Peter Serracino Inglott

Given that I have some apprehension that you may find a relative scarcity of historical facts in what follows, let me at least begin with a well-known and well-established one.

On the 8th of June 1919, a large and angry crowd gathered in front of the Governor's Palace in Valletta. Inside, the political leaders of the Maltese, particularly Enrico Mizzi, interpreted its presence as a demand that a full inquiry be held about the bloody incidents of the previous day - the Sette Giugno. The British authorities gave the assurance that full light would be brought to bear on the matter. But, it soon became apparent that the new governor, Lord Plumer, who took office in those very days, was not rushing to get it done; and when he could not delay holding it any more, he ensured that it was rushed through. The clearly perfunctory report that resulted from the enquiry ensured that a cloud of mystery has continued to hang over the events. It has been hanging like an enigma, teasing our imagination every year as we celebrate its anniversary.

Let me admit that I am not pretending to present you today with any solution of my own brew. The spirit in which I am presenting this paper is very much that of a philosophically ome mouse induced to poke his nose into the leonine den (for me) of scholarly historians. In the circumstances, I do not hope to do anything other than perhaps twist a tale or two.

More precisely, I will be talking about the novel by Thomas Pynchon, published in March 1963, with, for a title, just the twenty-second letter of the Anglo-American alphabet, V. My justification is that I suspect it may prove of some interest in two ways, concerning a minor and a major topic. The minor topic is the locally horny question about whether the Sette Giugno should be seen as just a minor incident of sundry pilfering and house breaking, with no [p.216] more blood-letting than in many a brawl in Strait Street those days, or a great national event of special significance for both the Nationalist and the Labour Parties, with the ironically serious suggestion put out by an undoubtedly great American writer, hailed indeed by many literary pundits as among the greatest of our times, in a book around which a cult grew amon rican students in the sixties, namely that the Sette Giugno is, in its way, of universal significance, for the following reason: it is an excellent paradigm for reflection on the nature itself of political history. The major topic, which comes up but which I will not explicitly discuss, is the relation between myth and history.

Obviously it is the enigmatic character of the June 1919 events which fitted them for a part in Pynchon's picaresque novel - somewhat eccentrically as its Epilogue, which figures somewhat as a summing-up. Inevitably, therefore, while it is not possible to do justice to the extremely complex architecture of a book of almost five hundred pages, I have to try at least to disentangle the two main story lines which run and intertwine through it, before they are knotted together and again taken apart, in Valletta - of which, incidentally, the book contains some of the most beautiful, both poetic and comic, evocations known to me, born and bred in it.

The first strand of the story begins its circular unwinding on "Christmas Eve, 1955" (the first words of the novel) at the "Sailor's Grave", a bar in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A., with a meeting between Benny Profane and Paola Maijstral, a Maltese girl and old acquaintance. Benny Profane is the son of a Catholic Father and a Jewish mother. He aspires above all else to avoid anything purposeful, anything teleological, which perhaps always implies theological. An Odysseus seeking to exist like a yo-yo in a perpetual, pendular swing (p. 26). His ideal way of spending his days is to-and-fro-ing on the New York underground or shuttling back-and-forth on the New Port News ferry. He works, when he must, as a road-builder, that is at establishing connections between places which he will not himself use. He does the same between people. He had met Paola for the first time at the Metro Bar, in Strait Street, Valletta, while serving on the U.S.S. Scaffold, and introduced her to a fellow sailor, whom she married. Now she tells Profane, they were having problems. Profane is fascinated by Paola, portrayed as quintessentially Maltese, and introduces her to "The Whole Sick Crew", a decadent, arty set in New York, where she meets Herbert Stencil. He also has a Maltese connection.

