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unreal as everything else—as the my head had nothing in it but philanthropic pretence of the that wretched steamboat busiwhole concern, as their talk, as
It was evident he took their government, as their show me for a perfectly shameless of work. The only real feeling prevaricator. At last he got was a desire to get appointed to a angry, and, to conceal a movetrading-post where ivory was to ment of furious annoyance, he be had, so that they could earn yawned. I rose. Then I nopercentages. They intrigued ticed a small sketch in oils, on and slandered and hated each a panel, representing a woman, other only on that account,—but draped and blindfolded, carryas to effectually lifting a little ing a lighted torch. The backfinger - oh, no. By heavens! ground was sombre --- almost there is something after all in black. The movement of the the world allowing one man to
was stately, and the steal a horse while another must effect of the torchlight on the not look at a halter. Steal a face was sinister. horse straight out. Very well. “It arrested me, and he stood He has done it. Perhaps he by, civilly holding a half-pint can ride.
Beastly, perhaps, bottle of champagne (medical yet still effective. But there is comforts) with the candle stuck a way of looking at a halter in it. To my question he said that would provoke the most Mr Kurtz had painted this—in charitable of saints into a kick. this very station more than a
"I had no idea why he year ago — while waiting for wanted to be sociable, but as means to go to his trading-post. we chatted in there it suddenly Tell me, pray,' said I, who is occurred to me the fellow was this Mr Kurtz?' trying to get at something-in 66 • The chief of the Inner fact, pumping me. He alluded Station,' he answered in a short constantly to Europe, to the tone, looking away.
Much people I was supposed to know obliged,' I said, laughing. 'And there — putting leading ques- you are the brickmaker of the tions as to my acquaintances in Central ion. Every one the sepulchral city, and so on. knows that.'
silent His little eyes glittered like for a while. • He is a prodigy,' mica discs with curiosity, he said at last.
He is an though he tried to keep up à emissary of pity, and science, bit of superciliousness. At first and progress, and devil knows I was astonished, but very soon what else. We want,' he beI became also awfully curious gan to declaim suddenly, 'for to see what he would find out the guidance of the cause infrom me.
I couldn't possibly trusted to us by Europe, so imagine what I had in me to to speak, higher intelligence, make it worth his while. His wide
His wide sympathies, singleallusions were Chinese to me. ness of purpose. It was very pretty to see how that?' I asked. Lots he baffled himself, for in truth them,' he replied.
Some even my body was full of chills, and write that; and so he comes
here, a special being, as you a kind of obsequious heartiness; ought to know.' Why ought it's so natural. Ha! Danger I to know?' I interrupted, agitation.' He vanished. I really surprised. He paid no went on to the river-side, and attention. 'Yes. To-day he is the other followed me. I heard chief of the best station, next a scathing murmur at my ear, year he will be assistant-man- “Heap of muffs—go to. The ager, two years more and pilgrims could be seen in knots but I daresay you know what gesticulating, discussing. Sevhe will be in two years' time. eral had still their staves in You are of the new gang—the their hands. I verily believe gang of virtue. The same peo- they took these sticks to bed ple who sent him specially also with them. Beyond the fence recommended you. Oh, don't say the forest stood up spectrally no. I've my own eyes to trust.' in the moonlight, and through Light dawned upon me. My the dim stir, through the faint dear aunt's influential acquaint- sounds of that lamentable court
were producing an un- yard, the silence of the land expected effect upon that young went home to one's very heart,
I nearly burst into a -its mystery, its greatness, the laugh. “Do you read the Com- amazing reality of its concealed pany's confidential correspon- life. The hurt nigger moaned dence?' I asked. He hadn't feebly somewhere near by, and a word to say.
It was great then fetched a deep sigh that fun. • When Mr Kurtz,' I con- made me mend my pace away tinued severely, 'is General from there. I felt a hand inManager, you won't have the troducing itself under my arm. opportunity.'
