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with their arms lifted high, he was the manager's spy upon when the stout man with mous- them. As to me, I had hardly taches came tearing down to ever spoken to him before. We the river, a tin pail in his hand, got into talk, and by-and-by assured me that everybody was we strolled away from 'behaving splendidly, splen- hissing ruins. splen- hissing ruins. Then he asked didly,' dipped about a quart of me to his room, which was in water and tore back again. I the main building of the station. noticed there was a hole in the He struck a match, and I perbottom of his pail. ceived that this young aristocrat had not only a silver-mounted dressing-case but also a whole candle all to himself. Just at that time the manager was the only man supposed to have any right to candles. Native mats covered the clay walls; a collection of spears, assegais, shields, knives was hung up in trophies. The business intrusted to this fellow was the making of bricks

"I strolled up. There was no hurry. You see the thing had gone off like a box of matches. It had been hopeless from the very first. The flame had leaped high, driven everybody back, lighted up everything and collapsed. The shed was already a heap of embers glowing fiercely. A nigger was being beaten near by. They said he had caused the fire in some way; be that as it may, he was screeching most horribly. I saw him, later on, for several days, sitting in a bit of shade looking very sick and trying to recover himself: afterwards he arose and went out and the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again. As I approached the glow from the dark I found myself at the back of two men, talking. I heard the name of Kurtz pronounced, then the words, 'take advantage of this unfortunate accident.' One of the men was the manager. I wished him good evening. 'Did you ever see anything like it—eh?' he said; 'it is incredible,' and walked off. The other man remained.

He was а first-class agent, young, gentlemanly, a bit reserved, with a forked little beard and a hooked nose. He was stand-offish with the other agents. They on their side said


-so I had been informed; but there wasn't a fragment of a brick anywhere in the station, and he had been there more than a year-waiting. It seems he could not make bricks without something, I don't know what. -straw maybe. Anyways, it could not be found there, and as it was not likely to be sent from Europe, it did not appear clear to me what he was waiting for. An act of special creation perhaps. However, they were all waiting - all the sixteen twenty pilgrims of them-for something; and upon my word it did not seem an uncongenial occupation, from the way they took it, though the only thing that ever came to them was dis-as far as I could see. They beguiled the time by backbiting and intriguing against each other in a foolish kind of way. There was an air of plotting about that station, but nothing came of it, of course. It was as




unreal as everything else as the philanthropic pretence of the whole concern, as their talk, as their government, as their show of work. The only real feeling was a desire to get appointed to a trading-post where ivory was to be had, so that they could earn percentages. They intrigued and slandered and hated each other only on that account, but as to effectually lifting a little finger-oh, no. By heavens! there is something after all in the world allowing one man to steal a horse while another must not look at a halter. Steal a horse straight out. Very well. He has done it. Perhaps he can ride. Beastly, perhaps yet still effective. But there is a way of looking at a halter that would provoke the most charitable of saints into a kick.

"I had no idea why he wanted to be sociable, but as we chatted in there it suddenly occurred to me the fellow was trying to get at something-in fact, pumping me. He alluded constantly to Europe, to the people I was supposed to know there putting leading questions as to my acquaintances in the sepulchral city, and so on. His little eyes glittered like mica discs with curiosity, though he tried to keep up a bit of superciliousness. At first I was astonished, but very soon I became also awfully curious to see what he would find out from me. I couldn't possibly imagine what I had in me to make it worth his while. His allusions were Chinese to me. It was very pretty to see how he baffled himself, for in truth my body was full of chills, and

my head had nothing in it but that wretched steamboat busi


It was evident he took me for a perfectly shameless prevaricator. At last he got angry, and, to conceal a movement of furious annoyance, he yawned. I rose. Then I no

ticed a small sketch in oils, on a panel, representing a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre-almost black. The movement of the woman was stately, and the effect of the torchlight on the face was sinister.

"It arrested me, and he stood by, civilly holding a half-pint bottle of champagne (medical comforts) with the candle stuck in it. To my question he said Mr Kurtz had painted this—in this very station more than a year ago - while waiting for means to go to his trading-post. 'Tell me, pray,' said I, 'who is this Mr Kurtz?'

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"The chief of the Inner Station,' he answered in a short tone, looking away. 'Much obliged,' I said, laughing. 'And you are the brickmaker of the Central Station. Every one knows that.' He was silent for a while. He is a prodigy,' he said at last. He is an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and devil knows what else. We want,' he began to declaim suddenly, 'for the guidance of the cause intrusted to us by Europe, so to speak, higher intelligence, wide sympathies, a singleness of purpose.' that?' I asked. them,' he replied. 'Some even write that; and so he comes

Who says 'Lots of

here, a special being, as you ought to know.' 'Why ought I to know?' I interrupted, really surprised. He paid no attention. 'Yes. To-day he is chief of the best station, next year he will be assistant-manager, two years more and but I daresay you know what he will be in two years' time. You are of the new gang-the gang of virtue. The same people who sent him specially also recommended you. Oh, don't say



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I've my own eyes to trust.' Light dawned upon me. My dear aunt's influential acquaintances were producing an unexpected effect upon that young man. I nearly burst into a laugh. Do you read the Company's confidential correspondence?' I asked. He hadn't a word to say. It was great fun. 'When Mr Kurtz,' I continued severely, 'is General Manager, you won't have the opportunity.'


