Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






NOSTROMO
A TALE OF THE SEABOARD

BY
JOSEPH CONRAD

So foul a sky clears without a storm.

-SHAKESPEARE
TO
JOHN GALSWORTHY

AUTHOR'S NOTE

NOSTROMOis the most anxiously meditated of the longer novels
which belong to the period following upon the publication of the
Typhoonvolume of short stories.

I don't mean to say that I became then conscious of any impending
change in my mentality and in my attitude towards the tasks of my
writing life. And perhaps there was never any changeexcept in
that mysteriousextraneous thing which has nothing to do with
the theories of art; a subtle change in the nature of the
inspiration; a phenomenon for which I can not in any way be held
responsible. Whathoweverdid cause me some concern was that
after finishing the last story of the "Typhoon" volume it seemed
somehow that there was nothing more in the world to write about.

This so strangely negative but disturbing mood lasted some little
time; and thenas with many of my longer storiesthe first hint
for "Nostromo" came to me in the shape of a vagrant anecdote
completely destitute of valuable details.

As a matter of fact in 1875 or '6when very youngin the West
Indies or rather in the Gulf of Mexicofor my contacts with land
were shortfewand fleetingI heard the story of some man who
was supposed to have stolen single-handed a whole lighter-full of
silversomewhere on the Tierra Firme seaboard during the
troubles of a revolution.

On the face of it this was something of a feat. But I heard no
detailsand having no particular interest in crime qua crime I
was not likely to keep that one in my mind. And I forgot it till
twenty-six or seven years afterwards I came upon the very thing
in a shabby volume picked up outside a second-hand book-shop. It
was the life story of an American seaman written by himself with
the assistance of a journalist. In the course of his wanderings


that American sailor worked for some months on board a schooner
the master and owner of which was the thief of whom I had heard
in my very young days. I have no doubt of that because there
could hardly have been two exploits of that peculiar kind in the
same part of the world and both connected with a South American
revolution.

The fellow had actually managed to steal a lighter with silver
and thisit seemsonly because he was implicitly trusted by his
employerswho must have been singularly poor judges of
character. In the sailor's story he is represented as an
unmitigated rascala small cheatstupidly ferociousmoroseof
mean appearanceand altogether unworthy of the greatness this
opportunity had thrust upon him. What was interesting was that he
would boast of it openly.

He used to say: "People think I make a lot of money in this
schooner of mine. But that is nothing. I don't care for that.
Now and then I go away quietly and lift a bar of silver. I must
get rich slowly--you understand."

There was also another curious point about the man. Once in the
course of some quarrel the sailor threatened him: "What's to
prevent me reporting ashore what you have told me about that
silver?"

The cynical ruffian was not alarmed in the least. He actually
laughed. "You foolif you dare talk like that on shore about me
you will get a knife stuck in your back. Every manwomanand
child in that port is my friend. And who's to prove the lighter
wasn't sunk? I didn't show you where the silver is hidden. Did
I? So you know nothing. And suppose I lied? Eh?"

Ultimately the sailordisgusted with the sordid meanness of that
impenitent thiefdeserted from the schooner. The whole episode
takes about three pages of his autobiography. Nothing to speak
of; but as I looked them overthe curious confirmation of the
few casual words heard in my early youth evoked the memories of
that distant time when everything was so freshso surprisingso
venturesomeso interesting; bits of strange coasts under the
starsshadows of hills in the sunshinemen's passions in the
duskgossip half-forgottenfaces grown dim. . . . Perhaps
perhapsthere still was in the world something to write about.
Yet I did not see anything at first in the mere story. A rascal
steals a large parcel of a valuable commodity--so people say.
It's either true or untrue; and in any case it has no value in
itself. To invent a circumstantial account of the robbery did not
appeal to mebecause my talents not running that way I did not
think that the game was worth the candle. It was only when it
dawned upon me that the purloiner of the treasure need not
necessarily be a confirmed roguethat he could be even a man of
characteran actor and possibly a victim in the changing scenes
of a revolutionit was only then that I had the first vision of
a twilight country which was to become the province of Sulaco
with its high shadowy Sierra and its misty Campo for mute
witnesses of events flowing from the passions of men
short-sighted in good and evil.

Such are in very truth the obscure origins of "Nostromo"--the
book. From that momentI supposeit had to be. Yet even then I
hesitatedas if warned by the instinct of self-preservation from
venturing on a distant and toilsome journey into a land full of
intrigues and revolutions. But it had to be done.


It took the best part of the years 1903-4 to do; with many
intervals of renewed hesitationlest I should lose myself in the
ever-enlarging vistas opening before me as I progressed deeper in
my knowledge of the country. Oftenalsowhen I had thought
myself to a standstill over the tangled-up affairs of the
RepublicI wouldfiguratively speakingpack my bagrush away
from Sulaco for a change of air and write a few pages of the
Mirror of the Sea.But generallyas I've said beforemy
sojourn on the Continent of Latin Americafamed for its
hospitalitylasted for about two years. On my return I found
(speaking somewhat in the style of Captain Gulliver) my family
all wellmy wife heartily glad to learn that the fuss was all
overand our small boy considerably grown during my absence.

My principal authority for the history of Costaguana isof
coursemy venerated friendthe late Don Jose Avellanos
Minister to the Courts of England and Spainetc.etc.in his
impartial and eloquent "History of Fifty Years of Misrule." That
work was never published--the reader will discover why--and I am
in fact the only person in the world possessed of its contents. I
have mastered them in not a few hours of earnest meditationand
I hope that my accuracy will be trusted. In justice to myself
and to allay the fears of prospective readersI beg to point out
that the few historical allusions are never dragged in for the
sake of parading my unique eruditionbut that each of them is
closely related to actuality; either throwing a light on the
nature of current events or affecting directly the fortunes of
the people of whom I speak.

As to their own histories I have tried to set them down
Aristocracy and Peoplemen and womenLatin and Anglo-Saxon
bandit and politicianwith as cool a hand as was possible in the
heat and clash of my own conflicting emotions. And after all this
is also the story of their conflicts. It is for the reader to say
how far they are deserving of interest in their actions and in
the secret purposes of their hearts revealed in the bitter
necessities of the time. I confess thatfor methat time is the
time of firm friendships and unforgotten hospitalities. And in my
gratitude I must mention here Mrs. Gouldthe first lady of
Sulaco,whom we may safely leave to the secret devotion of Dr.
Monyghamand Charles Gouldthe Idealist-creator of Material
Interests whom we must leave to his Mine--from which there is no
escape in this world.

About Nostromothe second of the two racially and socially
contrasted menboth captured by the silver of the San Tome Mine
I feel bound to say something more.

I did not hesitate to make that central figure an Italian. First
of all the thing is perfectly credible: Italians were swarming
into the Occidental Province at the timeas anybody who will
read further can see; and secondlythere was no one who could
stand so well by the side of Giorgio Viola the Garibaldinothe
Idealist of the oldhumanitarian revolutions. For myself I
needed there a Man of the People as free as possible from his
class-conventions and all settled modes of thinking. This is not
a side snarl at conventions. My reasons were not moral but
artistic. Had he been an Anglo-Saxon he would have tried to get
into local politics. But Nostromo does not aspire to be a leader
in a personal game. He does not want to raise himself above the
mass. He is content to feel himself a power--within the People.

But mainly Nostromo is what he is because I received the
inspiration for him in my early days from a Mediterranean sailor.


Those who have read certain pages of mine will see at once what I
mean when I say that Dominicthe padrone of the Tremolinomight
under given circumstances have been a Nostromo. At any rate
Dominic would have understood the younger man perfectly--if
scornfully. He and I were engaged together in a rather absurd
adventurebut the absurdity does not matter. It is a real
satisfaction to think that in my very young days there must
after allhave been something in me worthy to command that man's
half-bitter fidelityhis half-ironic devotion. Many of
Nostromo's speeches I have heard first in Dominic's voice. His
hand on the tiller and his fearless eyes roaming the horizon from
within the monkish hood shadowing his facehe would utter the
usual exordium of his remorseless wisdom: "Vous autres
gentilhommes!" in a caustic tone that hangs on my ear yet. Like
Nostromo! "You hombres finos!" Very much like Nostromo. But
Dominic the Corsican nursed a certain pride of ancestry from
which my Nostromo is free; for Nostromo's lineage had to be more
ancient still. He is a man with the weight of countless
generations behind him and no parentage to boast of. . . . Like
the People.

In his firm grip on the earth he inheritsin his improvidence
and generosityin his lavishness with his giftsin his manly
vanityin the obscure sense of his greatness and in his faithful
devotion with something despairing as well as desperate in its
impulseshe is a Man of the Peopletheir very own unenvious
forcedisdaining to lead but ruling from within. Years
afterwardsgrown older as the famous Captain Fidanzawith a
stake in the countrygoing about his many affairs followed by
respectful glances in the modernized streets of Sulacocalling
on the widow of the cargadorattending the Lodgelistening in
unmoved silence to anarchist speeches at the meetingthe
enigmatical patron of the new revolutionary agitationthe
trustedthe wealthy comrade Fidanza with the knowledge of his
moral ruin locked up in his breasthe remains essentially a Man
of the People. In his mingled love and scorn of life and in the
bewildered conviction of having been betrayedof dying betrayed
he hardly knows by what or by whomhe is still of the People
their undoubted Great Man--with a private history of his own.

One more figure of those stirring times I would like to mention:
and that is Antonia Avellanos--the "beautiful Antonia." Whether
she is a possible variation of Latin-American girlhood I wouldn't
dare to affirm. Butfor meshe is. Always a little in the
background by the side of her father (my venerated friend) I hope
she has yet relief enough to make intelligible what I am going to
say. Of all the people who had seen with me the birth of the
Occidental Republicshe is the only one who has kept in my
memory the aspect of continued life. Antonia the Aristocrat and
Nostromo the Man of the People are the artisans of the New Era
the true creators of the New State; he by his legendary and
daring featshelike a womansimply by the force of what she
is: the only being capable of inspiring a sincere passion in the
heart of a trifler.

If anything could induce me to revisit Sulaco (I should hate to
see all these changes) it would be Antonia. And the true reason
for that--why not be frank about it?--the true reason is that I
have modelled her on my first love. How wea band of tallish
schoolboysthe chums of her two brothershow we used to look up
to that girl just out of the schoolroom herselfas the
standard-bearer of a faith to which we all were born but which
she alone knew how to hold aloft with an unflinching hope! She
had perhaps more glow and less serenity in her soul than Antonia


but she was an uncompromising Puritan of patriotism with no taint
of the slightest worldliness in her thoughts. I was not the only
one in love with her; but it was I who had to hear oftenest her
scathing criticism of my levities--very much like poor Decoud--or
stand the brunt of her austereunanswerable invective. She did
not quite understand--but never mind. That afternoon when I came
ina shrinking yet defiant sinnerto say the final good-bye I
received a hand-squeeze that made my heart leap and saw a tear
that took my breath away. She was softened at the last as though
she had suddenly perceived (we were such children still!) that I
was really going away for goodgoing very far away--even as far
as Sulacolying unknownhidden from our eyes in the darkness of
the Placid Gulf.

That's why I long sometimes for another glimpse of the "beautiful
Antonia" (or can it be the Other?) moving in the dimness of the
great cathedralsaying a short prayer at the tomb of the first
and last Cardinal-Archbishop of Sulacostanding absorbed in
filial devotion before the monument of Don Jose Avellanosand
with a lingeringtenderfaithful glance at the
medallion-memorial to Martin Decoudgoing out serenely into the
sunshine of the Plaza with her upright carriage and her white
head; a relic of the past disregarded by men awaiting impatiently
the Dawns of other New Erasthe coming of more Revolutions.

But this is the idlest of dreams; for I did understand perfectly
well at the time that the moment the breath left the body of the
Magnificent Capatazthe Man of the Peoplefreed at last from
the toils of love and wealththere was nothing more for me to do
in Sulaco.

J. C.
October1917.

CONTENTS

PART FIRST

THE SILVER OF THE MINE

PART SECOND

THE ISABELS

PART THIRD

THE LIGHTHOUSE

NOSTROMO

CHAPTER ONE

IN THE time of Spanish ruleand for many years afterwardsthe
town of Sulaco--the luxuriant beauty of the orange gardens bears


witness to its antiquity--had never been commercially anything
more important than a coasting port with a fairly large local
trade in ox-hides and indigo. The clumsy deep-sea galleons of the
conquerors thatneeding a brisk gale to move at allwould lie
becalmedwhere your modern ship built on clipper lines forges
ahead by the mere flapping of her sailshad been barred out of
Sulaco by the prevailing calms of its vast gulf. Some harbours of
the earth are made difficult of access by the treachery of sunken
rocks and the tempests of their shores. Sulaco had found an
inviolable sanctuary from the temptations of a trading world in
the solemn hush of the deep Golfo Placido as if within an
enormous semi-circular and unroofed temple open to the ocean
with its walls of lofty mountains hung with the mourning
draperies of cloud.

On one side of this broad curve in the straight seaboard of the
Republic of Costaguanathe last spur of the coast range forms an
insignificant cape whose name is Punta Mala. From the middle of
the gulf the point of the land itself is not visible at all; but
the shoulder of a steep hill at the back can be made out faintly
like a shadow on the sky.

On the other sidewhat seems to be an isolated patch of blue
mist floats lightly on the glare of the horizon. This is the
peninsula of Azueraa wild chaos of sharp rocks and stony levels
cut about by vertical ravines. It lies far out to sea like a
rough head of stone stretched from a green-clad coast at the end
of a slender neck of sand covered with thickets of thorny scrub.
Utterly waterlessfor the rainfall runs off at once on all sides
into the seait has not soil enough--it is said--to grow a
single blade of grassas if it were blighted by a curse. The
poorassociating by an obscure instinct of consolation the ideas
of evil and wealthwill tell you that it is deadly because of
its forbidden treasures. The common folk of the neighbourhood
peons of the estanciasvaqueros of the seaboard plainstame
Indians coming miles to market with a bundle of sugar-cane or a
basket of maize worth about threepenceare well aware that heaps
of shining gold lie in the gloom of the deep precipices cleaving
the stony levels of Azuera. Tradition has it that many
adventurers of olden time had perished in the search. The story
goes also that within men's memory two wandering sailors--
Americanosperhapsbut gringos of some sort for certain--talked
over a gamblinggood-for-nothing mozoand the three stole a
donkey to carry for them a bundle of dry sticksa water-skin
and provisions enough to last a few days. Thus accompaniedand
with revolvers at their beltsthey had started to chop their way
with machetes through the thorny scrub on the neck of the
peninsula.

On the second evening an upright spiral of smoke (it could only
have been from their camp-fire) was seen for the first time
within memory of man standing up faintly upon the sky above a
razor-backed ridge on the stony head. The crew of a coasting
schoonerlying becalmed three miles off the shorestared at it
with amazement till dark. A negro fishermanliving in a lonely
hut in a little bay near byhad seen the start and was on the
lookout for some sign. He called to his wife just as the sun was
about to set. They had watched the strange portent with envy
incredulityand awe.

The impious adventurers gave no other sign. The sailorsthe
Indianand the stolen burro were never seen again. As to the
mozoa Sulaco man--his wife paid for some massesand the poor
four-footed beastbeing without sinhad been probably permitted


to die; but the two gringosspectral and aliveare believed to
be dwelling to this day amongst the rocksunder the fatal spell
of their success. Their souls cannot tear themselves away from
their bodies mounting guard over the discovered treasure. They
are now rich and hungry and thirsty--a strange theory of
tenacious gringo ghosts suffering in their starved and parched
flesh of defiant hereticswhere a Christian would have renounced
and been released.

Thesethenare the legendary inhabitants of Azuera guarding its
forbidden wealth; and the shadow on the sky on one side with the
round patch of blue haze blurring the bright skirt of the horizon
on the othermark the two outermost points of the bend which
bears the name of Golfo Placidobecause never a strong wind had
been known to blow upon its waters.

On crossing the imaginary line drawn from Punta Mala to Azuera
the ships from Europe bound to Sulaco lose at once the strong
breezes of the ocean. They become the prey of capricious airs
that play with them for thirty hours at a stretch sometimes.
Before them the head of the calm gulf is filled on most days of
the year by a great body of motionless and opaque clouds. On the
rare clear mornings another shadow is cast upon the sweep of the
gulf. The dawn breaks high behind the towering and serrated wall
of the Cordilleraa clear-cut vision of dark peaks rearing their
steep slopes on a lofty pedestal of forest rising from the very
edge of the shore. Amongst them the white head of Higuerota
rises majestically upon the blue. Bare clusters of enormous rocks
sprinkle with tiny black dots the smooth dome of snow.

Thenas the midday sun withdraws from the gulf the shadow of the
mountainsthe clouds begin to roll out of the lower valleys.
They swathe in sombre tatters the naked crags of precipices above
the wooded slopeshide the peakssmoke in stormy trails across
the snows of Higuerota. The Cordillera is gone from you as if it
had dissolved itself into great piles of grey and black vapours
that travel out slowly to seaward and vanish into thin air all
along the front before the blazing heat of the day. The wasting
edge of the cloud-bank always strives forbut seldom winsthe
middle of the gulf. The sun--as the sailors say--is eating it up.
Unless perchance a sombre thunder-head breaks away from the main
body to career all over the gulf till it escapes into the offing
beyond Azuerawhere it bursts suddenly into flame and crashes
like a sinster pirate-ship of the airhove-to above the horizon
engaging the sea.

At night the body of clouds advancing higher up the sky smothers
the whole quiet gulf below with an impenetrable darknessin
which the sound of the falling showers can be heard beginning and
ceasing abruptly--now herenow there. Indeedthese cloudy
nights are proverbial with the seamen along the whole west coast
of a great continent. Skylandand sea disappear together out
of the world when the Placido--as the saying is--goes to sleep
under its black poncho. The few stars left below the seaward
frown of the vault shine feebly as into the mouth of a black
cavern. In its vastness your ship floats unseen under your feet
her sails flutter invisible above your head. The eye of God
Himself--they add with grim profanity--could not find out what
work a man's hand is doing in there; and you would be free to
call the devil to your aid with impunity if even his malice were
not defeated by such a blind darkness.

The shores on the gulf are steep-to all round; three uninhabited
islets basking in the sunshine just outside the cloud veiland


opposite the entrance to the harbour of Sulacobear the name of
The Isabels.

There is the Great Isabel; the Little Isabelwhich is round; and
Hermosawhich is the smallest.

That last is no more than a foot highand about seven paces
acrossa mere flat top of a grey rock which smokes like a hot
cinder after a showerand where no man would care to venture a
naked sole before sunset. On the Little Isabel an old ragged
palmwith a thick bulging trunk rough with spinesa very witch
amongst palm treesrustles a dismal bunch of dead leaves above
the coarse sand. The Great Isabel has a spring of fresh water
issuing from the overgrown side of a ravine. Resembling an
emerald green wedge of land a mile longand laid flat upon the
seait bears two forest trees standing close togetherwith a
wide spread of shade at the foot of their smooth trunks. A ravine
extending the whole length of the island is full of bushes; and
presenting a deep tangled cleft on the high side spreads itself
out on the other into a shallow depression abutting on a small
strip of sandy shore.

From that low end of the Great Isabel the eye plunges through an
opening two miles awayas abrupt as if chopped with an axe out
of the regular sweep of the coastright into the harbour of
Sulaco. It is an oblonglake-like piece of water. On one side
the short wooded spurs and valleys of the Cordillera come down at
right angles to the very strand; on the other the open view of
the great Sulaco plain passes into the opal mystery of great
distances overhung by dry haze. The town of Sulaco itself--tops
of wallsa great cupolagleams of white miradors in a vast
grove of orange trees--lies between the mountains and the plain
at some little distance from its harbour and out of the direct
line of sight from the sea.

CHAPTER TWO

THE only sign of commercial activity within the harbourvisible
from the beach of the Great Isabelis the square blunt end of
the wooden jetty which the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (the

O.S.N. of familiar speech) had thrown over the shallow part of
the bay soon after they had resolved to make of Sulaco one of
their ports of call for the Republic of Costaguana. The State
possesses several harbours on its long seaboardbut except
Caytaan important placeall are either small and inconvenient
inlets in an iron-bound coast--like Esmeraldafor instance
sixty miles to the south--or else mere open roadsteads exposed to
the winds and fretted by the surf.
Perhaps the very atmospheric conditions which had kept away the
merchant fleets of bygone ages induced the O.S.N. Company to
violate the sanctuary of peace sheltering the calm existence of
Sulaco. The variable airs sporting lightly with the vast
semicircle of waters within the head of Azuera could not baffle
the steam power of their excellent fleet. Year after year the
black hulls of their ships had gone up and down the coastin and
outpast Azuerapast the Isabelspast Punta Mala--disregarding
everything but the tyranny of time. Their namesthe names of all
mythologybecame the household words of a coast that had never
been ruled by the gods of Olympus. The Juno was known only for
her comfortable cabins amidshipsthe Saturn for the geniality of
her captain and the painted and gilt luxuriousness of her saloon


whereas the Ganymede was fitted out mainly for cattle transport
and to be avoided by coastwise passengers. The humblest Indian in
the obscurest village on the coast was familiar with the
Cerberusa little black puffer without charm or living
accommodation to speak ofwhose mission was to creep inshore
along the wooded beaches close to mighty ugly rocksstopping
obligingly before every cluster of huts to collect producedown
to three-pound parcels of indiarubber bound in a wrapper of dry
grass.

And as they seldom failed to account for the smallest package
rarely lost a bullockand had never drowned a single passenger
the name of the O.S.N. stood very high for trustworthiness.
People declared that under the Company's care their lives and
property were safer on the water than in their own houses on
shore.

The O.S.N.'s superintendent in Sulaco for the whole Costaguana
section of the service was very proud of his Company's standing.
He resumed it in a saying which was very often on his lipsWe
never make mistakes.To the Company's officers it took the form
of a severe injunctionWe must make no mistakes. I'll have no
mistakes here, no matter what Smith may do at his end.

Smithon whom he had never set eyes in his lifewas the other
superintendent of the servicequartered some fifteen hundred
miles away from Sulaco. "Don't talk to me of your Smith."

Thencalming down suddenlyhe would dismiss the subject with
studied negligence.

Smith knows no more of this continent than a baby.

Our excellent Senor Mitchellfor the business and official
world of Sulaco; "Fussy Joe" for the commanders of the Company's
shipsCaptain Joseph Mitchell prided himself on his profound
knowledge of men and things in the country--cosas de Costaguana.
Amongst these last he accounted as most unfavourable to the
orderly working of his Company the frequent changes of government
brought about by revolutions of the military type.

The political atmosphere of the Republic was generally stormy in
these days. The fugitive patriots of the defeated party had the
knack of turning up again on the coast with half a steamer's load
of small arms and ammunition. Such resourcefulness Captain
Mitchell considered as perfectly wonderful in view of their utter
destitution at the time of flight. He had observed that "they
never seemed to have enough change about them to pay for their
passage ticket out of the country." And he could speak with
knowledge; for on a memorable occasion he had been called upon to
save the life of a dictatortogether with the lives of a few
Sulaco officials--the political chiefthe director of the
customsand the head of police--belonging to an overturned
government. Poor Senor Ribiera (such was the dictator's name) had
come pelting eighty miles over mountain tracks after the lost
battle of Socorroin the hope of out-distancing the fatal
news--whichof coursehe could not manage to do on a lame mule.
The animalmoreoverexpired under him at the end of the
Alamedawhere the military band plays sometimes in the evenings
between the revolutions. "Sir Captain Mitchell would pursue
with portentous gravity, the ill-timed end of that mule
attracted attention to the unfortunate rider. His features were
recognized by several deserters from the Dictatorial army amongst
the rascally mob already engaged in smashing the windows of the


Intendencia."

Early on the morning of that day the local authorities of Sulaco
had fled for refuge to the O.S.N. Company's officesa strong
building near the shore end of the jettyleaving the town to the
mercies of a revolutionary rabble; and as the Dictator was
execrated by the populace on account of the severe recruitment
law his necessities had compelled him to enforce during the
strugglehe stood a good chance of being torn to pieces.
ProvidentiallyNostromo--invaluable fellow--with some Italian
workmenimported to work upon the National Central Railwaywas
at handand managed to snatch him away--for the time at least.
UltimatelyCaptain Mitchell succeeded in taking everybody off in
his own gig to one of the Company's steamers--it was the
Minerva--just thenas luck would have itentering the harbour.

He had to lower these gentlemen at the end of a rope out of a
hole in the wall at the backwhile the mob whichpouring out of
the townhad spread itself all along the shorehowled and
foamed at the foot of the building in front. He had to hurry them
then the whole length of the jetty; it had been a desperate dash
neck or nothing--and again it was Nostromoa fellow in a
thousandwhoat the headthis timeof the Company's body of
lightermenheld the jetty against the rushes of the rabblethus
giving the fugitives time to reach the gig lying ready for them
at the other end with the Company's flag at the stern. Sticks
stonesshots flew; knivestoowere thrown. Captain Mitchell
exhibited willingly the long cicatrice of a cut over his left ear
and templemade by a razor-blade fastened to a stick--a weapon
he explainedvery much in favour with the "worst kind of nigger
out here."

Captain Mitchell was a thickelderly manwearing highpointed
collars and short side-whiskerspartial to white waistcoatsand
really very communicative under his air of pompous reserve.

These gentlemen,he would saystaring with great solemnity
had to run like rabbits, sir. I ran like a rabbit myself.
Certain forms of death are--er--distasteful to
a--a--er--respectable man. They would have pounded me to death,
too. A crazy mob, sir, does not discriminate. Under providence we
owed our preservation to my Capataz de Cargadores, as they called
him in the town, a man who, when I discovered his value, sir, was
just the bos'n of an Italian ship, a big Genoese ship, one of the
few European ships that ever came to Sulaco with a general cargo
before the building of the National Central. He left her on
account of some very respectable friends he made here, his own
countrymen, but also, I suppose, to better himself. Sir, I am a
pretty good judge of character. I engaged him to be the foreman
of our lightermen, and caretaker of our jetty. That's all that he
was. But without him Senor Ribiera would have been a dead man.
This Nostromo, sir, a man absolutely above reproach, became the
terror of all the thieves in the town. We were infested,
infested, overrun, sir, here at that time by ladrones and
matreros, thieves and murderers from the whole province. On this
occasion they had been flocking into Sulaco for a week past.
They had scented the end, sir. Fifty per cent. of that murdering
mob were professional bandits from the Campo, sir, but there
wasn't one that hadn't heard of Nostromo. As to the town leperos,
sir, the sight of his black whiskers and white teeth was enough
for them. They quailed before him, sir. That's what the force of
character will do for you.

It could very well be said that it was Nostromo alone who saved


the lives of these gentlemen. Captain Mitchellon his part
never left them till he had seen them collapsepanting
terrifiedand exasperatedbut safeon the luxuriant velvet
sofas in the first-class saloon of the Minerva. To the very last
he had been careful to address the ex-Dictator as "Your
Excellency."

Sir, I could do no other. The man was down--ghastly, livid, one
mass of scratches.

The Minerva never let go her anchor that call. The superintendent
ordered her out of the harbour at once. No cargo could be
landedof courseand the passengers for Sulaco naturally
refused to go ashore. They could hear the firing and see plainly
the fight going on at the edge of the water. The repulsed mob
devoted its energies to an attack upon the Custom Housea
drearyunfinished-looking structure with many windows two
hundred yards away from the O.S.N. Officesand the only other
building near the harbour. Captain Mitchellafter directing the
commander of the Minerva to land "these gentlemen" in the first
port of call outside Costaguanawent back in his gig to see what
could be done for the protection of the Company's property. That
and the property of the railway were preserved by the European
residents; that isby Captain Mitchell himself and the staff of
engineers building the roadaided by the Italian and Basque
workmen who rallied faithfully round their English chiefs. The
Company's lightermentoonatives of the Republicbehaved very
well under their Capataz. An outcast lot of very mixed blood
mainly negroeseverlastingly at feud with the other customers of
low grog shops in the townthey embraced with delight this
opportunity to settle their personal scores under such favourable
auspices. There was not one of them that had notat some time or
otherlooked with terror at Nostromo's revolver poked very close
at his faceor been otherwise daunted by Nostromo's resolution.
He was "much of a man their Capataz was, they said, too
scornful in his temper ever to utter abuse, a tireless
taskmaster, and the more to be feared because of his aloofness.
And behold! there he was that day, at their head, condescending
to make jocular remarks to this man or the other.

Such leadership was inspiriting, and in truth all the harm the
mob managed to achieve was to set fire to one--only one--stack
of railway-sleepers, which, being creosoted, burned well. The
main attack on the railway yards, on the O.S.N. Offices, and
especially on the Custom House, whose strong room, it was well
known, contained a large treasure in silver ingots, failed
completely. Even the little hotel kept by old Giorgio, standing
alone halfway between the harbour and the town, escaped looting
and destruction, not by a miracle, but because with the safes in
view they had neglected it at first, and afterwards found no
leisure to stop. Nostromo, with his Cargadores, was pressing them
too hard then.

CHAPTER THREE

IT MIGHT have been said that there he was only protecting his
own. From the first he had been admitted to live in the intimacy
of the family of the hotel-keeper who was a countryman of his.
Old Giorgio Viola, a Genoese with a shaggy white leonine
head--often called simply the Garibaldino" (as Mohammedans are
called after their prophet)--wasto use Captain Mitchell's own
wordsthe "respectable married friend" by whose advice Nostromo


had left his ship to try for a run of shore luck in Costaguana.

The old manfull of scorn for the populaceas your austere
republican so often ishad disregarded the preliminary sounds of
trouble. He went on that day as usual pottering about the "casa"
in his slippersmuttering angrily to himself his contempt of the
non-political nature of the riotand shrugging his shoulders.
In the end he was taken unawares by the out-rush of the rabble.
It was too late then to remove his familyandindeedwhere
could he have run to with the portly Signora Teresa and two
little girls on that great plain? Sobarricading every opening
the old man sat down sternly in the middle of the darkened cafe
with an old shot-gun on his knees. His wife sat on another chair
by his sidemuttering pious invocations to all the saints of the
calendar.

The old republican did not believe in saintsor in prayersor
in what he called "priest's religion." Liberty and Garibaldi were
his divinities; but he tolerated "superstition" in women
preserving in these matters a lofty and silent attitude.

His two girlsthe eldest fourteenand the other two years
youngercrouched on the sanded flooron each side of the
Signora Teresawith their heads on their mother's lapboth
scaredbut each in her own waythe dark-haired Linda indignant
and angrythe fair Gisellethe youngerbewildered and
resigned. The Patrona removed her armswhich embraced her
daughtersfor a moment to cross herself and wring her hands
hurriedly. She moaned a little louder.

Oh! Gian' Battista, why art thou not here? Oh! why art thou not
here?

She was not then invoking the saint himselfbut calling upon
Nostromowhose patron he was. And Giorgiomotionless on the
chair by her sidewould be provoked by these reproachful and
distracted appeals.

Peace, woman! Where's the sense of it? There's his duty,he
murmured in the dark; and she would retortpanting-


Eh! I have no patience. Duty! What of the woman who has been
like a mother to him? I bent my knee to him this morning; don't
you go out, Gian' Battista--stop in the house, Battistino--look
at those two little innocent children!

Mrs. Viola was an Italiantooa native of Spezziaand though
considerably younger than her husbandalready middle-aged. She
had a handsome facewhose complexion had turned yellow because
the climate of Sulaco did not suit her at all. Her voice was a
rich contralto. Whenwith her arms folded tight under her ample
bosomshe scolded the squatthick-legged China girls handling
linenplucking fowlspounding corn in wooden mortars amongst
the mud outbuildings at the back of the houseshe could bring
out such an impassionedvibratingsepulchral note that the
chained watch-dog bolted into his kennel with a great rattle.
Luisa cinnamon-coloured mulatto with a sprouting moustache and
thickdark lipswould stop sweeping the cafe with a broom of
palm-leaves to let a gentle shudder run down his spine. His
languishing almond eyes would remain closed for a long time.

This was the staff of the Casa Violabut all these people had
fled early that morning at the first sounds of the riot
preferring to hide on the plain rather than trust themselves in


the house; a preference for which they were in no way to blame
sincewhether true or notit was generally believed in the town
that the Garibaldino had some money buried under the clay floor
of the kitchen. The dogan irritableshaggy brutebarked
violently and whined plaintively in turns at the backrunning in
and out of his kennel as rage or fear prompted him.

Bursts of great shouting rose and died awaylike wild gusts of
wind on the plain round the barricaded house; the fitful popping
of shots grew louder above the yelling. Sometimes there were
intervals of unaccountable stillness outsideand nothing could
have been more gaily peaceful than the narrow bright lines of
sunlight from the cracks in the shuttersruled straight across
the cafe over the disarranged chairs and tables to the wall
opposite. Old Giorgio had chosen that barewhitewashed room for
a retreat. It had only one windowand its only door swung out
upon the track of thick dust fenced by aloe hedges between the
harbour and the townwhere clumsy carts used to creak along
behind slow yokes of oxen guided by boys on horseback.

In a pause of stillness Giorgio cocked his gun. The ominous sound
wrung a low moan from the rigid figure of the woman sitting by
his side. A sudden outbreak of defiant yelling quite near the
house sank all at once to a confused murmur of growls. Somebody
ran along; the loud catching of his breath was heard for an
instant passing the door; there were hoarse mutters and footsteps
near the wall; a shoulder rubbed against the shuttereffacing
the bright lines of sunshine pencilled across the whole breadth
of the room. Signora Teresa's arms thrown about the kneeling
forms of her daughters embraced them closer with a convulsive
pressure.

The mobdriven away from the Custom Househad broken up into
several bandsretreating across the plain in the direction of
the town. The subdued crash of irregular volleys fired in the
distance was answered by faint yells far away. In the intervals
the single shots rang feeblyand the lowlongwhite building
blinded in every window seemed to be the centre of a turmoil
widening in a great circle about its closed-up silence. But the
cautious movements and whispers of a routed party seeking a
momentary shelter behind the wall made the darkness of the room
striped by threads of quiet sunlightalight with evilstealthy
sounds. The Violas had them in their ears as though invisible
ghosts hovering about their chairs had consulted in mutters as to
the advisability of setting fire to this foreigner's casa.

It was trying to the nerves. Old Viola had risen slowlygun in
handirresolutefor he did not see how he could prevent them.
Already voices could be heard talking at the back. Signora Teresa
was beside herself with terror.

Ah! the traitor! the traitor!she mumbledalmost inaudibly.
Now we are going to be burnt; and I bent my knee to him. No! he
must run at the heels of his English.

She seemed to think that Nostromo's mere presence in the house
would have made it perfectly safe. So farshetoowas under
the spell of that reputation the Capataz de Cargadores had made
for himself by the watersidealong the railway linewith the
English and with the populace of Sulaco. To his faceand even
against her husbandshe invariably affected to laugh it to
scornsometimes good-naturedlymore often with a curious
bitterness. But then women are unreasonable in their opinionsas
Giorgio used to remark calmly on fitting occasions. On this


occasionwith his gun held at ready before himhe stooped down
to his wife's headandkeeping his eyes steadfastly on the
barricaded doorhe breathed out into her ear that Nostromo would
have been powerless to help. What could two men shut up in a
house do against twenty or more bent upon setting fire to the
roof? Gian' Battista was thinking of the casa all the timehe
was sure.

He think of the casa! He!gasped Signora Violacrazily. She
struck her breast with her open hands. "I know him. He thinks of
nobody but himself."

A discharge of firearms near by made her throw her head back and
close her eyes. Old Giorgio set his teeth hard under his white
moustacheand his eyes began to roll fiercely. Several bullets
struck the end of the wall together; pieces of plaster could be
heard falling outside; a voice screamed "Here they come!" and
after a moment of uneasy silence there was a rush of running feet
along the front.