My dear sir,' said the fellow, “He blew the candle out I don't want to be misundersuddenly, and we went outside. stood, and especially by you, The moon had risen. Black who will see Mr Kurtz long figures strolled about listlessly, before I can have that pleasure. pouring water on the glow, I wouldn't like him to get a whence proceeded a sound of false idea of my disposition. ...' hissing Steam ascended in “I let him run on, this papierthe moonlight; the beaten nig- maché Mephistopheles, and it ger groaned somewhere. What seemed to me that if I tried à row the brute makes !' said I could poke my forefinger the indefatigable man with the through him, and find nothing moustaches, appearing near us. inside but a little loose dirt, "Serve him right. Transgres- maybe. He, don't you see, had sion-punishment—bang! Piti- been planning to be assistantless, pitiless. That's the only manager by-and-by under the way.
This will prevent all present man, and I could see future conflagrations. I was that the coming of that Kurtz just telling the manager. : had upset them both not a little. He noticed my companion, and He talked precipitately, and I became crestfallen all at once. did not try to stop him. I had Not in bed yet,' he said, with my shoulders against the wreck
of my steamer, hauled up on get shy and mutter something the slope like a carcass of some about walking on all - fours. big river animal. The smell of If you as much as smiled, he mud, of primeval mud, by Jove! would—though a man of sixty was in my nostrils, the high-offer to fight you. I would stillness of primeval forest was not have gone so far as to fight before my eyes; there were for Kurtz, but I went for him shiny patches on the black
the black near enough to a lie. You know creek. The moon had spread I hate, detest, and can't bear a over everything a thin layer lie, not because I am straighter of silver-over the rank grass, than the rest of us, but simply over the mud, upon the wall because it appals me. There of matted vegetation standing is a taint of death, a flavour higher than the wall of a temple, of mortality in lies,—which is over the great river I could see exactly what I hate and detest through a sombre gap glittering, in the world—what I want to glittering, as it flowed broadly forget. It makes me miserable by without a murmur.
Ail and sick, like biting something this was great, expectant, mute, rotten would do. Temperament, while the man jabbered about I suppose. Well, I went near himself. I wondered whether enough to it by letting the the stillness on the face of the young fool there believe anyimmensity looking at us two thing he liked to imagine as were meant as an appeal or as to my influence in Europe. I a menace. What were we who became in an instant as much had strayed in here? Could of a pretence as the rest of the we handle that dumb thing, or bewitched pilgrims. This simwould it handle us? I felt how ply because I had a notion it big, how confoundedly big, was somehow would be of help to that thing that couldn't talk, that Kurtz whom at the time and perhaps was deaf as well. I did not see—you understand. What was in there? I could He was just a word for me. I see a little ivory coming out did not see the man in the name from there, and I had heard any more than you do. Do you Mr Kurtz was in there. I had see him? Do you see the story? heard enough about it too- Do you see anything? It seems God knows ! Yet somehow it to me I am trying to tell you a didn't bring any image with it - dream-making a vain attempt, no more than if I had been told because no relation of a dream an angel or a fiend was in can convey the dream-sensation, there. I believed it in the same that commingling of absurdity, way one of you might believe surprise, and bewilderment in there are inhabitants in the a tremor of struggling revolt, planet Mars. I knew once that notion of being captured Scotch sailmaker who was cer by the incredible which is of tain, dead sure, there were the very essence of dreams. .. people in Mars. If you asked He was silent for a while. him for some idea how they “... No, it is impossible ; looked and behaved, he would it is impossible to convey the
life-sensation of any given epoch for the manager, it was because of one's existence,—that which ‘no sensible man rejects wanmakes its truth, its meaning - tonly the confidence of his its subtle and penetrating superiors.' Did I see it? I essence. It is impossible.
it. What more did I live, as we dream—alone. want? What I really wanted
He paused again as if re was rivets, by heaven! Rivets. flecting, then added
To get on with the work—to “Of course in this you fel- stop the hole. Rivets I wanted. lows see
more than I could There were cases of them down then. You see me, whom you at the coast-cases-piled upknow.
