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Published: January 27th 2006
The Vicarage, Lahore CathedralENTRY 46, April 29 1987 Hettie’s Gift
This photo was taken early in the morning, during the cool of the day. It was taken before the monsoon. Notice how much greener everything looks after the monsoon (next photo).
The valley was a wonderful place, with numerous legends and stories to titillate our imaginations. We enjoyed being shown around by Mrs Fox and came to realize the valley was far bigger than it appeared when we first arrived. The widow Fox talked and talked about Nigel: she told us of how they met, his early life in the Catholic Apostolic Church and his years as a Episcopal preacher. She also told us about his missionary work in South Africa. He, with some Methodists, had set up a mission about 90 miles north of East London near a place called Bawa Falls. Unlike most whites, he had lived and socialized with the Xhosa people.
We also learned that Bawa Falls had been home to Sipho Mnyapi. Mrs. Fox went on, ad infinitum, yet Miranda and I were all ears; we felt we knew the man and wanted to learn every detail. I continued to ask about Nigel's quest.
"I don't know much more than I've already told you, except to say when it came to this subject, he acted like a man possessed. He believed that
Miranda poses with the Cathedral motorcycle. (She won't drive it, but she will ride side-saddle.)
Western materialism was represented by the harlot on the beast and that even the Church had prostituted herself. He predicted that at the end of the millennium, the woman on the beast would be struck at her heart and the smoke of her burning would be seen round the world! Nigel did say he was planning to write a book entitled Parousia. He also promised to let me be the first to read it; I respected his privacy."
"Mrs. Fox," I said, "Miranda and I have our anniversary tomorrow." (Of the day we met)
"Wonderful," she said. "I will even give you a bottle of wine for your celebrations."
My lovely wife and I awoke at 3:30 a.m. and made our way up the mountain. There are no words to describe the valley's beauty by the light of a blue moon! We stayed until well after the sun had risen and we took several photographs of our majestic surroundings. Upon our return well after 9:00 a.m., we were greeted in an unusually somber fashion. "Padre Sahib, Memsahib, we have some very sad news for you. Mrs. Fox passed away this morning, a little
Enid and Miranda get their haircut. (The Cathedral is in the background)
before dawn. She woke with indigestion and died 15 minutes later. Her heart just stopped. According to the doctor, it was a heart attack. It was a peaceful passing."
Both Miranda and I were taken aback by the grief we felt for a lady we had just known for a few days. We were told that she had a small gift that she was going to give us for our anniversary. There was also a card. On the front of the card was a photo of the mountains. Inside was a note in her handwriting. Dear Bryan and Miranda, Thank you for listening to an old lady talk on and on. I hope you will enjoy my little anniversary gift. Love, Hettie Fox
Miranda eagerly opened the package. It contained letters and mementos (some of which were confidential but most were not) of the Rev. H. Nigel Fox. The information would be very helpful in reconstructing Nigel's travel journal as we now had the full story. Having to return for the Easter services, I was unable to attend the funeral. Marleena barely missed us as she had been
Looking down from above
A view of Miranda and friends from the balcony at St. Hilda's Guesthouse.
fairly smitten by a Pakistani journalist (we agreed to keep this romance secret). For everyone, it had been a most worthwhile "retreat".
After those days, Miranda and I rarely talked about the Foxes. For some time that part of our lives was on hold. Both Miranda and I enjoyed the remainder of our missionary work in Lahore. It went by quickly, and before we knew it we were back in Canada.
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