Worse was to come. It turned out that the Leninist, far from feeling helpless and frightened and coming to Tom for that reason, was under the impression that Tom required his advice on how to deal with the crisis. Tom was sorely tempted to tell him there was no crisis at all, except the one that affected those Marxists who were or should have been under arrest for having created all the trouble. Yet then he thought of Dick, and he forbore, reflecting to himself that the Leninist’s aggressive attitude was just another example of the jackals falling upon the injured lion towards whom they had been sycophantic before. Sighing deeply, he allowed the Leninist to go on. To his horror he found that the Leninist was now not only trying to dictate to him a solution that required welcoming to his bosom those incorrigible Tamils who had refused to take the oath of allegiance; he was also suggesting scarcely veiled threats against Tom’s life if he did not comply. Tom was not sure whether the Leninist meant the threats to emanate from himself or from some amorphous entity such as Harry was devoted to, but it was all certainly extremely annoying. If he had not been the host at breakfast, for Tom the most sacred of meals, he might almost have thrown the blighter out or rather, dressed just as he was, into the jail he so richly deserved.
It was indeed only the arrival of Luke that saved the Leninist; or, if we are to take a broader view of the whole business, that saved Tom rather. Luke had been startled enough by the newspaper items about the march Harry was planning, and about what seemed Dick’s involvement in it. Soon after that shock, he had been rung up by one of his contacts in the Press who told him that Gerry had arranged what seemed to be an elaborate press conference for that very morning at the Presidential dwelling. Luke was convinced that something fishy was up. He would not have put it past Tom to have reversed direction completely, whether under pressure from Gerry or not, and to be about to announce his conversion, backed by all sorts of old organisations, to the philosophies preached by Harry. Even if the explanation were quite different, Luke felt that it was imperative to find out at once what was happening. He decided, though in fact he himself had never been invited to breakfast with Tom, to take advantage of the general assumption that Tom kept open house at that time, and to present himself there to be in at whatever was in train. Continue reading