Then the tension of old Giorgio's attitude relaxedand a smile
of contemptuous relief came upon his lips of an old fighter with
a leonine face. These were not a people striving for justicebut
thieves. Even to defend his life against them was a sort of
degradation for a man who had been one of Garibaldi's immortal
thousand in the conquest of Sicily. He had an immense scorn for
this outbreak of scoundrels and leperoswho did not know the
meaning of the word "liberty."

He grounded his old gunandturning his headglanced at the
coloured lithograph of Garibaldi in a black frame on the white
wall; a thread of strong sunshine cut it perpendicularly. His
eyesaccustomed to the luminous twilightmade out the high
colouring of the facethe red of the shirtthe outlines of the
square shouldersthe black patch of the Bersagliere hat with
cock's feathers curling over the crown. An immortal hero! This
was your liberty; it gave you not only lifebut immortality as
well!

For that one man his fanaticism had suffered no diminution. In
the moment of relief from the apprehension of the greatest
dangerperhapshis family had been exposed to in all their
wanderingshe had turned to the picture of his old chieffirst
and onlythen laid his hand on his wife's shoulder.

The children kneeling on the floor had not moved. Signora Teresa
opened her eyes a littleas though he had awakened her from a
very deep and dreamless slumber. Before he had time in his
deliberate way to say a reassuring word she jumped upwith the
children clinging to herone on each sidegasped for breath
and let out a hoarse shriek.

It was simultaneous with the bang of a violent blow struck on the
outside of the shutter. They could hear suddenly the snorting of
a horsethe restive tramping of hoofs on the narrowhard path
in front of the house; the toe of a boot struck at the shutter
again; a spur jingled at every blowand an excited voice
shoutedHola! hola, in there!

CHAPTER FOUR

ALL the morning Nostromo had kept his eye from afar on the Casa


Violaeven in the thick of the hottest scrimmage near the Custom
House. "If I see smoke rising over there he thought to himself,
they are lost." Directly the mob had broken he pressed with a
small band of Italian workmen in that directionwhichindeed
was the shortest line towards the town. That part of the rabble
he was pursuing seemed to think of making a stand under the
house; a volley fired by his followers from behind an aloe hedge
made the rascals fly. In a gap chopped out for the rails of the
harbour branch line Nostromo appearedmounted on his silver-grey
mare. He shoutedsent after them one shot from his revolverand
galloped up to the cafe window. He had an idea that old Giorgio
would choose that part of the house for a refuge.

His voice had penetrated to themsounding breathlessly hurried:
Hola! Vecchio! O, Vecchio! Is it all well with you in there?

You see--murmured old Viola to his wife. Signora Teresa was
silent now. Outside Nostromo laughed.

I can hear the padrona is not dead.

You have done your best to kill me with fear,cried Signora
Teresa. She wanted to say something morebut her voice failed
her.

Linda raised her eyes to her face for a momentbut old Giorgio
shouted apologetically-


She is a little upset.

Outside Nostromo shouted back with another laugh-


She cannot upset me.

Signora Teresa found her voice.

It is what I say. You have no heart--and you have no conscience,
Gian' Battista--

They heard him wheel his horse away from the shutters. The party
he led were babbling excitedly in Italian and Spanishinciting
each other to the pursuit. He put himself at their headcrying
Avanti!

He has not stopped very long with us. There is no praise from
strangers to be got here,Signora Teresa said tragically.
Avanti! Yes! That is all he cares for. To be first
somewhere--somehow--to be first with these English. They will be
showing him to everybody. 'This is our Nostromo!'She laughed
ominously. "What a name! What is that? Nostromo? He would take a
name that is properly no word from them."

Meantime Giorgiowith tranquil movementshad been unfastening
the door; the flood of light fell on Signora Teresawith her two
girls gathered to her sidea picturesque woman in a pose of
maternal exaltation. Behind her the wall was dazzlingly white
and the crude colours of the Garibaldi lithograph paled in the
sunshine.

Old Violaat the doormoved his arm upwards as if referring all
his quickfleeting thoughts to the picture of his old chief on
the wall. Even when he was cooking for the "Signori Inglesi"--the
engineers (he was a famous cookthough the kitchen was a dark
place)--he wasas it wereunder the eye of the great man who


had led him in a glorious struggle whereunder the walls of
Gaetatyranny would have expired for ever had it not been for
that accursed Piedmontese race of kings and ministers. When
sometimes a frying-pan caught fire during a delicate operation
with some shredded onionsand the old man was seen backing out
of the doorwayswearing and coughing violently in an acrid cloud
of smokethe name of Cavour--the arch intriguer sold to kings
and tyrants--could be heard involved in imprecations against the
China girlscooking in generaland the brute of a country where
he was reduced to live for the love of liberty that traitor had
strangled.

Then Signora Teresaall in blackissuing from another door
advancedportly and anxiousinclining her fineblack-browed
headopening her armsand crying in a profound tone-


Giorgio! thou passionate man! Misericordia Divina! In the sun
like this! He will make himself ill.

At her feet the hens made off in all directionswith immense
strides; if there were any engineers from up the line staying in
Sulacoa young English face or two would appear at the
billiard-room occupying one end of the house; but at the other
endin the cafeLuisthe mulattotook good care not to show
himself. The Indian girlswith hair like flowing black manes
and dressed only in a shift and short petticoatstared dully
from under the square-cut fringes on their foreheads; the noisy
frizzling of fat had stoppedthe fumes floated upwards in
sunshinea strong smell of burnt onions hung in the drowsy heat
enveloping the house; and the eye lost itself in a vast flat
expanse of grass to the westas if the plain between the Sierra
overtopping Sulaco and the coast range away there towards
Esmeralda had been as big as half the world.

Signora Teresaafter an impressive pauseremonstrated-


Eh, Giorgio! Leave Cavour alone and take care of yourself now we
are lost in this country all alone with the two children, because
you cannot live under a king.

And while she looked at him she would sometimes put her hand
hastily to her side with a short twitch of her fine lips and a
knitting of her blackstraight eyebrows like a flicker of angry
pain or an angry thought on her handsomeregular features.

It was pain; she suppressed the twinge. It had come to her first
a few years after they had left Italy to emigrate to America and
settle at last in Sulaco after wandering from town to town
trying shopkeeping in a small way here and there; and once an
organized enterprise of fishing--in Maldonado--for Giorgiolike
the great Garibaldihad been a sailor in his time.

Sometimes she had no patience with pain. For years its gnawing
had been part of the landscape embracing the glitter of the
harbour under the wooded spurs of the range; and the sunshine
itself was heavy and dull--heavy with pain--not like the
sunshine of her girlhoodin which middle-aged Giorgio had wooed
her gravely and passionately on the shores of the gulf of
Spezzia.

You go in at once, Giorgio,she directed. "One would think you
do not wish to have any pity on me--with four Signori Inglesi
staying in the house." "Va beneva bene Giorgio would mutter.
He obeyed. The Signori Inglesi would require their midday meal


presently. He had been one of the immortal and invincible band
of liberators who had made the mercenaries of tyranny fly like
chaff before a hurricane, un uragano terribile." But that was
before he was married and had children; and before tyranny had
reared its head again amongst the traitors who had imprisoned
Garibaldihis hero.

There were three doors in the front of the houseand each
afternoon the Garibaldino could be seen at one or another of them
with his big bush of white hairhis arms foldedhis legs
crossedleaning back his leonine head against the sideand
looking up the wooded slopes of the foothills at the snowy dome
of Higuerota. The front of his house threw off a black long
rectangle of shadebroadening slowly over the soft ox-cart
track. Through the gapschopped out in the oleander hedgesthe
harbour branch railwaylaid out temporarily on the level of the
plaincurved away its shining parallel ribbons on a belt of
scorched and withered grass within sixty yards of the end of the
house. In the evening the empty material trains of flat cars
circled round the dark green grove of Sulacoand ranundulating
slightly with white jets of steamover the plain towards the
Casa Violaon their way to the railway yards by the harbour. The
Italian drivers saluted him from the foot-plate with raised hand
while the negro brakesmen sat carelessly on the brakeslooking
straight forwardwith the rims of their big hats flapping in the
wind. In return Giorgio would give a slight sideways jerk of the
headwithout unfolding his arms.

On this memorable day of the riot his arms were not folded on his
chest. His hand grasped the barrel of the gun grounded on the
threshold; he did not look up once at the white dome of
Higuerotawhose cool purity seemed to hold itself aloof from a
hot earth. His eyes examined the plain curiously. Tall trails of
dust subsided here and there. In a speckless sky the sun hung
clear and blinding. Knots of men ran headlong; others made a
stand; and the irregular rattle of firearms came rippling to his
ears in the fierystill air. Single figures on foot raced
desperately. Horsemen galloped towards each otherwheeled round
togetherseparated at speed. Giorgio saw one fallrider and
horse disappearing as if they had galloped into a chasmand the
movements of the animated scene were like the passages of a
violent game played upon the plain by dwarfs mounted and on foot
yelling with tiny throatsunder the mountain that seemed a
colossal embodiment of silence. Never before had Giorgio seen
this bit of plain so full of active life; his gaze could not take
in all its details at once; he shaded his eyes with his hand
till suddenly the thundering of many hoofs near by startled him.

A troop of horses had broken out of the fenced paddock of the
Railway Company. They came on like a whirlwindand dashed over
the line snortingkickingsquealing in a compactpiebald
tossing mob of baybrowngrey backseyes staringnecks
extendednostrils redlong tails streaming. As soon as they had
leaped upon the road the thick dust flew upwards from under their
hoofsand within six yards of Giorgio only a brown cloud with
vague forms of necks and cruppers rolled bymaking the soil
tremble on its passage.

Viola coughedturning his face away from the dustand shaking
his head slightly.

There will be some horse-catching to be done before to-night,
he muttered.


In the square of sunlight falling through the door Signora
Teresakneeling before the chairhad bowed her headheavy with
a twisted mass of ebony hair streaked with silverinto the palm
of her hands. The black lace shawl she used to drape about her
face had dropped to the ground by her side. The two girls had got
uphand-in-handin short skirtstheir loose hair falling in
disorder. The younger had thrown her arm across her eyesas if
afraid to face the light. Lindawith her hand on the other's
shoulderstared fearlessly. Viola looked at his children. The
sun brought out the deep lines on his faceandenergetic in
expressionit had the immobility of a carving. It was impossible
to discover what he thought. Bushy grey eyebrows shaded his dark
glance.

Well! And do you not pray like your mother?

Linda poutedadvancing her red lipswhich were almost too red;
but she had admirable eyesbrownwith a sparkle of gold in the
irisesfull of intelligence and meaningand so clear that they
seemed to throw a glow upon her thincolourless face. There were
bronze glints in the sombre clusters of her hairand the
eyelasheslong and coal blackmade her complexion appear still
more pale.

Mother is going to offer up a lot of candles in the church. She
always does when Nostromo has been away fighting. I shall have
some to carry up to the Chapel of the Madonna in the Cathedral.

She said all this quicklywith great assurancein an animated
penetrating voice. Thengiving her sister's shoulder a slight
shakeshe added-


And she will be made to carry one, too!

Why made?inquired Giorgiogravely. "Does she not want to?"

She is timid,said Lindawith a little burst of laughter.
People notice her fair hair as she goes along with us. They call
out after her, 'Look at the Rubia! Look at the Rubiacita!' They
call out in the streets. She is timid.

And you? You are not timid--eh?the father pronouncedslowly.

She tossed back all her dark hair.

Nobody calls out after me.

Old Giorgio contemplated his children thoughtfully. There was
two years difference between them. They had been born to him
lateyears after the boy had died. Had he lived he would have
been nearly as old as Gian' Battista--he whom the English called
Nostromo; but as to his daughtersthe severity of his temper
his advancing agehis absorption in his memorieshad prevented
his taking much notice of them. He loved his childrenbut girls
belong more to the motherand much of his affection had been
expended in the worship and service of liberty.

When quite a youth he had deserted from a ship trading to La
Platato enlist in the navy of Montevideothen under the
command of Garibaldi. Afterwardsin the Italian legion of the
Republic struggling against the encroaching tyranny of Rosashe
had taken parton great plainson the banks of immense rivers
in the fiercest fighting perhaps the world had ever known. He
had lived amongst men who had declaimed about libertysuffered


for libertydied for libertywith a desperate exaltationand
with their eyes turned towards an oppressed Italy. His own
enthusiasm had been fed on scenes of carnageon the examples of
lofty devotionon the din of armed struggleon the inflamed
language of proclamations. He had never parted from the chief of
his choice--the fiery apostle of independence--keeping by his
side in America and in Italy till after the fatal day of
Aspromontewhen the treachery of kingsemperorsand ministers
had been revealed to the world in the wounding and imprisonment
of his hero--a catastrophe that had instilled into him a gloomy
doubt of ever being able to understand the ways of Divine
justice.

He did not deny ithowever. It required patiencehe would say.
Though he disliked priestsand would not put his foot inside a
church for anythinghe believed in God. Were not the
proclamations against tyrants addressed to the peoples in the
name of God and liberty? "God for men--religions for women he
muttered sometimes. In Sicily, an Englishman who had turned up in
Palermo after its evacuation by the army of the king, had given
him a Bible in Italian--the publication of the British and
Foreign Bible Society, bound in a dark leather cover. In periods
of political adversity, in the pauses of silence when the
revolutionists issued no proclamations, Giorgio earned his living
with the first work that came to hand--as sailor, as dock
labourer on the quays of Genoa, once as a hand on a farm in the
hills above Spezzia--and in his spare time he studied the thick
volume. He carried it with him into battles. Now it was his only
reading, and in order not to be deprived of it (the print was
small) he had consented to accept the present of a pair of
silver-mounted spectacles from Senora Emilia Gould, the wife of
the Englishman who managed the silver mine in the mountains three
leagues from the town. She was the only Englishwoman in Sulaco.

Giorgio Viola had a great consideration for the English. This
feeling, born on the battlefields of Uruguay, was forty years old
at the very least. Several of them had poured their blood for the
cause of freedom in America, and the first he had ever known he
remembered by the name of Samuel; he commanded a negro company
under Garibaldi, during the famous siege of Montevideo, and died
heroically with his negroes at the fording of the Boyana. He,
Giorgio, had reached the rank of ensign-alferez-and cooked for
the general. Later, in Italy, he, with the rank of lieutenant,
rode with the staff and still cooked for the general. He had
cooked for him in Lombardy through the whole campaign; on the
march to Rome he had lassoed his beef in the Campagna after the
American manner; he had been wounded in the defence of the Roman
Republic; he was one of the four fugitives who, with the general,
carried out of the woods the inanimate body of the general's wife
into the farmhouse where she died, exhausted by the hardships of
that terrible retreat. He had survived that disastrous time to
attend his general in Palermo when the Neapolitan shells from the
castle crashed upon the town. He had cooked for him on the field
of Volturno after fighting all day. And everywhere he had seen
Englishmen in the front rank of the army of freedom. He respected
their nation because they loved Garibaldi. Their very countesses
and princesses had kissed the general's hands in London, it was
said. He could well believe it; for the nation was noble, and the
man was a saint. It was enough to look once at his face to see
the divine force of faith in him and his great pity for all that
was poor, suffering, and oppressed in this world.

The spirit of self-forgetfulness, the simple devotion to a vast
humanitarian idea which inspired the thought and stress of that


revolutionary time, had left its mark upon Giorgio in a sort of
austere contempt for all personal advantage. This man, whom the
lowest class in Sulaco suspected of having a buried hoard in his
kitchen, had all his life despised money. The leaders of his
youth had lived poor, had died poor. It had been a habit of his
mind to disregard to-morrow. It was engendered partly by an
existence of excitement, adventure, and wild warfare. But mostly
it was a matter of principle. It did not resemble the
carelessness of a condottiere, it was a puritanism of conduct,
born of stern enthusiasm like the puritanism of religion.

This stern devotion to a cause had cast a gloom upon Giorgio's
old age. It cast a gloom because the cause seemed lost. Too many
kings and emperors flourished yet in the world which God had
meant for the people. He was sad because of his simplicity.
Though always ready to help his countrymen, and greatly respected
by the Italian emigrants wherever he lived (in his exile he
called it), he could not conceal from himself that they cared
nothing for the wrongs of down-trodden nations. They listened to
his tales of war readily, but seemed to ask themselves what he
had got out of it after all. There was nothing that they could
see. We wanted nothingwe suffered for the love of all
humanity!" he cried out furiously sometimesand the powerful
voicethe blazing eyesthe shaking of the white manethe
brownsinewy hand pointing upwards as if to call heaven to
witnessimpressed his hearers. After the old man hadbroken off
abruptly with a jerk of the head and a movement of the arm
meaning clearlyBut what's the good of talking to you?they
nudged each other. There was in old Giorgio an energy of
feelinga personal quality of convictionsomething they called
terribilita--"an old lion they used to say of him. Some
slight incident, a chance word would set him off talking on the
beach to the Italian fishermen of Maldonado, in the little shop
he kept afterwards (in Valparaiso) to his countrymen customers;
of an evening, suddenly, in the cafe at one end of the Casa Viola
(the other was reserved for the English engineers) to the select
clientele of engine-drivers and foremen of the railway shops.

With their handsome, bronzed, lean faces, shiny black ringlets,
glistening eyes, broad-chested, bearded, sometimes a tiny gold
ring in the lobe of the ear, the aristocracy of the railway works
listened to him, turning away from their cards or dominoes. Here
and there a fair-haired Basque studied his hand meantime, waiting
without protest. No native of Costaguana intruded there. This was
the Italian stronghold. Even the Sulaco policemen on a night
patrol let their horses pace softly by, bending low in the saddle
to glance through the window at the heads in a fog of smoke; and
the drone of old Giorgio's declamatory narrative seemed to sink
behind them into the plain. Only now and then the assistant of
the chief of police, some broad-faced, brown little gentleman,
with a great deal of Indian in him, would put in an appearance.
Leaving his man outside with the horses he advanced with a
confident, sly smile, and without a word up to the long trestle
table. He pointed to one of the bottles on the shelf; Giorgio,
thrusting his pipe into his mouth abruptly, served him in person.
Nothing would be heard but the slight jingle of the spurs. His
glass emptied, he would take a leisurely, scrutinizing look all
round the room, go out, and ride away slowly, circling towards
the town.

CHAPTER FIVE


IN THIS way only was the power of the local authorities
vindicated amongst the great body of strong-limbed foreigners who
dug the earth, blasted the rocks, drove the engines for the
progressive and patriotic undertaking." In these very words
eighteen months before the Excellentissimo Senor don Vincente
Ribierathe Dictator of Costaguanahad described the National
Central Railway in his great speech at the turning of the first
sod.

He had come on purpose to Sulacoand there was a one-o'clock
dinner-partya convite offered by the O.S.N. Company on board
the Juno after the function on shore. Captain Mitchell had
himself steered the cargo lighterall draped with flagswhich
in tow of the Juno's steam launchtook the Excellentissimo from
the jetty to the ship. Everybody of note in Sulaco had been
invited--the one or two foreign merchantsall the
representatives of the old Spanish families then in townthe
great owners of estates on the plaingravecourteoussimple
mencaballeros of pure descentwith small hands and feet
conservativehospitableand kind. The Occidental Province was
their stronghold; their Blanco party had triumphed now; it was
their President-Dictatora Blanco of the Blancoswho sat
smiling urbanely between the representatives of two friendly
foreign powers. They had come with him from Sta. Marta to
countenance by their presence the enterprise in which the capital
of their countries was engaged. The only lady of that company
was Mrs. Gouldthe wife of Don Carlosthe administrator of the
San Tome silver mine. The ladies of Sulaco were not advanced
enough to take part in the public life to that extent. They had
come out strongly at the great ball at the Intendencia the
evening beforebut Mrs. Gould alone had appeareda bright spot
in the group of black coats behind the President-Dictatoron the
crimson cloth-covered stage erected under a shady tree on the
shore of the harbourwhere the ceremony of turning the first sod
had taken place. She had come off in the cargo lighterfull of
notabilitiessitting under the flutter of gay flagsin the
place of honour by the side of Captain Mitchellwho steeredand
her clear dress gave the only truly festive note to the sombre
gathering in the longgorgeous saloon of the Juno.

The head of the chairman of the railway board (from London)
handsome and pale in a silvery mist of white hair and clipped
beardhovered near her shoulder attentivesmilingand
fatigued. The journey from London to Sta. Marta in mail boats and
the special carriages of the Sta. Marta coast-line (the only
railway so far) had been tolerable--even pleasant--quite
tolerable. But the trip over the mountains to Sulaco was another
sort of experiencein an old diligencia over impassable roads
skirting awful precipices.

We have been upset twice in one day on the brink of very deep
ravines,he was telling Mrs. Gould in an undertone. "And when we
arrived here at last I don't know what we should have done
without your hospitality. What an out-of-the-way place Sulaco
is!--and for a harbourtoo! Astonishing!"

Ah, but we are very proud of it. It used to be historically
important. The highest ecclesiastical court for two
viceroyalties, sat here in the olden time,she instructed him
with animation.

I am impressed. I didn't mean to be disparaging. You seem very
patriotic.


The place is lovable, if only by its situation. Perhaps you
don't know what an old resident I am.

How old, I wonder,he murmuredlooking at her with a slight
smile. Mrs. Gould's appearance was made youthful by the mobile
intelligence of her face. "We can't give you your ecclesiastical
court back again; but you shall have more steamersa railwaya
telegraph-cable--a future in the great world which is worth
infinitely more than any amount of ecclesiastical past. You
shall be brought in touch with something greater than two
viceroyalties. But I had no notion that a place on a sea-coast
could remain so isolated from the world. If it had been a
thousand miles inland now--most remarkable! Has anything ever
happened here for a hundred years before to-day?"

While he talked in a slowhumorous toneshe kept her little
smile. Agreeing ironicallyshe assured him that certainly
not--nothing ever happened in Sulaco. Even the revolutionsof
which there had been two in her timehad respected the repose of
the place. Their course ran in the more populous southern parts
of the Republicand the great valley of Sta. Martawhich was
like one great battlefield of the partieswith the possession of
the capital for a prize and an outlet to another ocean. They were
more advanced over there. Here in Sulaco they heard only the
echoes of these great questionsandof coursetheir official
world changed each timecoming to them over their rampart of
mountains which he himself had traversed in an old diligencia
with such a risk to life and limb.

The chairman of the railway had been enjoying her hospitality for
several daysand he was really grateful for it. It was only
since he had left Sta. Marta that he had utterly lost touch with
the feeling of European life on the background of his exotic
surroundings. In the capital he had been the guest of the
Legationand had been kept busy negotiating with the members of
Don Vincente's Government--cultured menmen to whom the
conditions of civilized business were not unknown.

What concerned him most at the time was the acquisition of land
for the railway. In the Sta. Marta Valleywhere there was
already one line in existencethe people were tractableand it
was only a matter of price. A commission had been nominated to
fix the valuesand the difficulty resolved itself into the
judicious influencing of the Commissioners. But in Sulaco--the
Occidental Province for whose very development the railway was
intended--there had been trouble. It had been lying for ages
ensconced behind its natural barriersrepelling modern
enterprise by the precipices of its mountain rangeby its
shallow harbour opening into the everlasting calms of a gulf full
of cloudsby the benighted state of mind of the owners of its
fertile territory--all these aristocratic old Spanish families
all those Don Ambrosios this and Don Fernandos thatwho seemed
actually to dislike and distrust the coming of the railway over
their lands. It had happened that some of the surveying parties
scattered all over the province had been warned off with threats
of violence. In other cases outrageous pretensions as to price
had been raised. But the man of railways prided himself on being
equal to every emergency. Since he was met by the inimical
sentiment of blind conservatism in Sulaco he would meet it by
sentimenttoobefore taking his stand on his right alone. The
Government was bound to carry out its part of the contract with
the board of the new railway companyeven if it had to use force
for the purpose. But he desired nothing less than an armed
disturbance in the smooth working of his plans. They were much


too vast and far-reachingand too promising to leave a stone
unturned; and so he imagined to get the President-Dictator over
there on a tour of ceremonies and speechesculminating in a
great function at the turning of the first sod by the harbour
shore. After all he was their own creature--that Don Vincente.
He was the embodied triumph of the best elements in the State.
These were factsandunless facts meant nothingSir John
argued to himselfsuch a man's influence must be realand his
personal action would produce the conciliatory effect he
required. He had succeeded in arranging the trip with the help of
a very clever advocatewho was known in Sta. Marta as the agent
of the Gould silver minethe biggest thing in Sulacoand even
in the whole Republic. It was indeed a fabulously rich mine. Its
so-called agentevidently a man of culture and abilityseemed
without official positionto possess an extraordinary influence
in the highest Government spheres. He was able to assure Sir John
that the President-Dictator would make the journey. He regretted
howeverin the course of the same conversationthat General
Montero insisted upon goingtoo.

General Monterowhom the beginning of the struggle had found an
obscure army captain employed on the wild eastern frontier of the
Statehad thrown in his lot with the Ribiera party at a moment
when special circumstances had given that small adhesion a
fortuitous importance. The fortunes of war served him
marvellouslyand the victory of Rio Seco (after a day of
desperate fighting) put a seal to his success. At the end he
emerged GeneralMinister of Warand the military head of the
Blanco partyalthough there was nothing aristocratic in his
descent. Indeedit was said that he and his brotherorphans
had been brought up by the munificence of a famous European
travellerin whose service their father had lost his life.
Another story was that their father had been nothing but a
charcoal burner in the woodsand their mother a baptised Indian
woman from the far interior.

However that might bethe Costaguana Press was in the habit of
styling Montero's forest march from his commandancia to join the
Blanco forces at the beginning of the troublesthe "most heroic
military exploit of modern times." About the same timetoohis
brother had turned up from Europewhere he had gone apparently
as secretary to a consul. Havinghowevercollected a small band
of outlawshe showed some talent as guerilla chief and had been
rewarded at the pacification by the post of Military Commandant
of the capital.

The Minister of Warthenaccompanied the Dictator. The board
of the O.S.N. Companyworking hand-in-hand with the railway
people for the good of the Republichad on this important
occasion instructed Captain Mitchell to put the mail-boat Juno at
the disposal of the distinguished party. Don Vincentejourneying
south from Sta. Martahad embarked at Caytathe principal port
of Costaguanaand came to Sulaco by sea. But the chairman of the
railway company had courageously crossed the mountains in a
ramshackle diligenciamainly for the purpose of meeting his
engineer-in-chief engaged in the final survey of the road.

For all the indifference of a man of affairs to naturewhose
hostility can always be overcome by the resources of financehe
could not help being impressed by his surroundings during his
halt at the surveying camp established at the highest point his
railway was to reach. He spent the night therearriving just too
late to see the last dying glow of sunlight upon the snowy flank
of Higuerota. Pillared masses of black basalt framed like an open


portal a portion of the white field lying aslant against the
west. In the transparent air of the high altitudes everything
seemed very nearsteeped in a clear stillness as in an
imponderable liquid; and with his ear ready to catch the first
sound of the expected diligencia the engineer-in-chiefat the
door of a hut of rough stoneshad contemplated the changing hues
on the enormous side of the mountainthinking that in this
sightas in a piece of inspired musicthere could be found
together the utmost delicacy of shaded expression and a
stupendous magnificence of effect.

Sir John arrived too late to hear the magnificent and inaudible
strain sung by the sunset amongst the high peaks of the Sierra.
It had sung itself out into the breathless pause of deep dusk
beforeclimbing down the fore wheel of the diligencia with stiff
limbshe shook hands with the engineer.

They gave him his dinner in a stone hut like a cubical boulder
with no door or windows in its two openings; a bright fire of
sticks (brought on muleback from the first valley below) burning
outsidesent in a wavering glare; and two candles in tin
candlesticks--lightedit was explained to himin his
honour--stood on a sort of rough camp tableat which he sat on
the right hand of the chief. He knew how to be amiable; and the
young men of the engineering stafffor whom the surveying of the
railway track had the glamour of the first steps on the path of
lifesat theretoolistening modestlywith their smooth faces
tanned by the weatherand very pleased to witness so much
affability in so great a man.

Afterwardslate at nightpacing to and fro outsidehe had a
long talk with his chief engineer. He knew him well of old. This
was not the first undertaking in which their giftsas
elementally different as fire and waterhad worked in
conjunction. From the contact of these two personalitieswho had
not the same vision of the worldthere was generated a power for
the world's service--a subtle force that could set in motion
mighty machinesmen's musclesand awaken also in human breasts
an unbounded devotion to the task. Of the young fellows at the
tableto whom the survey of the track was like the tracing of
the path of lifemore than one would be called to meet death
before the work was done. But the work would be done: the force
would be almost as strong as a faith. Not quitehowever. In the
silence of the sleeping camp upon the moonlit plateau forming the
top of the pass like the floor of a vast arena surrounded by the
basalt walls of precipicestwo strolling figures in thick
ulsters stood stilland the voice of the engineer pronounced
distinctly the words-


We can't move mountains!

Sir Johnraising his head to follow the pointing gesturefelt
the full force of the words. The white Higuerota soared out of
the shadows of rock and earth like a frozen bubble under the
moon. All was stilltill near bybehind the wall of a corral
for the camp animalsbuilt roughly of loose stones in the form
of a circlea pack mule stamped his forefoot and blew heavily
twice.

The engineer-in-chief had used the phrase in answer to the
chairman's tentative suggestion that the tracing of the line
couldperhapsbe altered in deference to the prejudices of the
Sulaco landowners. The chief engineer believed that the obstinacy
of men was the lesser obstacle. Moreoverto combat that they had


the great influence of Charles Gouldwhereas tunnelling under
Higuerota would have been a colossal undertaking.

Ah, yes! Gould. What sort of a man is he?

Sir John had heard much of Charles Gould in Sta. Martaand
wanted to know more. The engineer-in-chief assured him that the
administrator of the San Tome silver mine had an immense
influence over all these Spanish Dons. He had also one of the
best houses in Sulacoand the Gould hospitality was beyond all
praise.

They received me as if they had known me for years,he said.
The little lady is kindness personified. I stayed with them for
a month. He helped me to organize the surveying parties. His
practical ownership of the San Tome silver mine gives him a
special position. He seems to have the ear of every provincial
authority apparently, and, as I said, he can wind all the
hidalgos of the province round his little finger. If you follow
his advice the difficulties will fall away, because he wants the
railway. Of course, you must be careful in what you say. He's
English, and besides he must be immensely wealthy. The Holroyd
house is in with him in that mine, so you may imagine--

He interrupted himself asfrom before one of the little fires
burning outside the low wall of the corralarose the figure of a
man wrapped in a poncho up to the neck. The saddle which he had
been using for a pillow made a dark patch on the ground against
the red glow of embers.

I shall see Holroyd himself on my way back through the States,
said Sir John. "I've ascertained that hetoowants the
railway."

The man whoperhaps disturbed by the proximity of the voices
had arisen from the groundstruck a match to light a cigarette.
The flame showed a bronzedblack-whiskered facea pair of eyes
gazing straight; thenrearranging his wrappingshe sank full
length and laid his head again on the saddle.

That's our camp-master, whom I must send back to Sulaco now we
are going to carry our survey into the Sta. Marta Valley,said
the engineer. "A most useful fellowlent me by Captain Mitchell
of the O.S.N. Company. It was very good of Mitchell. Charles
Gould told me I couldn't do better than take advantage of the
offer. He seems to know how to rule all these muleteers and
peons. We had not the slightest trouble with our people. He shall
escort your diligencia right into Sulaco with some of our railway
peons. The road is bad. To have him at hand may save you an upset
or two. He promised me to take care of your person all the way
down as if you were his father."

This camp-master was the Italian sailor whom all the Europeans in
Sulacofollowing Captain Mitchell's mispronunciationwere in
the habit of calling Nostromo. And indeedtaciturn and ready
he did take excellent care of his charge at the bad parts of the
roadas Sir John himself acknowledged to Mrs. Gould afterwards.

CHAPTER SIX

AT THAT time Nostromo had been already long enough in the country
to raise to the highest pitch Captain Mitchell's opinion of the


extraordinary value of his discovery. Clearly he was one of those
invaluable subordinates whom to possess is a legitimate cause of
boasting. Captain Mitchell plumed himself upon his eye for
men--but he was not selfish--and in the innocence of his pride
was already developing that mania for "lending you my Capataz de
Cargadores" which was to bring Nostromo into personal contact
sooner or laterwith every European in Sulacoas a sort of
universal factotum--a prodigy of efficiency in his own sphere of
life.

The fellow is devoted to me, body and soul!Captain Mitchell
was given to affirm; and though nobodyperhapscould have
explained why it should be soit was impossible on a survey of
their relation to throw doubt on that statementunlessindeed
one were a bittereccentric character like Dr. Monygham--for
instance--whose shorthopeless laugh expressed somehow an
immense mistrust of mankind. Not that Dr. Monygham was a prodigal
either of laughter or of words. He was bitterly taciturn when at
his best. At his worst people feared the open scornfulness of his
tongue. Only Mrs. Gould could keep his unbelief in men's motives
within due bounds; but even to her (on an occasion not connected
with Nostromoand in a tone which for him was gentle)even to
herhe had said onceReally, it is most unreasonable to demand
that a man should think of other people so much better than he is
able to think of himself.

And Mrs. Gould had hastened to drop the subject. There were
strange rumours of the English doctor. Years agoin the time of
Guzman Bentohe had been mixed upit was whisperedin a
conspiracy which was betrayed andas people expressed it
drowned in blood. His hair had turned greyhis hairlessseamed
face was of a brick-dust colour; the large check pattern of his
flannel shirt and his old stained Panama hat were an established
defiance to the conventionalities of Sulaco. Had it not been for
the immaculate cleanliness of his apparel he might have been
taken for one of those shiftless Europeans that are a moral
eyesore to the respectability of a foreign colony in almost every
exotic part of the world. The young ladies of Sulacoadorning
with clusters of pretty faces the balconies along the Street of
the Constitutionwhen they saw him passwith his limping gait
and bowed heada short linen jacket drawn on carelessly over the
flannel check shirtwould remark to each otherHere is the
Senor doctor going to call on Dona Emilia. He has got his little
coat on.The inference was true. Its deeper meaning was hidden
from their simple intelligence. Moreoverthey expended no store
of thought on the doctor. He was olduglylearned--and a little
loco--madif not a bit of a sorcereras the common people
suspected him of being. The little white jacket was in reality a
concession to Mrs. Gould's humanizing influence. The doctorwith
his habit of scepticalbitter speechhad no other means of
showing his profound respect for the character of the woman who
was known in the country as the English Senora. He presented this
tribute very seriously indeed; it was no trifle for a man of his
habits. Mrs. Gould felt thattooperfectly. She would never
have thought of imposing upon him this marked show of deference.

She kept her old Spanish house (one of the finest specimens in
Sulaco) open for the dispensation of the small graces of
existence. She dispensed them with simplicity and charm because
she was guided by an alert perception of values. She was highly
gifted in the art of human intercourse which consists in delicate
shades of self-forgetfulness and in the suggestion of universal
comprehension. Charles Gould (the Gould familyestablished in
Costaguana for three generationsalways went to England for


their education and for their wives) imagined that he had fallen
in love with a girl's sound common sense like any other manbut
these were not exactly the reasons whyfor instancethe whole
surveying campfrom the youngest of the young men to their
mature chiefshould have found occasion to allude to Mrs.
Gould's house so frequently amongst the high peaks of the Sierra.
She would have protested that she had done nothing for themwith
a low laugh and a surprised widening of her grey eyeshad
anybody told her how convincingly she was remembered on the edge
of the snow-line above Sulaco. But directlywith a little
capable air of setting her wits to workshe would have found an
explanation. "Of courseit was such a surprise for these boys to
find any sort of welcome here. And I suppose they are homesick.
I suppose everybody must be always just a little homesick."

She was always sorry for homesick people.