"He blew the candle out suddenly, and we went outside. The moon had risen. figures strolled about listlessly, pouring water on the glow, whence proceeded a sound of hissing. Steam ascended in the moonlight; the beaten nigger groaned somewhere. 'What a row the brute makes!' said the indefatigable man with the moustaches, appearing near us. 'Serve him right. Transgression-punishment-bang! Pitiless, pitiless. That's the only way. This will prevent all future conflagrations. I was just telling the manager He noticed my companion, and became crestfallen all at once. 'Not in bed yet,' he said, with

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a kind of obsequious heartiness; 'it's so natural. Ha! Danger

agitation.' He vanished. I went on to the river-side, and the other followed me. I heard a scathing murmur at my ear,


Heap of muffs-go to.' The pilgrims could be seen in knots gesticulating, discussing. Several had still their staves in their hands. I verily believe they took these sticks to bed with them. Beyond the fence the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight, and through the dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one's very heart, -its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life. The hurt nigger moaned feebly somewhere near by, and then fetched a deep sigh that made me mend my pace away from there. I felt a hand introducing itself under my arm. 'My dear sir,' said the fellow, 'I don't want to be misunderstood, and especially by you, who will see Mr Kurtz long before I can have that pleasure. I wouldn't like him to get a false idea of my disposition. . . .

"I let him run on, this papiermaché Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke my forefinger through him, and find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe. He, don't you see, had been planning to be assistantmanager by-and-by under the present man, and I could see that the coming of that Kurtz had upset them both not a little. He talked precipitately, and I did not try to stop him. I had my shoulders against the wreck

of my steamer, hauled up on the slope like a carcass of some big river animal. The smell of mud, of primeval mud, by Jove! was in my nostrils, the high stillness of primeval forest was before my eyes; there were shiny patches on the black creek. The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver-over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could see through a sombre gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmur. All this was great, expectant, mute, while the man jabbered about himself. I wondered whether the stillness on the face of the immensity looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace. What were we who had strayed in here? Could we handle that dumb thing, or would it handle us? I felt how big, how confoundedly big, was that thing that couldn't talk, and perhaps was deaf as well. What was in there? I could see a little ivory coming out from there, and I had heard Mr Kurtz was in there. I had heard enough about it tooGod knows! Yet somehow it didn't bring any image with it— no more than if I had been told an angel or a fiend was in there. I believed it in the same way one of you might believe there are inhabitants in the planet Mars. I knew once a Scotch sailmaker who was certain, dead sure, there were people in Mars. If you asked him for some idea how they looked and behaved, he would

get shy and mutter something about 'walking on all-fours.' If you as much as smiled, he would-though a man of sixty

offer to fight you. I would not have gone so far as to fight for Kurtz, but I went for him near enough to a lie. You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies,-which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world-what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do. Temperament, I suppose. Well, I went near enough to it by letting the young fool there believe anything he liked to imagine as to my influence in Europe. I became in an instant as much of a pretence as the rest of the bewitched pilgrims. This simply because I had a notion it somehow would be of help to that Kurtz whom at the time I did not see-you understand. He was just a word for me. I did not see the man in the name

any more than you do. Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream-making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. . .

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He was silent for a while. "... No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the

"Of course in this you fellows see more than I could then. You see me, whom you know.

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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. We We saw 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 addedTo get on with the work-to stop the hole. Rivets I wanted. There were cases of them down at the coast-cases-piled up— burst-split! You kicked loose rivet at every second step in that station yard on the hillside. Rivets had rolled into the grove of death. You could fill your pockets with rivets for the trouble of stooping down-and there wasn't one rivet to be found where it was wanted. We had plates that would do, but nothing to fasten them with. And every week the messenger, a lone

It had become so pitch dark that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time already he, sitting apart, had been no more to us than a voice. There was not a word from anybody. The others might have been asleep, but I was awake. I listened, I listened on the watch for the sentence, for the word, that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river.


... Yes I let him run on," Marlow began again, "and think what he pleased about the powers that were behind me. I did! And there was nothing behind me! There was nothing but that wretched, old, mangled steamboat I was leaning against, while he talked fluently about 'the necessity for every man to get on,'

And when one comes out here, you conceive, it is not to gaze at the moon.' Mr Kurtz was a 'universal genius,' but even a genius would find it easier to work with adequate tools intelligent men.' He did not make bricks-why, there was a physical impossibility in the way as I was well aware; and if he did secretarial work

negro, letter-bag on shoulder and staff in hand, left our station for the coast. And several times a week a coast caravan came in with trade goods,-ghastly glazed calico that made you shudder only to look at it, glass beads value about a penny a quart, confounded spotted cotton handkerchiefs. And no rivets. Three carriers could have brought all that was wanted to set that steamboat afloat.

"He was becoming confidential now, but I fancy my unresponsive attitude must have exasperated him at last, for he judged it necessary to inform me he feared neither God nor devil, let alone any mere man. I said I could see that very well, but what I wanted was a certain quantity of rivets

and rivets were what really Mr Kurtz wanted, if he had

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