His story constitutes the second strand of the novel. Henry Stencil was "born in 1901, the year Victoria died...in time to be the century's child" (p. 42). After his war service, in 1945, he was struck by an entry in the diary of his father, Sidney, a British spy, who had died in unknown circumstances (to be revealed [p.217] in the Epilogue) near Malta, in June, 1919. The entry reads: "There is more behind and inside V. than any of us had suspected. Not who, but what: what is she. God grant that I may never be called upon to write the answer either here or in any official report" (p. 43). Now Herbert Stencil, whose life until then had been rather sleepy and aimless, discovers a purpose for his existence, somewhat like the hero of The Aspern Papers: he will seek out what V. is. Perphaps she was his mother, "disappeared" in some way "painful enough to keep Sidney from ever referring to it" (p. 42). All the evidence which Herbert, with fabulous effort, collects, points in one direction, namely, Malta. But, somewhat like Lord Plumer with regard to the 7th June inquiry, Stencil tries to avoid coming to Malta. He fears that it will destroy his belief that "death and V. had been separate for his father" (p. 234). Perhaps if his quest ended, his life would become aimless again. As it is, his life appears to be a faded copy of his father's, dedicated to tracking down V, the object of a love-less, indeed love-denying, total passion. But Paola foists upon him a typescript, a diary written by her own father Fausto in the war-years at Malta and in which V. figures prominently. As reluctantly as Plumer, he is forced to inquire. Herbert Stencil accompanies Paola to Malta, with Profane as a "buffer-zone" between them.

Thus, the goal-less rotator, Profane, and the goal-ful seeker, Stencil, con-verge upon Malta, drawn by the strangely magnetic power of Paola. Except for the Epilogue, entitled simply 1919, still to come, the two story-lines end as follows. Stencil, with the truth lying to be uncovered under his eyes, quickly decides to leave Malta for Stockholm, on a patently wild goose chase for a trace of V. there. Profane stays in Malta improbably looking for road-work. Paola is found once again in Malta by her American husband, and they decide to make a fresh start across the Atlantic.

Thus, Paola establishes a life-pattern which combines the circular, other-centred movement of Profane with the unidirectional, self-centred movement of Stencil. It is a pattern which resembles the spiral spin detected by Ibn Khaldun at the close of the Middle Ages and by Toynbee in our time, in universal history - the vision which combines the repetitious cyclicism of the Eastern world-view with the linear progressivism of the West, in a Mediterranean context. But Pynchon is not at all anxious to advocate that vision. In fact, perhaps the point of the Epilogue -1919 - is to negate it.

Let us turn from fiction to a few more nuggets of fact - precisely to the Sette Giugno. The crux of the enigma, as it appears in V., may be formulated perhaps as follows:

All the conditions for the uprising to take place seem to have been there on [p.218] the 25th February, when the first meeting of the National Assembly took place. But nothing happened. On the contrary, it did take place on the 7th June when the second meeting was taking place. Why?

The question is canvassed in the novel by two comic-pathetic British spies, the older Stencil and Demivolt. They agree that the difference must have been some sort of catalyst. They hypothesize various possible ones, such as cold and rain in February, warmth and light in June; or Enrico Mizzi as secretary in February and Ugo Mifsud in June, except that, if anything, that should rather have produced the opposite outcome!

Maltese historians, besides fictional spies, have searched assidously for that missing catalyst. They were moreover anticipated by some of the most alert observers of the scene on the very morning of the afternoon uprising of the 7th June. For instance, in the Archives of the Palace, a researcher found a note written by Henry Casolani, then the Principal Secretary in the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor, written exactly in the early hours of the 7th June 1919. It begins with the customary list of all the groups with grievances, which, as is well known and as a Pynchon character remarks, includes just about everyone on the island with the solitary exception of the Lieutenant- Governor himself. Then, Casolani adds:

"Their worst feelings have evidently been worked to white heat by some agency - which is not the Coinitato Patriottico - and which has been doing its work in a quiet and mysterious way, for, while apparently there is no organization whatever, yet everyone knows what he is to do... All the hooligan elements have been drawn into the movement and carefully prepared for the occasion by this secret force; and it will not be the latter's fault if it fails."[1]

