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ready to listen without mental
reservation, without suspicion,
without a thought for herself.
I concluded I would go and
give her back her portrait and
those letters myself. Curi-
osity? Yes; and also some
other feeling perhaps.
that had been Kurtz's had
passed out of my hands: his
soul, his body, his station, his
plans, his ivory, his career.
There remained
memory and his Intended-
and I wanted to give that
up too to the past, in a way,

thought him a painter who "Thus I was left at last
wrote for the papers, or a with a slim packet of letters
journalist who could paint-but and the girl's portrait. She
even the cousin (who took snuff struck me as beautiful - I
during the interview) could not mean she had a beautiful ex-
tell me what he had been
pression. I know that the
exactly. He was a universal
sunlight can be made to lie
genius-on that point I agreed too, yet that face on paper
with the old chap, who there- seemed to be a reflection of
upon blew his nose noisily into truth itself. One felt that no
a large cotton handkerchief manipulation of light and pose
and withdrew in senile agita- could have conveyed the deli-
tion, bearing off some family cate shade of truthfulness upon
letters and memoranda without those features. She looked
importance. Ultimately a jour-out truthfully. She seemed
nalist anxious to know some
thing of the fate of his 'dear
colleague' turned up. This
visitor informed me Kurtz's
real sphere ought to have been
politics on the popular side.'
He had furry straight eye
brows, bristly hair cropped
short, an eye-glass on a broad
ribbon, and, becoming expan-
sive, confessed his opinion that
Kurtz couldn't write a bit-
'but heavens! how that man
could talk! He electrified large
meetings. He had faith
don't you see?-he had the faith.
He could believe anything
anything. He would have been
a splendid leader of an extreme
party.' 'What party?' I asked.
Any party,' answered the other.
'He was an-an-extremist.'
Did I not think so? I assented.
Did I know, he asked, with a
sudden flash of curiosity, 'what
induced him to go out there?'
'Yes,' said I, and forthwith
handed him the famous Report
for publication, if he thought
fit. He glanced through it
hurriedly, mumbling all the
time, judged 'it would do,'
and took himself off with this

only his

to surrender personally all that remained of him with me to that oblivion which is the last word of our common fate. I don't defend myself. I had no clear perception of what it was I really wanted. Perhaps it was an impulse of unconscious loyalty, or the fulfilment of one of these ironic necessities that lurk in the facts of human existence. I don't know. I can't tell. But I went.

"I thought his memory was like other memories of the dead that accumulate in every man's life, -a vague impress

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More blood, more

heads on stakes, more adoration, rapine, and murder. I remembered his abject pleading, his abject threats, the colossal scale of his vile desires, the meanness, the torment, the tempestuous anguish of his soul. And later on his collected languid manner, when he said one day, 'This lot of ivory now is really mine. The Company did not pay for it. I collected it myself at my personal risk. I am afraid they will claim it as theirs. It is a difficult case. What do you think I ought to do resist? Eh? I want no more than justice.' He wanted no more than justice. No more than justice. I rang the bell before a mahogany door on the first floor, and while I waited he seemed to stare at me out of the gleaming panel

on the brain of shadows that of what?
had fallen on it in their swift
and final passage; but before
the high and ponderous door,
between the tall houses of a
street as still and decorous
as a well-kept sepulchre, I had
a vision of him on the stretcher,
opening his mouth voraciously,
as if to devour all the earth
with all its mankind. He
lived then before me; he lived
as much as he had ever lived
-a shadow insatiable of splen-
did appearances, of frightful
realities; a shadow darker
than the shadow of the night,
and draped nobly in the folds
of a gorgeous eloquence. The
vision seemed to enter the
house with me, the stretcher,
the phantom-bearers; the wild
crowd of obedient worshippers;
the gloom of the forests; the
glitter of the reach between
the murky bends; the beat
of the drum, regular and
muffled like the beating of
a heart-the heart of a con-
quering darkness. It was a
moment of triumph for the
wilderness, an invading and
vengeful rush which, it seemed
to me, I would have to keep
back alone for the salvation
of another soul. And the
memory of what I had heard
him say afar there, with the
horned shapes stirring at my
back, in the glow of fires,
within the patient woods, those
broken phrases came back to
me, were heard again in their
ominous and terrifying sim-
plicity I have lived-su-
premely!' 'What do you
want here? I have been dead
-and damned.' 'Let me go
-I want more of it.' More

stare with that wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe. I seemed to hear the whispered cry, 'The horror! The horror!'

"The dusk was falling. I had to wait in a lofty drawing-room with three long windows from floor to ceiling that were like three luminous and bedraped columns. The bent gilt legs and backs of the furniture shone in indistinct curves. The tall marble fireplace had a cold and heavy whiteness. A grand piano stood massively in a corner, with dark gleams on the flat surfaces like а sombre and polished sarcophagus. A high door opened-closed. I rose.

