“That way out?” he thought. “How easy—and how selfish.... If one’s life only concerned oneself.... But it’s only partly one’s own from first to last.” . . . Then his thoughts turned again to the man who was playing “Pagliacci.” “I have a greater right to do it than Byng, and I’d have a greater joy in doing it; but whatever he is, it is not all his fault.” Again he shuddered. “No man makes love like that to a woman unless she lets him, . . . until she lets him.” Then he looked at the fire where the cruel testimony had shrivelled into smoke. “If it had been read to a jury . . . Ah, my God! How many he must have written her like that ... How often....”
With an effort he pulled himself together. “What does it matter now! All things have come to an end for me. There is only one way. My letter to her showed it. But this must be settled first. Then to see her for the last time, to make her understand....”
He went to the beaded curtain, raised it, and stepped into the flood of warm sunlight. The voluptuous, agonizing music came in a wave over him. Tragedy, poignant misery, rang through every note, swelled in a stream which drowned the senses. This man-devil could play, Stafford remarked, cynically, to himself.
“A moment—Fellowes,” he said, sharply.
The music frayed into a discord and stopped.
THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE
There was that in Stafford’s tone which made Fellowes turn with a start. It was to this room that Fellowes had begged Jasmine to come this morning, in the letter which Krool had so carefully placed for his master to find, after having read it himself with minute scrutiny. It was in this room they had met so often in those days when Rudyard was in South Africa, and where music had been the medium of an intimacy which had nothing for its warrant save eternal vanity and curiosity, the evil genius of the race of women. Here it was that Krool’s antipathy to Jasmine and fierce hatred of Fellowes had been nurtured. Krool had haunted the room, desiring the end of it all; but he had been disarmed by a smiling kindness on Jasmine’s part, which shook his purpose again and again.
It had all been a problem which Krool’s furtive mind failed to master. If he went to the Baas with his suspicions, the chance was that he would be flayed with a sjambok and turned into the streets; if he warned Jasmine, the same thing might happen, or worse. But fate had at last played into his hands, on the very day that Oom Paul had challenged destiny, when all things were ready for the ruin of the hated English.
Fate had sent him through the hallway between Jasmine’s and Rudyard’s rooms in the moment when Jasmine had dropped Fellowes’ letter; and he had seen it fall. He knew not what it was, but it might be of importance, for he had seen Fellowes’ handwriting on an envelope among those waiting for Jasmine’s return home. In a far dark corner he had waited till he saw Lablanche enter her mistress’ room hurriedly, without observing the letter. Then he caught it up and stole away to the library, where he read it with malevolent eyes.