DE AD RATS began to rain into houses.
Women ran out screeching when fat bundles tumbled into simmering pots on the hearth. Men woke up at all hours uneasily aware of stirring that had nothing to do with desire. It was usually a dying rat burrowing frantically into the bedclothes.
Toddlers chased after rodents that staggered drunkenly about. Children devised cruel and interesting games of torment.
The street stank of putrefying rats. The disgusted villagers had tired of clearing them: within an hour of sweeping away the corpses, there would be a fresh richesse of rats, twitching in their death throes.
A few days later, plague broke out in the village.
There was an interval of two weeks between Bimabai's death and the outbreak. That interval had seen the deaths of rats.