Born in the countryas his father before himspare and tall
with a flaming moustachea neat chinclear blue eyesauburn
hairand a thinfreshred faceCharles Gould looked like a
new arrival from over the sea. His grandfather had fought in the
cause of independence under Bolivarin that famous English
legion which on the battlefield of Carabobo had been saluted by
the great Liberator as Saviours of his country. One of Charles
Gould's uncles had been the elected President of that very
province of Sulaco (then called a State) in the days of
Federationand afterwards had been put up against the wall of a
church and shot by the order of the barbarous Unionist general
Guzman Bento. It was the same Guzman Bento whobecoming later
Perpetual Presidentfamed for his ruthless and cruel tyranny
readied his apotheosis in the popular legend of a sanguinary
land-haunting spectre whose body had been carried off by the
devil in person from the brick mausoleum in the nave of the
Church of Assumption in Sta. Marta. Thusat leastthe priests
explained its disappearance to the barefooted multitude that
streamed inawestruckto gaze at the hole in the side of the
ugly box of bricks before the great altar.

Guzman Bento of cruel memory had put to death great numbers of
people besides Charles Gould's uncle; but with a relative
martyred in the cause of aristocracythe Sulaco Oligarchs (this
was the phraseology of Guzman Bento's time; now they were called
Blancosand had given up the federal idea)which meant the
families of pure Spanish descentconsidered Charles as one of
themselves. With such a family recordno one could be more of a
Costaguanero than Don Carlos Gould; but his aspect was so
characteristic that in the talk of common people he was just the
Inglez--the Englishman of Sulaco. He looked more English than a
casual tourista sort of heretic pilgrimhoweverquite unknown
in Sulaco. He looked more English than the last arrived batch of
young railway engineersthan anybody out of the hunting-field
pictures in the numbers of Punch reaching his wife's drawing-room
two months or so after date. It astonished you to hear him talk
Spanish (Castillanas the natives say) or the Indian dialect of
the country-people so naturally. His accent had never been
English; but there was something so indelible in all these
ancestral Goulds--liberatorsexplorerscoffee planters
merchantsrevolutionists--of Costaguanathat hethe only
representative of the third generation in a continent possessing
its own style of horsemanshipwent on looking thoroughly English
even on horseback. This is not said of him in the mocking spirit
of the Llaneros--men of the great plains--who think that no one
in the world knows how to sit a horse but themselves. Charles
Gouldto use the suitably lofty phraserode like a centaur.


Riding for him was not a special form of exercise; it was a
natural facultyas walking straight is to all men sound of mind
and limb; butall the samewhen cantering beside the rutty
ox-cart track to the mine he looked in his English clothes and
with his imported saddlery as though he had come this moment to
Costaguana at his easy swift pasotrotestraight out of some
green meadow at the other side of the world.

His way would lie along the old Spanish road--the Camino Real of
popular speech--the only remaining vestige of a fact and name
left by that royalty old Giorgio Viola hatedand whose very
shadow had departed from the land; for the big equestrian statue
of Charles IV at the entrance of the Alamedatowering white
against the treeswas only known to the folk from the country
and to the beggars of the town that slept on the steps around the
pedestalas the Horse of Stone. The other Carlosturning off to
the left with a rapid clatter of hoofs on the disjointed pavement
--Don Carlos Gouldin his English clotheslooked as
incongruousbut much more at home than the kingly cavalier
reining in his steed on the pedestal above the sleeping leperos
with his marble arm raised towards the marble rim of a plumed
hat.

The weather-stained effigy of the mounted kingwith its vague
suggestion of a saluting gestureseemed to present an
inscrutable breast to the political changes which had robbed it
of its very name; but neither did the other horsemanwell known
to the peoplekeen and alive on his well-shapedslate-coloured
beast with a white eyewear his heart on the sleeve of his
English coat. His mind preserved its steady poise as if sheltered
in the passionless stability of private and public decencies at
home in Europe. He accepted with a like calm the shocking manner
in which the Sulaco ladies smothered their faces with pearl
powder till they looked like white plaster casts with beautiful
living eyesthe peculiar gossip of the townand the continuous
political changesthe constant "saving of the country which to
his wife seemed a puerile and bloodthirsty game of murder and
rapine played with terrible earnestness by depraved children. In
the early days of her Costaguana life, the little lady used to
clench her hands with exasperation at not being able to take the
public affairs of the country as seriously as the incidental
atrocity of methods deserved. She saw in them a comedy of naive
pretences, but hardly anything genuine except her own appalled
indignation. Charles, very quiet and twisting his long
moustaches, would decline to discuss them at all. Once, however,
he observed to her gently-


My dearyou seem to forget that I was born here." These few
words made her pause as if they had been a sudden revelation.
Perhaps the mere fact of being born in the country did make a
difference. She had a great confidence in her husband; it had
always been very great. He had struck her imagination from the
first by his unsentimentalismby that very quietude of mind
which she had erected in her thought for a sign of perfect
competency in the business of living. Don Jose Avellanostheir
neighbour across the streeta statesmana poeta man of
culturewho had represented his country at several European
Courts (and had suffered untold indignities as a state prisoner
in the time of the tyrant Guzman Bento)used to declare in Dona
Emilia's drawing-room that Carlos had all the English qualities
of character with a truly patriotic heart.

Mrs. Gouldraising her eyes to her husband's thinred and tan
facecould not detect the slightest quiver of a feature at what


he must have heard said of his patriotism. Perhaps he had just
dismounted on his return from the mine; he was English enough to
disregard the hottest hours of the day. Basilioin a livery of
white linen and a red sashhad squatted for a moment behind his
heels to unstrap the heavyblunt spurs in the patio; and then
the Senor Administrator would go up the staircase into the
gallery. Rows of plants in potsranged on the balustrade between
the pilasters of the archesscreened the corredor with their
leaves and flowers from the quadrangle belowwhose paved space
is the true hearthstone of a South American housewhere the
quiet hours of domestic life are marked by the shifting of light
and shadow on the flagstones.

Senor Avellanos was in the habit of crossing the patio at five
o'clock almost every day. Don Jose chose to come over at tea-time
because the English rite at Dona Emilia's house reminded him of
the time he lived in London as Minister Plenipotentiary to the
Court of St. James. He did not like tea; andusuallyrocking
his American chairhis neat little shiny boots crossed on the
foot-resthe would talk on and on with a sort of complacent
virtuosity wonderful in a man of his agewhile he held the cup
in his hands for a long time. His close-cropped head was
perfectly white; his eyes coalblack.

On seeing Charles Gould step into the sala he would nod
provisionally and go on to the end of the oratorial period. Only
then he would say-


Carlos, my friend, you have ridden from San Tome in the heat of
the day. Always the true English activity. No? What?

He drank up all the tea at once in one draught. This performance
was invariably followed by a slight shudder and a low
involuntary "br-r-r-r which was not covered by the hasty
exclamation, Excellent!"

Then giving up the empty cup into his young friend's hand
extended with a smilehe continued to expatiate upon the
patriotic nature of the San Tome mine for the simple pleasure of
talking fluentlyit seemedwhile his reclining body jerked
backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair of the sort exported
from the United States. The ceiling of the largest drawing-room
of the Casa Gould extended its white level far above his head.
The loftiness dwarfed the mixture of heavystraight-backed
Spanish chairs of brown wood with leathern seatsand European
furniturelowand cushioned all overlike squat little
monsters gorged to bursting with steel springs and horsehair.
There were knick-knacks on little tablesmirrors let into the
wall above marble consolessquare spaces of carpet under the two
groups of armchairseach presided over by a deep sofa; smaller
rugs scattered all over the floor of red tiles; three windows
from the ceiling down to the groundopening on a balconyand
flanked by the perpendicular folds of the dark hangings. The
stateliness of ancient days lingered between the four high
smooth wallstinted a delicate primrose-colour; and Mrs. Gould
with her little head and shining coils of hairsitting in a
cloud of muslin and lace before a slender mahogany table
resembled a fairy posed lightly before dainty philtres dispensed
out of vessels of silver and porcelain.

Mrs. Gould knew the history of the San Tome mine. Worked in the
early days mostly by means of lashes on the backs of slavesits
yield had been paid for in its own weight of human bones. Whole
tribes of Indians had perished in the exploitation; and then the


mine was abandonedsince with this primitive method it had
ceased to make a profitable returnno matter how many corpses
were thrown into its maw. Then it became forgotten. It was
rediscovered after the War of Independence. An English company
obtained the right to work itand found so rich a vein that
neither the exactions of successive governmentsnor the
periodical raids of recruiting officers upon the population of
paid miners they had createdcould discourage their
perseverance. But in the endduring the long turmoil of
pronunciamentos that followed the death of the famous Guzman
Bentothe native minersincited to revolt by the emissaries
sent out from the capitalhad risen upon their English chiefs
and murdered them to a man. The decree of confiscation which
appeared immediately afterwards in the Diario Officialpublished
in Sta. Martabegan with the words: "Justly incensed at the
grinding oppression of foreignersactuated by sordid motives of
gain rather than by love for a country where they come
impoverished to seek their fortunesthe mining population of San
Tomeetc. . . ." and ended with the declaration: "The chief of
the State has resolved to exercise to the full his power of
clemency. The minewhich by every lawinternationalhuman
and divinereverts now to the Government as national property
shall remain closed till the sword drawn for the sacred defence
of liberal principles has accomplished its mission of securing
the happiness of our beloved country."

And for many years this was the last of the San Tome mine. What
advantage that Government had expected from the spoliationit is
impossible to tell now. Costaguana was made with difficulty to
pay a beggarly money compensation to the families of the victims
and then the matter dropped out of diplomatic despatches. But
afterwards another Government bethought itself of that valuable
asset. It was an ordinary Costaguana Government--the fourth in
six years--but it judged of its opportunities sanely. It
remembered the San Tome mine with a secret conviction of its
worthlessness in their own handsbut with an ingenious insight
into the various uses a silver mine can be put toapart from the
sordid process of extracting the metal from under the ground. The
father of Charles Gouldfor a long time one of the most wealthy
merchants of Costaguanahad already lost a considerable part of
his fortune in forced loans to the successive Governments. He was
a man of calm judgmentwho never dreamed of pressing his claims;
and whensuddenlythe perpetual concession of the San Tome mine
was offered to him in full settlementhis alarm became extreme.
He was versed in the ways of Governments. Indeedthe intention
of this affairthough no doubt deeply meditated in the closet
lay open on the surface of the document presented urgently for
his signature. The third and most important clause stipulated
that the concession-holder should pay at once to the Government
five years' royalties on the estimated output of the mine.

Mr. Gouldseniordefended himself from this fatal favour with
many arguments and entreatiesbut without success. He knew
nothing of mining; he had no means to put his concession on the
European market; the mine as a working concern did not exist. The
buildings had been burnt downthe mining plant had been
destroyedthe mining population had disappeared from the
neighbourhood years and years ago; the very road had vanished
under a flood of tropical vegetation as effectually as if
swallowed by the sea; and the main gallery had fallen in within a
hundred yards from the entrance. It was no longer an abandoned
mine; it was a wildinaccessibleand rocky gorge of the Sierra
where vestiges of charred timbersome heaps of smashed bricks
and a few shapeless pieces of rusty iron could have been found


under the matted mass of thorny creepers covering the ground. Mr.
Gouldseniordid not desire the perpetual possession of that
desolate locality; in factthe mere vision of it arising before
his mind in the still watches of the night had the power to
exasperate him into hours of hot and agitated insomnia.

It so happenedhoweverthat the Finance Minister of the time
was a man to whomin years gone byMr. Gould had
unfortunatelydeclined to grant some small pecuniary assistance
basing his refusal on the ground that the applicant was a
notorious gambler and cheatbesides being more than half
suspected of a robbery with violence on a wealthy ranchero in a
remote country districtwhere he was actually exercising the
function of a judge. Nowafter reaching his exalted position
that politician had proclaimed his intention to repay evil with
good to Senor Gould--the poor man. He affirmed and reaffirmed
this resolution in the drawing-rooms of Sta. Martain a soft and
implacable voiceand with such malicious glances that Mr.
Gould's best friends advised him earnestly to attempt no bribery
to get the matter dropped. It would have been useless. Indeed
it would not have been a very safe proceeding. Such was also the
opinion of a stoutloud-voiced lady of French extractionthe
daughtershe saidof an officer of high rank (officier
superieur de l'armee)who was accommodated with lodgings within
the walls of a secularized convent next door to the Ministry of
Finance. That florid personwhen approached on behalf of Mr.
Gould in a proper mannerand with a suitable presentshook her
head despondently. She was good-naturedand her despondency was
genuine. She imagined she could not take money in consideration
of something she could not accomplish. The friend of Mr. Gould
charged with the delicate missionused to say afterwards that
she was the only honest person closely or remotely connected with
the Government he had ever met. "No go she had said with a
cavalier, husky intonation which was natural to her, and using
turns of expression more suitable to a child of parents unknown
than to the orphaned daughter of a general officer. No; it's no
go. Pas moyenmon garcon. C'est dommagetout de meme. Ah! zut!
Je ne vole pas mon monde. Je ne suis pas ministre--moi! Vous
pouvez emporter votre petit sac."

For a momentbiting her carmine lipshe deplored inwardly the
tyranny of the rigid principles governing the sale of her
influence in high places. Thensignificantlyand with a touch
of impatienceAllez,she addedet dites bien a votre
bonhomme--entendez-vous?--qu'il faut avaler la pilule.

After such a warning there was nothing for it but to sign and
pay. Mr. Gould had swallowed the pilland it was as though it
had been compounded of some subtle poison that acted directly on
his brain. He became at once mine-riddenand as he was well read
in light literature it took to his mind the form of the Old Man
of the Sea fastened upon his shoulders. He also began to dream of
vampires. Mr. Gould exaggerated to himself the disadvantages of
his new positionbecause he viewed it emotionally. His position
in Costaguana was no worse than before. But man is a desperately
conservative creatureand the extravagant novelty of this
outrage upon his purse distressed his sensibilities. Everybody
around him was being robbed by the grotesque and murderous bands
that played their game of governments and revolutions after the
death of Guzman Bento. His experience had taught him that
however short the plunder might fall of their legitimate
expectationsno gang in possession of the Presidential Palace
would be so incompetent as to suffer itself to be baffled by the
want of a pretext. The first casual colonel of the barefooted


army of scarecrows that came along was able to expose with force
and precision to any mere civilian his titles to a sum of 10000
dollars; the while his hope would be immutably fixed upon a
gratuityat any rateof no less than a thousand. Mr. Gould
knew that very wellandarmed with resignationhad waited for
better times. But to be robbed under the forms of legality and
business was intolerable to his imagination. Mr. Gouldthe
fatherhad one fault in his sagacious and honourable character:
he attached too much importance to form. It is a failing common
to mankindwhose views are tinged by prejudices. There was for
him in that affair a malignancy of perverted justice whichby
means of a moral shockattacked his vigorous physique. "It will
end by killing me he used to affirm many times a day. And, in
fact, since that time he began to suffer from fever, from liver
pains, and mostly from a worrying inability to think of anything
else. The Finance Minister could have formed no conception of the
profound subtlety of his revenge. Even Mr. Gould's letters to his
fourteen-year-old boy Charles, then away in England for his
education, came at last to talk of practically nothing but the
mine. He groaned over the injustice, the persecution, the outrage
of that mine; he occupied whole pages in the exposition of the
fatal consequences attaching to the possession of that mine from
every point of view, with every dismal inference, with words of
horror at the apparently eternal character of that curse. For the
Concession had been granted to him and his descendants for ever.
He implored his son never to return to Costaguana, never to claim
any part of his inheritance there, because it was tainted by the
infamous Concession; never to touch it, never to approach it, to
forget that America existed, and pursue a mercantile career in
Europe. And each letter ended with bitter self-reproaches for
having stayed too long in that cavern of thieves, intriguers, and
brigands.

To be told repeatedly that one's future is blighted because of
the possession of a silver mine is not, at the age of fourteen, a
matter of prime importance as to its main statement; but in its
form it is calculated to excite a certain amount of wonder and
attention. In course of time the boy, at first only puzzled by
the angry jeremiads, but rather sorry for his dad, began to turn
the matter over in his mind in such moments as he could spare
from play and study. In about a year he had evolved from the
lecture of the letters a definite conviction that there was a
silver mine in the Sulaco province of the Republic of Costaguana,
where poor Uncle Harry had been shot by soldiers a great many
years before. There was also connected closely with that mine a
thing called the iniquitous Gould Concession apparently
written on a paper which his father desired ardently to tear and
fling into the faces" of presidentsmembers of judicatureand
ministers of State. And this desire persistedthough the names
of these peoplehe noticedseldom remained the same for a whole
year together. This desire (since the thing was iniquitous)
seemed quite natural to the boythough why the affair was
iniquitous he did not know. Afterwardswith advancing wisdomhe
managed to clear the plain truth of the business from the
fantastic intrusions of the Old Man of the Seavampiresand
ghoulswhich had lent to his father's correspondence the flavour
of a gruesome Arabian Nights tale. In the endthe growing youth
attained to as close an intimacy with the San Tome mine as the
old man who wrote these plaintive and enraged letters on the
other side of the sea. He had been made several times already to
pay heavy fines for neglecting to work the minehe reported
besides other sums extracted from him on account of future
royaltieson the ground that a man with such a valuable
concession in his pocket could not refuse his financial


assistance to the Government of the Republic. The last of his
fortune was passing away from him against worthless receiptshe
wrotein a ragewhilst he was being pointed out as an
individual who had known how to secure enormous advantages from
the necessities of his country. And the young man in Europe grew
more and more interested in that thing which could provoke such a
tumult of words and passion.

He thought of it every day; but he thought of it without
bitterness. It might have been an unfortunate affair for his poor
dadand the whole story threw a queer light upon the social and
political life of Costaguana. The view he took of it was
sympathetic to his fatheryet calm and reflective. His personal
feelings had not been outragedand it is difficult to resent
with proper and durable indignation the physical or mental
anguish of another organismeven if that other organism is one's
own father. By the time he was twenty Charles Gould hadin his
turnfallen under the spell of the San Tome mine. But it was
another form of enchantmentmore suitable to his youthinto
whose magic formula there entered hopevigourand
self-confidenceinstead of weary indignation and despair. Left
after he was twenty to his own guidance (except for the severe
injunction not to return to Costaguana)he had pursued his
studies in Belgium and France with the idea of qualifying for a
mining engineer. But this scientific aspect of his labours
remained vague and imperfect in his mind. Mines had acquired for
him a dramatic interest. He studied their peculiarities from a
personal point of viewtooas one would study the varied
characters of men. He visited them as one goes with curiosity
to call upon remarkable persons. He visited mines in Germanyin
Spainin Cornwall. Abandoned workings had for him strong
fascination. Their desolation appealed to him like the sight of
human miserywhose causes are varied and profound. They might
have been worthlessbut also they might have been misunderstood.
His future wife was the firstand perhaps the only person to
detect this secret mood which governed the profoundly sensible
almost voiceless attitude of this man towards the world of
material things. And at once her delight in himlingering with
half-open wings like those birds that cannot rise easily from a
flat levelfound a pinnacle from which to soar up into the
skies.

They had become acquainted in Italywhere the future Mrs. Gould
was staying with an old and pale aunt whoyears beforehad
married a middle-agedimpoverished Italian marquis. She now
mourned that manwho had known how to give up his life to the
independence and unity of his countrywho had known how to be as
enthusiastic in his generosity as the youngest of those who fell
for that very cause of which old Giorgio Viola was a drifting
relicas a broken spar is suffered to float away disregarded
after a naval victory. The Marchesa led a stillwhispering
existencenun-like in her black robes and a white band over the
foreheadin a corner of the first floor of an ancient and
ruinous palacewhose bigempty halls downstairs sheltered under
their painted ceilings the harveststhe fowlsand even the
cattletogether with the whole family of the tenant farmer.

The two young people had met in Lucca. After that meeting Charles
Gould visited no minesthough they went together in a carriage
onceto see some marble quarrieswhere the work resembled
mining in so far that it also was the tearing of the raw material
of treasure from the earth. Charles Gould did not open his heart
to her in any set speeches. He simply went on acting and thinking
in her sight. This is the true method of sincerity. One of his


frequent remarks wasI think sometimes that poor father takes a
wrong view of that San Tome business.And they discussed that
opinion long and earnestlyas if they could influence a mind
across half the globe; but in reality they discussed it because
the sentiment of love can enter into any subject and live
ardently in remote phrases. For this natural reason these
discussions were precious to Mrs. Gould in her engaged state.
Charles feared that Mr. Gouldseniorwas wasting his strength
and making himself ill by his efforts to get rid of the
Concession. "I fancy that this is not the kind of handling it
requires he mused aloud, as if to himself. And when she
wondered frankly that a man of character should devote his
energies to plotting and intrigues, Charles would remark, with a
gentle concern that understood her wonder, You must not forget
that he was born there."

She would set her quick mind to work upon thatand then make the
inconsequent retortwhich he accepted as perfectly sagacious
becausein factit was so-


Well, and you? You were born there, too.

He knew his answer.

That's different. I've been away ten years. Dad never had such a
long spell; and it was more than thirty years ago.

She was the first person to whom he opened his lips after
receiving the news of his father's death.

It has killed him!he said.

He had walked straight out of town with the newsstraight out
before him in the noonday sun on the white roadand his feet had
brought him face to face with her in the hall of the ruined
palazzoa room magnificent and nakedwith here and there a long
strip of damaskblack with damp and agehanging down on a bare
panel of the wall. It was furnished with exactly one gilt
armchairwith a broken backand an octagon columnar stand
bearing a heavy marble vase ornamented with sculptured masks and
garlands of flowersand cracked from top to bottom. Charles
Gould was dusty with the white dust of the road lying on his
bootson his shoulderson his cap with two peaks. Water dripped
from under it all over his faceand he grasped a thick oaken
cudgel in his bare right hand.

She went very pale under the roses of her big straw hatgloved
swinging a clear sunshadecaught just as she was going out to
meet him at the bottom of the hillwhere three poplars stand
near the wall of a vineyard.

It has killed him!he repeated. "He ought to have had many
years yet. We are a long-lived family."

She was too startled to say anything; he was contemplating with a
penetrating and motionless stare the cracked marble urn as though
he had resolved to fix its shape for ever in his memory. It was
only whenturning suddenly to herhe blurted out twiceI've
come to you--I've come straight to you--,without being able to
finish his phrasethat the great pitifulness of that lonely and
tormented death in Costaguana came to her with the full force of
its misery. He caught hold of her handraised it to his lips
and at that she dropped her parasol to pat him on the cheek
murmured "Poor boy and began to dry her eyes under the downward


curve of her hat-brim, very small in her simple, white frock,
almost like a lost child crying in the degraded grandeur of the
noble hall, while he stood by her, again perfectly motionless in
the contemplation of the marble urn.

Afterwards they went out for a long walk, which was silent till
he exclaimed suddenly-


Yes. But if he had only grappled with it in a proper way!"

And then they stopped. Everywhere there were long shadows lying
on the hillson the roadson the enclosed fields of olive
trees; the shadows of poplarsof wide chestnutsof farm
buildingsof stone walls; and in mid-air the sound of a bell
thin and alertwas like the throbbing pulse of the sunset glow.
Her lips were slightly parted as though in surprise that he
should not be looking at her with his usual expression. His usual
expression was unconditionally approving and attentive. He was
in his talks with her the most anxious and deferential of
dictatorsan attitude that pleased her immensely. It affirmed
her power without detracting from his dignity. That slight girl
with her little feetlittle handslittle face attractively
overweighted by great coils of hair; with a rather large mouth
whose mere parting seemed to breathe upon you the fragrance of
frankness and generosityhad the fastidious soul of an
experienced woman. She wasbefore all things and all flatteries
careful of her pride in the object of her choice. But now he was
actually not looking at her at all; and his expression was tense
and irrationalas is natural in a man who elects to stare at
nothing past a young girl's head.

Well, yes. It was iniquitous. They corrupted him thoroughly, the
poor old boy. Oh! why wouldn't he let me go back to him? But now
I shall know how to grapple with this.

After pronouncing these words with immense assurancehe glanced
down at herand at once fell a prey to distressincertitude
and fear.

The only thing he wanted to know nowhe saidwas whether she
did love him enough--whether she would have the courage to go
with him so far away? He put these questions to her in a voice
that trembled with anxiety--for he was a determined man.

She did. She would. And immediately the future hostess of all the
Europeans in Sulaco had the physical experience of the earth
falling away from under her. It vanished completelyeven to the
very sound of the bell. When her feet touched the ground again
the bell was still ringing in the valley; she put her hands up to
her hairbreathing quicklyand glanced up and down the stony
lane. It was reassuringly empty. MeantimeCharlesstepping with
one foot into a dry and dusty ditchpicked up the open parasol
which had bounded away from them with a martial sound of drum
taps. He handed it to her soberlya little crestfallen.

They turned backand after she had slipped her hand on his arm
the first words he pronounced were-


It's lucky that we shall be able to settle in a coast town.
You've heard its name. It is Sulaco. I am so glad poor father did
get that house. He bought a big house there years ago, in order
that there should always be a Casa Gould in the principal town of
what used to be called the Occidental Province. I lived there
once, as a small boy, with my dear mother, for a whole year,


while poor father was away in the United States on business. You
shall be the new mistress of the Casa Gould.

And laterin the inhabited corner of the Palazzo above the
vineyardsthe marble hillsthe pines and olives of Luccahe
also said-


The name of Gould has been always highly respected in Sulaco. My
uncle Harry was chief of the State for some time, and has left a
great name amongst the first families. By this I mean the pure
Creole families, who take no part in the miserable farce of
governments. Uncle Harry was no adventurer. In Costaguana we
Goulds are no adventurers. He was of the country, and he loved
it, but he remained essentially an Englishman in his ideas. He
made use of the political cry of his time. It was Federation. But
he was no politician. He simply stood up for social order out of
pure love for rational liberty and from his hate of oppression.
There was no nonsense about him. He went to work in his own way
because it seemed right, just as I feel I must lay hold of that
mine.

In such words he talked to her because his memory was very full
of the country of his childhoodhis heart of his life with that
girland his mind of the San Tome Concession. He added that he
would have to leave her for a few days to find an Americana man
from San Franciscowho was still somewhere in Europe. A few
months before he had made his acquaintance in an old historic
German townsituated in a mining district. The American had his
womankind with himbut seemed lonely while they were sketching
all day long the old doorways and the turreted corners of the
mediaeval houses. Charles Gould had with him the inseparable
companionship of the mine. The other man was interested in mining
enterprisesknew something of Costaguanaand was no stranger to
the name of Gould. They had talked together with some intimacy
which was made possible by the difference of their ages. Charles
wanted now to find that capitalist of shrewd mind and accessible
character. His father's fortune in Costaguanawhich he had
supposed to be still considerableseemed to have melted in the
rascally crucible of revolutions. Apart from some ten thousand
pounds deposited in Englandthere appeared to be nothing left
except the house in Sulacoa vague right of forest exploitation
in a remote and savage districtand the San Tome Concession
which had attended his poor father to the very brink of the
grave.

He explained those things. It was late when they parted. She had
never before given him such a fascinating vision of herself. All
the eagerness of youth for a strange lifefor great distances
for a future in which there was an air of adventureof combat--a
subtle thought of redress and conquesthad filled her with an
intense excitementwhich she returned to the giver with a more
open and exquisite display of tenderness.

He left her to walk down the hilland directly he found himself
alone he became sober. That irreparable change a death makes in
the course of our daily thoughts can be felt in a vague and
poignant discomfort of mind. It hurt Charles Gould to feel that
never moreby no effort of willwould he be able to think of
his father in the same way he used to think of him when the poor
man was alive. His breathing image was no longer in his power.
This considerationclosely affecting his own identityfilled
his breast with a mournful and angry desire for action. In this
his instinct was unerring. Action is consolatory. It is the
enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions. Only in


the conduct of our action can we find the sense of mastery over
the Fates. For his actionthe mine was obviously the only field.
It was imperative sometimes to know how to disobey the solemn
wishes of the dead. He resolved firmly to make his disobedience
as thorough (by way of atonement) as it well could be. The mine
had been the cause of an absurd moral disaster; its working must
be made a serious and moral success. He owed it to the dead man's
memory. Such were the--properly speaking--emotions of Charles
Gould. His thoughts ran upon the means of raising a large amount
of capital in San Francisco or elsewhere; and incidentally there
occurred to him also the general reflection that the counsel of
the departed must be an unsound guide. Not one of them could be
aware beforehand what enormous changes the death of any given
individual may produce in the very aspect of the world.

The latest phase in the history of the mine Mrs. Gould knew from
personal experience. It was in essence the history of her married
life. The mantle of the Goulds' hereditary position in Sulaco had
descended amply upon her little person; but she would not allow
the peculiarities of the strange garment to weigh down the
vivacity of her characterwhich was the sign of no mere
mechanical sprightlinessbut of an eager intelligence. It must
not be supposed that Mrs. Gould's mind was masculine. A woman
with a masculine mind is not a being of superior efficiency; she
is simply a phenomenon of imperfect
differentiation--interestingly barren and without importance.
Dona Emilia's intelligence being feminine led her to achieve the
conquest of Sulacosimply by lighting the way for her
unselfishness and sympathy. She could converse charminglybut
she was not talkative. The wisdom of the heart having no concern
with the erection or demolition of theories any more than with
the defence of prejudiceshas no random words at its command.
The words it pronounces have the value of acts of integrity
toleranceand compassion. A woman's true tendernesslike the
true virility of manis expressed in action of a conquering
kind. The ladies of Sulaco adored Mrs. Gould. "They still look
upon me as something of a monster Mrs. Gould had said
pleasantly to one of the three gentlemen from San Francisco she
had to entertain in her new Sulaco house just about a year after
her marriage.

They were her first visitors from abroad, and they had come to
look at the San Tome mine. She jested most agreeably, they
thought; and Charles Gould, besides knowing thoroughly what he
was about, had shown himself a real hustler. These facts caused
them to be well disposed towards his wife. An unmistakable
enthusiasm, pointed by a slight flavour of irony, made her talk
of the mine absolutely fascinating to her visitors, and provoked
them to grave and indulgent smiles in which there was a good deal
of deference. Perhaps had they known how much she was inspired
by an idealistic view of success they would have been amazed at
the state of her mind as the Spanish-American ladies had been
amazed at the tireless activity of her body. She would--in her
own words--have been for them something of a monster." However
the Goulds were in essentials a reticent coupleand their guests
departed without the suspicion of any other purpose but simple
profit in the working of a silver mine. Mrs. Gould had out her
own carriagewith two white mulesto drive them down to the
harbourwhence the Ceres was to carry them off into the Olympus
of plutocrats. Captain Mitchell had snatched at the occasion of
leave-taking to remark to Mrs. Gouldin a lowconfidential
mutterThis marks an epoch.

Mrs. Gould loved the patio of her Spanish house. A broad flight


of stone steps was overlooked silently from a niche in the wall
by a Madonna in blue robes with the crowned child sitting on her
arm. Subdued voices ascended in the early mornings from the paved
well of the quadranglewith the stamping of horses and mules led
out in pairs to drink at the cistern. A tangle of slender bamboo
stems drooped its narrowblade-like leaves over the square pool
of waterand the fat coachman sat muffled up on the edge
holding lazily the ends of halters in his hand. Barefooted
servants passed to and froissuing from darklow doorways
below; two laundry girls with baskets of washed linen; the baker
with the tray of bread made for the day; Leonarda--her own
camerista--bearing high upswung from her hand raised above her
raven black heada bunch of starched under-skirts dazzlingly
white in the slant of sunshine. Then the old porter would hobble
insweeping the flagstonesand the house was ready for the day.
All the lofty rooms on three sides of the quadrangle opened into
each other and into the corredorwith its wrought-iron railings
and a border of flowerswhencelike the lady of the mediaeval
castleshe could witness from above all the departures and
arrivals of the Casato which the sonorous arched gateway lent
an air of stately importance.

She had watched her carriage roll away with the three guests from
the north. She smiled. Their three arms went up simultaneously to
their three hats. Captain Mitchellthe fourthin attendance
had already begun a pompous discourse. Then she lingered. She
lingeredapproaching her face to the clusters of flowers here
and there as if to give time to her thoughts to catch up with her
slow footsteps along the straight vista of the corredor.

A fringed Indian hammock from Aroagay with coloured
featherworkhad been swung judiciously in a corner that caught
the early sun; for the mornings are cool in Sulaco. The cluster
of flor de noche buena blazed in great masses before the open
glass doors of the reception rooms. A big green parrotbrilliant
like an emerald in a cage that flashed like goldscreamed out
ferociouslyViva Costaguana!then called twice mellifluously
Leonarda! Leonarda!in imitation of Mrs. Gould's voiceand
suddenly took refuge in immobility and silence. Mrs. Gould
reached the end of the gallery and put her head through the door
of her husband's room.

Charles Gouldwith one foot on a low wooden stoolwas already
strapping his spurs. He wanted to hurry back to the mine. Mrs.
Gouldwithout coming inglanced about the room. One tallbroad
bookcasewith glass doorswas full of books; but in the other
without shelvesand lined with red baizewere arranged
firearms: Winchester carbinesrevolversa couple of shot-guns
and even two pairs of double-barrelled holster pistols. Between
themby itselfupon a strip of scarlet velvethung an old
cavalry sabreonce the property of Don Enrique Gouldthe hero
of the Occidental Provincepresented by Don Jose Avellanosthe
hereditary friend of the family.

Otherwisethe plastered white walls were completely bareexcept
for a water-colour sketch of the San Tome mountain--the work of
Dona Emilia herself. In the middle of the red-tiled floor stood
two long tables littered with plans and papersa few chairsand
a glass show-case containing specimens of ore from the mine.
Mrs. Gouldlooking at all these things in turnwondered aloud
why the talk of these wealthy and enterprising men discussing the
prospectsthe workingand the safety of the mine rendered her
so impatient and uneasywhereas she could talk of the mine by
the hour with her husband with unwearied interest and


satisfaction. And dropping her eyelids expressivelyshe added-


What do you feel about it, Charley?

Thensurprised at her husband's silenceshe raised her eyes
opened wideas pretty as pale flowers. He had done with the
spursandtwisting his moustache with both handshorizontally
he contemplated her from the height of his long legs with a
visible appreciation of her appearance. The consciousness of
being thus contemplated pleased Mrs. Gould.

They are considerable men,he said.

I know. But have you listened to their conversation? They don't
seem to have understood anything they have seen here.

They have seen the mine. They have understood that to some
purpose,Charles Gould interjectedin defence of the visitors;
and then his wife mentioned the name of the most considerable of
the three. He was considerable in finance and in industry. His
name was familiar to many millions of people. He was so
considerable that he would never have travelled so far away from
the centre of his activity if the doctors had not insistedwith
veiled menaceson his taking a long holiday.

Mr. Holroyd's sense of religion,Mrs. Gould pursuedwas
shocked and disgusted at the tawdriness of the dressed-up saints
in the cathedral--the worship, he called it, of wood and tinsel.
But it seemed to me that he looked upon his own God as a sort of
influential partner, who gets his share of profits in the
endowment of churches. That's a sort of idolatry. He told me he
endowed churches every year, Charley.

No end of them,said Mr. Gouldmarvelling inwardly at the
mobility of her physiognomy. "All over the country. He's famous
for that sort of munificence." "Ohhe didn't boast Mrs. Gould
declared, scrupulously. I believe he's really a good manbut
so stupid! A poor Chulo who offers a little silver arm or leg to
thank his god for a cure is as rational and more touching."

He's at the head of immense silver and iron interests,Charles
Gould observed.

Ah, yes! The religion of silver and iron. He's a very civil man,
though he looked awfully solemn when he first saw the Madonna on
the staircase, who's only wood and paint; but he said nothing to
me. My dear Charley, I heard those men talk among themselves.
Can it be that they really wish to become, for an immense
consideration, drawers of water and hewers of wood to all the
countries and nations of the earth?

