To-morrow . . . Prepare!
Krool did not sleep. What he read in a letter he had found in a hallway, what he knew of those dark events in South Africa, now to culminate in a bitter war, and what, with the mysterious psychic instinct of race, he divined darkly and powerfully, all kept his eyes unsleeping and his mind disordered. More than any one, he knew of the inner story of the Baas’ vrouw during the past week and years; also he had knowledge of what was soon to empty out upon the groaning earth the entrails of South Africa; but how he knew was not to be discovered. Even Rudyard, who thought he read him like a book, only lived on the outer boundaries of his character. Their alliance was only the durable alliance of those who have seen Death at their door, and together have driven him back.
Barry Whalen had regarded Krool as a spy; all Britishers who came and went in the path to Rudyard’s door had their doubts or their dislike of him; and to every servant of the household he was a dark and isolated figure. He never interfered with the acts of his fellow-servants, except in so far as those acts affected his master’s comfort; and he paid no attention to their words except where they affected himself.
“When you think it’s a ghost, it’s only Krool wanderin’ w’ere he ain’t got no business,” was the angry remark of the upper-housemaid, whom his sudden appearance had startled in a dim passage one day.
“Lor’! what a turn you give me, Mr. Krool, spookin’ about where there’s no call for you to be,” she had said to him, and below stairs she had enlarged upon his enormities greatly.
“And Mrs. Byng, she not like him better as we do,” was the comment of Lablanche, the lady’s maid. “A snake in the grass—that is what Madame think.”
Slowly the night passed for Krool. His disturbed brain was like some dark wood through which flew songless birds with wings of night; through which sped the furtive dwellers of the grass and the earth-covert. The real and the imaginative crowded the dark purlieus. He was the victim of his blood, his beginnings off there beyond the Vaal, where the veld was swept by the lightning and the storm, the home of wild dreams, and of a loneliness terrible and strange, to which the man who once had tasted its awful pleasures returned and returned again, until he was, at the last, part of its loneliness, its woeful agitations and its reposeless quiet.
It was not possible for him to think or be like pure white people, to do as they did. He was a child of the kopje, the spruit, and the dun veld, where men dwelt with weird beings which were not men—presences that whispered, telling them of things to come, blowing the warnings of Destiny across the waste, over thousands and thousands of miles. Such as he always became apart and lonely because of this companionship of silence and the unseen. More and more they withdrew themselves, unwittingly and painfully, from the understanding and companionship of the usual matter-of-fact, commonplace, sensible people—the settler, the emigrant, and the British man. Sinister they became, but with the helplessness of those in whom the under-spirit of life has been working, estranging them, even against their will, from the rest of the world.