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percentage. They intrigued and slan- said Mr. Kurtz had painted this-in this dered and hated each other only on that very station more than a year ago account-but as to effectually lifting a while waiting for means to go to his little finger-0, no. By heavens, there trading post. "Tell me, pray,' said I, is something, after all, in the world al- 'who is this Mr. Kurtz?' lowing one man to steal a horse while "The chief of the Inner station,' he another must not look at a halter. Steal answered in a short tone, looking away. a horse straight out. Very well. He 'Much obliged,' I said, laughing. 'And has done it. Perhaps he can ride. you are the brickmaker of the Central Beastly, perhaps. Yet still effective. station. Every one knows that'-and be But there is a way of looking at a was silent for a while. 'He is a prod. halter that would provoke the most igy,' he said, at last. 'He is an emischaritable of saints into a kick.
sary of pity and science, and progress “I had no idea why he wanted to be and devi! knows what else. We want sociable, but as we chatted in there, it
'he began to declaim suddenly suddenly occurred to me the fellow was
‘for the guidance of the cause trying to get at something. In fact, entrusted to us by Europe, so to speak, pumping me. He alluded constantly to higher intelligence, wide sympathies, a Europe, to the people I was supposed singleness of purpose.'
'Who says to know there-putting leading ques- that? I asked. “Lots of them,' he re tions as to my acquaintances in the plied; 'some even write that; and so he sepulchral city, and so on. His little comes here, a special being as you eyes glittered like mica discs with curi- ought to know. "Why ought I to osity, though he tried to keep up a bit know?' I interrupted, really surprised. of superciliousness. At first I was as- He paid no attention. 'Yes. To-day he tonished, but very soon I became aw- is chief of the best station, next year he fully curious to see what he would find will be assistant manager, two years out from me. I couldn't possibly imag- more, and ... but I daresay you ine what I had in me to make it worth know what he will be in two years' his while. His allusions were Chinese time-you are of the new gang-the to me. It was very pretty to see how
gang of virtue. The same people who he baffled himself, for in truth my body sent him specially also recommended was full of chills and my head had you. O, don't say no. I've my own nothing in it but that wretched steam
eyes to trust.' Sight dawned upon me. boat business. It was evident he took My dear aunt's influential people were me for a perfectly shameless prevarica- producing an unexpected effect upon tor. At last he got angry, and to con- that young man. I nearly burst into a ceal a movement of furious annoyance, laugh. 'Do you read the company's he yawned. I rose. Then I noticed a confidential correspondence? I asked. small sketch in oils on a panel repre- He hadn't a word to say. It was great senting a woman, draped and blind- fun. 'When Mr. Kurtz,' I continued, folded, carrying a lighted torch. The severely, 'is general manager, you background was sombre-almost black. won't have the opportunity.' The movement of the woman
"He blew the candle out suddenly, stately, and the effect of the torchlight and we went outside. The moon had on the face was sinister.
risen. Black figures strolled about list"It arrested me, and he stood by civ- lessly, pouring water on the glow illy holding a half-pint bottle of cham- whence proceeded a sound of hissing. pagne (medical comforts) with the Steam ascended in the moonlight; the candle stuck in it. To my question he beaten nigger groaned somewhere.
'What a row the brute makes,' said the a carcass of some big river animal. indefatigable man with the mustaches, The smell of mud, of primeval mud, by appearing suddenly. "Serve him right. Jove, was in my nostrils, the high stillTransgression-punishment-bang! Pit- ness of primeval forest was before my iless! pitiless! That's the only way. eyes; there were shiny patches of light This will prevent all future conflagra- on the black creek. The moon had tions. I was just telling the manager spread over everything a thin layer of
- He noticed my companion, silver, over the rank grass, over the and became crestfallen all at once. mud, upon the wall of matted vege'Not in bed yet,' he said with a kind of tation standing higher than the wall of obsequious heartiness; 'It's so natural. a temple, over the great river I could Ha! Danger-agitation. He vanished. I see through a sombre gap glittering, went on to the riverside, and the other glittering as it flowed broadly by withfollowed me. I heard a scathing mur- out a murmur. All this was great, ex. mur at my ear, 'Heap of muffs-go to.' pectant, mute, while the man jabbered The pilgrims could be seen in knots about himself. I wondered whether the gesticulating, discussing. Several had stillness on the face of the immensity still their staves in their hands. I ver. looking at us two were meant as an apily believe they took these sticks to bed peal or as a menace. What were we with them. Beyond the fence the for- who had strayed in here? Could we est stood up spectrally in the moonlight, handle that dumb thing, or would it and through the dim stir, through the handle us? I felt how big, how confaint sounds of that lamentable court- foundedly big was that thing that yard, the silence of the land went home couldn't talk, and perhaps was dead as to one's very heart—its mystery, its well. What was in there? I could see greatness. The amazing reality of its a little ivory coming out from there, concealed life. The hurt nigger and I had heard Mr. Kurtz was in moaned feebly somewhere near by, and there. I had heard enough about it, too, then fetched a deep sigh that made me God knows! wend my pace away from there. I felt “Yet somehow it didn't bring any a hand introducing itself under my image with it, no more than if I had arm. My dear sir,' said the fellow, 'I been told an ngel or a fiend was in don't want to be misunderstood by you there. I believed it in the same way who will see Mr. Kurtz long before I one of you might believe there are incan have that pleasure. I wouldn't like habitants in the planet Mars. I knew him to obtain a false idea of my dispo- once a Scotch sa ilmaker who was cersition
