The slaughter of the Muslims, which had begun after Matthew’s speech, continued apace despite Mark’s performance. It was in any case sporadic, for there was a curfew in operation and the armed forced were in general more disposed to maintain law and order than they had been before. Nevertheless, even by noon the next day there was still enough bloodshed going on to warrant concern, particularly in areas where gemming and tourism and the spice trade were the chief means of livelihood. Even in Colombo there was come confusion, though this was primarily due to groups which had previously owed allegiance to Luke going on the rampage to prove their bona fides. Occasionally this led to supporters of those associated with Matthew fighting side by side with the armed forces against them, though in none of these instances was much saved for the original victims of the violence.
Yet it was not primarily the state of the nation that determined Tom to make a public statement on television that evening. All his counsellors were against it, and they adduced in support the violence of the shock he had undergone on the previous day. Yet he felt that he simply had to appear. It seemed to him in some dim way that this was the best way of expiating the curse that had fallen upon him. He grasped in the emptiness that possessed him at the notion that, if he were to share with the nation his anguish at what had really occurred on the previous day, its importance would somehow be reduced.
The fact was that the shocks he was being given on this day far exceeded in gravity those that had assailed him before. In the first place he was told by several people connected with the media that it was Gerry who had rung them up on the previous morning and asked them to be in attendance for some momentous event. The television network went further, and brought him rushes of the burning interior of the room under the stairs, and asked him hesitantly whether he would like these destroyed inasmuch as the vast piles of money scattered about were clearly visible in the flames. Then, in going through Gerry’s papers, he had found an envelope addressed to her in Luke’s handwriting, with MADAM- MASH inscribed prominently on the top left hand corner, and written with a flourish underneath, ‘For your eyes only, Luke’. Continue reading