burst-split! You kicked a It had become so pitch dark loose rivet at every second step that we listeners could hardly in that station yard on the hill
one another. For a long side. Rivets had rolled into the time already he, sitting apart, grove of death. You could fill had been no more to us than a your pockets with rivets for the voice. There was not a word trouble of stooping down—and from anybody. The others there wasn't one rivet to be might have been asleep, but I found where it was wanted. was awake. I listened, I listened We had plates that would do, on the watch for the sentence, but nothing to fasten them with. for the word, that would give And every week the messenger, me the clue to the faint un a lone negro, letter - bag on easiness inspired by this narra- shoulder and staff in hand, left tive that seemed to shape itself our station for the coast. And without human lips in the heavy several times a week a coast night-air of the river.
came in with trade Yes — I let him run goods,—ghastly glazed calico on,” Marlow began again, "and that made you shudder only to think what he pleased about the look at it, glass beads value powers that were behind me. I about a penny a quart, condid! And there was nothing founded spotted cotton handbehind me! There was nothing kerchiefs. And no rivets. Three but that wretched, old, mangled carriers could have brought all steamboat I was leaning against, that was wanted to set that while he talked fluently about steamboat afloat. “the necessity for every man to “He was becoming confiden
· And when one comes tial now, but I fancy my unreout here, you conceive, it is not sponsive attitude must have to gaze at the moon.' Mr exasperated him at last, for Kurtz was a 'universal genius,' he judged it necessary to inbut even a genius would find it form me he feared neither God easier to work with 'adequate nor devil, let alone any mere tools — intelligent men.'
I said I could see that did not make bricks-why, there very well, but what I wanted was a physical impossibility in was a certain quantity of rivets the way—as I was well aware; —and rivets were what really and if he did secretarial work Mr Kurtz wanted, if he had
only known it.
Now letters pended enough hard work on went to the coast every week. her to make me love her. No
My dear sir,' he cried, 'I influential friend would have write from dictation.' I de- served me better. She had manded rivets. There was a given me a chance to come out. way for an intelligent man. a bit-to find out what I could He changed his manner; be- do. No, I don't like work. came very cold, and suddenly I had rather laze about and began to talk about a hippo- think of all the fine things that potamus; wondered whether can be done. I don't like work sleeping in the steamer (I stuck —no man does—but I like what to my salvage night and day) I is in the work,—the chance to wasn't disturbed. There was find yourself. Your own reality an old hippo that had the bad —for yourself, not for othershabit of getting out
on the what no other man bank and roaming at night know. They can only see the over the station grounds. The mere show, and never can tell pilgrims used to turn out in a what it really means. body and empty every rifle “I was not surprised to see they could lay hands on at somebody sitting aft, on the him. Some even had sat up deck, with his legs dangling o' nights for him. All this over the mud.
see I energy was wasted, though. rather chummed with the few • That animal has a charmed mechanics there were in that life,' he said ; but you can say station, whom the other pilthis only of brutes in this coun- grims naturally despised — on try. No man—you apprehend account of their imperfect manman here bears a
ners, I suppose. This was the charmed life.' He stood there foreman a boiler-maker by for a moment in the moonlight trade—a good worker. He was with his delicate hooked nose a lank, bony, yellow-faced man, set a little askew, and his mica with big intense eyes. eyes glittering without a wink. pect was worried, and his head Then, with a curt good-night, was as bald as the palm of my he strode off. I could see he hand; but his hair in falling was disturbed and considerably seemed to have stuck to his puzzled, which made me feel chin, and had prospered in the more hopeful than I had been new locality, for his beard hung for days. It was a great com- down to his waist.
He was a fort to turn from that chap to widower with six young children my influential friend, the bat- (he had left them in charge of a tered, twisted, ruined, tin-pot sister of his to come out there), steamboat. I clambered on and the passion of his life was board. She rang under my pigeon-flying. He was an enfeet like an empty Huntley and thusiast and a connoisseur. He Palmer biscuit-tin kicked along raved about pigeons. After a gutter; she was nothing so work hours he used sometimes solid in make, and rather less to come over from his hut for pretty in shape, but I had ex a talk about his children and