide.
The old man proceeded directly to the willow tree, where several children were playing. With a gleam in his eyes, he produced a small blue towel from his waist pocket. He twisted it into a long and slender form, resembling a paper string. Then he placed it on the ground in the middle of the clearing. Next, he scratched a large circle in the dirt around it. Finally, he took out a brass candy seller's whistle from the box that hung from his shoulder.
"Now my towel becomes a snake. Watch closely. Watch closely." He repeated his words.
The children stared intently at the towel. I stared too.
"Watch closely. Watch closely. Are you watching?" As he spoke, the old man blew his whistle and began to step round the circle. My gaze never shifted from the towel. However, the towel remained still.
The old man's whistle continued to sound. He walked his circle again and again. He circled lightly, on the tips of his straw sandals, showing great deference to the towel. The scene was frightful, yet at the same time amusing.