tain, dead sure, there were people in “I let him run on, this papier maché Mars. If you asked him for some idea Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me how they looked and behaved, he would that if I tried I could poke my fore- get shy and mutter something about finger through him and find nothing in- 'walking on all fours.' If you as much side but a little loose dirt maybe. He, as smiled, he would, though a man of don't you see, has been planning to be 60, offer to fight you. I would not have assistant manager by and by under the gone so far as to fight for Kurtz, but present man, and I could see that the I went for him near enough to a lie. coming of that Kurtz had upset them You know I hate, detest and can't bear both not a little. He talked, precipi- a lie, not because I am straighter than tately, and I did not try to stop him. I the rest of us, but simply because it had my shoulders against the wreck of appalls me. There is a taint of death, my steamer, hauled up on the slope like a flavor of mortality, in lies, which is
exactly what I hate and detest in the self without human lips in the heavy world, what I want to forget. It makes night air of the river. me miserable and sick, like biting
“Yes, I let him run on," Marsomething rotten would do. Tempera- low began again, "and think what he ment, I suppose. Well, I went near chose about the powers there were beenough to it by letting the young fool hind me. I did! And there was noththere believe anything he pleased to ing behind me! There was nothing but imagine as to my influence in Europe. that wretched, old, mangled steamboat I became in an instant as much of a I was leaning against while he talked pretense as the rest of the bewitched fluently about the necessity for every pilgrims. This simply because I had a man to get on. And when one comes notion it somehow would be of help to out here, you conceive, it is not to gaze that Kurtz, whom at the time I did not at the moon. Mr. Kurtz was an 'universee; you understand. He was just a sal genius, but even a genius would word for me. I did not see the man in find it easier to work with 'adequate the name any more than you do. Do tools, intelligent men.' He did not you see him? Do you see the story? Do make bricks-why, there was a physiyou see anything? It seems to me I cal impossibility in the way-as I was am trying to tell you a dream--a vain well aware, and if he did secretarial attempt, because no relation of a dream work for the manager it was because can convey the dream sensation, that 'no sensible man rejects wantonly the commingling of absurdity, surprise and confidence of his superiors.' Did I see bewilderment, in a tremor of strug- it? I saw it. What more did I want? gling revolt; that notion of being cap- What I really wanted was rivets, by tured by the incredible which is of the heavens! Rivets! To get on with the very essence of dreams
work-to stop the hole. Rivets 1 He was silent for a while.
wanted. There were cases full of them .. No, it is impossible; it is im- down at the coast-cases-piled uppossible to convey the life-sensation of burst-split! You kicked a loose rivet any given epoch of one's existence-but at every second step in that station what makes its truth, its meaning-its yard on the hillside. Rivets had rolled subtle and penetrating essence? It is into the grove of death. You could fill impossible. We live, as we dream,
your pockets with rivets for the alone. ..."
trouble of stooping down, and there He paused again as if reflecting, then wasn't one rivet to be found where it added:
was wanted. We had plates that would “Of course, in this you fellows see do, but nothing to fasten them with. more than I could then.
You see me, And every week the messenger, a lone whom you know."
negro, letter bag on shoulder and staff It had come so pitch dark that we in hand, left our station for the coast. listeners could hardly see one another. And several times a week a coast caraFor a long time already he, sitting van came in with trade goods, ghastly apart, had been no more to us than a glazed calico, that made you shudder voice. There was not a word from any- only to look at it, glass beads, value body. The others might have been about a penny a quart, confounded asleep, but I was awake, I listened, I · spotted cotton handkerchiefs. And no listened on the watch for the sentence, rivets. Three carriers could have for the word, that would give me the brought all that was wanted to set that clew to the faint uneasiness inspired by steamboat afloat. this narrative that seemed to shape it- "He was becoming confidential now,
but I fancy my unresponsive attitude a bit-to find out what I could do. No, must have exasperated him at last, for I don't like work. I'd rather laze he judged it necessary to inform me he about and think of all the fine things feared neither God nor devil, let alone that can be done. I don't like workany mere man. I said I could see that no man does—but I like what is in the very well, but what I wanted was a work-the chance to find yourself, your certain quantity of rivets—and rivets own reality, for yourself, not for others were really what Mr. Kurtz wanted-if -what no other man can ever know. he had only known it. Now letters They can only see the mere show, went to the coast every week. ..