A man must work to some end,Charles Gould saidvaguely.

Mrs. Gouldfrowningsurveyed him from head to foot. With his
riding breechesleather leggings (an article of apparel never
before seen in Costaguana)a Norfolk coat of grey flanneland
those great flaming moustacheshe suggested an officer of
cavalry turned gentleman farmer. This combination was gratifying
to Mrs. Gould's tastes. "How thin the poor boy is!" she thought.
He overworks himself.But there was no denying that his
fine-drawnkeen red faceand his wholelong-limbedlank
person had an air of breeding and distinction. And Mrs. Gould
relented.


I only wondered what you felt,she murmuredgently.

During the last few daysas it happenedCharles Gould had been
kept too busy thinking twice before he spoke to have paid much
attention to the state of his feelings. But theirs was a
successful matchand he had no difficulty in finding his answer.

The best of my feelings are in your keeping, my dear,he said
lightly; and there was so much truth in that obscure phrase that
he experienced towards her at the moment a great increase of
gratitude and tenderness.

Mrs. Gouldhoweverdid not seem to find this answer in the
least obscure. She brightened up delicately; already he had
changed his tone.

But there are facts. The worth of the mine--as a mine--is beyond
doubt. It shall make us very wealthy. The mere working of it is
a matter of technical knowledge, which I have--which ten thousand
other men in the world have. But its safety, its continued
existence as an enterprise, giving a return to men--to strangers,
comparative strangers--who invest money in it, is left altogether
in my hands. I have inspired confidence in a man of wealth and
position. You seem to think this perfectly natural--do you? Well,
I don't know. I don't know why I have; but it is a fact. This
fact makes everything possible, because without it I would never
have thought of disregarding my father's wishes. I would never
have disposed of the Concession as a speculator disposes of a
valuable right to a company--for cash and shares, to grow rich
eventually if possible, but at any rate to put some money at once
in his pocket. No. Even if it had been feasible--which I
doubt--I would not have done so. Poor father did not understand.
He was afraid I would hang on to the ruinous thing, waiting for
just some such chance, and waste my life miserably. That was the
true sense of his prohibition, which we have deliberately set
aside.

They were walking up and down the corredor. Her head just reached
to his shoulder. His armextended downwardswas about her
waist. His spurs jingled slightly.

He had not seen me for ten years. He did not know me. He parted
from me for my sake, and he would never let me come back. He was
always talking in his letters of leaving Costaguana, of
abandoning everything and making his escape. But he was too
valuable a prey. They would have thrown him into one of their
prisons at the first suspicion.

His spurred feet clinked slowly. He was bending over his wife as
they walked. The big parrotturning its head askewfollowed
their pacing figures with a roundunblinking eye.

He was a lonely man. Ever since I was ten years old he used to
talk to me as if I had been grown up. When I was in Europe he
wrote to me every month. Ten, twelve pages every month of my
life for ten years. And, after all, he did not know me! Just
think of it--ten whole years away; the years I was growing up
into a man. He could not know me. Do you think he could?

Mrs. Gould shook her head negatively; which was just what her
husband had expected from the strength of the argument. But she
shook her head negatively only because she thought that no one
could know her Charles--really know him for what he was but
herself. The thing was obvious. It could be felt. It required no


argument. And poor Mr. Gouldseniorwho had died too soon to
ever hear of their engagementremained too shadowy a figure for
her to be credited with knowledge of any sort whatever.

No, he did not understand. In my view this mine could never have
been a thing to sell. Never! After all his misery I simply could
not have touched it for money alone,Charles Gould pursued: and
she pressed her head to his shoulder approvingly.

These two young people remembered the life which had ended
wretchedly just when their own lives had come together in that
splendour of hopeful lovewhich to the most sensible minds
appears like a triumph of good over all the evils of the earth. A
vague idea of rehabilitation had entered the plan of their life.
That it was so vague as to elude the support of argument made it
only the stronger. It had presented itself to them at the instant
when the woman's instinct of devotion and the man's instinct of
activity receive from the strongest of illusions their most
powerful impulse. The very prohibition imposed the necessity of
success. It was as if they had been morally bound to make good
their vigorous view of life against the unnatural error of
weariness and despair. If the idea of wealth was present to them
it was only in so far as it was bound with that other success.
Mrs. Gouldan orphan from early childhood and without fortune
brought up in an atmosphere of intellectual interestshad never
considered the aspects of great wealth. They were too remoteand
she had not learned that they were desirable. On the other hand
she had not known anything of absolute want. Even the very
poverty of her auntthe Marchesahad nothing intolerable to a
refined mind; it seemed in accord with a great grief: it had the
austerity of a sacrifice offered to a noble ideal. Thus even the
most legitimate touch of materialism was wanting in Mrs. Gould's
character. The dead man of whom she thought with tenderness
(because he was Charley's father) and with some impatience
(because he had been weak)must be put completely in the wrong.
Nothing else would do to keep their prosperity without a stain on
its only realon its immaterial side!

Charles Gouldon his parthad been obliged to keep the idea of
wealth well to the fore; but he brought it forward as a means
not as an end. Unless the mine was good business it could not be
touched. He had to insist on that aspect of the enterprise. It
was his lever to move men who had capital. And Charles Gould
believed in the mine. He knew everything that could be known of
it. His faith in the mine was contagiousthough it was not
served by a great eloquence; but business men are frequently as
sanguine and imaginative as lovers. They are affected by a
personality much oftener than people would suppose; and Charles
Gouldin his unshaken assurancewas absolutely convincing.
Besidesit was a matter of common knowledge to the men to whom
he addressed himself that mining in Costaguana was a game that
could be made considably more than worth the candle. The men of
affairs knew that very well. The real difficulty in touching it
was elsewhere. Against that there was an implication of calm and
implacable resolution in Charles Gould's very voice. Men of
affairs venture sometimes on acts that the common judgment of the
world would pronounce absurd; they make their decisions on
apparently impulsive and human grounds. "Very well had said the
considerable personage to whom Charles Gould on his way out
through San Francisco had lucidly exposed his point of view. Let
us suppose that the mining affairs of Sulaco are taken in hand.
There would then be in it: firstthe house of Holroydwhich is
all right; thenMr. Charles Goulda citizen of Costaguanawho
is also all right; andlastlythe Government of the Republic.


So far this resembles the first start of the Atacama nitrate
fieldswhere there was a financing housea gentleman of the
name of Edwardsand--a Government; orrathertwo
Governments--two South American Governments. And you know what
came of it. War came of it; devastating and prolonged war came of
itMr. Gould. Howeverhere we possess the advantage of having
only one South American Government hanging around for plunder out
of the deal. It is an advantage; but then there are degrees of
badnessand that Government is the Costaguana Government."

Thus spoke the considerable personagethe millionaire endower of
churches on a scale befitting the greatness of his native
land--the same to whom the doctors used the language of horrid
and veiled menaces. He was a big-limbeddeliberate manwhose
quiet burliness lent to an ample silk-faced frock-coat a
superfine dignity. His hair was iron greyhis eyebrows were
still blackand his massive profile was the profile of a
Caesar's head on an old Roman coin. But his parentage was German
and Scotch and Englishwith remote strains of Danish and French
bloodgiving him the temperament of a Puritan and an insatiable
imagination of conquest. He was completely unbending to his
visitorbecause of the warm introduction the visitor had brought
from Europeand because of an irrational liking for earnestness
and determination wherever metto whatever end directed.

The Costaguana Government shall play its hand for all it's
worth--and don't you forget it, Mr. Gould. Now, what is
Costaguana? It is the bottomless pit of 10 per cent. loans and
other fool investments. European capital has been flung into it
with both hands for years. Not ours, though. We in this country
know just about enough to keep indoors when it rains. We can sit
and watch. Of course, some day we shall step in. We are bound to.
But there's no hurry. Time itself has got to wait on the greatest
country in the whole of God's Universe. We shall be giving the
word for everything: industry, trade, law, journalism, art,
politics, and religion, from Cape Horn clear over to Smith's
Sound, and beyond, too, if anything worth taking hold of turns up
at the North Pole. And then we shall have the leisure to take in
hand the outlying islands and continents of the earth. We shall
run the world's business whether the world likes it or not. The
world can't help it--and neither can we, I guess.

By this he meant to express his faith in destiny in words
suitable to his intelligencewhich was unskilled in the
presentation of general ideas. His intelligence was nourished on
facts; and Charles Gouldwhose imagination had been permanently
affected by the one great fact of a silver minehad no objection
to this theory of the world's future. If it had seemed
distasteful for a moment it was because the sudden statement of
such vast eventualities dwarfed almost to nothingness the actual
matter in hand. He and his plans and all the mineral wealth of
the Occidental Province appeared suddenly robbed of every vestige
of magnitude. The sensation was disagreeable; but Charles Gould
was not dull. Already he felt that he was producing a favourable
impression; the consciousness of that flattering fact helped him
to a vague smilewhich his big interlocutor took for a smile of
discreet and admiring assent. He smiled quietlytoo; and
immediately Charles Gouldwith that mental agility mankind will
display in defence of a cherished hopereflected that the very
apparent insignificance of his aim would help him to success. His
personality and his mine would be taken up because it was a
matter of no great consequenceone way or anotherto a man who
referred his action to such a prodigious destiny. And Charles
Gould was not humiliated by this considerationbecause the thing


remained as big as ever for him. Nobody else's vast conceptions
of destiny could diminish the aspect of his desire for the
redemption of the San Tome mine. In comparison to the correctness
of his aimdefinite in space and absolutely attainable within a
limited timethe other man appeared for an instant as a dreamy
idealist of no importance.

The great manmassive and benignanthad been looking at him
thoughtfully; when he broke the short silence it was to remark
that concessions flew about thick in the air of Costaguana. Any
simple soul that just yearned to be taken in could bring down a
concession at the first shot.

Our consuls get their mouths stopped with them,he continued
with a twinkle of genial scorn in his eyes. But in a moment he
became grave. "A conscientiousupright manthat cares nothing
for boodleand keeps clear of their intriguesconspiraciesand
factionssoon gets his passports. See thatMr. Gould? Persona
non grata. That's the reason our Government is never properly
informed. On the other handEurope must be kept out of this
continentand for proper interference on our part the time is
not yet ripeI dare say. But we here--we are not this country's
Governmentneither are we simple souls. Your affair is all
right. The main question for us is whether the second partner
and that's youis the right sort to hold his own against the
third and unwelcome partnerwhich is one or another of the high
and mighty robber gangs that run the Costaguana Government. What
do you thinkMr. Gouldeh?"

He bent forward to look steadily into the unflinching eyes of
Charles Gouldwhoremembering the large box full of his
father's lettersput the accumulated scorn and bitterness of
many years into the tone of his answer-


As far as the knowledge of these men and their methods and their
politics is concerned, I can answer for myself. I have been fed
on that sort of knowledge since I was a boy. I am not likely to
fall into mistakes from excess of optimism.

Not likely, eh? That's all right. Tact and a stiff upper lip is
what you'll want; and you could bluff a little on the strength of
your backing. Not too much, though. We will go with you as long
as the thing runs straight. But we won't be drawn into any large
trouble. This is the experiment which I am willing to make. There
is some risk, and we will take it; but if you can't keep up your
end, we will stand our loss, of course, and then--we'll let the
thing go. This mine can wait; it has been shut up before, as you
know. You must understand that under no circumstances will we
consent to throw good money after bad.

Thus the great personage had spoken thenin his own private
officein a great city where other men (very considerable in the
eyes of a vain populace) waited with alacrity upon a wave of his
hand. And rather more than a year laterduring his unexpected
appearance in Sulacohe had emphasized his uncompromising
attitude with a freedom of sincerity permitted to his wealth and
influence. He did this with the less reserveperhapsbecause
the inspection of what had been doneand more still the way in
which successive steps had been takenhad impressed him with the
conviction that Charles Gould was perfectly capable of keeping up
his end.

This young fellow,he thought to himselfmay yet become a
power in the land.


This thought flattered himfor hitherto the only account of this
young man he could give to his intimates was-


My brother-in-law met him in one of these one-horse old German
towns, near some mines, and sent him on to me with a letter. He's
one of the Costaguana Goulds, pure-bred Englishmen, but all born
in the country. His uncle went into politics, was the last
Provincial President of Sulaco, and got shot after a battle. His
father was a prominent business man in Sta. Marta, tried to keep
clear of their politics, and died ruined after a lot of
revolutions. And that's your Costaguana in a nutshell.

Of coursehe was too great a man to be questioned as to his
motiveseven by his intimates. The outside world was at liberty
to wonder respectfully at the hidden meaning of his actions. He
was so great a man that his lavish patronage of the "purer forms
of Christianity" (which in its naive form of church-building
amused Mrs. Gould) was looked upon by his fellow-citizens as the
manifestation of a pious and humble spirit. But in his own
circles of the financial world the taking up of such a thing as
the San Tome mine was regarded with respectindeedbut rather
as a subject for discreet jocularity. It was a great man's
caprice. In the great Holroyd building (an enormous pile of
ironglassand blocks of stone at the corner of two streets
cobwebbed aloft by the radiation of telegraph wires) the heads of
principal departments exchanged humorous glanceswhich meant
that they were not let into the secrets of the San Tome business.
The Costaguana mail (it was never large--one fairly heavy
envelope) was taken unopened straight into the great man's room
and no instructions dealing with it had ever been issued thence.
The office whispered that he answered personally--and not by
dictation eitherbut actually writing in his own handwith pen
and inkandit was to be supposedtaking a copy in his own
private press copy-bookinaccessible to profane eyes. Some
scornful young meninsignificant pieces of minor machinery in
that eleven-storey-high workshop of great affairsexpressed
frankly their private opinion that the great chief had done at
last something sillyand was ashamed of his folly; others
elderly and insignificantbut full of romantic reverence for the
business that had devoured their best yearsused to mutter
darkly and knowingly that this was a portentous sign; that the
Holroyd connection meant by-and-by to get hold of the whole
Republic of Costaguanalockstockand barrel. Butin fact
the hobby theory was the right one. It interested the great man
to attend personally to the San Tome mine; it interested him so
much that he allowed this hobby to give a direction to the first
complete holiday he had taken for quite a startling number of
years. He was not running a great enterprise there; no mere
railway board or industrial corporation. He was running a man! A
success would have pleased him very much on refreshingly novel
grounds; buton the other side of the same feelingit was
incumbent upon him to cast it off utterly at the first sign of
failure. A man may be thrown off. The papers had unfortunately
trumpeted all over the land his journey to Costaguana. If he was
pleased at the way Charles Gould was going onhe infused an
added grimness into his assurances of support. Even at the very
last interviewhalf an hour or so before he rolled out of the
patiohat in handbehind Mrs. Gould's white muleshe had said
in Charles's room-


You go ahead in your own way, and I shall know how to help you
as long as you hold your own. But you may rest assured that in a
given case we shall know how to drop you in time.


To this Charles Gould's only answer had been: "You may begin
sending out the machinery as soon as you like."

And the great man had liked this imperturbable assurance. The
secret of it was that to Charles Gould's mind these
uncompromising terms were agreeable. Like this the mine
preserved its identitywith which he had endowed it as a boy;
and it remained dependent on himself alone. It was a serious
affairand hetootook it grimly.

Of course,he said to his wifealluding to this last
conversation with the departed guestwhile they walked slowly up
and down the corredorfollowed by the irritated eye of the
parrot--"of coursea man of that sort can take up a thing or
drop it when he likes. He will suffer from no sense of defeat.
He may have to give inor he may have to die to-morrowbut the
great silver and iron interests will surviveand some day will
get hold of Costaguana along with the rest of the world."

They had stopped near the cage. The parrotcatching the sound of
a word belonging to his vocabularywas moved to interfere.
Parrots are very human.

Viva Costaguana!he shriekedwith intense self-assertionand
instantly ruffling up his feathersassumed an air of puffed-up
somnolence behind the glittering wires.

And do you believe that, Charley?Mrs. Gould asked. "This seems
to me most awful materialismand--"

My dear, it's nothing to me,interrupted her husbandin a
reasonable tone. "I make use of what I see. What's it to me
whether his talk is the voice of destiny or simply a bit of
clap-trap eloquence? There's a good deal of eloquence of one sort
or another produced in both Americas. The air of the New World
seems favourable to the art of declamation. Have you forgotten
how dear Avellanos can hold forth for hours here--?"

Oh, but that's different,protested Mrs. Gouldalmost shocked.
The allusion was not to the point. Don Jose was a dear good man
who talked very welland was enthusiastic about the greatness of
the San Tome mine. "How can you compare themCharles?" she
exclaimedreproachfully. "He has suffered--and yet he hopes."

The working competence of men--which she never questioned--was
very surprising to Mrs. Gouldbecause upon so many obvious
issues they showed themselves strangely muddle-headed.

Charles Gouldwith a careworn calmness which secured for him at
once his wife's anxious sympathyassured her that he was not
comparing. He was an American himselfafter alland perhaps he
could understand both kinds of eloquence--"if it were worth while
to try he added, grimly. But he had breathed the air of England
longer than any of his people had done for three generations, and
really he begged to be excused. His poor father could be
eloquent, too. And he asked his wife whether she remembered a
passage in one of his father's last letters where Mr. Gould had
expressed the conviction that God looked wrathfully at these
countriesor else He would let some ray of hope fall through a
rift in the appalling darkness of intriguebloodshedand crime
that hung over the Queen of Continents."

Mrs. Gould had not forgotten. "You read it to meCharley she


murmured. It was a striking pronouncement. How deeply your
father must have felt its terrible sadness!"

He did not like to be robbed. It exasperated him,said Charles
Gould. "But the image will serve well enough. What is wanted here
is lawgood faithordersecurity. Any one can declaim about
these thingsbut I pin my faith to material interests. Only let
the material interests once get a firm footingand they are
bound to impose the conditions on which alone they can continue
to exist. That's how your money-making is justified here in the
face of lawlessness and disorder. It is justified because the
security which it demands must be shared with an oppressed
people. A better justice will come afterwards. That's your ray of
hope." His arm pressed her slight form closer to his side for a
moment. "And who knows whether in that sense even the San Tome
mine may not become that little rift in the darkness which poor
father despaired of ever seeing?"

She glanced up at him with admiration. He was competent; he had
given a vast shape to the vagueness of her unselfish ambitions.

Charley,she saidyou are splendidly disobedient.

He left her suddenly in the corredor to go and get his hata
softgrey sombreroan article of national costume which
combined unexpectedly well with his English get-up. He came back
a riding-whip under his armbuttoning up a dogskin glove; his
face reflected the resolute nature of his thoughts. His wife had
waited for him at the head of the stairsand before he gave her
the parting kiss he finished the conversation-


What should be perfectly clear to us,he saidis the fact
that there is no going back. Where could we begin life afresh? We
are in now for all that there is in us.

He bent over her upturned face very tenderly and a little
remorsefully. Charles Gould was competent because he had no
illusions. The Gould Concession had to fight for life with such
weapons as could be found at once in the mire of a corruption
that was so universal as almost to lose its significance. He was
prepared to stoop for his weapons. For a moment he felt as if the
silver minewhich had killed his fatherhad decoyed him further
than he meant to go; and with the roundabout logic of emotions
he felt that the worthiness of his life was bound up with
success. There was no going back.

CHAPTER SEVEN

MRS. GOULD was too intelligently sympathetic not to share that
feeling. It made life exciting, and she was too much of a woman
not to like excitement. But it frightened her, too, a little; and
when Don Jose Avellanos, rocking in the American chair, would go
so far as to say, Evenmy dear Carlosif you had failed; even
if some untoward event were yet to destroy your work--which God
forbid!--you would have deserved well of your country Mrs.
Gould would look up from the tea-table profoundly at her unmoved
husband stirring the spoon in the cup as though he had not heard
a word.

Not that Don Jose anticipated anything of the sort. He could not
praise enough dear Carlos's tact and courage. His English,
rock-like quality of character was his best safeguard, Don Jose


affirmed; and, turning to Mrs. Gould, As to youEmiliamy
soul"--he would address her with the familiarity of his age and
old friendship--"you are as true a patriot as though you had been
born in our midst."

This might have been less or more than the truth. Mrs. Gould
accompanying her husband all over the province in the search for
labourhad seen the land with a deeper glance than a trueborn
Costaguanera could have done. In her travel-worn riding habit
her face powdered white like a plaster castwith a further
protection of a small silk mask during the heat of the dayshe
rode on a well-shapedlight-footed pony in the centre of a
little cavalcade. Two mozos de campopicturesque in great hats
with spurred bare heelsin white embroidered calzonerasleather
jackets and striped ponchosrode ahead with carbines across
their shouldersswaying in unison to the pace of the horses. A
tropilla of pack mules brought up the rear in charge of a thin
brown muleteersitting his long-eared beast very near the tail
legs thrust far forwardthe wide brim of his hat set far back
making a sort of halo for his head. An old Costaguana officera
retired senior major of humble originbut patronized by the
first families on account of his Blanco opinionshad been
recommended by Don Jose for commissary and organizer of that
expedition. The points of his grey moustache hung far below his
chinandriding on Mrs. Gould's left handhe looked about with
kindly eyespointing out the features of the countrytelling
the names of the little pueblos and of the estatesof the
smooth-walled haciendas like long fortresses crowning the knolls
above the level of the Sulaco Valley. It unrolled itselfwith
green young cropsplainswoodlandand gleams of water
park-likefrom the blue vapour of the distant sierra to an
immense quivering horizon of grass and skywhere big white
clouds seemed to fall slowly into the darkness of their own
shadows.

Men ploughed with wooden ploughs and yoked oxensmall on a
boundless expanseas if attacking immensity itself. The mounted
figures of vaqueros galloped in the distanceand the great herds
fed with all their horned heads one wayin one single wavering
line as far as eye could reach across the broad potreros. A
spreading cotton-wool tree shaded a thatched ranche by the road;
the trudging files of burdened Indians taking off their hats
would lift sadmute eyes to the cavalcade raising the dust of
the crumbling camino real made by the hands of their enslaved
forefathers. And Mrs. Gouldwith each day's journeyseemed to
come nearer to the soul of the land in the tremendous disclosure
of this interior unaffected by the slight European veneer of the
coast townsa great land of plain and mountain and people
suffering and mutewaiting for the future in a pathetic
immobility of patience.

She knew its sights and its hospitalitydispensed with a sort of
slumbrous dignity in those great houses presenting longblind
walls and heavy portals to the wind-swept pastures. She was given
the head of the tableswhere masters and dependants sat in a
simple and patriarchal state. The ladies of the house would talk
softly in the moonlight under the orange trees of the courtyards
impressing upon her the sweetness of their voices and the
something mysterious in the quietude of their lives. In the
morning the gentlemenwell mounted in braided sombreros and
embroidered riding suitswith much silver on the trappings of
their horseswould ride forth to escort the departing guests
before committing themwith grave good-byesto the care of God
at the boundary pillars of their estates. In all these households


she could hear stories of political outrage; friendsrelatives
ruinedimprisonedkilled in the battles of senseless civil
warsbarbarously executed in ferocious proscriptionsas though
the government of the country had been a struggle of lust between
bands of absurd devils let loose upon the land with sabres and
uniforms and grandiloquent phrases. And on all the lips she found
a weary desire for peacethe dread of officialdom with its
nightmarish parody of administration without lawwithout
securityand without justice.

She bore a whole two months of wandering very well; she had that
power of resistance to fatigue which one discovers here and there
in some quite frail-looking women with surprise--like a state of
possession by a remarkably stubborn spirit. Don Pepe--the old
Costaguana major--after much display of solicitude for the
delicate ladyhad ended by conferring upon her the name of the
Never-tired Senora.Mrs. Gould was indeed becoming a
Costaguanera. Having acquired in Southern Europe a knowledge of
true peasantryshe was able to appreciate the great worth of the
people. She saw the man under the silentsad-eyed beast of
burden. She saw them on the road carrying loadslonely figures
upon the plaintoiling under great straw hatswith their white
clothing flapping about their limbs in the wind; she remembered
the villages by some group of Indian women at the fountain
impressed upon her memoryby the face of some young Indian girl
with a melancholy and sensual profileraising an earthenware
vessel of cool water at the door of a dark hut with a wooden
porch cumbered with great brown jars. The solid wooden wheels of
an ox-carthalted with its shafts in the dustshowed the
strokes of the axe; and a party of charcoal carrierswith each
man's load resting above his head on the top of the low mud wall
slept stretched in a row within the strip of shade.

The heavy stonework of bridges and churches left by the
conquerors proclaimed the disregard of human labourthe
tribute-labour of vanished nations. The power of king and church
was gonebut at the sight of some heavy ruinous pile overtopping
from a knoll the low mud walls of a villageDon Pepe would
interrupt the tale of his campaigns to exclaim-


Poor Costaguana! Before, it was everything for the Padres,
nothing for the people; and now it is everything for those great
politicos in Sta. Marta, for negroes and thieves.

Charles talked with the alcaldeswith the fiscaleswith the
principal people in townsand with the caballeros on the
estates. The commandantes of the districts offered him
escorts--for he could show an authorization from the Sulaco
political chief of the day. How much the document had cost him
in gold twenty-dollar pieces was a secret between himselfa
great man in the United States (who condescended to answer the
Sulaco mail with his own hand)and a great man of another sort
with a dark olive complexion and shifty eyesinhabiting then the
Palace of the Intendencia in Sulacoand who piqued himself on
his culture and Europeanism generally in a rather French style
because he had lived in Europe for some years--in exilehe said.
Howeverit was pretty well known that just before this exile he
had incautiously gambled away all the cash in the Custom House of
a small port where a friend in power had procured for him the
post of subcollector. That youthful indiscretion hadamongst
other inconveniencesobliged him to earn his living for a time
as a cafe waiter in Madrid; but his talents must have been great
after allsince they had enabled him to retrieve his political
fortunes so splendidly. Charles Gouldexposing his business


with an imperturbable steadinesscalled him Excellency.

The provincial Excellency assumed a weary superioritytilting
his chair far back near an open window in the true Costaguana
manner. The military band happened to be braying operatic
selections on the plaza just thenand twice he raised his hand
imperatively for silence in order to listen to a favourite
passage.

Exquisite, delicious!he murmured; while Charles Gould waited
standing by with inscrutable patience. "LuciaLucia di
Lammermoor! I am passionate for music. It transports me. Ha! the
divine--ha!--Mozart. Si! divine . . . What is it you were
saying?"

Of courserumours had reached him already of the newcomer's
intentions. Besideshe had received an official warning from
Sta. Marta. His manner was intended simply to conceal his
curiosity and impress his visitor. But after he had locked up
something valuable in the drawer of a large writing-desk in a
distant part of the roomhe became very affableand walked back
to his chair smartly.

If you intend to build villages and assemble a population near
the mine, you shall require a decree of the Minister of the
Interior for that,he suggested in a business-like manner.

I have already sent a memorial,said Charles Gouldsteadily
and I reckon now confidently upon your Excellency's favourable
conclusions.

The Excellency was a man of many moods. With the receipt of the
money a great mellowness had descended upon his simple soul.
Unexpectedly he fetched a deep sigh.

Ah, Don Carlos! What we want is advanced men like you in the
province. The lethargy--the lethargy of these aristocrats! The
want of public spirit! The absence of all enterprise! I, with my
profound studies in Europe, you understand--

With one hand thrust into his swelling bosomhe rose and fell on
his toesand for ten minutesalmost without drawing breath
went on hurling himself intellectually to the assault of Charles
Gould's polite silence; and whenstopping abruptlyhe fell back
into his chairit was as though he had been beaten off from a
fortress. To save his dignity he hastened to dismiss this silent
man with a solemn inclination of the head and the words
pronounced with moodyfatigued condescension-


You may depend upon my enlightened goodwill as long as your
conduct as a good citizen deserves it.

He took up a paper fan and began to cool himself with a
consequential airwhile Charles Gould bowed and withdrew. Then
he dropped the fan at onceand stared with an appearance of
wonder and perplexity at the closed door for quite a long time.
At last he shrugged his shoulders as if to assure himself of his
disdain. Colddull. No intellectuality. Red hair. A true
Englishman. He despised him.

His face darkened. What meant this unimpressed and frigid
behaviour? He was the first of the successive politicians sent
out from the capital to rule the Occidental Province whom the
manner of Charles Gould in official intercourse was to strike as


offensively independent.

Charles Gould assumed that if the appearance of listening to
deplorable balderdash must form part of the price he had to pay
for being left unmolestedthe obligation of uttering balderdash
personally was by no means included in the bargain. He drew the
line there. To these provincial autocratsbefore whom the
peaceable population of all classes had been accustomed to
tremblethe reserve of that English-looking engineer caused an
uneasiness which swung to and fro between cringing and
truculence. Gradually all of them discovered thatno matter what
party was in powerthat man remained in most effective touch
with the higher authorities in Sta. Marta.

This was a factand it accounted perfectly for the Goulds being
by no means so wealthy as the engineer-in-chief on the new
railway could legitimately suppose. Following the advice of Don
Jose Avellanoswho was a man of good counsel (though rendered
timid by his horrible experiences of Guzman Bento's time)
Charles Gould had kept clear of the capital; but in the current
gossip of the foreign residents there he was known (with a good
deal of seriousness underlying the irony) by the nickname of
King of Sulaco.An advocate of the Costaguana Bara man of
reputed ability and good charactermember of the distinguished
Moraga family possessing extensive estates in the Sulaco Valley
was pointed out to strangerswith a shade of mystery and
respectas the agent of the San Tome mine--"politicalyou
know." He was tallblack-whiskeredand discreet. It was known
that he had easy access to ministersand that the numerous
Costaguana generals were always anxious to dine at his house.
Presidents granted him audience with facility. He corresponded
actively with his maternal uncleDon Jose Avellanos; but his
letters--unless those expressing formally his dutiful
affection--were seldom entrusted to the Costaguana Post Office.
There the envelopes are openedindiscriminatelywith the
frankness of a brazen and childish impudence characteristic of
some Spanish-American Governments. But it must be noted that at
about the time of the re-opening of the San Tome mine the
muleteer who had been employed by Charles Gould in his
preliminary travels on the Campo added his small train of animals
to the thin stream of traffic carried over the mountain passes
between the Sta. Marta upland and the Valley of Sulaco. There are
no travellers by that arduous and unsafe route unless under very
exceptional circumstancesand the state of inland trade did not
visibly require additional transport facilities; but the man
seemed to find his account in it. A few packages were always
found for him whenever he took the road. Very brown and wooden
in goatskin breeches with the hair outsidehe sat near the tail
of his own smart mulehis great hat turned against the sunan
expression of blissful vacancy on his long facehumming day
after day a love-song in a plaintive keyorwithout a change of
expressionletting out a yell at his small tropilla in front. A
round little guitar hung high up on his back; and there was a
place scooped out artistically in the wood of one of his
pack-saddles where a tightly rolled piece of paper could be
slipped inthe wooden plug replacedand the coarse canvas
nailed on again. When in Sulaco it was his practice to smoke and
doze all day long (as though he had no care in the world) on a
stone bench outside the doorway of the Casa Gould and facing the
windows of the Avellanos house. Years and years ago his mother
had been chief laundry-woman in that family--very accomplished in
the matter of clear-starching. He himself had been born on one of
their haciendas. His name was Bonifacioand Don Josecrossing
the street about five o'clock to call on Dona Emiliaalways


acknowledged his humble salute by some movement of hand or head.
The porters of both houses conversed lazily with him in tones of
grave intimacy. His evenings he devoted to gambling and to calls
in a spirit of generous festivity upon the peyne d'oro girls in
the more remote side-streets of the town. But hetoowas a
discreet man.

CHAPTER EIGHT

THOSE of us whom business or curiosity took to Sulaco in these
years before the first advent of the railway can remember the
steadying effect of the San Tome mine upon the life of that
remote province. The outward appearances had not changed then as
they have changed sinceas I am toldwith cable cars running
along the streets of the Constitutionand carriage roads far
into the countryto Rincon and other villageswhere the foreign
merchants and the Ricos generally have their modern villasand a
vast railway goods yard by the harbourwhich has a quay-sidea
long range of warehousesand quite seriousorganized labour
troubles of its own.

Nobody had ever heard of labour troubles then. The Cargadores of
the port formedindeedan unruly brotherhood of all sorts of
scumwith a patron saint of their own. They went on strike
regularly (every bull-fight day)a form of trouble that even
Nostromo at the height of his prestige could never cope with
efficiently; but the morning after each fiestabefore the Indian
market-women had opened their mat parasols on the plazawhen the
snows of Higuerota gleamed pale over the town on a yet black sky
the appearance of a phantom-like horseman mounted on a
silver-grey mare solved the problem of labour without fail. His
steed paced the lanes of the slums and the weed-grown enclosures
within the old rampartsbetween the blacklightless cluster of
hutslike cow-byreslike dog-kennels. The horseman hammered
with the butt of a heavy revolver at the doors of low pulperias
of obscene lean-to sheds sloping against the tumble-down piece of
a noble wallat the wooden sides of dwellings so flimsy that the
sound of snores and sleepy mutters within could be heard in the
pauses of the thundering clatter of his blows. He called out
men's names menacingly from the saddleoncetwice. The drowsy
answers--grumpyconciliatingsavagejocularor
deprecating--came out into the silent darkness in which the
horseman sat stilland presently a dark figure would flit out
coughing in the still air. Sometimes a low-toned woman cried
through the window-hole softlyHe's coming directly, senor,
and the horseman waited silent on a motionless horse. But if
perchance he had to dismountthenafter a whilefrom the door
of that hovel or of that pulperiawith a ferocious scuffle and
stifled imprecationsa cargador would fly out head first and
hands abroadto sprawl under the forelegs of the silver-grey
marewho only pricked forward her sharp little ears. She was
used to that work; and the manpicking himself upwould walk
away hastily from Nostromo's revolverreeling a little along the
street and snarling low curses. At sunrise Captain Mitchell
coming out anxiously in his night attire on to the wooden balcony
running the whole length of the O.S.N. Company's lonely building
by the shorewould see the lighters already under wayfigures
moving busily about the cargo cranesperhaps hear the invaluable
Nostromonow dismounted and in the checked shirt and red sash of
a Mediterranean sailorbawling orders from the end of the jetty
in a stentorian voice. A fellow in a thousand!


The material apparatus of perfected civilization which
obliterates the individuality of old towns under the stereotyped
conveniences of modern life had not intruded as yet; but over the
worn-out antiquity of Sulacoso characteristic with its stuccoed
houses and barred windowswith the great yellowy-white walls of
abandoned convents behind the rows of sombre green cypresses
that fact--very modern in its spirit--the San Tome mine had
already thrown its subtle influence. It had alteredtoothe
outward character of the crowds on feast days on the plaza before
the open portal of the cathedralby the number of white ponchos
with a green stripe affected as holiday wear by the San Tome
miners. They had also adopted white hats with green cord and
braid--articles of good qualitywhich could be obtained in the
storehouse of the administration for very little money. A
peaceable Cholo wearing these colours (unusual in Costaguana) was
somehow very seldom beaten to within an inch of his life on a
charge of disrespect to the town police; neither ran he much risk
of being suddenly lassoed on the road by a recruiting party of
lanceros--a method of voluntary enlistment looked upon as almost
legal in the Republic. Whole villages were known to have
volunteered for the army in that way; butas Don Pepe would say
with a hopeless shrug to Mrs. GouldWhat would you! Poor
people! Pobrecitos! Pobrecitos! But the State must have its
soldiers.