This is not John le Carré writing. It does not come from "the lot of spy-fiction and novels of intrigue" which Pynchon has told us that he grew up reading, so that "the net effect was to build up in my uncritical brain a peculiar shadowy vision of the history between the two world wars".[2] It comes from a serious bureaucrat in an official document. Consequently, the historians have busily sought to identify the "secret agency" that was indeed the catalyst which brought about the action on the 7th June, when it had not sparked it on the 25th February. Was it the Mizzians? Was it the Dimechians? Or perhaps some as yet undiscovered embryonic t or Bolshevik lot? No historian has, alas, so far found a satisfactory answer.

[p.219] An answer of a kind seems to be inbuilt into Pynchon's narrative. It is of a kind that, it is suggested, cannot be provided by historians who work with scholarly or scientific tools, but comes unexpectedly from imaginative writers who work in terms of myths and personifications.

So Pynchon brings on the scene a cast of quasi-mythical characters on whom our attention is made to focus in alternation with long passages in which the political action is narrated almost in the manner of a run-of-the-mill historian. The principal duo of these figures endowed with a transcendent dimension in the Epilogue are V. herself and Maijstral père. Both of them come rapidly into close-up as the history of "1919" unfolds.

The three-part Epilogue actually begins with the advent in Malta of the elderly British spy, Sidney Stencil, sent here because of insistent reports reaching the Colonial Office of impending trouble, with fomentation by both Bolshevik and t agitators not excluded. Stencil arrives on board a green xebec with the figurehead of Astarte, goddess of sexual love (p. 456). Its Master, named Mehemet, tells Stencil that "he belonged to the trade-routes of the Middle Ages", but had sailed into the present "through a rift in time's fabric" (p. 432). We are in the first weeks of 1919. Hardly has Stencil, on landing, finished taking a bath in his hotel than he receives a call from Maijstral. Maijstral is said to be a fitter at the Dockyard, although stemming from a decayed Maltese noble family. In February, 1919, he is presented as caught in a double-level contradiction. At the first level, he speaks as if thoroughly convinced of the cause of his protesting compatriots; yet he accepts payment to act as an informer for the British. At the second level of contradiction, he has just made his wife pregnant with a child - the future Fausto; and yet he seems to be having some sort of affair with the second of our quasi-mythical figures, V. for short, or as she is more fully referred to in this episode, Veronica Manganese (True-Icon-in-Dark-Metal).

Her true identity is, as I said at the beginning, the object of Herbert Stencil's quest throughout the book. Let us, first, consider her entry into the story in 1919. Soon after Herbert's father, Sidney, had dismissed Maijstral after receiving his first report on the first day of his arrival in Malta,[3] Stencil had [p.220] shadowed him to Strait Street. There he had met a colleague from the British Intelligence Service, apparently sent to shadow Stencil. Together, after rehearsing the prospects of riot[4] they observe Maijstral being joined at his table by a muffled lady, whom both immediately recognise as V. On this, her first appearance in the Epilogue, a "thumbnail dossier" about her is presented as follows:

"Origins uncertain. She'd popped up in Malta at the beginning of the war, in the company of one Sgherraccio, a Mizzist. She was now intimate with various renegade Italians, among them D'Annunzio, the poet-militant, and one Mussolini, an active and troublesome anti-socialist. Her political sympathies weren't known; whatever they might be, Whitehall was less than amused. The woman was clearly a troublemaker. She was reported to be wealthy; lived alone in a villa long abandoned by the baronage of Sant'Ugo di Tagliaplombo di Sammut, a nearly defunct branch of the Maltese nobility. The source of her income was not apparent".

The reader of the novel knows a lot more about her. The "V." figure has been the protagonist of five other episodes in the novel, all involving some kind of riot and each with dimensions: religious, sexual and colonial. I do not have [p.221] the time even to give a thumbnail sketch of these episodes. I will only say that the lady first appears as a person with an individual identity, in the first episode; this occurs in 1989, in Cairo, during the Fashoda incident, when her name is Veronica Wren; we are told that she had thought of becoming a nun, but left the novitiate after a matter of weeks, and then started on the career of riot-seeker, which had led her to Egypt, contempt for the Egyptian revolutionaries depicted as impotent anarchists, and to her first deflowering by a British secret agent.

