MADAM and MASH and Dick and Luke all figured in another conversation we ought to record, one between Matthew and the Black Shadow which took place on the evening of that same day. What led up to these subjects is, however, of equal interest, so we shall first glance at Radha and Krishna whose own conversation at this very time reflects the more significant one taking place elsewhere. We shall not record in detail the conversation of Radha and Krishna, for they are not of any great importance to our story, at the present time at any rate. Suffice it to say that they are both worried, content though they otherwise are with their situation in the household of Indra and Diana, by what they consider to be the excessive attention paid to them by both Matthew and the Black Shadow. Matthew comes in at least every other day and, when he does so, he shoots at both of them a piercing glance. The Black Shadow slips in even more often, ostensibly to see how the household is or to bring them things that are not readily available, but in reality Radha feels primarily to fix upon her his baleful stare. When Matthew spends any length of time with his sister and his brother- in-law, it seems to Radha that the Black Shadow lies in wait for her in the nether regions of the house, almost as though he were waiting to pounce.
The pair might have felt even more reason to be worried, had they known that they too were one of the subjects of the conversation taking place at this time between Matthew and the Shadow. What was actually said, on the other hand, may not have caused them too much concern. It is a conversation not particularly easy to interpret, even for those who have known each other for as long as Matthew and the Black Shadow have. It proceeds obliquely, which might, to the detached observer, seem peculiarly congruent with the circumstances under which it takes place.
‘There is something about that girl’s face that reminds me of yours,’ Matthew muses. He is lying on his stomach on the round bed made of wooden planks that has been specially designed for him. He uses no mattress. Once, long ago, he had had some trouble with his spine; in any case, he prefers as hard a surface as possible.
The Black Shadow is rubbing down his back with a very special ointment that has been distilled by moonlight in an ancient monastery. He knows immediately whom Matthew means, although no name has been mentioned. ‘I think so too,’ he replies. His tone is always quiet and respectful on these occasions, and his hands go on moving ceaselessly. Continue reading