Thus professionally spoke Don Pepethe fighterwith pendent
moustachesa nut-brownlean faceand a clean run of a
cast-iron jawsuggesting the type of a cattle-herd horseman from
the great Llanos of the South. "If you will listen to an old
officer of Paezsenores was the exordium of all his speeches
in the Aristocratic Club of Sulaco, where he was admitted on
account of his past services to the extinct cause of Federation.
The club, dating from the days of the proclamation of
Costaguana's independence, boasted many names of liberators
amongst its first founders. Suppressed arbitrarily innumerable
times by various Governments, with memories of proscriptions and
of at least one wholesale massacre of its members, sadly
assembled for a banquet by the order of a zealous military
commandante (their bodies were afterwards stripped naked and
flung into the plaza out of the windows by the lowest scum of the
populace), it was again flourishing, at that period, peacefully.
It extended to strangers the large hospitality of the cool, big
rooms of its historic quarters in the front part of a house, once
the residence of a high official of the Holy Office. The two
wings, shut up, crumbled behind the nailed doors, and what may be
described as a grove of young orange trees grown in the unpaved
patio concealed the utter ruin of the back part facing the gate.
You turned in from the street, as if entering a secluded orchard,
where you came upon the foot of a disjointed staircase, guarded
by a moss-stained effigy of some saintly bishop, mitred and
staffed, and bearing the indignity of a broken nose meekly, with
his fine stone hands crossed on his breast. The
chocolate-coloured faces of servants with mops of black hair
peeped at you from above; the click of billiard balls came to
your ears, and ascending the steps, you would perhaps see in the
first sala, very stiff upon a straight-backed chair, in a good
light, Don Pepe moving his long moustaches as he spelt his way,
at arm's length, through an old Sta. Marta newspaper. His
horse--a stony-hearted but persevering black brute with a hammer
head--you would have seen in the street dozing motionless under
an immense saddle, with its nose almost touching the curbstone of
the sidewalk.

Don Pepe, when down from the mountain as the phrase, often


heard in Sulaco, went, could also be seen in the drawing-room of
the Casa Gould. He sat with modest assurance at some distance
from the tea-table. With his knees close together, and a kindly
twinkle of drollery in his deep-set eyes, he would throw his
small and ironic pleasantries into the current of conversation.
There was in that man a sort of sane, humorous shrewdness, and a
vein of genuine humanity so often found in simple old soldiers of
proved courage who have seen much desperate service. Of course he
knew nothing whatever of mining, but his employment was of a
special kind. He was in charge of the whole population in the
territory of the mine, which extended from the head of the gorge
to where the cart track from the foot of the mountain enters the
plain, crossing a stream over a little wooden bridge painted
green--green, the colour of hope, being also the colour of the
mine.

It was reported in Sulaco that up there at the mountain" Don
Pepe walked about precipitous pathsgirt with a great sword and
in a shabby uniform with tarnished bullion epaulettes of a senior
major. Most miners being Indianswith big wild eyesaddressed
him as Taita (father)as these barefooted people of Costaguana
will address anybody who wears shoes; but it was BasilioMr.
Gould's own mozo and the head servant of the Casawhoin all
good faith and from a sense of proprietyannounced him once in
the solemn wordsEl Senor Gobernador has arrived.

Don Jose Avellanosthen in the drawing-roomwas delighted
beyond measure at the aptness of the titlewith which he greeted
the old major banteringly as soon as the latter's soldierly
figure appeared in the doorway. Don Pepe only smiled in his long
moustachesas much as to sayYou might have found a worse name
for an old soldier.

And El Senor Gobernador he had remainedwith his small jokes
upon his function and upon his domainwhere he affirmed with
humorous exaggeration to Mrs. Gould-


No two stones could come together anywhere without the
Gobernador hearing the click, senora.

And he would tap his ear with the tip of his forefinger
knowingly. Even when the number of the miners alone rose to over
six hundred he seemed to know each of them individuallyall the
innumerable JosesManuelsIgnaciosfrom the villages
primero--segundo--or tercero (there were three mining villages)
under his government. He could distinguish them not only by their
flatjoyless faceswhich to Mrs. Gould looked all alikeas if
run into the same ancestral mould of suffering and patiencebut
apparently also by the infinitely graduated shades of
reddish-brownof blackish-brownof coppery-brown backsas the
two shiftsstripped to linen drawers and leather skull-caps
mingled together with a confusion of naked limbsof shouldered
picksswinging lampsin a great shuffle of sandalled feet on
the open plateau before the entrance of the main tunnel. It was a
time of pause. The Indian boys leaned idly against the long line
of little cradle wagons standing empty; the screeners and
ore-breakers squatted on their heels smoking long cigars; the
great wooden shoots slanting over the edge of the tunnel plateau
were silent; and only the ceaselessviolent rush of water in the
open flumes could be heardmurmuring fiercelywith the splash
and rumble of revolving turbine-wheelsand the thudding march of
the stamps pounding to powder the treasure rock on the plateau
below. The heads of gangsdistinguished by brass medals hanging
on their bare breastsmarshalled their squads; and at last the


mountain would swallow one-half of the silent crowdwhile the
other half would move off in long files down the zigzag paths
leading to the bottom of the gorge. It was deep; andfar below
a thread of vegetation winding between the blazing rock faces
resembled a slender green cordin which three lumpy knots of
banana patchespalm-leaf rootsand shady trees marked the
Village OneVillage TwoVillage Threehousing the miners of
the Gould Concession.

Whole families had been moving from the first towards the spot in
the Higuerota rangewhence the rumour of work and safety had
spread over the pastoral Campoforcing its way alsoeven as the
waters of a high floodinto the nooks and crannies of the
distant blue walls of the Sierras. Father firstin a pointed
straw hatthen the mother with the bigger childrengenerally
also a diminutive donkeyall under burdensexcept the leader
himselfor perhaps some grown girlthe pride of the family
stepping barefooted and straight as an arrowwith braids of
raven haira thickhaughty profileand no load to carry but
the small guitar of the country and a pair of soft leather
sandals tied together on her back. At the sight of such parties
strung out on the cross trails between the pasturesor camped by
the side of the royal roadtravellers on horseback would remark
to each other-


More people going to the San Tome mine. We shall see others
to-morrow.

And spurring on in the dusk they would discuss the great news of
the provincethe news of the San Tome mine. A rich Englishman
was going to work it--and perhaps not an EnglishmanQuien sabe!
A foreigner with much money. Ohyesit had begun. A party of
men who had been to Sulaco with a herd of black bulls for the
next corrida had reported that from the porch of the posada in
Rincononly a short league from the townthe lights on the
mountain were visibletwinkling above the trees. And there was a
woman seen riding a horse sidewaysnot in the chair seatbut
upon a sort of saddleand a man's hat on her head. She walked
abouttooon foot up the mountain paths. A woman engineerit
seemed she was.

What an absurdity! Impossible, senor!

Si! Si! Una Americana del Norte.

Ah, well! if your worship is informed. Una Americana; it need be
something of that sort.

And they would laugh a little with astonishment and scorn
keeping a wary eye on the shadows of the roadfor one is liable
to meet bad men when travelling late on the Campo.

And it was not only the men that Don Pepe knew so wellbut he
seemed ablewith one attentivethoughtful glanceto classify
each womangirlor growing youth of his domain. It was only the
small fry that puzzled him sometimes. He and the padre could be
seen frequently side by sidemeditative and gazing across the
street of a village at a lot of sedate brown childrentrying to
sort them outas it werein lowconsulting tonesor else they
would together put searching questions as to the parentage of
some smallstaid urchin met wanderingnaked and gravealong
the road with a cigar in his baby mouthand perhaps his mother's
rosarypurloined for purposes of ornamentationhanging in a
loop of beads low down on his rotund little stomach. The


spiritual and temporal pastors of the mine flock were very good
friends. With Dr. Monyghamthe medical pastorwho had accepted
the charge from Mrs. Gouldand lived in the hospital building
they were on not so intimate terms. But no one could be on
intimate terms with El Senor Doctorwhowith his twisted
shouldersdrooping headsardonic mouthand side-long bitter
glancewas mysterious and uncanny. The other two authorities
worked in harmony. Father Romandried-upsmallalert
wrinkledwith big round eyesa sharp chinand a great
snuff-takerwas an old campaignertoo; he had shriven many
simple souls on the battlefields of the Republickneeling by the
dying on hillsidesin the long grassin the gloom of the
foreststo hear the last confession with the smell of gunpowder
smoke in his nostrilsthe rattle of musketsthe hum and spatter
of bullets in his ears. And where was the harm ifat the
presbyterythey had a game with a pack of greasy cards in the
early eveningbefore Don Pepe went his last rounds to see that
all the watchmen of the mine--a body organized by himself--were
at their posts? For that last duty before he slept Don Pepe did
actually gird his old sword on the verandah of an unmistakable
American white frame housewhich Father Roman called the
presbytery. Near bya longlowdark buildingsteeple-roofed
like a vast barn with a wooden cross over the gablewas the
miners' chapel. There Father Roman said Mass every day before a
sombre altar-piece representing the Resurrectionthe grey slab
of the tombstone balanced on one cornera figure soaring
upwardslong-limbed and lividin an oval of pallid lightand a
helmeted brown legionary smitten downright across the
bituminous foreground. "This picturemy childrenmuy linda e
maravillosa Father Roman would say to some of his flock, which
you behold here through the munificence of the wife of our Senor
Administradorhas been painted in Europea country of saints
and miraclesand much greater than our Costaguana." And he would
take a pinch of snuff with unction. But when once an inquisitive
spirit desired to know in what direction this Europe was
situatedwhether up or down the coastFather Romanto conceal
his perplexitybecame very reserved and severe. "No doubt it is
extremely far away. But ignorant sinners like you of the San Tome
mine should think earnestly of everlasting punishment instead of
inquiring into the magnitude of the earthwith its countries and
populations altogether beyond your understanding."

With a "Good-nightPadre Good-nightDon Pepe the
Gobernador would go off, holding up his sabre against his side,
his body bent forward, with a long, plodding stride in the dark.
The jocularity proper to an innocent card game for a few cigars
or a bundle of yerba was replaced at once by the stern duty mood
of an officer setting out to visit the outposts of an encamped
army. One loud blast of the whistle that hung from his neck
provoked instantly a great shrilling of responding whistles,
mingled with the barking of dogs, that would calm down slowly at
last, away up at the head of the gorge; and in the stillness two
serenos, on guard by the bridge, would appear walking noiselessly
towards him. On one side of the road a long frame building--the
store--would be closed and barricaded from end to end; facing it
another white frame house, still longer, and with a verandah--the
hospital--would have lights in the two windows of Dr. Monygham's
quarters. Even the delicate foliage of a clump of pepper trees
did not stir, so breathless would be the darkness warmed by the
radiation of the over-heated rocks. Don Pepe would stand still
for a moment with the two motionless serenos before him, and,
abruptly, high up on the sheer face of the mountain, dotted with
single torches, like drops of fire fallen from the two great
blazing clusters of lights above, the ore shoots would begin to


rattle. The great clattering, shuffling noise, gathering speed
and weight, would be caught up by the walls of the gorge, and
sent upon the plain in a growl of thunder. The pasadero in Rincon
swore that on calm nights, by listening intently, he could catch
the sound in his doorway as of a storm in the mountains.

To Charles Gould's fancy it seemed that the sound must reach the
uttermost limits of the province. Riding at night towards the
mine, it would meet him at the edge of a little wood just beyond
Rincon. There was no mistaking the growling mutter of the
mountain pouring its stream of treasure under the stamps; and it
came to his heart with the peculiar force of a proclamation
thundered forth over the land and the marvellousness of an
accomplished fact fulfilling an audacious desire. He had heard
this very sound in his imagination on that far-off evening when
his wife and himself, after a tortuous ride through a strip of
forest, had reined in their horses near the stream, and had gazed
for the first time upon the jungle-grown solitude of the gorge.
The head of a palm rose here and there. In a high ravine round
the corner of the San Tome mountain (which is square like a
blockhouse) the thread of a slender waterfall flashed bright and
glassy through the dark green of the heavy fronds of tree-ferns.
Don Pepe, in attendance, rode up, and, stretching his arm up the
gorge, had declared with mock solemnity, Behold the very
paradise of snakessenora."

And then they had wheeled their horses and ridden back to sleep
that night at Rincon. The alcalde--an oldskinny Morenoa
sergeant of Guzman Bento's time--had cleared respectfully out of
his house with his three pretty daughtersto make room for the
foreign senora and their worships the Caballeros. All he asked
Charles Gould (whom he took for a mysterious and official person)
to do for him was to remind the supreme Government--El Gobierno
supreme--of a pension (amounting to about a dollar a month) to
which he believed himself entitled. It had been promised to him
he affirmedstraightening his bent back martiallymany years
ago, for my valour in the wars with the wild Indios when a young
man, senor.

The waterfall existed no longer. The tree-ferns that had
luxuriated in its spray had died around the dried-up pooland
the high ravine was only a big trench half filled up with the
refuse of excavations and tailings. The torrentdammed up
abovesent its water rushing along the open flumes of scooped
tree trunks striding on trestle-legs to the turbines working the
stamps on the lower plateau--the mesa grande of the San Tome
mountain. Only the memory of the waterfallwith its amazing
fernerylike a hanging garden above the rocks of the gorgewas
preserved in Mrs. Gould's water-colour sketch; she had made it
hastily one day from a cleared patch in the bushessitting in
the shade of a roof of straw erected for her on three rough poles
under Don Pepe's direction.

Mrs. Gould had seen it all from the beginning: the clearing of
the wildernessthe making of the roadthe cutting of new paths
up the cliff face of San Tome. For weeks together she had lived
on the spot with her husband; and she was so little in Sulaco
during that year that the appearance of the Gould carriage on the
Alameda would cause a social excitement. From the heavy family
coaches full of stately senoras and black-eyed senoritas rolling
solemnly in the shaded alley white hands were waved towards her
with animation in a flutter of greetings. Dona Emilia was "down
from the mountain."


But not for long. Dona Emilia would be gone "up to the mountain"
in a day or twoand her sleek carriage mules would have an easy
time of it for another long spell. She had watched the erection
of the first frame-house put up on the lower mesa for an office
and Don Pepe's quarters; she heard with a thrill of thankful
emotion the first wagon load of ore rattle down the then only
shoot; she had stood by her husband's side perfectly silentand
gone cold all over with excitement at the instant when the first
battery of only fifteen stamps was put in motion for the first
time. On the occasion when the fires under the first set of
retorts in their shed had glowed far into the night she did not
retire to rest on the rough cadre set up for her in the as yet
bare frame-house till she had seen the first spongy lump of
silver yielded to the hazards of the world by the dark depths of
the Gould Concession; she had laid her unmercenary handswith an
eagerness that made them trembleupon the first silver ingot
turned out still warm from the mould; and by her imaginative
estimate of its power she endowed that lump of metal with a
justificative conceptionas though it were not a mere factbut
something far-reaching and impalpablelike the true expression
of an emotion or the emergence of a principle.

Don Pepeextremely interestedtoolooked over her shoulder
with a smile thatmaking longitudinal folds on his facecaused
it to resemble a leathern mask with a benignantly diabolic
expression.

Would not the muchachos of Hernandez like to get hold of this
insignificant object, that looks, por Dios, very much like a
piece of tin?he remarkedjocularly.

Hernandezthe robberhad been an inoffensivesmall ranchero
kidnapped with circumstances of peculiar atrocity from his home
during one of the civil warsand forced to serve in the army.
There his conduct as soldier was exemplarytillwatching his
chancehe killed his coloneland managed to get clear away.
With a band of deserterswho chose him for their chiefhe had
taken refuge beyond the wild and waterless Bolson de Tonoro. The
haciendas paid him blackmail in cattle and horses; extraordinary
stories were told of his powers and of his wonderful escapes from
capture. He used to ridesingle-handedinto the villages and
the little towns on the Campodriving a pack mule before him
with two revolvers in his beltgo straight to the shop or store
select what he wantedand ride away unopposed because of the
terror his exploits and his audacity inspired. Poor country
people he usually left alone; the upper class were often stopped
on the roads and robbed; but any unlucky official that fell into
his hands was sure to get a severe flogging. The army officers
did not like his name to be mentioned in their presence. His
followersmounted on stolen horseslaughed at the pursuit of
the regular cavalry sent to hunt them downand whom they took
pleasure to ambush most scientifically in the broken ground of
their own fastness. Expeditions had been fitted out; a price had
been put upon his head; even attempts had been made
treacherously of courseto open negotiations with himwithout
in the slightest way affecting the even tenor of his career. At
lastin true Costaguana fashionthe Fiscal of Tonorowho was
ambitious of the glory of having reduced the famous Hernandez
offered him a sum of money and a safe conduct out of the country
for the betrayal of his band. But Hernandez evidently was not of
the stuff of which the distinguished military politicians and
conspirators of Costaguana are made. This clever but common
device (which frequently works like a charm in putting down
revolutions) failed with the chief of vulgar Salteadores. It


promised well for the Fiscal at firstbut ended very badly for
the squadron of lanceros posted (by the Fiscal's directions) in a
fold of the ground into which Hernandez had promised to lead his
unsuspecting followers They cameindeedat the appointed time
but creeping on their hands and knees through the bushand only
let their presence be known by a general discharge of firearms
which emptied many saddles. The troopers who escaped came riding
very hard into Tonoro. It is said that their commanding officer
(whobeing better mountedrode far ahead of the rest)
afterwards got into a state of despairing intoxication and beat
the ambitious Fiscal severely with the flat of his sabre in the
presence of his wife and daughtersfor bringing this disgrace
upon the National Army. The highest civil official of Tonoro
falling to the ground in a swoonwas further kicked all over the
body and rowelled with sharp spurs about the neck and face
because of the great sensitiveness of his military colleague.
This gossip of the inland Camposo characteristic of the rulers
of the country with its story of oppressioninefficiency
fatuous methodstreacheryand savage brutalitywas perfectly
known to Mrs. Gould. That it should be accepted with no indignant
comment by people of intelligencerefinementand character as
something inherent in the nature of things was one of the
symptoms of degradation that had the power to exasperate her
almost to the verge of despair. Still looking at the ingot of
silvershe shook her head at Don Pepe's remark-


If it had not been for the lawless tyranny of your Government,
Don Pepe, many an outlaw now with Hernandez would be living
peaceably and happy by the honest work of his hands.

Senora,cried Don Pepewith enthusiasmit is true! It is as
if God had given you the power to look into the very breasts of
people. You have seen them working round you, Dona Emilia--meek
as lambs, patient like their own burros, brave like lions. I have
led them to the very muzzles of guns--I, who stand here before
you, senora--in the time of Paez, who was full of generosity, and
in courage only approached by the uncle of Don Carlos here, as
far as I know. No wonder there are bandits in the Campo when
there are none but thieves, swindlers, and sanguinary macaques to
rule us in Sta. Marta. However, all the same, a bandit is a
bandit, and we shall have a dozen good straight Winchesters to
ride with the silver down to Sulaco.

Mrs. Gould's ride with the first silver escort to Sulaco was the
closing episode of what she called "my camp life" before she had
settled in her town-house permanentlyas was proper and even
necessary for the wife of the administrator of such an important
institution as the San Tome mine. For the San Tome mine was to
become an institutiona rallying point for everything in the
province that needed order and stability to live. Security
seemed to flow upon this land from the mountain-gorge. The
authorities of Sulaco had learned that the San Tome mine could
make it worth their while to leave things and people alone. This
was the nearest approach to the rule of common-sense and justice
Charles Gould felt it possible to secure at first. In factthe
minewith its organizationits population growing fiercely
attached to their position of privileged safetywith its
armourywith its Don Pepewith its armed body of serenos
(whereit was saidmany an outlaw and deserter--and even some
members of Hernandez's band--had found a place)the mine was a
power in the land. As a certain prominent man in Sta. Marta had
exclaimed with a hollow laughoncewhen discussing the line of
action taken by the Sulaco authorities at a time of political
crisis-



You call these men Government officials? They? Never! They are
officials of the mine--officials of the Concession--I tell you.

The prominent man (who was then a person in powerwith a
lemon-coloured face and a very short and curlynot to say
woollyhead of hair) went so far in his temporary discontent as
to shake his yellow fist under the nose of his interlocutorand
shriek-


Yes! All! Silence! All! I tell you! The political Gefe, the
chief of the police, the chief of the customs, the general, all,
all, are the officials of that Gould.

Thereupon an intrepid but low and argumentative murmur would flow
on for a space in the ministerial cabinetand the prominent
man's passion would end in a cynical shrug of the shoulders.
After allhe seemed to saywhat did it matter as long as the
minister himself was not forgotten during his brief day of
authority? But all the samethe unofficial agent of the San
Tome mineworking for a good causehad his moments of anxiety
which were reflected in his letters to Don Jose Avellanoshis
maternal uncle.

No sanguinary macaque from Sta. Marta shall set foot on that
part of Costaguana which lies beyond the San Tome bridge,Don
Pepe used to assure Mrs. Gould. "Exceptof courseas an
honoured guest--for our Senor Administrador is a deep politico."
But to Charles Gouldin his own roomthe old Major would remark
with a grim and soldierly cheerinessWe are all playing our
heads at this game.

Don Jose Avellanos would mutter "Imperium in imperioEmiliamy
soul with an air of profound self-satisfaction which, somehow,
in a curious way, seemed to contain a queer admixture of bodily
discomfort. But that, perhaps, could only be visible to the
initiated. And for the initiated it was a wonderful place, this
drawing-room of the Casa Gould, with its momentary glimpses of
the master--El Senor Administrador--older, harder, mysteriously
silent, with the lines deepened on his English, ruddy,
out-of-doors complexion; flitting on his thin cavalryman's legs
across the doorways, either just back from the mountain" or with
jingling spurs and riding-whip under his armon the point of
starting "for the mountain." Then Don Pepemodestly martial in
his chairthe llanero who seemed somehow to have found his
martial jocularityhis knowledge of the worldand his manner
perfect for his stationin the midst of savage armed contests
with his kind; Avellanospolished and familiarthe diplomatist
with his loquacity covering much caution and wisdom in delicate
advicewith his manuscript of a historical work on Costaguana
entitled "Fifty Years of Misrule which, at present, he thought
it was not prudent (even if it were possible) to give to the
world"; these threeand also Dona Emilia amongst themgracious
smalland fairy-likebefore the glittering tea-setwith one
common master-thought in their headswith one common feeling of
a tense situationwith one ever-present aim to preserve the
inviolable character of the mine at every cost. And there was
also to be seen Captain Mitchella little apartnear one of the
long windowswith an air of old-fashioned neat old bachelorhood
about himslightly pompousin a white waistcoata little
disregarded and unconscious of it; utterly in the darkand
imagining himself to be in the thick of things. The good man
having spent a clear thirty years of his life on the high seas
before getting what he called a "shore billet was astonished at


the importance of transactions (other than relating to shipping)
which take place on dry land. Almost every event out of the usual
daily course marked an epoch" for him or else was "history";
unless with his pomposity struggling with a discomfited droop of
his rubicundrather handsome faceset off by snow-white close
hair and short whiskershe would mutter-


Ah, that! That, sir, was a mistake.

The reception of the first consignment of San Tome silver for
shipment to San Francisco in one of the O.S.N. Co.'s mail-boats
hadof coursemarked an epochfor Captain Mitchell. The
ingots packed in boxes of stiff ox-hide with plaited handles
small enough to be carried easily by two menwere brought down
by the serenos of the mine walking in careful couples along the
half-mile or so of steepzigzag paths to the foot of the
mountain. There they would be loaded into a string of two-wheeled
cartsresembling roomy coffers with a door at the backand
harnessed tandem with two mules eachwaiting under the guard of
armed and mounted serenos. Don Pepe padlocked each door in
successionand at the signal of his whistle the string of carts
would move offclosely surrounded by the clank of spur and
carbinewith jolts and cracking of whipswith a sudden deep
rumble over the boundary bridge ("into the land of thieves and
sanguinary macaques Don Pepe defined that crossing); hats
bobbing in the first light of the dawn, on the heads of cloaked
figures; Winchesters on hip; bridle hands protruding lean and
brown from under the falling folds of the ponchos. The convoy
skirting a little wood, along the mine trail, between the mud
huts and low walls of Rincon, increased its pace on the camino
real, mules urged to speed, escort galloping, Don Carlos riding
alone ahead of a dust storm affording a vague vision of long ears
of mules, of fluttering little green and white flags stuck upon
each cart; of raised arms in a mob of sombreros with the white
gleam of ranging eyes; and Don Pepe, hardly visible in the rear
of that rattling dust trail, with a stiff seat and impassive
face, rising and falling rhythmically on an ewe-necked
silver-bitted black brute with a hammer head.

The sleepy people in the little clusters of huts, in the small
ranches near the road, recognized by the headlong sound the
charge of the San Tome silver escort towards the crumbling wall
of the city on the Campo side. They came to the doors to see it
dash by over ruts and stones, with a clatter and clank and
cracking of whips, with the reckless rush and precise driving of
a field battery hurrying into action, and the solitary English
figure of the Senor Administrador riding far ahead in the lead.

In the fenced roadside paddocks loose horses galloped wildly for
a while; the heavy cattle stood up breast deep in the grass,
lowing mutteringly at the flying noise; a meek Indian villager
would glance back once and hasten to shove his loaded little
donkey bodily against a wall, out of the way of the San Tome
silver escort going to the sea; a small knot of chilly leperos
under the Stone Horse of the Alameda would mutter: Caramba!" on
seeing it take a wide curve at a gallop and dart into the empty
Street of the Constitution; for it was considered the correct
thingthe only proper style by the mule-drivers of the San Tome
mine to go through the waking town from end to end without a
check in the speed as if chased by a devil.

The early sunshine glowed on the delicate primrosepale pink
pale blue fronts of the big houses with all their gates shut yet
and no face behind the iron bars of the windows. In the whole


sunlit range of empty balconies along the street only one white
figure would be visible high up above the clear pavement--the
wife of the Senor Administrador--leaning over to see the escort
go by to the harboura mass of heavyfair hair twisted up
negligently on her little headand a lot of lace about the neck
of her muslin wrapper. With a smile to her husband's single
quickupward glanceshe would watch the whole thing stream past
below her feet with an orderly uproartill she answered by a
friendly sign the salute of the galloping Don Pepethe stiff
deferential inclination with a sweep of the hat below the knee.

The string of padlocked carts lengthenedthe size of the escort
grew bigger as the years went on. Every three months an
increasing stream of treasure swept through the streets of Sulaco
on its way to the strong room in the O.S.N. Co.'s building by the
harbourthere to await shipment for the North. Increasing in
volumeand of immense value also; foras Charles Gould told his
wife once with some exultationthere had never been seen
anything in the world to approach the vein of the Gould
Concession. For them botheach passing of the escort under the
balconies of the Casa Gould was like another victory gained in
the conquest of peace for Sulaco.

No doubt the initial action of Charles Gould had been helped at
the beginning by a period of comparative peace which occurred
just about that time; and also by the general softening of
manners as compared with the epoch of civil wars whence had
emerged the iron tyranny of Guzman Bento of fearful memory. In
the contests that broke out at the end of his rule (which had
kept peace in the country for a whole fifteen years) there was
more fatuous imbecilityplenty of cruelty and suffering still
but much less of the old-time fierce and blindly ferocious
political fanaticism. It was all more vilemore basemore
contemptibleand infinitely more manageable in the very
outspoken cynicism of motives. It was more clearly a
brazen-faced scramble for a constantly diminishing quantity of
booty; since all enterprise had been stupidly killed in the land.
Thus it came to pass that the province of Sulacoonce the field
of cruel party vengeanceshad become in a way one of the
considerable prizes of political career. The great of the earth
(in Sta. Marta) reserved the posts in the old Occidental State to
those nearest and dearest to them: nephewsbrothershusbands
of favourite sistersbosom friendstrusty supporters--or
prominent supporters of whom perhaps they were afraid. It was the
blessed province of great opportunities and of largest salaries;
for the San Tome mine had its own unofficial pay listwhose
items and amountsfixed in consultation by Charles Gould and
Senor Avellanoswere known to a prominent business man in the
United Stateswho for twenty minutes or so in every month gave
his undivided attention to Sulaco affairs. At the same time the
material interests of all sortsbacked up by the influence of
the San Tome minewere quietly gathering substance in that part
of the Republic. Iffor instancethe Sulaco Collectorship was
generally understoodin the political world of the capitalto
open the way to the Ministry of Financeand so on for every
official postthenon the other handthe despondent business
circles of the Republic had come to consider the Occidental
Province as the promised land of safetyespecially if a man
managed to get on good terms with the administration of the mine.
Charles Gould; excellent fellow! Absolutely necessary to make
sure of him before taking a single step. Get an introduction to
him from Moraga if you can--the agent of the King of Sulaco,
don't you know.


No wonderthenthat Sir Johncoming from Europe to smooth the
path for his railwayhad been meeting the name (and even the
nickname) of Charles Gould at every turn in Costaguana. The agent
of the San Tome Administration in Sta. Marta (a polished
well-informed gentlemanSir John thought him) had certainly
helped so greatly in bringing about the presidential tour that he
began to think that there was something in the faint whispers
hinting at the immense occult influence of the Gould Concession.
What was currently whispered was this--that the San Tome
Administration hadin partat leastfinanced the last
revolutionwhich had brought into a five-year dictatorship Don
Vincente Ribieraa man of culture and of unblemished character
invested with a mandate of reform by the best elements of the
State. Seriouswell-informed men seemed to believe the factto
hope for better thingsfor the establishment of legalityof
good faith and order in public life. So much the betterthen
thought Sir John. He worked always on a great scale; there was a
loan to the Stateand a project for systematic colonization of
the Occidental Provinceinvolved in one vast scheme with the
construction of the National Central Railway. Good faithorder
honestypeacewere badly wanted for this great development of
material interests. Anybody on the side of these thingsand
especially if able to helphad an importance in Sir John's eyes.
He had not been disappointed in the "King of Sulaco." The local
difficulties had fallen awayas the engineer-in-chief had
foretold they wouldbefore Charles Gould's mediation. Sir John
had been extremely feted in Sulaconext to the
President-Dictatora fact which might have accounted for the
evident ill-humour General Montero displayed at lunch given on
board the Juno just before she was to sailtaking away from
Sulaco the President-Dictator and the distinguished foreign guests
in his train.

The Excellentissimo ("the hope of honest men as Don Jose had
addressed him in a public speech delivered in the name of the
Provincial Assembly of Sulaco) sat at the head of the long table;
Captain Mitchell, positively stony-eyed and purple in the face
with the solemnity of this historical event occupied the foot
as the representative of the O.S.N. Company in Sulaco, the hosts
of that informal function, with the captain of the ship and some
minor officials from the shore around him. Those cheery, swarthy
little gentlemen cast jovial side-glances at the bottles of
champagne beginning to pop behind the guests' backs in the hands
of the ship's stewards. The amber wine creamed up to the rims of
the glasses.

Charles Gould had his place next to a foreign envoy, who, in a
listless undertone, had been talking to him fitfully of hunting
and shooting. The well-nourished, pale face, with an eyeglass and
drooping yellow moustache, made the Senor Administrador appear by
contrast twice as sunbaked, more flaming red, a hundred times
more intensely and silently alive. Don Jose Avellanos touched
elbows with the other foreign diplomat, a dark man with a quiet,
watchful, self-confident demeanour, and a touch of reserve. All
etiquette being laid aside on the occasion, General Montero was
the only one there in full uniform, so stiff with embroideries in
front that his broad chest seemed protected by a cuirass of gold.
Sir John at the beginning had got away from high places for the
sake of sitting near Mrs. Gould.

The great financier was trying to express to her his grateful
sense of her hospitality and of his obligation to her husband's
enormous influence in this part of the country when she
interrupted him by a low Hush!" The President was going to make


an informal pronouncement.

The Excellentissimo was on his legs. He said only a few words
evidently deeply feltand meant perhaps mostly for
Avellanos--his old friend--as to the necessity of unremitting
effort to secure the lasting welfare of the country emerging
after this last strugglehe hopedinto a period of peace and
material prosperity.

Mrs. Gouldlistening to the mellowslightly mournful voice
looking at this rotunddarkspectacled faceat the short body
obese to the point of infirmitythought that this man of
delicate and melancholy mindphysically almost a cripplecoming
out of his retirement into a dangerous strife at the call of his
fellowshad the right to speak with the authority of his
self-sacrifice. And yet she was made uneasy. He was more pathetic
than promisingthis first civilian Chief of the State Costaguana
had ever knownpronouncingglass in handhis simple watchwords
of honestypeacerespect for lawpolitical good faith abroad
and at home--the safeguards of national honour.

He sat down. During the respectfulappreciative buzz of voices
that followed the speechGeneral Montero raised a pair of heavy
drooping eyelids and rolled his eyes with a sort of uneasy
dullness from face to face. The military backwoods hero of the
partythough secretly impressed by the sudden novelties and
splendours of his position (he had never been on board a ship
beforeand had hardly ever seen the sea except from a distance)
understood by a sort of instinct the advantage his surly
unpolished attitude of a savage fighter gave him amongst all
these refined Blanco aristocrats. But why was it that nobody was
looking at him? he wondered to himself angrily. He was able to
spell out the print of newspapersand knew that he had performed
the "greatest military exploit of modern times."

My husband wanted the railway,Mrs. Gould said to Sir John in
the general murmur of resumed conversations. "All this brings
nearer the sort of future we desire for the countrywhich has
waited for it in sorrow long enoughGod knows. But I will
confess that the other dayduring my afternoon drive when I
suddenly saw an Indian boy ride out of a wood with the red flag
of a surveying party in his handI felt something of a shock.
The future means change--an utter change. And yet even here
there are simple and picturesque things that one would like to
preserve."

Sir John listenedsmiling. But it was his turn now to hush Mrs.
Gould.

General Montero is going to speak,he whisperedand almost
immediately addedin comic alarmHeavens! he's going to
propose my own health, I believe.

General Montero had risen with a jingle of steel scabbard and a
ripple of glitter on his gold-embroidered breast; a heavy
sword-hilt appeared at his side above the edge of the table. In
this gorgeous uniformwith his bull neckhis hooked nose
flattened on the tip upon a blue-blackdyed moustachehe looked
like a disguised and sinister vaquero. The drone of his voice had
a strangely raspingsoulless ring. He flounderedlowering
through a few vague sentences; then suddenly raising his big head
and his voice togetherburst out harshly-


The honour of the country is in the hands of the army. I assure


you I shall be faithful to it.He hesitated till his roaming
eyes met Sir John's face upon which he fixed a luridsleepy
glance; and the figure of the lately negotiated loan came into
his mind. He lifted his glass. "I drink to the health of the man
who brings us a million and a half of pounds."

He tossed off his champagneand sat down heavily with a
half-surprisedhalf-bullying look all round the faces in the
profoundas if appalledsilence which succeeded the felicitous
toast. Sir John did not move.

I don't think I am called upon to rise,he murmured to Mrs.
Gould. "That sort of thing speaks for itself." But Don Jose
Avellanos came to the rescue with a short orationin which he
alluded pointedly to England's goodwill towards Costaguana--"a
goodwill he continued, significantly, of which Ihaving been
in my time accredited to the Court of St. Jamesam able to speak
with some knowledge."

Only then Sir John thought fit to respondwhich he did
gracefully in bad Frenchpunctuated by bursts of applause and
the "Hear! Hears!" of Captain Mitchellwho was able to
understand a word now and then. Directly he had donethe
financier of railways turned to Mrs. Gould-


You were good enough to say that you intended to ask me for
something,he reminded hergallantly. "What is it? Be assured
that any request from you would be considered in the light of a
favour to myself."

She thanked him by a gracious smile. Everybody was rising from
the table.

Let us go on deck,she proposedwhere I'll be able to point
out to you the very object of my request.

