A black-browed angry-looking man he was, and the games he played with his children were always angry games: he was chasing them, he was growling at them, he was snapping his teeth at them, while they shrieked with delight and fear, going pale and tense with fear, but coming back for more, and hanging on to his hands when he declared that they had had enough. There was a boy and a girl, both dark-haired and thin, the boy a little older than his sister and protective towards her with servants and strangers, with everyone but his father: he did not dare to protect her when his father sprang at her from behind a bush, and carried her shrieking, upside down, to his lair that was, he told them, littered with the bones of other children that he had already eaten.
The mother sat aside from these games —she sat at the tea table at the head of the small sweep of lawn towards the swimming bath, beyond which were the trees where her husband and children played, or she lay in the sun on the side of the swimming bath, with a towel about her head, and it was only rarely that she called to them or warned them of their father’s stealthy, mock approaches. She sun-bathed or she read in the sun; they were all sun-tanned in that family, from spending so much time at their swimming bath, and from their annual six-weeks’ holiday at the Cape, where they lived the life simple in a seaside cottage with only one servant. The big house in Johannesburg seemed to have innumerable servants, all black men in gleaming white jackets and aprons and little white caps like those of an Indian political movement, but in fact only another sign of their servitude, and these black men kept the house like a house on show: the house shone, unmarked by the pressures, the stains and splashes, the disorder of living. Not that the children were the least bit tidy—they dropped things about them as they went, and left the toys and the sticks and the items of clothing lying where they had been dropped, but the servants followed, picking up things and putting them in drawers, as though that was all that they had been born for, this dance of attendance on the two nervous, dark-haired children. And the mother, who had been poorly brought up, loved it in the children that they had, so without question or wonder, the insolence of wealth. Once when he had hardly been more than a baby she had asked the boy: “Would you like to be a little black boy?”
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