The man opened his eyes and looked around: a great bear of a man, he felt dreadful, not surprising, given what he had been through – poisoned, tortured, shot and then chained before being pushed under the ice that covered the frozen river – but it all seemed a dream from long ago; he tried to think, but that was too difficult, so he just looked around and accepted that, against the evidence of his memory, he was alive; Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin was indeed alive, but as that seemed impossible, he decided that he must have died, but certainly had not gone to Heaven, and yet this surely could not be Hell either: to his right, there was a jumble of stones, to his left, the ground dropped and rose again to another hilltop; it surely wasn't Russia, but where on earth could it possibly be? at this point he could not know that he lay sprawled on the top of Eildon Mid Hill, the highest of what the Romans named Trimontium, the Triple Hills, remains of an ancient Volcano that stood above the old town of Melrose, none of which he had ever heard of; slowly he rose to a sitting position, which was when he was seen by an off-duty Woman Police Officer, though he could be forgiven for thinking that Milly Millican was simply a rather strangely dressed woman who was out looking for stray sheep and she, when she caught sight of him, thought he was simply a drunken member of the illiterati who, climbing Dingleton Hill at the end of a heavy night in The Ship, had taken a wrong turn and kept on putting one foot in front of the other until he had got as far as he could and collapsed or, as she reported to her Sergeant, Goldy Brevity, simply lay down until he recovered his senses; he didn't seem to understand a word when she asked him his name and address and for her part she could understand nothing that he said, when he asked after the safety if the Tsarina; but she had a vague hunch that he might be talking in either Gaelic or Sanskrit, neither language one of those she had learned at College – not that she had learned any languages at College, where she had studied Jurisprudence, thinking of becoming a lawyer, like her brother Malcolm – pie in the sky – before deciding that she liked the uniform of a Policewoman she had met and spent the night with after too much Malt Whisky in the Students Union, but that was five years ago and now she was a WPC with a good few arrests under her belt and a reputation in Melrose for being a harder nut than her appearance would have indicated; so she knelt beside the bear-man, checked it's pulse and decided that it was indeed alive, disoriented, and definitely in need of a) water b) food and c) a bath – not necessarily in that order! being a compassionate sort of person she helped him to his feet and he meekly followed her down by the path which leads between houses and onto the Dingleton Road just shy of The Square, then took him by the Old Station and along a Path Less Travelled so that he shouldn't be met with too many of the curious, took him to where her Aunts, May and Cristo, would deal with him as they did with so may of the waifs and strays who found their way to the welcome shelter of Old School House; the House would be quiet now that the Weegies had gone home and her other two Aunts, Daphne and Maude, had gone to Edinburgh for the day, so only the residents – who now included Mr Hickok, Mrs Hickok (as Calamity Jane insisted she be referred as) and Miss Oakley, who seemed to be spending most of her time lounging on satin and velvet cushions and discussing poetry and philosophy with Milly's cousin Teri who was having much more fun than Milly, with her anti-social shifts ever got these days – Isa was on duty on Galashiels today, so there would be none of the broadside Third Degrees with which she enjoyed obtaining confessions from the many recalcitrants she encountered on a daily basis, as flames do draw moths! and it was Auntie May, ever the logical one, who sent a message to invite Rabbi Burns and Zelda for afternoon tea, explaining, "the Rebbetzin has fluent Russian and whether this man is really who he looks like, or merely a lookielikie, it's definitely Russian he is speaking albeit with a Siberian accent, not Gaelic or Sanskrit, nor even Tagalog, Silly Milly, and handed Milly the consolation prize of a custard doughnut from the Co-op; and while Hyman Z Kaplan, wearing a black armband in memory of his Great-grandmother Fanny, executed on the 3rd of September 1918 for the attempted assassination of Vladimir Lenin - although the family knew for a fact that she had not been the one who fired the shots - together with Rose Mitnik and Sadie Moskowitz, used the replica rubberised finger to access the underground entrance to the New York Trumpington Tower, today, September 28th 2037, at the same time albeit twenty years ago in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, the man who looked like Grigori Rasputin sipped tea with Rabbi Burns and the Rebbetzin, Zelda, in company with my Aunties, May and Cristobal, and Milly and I sat in a corner as observers, covertly recording everything by a wireless camera discreetly placed among the books on the tall bookcase (I still have the recording on my old laptop, now merely a repository of the past) we all listened politely as the bearded stranger spoke in heavily accented Russian and Zelda then translated what he had said: "меня зовут Григори Ефимович Распутин и я - доверенное лицо Царицы Александры Феодоровна," became, in Zelda's soft voice: "my name is Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin and I am the confidant of the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna," and then a diatribe of what sounded like Double-Dutch to me, which was interspersed by Zelda translating a few words at a time and, for the sake of clarity I have pieced these two languages together, separately, first the Original and then the English translation: "дюжина, грязная, омерзительная, несоизмеримая, дьявольская, трусливая, отчаянная обманывает, опасно замаскированный в драпах цвета экскрементами тюля Dundonian, давил на меня к глубокой, влажной и мрачной темнице, где они вводили наркотики, ограбленный, загрязненный и понижали качество моего тела Безжалостными способами, затем освобождали от обязательств dum-dum пули в меня, резали меня с кинжалами, приковали меня и бросали меня в реку, где они выдвинули меня подо льдом и оставили меня, чтобы умереть мрачная смерть, и я кричу: 'это не было хорошей вещью, чтобы сделать, ко мне, человек мира, канал для голоса Бога, и Ло! Я прибыт в эти райские Поля, который является конечно Истинным Доказательством Любви к Нашему Святому Отцу и защите всего, что я сделал в моей жизни лишения и преданности!" and in the Rebbetzin's words: "a dozen dirty, damnable, disparate, devilish, dastardly, desperate dupes, dangerously disguised in dung-coloured drapes of Dundonian tulle, dragged me down to a deep, damp and dismal dungeon, where they drugged, despoiled, defiled and debased my body in Draconian ways, then discharged dum-dum bullets into me, slashed me with daggers, chained me and cast me into the river where they pushed me under the ice and left me to die a dismal death, and I cry: that was not a nice thing to do, to me, a man of peace, the channel for the voice of God, and Lo! I am come to these Elysian Fields, which is surely True Proof of the Love of Our Holy Father and a vindication of all I have done in my life of deprivation and devotion!" and he fell to his knees, his hairy head in Zelda's lap, fair sobbing his heart out as she, nervously, stroked his lank locks under the rather bemused gaze of her husband.