An enormous national flag of Costaguanadiagonal red and yellow
with two green palm trees in the middlefloated lazily at the
mainmast head of the Juno. A multitude of fireworks being let off
in their thousands at the water's edge in honour of the President
kept up a mysterious crepitating noise half round the harbour.
Now and then a lot of rocketsswishing upwards invisibly
detonated overhead with only a puff of smoke in the bright sky.
Crowds of people could be seen between the town gate and the
harbourunder the bunches of multicoloured flags fluttering on
tall poles. Faint bursts of military music would be heard
suddenlyand the remote sound of shouting. A knot of ragged
negroes at the end of the wharf kept on loading and firing a
small iron cannon time after time. A greyish haze of dust hung
thin and motionless against the sun.

Don Vincente Ribiera made a few steps under the deck-awning
leaning on the arm of Senor Avellanos; a wide circle was formed
round himwhere the mirthless smile of his dark lips and the
sightless glitter of his spectacles could be seen turning amiably
from side to side. The informal function arranged on purpose on
board the Juno to give the President-Dictator an opportunity to
meet intimately some of his most notable adherents in Sulaco was
drawing to an end. On one sideGeneral Monterohis bald head
covered now by a plumed cocked hatremained motionless on a
skylight seata pair of big gauntleted hands folded on the hilt
of the sabre standing upright between his legs. The white plume
the coppery tint of his broad facethe blue-black of the
moustaches under the curved beakthe mass of gold on sleeves and


breastthe high shining boots with enormous spursthe working
nostrilsthe imbecile and domineering stare of the glorious
victor of Rio Seco had in them something ominous and incredible;
the exaggeration of a cruel caricaturethe fatuity of solemn
masqueradingthe atrocious grotesqueness of some military idol
of Aztec conception and European bedeckingawaiting the homage
of worshippers. Don Jose approached diplomatically this weird
and inscrutable portentand Mrs. Gould turned her fascinated
eyes away at last.

Charlescoming up to take leave of Sir Johnheard him sayas
he bent over his wife's handCertainly. Of course, my dear
Mrs. Gould, for a protege of yours! Not the slightest
difficulty. Consider it done.

Going ashore in the same boat with the GouldsDon Jose Avellanos
was very silent. Even in the Gould carriage he did not open his
lips for a long time. The mules trotted slowly away from the
wharf between the extended hands of the beggarswho for that day
seemed to have abandoned in a body the portals of churches.
Charles Gould sat on the back seat and looked away upon the
plain. A multitude of booths made of green boughsof rushesof
odd pieces of plank eked out with bits of canvas had been erected
all over it for the sale of canaof dulcesof fruitof cigars.
Over little heaps of glowing charcoal Indian womensquatting on
matscooked food in black earthen potsand boiled the water for
the mate gourdswhich they offered in softcaressing voices to
the country people. A racecourse had been staked out for the
vaqueros; and away to the leftfrom where the crowd was massed
thickly about a huge temporary erectionlike a circus tent of
wood with a conical grass roofcame the resonant twanging of
harp stringsthe sharp ping of guitarswith the grave drumming
throb of an Indian gombo pulsating steadily through the shrill
choruses of the dancers.

Charles Gould said presently-


All this piece of land belongs now to the Railway Company. There
will be no more popular feasts held here.

Mrs. Gould was rather sorry to think so. She took this
opportunity to mention how she had just obtained from Sir John
the promise that the house occupied by Giorgio Viola should not
be interfered with. She declared she could never understand why
the survey engineers ever talked of demolishing that old
building. It was not in the way of the projected harbour branch
of the line in the least.

She stopped the carriage before the door to reassure at once the
old Genoesewho came out bare-headed and stood by the carriage
step. She talked to him in Italianof courseand he thanked her
with calm dignity. An old Garibaldino was grateful to her from
the bottom of his heart for keeping the roof over the heads of
his wife and children. He was too old to wander any more.

And is it for ever, signora?he asked.

For as long as you like.

Bene. Then the place must be named, It was not worth while
before.

He smiled ruggedlywith a running together of wrinkles at the
corners of his eyes. "I shall set about the painting of the name


to-morrow."

And what is it going to be, Giorgio?

Albergo d'Italia Una,said the old Garibaldinolooking away
for a moment. "More in memory of those who have died he added,
than for the country stolen from us soldiers of liberty by the
craft of that accursed Piedmontese race of kings and ministers."

Mrs. Gould smiled slightlyandbending over a littlebegan to
inquire about his wife and children. He had sent them into town
on that day. The padrona was better in health; many thanks to the
signora for inquiring.

People were passing in twos and threesin whole parties of men
and women attended by trotting children. A horseman mounted on a
silver-grey mare drew rein quietly in the shade of the house
after taking off his hat to the party in the carriagewho
returned smiles and familiar nods. Old Violaevidently very
pleased with the news he had just heardinterrupted himself for
a moment to tell him rapidly that the house was securedby the
kindness of the English signorafor as long as he liked to keep
it. The other listened attentivelybut made no response.

When the carriage moved on he took off his hat againa grey
sombrero with a silver cord and tassels. The bright colours of a
Mexican serape twisted on the cantlethe enormous silver buttons
on the embroidered leather jacketthe row of tiny silver buttons
down the seam of the trousersthe snowy linena silk sash with
embroidered endsthe silver plates on headstall and saddle
proclaimed the unapproachable style of the famous Capataz de
Cargadores--a Mediterranean sailor--got up with more finished
splendour than any well-to-do young ranchero of the Campo had
ever displayed on a high holiday.

It is a great thing for me,murmured old Giorgiostill
thinking of the housefor now he had grown weary of change. "The
signora just said a word to the Englishman."

The old Englishman who has enough money to pay for a railway? He
is going off in an hour,remarked Nostromocarelessly. "Buon
viaggiothen. I've guarded his bones all the way from the
Entrada pass down to the plain and into Sulacoas though he had
been my own father."

Old Giorgio only moved his head sideways absently. Nostromo
pointed after the Goulds' carriagenearing the grass-grown gate
in the old town wall that was like a wall of matted jungle.

And I have sat alone at night with my revolver in the Company's
warehouse time and again by the side of that other Englishman's
heap of silver, guarding it as though it had been my own.

Viola seemed lost in thought. "It is a great thing for me he
repeated again, as if to himself.

It is agreed the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores, calmly.
ListenVecchio--go in and bring meout a cigarbut don't look
for it in my room. There's nothing there."

Viola stepped into the cafe and came out directlystill absorbed
in his ideaand tendered him a cigarmumbling thoughtfully in
his moustacheChildren growing up--and girls, too! Girls!He
sighed and fell silent.


What, only one?remarked Nostromolooking down with a sort of
comic inquisitiveness at the unconscious old man. "No matter he
added, with lofty negligence; one is enough till another is
wanted."

He lit it and let the match drop from his passive fingers.
Giorgio Viola looked upand said abruptly-


My son would have been just such a fine young man as you, Gian'
Battista, if he had lived.

What? Your son? But you are right, padrone. If he had been like
me he would have been a man.

He turned his horse slowlyand paced on between the booths
checking the mare almost to a standstill now and then for
childrenfor the groups of people from the distant Campowho
stared after him with admiration. The Company's lightermen
saluted him from afar; and the greatly envied Capataz de
Cargadores advancedamongst murmurs of recognition and
obsequious greetingstowards the huge circus-like erection. The
throng thickened; the guitars tinkled louder; other horsemen sat
motionlesssmoking calmly above the heads of the crowd; it
eddied and pushed before the doors of the high-roofed building
whence issued a shuffle and thumping of feet in time to the dance
music vibrating and shrieking with a racking rhythmoverhung by
the tremendoussustainedhollow roar of the gombo. The
barbarous and imposing noise of the big drumthat can madden a
crowdand that even Europeans cannot hear without a strange
emotionseemed to draw Nostromo on to its sourcewhile a man
wrapped up in a fadedtorn ponchowalked by his stirrupand
buffeted right and leftbegged "his worship" insistently for
employment on the wharf. He whinedoffering the Senor Capataz
half his daily pay for the privilege of being admitted to the
swaggering fraternity of Cargadores; the other half would be
enough for himhe protested. But Captain Mitchell's right-hand
man--"invaluable for our work--a perfectly incorruptible
fellow"--after looking down critically at the ragged mozoshook
his head without a word in the uproar going on around.

The man fell back; and a little further on Nostromo had to pull
up. From the doors of the dance hall men and women emerged
totteringstreaming with sweattrembling in every limbto
leanpantingwith staring eyes and parted lipsagainst the
wall of the structurewhere the harps and guitars played on with
mad speed in an incessant roll of thunder. Hundreds of hands
clapped in there; voices shriekedand then all at once would
sink lowchanting in unison the refrain of a love songwith a
dying fall. A red flowerflung with a good aim from somewhere in
the crowdstruck the resplendent Capataz on the cheek.

He caught it as it fellneatlybut for some time did not turn
his head. When at last he condescended to look roundthe throng
near him had parted to make way for a pretty Morenitaher hair
held up by a small golden combwho was walking towards him in
the open space.

Her arms and neck emerged plump and bare from a snowy chemisette;
the blue woollen skirtwith all the fullness gathered in front
scanty on the hips and tight across the backdisclosed the
provoking action of her walk. She came straight on and laid her
hand on the mare's neck with a timidcoquettish look upwards out
of the corner of her eyes.


Querido,she murmuredcaressinglywhy do you pretend not to
see me when I pass?

Because I don't love thee any more,said Nostromo
deliberatelyafter a moment of reflective silence.

The hand on the mare's neck trembled suddenly. She dropped her
head before all the eyes in the wide circle formed round the
generousthe terriblethe inconstant Capataz de Cargadoresand
his Morenita.

Nostromolooking downsaw tears beginning to fall down her
face.

Has it come, then, ever beloved of my heart?she whispered. "Is
it true?"

No,said Nostromolooking away carelessly. "It was a lie. I
love thee as much as ever."

Is that true?she cooedjoyouslyher cheeks still wet with
tears.

It is true.

True on the life?

As true as that; but thou must not ask me to swear it on the
Madonna that stands in thy room.And the Capataz laughed a
little in response to the grins of the crowd.

She pouted--very pretty--a little uneasy.

No, I will not ask for that. I can see love in your eyes.She
laid her hand on his knee. "Why are you trembling like this? From
love?" she continuedwhile the cavernous thundering of the gombo
went on without a pause. "But if you love her as much as that
you must give your Paquita a gold-mounted rosary of beads for the
neck of her Madonna."

No,said Nostromolooking into her upliftedbegging eyes
which suddenly turned stony with surprise.

No? Then what else will your worship give me on the day of the
fiesta?she askedangrily; "so as not to shame me before all
these people."

There is no shame for thee in getting nothing from thy lover for
once.

True! The shame is your worship's--my poor lover's,she flared
upsarcastically.

Laughs were heard at her angerat her retort. What an audacious
spitfire she was! The people aware of this scene were calling out
urgently to others in the crowd. The circle round the silver-grey
mare narrowed slowly.

The girl went off a pace or twoconfronting the mocking
curiosity of the eyesthen flung back to the stirruptiptoeing
her enraged face turned up to Nostromo with a pair of blazing
eyes. He bent low to her in the saddle.


Juan,she hissedI could stab thee to the heart!

The dreaded Capataz de Cargadoresmagnificent and carelessly
public in his amoursflung his arm round her neck and kissed her
spluttering lips. A murmur went round.

A knife!he demanded at largeholding her firmly by the
shoulder.

Twenty blades flashed out together in the circle. A young man in
holiday attirebounding inthrust one in Nostromo's hand and
bounded back into the ranksvery proud of himself. Nostromo had
not even looked at him.

Stand on my foot,he commanded the girlwhosuddenly subdued
rose lightlyand when he had her upencircling her waisther
face near to hishe pressed the knife into her little hand.

No, Morenita! You shall not put me to shame,he said. "You
shall have your present; and so that everyone should know who is
your lover to-dayyou may cut all the silver buttons off my
coat."

There were shouts of laughter and applause at this witty freak
while the girl passed the keen bladeand the impassive rider
jingled in his palm the increasing hoard of silver buttons. He
eased her to the ground with both her hands full. After
whispering for a while with a very strenuous faceshe walked
awaystaring haughtilyand vanished into the crowd.

The circle had broken upand the lordly Capataz de Cargadores
the indispensable manthe tried and trusty Nostromothe
Mediterranean sailor come ashore casually to try his luck in
Costaguanarode slowly towards the harbour. The Juno was just
then swinging round; and even as Nostromo reined up again to look
ona flag ran up on the improvised flagstaff erected in an
ancient and dismantled little fort at the harbour entrance. Half
a battery of field guns had been hurried over there from the
Sulaco barracks for the purpose of firing the regulation salutes
for the President-Dictator and the War Minister. As the mail-boat
headed through the passthe badly timed reports announced the
end of Don Vincente Ribiera's first official visit to Sulacoand
for Captain Mitchell the end of another "historic occasion." Next
time when the "Hope of honest men" was to come that waya year
and a half laterit was unofficiallyover the mountain tracks
fleeing after a defeat on a lame muleto be only just saved by
Nostromo from an ignominious death at the hands of a mob. It was
a very different eventof which Captain Mitchell used to say-


It was history--history, sir! And that fellow of mine, Nostromo,
you know, was right in it. Absolutely making history, sir.

But this eventcreditable to Nostromowas to lead immediately
to anotherwhich could not be classed either as "history" or as
a mistakein Captain Mitchell's phraseology. He had another
word for it.

Sirhe used to say afterwardsthat was no mistake. It was a
fatality. A misfortune, pure and simple, sir. And that poor
fellow of mine was right in it--right in the middle of it! A
fatality, if ever there was one--and to my mind he has never been
the same man since.


PART SECOND

THE ISABELS

CHAPTER ONE

THROUGH good and evil report in the varying fortune of that
struggle which Don Jose had characterized in the phrasethe
fate of national honesty trembles in the balance,the Gould
ConcessionImperium in Imperio,had gone on working; the
square mountain had gone on pouring its treasure down the wooden
shoots to the unresting batteries of stamps; the lights of San
Tome had twinkled night after night upon the greatlimitless
shadow of the Campo; every three months the silver escort had
gone down to the sea as if neither the war nor its consequences
could ever affect the ancient Occidental State secluded beyond
its high barrier of the Cordillera. All the fighting took place
on the other side of that mighty wall of serrated peaks lorded
over by the white dome of Higuerota and as yet unbreached by the
railwayof which only the first partthe easy Campo part from
Sulaco to the Ivie Valley at the foot of the passhad been laid.
Neither did the telegraph line cross the mountains yet; its
poleslike slender beacons on the plainpenetrated into the
forest fringe of the foot-hills cut by the deep avenue of the
track; and its wire ended abruptly in the construction camp at a
white deal table supporting a Morse apparatusin a long hut of
planks with a corrugated iron roof overshadowed by gigantic cedar
trees--the quarters of the engineer in charge of the advance
section.

The harbour was busytoowith the traffic in railway material
and with the movements of troops along the coast. The O.S.N.
Company found much occupation for its fleet. Costaguana had no
navyandapart from a few coastguard cuttersthere were no
national ships except a couple of old merchant steamers used as
transports.

Captain Mitchellfeeling more and more in the thick of history
found time for an hour or so during an afternoon in the
drawing-room of the Casa Gouldwherewith a strange ignorance
of the real forces at work around himhe professed himself
delighted to get away from the strain of affairs. He did not know
what he would have done without his invaluable Nostromohe
declared. Those confounded Costaguana politics gave him more
work--he confided to Mrs. Gould--than he had bargained for.

Don Jose Avellanos had displayed in the service of the endangered
Ribiera Government an organizing activity and an eloquence of
which the echoes reached even Europe. Forafter the new loan to
the Ribiera GovernmentEurope had become interested in
Costaguana. The Sala of the Provincial Assembly (in the
Municipal Buildings of Sulaco)with its portraits of the
Liberators on the walls and an old flag of Cortez preserved in a
glass case above the President's chairhad heard all these
speeches--the early one containing the impassioned declaration
Militarism is the enemy,the famous one of the "trembling
balance" delivered on the occasion of the vote for the raising of
a second Sulaco regiment in the defence of the reforming
Government; and when the provinces again displayed their old
flags (proscribed in Guzman Bento's time) there was another of


those great orationswhen Don Jose greeted these old emblems of
the war of Independencebrought out again in the name of new
Ideals. The old idea of Federalism had disappeared. For his part
he did not wish to revive old political doctrines. They were
perishable. They died. But the doctrine of political rectitude
was immortal. The second Sulaco regimentto whom he was
presenting this flagwas going to show its valour in a contest
for orderpeaceprogress; for the establishment of national
self-respect without which--he declared with energy--"we are a
reproach and a byword amongst the powers of the world."

Don Jose Avellanos loved his country. He had served it lavishly
with his fortune during his diplomatic careerand the later
story of his captivity and barbarous ill-usage under Guzman Bento
was well known to his listeners. It was a wonder that he had not
been a victim of the ferocious and summary executions which
marked the course of that tyranny; for Guzman had ruled the
country with the sombre imbecility of political fanaticism. The
power of Supreme Government had become in his dull mind an object
of strange worshipas if it were some sort of cruel deity. It
was incarnated in himselfand his adversariesthe Federalists
were the supreme sinnersobjects of hateabhorrenceand fear
as heretics would be to a convinced Inquisitor. For years he had
carried about at the tail of the Army of Pacificationall over
the countrya captive band of such atrocious criminalswho
considered themselves most unfortunate at not having been
summarily executed. It was a diminishing company of nearly naked
skeletonsloaded with ironscovered with dirtwith vermin
with raw woundsall men of positionof educationof wealth
who had learned to fight amongst themselves for scraps of rotten
beef thrown to them by soldiersor to beg a negro cook for a
drink of muddy water in pitiful accents. Don Jose Avellanos
clanking his chains amongst the othersseemed only to exist in
order to prove how much hungerpaindegradationand cruel
torture a human body can stand without parting with the last
spark of life. Sometimes interrogatoriesbacked by some
primitive method of torturewere administered to them by a
commission of officers hastily assembled in a hut of sticks and
branchesand made pitiless by the fear for their own lives. A
lucky one or two of that spectral company of prisoners would
perhaps be led tottering behind a bush to be shot by a file of
soldiers. Always an army chaplain--some unshavendirty mangirt
with a sword and with a tiny cross embroidered in white cotton on
the left breast of a lieutenant's uniform--would follow
cigarette in the corner of the mouthwooden stool in handto
hear the confession and give absolution; for the Citizen Saviour
of the Country (Guzman Bento was called thus officially in
petitions) was not averse from the exercise of rational clemency.
The irregular report of the firing squad would be heardfollowed
sometimes by a single finishing shot; a little bluish cloud of
smoke would float up above the green bushesand the Army of
Pacification would move on over the savannasthrough the
forestscrossing riversinvading rural pueblosdevastating the
haciendas of the horrid aristocratsoccupying the inland towns
in the fulfilment of its patriotic missionand leaving behind a
united land wherein the evil taint of Federalism could no longer
be detected in the smoke of burning houses and the smell of spilt
blood. Don Jose Avellanos had survived that time. Perhapswhen
contemptuously signifying to him his releasethe Citizen Saviour
of the Country might have thought this benighted aristocrat too
broken in health and spirit and fortune to be any longer
dangerous. Orperhapsit may have been a simple caprice. Guzman
Bentousually full of fanciful fears and brooding suspicions
had sudden accesses of unreasonable self-confidence when he


perceived himself elevated on a pinnacle of power and safety
beyond the reach of mere mortal plotters. At such times he would
impulsively command the celebration of a solemn Mass of
thanksgivingwhich would be sung in great pomp in the cathedral
of Sta. Marta by the tremblingsubservient Archbishop of his
creation. He heard it sitting in a gilt armchair placed before
the high altarsurrounded by the civil and military heads of his
Government. The unofficial world of Sta. Marta would crowd into
the cathedralfor it was not quite safe for anybody of mark to
stay away from these manifestations of presidential piety. Having
thus acknowledged the only power he was at all disposed to
recognize as above himselfhe would scatter acts of political
grace in a sardonic wantonness of clemency. There was no other
way left now to enjoy his power but by seeing his crushed
adversaries crawl impotently into the light of day out of the
darknoisome cells of the Collegio. Their harmlessness fed his
insatiable vanityand they could always be got hold of again. It
was the rule for all the women of their families to present
thanks afterwards in a special audience. The incarnation of that
strange godEl Gobierno Supremoreceived them standingcocked
hat on headand exhorted them in a menacing mutter to show their
gratitude by bringing up their children in fidelity to the
democratic form of governmentwhich I have established for the
happiness of our country.His front teeth having been knocked
out in some accident of his former herdsman's lifehis utterance
was spluttering and indistinct. He had been working for
Costaguana alone in the midst of treachery and opposition. Let
it cease now lest he should become weary of forgiving!

Don Jose Avellanos had known this forgiveness.

He was broken in health and fortune deplorably enough to present
a truly gratifying spectacle to the supreme chief of democratic
institutions. He retired to Sulaco. His wife had an estate in
that provinceand she nursed him back to life out of the house
of death and captivity. When she diedtheir daughteran only
childwas old enough to devote herself to "poor papa."

Miss Avellanosborn in Europe and educated partly in England
was a tallgrave girlwith a self-possessed mannera wide
white foreheada wealth of rich brown hairand blue eyes.

The other young ladies of Sulaco stood in awe of her character
and accomplishments. She was reputed to be terribly learned and
serious. As to prideit was well known that all the Corbelans
were proudand her mother was a Corbelan. Don Jose Avellanos
depended very much upon the devotion of his beloved Antonia. He
accepted it in the benighted way of menwhothough made in
God's imageare like stone idols without sense before the smoke
of certain burnt offerings. He was ruined in every waybut a man
possessed of passion is not a bankrupt in life. Don Jose
Avellanos desired passionately for his country: peace
prosperityand (as the end of the preface to "Fifty Years of
Misrule" has it) "an honourable place in the comity of civilized
nations." In this last phrase the Minister Plenipotentiary
cruelly humiliated by the bad faith of his Government towards the
foreign bondholdersstands disclosed in the patriot.

The fatuous turmoil of greedy factions succeeding the tyranny of
Guzman Bento seemed to bring his desire to the very door of
opportunity. He was too old to descend personally into the centre
of the arena at Sta. Marta. But the men who acted there sought
his advice at every step. He himself thought that he could be
most useful at a distancein Sulaco. His namehis connections


his former positionhis experience commanded the respect of his
class. The discovery that this manliving in dignified poverty
in the Corbelan town residence (opposite the Casa Gould)could
dispose of material means towards the support of the cause
increased his influence. It was his open letter of appeal that
decided the candidature of Don Vincente Ribiera for the
Presidency. Another of these informal State papers drawn up by
Don Jose (this time in the shape of an address from the Province)
induced that scrupulous constitutionalist to accept the
extraordinary powers conferred upon him for five years by an
overwhelming vote of congress in Sta. Marta. It was a specific
mandate to establish the prosperity of the people on the basis of
firm peace at homeand to redeem the national credit by the
satisfaction of all just claims abroad.

On the afternoon the news of that vote had reached Sulaco by the
usual roundabout postal way through Caytaand up the coast by
steamer. Don Josewho had been waiting for the mail in the
Goulds' drawing-roomgot out of the rocking-chairletting his
hat fall off his knees. He rubbed his silveryshort hair with
both handsspeechless with the excess of joy.

Emilia, my soul,he had burst outlet me embrace you! Let
me--

Captain Mitchellhad he been therewould no doubt have made an
apt remark about the dawn of a new era; but if Don Jose thought
something of the kindhis eloquence failed him on this occasion.
The inspirer of that revival of the Blanco party tottered where
he stood. Mrs. Gould moved forward quickly andas she offered
her cheek with a smile to her old friendmanaged very cleverly
to give him the support of her arm he really needed.

Don Jose had recovered himself at oncebut for a time he could
do no more than murmurOh, you two patriots! Oh, you two
patriots!--looking from one to the other. Vague plans of another
historical workwherein all the devotions to the regeneration of
the country he loved would be enshrined for the reverent worship
of posterityflitted through his mind. The historian who had
enough elevation of soul to write of Guzman Bento: "Yet this
monsterimbrued in the blood of his countrymenmust not be held
unreservedly to the execration of future years. It appears to be
true that hetooloved his country. He had given it twelve
years of peace; andabsolute master of lives and fortunes as he
washe died poor. His worst faultperhapswas not his
ferocitybut his ignorance;" the man who could write thus of a
cruel persecutor (the passage occurs in his "History of Misrule")
felt at the foreshadowing of success an almost boundless
affection for his two helpersfor these two young people from
over the sea.

Just as years agocalmlyfrom the conviction of practical
necessitystronger than any abstract political doctrineHenry
Gould had drawn the swordso nowthe times being changed
Charles Gould had flung the silver of the San Tome into the fray.
The Inglez of Sulacothe "Costaguana Englishman" of the third
generationwas as far from being a political intriguer as his
uncle from a revolutionary swashbuckler. Springing from the
instinctive uprightness of their natures their action was
reasoned. They saw an opportunity and used the weapon to hand.

Charles Gould's position--a commanding position in the background
of that attempt to retrieve the peace and the credit of the
Republic--was very clear. At the beginning he had had to


accommodate himself to existing circumstances of corruption so
naively brazen as to disarm the hate of a man courageous enough
not to be afraid of its irresponsible potency to ruin everything
it touched. It seemed to him too contemptible for hot anger even.
He made use of it with a coldfearless scornmanifested rather
than concealed by the forms of stony courtesy which did away with
much of the ignominy of the situation. At bottomperhapshe
suffered from itfor he was not a man of cowardly illusionsbut
he refused to discuss the ethical view with his wife. He trusted
thatthough a little disenchantedshe would be intelligent
enough to understand that his character safeguarded the
enterprise of their lives as much or more than his policy. The
extraordinary development of the mine had put a great power into
his hands. To feel that prosperity always at the mercy of
unintelligent greed had grown irksome to him. To Mrs. Gould it
was humiliating. At any rateit was dangerous. In the
confidential communications passing between Charles Gouldthe
King of Sulacoand the head of the silver and steel interests
far away in Californiathe conviction was growing that any
attempt made by men of education and integrity ought to be
discreetly supported. "You may tell your friend Avellanos that I
think so Mr. Holroyd had written at the proper moment from his
inviolable sanctuary within the eleven-storey high factory of
great affairs. And shortly afterwards, with a credit opened by
the Third Southern Bank (located next door but one to the Holroyd
Building), the Ribierist party in Costaguana took a practical
shape under the eye of the administrator of the San Tome mine.
And Don Jose, the hereditary friend of the Gould family, could
say: Perhapsmy dear CarlosI shall not have believed in
vain."

CHAPTER TWO

AFTER another armed struggledecided by Montero's victory of Rio
Secohad been added to the tale of civil warsthe "honest men
as Don Jose called them, could breathe freely for the first time
in half a century. The Five-Year-Mandate law became the basis of
that regeneration, the passionate desire and hope for which had
been like the elixir of everlasting youth for Don Jose Avellanos.

And when it was suddenly--and not quite unexpectedly--endangered
by that brute Montero it was a passionate indignation that
gave him a new lease of life, as it were. Already, at the time of
the President-Dictator's visit to Sulaco, Moraga had sounded a
note of warning from Sta. Marta about the War Minister. Montero
and his brother made the subject of an earnest talk between the
Dictator-President and the Nestor-inspirer of the party. But Don
Vincente, a doctor of philosophy from the Cordova University,
seemed to have an exaggerated respect for military ability, whose
mysteriousness--since it appeared to be altogether independent of
intellect--imposed upon his imagination. The victor of Rio Seco
was a popular hero. His services were so recent that the
President-Dictator quailed before the obvious charge of political
ingratitude. Great regenerating transactions were being
initiated--the fresh loan, a new railway line, a vast
colonization scheme. Anything that could unsettle the public
opinion in the capital was to be avoided. Don Jose bowed to
these arguments and tried to dismiss from his mind the gold-laced
portent in boots, and with a sabre, made meaningless now at last,
he hoped, in the new order of things.

Less than six months after the President-Dictator's visit, Sulaco


learned with stupefaction of the military revolt in the name of
national honour. The Minister of War, in a barrack-square
allocution to the officers of the artillery regiment he had been
inspecting, had declared the national honour sold to foreigners.
The Dictator, by his weak compliance with the demands of the
European powers--for the settlement of long outstanding money
claims--had showed himself unfit to rule. A letter from Moraga
explained afterwards that the initiative, and even the very text,
of the incendiary allocution came, in reality, from the other
Montero, the ex-guerillero, the Commandante de Plaza. The
energetic treatment of Dr. Monygham, sent for in haste to the
mountain who came galloping three leagues in the dark, saved
Don Jose from a dangerous attack of jaundice.

After getting over the shock, Don Jose refused to let himself be
prostrated. Indeed, better news succeeded at first. The revolt in
the capital had been suppressed after a night of fighting in the
streets. Unfortunately, both the Monteros had been able to make
their escape south, to their native province of Entre-Montes. The
hero of the forest march, the victor of Rio Seco, had been
received with frenzied acclamations in Nicoya, the provincial
capital. The troops in garrison there had gone to him in a body.
The brothers were organizing an army, gathering malcontents,
sending emissaries primed with patriotic lies to the people, and
with promises of plunder to the wild llaneros. Even a Monterist
press had come into existence, speaking oracularly of the secret
promises of support given by our great sister Republic of the
North" against the sinister land-grabbing designs of European
powerscursing in every issue the "miserable Ribiera who had
plotted to deliver his country, bound hand and foot, for a prey
to foreign speculators.

Sulaco, pastoral and sleepy, with its opulent Campo and the rich
silver mine, heard the din of arms fitfully in its fortunate
isolation. It was nevertheless in the very forefront of the
defence with men and money; but the very rumours reached it
circuitously--from abroad even, so much was it cut off from the
rest of the Republic, not only by natural obstacles, but also by
the vicissitudes of the war. The Monteristos were besieging
Cayta, an important postal link. The overland couriers ceased to
come across the mountains, and no muleteer would consent to risk
the journey at last; even Bonifacio on one occasion failed to
return from Sta. Marta, either not daring to start, or perhaps
captured by the parties of the enemy raiding the country between
the Cordillera and the capital. Monterist publications, however,
found their way into the province, mysteriously enough; and also
Monterist emissaries preaching death to aristocrats in the
villages and towns of the Campo. Very early, at the beginning of
the trouble, Hernandez, the bandit, had proposed (through the
agency of an old priest of a village in the wilds) to deliver two
of them to the Ribierist authorities in Tonoro. They had come to
offer him a free pardon and the rank of colonel from General
Montero in consideration of joining the rebel army with his
mounted band. No notice was taken at the time of the proposal. It
was joined, as an evidence of good faith, to a petition praying
the Sulaco Assembly for permission to enlist, with all his
followers, in the forces being then raised in Sulaco for the
defence of the Five-Year Mandate of regeneration. The petition,
like everything else, had found its way into Don Jose's hands. He
had showed to Mrs. Gould these pages of dirty-greyish rough paper
(perhaps looted in some village store), covered with the crabbed,
illiterate handwriting of the old padre, carried off from his hut
by the side of a mud-walled church to be the secretary of the
dreaded Salteador. They had both bent in the lamplight of the


Gould drawing-room over the document containing the fierce and
yet humble appeal of the man against the blind and stupid
barbarity turning an honest ranchero into a bandit. A postscript
of the priest stated that, but for being deprived of his liberty
for ten days, he had been treated with humanity and the respect
due to his sacred calling. He had been, it appears, confessing
and absolving the chief and most of the band, and he guaranteed
the sincerity of their good disposition. He had distributed heavy
penances, no doubt in the way of litanies and fasts; but he
argued shrewdly that it would be difficult for them to make their
peace with God durably till they had made peace with men.

Never before, perhaps, had Hernandez's head been in less jeopardy
than when he petitioned humbly for permission to buy a pardon for
himself and his gang of deserters by armed service. He could
range afar from the waste lands protecting his fastness,
unchecked, because there were no troops left in the whole
province. The usual garrison of Sulaco had gone south to the
war, with its brass band playing the Bolivar march on the bridge
of one of the O.S.N. Company's steamers. The great family
coaches drawn up along the shore of the harbour were made to rock
on the high leathern springs by the enthusiasm of the senoras and
the senoritas standing up to wave their lace handkerchiefs, as
lighter after lighter packed full of troops left the end of the
jetty.

Nostromo directed the embarkation, under the superintendendence
of Captain Mitchell, red-faced in the sun, conspicuous in a white
waistcoat, representing the allied and anxious goodwill of all
the material interests of civilization. General Barrios, who
commanded the troops, assured Don Jose on parting that in three
weeks he would have Montero in a wooden cage drawn by three pair
of oxen ready for a tour through all the towns of the Republic.

And thensenora he continued, baring his curly iron-grey head
to Mrs. Gould in her landau--and thensenorawe shall convert
our swords into plough-shares and grow rich. Even Imyselfas
soon as this little business is settledshall open a fundacion
on some land I have on the llanos and try to make a little money
in peace and quietness. Senorayou knowall Costaguana
knows--what do I say?--this whole South American continent knows
that Pablo Barrios has had his fill of military glory."

Charles Gould was not present at the anxious and patriotic
send-off. It was not his part to see the soldiers embark. It was
neither his partnor his inclinationnor his policy. His part
his inclinationand his policy were united in one endeavour to
keep unchecked the flow of treasure he had started single-handed
from the re-opened scar in the flank of the mountain. As the mine
developed he had trained for himself some native help. There were
foremenartificers and clerkswith Don Pepe for the gobernador
of the mining population. For the rest his shoulders alone
sustained the whole weight of the "Imperium in Imperio the
great Gould Concession whose mere shadow had been enough to crush
the life out of his father.

Mrs. Gould had no silver mine to look after. In the general life
of the Gould Concession she was represented by her two
lieutenants, the doctor and the priest, but she fed her woman's
love of excitement on events whose significance was purified to
her by the fire of her imaginative purpose. On that day she had
brought the Avellanos, father and daughter, down to the harbour
with her.


Amongst his other activities of that stirring time, Don Jose had
become the chairman of a Patriotic Committee which had armed a
great proportion of troops in the Sulaco command with an improved
model of a military rifle. It had been just discarded for
something still more deadly by one of the great European powers.
How much of the market-price for second-hand weapons was covered
by the voluntary contributions of the principal families, and how
much came from those funds Don Jose was understood to command
abroad, remained a secret which he alone could have disclosed;
but the Ricos, as the populace called them, had contributed under
the pressure of their Nestor's eloquence. Some of the more
enthusiastic ladies had been moved to bring offerings of jewels
into the hands of the man who was the life and soul of the party.

There were moments when both his life and his soul seemed
overtaxed by so many years of undiscouraged belief in
regeneration. He appeared almost inanimate, sitting rigidly by
the side of Mrs. Gould in the landau, with his fine, old,
clean-shaven face of a uniform tint as if modelled in yellow wax,
shaded by a soft felt hat, the dark eyes looking out fixedly.
Antonia, the beautiful Antonia, as Miss Avellanos was called in
Sulaco, leaned back, facing them; and her full figure, the grave
oval of her face with full red lips, made her look more mature
than Mrs. Gould, with her mobile expression and small, erect
person under a slightly swaying sunshade.

Whenever possible Antonia attended her father; her recognized
devotion weakened the shocking effect of her scorn for the rigid
conventions regulating the life of Spanish-American girlhood.
And, in truth, she was no longer girlish. It was said that she
often wrote State papers from her father's dictation, and was
allowed to read all the books in his library. At the receptions-where
the situation was saved by the presence of a very decrepit
old lady (a relation of the Corbelans), quite deaf and motionless
in an armchair--Antonia could hold her own in a discussion with
two or three men at a time. Obviously she was not the girl to be
content with peeping through a barred window at a cloaked figure
of a lover ensconced in a doorway opposite--which is the correct
form of Costaguana courtship. It was generally believed that with
her foreign upbringing and foreign ideas the learned and proud
Antonia would never marry--unless, indeed, she married a
foreigner from Europe or North America, now that Sulaco seemed on
the point of being invaded by all the world.

