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Loud chords should now begin to resound as we canter towards our conclusion. Drums certainly are beating already, and conches are being blown in various keys, as Phyllis and her swelling band march down from the hills. She had been more upset than she would earlier have thought possible at the news of Matthew’s death. He was her son, and she remembered the past they had shared, not the recent events when he had seemed to cultivate a frightening estrangement. Lily had convinced her however that she ought to transform her grief through action, and she had thereupon decided to begin the march at once. Harry could join her on the way, assuming that he were let in. Even if he were not, she felt that now her own anguish, running in recognisable harness beside that of Lily and Mumtaz and John’s family and the three boys from the beach, would be enough to move mountains, let alone the now practically isolated Tom.

Even before Veronica’s momentous press conference, the march had become a force to reckon with. It could not have been better timed. Phyllis had naturally insisted on a good breakfast for her troops, and her kitchens had as always turned out all sorts of delicacies, traditional and otherwise, so that it was some time after daybreak that they set out from the house. A few minutes after they were on their way the news of Matthew’s death was announced over the radio. By the time they reached the gate leading into her drive, some distance down the hill, the whole Village had gathered, beside the ruins of the cottage where Krishna’s parents had been burnt to death. The march struck them as a vivid tribute to Matthew’s memory, and what had earlier seemed to them a characteristically fantastic requirement from Phyllis now became an active symbol of their affection and allegiance towards the family. They joined in the march with enthusiasm and determination.


As they proceeded through the main street of the village, the news came through too of Harry’s death. Phyllis was upset, as was Lily, and also Mumtaz with whom Harry had always been gentle, but the wave of resolution that rippled through all those with them was more than enough to sustain them. It was not that Harry himself meant much to the others, but they all knew that he had been due to lead the march, and that there had been an attempt to stop him getting into the country, and it occurred to them now that his death was the final element in a desperate plot by the government to make the march a failure. It was at this point that drums began to be beaten, and conches blown, to make it quite clear that nothing would halt their progression.

It was true that the news also spread that it was John who had shot Harry, but this had little effect in itself. Everyone in the village was already marching together, and in any case the racial element in the case was submerged beneath the awareness that for a long time John had been a member of the cabinet. His resignation was forgotten, and only his previous social status burned bright in the minds and the slogans of the marchers. Fortunately John had always kept his family affairs private, so that his wife and children were not recognised. Rather, the grief that marked their features, juxtaposed against that which showed itself in various ways in the faces of those next to them, all added to the emotion that swelled amongst those who marched. In the light of such anguished loss and deprivation, recompense had to be sought.

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