After recognizing the stranger as a man whom he tried to murder years earlier, the astrologer advises,
Listen carefully to what I have to say. Your village is two day’s journey due north of this town. Take the next train and be gone. I see once again great danger to your life if you go from home.
The protagonist instructs his unknowing victim to do this for one main reason: self-protection. He wants to keep the man away in order to remain safe from retaliation. His speech to the stranger involves two strategies: establishing false authority and satisfying the customer’s rage and need for vengeance.
First, before delivering the advice above, the charlatan astrologer uses prior knowledge to fool the customer into believing his authenticity as a psychic. Pretending to demonstrate supernatural powers, he feigns divining the man’s past—being stabbed in the chest, pushed into a well in a field, and left to die. The man is amazed that the astrologer knows this information, unaware that the astrologer is actually the perpetrator of these homicidal deeds.
Further strengthening his facade as a trustworthy clairvoyant, the protagonist addresses the stranger by name:
“You know my name!” the other said, taken aback.
This false display of magical power misleads the stranger into taking the fake astrologer's words seriously. The hapless customer listens intently to and heeds the command to take the two-day train journey back home up north and never return. The protagonist then tries to scare the man by professing that he can avoid danger if he stays home. Conveniently, this warning ensures that the man will never return, securing the protagonist’s safety.
Further cementing his false persona, the astrologer
took out a pinch of sacred ash and held it to him. “Rub it on your forehead and go home. Never travel southward again, and you will live to be a hundred.”
This action and a promise of long life not only portray him as a mystical figure but also make the stranger feel a bit of control over his own fate. The astrologer supposedly sees into the future that the man will live to be one hundred years old if he follows directions.
Second, the protagonist placates the stranger’s anger and desire for vengeance by telling him that his attempted murderer is
in the next world … he died four months ago in a far-off town. You will never see any more of him.
This statement provides double insurance that the attempted murderer is dead and thus out of the stranger’s reach and that the stranger can look forward to enacting vengeance in the afterlife (“the next world”). The protagonist confirms that the stranger has been looking for him “now and then” in order to kill him. By lying that he—the attempted murderer—is dead, the astrologer stops the stranger from stalking him in the future.
When the disappointed stranger remarks that his attempted murderer hopefully “died as he deserved,” the astrologer again lies:
Yes … he was crushed under a lorry.
The astrologer embellishes his deceptive narrative in order to satisfy the stranger and send him away appeased and certain never to return.