But progressively she loses all personal identity and turns into an abstract paradigm of political history. From Veronica she becomes just V., which stands for practically anything, not just Victoria, Vera, or other personal names, but also Valletta, Vesuvius, Venezuela. For her descent is not into mere impersonality, but into inanimateness, into inert matter. This gradual destruction of human meaning in her existence is paralleled by her substituting at each stage some part of her flesh-and-blood body by an artificial thing. In Malta, in 1919 she has only one genuine eye; the other was of glass, with a clock on the iris.

The point of this bizarre detail can be made in the words of another novelist, William Golding: "The satan of our cosmology is the second Law of Thermo-dynamics, which implies that everything is running down and will finally stop like a clock".[5] Later on, she puts on, as the novel proceeds, a wig, false teeth, fabricated feet, a star sapphire sewn into her navel. She seeks to de-sex herself. When she is back in Malta, after 1939, for the war, disguised as a priest and referred to only anonymously as the "Bad Priest", she tells the boys of Malta, for instance, "to find strength in - and to be like - the rock of their island... preaching that the subject of male existence is to be like a crystal: beautiful and soul-less".

She is, thus, almost a personification of Entropy, the title of one of Pynchon's best known short stories (1958-9). She is certainly reminiscent of Mephistopheles, in both senses of his name: "not-helpful" and "not liking the light". There is, of course, throughout the novel the suggestion that she may only be a projection of the dark side of the mind, an inner saboteur, the negative factor or opposite pole of creativity, as the devil is a reflection of God in caricatural form.

Thus, Maijstral's attachment to her can be seen as a deeper, more hidden and obscure expression of the very same bond that ties him to Stencil as an [p.222] informer; it is a more metaphysical manifestation of his duplicity and two-fold betrayal. Later his son Fausto will write in his diary: "Perhaps British colonialism has produced a new sort of being, a dual man aimed two ways at once".

In the three months between the first meeting of the National Assembly in February[6] and the second in June, Stencil is shown undergoing two kinds of [p.223] pressure. On the one hand, Maijstral's wife repeatedly implores that he dismiss her husband from his role as informer; she is frightened of what may happen to him if he is found out by his fellow workers, and very anxious that the child in her womb be not left fatherless. On the other hand, the atmosphere of Malta itself works upon Stencil. He begins to feel alienated from time and history. He turns to considering things sub specie aeternitatis. Change becomes to him an alien passion in Malta, where all streets are strait with ghosts, where, in a sea whose uneasy floor made and unmade islands every year, this stone fish (Malta) and Għawdex and the rocks called Cumin-seed and Peppercorn had remained fixed realities since time out of mind. In London, there were too many distractions. History there was the record of an evolution. One way and ongoing. Monuments, buildings, plaques were remembrances only; but in Valletta remembrances seemed almost to live (p. 452)...Valletta seemed serene in her own past, in the Mediterranean womb, in something so insulating that Zeus himself might have quarantined her and her island for an old sin or an older pestilence. So at peace was Valletta that with the least distance she would deteriorate to mere spectacle. She ceased to exist as anything quick or pulsed and was assumed again into the textual stillness of her own history". (p. 446).

Thus, when the 7th of June dawns, the two British spies part company.[7]

[p.224] While Demivolt rushes to the Governor's Palace, Stencil drives to Veronica Manganese's villa.

There he finds Maijstral with V. He promptly dismisses him from his job as an informer. When Maijstral protests, he also threatens him with the kind of macabre death which V's t friends had already been debited with in the Epilogue, if he did not keep well away from V herself, whom Stencil now refers to, with an odd kind of irony, as "my woman". Maijstral walks out. V asks: "All done?" Stencil replies: "All done", and collapses into a baroque chair adorned with two seraphim. Consummatum est.

