Phyllis came down to Colombo in a state of extreme irritation. She had been rung up the previous day by Mark, speaking officially on behalf of the cabinet, to tell her that the government thought she ought to cancel her march for peace. When she told him that that was unthinkable, he suggested that she postpone it. She told him that that was impossible because Harry was returning to the country the following week specially for the march. There was a pause, and then he told her almost apologetically that there was a deportation order on Harry, and that he would not be allowed into the country.
Phyllis could not believe her ears. Mark had to repeat himself before she took it in, and then she asked for Tom. She was told he was not available. Phyllis insisted and, when Mark still refused, declared that she would go ahead with the march anyway, and banged the telephone down. A few moments later, it rang again and Tom came on the line to request her in the national interest to cancel the march. Phyllis, who was still irritated, asked what would happen if she refused. Tom said very earnestly that the government might feel obliged to ban it formally, at least till the situation grew less tense. He added that, since Harry had been banned from entering anyway, there was no reason why the march could not be postponed. He suggested that she come down to Colombo in a few days and discuss the matter with him. Phyllis kept a hold on her temper and asked him the reasons for the ban. Tom mentioned the activities of delegates to CARP and, when Phyllis said that was irrelevant, added confidentially that there was more that he could not disclose on the telephone. Once again he said that he would be delighted to discuss the matter with her when she had the time to come down to Colombo, and hastily put down the telephone.
Phyllis decided at once that she would leave for Colombo the very next morning. Harry was due the following week, and the march to start soon after. At the same time she tried repeatedly to get hold of Matthew to find out more, but was told that he was not at home. She did get hold of Diana, who told her that very strange things were happening and that no one was to be trusted, and then refused to say anything more since Phyllis would be down in person on the following day. So Phyllis too had a disturbed night; though she did have at least the satisfaction on the way down next morning of seeing, since she had made her intentions clear to Diana, that whereas the government papers declared in bold headlines that the march was to be postponed at the government’s suggestion, Indra’s proclaimed in even larger headlines that the march would most certainly go ahead.
Having got to Colombo, Phyllis found things even more upsetting than she had thought possible. Everyone at the house seemed in a distracted state and, though Diana did tell her that there was reason to believe Matthew had behaved very badly in the current crisis, no one would elaborate. Tom, who had been very upset by the conflicting reports in the newspapers, tried to refuse to see her and, when she insisted and forced her way in, refused to discuss the matter with her on the grounds that an even more urgent crisis had arisen. In its own way this was not entirely inaccurate, because John’s resignation, and the widespread publicity given to it and the fast, were driving him into an almost morbid frame of mind.
Then, though she had left several messages for Matthew, he was not in when she called. She insisted on waiting, however, until he came in for lunch, and then she found that he was not at all communicative. He was impeccably polite, but he made it very clear to her that he could add nothing to what she had been told by Tom. All in all, she had a utterly futile morning and, a most unusual state of mind for her, was almost depressed when, hot and tired and very hungry, she went back to Diana’s for a very late lunch.
We shall leave her there for the moment, in the secure foreknowledge that things are going to be very much better for her in the afternoon…..