"She came forward, all in

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black, with a pale head, float- I heard them together. She ing towards me in the dusk. had said, with a deep catch She was in mourning. It was of the breath, 'I have surmore than a year since his vived'; while my strained ears death, more than a year since seemed to hear distinctly, minthe news came; she seemed gled with her tone of despairas though she would remember ing regret, the summing - up and mourn for ever. She took whisper of his eternal conboth my hands in hers and demnation. I tell you it was murmured, I had heard you terrible. I asked myself what were coming.' I noticed she I was doing there, with a was not very young-I mean sensation of panic in my heart not girlish. She had a mature as though I had blundered into capacity for fidelity, for belief, a place of cruel a place of cruel and absurd for suffering. The room seemed mysteries not fit for a human to have grown darker, as if being to behold. I wanted to all the sad light of the cloudy get out. She motioned me to a evening had taken refuge on chair. We sat down. I laid her forehead. This fair hair, the packet gently on the little this pale visage, this pure table, and she put her hand brow, seemed surrounded by over it. 'You knew him well,' an ashy halo from which the she murmured, after a moment dark eyes looked out at me. of mourning silence. Their glance was guileless, pro- "Intimacy grows quick out found, confident, and trustful. there,' I said. 'I knew him as She carried her sorrowful head well as it is possible for one as though she were proud of man to know another.' that sorrow, as though she would say,

I-I alone know

how to mourn for him as he deserves. But while we were still shaking hands, such a look of awful desolation came upon her face that I perceived she was one of those creatures that are not the playthings of Time. For her he had died only yesterday. And, by Jove the impression was so powerful that for me too he seemed to have died only yesterday nay, this very minute. I saw her and him in the same instant of time -his death and her sorrow. I saw her sorrow in the very moment of his death. It was too terrible. Do you understand? I saw them together

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"And you admired him,' she said. 'It was impossible to know him and not to admire him. Was it?'

"He was a remarkable man,' I said, unsteadily. Then before the appealing fixity of her gaze, that seemed to watch for more words on my lips, I went on, 'It was impossible not to

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"Love him,' she finished eagerly, silencing me into an appalled dumbness. 'How true! how true! But when you think that no one knew him so well as I! I had all his noble confidence. I knew him best.'

"You knew him best,' I repeated. And perhaps she did. But I fancied that with every word spoken the room was growing darker, and only

her forehead, smooth and white, remained illumined by the unextinguishable light of belief and love.

"You were his friend,' she went on. 'His friend,' she repeated, a little louder. 'You must have been, if he had given this to you, and sent you to me. I feel I can speak to you-oh, I must speak. I want you-you who have heard his last words -to know I have been worthy of him. . . . It is not pride. . . . Yes! I am proud to know I understood him better than any one on earth-he said so himself. And since his mother died I have had no one-no one -to-to

"I listened. The darkness deepened. I was not even sure whether he had given me the right bundle. I rather suspect he wanted me to take care of another batch of his papers which, after his death, I saw the manager examining under the lamp. But in the box I had brought to his bedside there were several packages pretty well alike, all tied with shoe-strings, and probably he had made a mistake. And the girl talked, easing her pain in the certitude of my sympathy; she talked as thirsty men drink. I had heard that her engagement with Kurtz had been disapproved generally. He wasn't rich enough or something. And indeed I don't know whether he had not been a pauper all his life. He had given me some reason to infer that it was his impatience of comparative poverty that drove him out there.

"... Who was not his friend who had heard him speak once?'

she was saying. 'He drew men towards him by what was best in them.' She looked at me with intensity. It is the gift of the great,' she went on, and the sound of her low voice seemed to have the accompaniment of all the other sounds, full of mystery, desolation, and sorrow, I had ever heard—the ripple of the river, the soughing of the trees swayed by the wind, the murmurs of wild crowds, the faint ring of incomprehensible words cried from afar, the whisper of a voice speaking from beyond the threshold of an eternal darkness. 'But you have heard him! You know!' she cried.

"Yes, I know,' I said with something like despair in my heart, but bowing my head before the faith that was in her, before that great and saving illusion that shone with an unearthly glow in the darkness, in the triumphant darkness from which I could not have defended her from which I could not even defend myself.

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"What a loss to me-to us!' she corrected herself with beautiful generosity; then added in a murmur, To the world.' By the last gleams of twilight I could see the glitter of her eyes, full of tears-of tears that would not fall.

"I have been very happyvery fortunate- very proud,' she went on. 'Too fortunate. Too happy for a little while. And now I am unhappy forfor life.'

"She stood up; her fair hair seemed to catch all the remaining light in a glimmer of gold. I rose too.

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666 'But I do not. I cannot cannot believe-not yet. I cannot believe that I shall never see him again, that nobody will see him again, never, never, never.'

"She put out her arms as if after a retreating figure, stretching them black and with clasped pale hands across the fading and narrow sheen of the window. Never see him. I saw him clearly enough then. I shall see this eloquent phantom as long as I live, and I shall see her too, a tragic and familiar Shade, resembling in this gesture another one, tragic also, and bedecked with powerless charms, stretching bare brown arms over the glitter of the infernal stream, the stream of darkness. She

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"Forgive me. I-I-have mourned so long in silence—in silence. You were with him to the last? I think of his loneliness. Nobody near to understand him as I would have understood. Perhaps no one to hear . . .

"To the very end,' I said, shakily. 'I heard his very last words. ..' I stopped in a fright.

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"Repeat them,' she said in a heart-broken tone. 'I want-I want something — something -to-to live with.'

"I was on the point of crying at her, 'Don't you hear them? The dusk was repeating them in a persistent whisper all around us, in a whisper that seemed to swell menacingly like the first whisper of a rising wind. The horror! the horror!'

"His last word to live with,' she murmured. you understand I loved him—I loved him—I loved him!'

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