Immediately, in the next line, as if a trigger had been pressed, the riot breaks out. Two short paragraphs, the sixth and the fifth from the end of the 463 page novel, suffice to give a packed account of the events themselves of the 7th and the 8th June.[8] It seems to me that Pynchon is indulging here in a serious parody of a soap-opera. The implication is (but be prepared to see it change before long) that the secret agency has been uncovered. No, it is not the Mizzians; it is not the Dimechians; it is not even some cousins in politics of Veronica's friends, D'Annunzio and Mussolini. It is, Stencil tells himself, a force that emerges and "takes shape from events much lower than the merely human" (p. 455). Lower, like the Second Law of Thermodynamics, "the Satan of contemporary cosmology", the death-instinct, irrational bursts of aggressivity; but also higher. Stencil is moved by compassion for Carla, the informer's wife, and the unborn child in her womb; above all by the intimations of the Timeless in Valletta at night. It seems that we have got close by now to an intellectual Disneyland. But Pynchon does not allow the story to rest there. He adds another twist to the caricature of the well-established pattern of a salvation myth. The slave has been released from his bond; but it does not immediately follow that he has achieved self-mastery. The bar of a cage has been lifted and the bird is out of it; but that does not imply straightaway that it will now fly and sing happily in the heavens.

The Epilogue is told by an omniscient narrator; nevertheless, he has until [p.225] now (with little exception) limited himself to telling the story from Sidney Stencil's partial vantage point. Having reached sight of the end, this hitherto self-effacing narrator steps conspicuously out of the crushed British Spy's slippers and blares out a philosophic comment of his own on the story now rapidly moving to its dramatic conclusion.

It runs as follows:

"A minor eddy in the peaceful course of Maltese Government, preserved today only in one Board of Inquiry report. Suddenly as they had begun, the June disturbances (as they came to be called) ended. Nothing was settled. The primary question, that of self-rule, was as of 1956 still unresolved. Malta by then had only advanced as far as dyarchy, and if anything moved even closer to England, in February, when the electorate voted three to one to put Maltese members in the House of Commons". (p. 463).

What has happened here? It seems that the narrator has intervened from the viewpoint of the year 1956, almost in the spirit of Benny Profane, the purposeless, "you never get anywhere" - "only connect", human yo-yo, to negate the purpose attained, "all done", "consummatum est" message that Sidney Stencil had got at. But, in fact, the novel is published in 1963. By then, the Integration with Britain proposal to which the narrator alludes at a date when it was on the crest of the wave was already dead and buried. By then, Independence was already in the bag. It could, of course, still be argued that, even then, nothing much had changed. It can still be argued that even Independence has not freed the Maijstrals of Malta of their two-way looking, colonial-instilled habits. The narrator thinks we are still Janus. The teleological, theological, Christian view of history as goal directed, juggled by our experience into an incoherent double goal directedness, is perhaps too deeply ingrained to be shrugged off as long as we remain on Maltese soil. Perhaps the only way to attain the still deeply desired simplicity, the longed-for oneness and integrity of heart and mind, cannot but be in the Benny Profane perspective of merely establishing connections without getting anywhere, the course adopted by Paola, daughter of the Faustus who was fashioned in the Maijstral womb in the year 1919, that is to marry an American sailor and shuttle between the United States and Malta...Forever?