CHAPTER THREE

WHEN General Barrios stopped to address Mrs. Gould, Antonia
raised negligently her hand holding an open fan, as if to shade
from the sun her head, wrapped in a light lace shawl. The clear
gleam of her blue eyes gliding behind the black fringe of
eyelashes paused for a moment upon her father, then travelled
further to the figure of a young man of thirty at most, of medium
height, rather thick-set, wearing a light overcoat. Bearing down
with the open palm of his hand upon the knob of a flexible cane,
he had been looking on from a distance; but directly he saw
himself noticed, he approached quietly and put his elbow over the
door of the landau.

The shirt collar, cut low in the neck, the big bow of his cravat,
the style of his clothing, from the round hat to the varnished
shoes, suggested an idea of French elegance; but otherwise he was
the very type of a fair Spanish creole. The fluffy moustache and


the short, curly, golden beard did not conceal his lips, rosy,
fresh, almost pouting in expression. His full, round face was of
that warm, healthy creole white which is never tanned by its
native sunshine. Martin Decoud was seldom exposed to the
Costaguana sun under which he was born. His people had been long
settled in Paris, where he had studied law, had dabbled in
literature, had hoped now and then in moments of exaltation to
become a poet like that other foreigner of Spanish blood, Jose
Maria Heredia. In other moments he had, to pass the time,
condescended to write articles on European affairs for the
Semenario, the principal newspaper in Sta. Marta, which printed
them under the heading From our special correspondent though
the authorship was an open secret. Everybody in Costaguana, where
the tale of compatriots in Europe is jealously kept, knew that it
was the son Decoud a talented young man, supposed to be moving
in the higher spheres of Society. As a matter of fact, he was an
idle boulevardier, in touch with some smart journalists, made
free of a few newspaper offices, and welcomed in the pleasure
haunts of pressmen. This life, whose dreary superficiality is
covered by the glitter of universal blague, like the stupid
clowning of a harlequin by the spangles of a motley costume,
induced in him a Frenchified--but most
un-French--cosmopolitanism, in reality a mere barren
indifferentism posing as intellectual superiority. Of his own
country he used to say to his French associates: Imagine an
atmosphere of opera-bouffe in which all the comic business of
stage statesmenbrigandsetc.etc.all their farcical
stealingintriguingand stabbing is done in dead earnest. It is
screamingly funnythe blood flows all the timeand the actors
believe themselves to be influencing the fate of the universe. Of
coursegovernment in generalany government anywhereis a
thing of exquisite comicality to a discerning mind; but really we
Spanish-Americans do overstep the bounds. No man of ordinary
intelligence can take part in the intrigues of une farce macabre.
Howeverthese Ribieristsof whom we hear so much just noware
really trying in their own comical way to make the country
habitableand even to pay some of its debts. My friendsyou had
better write up Senor Ribiera all you can in kindness to your own
bondholders. Reallyif what I am told in my letters is true
there is some chance for them at last."

And he would explain with railing verve what Don Vincente Ribiera
stood for--a mournful little man oppressed by his own good
intentionsthe significance of battles wonwho Montero was (un
grotesque vaniteux et feroce)and the manner of the new loan
connected with railway developmentand the colonization of vast
tracts of land in one great financial scheme.

And his French friends would remark that evidently this little
fellow Decoud connaissait la question a fond. An important
Parisian review asked him for an article on the situation. It was
composed in a serious tone and in a spirit of levity. Afterwards
he asked one of his intimates-


Have you read my thing about the regeneration of Costaguana--une
bonne blague, hein?

He imagined himself Parisian to the tips of his fingers. But far
from being that he was in danger of remaining a sort of
nondescript dilettante all his life. He had pushed the habit of
universal raillery to a point where it blinded him to the genuine
impulses of his own nature. To be suddenly selected for the
executive member of the patriotic small-arms committee of Sulaco
seemed to him the height of the unexpectedone of those


fantastic moves of which only his "dear countrymen" were capable.

It's like a tile falling on my head. I--I--executive member!
It's the first I hear of it! What do I know of military rifles?
C'est funambulesque!he had exclaimed to his favourite sister;
for the Decoud family--except the old father and mother--used
the French language amongst themselves. "And you should see the
explanatory and confidential letter! Eight pages of it--no less!"

This letterin Antonia's handwritingwas signed by Don Jose
who appealed to the "young and gifted Costaguanero" on public
groundsand privately opened his heart to his talented god-son
a man of wealth and leisurewith wide relationsand by his
parentage and bringing-up worthy of all confidence.

Which means,Martin commentedcynicallyto his sisterthat
I am not likely to misappropriate the funds, or go blabbing to
our Charge d'Affaires here.

The whole thing was being carried out behind the back of the War
MinisterMonteroa mistrusted member of the Ribiera Government
but difficult to get rid of at once. He was not to know anything
of it till the troops under Barrios's command had the new rifle
in their hands. The President-Dictatorwhose position was very
difficultwas alone in the secret.

How funny!commented Martin's sister and confidante; to which
the brotherwith an air of best Parisian blaguehad retorted:

It's immense! The idea of that Chief of the State engaged, with
the help of private citizens, in digging a mine under his own
indispensable War Minister. No! We are unapproachable!And he
laughed immoderately.

Afterwards his sister was surprised at the earnestness and
ability he displayed in carrying out his missionwhich
circumstances made delicateand his want of special knowledge
rendered difficult. She had never seen Martin take so much
trouble about anything in his whole life.

It amuses me,he had explainedbriefly. "I am beset by a lot
of swindlers trying to sell all sorts of gaspipe weapons. They
are charming; they invite me to expensive luncheons; I keep up
their hopes; it's extremely entertaining. Meanwhilethe real
affair is being carried through in quite another quarter."

When the business was concluded he declared suddenly his
intention of seeing the precious consignment delivered safely in
Sulaco. The whole burlesque businesshe thoughtwas worth
following up to the end. He mumbled his excusestugging at his
golden beardbefore the acute young lady who (after the first
wide stare of astonishment) looked at him with narrowed eyesand
pronounced slowly-


I believe you want to see Antonia.

What Antonia?asked the Costaguana boulevardierin a vexed and
disdainful tone. He shrugged his shouldersand spun round on his
heel. His sister called out after him joyously-


The Antonia you used to know when she wore her hair in two
plaits down her back.

He had known her some eight years sinceshortly before the


Avellanos had left Europe for goodas a tall girl of sixteen
youthfully austereand of a character already so formed that she
ventured to treat slightingly his pose of disabused wisdom. On
one occasionas though she had lost all patienceshe flew out
at him about the aimlessness of his life and the levity of his
opinions. He was twenty thenan only sonspoiled by his adoring
family. This attack disconcerted him so greatly that he had
faltered in his affectation of amused superiority before that
insignificant chit of a school-girl. But the impression left was
so strong that ever since all the girl friends of his sisters
recalled to him Antonia Avellanos by some faint resemblanceor
by the great force of contrast. It washe told himselflike a
ridiculous fatality. Andof coursein the news the Decouds
received regularly from Costaguanathe name of their friends
the Avellanoscropped up frequently--the arrest and the
abominable treatment of the ex-Ministerthe dangers and
hardships endured by the familyits withdrawal in poverty to
Sulacothe death of the mother.

The Monterist pronunciamento had taken place before Martin Decoud
reached Costaguana. He came out in a roundabout waythrough
Magellan's Straits by the main line and the West Coast Service of
the O.S.N. Company. His precious consignment arrived just in
time to convert the first feelings of consternation into a mood
of hope and resolution. Publicly he was made much of by the
familias principales. Privately Don Josestill shaken and weak
embraced him with tears in his eyes.

You have come out yourself! No less could be expected from a
Decoud. Alas! our worst fears have been realized,he moaned
affectionately. And again he hugged his god-son. This was indeed
the time for men of intellect and conscience to rally round the
endangered cause.

It was then that Martin Decoudthe adopted child of Western
Europefelt the absolute change of atmosphere. He submitted to
being embraced and talked to without a word. He was moved in
spite of himself by that note of passion and sorrow unknown on
the more refined stage of European politics. But when the tall
Antoniaadvancing with her light step in the dimness of the big
bare Sala of the Avellanos houseoffered him her hand (in her
emancipated way)and murmuredI am glad to see you here, Don
Martin,he felt how impossible it would be to tell these two
people that he had intended to go away by the next month's
packet. Don Josemeantimecontinued his praises. Every
accession added to public confidenceandbesideswhat an
example to the young men at home from the brilliant defender of
the country's regenerationthe worthy expounder of the party's
political faith before the world! Everybody had read the
magnificent article in the famous Parisian Review. The world was
now informed: and the author's appearance at this moment was
like a public act of faith. Young Decoud felt overcome by a
feeling of impatient confusion. His plan had been to return by
way of the United States through Californiavisit Yellowstone
Parksee ChicagoNiagarahave a look at Canadaperhaps make a
short stay in New Yorka longer one in Newportuse his letters
of introduction. The pressure of Antonia's hand was so frankthe
tone of her voice was so unexpectedly unchanged in its approving
warmththat all he found to say after his low bow was-


I am inexpressibly grateful for your welcome; but why need a man
be thanked for returning to his native country? I am sure Dona
Antonia does not think so.


Certainly not, senor,she saidwith that perfectly calm
openness of manner which characterized all her utterances. "But
when he returnsas you returnone may be glad--for the sake of
both."

Martin Decoud said nothing of his plans. He not only never
breathed a word of them to any onebut only a fortnight later
asked the mistress of the Casa Gould (where he had of course
obtained admission at once)leaning forward in his chair with an
air of well-bred familiaritywhether she could not detect in him
that day a marked change--an airhe explainedof more excellent
gravity. At this Mrs. Gould turned her face full towards him with
the silent inquiry of slightly widened eyes and the merest ghost
of a smilean habitual movement with herwhich was very
fascinating to men by something subtly devotedfinely
self-forgetful in its lively readiness of attention. Because
Decoud continued imperturbablyhe felt no longer an idle
cumberer of the earth. She washe assured heractually
beholding at that moment the Journalist of Sulaco. At once Mrs.
Gould glanced towards Antoniaposed upright in the corner of a
highstraight-backed Spanish sofaa large black fan waving
slowly against the curves of her fine figurethe tips of crossed
feet peeping from under the hem of the black skirt. Decoud's
eyes also remained fixed therewhile in an undertone he added
that Miss Avellanos was quite aware of his new and unexpected
vocationwhich in Costaguana was generally the speciality of
half-educated negroes and wholly penniless lawyers. Then
confronting with a sort of urbane effrontery Mrs. Gould's gaze
now turned sympathetically upon himselfhe breathed out the
wordsPro Patria!

What had happened was that he had all at once yielded to Don
Jose's pressing entreaties to take the direction of a newspaper
that would "voice the aspirations of the province." It had been
Don Jose's old and cherished idea. The necessary plant (on a
modest scale) and a large consignment of paper had been received
from America some time before; the right man alone was wanted.
Even Senor Moraga in Sta. Marta had not been able to find one
and the matter was now becoming pressing; some organ was
absolutely needed to counteract the effect of the lies
disseminated by the Monterist press: the atrocious calumniesthe
appeals to the people calling upon them to rise with their knives
in their hands and put an end once for all to the Blancosto
these Gothic remnantsto these sinister mummiesthese impotent
paraliticoswho plotted with foreigners for the surrender of the
lands and the slavery of the people.

The clamour of this Negro Liberalism frightened Senor Avellanos.
A newspaper was the only remedy. And now that the right man had
been found in Decoudgreat black letters appeared painted
between the windows above the arcaded ground floor of a house on
the Plaza. It was next to Anzani's great emporium of boots
silksironwaremuslinswooden toystiny silver armslegs
headshearts (for ex-voto offerings)rosarieschampagne
women's hatspatent medicineseven a few dusty books in paper
covers and mostly in the French language. The big black letters
formed the wordsOffices of the Porvenir.From these offices a
single folded sheet of Martin's journalism issued three times a
week; and the sleek yellow Anzani prowling in a suit of ample
black and carpet slippersbefore the many doors of his
establishmentgreeted by a deepside-long inclination of his
body the Journalist of Sulaco going to and fro on the business of
his august calling.


CHAPTER FOUR

PERHAPS it was in the exercise of his calling that he had come to
see the troops depart. The Porvenir of the day after next would
no doubt relate the eventbut its editorleaning his side
against the landauseemed to look at nothing. The front rank of
the company of infantry drawn up three deep across the shore end
of the jetty when pressed too close would bring their bayonets to
the charge ferociouslywith an awful rattle; and then the crowd
of spectators swayed back bodilyeven under the noses of the big
white mules. Notwithstanding the great multitude there was only a
lowmuttering noise; the dust hung in a brown hazein which the
horsemenwedged in the throng here and theretowered from the
hips upwardsgazing all one way over the heads. Almost every one
of them had mounted a friendwho steadied himself with both
hands grasping his shoulders from behind; and the rims of their
hats touchingmade like one disc sustaining the cones of two
pointed crowns with a double face underneath. A hoarse mozo would
bawl out something to an acquaintance in the ranksor a woman
would shriek suddenly the word Adios! followed by the Christian
name of a man.

General Barriosin a shabby blue tunic and white peg-top
trousers falling upon strange red bootskept his head uncovered
and stooped slightlypropping himself up with a thick stick. No!
He had earned enough military glory to satiate any manhe
insisted to Mrs. Gouldtrying at the same time to put an air of
gallantry into his attitude. A few jetty hairs hung sparsely from
his upper liphe had a salient nosea thinlong jawand a
black silk patch over one eye. His other eyesmall and deep-set
twinkled erratically in all directionsaimlessly affable. The
few European spectatorsall menwho had naturally drifted into
the neighbourhood of the Gould carriagebetrayed by the
solemnity of their faces their impression that the general must
have had too much punch (Swedish punchimported in bottles by
Anzani) at the Amarilla Club before he had started with his Staff
on a furious ride to the harbour. But Mrs. Gould bent forward
self-possessedand declared her conviction that still more glory
awaited the general in the near future.

Senora!he remonstratedwith great feelingin the name of
God, reflect! How can there be any glory for a man like me in
overcoming that bald-headed embustero with the dyed moustaches?

Pablo Ignacio Barriosson of a village alcaldegeneral of
divisioncommanding in chief the Occidental Military district
did not frequent the higher society of the town. He preferred the
unceremonious gatherings of men where he could tell jaguar-hunt
storiesboast of his powers with the lassowith which he could
perform extremely difficult feats of the sort "no married man
should attempt as the saying goes amongst the llaneros; relate
tales of extraordinary night rides, encounters with wild bulls,
struggles with crocodiles, adventures in the great forests,
crossings of swollen rivers. And it was not mere boastfulness
that prompted the general's reminiscences, but a genuine love of
that wild life which he had led in his young days before he
turned his back for ever on the thatched roof of the parental
tolderia in the woods. Wandering away as far as Mexico he had
fought against the French by the side (as he said) of Juarez, and
was the only military man of Costaguana who had ever encountered
European troops in the field. That fact shed a great lustre upon
his name till it became eclipsed by the rising star of Montero.


All his life he had been an inveterate gambler. He alluded
himself quite openly to the current story how once, during some
campaign (when in command of a brigade), he had gambled away his
horses, pistols, and accoutrements, to the very epaulettes,
playing monte with his colonels the night before the battle.
Finally, he had sent under escort his sword (a presentation
sword, with a gold hilt) to the town in the rear of his position
to be immediately pledged for five hundred pesetas with a sleepy
and frightened shop-keeper. By daybreak he had lost the last of
that money, too, when his only remark, as he rose calmly, was,
Now let us go and fight to the death." From that time he had
become aware that a general could lead his troops into battle
very well with a simple stick in his hand. "It has been my custom
ever since he would say.

He was always overwhelmed with debts; even during the periods of
splendour in his varied fortunes of a Costaguana general, when he
held high military commands, his gold-laced uniforms were almost
always in pawn with some tradesman. And at last, to avoid the
incessant difficulties of costume caused by the anxious lenders,
he had assumed a disdain of military trappings, an eccentric
fashion of shabby old tunics, which had become like a second
nature. But the faction Barrios joined needed to fear no
political betrayal. He was too much of a real soldier for the
ignoble traffic of buying and selling victories. A member of the
foreign diplomatic body in Sta. Marta had once passed a judgment
upon him: Barrios is a man of perfect honesty and even of some
talent for warmais il manque de tenue." After the triumph of
the Ribierists he had obtained the reputedly lucrative Occidental
commandmainly through the exertions of his creditors (the Sta.
Marta shopkeepersall great politicians)who moved heaven and
earth in his interest publiclyand privately besieged Senor
Moragathe influential agent of the San Tome minewith the
exaggerated lamentations that if the general were passed over
We shall all be ruined.An incidental but favourable mention of
his name in Mr. Gould senior's long correspondence with his son
had something to do with his appointmenttoo; but most of all
undoubtedly his established political honesty. No one questioned
the personal bravery of the Tiger-killeras the populace called
him. He washoweversaid to be unlucky in the field--but this
was to be the beginning of an era of peace. The soldiers liked
him for his humane temperwhich was like a strange and precious
flower unexpectedly blooming on the hotbed of corrupt
revolutions; and when he rode slowly through the streets during
some military displaythe contemptuous good humour of his
solitary eye roaming over the crowds extorted the acclamations of
the populace. The women of that class especially seemed
positively fascinated by the long drooping nosethe peaked chin
the heavy lower lipthe black silk eyepatch and band slanting
rakishly over the forehead. His high rank always procured an
audience of Caballeros for his sporting storieswhich he
detailed very well with a simplegrave enjoyment. As to the
society of ladiesit was irksome by the restraints it imposed
without any equivalentas far as he could see. He had not
perhapsspoken three times on the whole to Mrs. Gould since he
had taken up his high command; but he had observed her frequently
riding with the Senor Administradorand had pronounced that
there was more sense in her little bridle-hand than in all the
female heads in Sulaco. His impulse had been to be very civil on
parting to a woman who did not wobble in the saddleand happened
to be the wife of a personality very important to a man always
short of money. He even pushed his attentions so far as to desire
the aide-de-camp at his side (a thick-setshort captain with a
Tartar physiognomy) to bring along a corporal with a file of men


in front of the carriagelest the crowd in its backward surges
should "incommode the mules of the senora." Thenturning to the
small knot of silent Europeans looking on within earshothe
raised his voice protectingly-


Senores, have no apprehension. Go on quietly making your Ferro
Carril--your railways, your telegraphs. Your--There's enough
wealth in Costaguana to pay for everything--or else you would not
be here. Ha! ha! Don't mind this little picardia of my friend
Montero. In a little while you shall behold his dyed moustaches
through the bars of a strong wooden cage. Si, senores! Fear
nothing, develop the country, work, work!

The little group of engineers received this exhortation without a
wordand after waving his hand at them loftilyhe addressed
himself again to Mrs. Gould-


That is what Don Jose says we must do. Be enterprising! Work!
Grow rich! To put Montero in a cage is my work; and when that
insignificant piece of business is done, then, as Don Jose wishes
us, we shall grow rich, one and all, like so many Englishmen,
because it is money that saves a country, and--

But a young officer in a very new uniformhurrying up from the
direction of the jettyinterrupted his interpretation of Senor
Avellanos's ideals. The general made a movement of impatience;
the other went on talking to him insistentlywith an air of
respect. The horses of the Staff had been embarkedthe steamer's
gig was awaiting the general at the boat steps; and Barrios
after a fierce stare of his one eyebegan to take leave. Don
Jose roused himself for an appropriate phrase pronounced
mechanically. The terrible strain of hope and fear was telling on
himand he seemed to husband the last sparks of his fire for
those oratorical efforts of which even the distant Europe was to
hear. Antoniaher red lips firmly closedaverted her head
behind the raised fan; and young Decoudthough he felt the
girl's eyes upon himgazed away persistentlyhooked on his
elbowwith a scornful and complete detachment. Mrs. Gould
heroically concealed her dismay at the appearance of men and
events so remote from her racial conventionsdismay too deep to
be uttered in words even to her husband. She understood his
voiceless reserve better now. Their confidential intercourse
fellnot in moments of privacybut precisely in publicwhen
the quick meeting of their glances would comment upon some fresh
turn of events. She had gone to his school of uncompromising
silencethe only one possiblesince so much that seemed
shockingweirdand grotesque in the working out of their
purposes had to be accepted as normal in this country.
Decidedlythe stately Antonia looked more mature and infinitely
calm; but she would never have known how to reconcile the sudden
sinkings of her heart with an amiable mobility of expression.

Mrs. Gould smiled a good-bye at Barriosnodded round to the
Europeans (who raised their hats simultaneously) with an engaging
invitationI hope to see you all presently, at home; then said
nervously to DecoudGet in, Don Martin,and heard him mutter
to himself in Frenchas he opened the carriage doorLe sort en
est jete.She heard him with a sort of exasperation. Nobody
ought to have known better than himself that the first cast of
dice had been already thrown long ago in a most desperate game.
Distant acclamationswords of command yelled outand a roll of
drums on the jetty greeted the departing general. Something like
a slight faintness came over herand she looked blankly at
Antonia's still facewondering what would happen to Charley if


that absurd man failed. "A la casaIgnacio she cried at the
motionless broad back of the coachman, who gathered the reins
without haste, mumbling to himself under his breath, Sila
casa. Sisi nina."

The carriage rolled noiselessly on the soft trackthe shadows
fell long on the dusty little plain interspersed with dark
bushesmounds of turned-up earthlow wooden buildings with iron
roofs of the Railway Company; the sparse row of telegraph poles
strode obliquely clear of the townbearing a singlealmost
invisible wire far into the great campo--like a slender
vibrating feeler of that progress waiting outside for a moment of
peace to enter and twine itself about the weary heart of the
land.

The cafe window of the Albergo d'ltalia Una was full of sunburnt
whiskered faces of railway men. But at the other end of the
housethe end of the Signori Inglesiold Giorgioat the door
with one of his girls on each sidebared his bushy headas
white as the snows of Higuerota. Mrs. Gould stopped the carriage.
She seldom failed to speak to her protege; moreoverthe
excitementthe heatand the dust had made her thirsty. She
asked for a glass of water. Giorgio sent the children indoors for
itand approached with pleasure expressed in his whole rugged
countenance. It was not often that he had occasion to see his
benefactresswho was also an Englishwoman--another title to his
regard. He offered some excuses for his wife. It was a bad day
with her; her oppressions--he tapped his own broad chest. She
could not move from her chair that day.

Decoudensconced in the corner of his seatobserved gloomily
Mrs. Gould's old revolutionistthenoffhand-


Well, and what do you think of it all, Garibaldino?

Old Giorgiolooking at him with some curiositysaid civilly
that the troops had marched very well. One-eyed Barrios and his
officers had done wonders with the recruits in a short time.
Those Indiosonly caught the other dayhad gone swinging past
in double quick timelike bersaglieri; they looked well fed
tooand had whole uniforms. "Uniforms!" he repeated with a
half-smile of pity. A look of grim retrospect stole over his
piercingsteady eyes. It had been otherwise in his time when men
fought against tyrannyin the forests of Brazilor on the
plains of Uruguaystarving on half-raw beef without salthalf
nakedwith often only a knife tied to a stick for a weapon. "And
yet we used to prevail against the oppressor he concluded,
proudly.

His animation fell; the slight gesture of his hand expressed
discouragement; but he added that he had asked one of the
sergeants to show him the new rifle. There was no such weapon in
his fighting days; and if Barrios could not-


Yesyes broke in Don Jose, almost trembling with eagerness.
We are safe. The good Senor Viola is a man of experience.
Extremely deadly--is it not so? You have accomplished your
mission admirablymy dear Martin."

Decoudlolling back moodilycontemplated old Viola.

Ah! Yes. A man of experience. But who are you for, really, in
your heart?


Mrs. Gould leaned over to the children. Linda had brought out a
glass of water on a traywith extreme care; Giselle presented
her with a bunch of flowers gathered hastily.

For the people,declared old Violasternly.

We are all for the people--in the end.

Yes,muttered old Violasavagely. "And meantime they fight for
you. Blind. Esclavos!"

At that moment young Scarfe of the railway staff emerged from the
door of the part reserved for the Signori Inglesi. He had come
down to headquarters from somewhere up the line on a light
engineand had had just time to get a bath and change his
clothes. He was a nice boyand Mrs. Gould welcomed him.

It's a delightful surprise to see you, Mrs. Gould. I've just
come down. Usual luck. Missed everything, of course. This show is
just over, and I hear there has been a great dance at Don Juste
Lopez's last night. Is it true?

The young patricians,Decoud began suddenly in his precise
Englishhave indeed been dancing before they started off to the
war with the Great Pompey.

Young Scarfe staredastounded. "You haven't met before Mrs.
Gould intervened. Mr. Decoud--Mr. Scarfe."

Ah! But we are not going to Pharsalia,protested Don Josewith
nervous hastealso in English. "You should not jest like this
Martin."

Antonia's breast rose and fell with a deeper breath. The young
engineer was utterly in the dark. "Great what?" he muttered
vaguely.

Luckily, Montero is not a Caesar,Decoud continued. "Not the
two Monteros put together would make a decent parody of a
Caesar." He crossed his arms on his breastlooking at Senor
Avellanoswho had returned to his immobility. "It is only you
Don Josewho are a genuine old Roman--vir Romanus--eloquent and
inflexible."

Since he had heard the name of Montero pronouncedyoung Scarfe
had been eager to express his simple feelings. In a loud and
youthful tone he hoped that this Montero was going to be licked
once for all and done with. There was no saying what would happen
to the railway if the revolution got the upper hand. Perhaps it
would have to be abandoned. It would not be the first railway
gone to pot in Costaguana. "You knowit's one of their so-called
national things he ran on, wrinkling up his nose as if the word
had a suspicious flavour to his profound experience of South
American affairs. And, of course, he chatted with animation, it
had been such an immense piece of luck for him at his age to get
appointed on the staff of a big thing like that--don't you
know." It would give him the pull over a lot of chaps all through
lifehe asserted. "Therefore--down with Montero! Mrs. Gould."
His artless grin disappeared slowly before the unanimous gravity
of the faces turned upon him from the carriage; only that "old
chap Don Jose, presenting a motionless, waxy profile, stared
straight on as if deaf. Scarfe did not know the Avellanos very
well. They did not give balls, and Antonia never appeared at a
ground-floor window, as some other young ladies used to do


attended by elder women, to chat with the caballeros on horseback
in the Calle. The stares of these creoles did not matter much;
but what on earth had come to Mrs. Gould? She said, Go on
Ignacio and gave him a slow inclination of the head. He heard a
short laugh from that round-faced, Frenchified fellow. He
coloured up to the eyes, and stared at Giorgio Viola, who had
fallen back with the children, hat in hand.

I shall want a horse presently he said with some asperity to
the old man.

Sisenor. There are plenty of horses murmured the
Garibaldino, smoothing absently, with his brown hands, the two
heads, one dark with bronze glints, the other fair with a coppery
ripple, of the two girls by his side. The returning stream of
sightseers raised a great dust on the road. Horsemen noticed the
group. Go to your mother he said. They are growing up as I
am growing olderand there is nobody--"

He looked at the young engineer and stoppedas if awakened from
a dream; thenfolding his arms on his breasttook up his usual
positionleaning back in the doorway with an upward glance
fastened on the white shoulder of Higuerota far away.

In the carriage Martin Decoudshifting his position as though he
could not make himself comfortablemuttered as he swayed towards
AntoniaI suppose you hate me.Then in a loud voice he began
to congratulate Don Jose upon all the engineers being convinced
Ribierists. The interest of all those foreigners was gratifying.
You have heard this one. He is an enlightened well-wisher. It is
pleasant to think that the prosperity of Costaguana is of some
use to the world.

He is very young,Mrs. Gould remarkedquietly.

And so very wise for his age,retorted Decoud. "But here we
have the naked truth from the mouth of that child. You are right
Don Jose. The natural treasures of Costaguana are of importance
to the progressive Europe represented by this youthjust as
three hundred years ago the wealth of our Spanish fathers was a
serious object to the rest of Europe--as represented by the bold
buccaneers. There is a curse of futility upon our character: Don
Quixote and Sancho Panzachivalry and materialismhigh-sounding
sentiments and a supine moralityviolent efforts for an idea and
a sullen acquiescence in every form of corruption. We convulsed
a continent for our independence only to become the passive prey
of a democratic parodythe helpless victims of scoundrels and
cut-throatsour institutions a mockeryour laws a farce--a
Guzman Bento our master! And we have sunk so low that when a man
like you has awakened our consciencea stupid barbarian of a
Montero--Great Heavens! a Montero!--becomes a deadly dangerand
an ignorantboastful Indiolike Barriosis our defender."

But Don Josedisregarding the general indictment as though he
had not heard a word of ittook up the defence of Barrios. The
man was competent enough for his special task in the plan of
campaign. It consisted in an offensive movementwith Cayta as
baseupon the flank of the Revolutionist forces advancing from
the south against Sta. Martawhich was covered by another army
with the President-Dictator in its midst. Don Jose became quite
animated with a great flow of speechbending forward anxiously
under the steady eyes of his daughter. Decoudas if silenced by
so much ardourdid not make a sound. The bells of the city were
striking the hour of Oracion when the carriage rolled under the


old gateway facing the harbour like a shapeless monument of
leaves and stones. The rumble of wheels under the sonorous arch
was traversed by a strangepiercing shriekand Decoudfrom his
back seathad a view of the people behind the carriage trudging
along the road outsideall turning their headsin sombreros and
rebozosto look at a locomotive which rolled quickly out of
sight behind Giorgio Viola's houseunder a white trail of steam
that seemed to vanish in the breathlesshysterically prolonged
scream of warlike triumph. And it was all like a fleeting vision
the shrieking ghost of a railway engine fleeing across the frame
of the archwaybehind the startled movement of the people
streaming back from a military spectacle with silent footsteps on
the dust of the road. It was a material train returning from the
Campo to the palisaded yards. The empty cars rolled lightly on
the single track; there was no rumble of wheelsno tremor of the
ground. The engine-driverrunning past the Casa Viola with the
salute of an uplifted armchecked his speed smartly before
entering the yard; and when the ear-splitting screech of the
steam-whistle for the brakes had stoppeda series of hard
battering shocksmingled with the clanking of chain-couplings
made a tumult of blows and shaken fetters under the vault of the
gate.

CHAPTER FIVE

THE Gould carriage was the first to return from the harbour to
the empty town. On the ancient pavementlaid out in patterns
sunk into ruts and holesthe portly Ignaciomindful of the
springs of the Parisian-built landauhad pulled up to a walk
and Decoud in his corner contemplated moodily the inner aspect of
the gate. The squat turreted sides held up between them a mass of
masonry with bunches of grass growing at the topand a grey
heavily scrolledarmorial shield of stone above the apex of the
arch with the arms of Spain nearly smoothed out as if in
readiness for some new device typical of the impending progress.

The explosive noise of the railway trucks seemed to augment
Decoud's irritation. He muttered something to himselfthen began
to talk aloud in curtangry phrases thrown at the silence of the
two women. They did not look at him at all; while Don Josewith
his semi-translucentwaxy complexionovershadowed by the soft
grey hatswayed a little to the jolts of the carriage by the
side of Mrs. Gould.

This sound puts a new edge on a very old truth.

Decoud spoke in Frenchperhaps because of Ignacio on the box
above him; the old coachmanwith his broad back filling a short
silver-braided jackethad a big pair of earswhose thick rims
stood well away from his cropped head.

Yes, the noise outside the city wall is new, but the principle
is old.

He ruminated his discontent for a whilethen began afresh with a
sidelong glance at Antonia-


No, but just imagine our forefathers in morions and corselets
drawn up outside this gate, and a band of adventurers just landed
from their ships in the harbour there. Thieves, of course.
Speculators, too. Their expeditions, each one, were the
speculations of grave and reverend persons in England. That is


history, as that absurd sailor Mitchell is always saying.

Mitchell's arrangements for the embarkation of the troops were
excellent!exclaimed Don Jose.

That!--that! oh, that's really the work of that Genoese seaman!
But to return to my noises; there used to be in the old days the
sound of trumpets outside that gate. War trumpets! I'm sure they
were trumpets. I have read somewhere that Drake, who was the
greatest of these men, used to dine alone in his cabin on board
ship to the sound of trumpets. In those days this town was full
of wealth. Those men came to take it. Now the whole land is like
a treasure-house, and all these people are breaking into it,
whilst we are cutting each other's throats. The only thing that
keeps them out is mutual jealousy. But they'll come to an
agreement some day--and by the time we've settled our quarrels
and become decent and honourable, there'll be nothing left for
us. It has always been the same. We are a wonderful people, but
it has always been our fate to be--he did not say "robbed but
added, after a pause--exploited!"

Mrs. Gould saidOh, this is unjust!And Antonia interjected
Don't answer him, Emilia. He is attacking me.

You surely do not think I was attacking Don Carlos!Decoud
answered.

And then the carriage stopped before the door of the Casa Gould.
The young man offered his hand to the ladies. They went in first
together; Don Jose walked by the side of Decoudand the gouty
old porter tottered after them with some light wraps on his arm.

Don Jose slipped his hand under the arm of the journalist of
Sulaco.

The Porvenir must have a long and confident article upon Barrios
and the irresistibleness of his army of Cayta! The moral effect
should be kept up in the country. We must cable encouraging
extracts to Europe and the United States to maintain a favourable
impression abroad.

Decoud mutteredOh, yes, we must comfort our friends, the
speculators.

The long open gallery was in shadowwith its screen of plants in
vases along the balustradeholding out motionless blossomsand
all the glass doors of the reception-rooms thrown open. A jingle
of spurs died out at the further end.

Basiliostanding aside against the wallsaid in a soft tone to
the passing ladiesThe Senor Administrador is just back from
the mountain.

In the great salawith its groups of ancient Spanish and modern
European furniture making as if different centres under the high
white spread of the ceilingthe silver and porcelain of the
tea-service gleamed among a cluster of dwarf chairslike a bit
of a lady's boudoirputting in a note of feminine and intimate
delicacy.

Don Jose in his rocking-chair placed his hat on his lapand
Decoud walked up and down the whole length of the roompassing
between tables loaded with knick-knacks and almost disappearing
behind the high backs of leathern sofas. He was thinking of the


angry face of Antonia; he was confident that he would make his
peace with her. He had not stayed in Sulaco to quarrel with
Antonia.

Martin Decoud was angry with himself. All he saw and heard going
on around him exasperated the preconceived views of his European
civilization. To contemplate revolutions from the distance of the
Parisian Boulevards was quite another matter. Here on the spot it
was not possible to dismiss their tragic comedy with the
expressionQuelle farce!

The reality of the political actionsuch as it wasseemed
closerand acquired poignancy by Antonia's belief in the cause.
Its crudeness hurt his feelings. He was surprised at his own
sensitiveness.

I suppose I am more of a Costaguanero than I would have believed
possible,he thought to himself.

His disdain grew like a reaction of his scepticism against the
action into which he was forced by his infatuation for Antonia.
He soothed himself by saying he was not a patriotbut a lover.

The ladies came in bareheadedand Mrs. Gould sank low before the
little tea-table. Antonia took up her usual place at the
reception hour--the corner of a leathern couchwith a rigid
grace in her pose and a fan in her hand. Decoudswerving from
the straight line of his marchcame to lean over the high back
of her seat.

For a long time he talked into her ear from behindsoftlywith
a half smile and an air of apologetic familiarity. Her fan lay
half grasped on her knees. She never looked at him. His rapid
utterance grew more and more insistent and caressing. At last he
ventured a slight laugh.

No, really. You must forgive me. One must be serious sometimes.
He paused. She turned her head a little; her blue eyes glided
slowly towards himslightly upwardsmollified and questioning.

