Doc advised her to wait for Harry who was due to speak next and who, though a radical too, would at least not be irritating; while Happy promised that when he spoke in the afternoon he would advance quite a different point of view. Snow White however was to enjoy neither of these experiences. Just before they were due to recommence there came through from Ceylon the horrifying news that made them decide to adjourn the conference for a day. As it turned out, the conference was to be adjourned for ever, and the fates of several of the delegates strikingly affected; but before we explore how, we ought to return to Colombo to find out what it was exactly that happened.
The Leninist had been feeling bored. He had also been feeling insignificant. Safe though he was with Veronica he could not help thinking that life was passing him by. A man with as famous a past as his was should surely have done more to make his mark upon the sands of time. In the long hours during which he was left to his own devices, he had found himself regretting that he had not been energetic enough, that he had allowed the first fine careless rapture of his youth, when he had dodged in and out of dangerous places clad only in the thinnest of disguises, to be overlaid by placidity and the creature comforts of middle age.
By the time Veronica left for Singapore, he had determined what he would do to assert once more his dedication to his cause. The rest of that day he had spent pottering around the house, inconsequentially as it seemed, but in reality with set purpose, getting together everything he wanted. Fortunately he had been trained in self-help and several sciences in the distant days of his idealistic youth, when each little cell had to be self-sufficient both to multiply and to efface itself if danger threatened. Long after the servants had gone to bed, he sat up late into the night, making thorough preparations for his bold and resolute stance on the morrow.
Everything was ready by the dawn of the fateful day at which we have now arrived. He dressed himself very carefully. The magnificent pair of breasts which had been so lovingly constructed, decked out as they now were in one of the more alluringly revealing of Veronica’s dresses, really did the party proud, he felt. He noted that now, as in the days of the war, he had begun to feel more acutely that whatever he did was for the sake of the party. Several decades of good living had, he realized, succeeded in overlaying that concept, but now when he was setting off to do a braver thing than perhaps ever before in his life he was glad to note that the old attitudes had returned.
He was glad that Veronica had insisted on such strenuous physical exercise each morning. Looking at himself in the full length mirror in her bedroom after he was completely dressed, he could not help thinking that he looked quite attractive with what might almost have been described as an hour glass figure. He remembered how fond Tom had used to be of the odd bit of flesh, and he smiled pleasurably to himself in anticipation. Dressed as he thus was, recalling too the Tom of the heady days of their youth, he had little doubt that he would convince him to see the light. Of course he was prepared for any contingency, for he had known Tom long enough to be well aware that one could not rely entirely on his goodwill to solve all problems. But by and large he was optimistic that sentiment and the golden power of his tongue alone would convince Tom to precipitate a settlement that would be a credit both to himself and to the country, and that would allow both their names to go down gloriously to posterity.
It was therefore with some assurance that the Leninist, once more wearing his sharp stiletto heels, tripped down Veronica’s drive and down the road the short distance required to Tom’s house. At the front gate he was of course stopped by the security guards, but he told them that Tom was expecting him to breakfast. This was something the guards were used to, for Tom’s hospitality at breakfast to certain select socialites and politicians was legendary, but recently they had been told to be particularly alert so they called through to the house. The Leninist gave them the name by which he had been known many years before.
‘Tell him Daisy has called,’ he said in the sultriest tone he could manage. ‘Daisy Belle. He will remember that the last time we had breakfast together was after he had saved me from a most embarrassing situation during the war. We were young then. And foolish.’
The guard relayed the message accordingly. As the Leninist had anticipated, there was no problem at all. The guard was told that the lady should be let in at once, and indeed escorted to the front verandah where Tom himself would be waiting to receive her.