But the narrator's comment is not Pynchon's last word in the novel. The last three short paragraphs narrate Sidney Stencil's departure from Malta on the 10th June 1919, on the green xebec of Master Mehemet which had brought him to the island some months before. A short distance away, in cloudless weather, the ship is destroyed by a mysterious waterspout. It reads perhaps not so much as the death by drowning of an emissary of British Imperialism [p.226] sent to Malta with the precise mission of preventing the Sette Giugno, but who by virtue of a basic humanity helped to unleash it, as the triumph of V. As the ship sets sail, the narrator tells us that she had "kept" Stencil "only as long as she had to". The Epilogue had started with Mehemet telling Stencil the myth of Mara - Maltese for woman. She, according to the Muslim sailor, rather than the Piccolo Soccorso, had been really responsible for the sudden withdrawal of the Turks from Malta in the Great Siege of 1565, by wreaking havoc in the Sultan's harem in Constantinople and getting him personally, in a macabre way, to order the retreat. So that, in Pynchon's novel, myth has the last word. It is not a Maltese myth. But I thought that, in the context of this Conference, it was not unfitting to consider for a few minutes the Sette Giugno, now a National Feast in Malta, as it has been incorporated into contemporary American mythology.

[1] P. Bartolo, Fis-Sette Giugno ( Malta, 1979), 199.

[2] Slow Learner , 20.

[3] "What of the Dockyard people ?" Stencil asked.
"They will attack the Chronicle." (A grievance stemming from the strike of 1917; the newspaper had published a letter condemning the strike, but had given no equal time for a reply.) "There was a meeting a few minutes ago." Maijstral gave him a brief digest. Stencil knew all the objections. Workers from England got a colonial allowance: loyal yardbirds received only normal wages. Most would like to emigrate, after hearing glowing reports from the Maltese Labour Corps and other crews from abroad of higher pay outside Malta. But the rumour had started, somehow, that the Government was refusing pas to keep workers on the island, against any future requirement. "What else can they do but emigrate?" Maijstral digressed: "With the war the number of Dockyard workers swelled to three times what it was before. Now with Armistice they're already laying off." (p. 439)

[4] " - The poor would seek revenge against the millers who allegedly profiteered in bread during the war.
- The civil servants would be out looking for a fairer shake: advance notice of open competition, higher salaries, no more racial discrimination.
- The tradesmen would want repeal of the Succession and Donation Duties Ordinance. This tax was meant to bring in 5000 pounds yearly; but the actual assessments amounted to 30,000 pounds.
- Bolshevists among the yardbirds could only be satisfied with the abolition of all private property, sacred or profane.
- The anti-colonial extremists would seek of course to sweep England from the Palace forever. Damn the consequences. Though probably Italy would enter on the next crest and be even harder to dislodge. There would be blood ties, then.
- The Abstentionists wanted a new constitution.
- The Mizzists - comprising three clubs: Giovane Malta, Dante Alighieri, II Comitato Patriottico - sought (a) Italian hegemony in Malta (b) aggrandizement for the leader, Dr. Enrico Mizzi.
- The Church - here perhaps Stencil's C. of E. stuffiness coloured an otherwise objective view - wanted only what the Church always desires during times of political crisis. She awaited a Third Kingdom. Violent overthrow is a Christian phenomenon." (pp. 443-4)

[5] In Holiday, April 1963, pp. 10-19.