and can never tell what it really ‘My dear sir,' he cried, 'I write from means. dictation. I demanded rivets. There "I was not surprised to see a man sitwas a way-for an intelligent man. He ting aft on the deck with his legs dan. changed his manner; became very cold, gling over the mud. You see I rather and suddenly began to talk about a hip- chummed with the few mechanics popotamus; wondered whether sleeping there were in that station, whom the in the steamer (I stuck to my salvage other pilgrims naturally despised-on night and day)—I wasn't disturbed. account of their imperfect manners, I There was an old hippo that was in the suppose. This
the foreman-a habit of getting out on the bank and boilermaker by trade-a good worker. roaming at night over the station He
lank. bony, yellowgrounds. The pilgrims used to turn out faced man, with big, intense eyes. in a body and empty every rifle they His aspect
worried, and his could lay hand on at him. Some even head was as bald as the palm of my had sat up o' nights for him. All this hand, but his hair in falling seemed
energy was wasted, though. "That ani- to have stuck to his chin, and had • mal has a charmed life,' he said 'but prospered in the new locality, for his
you can say this only of brutes in this beard hung down to his waist. He country. No man-you apprehend me? was a widower with six young children -no man here bears a charmed life.' He (he had left them in charge of a sister stood there for a moment in the moon- of his to come out there), and the paslight with his delicate hooked nose set sion of his life was pigeon flying. He a little askew and his mica eyes glit- was an enthusiast and a connoisseur. tering without a wink. Then, with a He raved about pigeons. After work curt good night, he strode off. I could hours he used sometimes to come over see he was disturbed and considerably from his hut for a talk about his childpuzzled, and this made me feel more ren and pigeons. At work, when hopeful than I had been for days. It he had to crawl in the mud under the was a great comfort to turn from that bottom of the steamboat, he would tie chap to my influential friend, the bat- up that beard of his in a kind of white tered, twisted, ruined, tinpot steam- serviette he brought for the purpose. boat. I clambered on board. She rang It had loops to go over his ears. In the under my feet like an empty Huntley & evening he could be seen squatted on Palmer biscuit tin kicked along a gut- the bank rinsing that wrapper in the ter; she was nothing so solid in make, creek with great care, then spreading and rather less pretty in shape, but I it solemnly on a bush to dry. had expended enough hard work on her “I slapped him on the back and to make me love her. No influential shouted, 'We shall have rivets!' He friend would have served me better. scrambled to his feet, exclaiming: 'NO! She had given me a chance to come out Rivets! as though he couldn't believe
his ears. Then in a low voice 'You ... brown bales, would be shot down in eh? I don't know why we behaved the courtyard, and the air of mystery like lunatics. I put my index to the would deepen a little over the muddle side of my nose, and nodded mysteri- of the station. Five such instalments ously. 'Good for you! he cried, snapped came, with their absurd air of disorhis fingers above his head, lifting one derly flight with the loot of innumerfoot. I tried a jig. We capered on the able outfit shops and provision stores, iron deck. A frightful clatter came out that, one would think, they were lug. of that empty hulk, and the virgin for- ging, after a raid, into the wilderness est on the other bank of the creek sent for equitable division. It was an inexit back in a thundering roll upon the tricable mess of things, decent in themsleeping station. It must have made selves, but that human folly made look some of the pilgrims sit up in their like the spoils of thieving. hovels. A dark figure obscured the "This devoted band called itself the lighted doorway of the manager's hut, Eldorado expedition, and I believe they vanished, then a second or so after, the were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, doorway itself vanished, too.
however, was the talk of sordid buccastopped, and the silence, driven away neers. It was reckless without hardiby the stamping of our feet, flowed hood, greedy without audacity, and back again from the recesses of the cruel without courage. There was not land. The great wall of vegetation, an an atom of foresight or of serious inexuberant and entangled
of tention in the whole lot of them, and trunks, branches, leaves, boughs, fes- they did not seem aware these things toons, motionless in the moonlight, was are wanted for the work of the world. like a rioting invasion of soundless life, Their desire was to tear treasure out a rolling wave of plants, piled up, of the bowels of the land, with no crested, ready to topple over the creek more moral purpose at the back of it and sweep every little man of us out than there is in burglars breaking of his little existence. And it moved into safe. Who paid for the not. A deadened outburst of mighty noble enterprise I don't know; but the splashes and snorts reached us from uncle of our manager was leader of afar as though an ichthyosaurus had that lot. been taking a bath of glitter in the "In exterior he res mbled a bu er great river. 'After all,' said the boiler- in a poor neighborhood, and his eyes maker, in a reasonable tone, 'why had a look of sleepy cunning. He carshouldn't we get the rivets? Why not ried his fat paunch with ostentation on indeed, I did not know of any reason his little short legs, and, all the time why we shouldn't. “They'll come in his gang infested the station, spoke to three weeks,' I said, confidently.
no one but his nephew. You could see “But they didn't. Instead came an in these two roaming about all day long, vasion, an infliction, a visitation. It with their heads close together in an came in sections during the next three everlasting confab. weeks, each section headed by a don- “I had given up worrying mykey, carrying a white man, in new self about the rivets. One's caclothes and tan shoes, bowing, from pacity for that
kind of folly that elevation, right and left, to the im- is
would pressed pilgrims. A rowdy band of
suppose. I said hang! and let things footsore, sulky negroes trod on the
slide. I had plenty of time for meditaheels of the donkey. A lot of tents, tion, and now and then I would give camp stools, tin boxes, white cases, some thought to Kurtz. I wasn't very