Once more, but more slowly this time than the last, he walked towards the stairs. Once more he turned before ascending them, but this time he stood still and merely raised his hand in a gesture of salutation towards the breakfast room. ‘Out, out, brief candle,’ he said mournfully. ‘May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. And again, put out the light.’
With that he finally went up the stairs. Luke made sure the fire was completely out in the room under the stairs before driving direct to the television studios. He had already sent out messages, on the radio and through police loudspeakers, that there would be a special television transmission about the tragic occurrences at the Presidential house. Once he got to the studios he waited only to make sure that pictures of Gerry expiring in his arms were available. Then he launched upon his broadcast, to announce to the nation with funereal music playing softly in the background, that there had been a bomb attack on the President’s house, intended to deprive the nation of its leader. Fortunately the attack had gone astray, and the President, though badly shocked, had escaped, but his brother had been compelled to lay down his life on behalf of the nation, as had too the President’s wife. The state television network had been present to record her last moments, when with her dying breath she had identified the doers of the dastardly deed.
There was then a brief but intensely moving clip of Gerry expiring, with her last momentous words amplified to the full. Luke’s voice was almost choking with emotion when he next appeared on the screen. He began by saying how very shocked the nation must be at this terrible time, and how it must share intensely in Tom’s grief. Tom would himself appear on television at a later date as soon as he was able to. By then, however, Luke said, the nation might have forgotten the enormity of the grief it and Tom had undergone. Simply because their President had survived, they might be less conscious than they ought to be of the enormous price that had been paid.
‘But I,’ he declared, ‘come not to bury Gerry but to praise her. For she has done a far, far better thing now than she ever did before. Gerry has suffered now on our behalf. So has Dick her brother, the President’s brother, the brother of us all. As you know, he was a Muslim, and it is against the Muslims that the venom of these misguided Socialists is most violently directed. I too am a Muslim. So are we all. All honourable men. Even the uncircumcised amongst you are Muslims, Muslims of the spirit, and Buddhists, and Christians, and Hindus even, all members of the brotherhood of the spirit, that is implacably opposed to Socialists who take drugs, opium and heroin, and indulge in vile habits because they will not acknowledge the overpowering force of true religion.’
‘It is for this reason that they must be eradicated from our midst. I call upon you all, Muslims and Christians and Buddhists and Hindus and even Seventh Day Adventists, to join together forcefully to drive out this menace from amongst us. We must after all avenge our leader, as the Muslims did so bravely in Indonesia many years ago, when the situation was far less serious and it was not the brother or the wife or indeed any of the wives of the President who was killed, but merely several generals. On that occasion the Indonesian nation asserted its manhood conclusively and crushed the forces of International Socialism. Let it never be said that we in Ceylon lagged behind when we were presented with an even more remarkable opportunity to prove our faith and our loyalty.’
It was not long after Luke had finished speaking that there was a riot in the jail in which the Stalinist and the Trotskyist were kept, and they were both killed along with anyone who had been convicted of robbery, which was held to be evidence of socialist sympathies. At about the same time there went forth from all the mosques a call for a holy war against all Socialists, and anyone who was opposed to the principles of MASH and MADAM. Several countries offered vast amounts of aid to these organizations, the administration of which had been taken over by Luke. In view of the tremendous business connections they possessed, almost unlimited lines of credit were opened up and enormous quantities of weapons bought. As it happened very few people were killed, but it was clear that tremendous things were brewing. The Muslims were certainly on the march, and a good many other people seemed likely to join them. The only question was, on whom would the feelings that had been undoubtedly stirred up fall, in the absence of sufficient Socialists to satisfy them. That barring a miracle they would fall on someone was not to be doubted: a holy war had most certainly been launched.