[6] "There had been no attack on the Chronicle. On 3 February political censorship of the Maltese press was abolished. La Voce del Popolo, the Mizzist paper, promptly began agitating. Articles praising Italy and attacking Britain; excerpts from the foreign press, comparing Malta to certain Italian provinces under a tyrannical Austrian rule. The vernacular press followed suit. None of it worried Stencil particularly. When the freedom to criticize a government had been suspended four years by the same government, a great deal of pent-up resentment would obviously be released in a voluminous - though not necessarily effective - torrent.
But three weeks later, a "National Assembly" met in Valletta to draft a request for a liberal constitution. All shades of political opinion - Abstentionists, Moderates, the Comitato Patriottico - were represented. The gathering met at the club Giovane Malta, which was Mizzist-controlled.
"Trouble", Demivolt said darkly.
"Not necessarily" (replied) Stencil, though he knew the difference between "political gathering" and "mob" is fine indeed. Anything might touch it off.
The night before the meeting a play at the Manoel Theatre dealing with Austrian oppression in Italy, worked the crowd into a gloriously foul humor. The actors tossed in several topical ad fibs which did little to improve the general mood. Rollickers in the street sang La Belle Gigogin. Maijstral reported that a few Mizzists and Bolshevists were doing their best to drum up enthusiasm for a riot among the Dockyard workers. The extent of their success was doubtful. Maijstral shrugged. It might only be the weather. An unofficial notice had gone out, advising merchants to close up their establishments.
"Considerate of them" Demivolt remarked next day as they strolled down Strada Reale. A few shops and cafes had been closed. A quick check revealed that the owners had Mizzist sympathies.
As the day progressed small bands of agitators, most of them with a holiday air (as if rioting were a healthy avocation like handicrafts or outdoor sports), roamed the streets, breaking windows, wrecking furniture, yelling at the merchants still open to close up their shops. But for some reason a spark was missing. Rain swept by in squalls at intervals throughout the day...
No one had been particularly excited. But Stencil wondered about the missing catalyst. Any minor incident: a break in the clouds, a catastrophic shivering at the first tentative blow to a shopwindow, the topology of an object of destruction (up a hill or down - it makes a difference) - anything might swell a merely mischievous humor to suddenly apocalyptic rage.
But all that came from the meeting was adoption of Mizzi's resolution calling for complete independence from Great Britain. La Voce del Popolo gibbered triumphantly. A new meeting of the Assembly was called for the 7th June.
"Three and a half months," Stencil said. "It will be warmer then." Demivolt shrugged. Whereas Mizzi, an Extremist, had been secretary of the February meeting, one Dr. Mifsud, a Moderate, would be secretary next time. The Moderates wanted to sit down and discuss the constitutional question with Hunter-Blair and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, rather than make any total break with England. And the Moderates, come June, would be in the majority.
"It seems rather a good lookout," Demivolt protested. "If anything was going to happen, it would have happened while Mizzi was ascendant."
"It rained," said Stencil. "It was cold."
La Voce del Popolo and the Maltese-language papers continued their attacks on the Government. Maijstral reported twice a week, giving a general picture of deepening discontent among the yardbirds, but they were afflicted by a soggy lethargy which must wait for the heat of summer to dry it, the spark of a leader, a Mizzi or equivalent, to touch it into anything more explosive... (pp. 448-450)
A brutal murder is reported and attributed by Demivolt to a group "we think ... connected somehow with the fasci di combattimento who've organized last month in Italy, around Milan. The Manganese has been in intermittent contact with their leader Mussolini." (p. 456) She invites Stencil to the villa, and tells him: "We are on the same side, aren't we ... Our ends are the same: to keep Italy out of Malta. It is a second front, which certain elements in Italy cannot afford to have opened now." (p. 458)

[7] Part three of the Epilogue begins with Demivolt castigating Stencil about his professional inaction. Stencil replies: "The students are upset, I've heard. Rumor that the University will be abolished. Conferment of Degrees law, 1915 - so that the graduating class this year is first to be affected." The historical narrative resumes for a short paragraph: "On 4 June, the acting Police Commissioner requested a 25-man detachment from the Malta Composite Battalion to be quartered in the city. University students went on strike the same day, parading Strada Reale, throwing eggs at anti-Mizzists, breaking furniture, turning the street festive with a progress of decorated automobiles." (p. 461)

[8] "At 3.30 pm. on 7 June mobs began to collect in Strada Reale. For the next day and a half they owned Valletta's exterior spaces. They attacked not only the Chronicle (as promised) but also the Union Club, the Lyceum, the Palace, the houses of anti-Mizzist Members, the cafes and shops which stayed open. Landing parties from H.M.S. Egmont, and detachments of Army and police joined the effort to keep order. Several times they formed ranks; once or twice they fired. Three civilians were killed by gunfire; seven wounded. Scores more were injured in the general rioting. Several buildings were set on fire. Two RAF lorries with machine guns dispersed an attack on the millers at Hamrun." (pp. 462-463)