You can't think I am serious when I call Montero a gran' bestia
every second day in the Porvenir? That is not a serious
occupation. No occupation is serious, not even when a bullet
through the heart is the penalty of failure!

Her hand closed firmly on her fan.

Some reason, you understand, I mean some sense, may creep into
thinking; some glimpse of truth. I mean some effective truth, for
which there is no room in politics or journalism. I happen to
have said what I thought. And you are angry! If you do me the
kindness to think a little you will see that I spoke like a
patriot.

She opened her red lips for the first timenot unkindly.

Yes, but you never see the aim. Men must be used as they are. I
suppose nobody is really disinterested, unless, perhaps, you, Don
Martin.

God forbid! It's the last thing I should like you to believe of
me.He spoke lightlyand paused.

She began to fan herself with a slow movement without raising her


hand. After a time he whispered passionately-


Antonia!

She smiledand extended her hand after the English manner
towards Charles Gouldwho was bowing before her; while Decoud
with his elbows spread on the back of the sofadropped his eyes
and murmuredBonjour.

The Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine bent over his wife
for a moment. They exchanged a few wordsof which only the
phraseThe greatest enthusiasm,pronounced by Mrs. Gould
could be heard.

Yes,Decoud began in a murmur. "Even he!"

This is sheer calumny,said Antonianot very severely.

You just ask him to throw his mine into the melting-pot for the
great cause,Decoud whispered.

Don Jose had raised his voice. He rubbed his hands cheerily. The
excellent aspect of the troops and the great quantity of new
deadly rifles on the shoulders of those brave men seemed to fill
him with an ecstatic confidence.

Charles Gouldvery tall and thin before his chairlistenedbut
nothing could be discovered in his face except a kind and
deferential attention.

MeantimeAntonia had risenandcrossing the roomstood
looking out of one of the three long windows giving on the
street. Decoud followed her. The window was thrown openand he
leaned against the thickness of the wall. The long folds of the
damask curtainfalling straight from the broad brass cornice
hid him partly from the room. He folded his arms on his breast
and looked steadily at Antonia's profile.

The people returning from the harbour filled the pavements; the
shuffle of sandals and a low murmur of voices ascended to the
window. Now and then a coach rolled slowly along the disjointed
roadway of the Calle de la Constitucion. There were not many
private carriages in Sulaco; at the most crowded hour on the
Alameda they could be counted with one glance of the eye. The
great family arks swayed on high leathern springsfull of pretty
powdered faces in which the eyes looked intensely alive and
black. And first Don Juste Lopezthe President of the Provincial
Assemblypassed with his three lovely daughterssolemn in a
black frock-coat and stiff white tieas when directing a debate
from a high tribune. Though they all raised their eyesAntonia
did not make the usual greeting gesture of a fluttered handand
they affected not to see the two young peopleCostaguaneros with
European mannerswhose eccentricities were discussed behind the
barred windows of the first families in Sulaco. And then the
widowed Senora Gavilaso de Valdes rolled byhandsome and
dignifiedin a great machine in which she used to travel to and
from her country housesurrounded by an armed retinue in leather
suits and big sombreroswith carbines at the bows of their
saddles. She was a woman of most distinguished familyproud
richand kind-hearted. Her second sonJaimehad just gone off
on the Staff of Barrios. The eldesta worthless fellow of a
moody dispositionfilled Sulaco with the noise of his
dissipationsand gambled heavily at the club. The two youngest
boyswith yellow Ribierist cockades in their capssat on the


front seat. Shetooaffected not to see the Senor Decoud
talking publicly with Antonia in defiance of every convention.
And he not even her novio as far as the world knew! Thougheven
in that caseit would have been scandal enough. But the
dignified old ladyrespected and admired by the first families
would have been still more shocked if she could have heard the
words they were exchanging.

Did you say I lost sight of the aim? I have only one aim in the
world.

She made an almost imperceptible negative movement of her head
still staring across the street at the Avellanos's housegrey
marked with decayand with iron bars like a prison.

And it would be so easy of attainment,he continuedthis aim
which, whether knowingly or not, I have always had in my
heart--ever since the day when you snubbed me so horribly once in
Paris, you remember.

A slight smile seemed to move the corner of the lip that was on
his side.

You know you were a very terrible person, a sort of Charlotte
Corday in a schoolgirl's dress; a ferocious patriot. I suppose
you would have stuck a knife into Guzman Bento?

She interrupted him. "You do me too much honour."

At any rate,he saidchanging suddenly to a tone of bitter
levityyou would have sent me to stab him without compunction.

Ah, par exemple!she murmured in a shocked tone.

Well,he arguedmockinglyyou do keep me here writing deadly
nonsense. Deadly to me! It has already killed my self-respect.
And you may imagine,he continuedhis tone passing into light
banterthat Montero, should he be successful, would get even
with me in the only way such a brute can get even with a man of
intelligence who condescends to call him a gran' bestia three
times a week. It's a sort of intellectual death; but there is the
other one in the background for a journalist of my ability.

If he is successful!said Antoniathoughtfully.

You seem satisfied to see my life hang on a thread,Decoud
repliedwith a broad smile. "And the other Monterothe 'my
trusted brother' of the proclamationsthe guerrillero--haven't I
written that he was taking the guests' overcoats and changing
plates in Paris at our Legation in the intervals of spying on our
refugees therein the time of Rojas? He will wash out that
sacred truth in blood. In my blood! Why do you look annoyed? This
is simply a bit of the biography of one of our great men. What do
you think he will do to me? There is a certain convent wall round
the corner of the Plazaopposite the door of the Bull Ring. You
know? Opposite the door with the inscriptionIntrada de la
Sombra.' Appropriateperhaps! That's where the uncle of our host
gave up his Anglo-South-American soul. Andnotehe might have
run away. A man who has fought with weapons may run away. You
might have let me go with Barrios if you had cared for me. I
would have carried one of those riflesin which Don Jose
believeswith the greatest satisfactionin the ranks of poor
peons and Indiosthat know nothing either of reason or politics.
The most forlorn hope in the most forlorn army on earth would


have been safer than that for which you made me stay here. When
you make war you may retreatbut not when you spend your time in
inciting poor ignorant fools to kill and to die."

His tone remained lightand as if unaware of his presence she
stood motionlessher hands clasped lightlythe fan hanging down
from her interlaced fingers. He waited for a whileand then-


I shall go to the wall,he saidwith a sort of jocular
desperation.

Even that declaration did not make her look at him. Her head
remained stillher eyes fixed upon the house of the Avellanos
whose chipped pilastersbroken cornicesthe whole degradation
of dignity was hidden now by the gathering dusk of the street. In
her whole figure her lips alone movedforming the words-


Martin, you will make me cry.

He remained silent for a minutestartledas if overwhelmed by a
sort of awed happinesswith the lines of the mocking smile still
stiffened about his mouthand incredulous surprise in his eyes.
The value of a sentence is in the personality which utters it
for nothing new can be said by man or woman; and those were the
last wordsit seemed to himthat could ever have been spoken by
Antonia. He had never made it up with her so completely in all
their intercourse of small encounters; but even before she had
time to turn towards himwhich she did slowly with a rigid
gracehe had begun to plead-


My sister is only waiting to embrace you. My father is
transported with joy. I won't say anything of my mother! Our
mothers were like sisters. There is the mail-boat for the south
next week--let us go. That Moraga is a fool! A man like Montero
is bribed. It's the practice of the country. It's tradition
--it's politics. Read 'Fifty Years of Misrule.'

Leave poor papa alone, Don Martin. He believes--

I have the greatest tenderness for your father,he began
hurriedly. "But I love youAntonia! And Moraga has miserably
mismanaged this business. Perhaps your father didtoo; I don't
know. Montero was bribeable. WhyI suppose he only wanted his
share of this famous loan for national development. Why didn't
the stupid Sta. Marta people give him a mission to Europeor
something? He would have taken five years' salary in advanceand
gone on loafing in Paristhis stupidferocious Indio!"

The man,she saidthoughtfullyand very calm before this
outburstwas intoxicated with vanity. We had all the
information, not from Moraga only; from others, too. There was
his brother intriguing, too.

Oh, yes!he said. "Of course you know. You know everything. You
read all the correspondenceyou write all the papers--all those
State papers that are inspired herein this roomin blind
deference to a theory of political purity. Hadn't you Charles
Gould before your eyes? Rey de Sulaco! He and his mine are the
practical demonstration of what could have been done. Do you
think he succeeded by his fidelity to a theory of virtue? And all
those railway peoplewith their honest work! Of coursetheir
work is honest! But what if you cannot work honestly till the
thieves are satisfied? Could he nota gentlemanhave told this
Sir John what's-his-name that Montero had to be bought off--he


and all his Negro Liberals hanging on to his gold-laced sleeve?
He ought to have been bought off with his own stupid weight of
gold--his weight of goldI tell youbootssabrespurscocked
hatand all."

She shook her head slightly. "It was impossible she murmured.

He wanted the whole lot? What?"

She was facing him now in the deep recess of the windowvery
close and motionless. Her lips moved rapidly. Decoudleaning his
back against the walllistened with crossed arms and lowered
eyelids. He drank the tones of her even voiceand watched the
agitated life of her throatas if waves of emotion had run from
her heart to pass out into the air in her reasonable words. He
also had his aspirationshe aspired to carry her away out of
these deadly futilities of pronunciamientos and reforms. All this
was wrong--utterly wrong; but she fascinated himand sometimes
the sheer sagacity of a phrase would break the charmreplace the
fascination by a sudden unwilling thrill of interest. Some women
hoveredas it wereon the threshold of geniushe reflected.
They did not want to knowor thinkor understand. Passion stood
for all thatand he was ready to believe that some startlingly
profound remarksome appreciation of characteror a judgment
upon an eventbordered on the miraculous. In the mature Antonia
he could see with an extraordinary vividness the austere
schoolgirl of the earlier days. She seduced his attention;
sometimes he could not restrain a murmur of assent; now and then
he advanced an objection quite seriously. Gradually they began to
argue; the curtain half hid them from the people in the sala.

Outside it had grown dark. From the deep trench of shadow between
the houseslit up vaguely by the glimmer of street lamps
ascended the evening silence of Sulaco; the silence of a town
with few carriagesof unshod horsesand a softly sandalled
population. The windows of the Casa Gould flung their shining
parallelograms upon the house of the Avellanos. Now and then a
shuffle of feet passed below with the pulsating red glow of a
cigarette at the foot of the walls; and the night airas if
cooled by the snows of Higuerotarefreshed their faces.

We Occidentals,said Martin Decoudusing the usual term the
provincials of Sulaco applied to themselveshave been always
distinct and separated. As long as we hold Cayta nothing can
reach us. In all our troubles no army has marched over those
mountains. A revolution in the central provinces isolates us at
once. Look how complete it is now! The news of Barrios' movement
will be cabled to the United States, and only in that way will it
reach Sta. Marta by the cable from the other seaboard. We have
the greatest riches, the greatest fertility, the purest blood in
our great families, the most laborious population. The Occidental
Province should stand alone. The early Federalism was not bad for
us. Then came this union which Don Henrique Gould resisted. It
opened the road to tyranny; and, ever since, the rest of
Costaguana hangs like a millstone round our necks. The Occidental
territory is large enough to make any man's country. Look at the
mountains! Nature itself seems to cry to us, 'Separate!'

She made an energetic gesture of negation. A silence fell.

Oh, yes, I know it's contrary to the doctrine laid down in the
'History of Fifty Years' Misrule.' I am only trying to be
sensible. But my sense seems always to give you cause for
offence. Have I startled you very much with this perfectly


reasonable aspiration?

She shook her head. Noshe was not startledbut the idea
shocked her early convictions. Her patriotism was larger. She had
never considered that possibility.

It may yet be the means of saving some of your convictions,he
saidprophetically.

She did not answer. She seemed tired. They leaned side by side on
the rail of the little balconyvery friendlyhaving exhausted
politicsgiving themselves up to the silent feeling of their
nearnessin one of those profound pauses that fall upon the
rhythm of passion. Towards the plaza end of the street the
glowing coals in the brazeros of the market women cooking their
evening meal gleamed red along the edge of the pavement. A man
appeared without a sound in the light of a street lampshowing
the coloured inverted triangle of his bordered ponchosquare on
his shouldershanging to a point below his knees. From the
harbour end of the Calle a horseman walked his soft-stepping
mountgleaming silver-grey abreast each lamp under the dark
shape of the rider.

Behold the illustrious Capataz de Cargadores,said Decoud
gentlycoming in all his splendour after his work is done. The
next great man of Sulaco after Don Carlos Gould. But he is
good-natured, and let me make friends with him.

Ah, indeed!said Antonia. "How did you make friends?"

A journalist ought to have his finger on the popular pulse, and
this man is one of the leaders of the populace. A journalist
ought to know remarkable men--and this man is remarkable in his
way.

Ah, yes!said Antoniathoughtfully. "It is known that this
Italian has a great influence."

The horseman had passed below themwith a gleam of dim light on
the shining broad quarters of the grey mareon a bright heavy
stirrupon a long silver spur; but the short flick of yellowish
flame in the dusk was powerless against the muffled-up
mysteriousness of the dark figure with an invisible face
concealed by a great sombrero.

Decoud and Antonia remained leaning over the balconyside by
sidetouching elbowswith their heads overhanging the darkness
of the streetand the brilliantly lighted sala at their backs.
This was a tete-a-tete of extreme impropriety; something of which
in the whole extent of the Republic only the extraordinary
Antonia could be capable--the poormotherless girlnever
accompaniedwith a careless fatherwho had thought only of
making her learned. Even Decoud himself seemed to feel that this
was as much as he could expect of having her to himself
till--till the revolution was over and he could carry her off to
Europeaway from the endlessness of civil strifewhose folly
seemed even harder to bear than its ignominy. After one Montero
there would be anotherthe lawlessness of a populace of all
colours and racesbarbarismirremediable tyranny. As the great
Liberator Bolivar had said in the bitterness of his spirit
America is ungovernable. Those who worked for her independence
have ploughed the sea.He did not carehe declared boldly; he
seized every opportunity to tell her that though she had managed
to make a Blanco journalist of himhe was no patriot. First of


allthe word had no sense for cultured mindsto whom the
narrowness of every belief is odious; and secondlyin connection
with the everlasting troubles of this unhappy country it was
hopelessly besmirched; it had been the cry of dark barbarismthe
cloak of lawlessnessof crimesof rapacityof simple thieving.

He was surprised at the warmth of his own utterance. He had no
need to drop his voice; it had been low all the timea mere
murmur in the silence of dark houses with their shutters closed
early against the night airas is the custom of Sulaco. Only the
sala of the Casa Gould flung out defiantly the blaze of its four
windowsthe bright appeal of light in the whole dumb obscurity
of the street. And the murmur on the little balcony went on after
a short pause.

But we are labouring to change all that,Antonia protested. "It
is exactly what we desire. It is our object. It is the great
cause. And the word you despise has stood also for sacrificefor
couragefor constancyfor suffering. Papawho--"

Ploughing the sea,interrupted Decoudlooking down.

There was below the sound of hasty and ponderous footsteps.

Your uncle, the grand-vicar of the cathedral, has just turned
under the gate,observed Decoud. "He said Mass for the troops in
the Plaza this morning. They had built for him an altar of
drumsyou know. And they brought outside all the painted blocks
to take the air. All the wooden saints stood militarily in a row
at the top of the great flight of steps. They looked like a
gorgeous escort attending the Vicar-General. I saw the great
function from the windows of the Porvenir. He is amazingyour
unclethe last of the Corbelans. He glittered exceedingly in his
vestments with a great crimson velvet cross down his back. And
all the time our saviour Barrios sat in the Amarilla Club
drinking punch at an open window. Esprit fort--our Barrios. I
expected every moment your uncle to launch an excommunication
there and then at the black eye-patch in the window across the
Plaza. But not at all. Ultimately the troops marched off. Later
Barrios came down with some of the officersand stood with his
uniform all unbuttoneddiscoursing at the edge of the pavement.
Suddenly your uncle appearedno longer glitteringbut all
blackat the cathedral door with that threatening aspect he
has--you knowlike a sort of avenging spirit. He gives one look
strides over straight at the group of uniformsand leads away
the general by the elbow. He walked him for a quarter of an hour
in the shade of a wall. Never let go his elbow for a moment
talking all the time with exaltationand gesticulating with a
long black arm. It was a curious scene. The officers seemed
struck with astonishment. Remarkable manyour missionary uncle.
He hates an infidel much less than a hereticand prefers a
heathen many times to an infidel. He condescends graciously to
call me a heathensometimesyou know."

Antonia listened with her hands over the balustradeopening and
shutting the fan gently; and Decoud talked a little nervouslyas
if afraid that she would leave him at the first pause. Their
comparative isolationthe precious sense of intimacythe slight
contact of their armsaffected him softly; for now and then a
tender inflection crept into the flow of his ironic murmurs.

Any slight sign of favour from a relative of yours is welcome,
Antonia. And perhaps he understands me, after all! But I know
him, too, our Padre Corbelan. The idea of political honour,


justice, and honesty for him consists in the restitution of the
confiscated Church property. Nothing else could have drawn that
fierce converter of savage Indians out of the wilds to work for
the Ribierist cause! Nothing else but that wild hope! He would
make a pronunciamiento himself for such an object against any
Government if he could only get followers! What does Don Carlos
Gould think of that? But, of course, with his English
impenetrability, nobody can tell what he thinks. Probably he
thinks of nothing apart from his mine; of his 'Imperium in
Imperio.' As to Mrs. Gould, she thinks of her schools, of her
hospitals, of the mothers with the young babies, of every sick
old man in the three villages. If you were to turn your head now
you would see her extracting a report from that sinister doctor
in a check shirt--what's his name? Monygham--or else catechising
Don Pepe or perhaps listening to Padre Roman. They are all down
here to-day--all her ministers of state. Well, she is a sensible
woman, and perhaps Don Carlos is a sensible man. It's a part of
solid English sense not to think too much; to see only what may
be of practical use at the moment. These people are not like
ourselves. We have no political reason; we have political
passions--sometimes. What is a conviction? A particular view of
our personal advantage either practical or emotional. No one is
a patriot for nothing. The word serves us well. But I am
clear-sighted, and I shall not use that word to you, Antonia! I
have no patriotic illusions. I have only the supreme illusion of
a lover.

He pausedthen muttered almost inaudiblyThat can lead one
very far, though.

Behind their backs the political tide that once in every
twenty-four hours set with a strong flood through the Gould
drawing-room could be heardrising higher in a hum of voices.
Men had been dropping in singlyor in twos and threes: the
higher officials of the provinceengineers of the railway
sunburnt and in tweedswith the frosted head of their chief
smiling with slowhumorous indulgence amongst the young eager
faces. Scarfethe lover of fandangoshad already slipped out in
search of some danceno matter whereon the outskirts of the
town. Don Juste Lopezafter taking his daughters homehad
entered solemnlyin a black creased coat buttoned up under his
spreading brown beard. The few members of the Provincial Assembly
present clustered at once around their President to discuss the
news of the war and the last proclamation of the rebel Montero
the miserable Monterocalling in the name of "a justly incensed
democracy" upon all the Provincial Assemblies of the Republic to
suspend their sittings till his sword had made peace and the will
of the people could be consulted. It was practically an
invitation to dissolve: an unheard-of audacity of that evil
madman.

The indignation ran high in the knot of deputies behind Jose
Avellanos. Don Joselifting up his voicecried out to them over
the high back of his chairSulaco has answered by sending
to-day an army upon his flank. If all the other provinces show
only half as much patriotism as we Occidentals--

A great outburst of acclamations covered the vibrating treble of
the life and soul of the party. Yes! Yes! This was true! A great
truth! Sulaco was in the forefrontas ever! It was a boastful
tumultthe hopefulness inspired by the event of the day breaking
out amongst those caballeros of the Campo thinking of their
herdsof their landsof the safety of their families.
Everything was at stake. . . . No! It was impossible that Montero


should succeed! This criminalthis shameless Indio! The clamour
continued for some timeeverybody else in the room looking
towards the group where Don Juste had put on his air of impartial
solemnity as if presiding at a sitting of the Provincial
Assembly. Decoud had turned round at the noiseandleaning his
back on the balustradeshouted into the room with all the
strength of his lungsGran' bestia!

This unexpected cry had the effect of stilling the noise. All the
eyes were directed to the window with an approving expectation;
but Decoud had already turned his back upon the roomand was
again leaning out over the quiet street.

This is the quintessence of my journalism; that is the supreme
argument,he said to Antonia. "I have invented this definition
this last word on a great question. But I am no patriot. I am no
more of a patriot than the Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadoresthis
Genoese who has done such great things for this harbour--this
active usher-in of the material implements for our progress. You
have heard Captain Mitchell confess over and over again that till
he got this man he could never tell how long it would take to
unload a ship. That is bad for progress. You have seen him pass
by after his labours on his famous horse to dazzle the girls in
some ballroom with an earthen floor. He is a fortunate fellow!
His work is an exercise of personal powers; his leisure is spent
in receiving the marks of extraordinary adulation. And he likes
ittoo. Can anybody be more fortunate? To be feared and admired
is--"

And are these your highest aspirations, Don Martin?interrupted
Antonia.

I was speaking of a man of that sort,said Decoudcurtly. "The
heroes of the world have been feared and admired. What more could
he want?"

Decoud had often felt his familiar habit of ironic thought fall
shattered against Antonia's gravity. She irritated him as if she
toohad suffered from that inexplicable feminine obtuseness
which stands so often between a man and a woman of the more
ordinary sort. But he overcame his vexation at once. He was very
far from thinking Antonia ordinarywhatever verdict his
scepticism might have pronounced upon himself. With a touch of
penetrating tenderness in his voice he assured her that his only
aspiration was to a felicity so high that it seemed almost
unrealizable on this earth.

She coloured invisiblywith a warmth against which the breeze
from the sierra seemed to have lost its cooling power in the
sudden melting of the snows. His whisper could not have carried
so farthough there was enough ardour in his tone to melt a
heart of ice. Antonia turned away abruptlyas if to carry his
whispered assurance into the room behindfull of lightnoisy
with voices.

The tide of political speculation was beating high within the
four walls of the great salaas if driven beyond the marks by a
great gust of hope. Don Juste's fan-shaped beard was still the
centre of loud and animated discussions. There was a
self-confident ring in all the voices. Even the few Europeans
around Charles Gould--a Danea couple of Frenchmena discreet
fat Germansmilingwith down-cast eyesthe representatives of
those material interests that had got a footing in Sulaco under
the protecting might of the San Tome mine--had infused a lot of


good humour into their deference. Charles Gouldto whom they
were paying their courtwas the visible sign of the stability
that could be achieved on the shifting ground of revolutions.
They felt hopeful about their various undertakings. One of the
two Frenchmensmallblackwith glittering eyes lost in an
immense growth of bushy beardwaved his tiny brown hands and
delicate wrists. He had been travelling in the interior of the
province for a syndicate of European capitalists. His forcible
Monsieur l' Administrateurreturning every minute shrilled
above the steady hum of conversations. He was relating his
discoveries. He was ecstatic. Charles Gould glanced down at him
courteously.

At a given moment of these necessary receptions it was Mrs.
Gould's habit to withdraw quietly into a little drawing-room
especially her ownnext to the great sala. She had risenand
waiting for Antonialistened with a slightly worried
graciousness to the engineer-in-chief of the railwaywho stooped
over herrelating slowlywithout the slightest gesture
something apparently amusingfor his eyes had a humorous
twinkle. Antoniabefore she advanced into the room to join Mrs.
Gouldturned her head over her shoulder towards Decoudonly for
a moment.

Why should any one of us think his aspirations unrealizable?
she saidrapidly.

I am going to cling to mine to the end, Antonia,he answered
through clenched teeththen bowed very lowa little distantly.

The engineer-in-chief had not finished telling his amusing story.
The humours of railway building in South America appealed to his
keen appreciation of the absurdand he told his instances of
ignorant prejudice and as ignorant cunning very well. NowMrs.
Gould gave him all her attention as he walked by her side
escorting the ladies out of the room. Finally all three passed
unnoticed through the glass doors in the gallery. Only a tall
priest stalking silently in the noise of the sala checked himself
to look after them. Father Corbelanwhom Decoud had seen from
the balcony turning into the gateway of the Casa Gouldhad
addressed no one since coming in. The longskimpy soutane
accentuated the tallness of his stature; he carried his powerful
torso thrown forward; and the straightblack bar of his joined
eyebrowsthe pugnacious outline of the bony facethe white spot
of a scar on the bluish shaven cheeks (a testimonial to his
apostolic zeal from a party of unconverted Indians)suggested
something unlawful behind his priesthoodthe idea of a chaplain
of bandits.

He separated his bonyknotted hands clasped behind his backto
shake his finger at Martin.

Decoud had stepped into the room after Antonia. But he did not
go far. He had remained just withinagainst the curtainwith an
expression of not quite genuine gravitylike a grown-up person
taking part in a game of children. He gazed quietly at the
threatening finger.

I have watched your reverence converting General Barrios by a
special sermon on the Plaza,he saidwithout making the
slightest movement.

What miserable nonsense!Father Corbelan's deep voice resounded
all over the roommaking all the heads turn on the shoulders.


The man is a drunkard. Senores, the God of your General is a
bottle!

His contemptuousarbitrary voice caused an uneasy suspension of
every soundas if the self-confidence of the gathering had been
staggered by a blow. But nobody took up Father Corbelan's
declaration.

It was known that Father Corbelan had come out of the wilds to
advocate the sacred rights of the Church with the same fanatical
fearlessness with which he had gone preaching to bloodthirsty
savagesdevoid of human compassion or worship of any kind.
Rumours of legendary proportions told of his successes as a
missionary beyond the eye of Christian men. He had baptized whole
nations of Indiansliving with them like a savage himself. It
was related that the padre used to ride with his Indians for
dayshalf nakedcarrying a bullock-hide shieldandno doubt
a long lancetoo--who knows? That he had wandered clothed in
skinsseeking for proselytes somewhere near the snow line of the
Cordillera. Of these exploits Padre Corbelan himself was never
known to talk. But he made no secret of his opinion that the
politicians of Sta. Marta had harder hearts and more corrupt
minds than the heathen to whom he had carried the word of God.
His injudicious zeal for the temporal welfare of the Church was
damaging the Ribierist cause. It was common knowledge that he had
refused to be made titular bishop of the Occidental diocese till
justice was done to a despoiled Church. The political Gefe of
Sulaco (the same dignitary whom Captain Mitchell saved from the
mob afterwards) hinted with naive cynicism that doubtless their
Excellencies the Ministers sent the padre over the mountains to
Sulaco in the worst season of the year in the hope that he would
be frozen to death by the icy blasts of the high paramos. Every
year a few hardy muleteers--men inured to exposure--were known to
perish in that way. But what would you have? Their Excellencies
possibly had not realized what a tough priest he was. Meantime
the ignorant were beginning to murmur that the Ribierist reforms
meant simply the taking away of the land from the people. Some
of it was to be given to foreigners who made the railway; the
greater part was to go to the padres.

These were the results of the Grand Vicar's zeal. Even from the
short allocution to the troops on the Plaza (which only the first
ranks could have heard) he had not been able to keep out his
fixed idea of an outraged Church waiting for reparation from a
penitent country. The political Gefe had been exasperated. But
he could not very well throw the brother-in-law of Don Jose into
the prison of the Cabildo. The chief magistratean easy-going
and popular officialvisited the Casa Gouldwalking over after
sunset from the Intendenciaunattendedacknowledging with
dignified courtesy the salutations of high and low alike. That
evening he had walked up straight to Charles Gould and had hissed
out to him that he would have liked to deport the Grand Vicar out
of Sulacoanywhereto some desert islandto the Isabelsfor
instance. "The one without water preferably--ehDon Carlos?" he
had added in a tone between jest and earnest. This uncontrollable
priestwho had rejected his offer of the episcopal palace for a
residence and preferred to hang his shabby hammock amongst the
rubble and spiders of the sequestrated Dominican Conventhad
taken into his head to advocate an unconditional pardon for
Hernandez the Robber! And this was not enough; he seemed to have
entered into communication with the most audacious criminal the
country had known for years. The Sulaco police knewof course
what was going on. Padre Corbelan had got hold of that reckless
Italianthe Capataz de Cargadoresthe only man fit for such an


errandand had sent a message through him. Father Corbelan had
studied in Romeand could speak Italian. The Capataz was known
to visit the old Dominican Convent at night. An old woman who
served the Grand Vicar had heard the name of Hernandez
pronounced; and only last Saturday afternoon the Capataz had been
observed galloping out of town. He did not return for two days.
The police would have laid the Italian by the heels if it had not
been for fear of the Cargadoresa turbulent body of menquite
apt to raise a tumult. Nowadays it was not so easy to govern
Sulaco. Bad characters flocked into itattracted by the money in
the pockets of the railway workmen. The populace was made
restless by Father Corbelan's discourses. And the first
magistrate explained to Charles Gould that now the province was
stripped of troops any outbreak of lawlessness would find the
authorities with their boots offas it were.

Then he went away moodily to sit in an armchairsmoking a long
thin cigarnot very far from Don Josewith whombending over
sidewayshe exchanged a few words from time to time. He ignored
the entrance of the priestand whenever Father Corbelan's voice
was raised behind himhe shrugged his shoulders impatiently.

Father Corbelan had remained quite motionless for a time with
that something vengeful in his immobility which seemed to
characterize all his attitudes. A lurid glow of strong
convictions gave its peculiar aspect to the black figure. But its
fierceness became softened as the padrefixing his eyes upon
Decoudraised his longblack arm slowlyimpressively-


And you--you are a perfect heathen,he saidin a subdueddeep
voice.

He made a step nearerpointing a forefinger at the young man's
breast. Decoudvery calmfelt the wall behind the curtain with
the back of his head. Thenwith his chin tilted well uphe
smiled.

Very well,he agreed with the slightly weary nonchalance of a
man well used to these passages. "But is it perhaps that you have
not discovered yet what is the God of my worship? It was an
easier task with our Barrios."

The priest suppressed a gesture of discouragement. "You believe
neither in stick nor stone he said.

Nor bottle added Decoud without stirring. Neither does the
other of your reverence's confidants. I mean the Capataz of the
Cargadores. He does not drink. Your reading of my character does
honour to your perspicacity. But why call me a heathen?"

True,retorted the priest. "You are ten times worse. A miracle
could not convert you."

I certainly do not believe in miracles,said Decoudquietly.
Father Corbelan shrugged his highbroad shoulders doubtfully.

A sort of Frenchman--godless--a materialist,he pronounced
slowlyas if weighing the terms of a careful analysis. "Neither
the son of his own country nor of any other he continued,
thoughtfully.

Scarcely humanin fact Decoud commented under his breath, his
head at rest against the wall, his eyes gazing up at the ceiling.


The victim of this faithless age Father Corbelan resumed in a
deep but subdued voice.

But of some use as a journalist." Decoud changed his pose and
spoke in a more animated tone. "Has your worship neglected to
read the last number of the Porvenir? I assure you it is just
like the others. On the general policy it continues to call
Montero a gran' bestiaand stigmatize his brotherthe
guerrillerofor a combination of lackey and spy. What could be
more effective? In local affairs it urges the Provincial
Government to enlist bodily into the national army the band of
Hernandez the Robber--who is apparently the protege of the
Church--or at least of the Grand Vicar. Nothing could be more
sound."

The priest nodded and turned on the heels of his square-toed
shoes with big steel buckles. Againwith his hands clasped
behind his backhe paced to and froplanting his feet firmly.
When he swung aboutthe skirt of his soutane was inflated
slightly by the brusqueness of his movements.

The great sala had been emptying itself slowly. When the Gefe
Politico rose to gomost of those still remaining stood up
suddenly in sign of respectand Don Jose Avellanos stopped the
rocking of his chair. But the good-natured First Official made a
deprecatory gesturewaved his hand to Charles Gouldand went
out discreetly.

In the comparative peace of the room the screaming "Monsieur
l'Administrateur" of the frailhairy Frenchman seemed to acquire
a preternatural shrillness. The explorer of the Capitalist
syndicate was still enthusiastic. "Ten million dollars' worth of
copper practically in sightMonsieur l'Administrateur. Ten
millions in sight! And a railway coming--a railway! They will
never believe my report. C'est trop beau." He fell a prey to a
screaming ecstasyin the midst of sagely nodding headsbefore
Charles Gould's imperturbable calm.

And only the priest continued his pacingflinging round the
skirt of his soutane at each end of his beat. Decoud murmured to
him ironically: "Those gentlemen talk about their gods."

Father Corbelan stopped shortlooked at the journalist of Sulaco
fixedly for a momentshrugged his shoulders slightlyand
resumed his plodding walk of an obstinate traveller.

And now the Europeans were dropping off from the group around
Charles Gould till the Administrador of the Great Silver Mine
could be seen in his whole lank lengthfrom head to footleft
stranded by the ebbing tide of his guests on the great square of
carpetas it were a multi-coloured shoal of flowers and
arabesques under his brown boots. Father Corbelan approached the
rocking-chair of Don Jose Avellanos.

Come, brother,he saidwith kindly brusqueness and a touch of
relieved impatience a man may feel at the end of a perfectly
useless ceremony. "A la Casa! A la Casa! This has been all talk.
Let us now go and think and pray for guidance from Heaven."

He rolled his black eyes upwards. By the side of the frail
diplomatist--the life and soul of the party--he seemed gigantic
with a gleam of fanaticism in the glance. But the voice of the
partyorratherits mouthpiecethe "son Decoud" from Paris
turned journalist for the sake of Antonia's eyesknew very well


that it was not sothat he was only a strenuous priest with one
ideafeared by the women and execrated by the men of the people.
Martin Decoudthe dilettante in lifeimagined himself to derive
an artistic pleasure from watching the picturesque extreme of
wrongheadedness into which an honestalmost sacredconviction
may drive a man. "It is like madness. It must be--because it's
self-destructive Decoud had said to himself often. It seemed to
him that every conviction, as soon as it became effective, turned
into that form of dementia the gods send upon those they wish to
destroy. But he enjoyed the bitter flavour of that example with
the zest of a connoisseur in the art of his choice. Those two men
got on well together, as if each had felt respectively that a
masterful conviction, as well as utter scepticism, may lead a man
very far on the by-paths of political action.

Don Jose obeyed the touch of the big hairy hand. Decoud followed
out the brothers-in-law. And there remained only one visitor in
the vast empty sala, bluishly hazy with tobacco smoke, a
heavy-eyed, round-cheeked man, with a drooping moustache, a hide
merchant from Esmeralda, who had come overland to Sulaco, riding
with a few peons across the coast range. He was very full of his
journey, undertaken mostly for the purpose of seeing the Senor
Administrador of San Tome in relation to some assistance he
required in his hide-exporting business. He hoped to enlarge it
greatly now that the country was going to be settled. It was
going to be settled, he repeated several times, degrading by a
strange, anxious whine the sonority of the Spanish language,
which he pattered rapidly, like some sort of cringing jargon. A
plain man could carry on his little business now in the country,
and even think of enlarging it--with safety. Was it not so? He
seemed to beg Charles Gould for a confirmatory word, a grunt of
assent, a simple nod even.

He could get nothing. His alarm increased, and in the pauses he
would dart his eyes here and there; then, loth to give up, he
would branch off into feeling allusion to the dangers of his
journey. The audacious Hernandez, leaving his usual haunts, had
crossed the Campo of Sulaco, and was known to be lurking in the
ravines of the coast range. Yesterday, when distant only a few
hours from Sulaco, the hide merchant and his servants had seen
three men on the road arrested suspiciously, with their horses'
heads together. Two of these rode off at once and disappeared in
a shallow quebrada to the left. We stopped continued the man
from Esmeralda, and I tried to hide behind a small bush. But
none of my mozos would go forward to find out what it meantand
the third horseman seemed to be waiting for us to come up. It was
no use. We had been seen. So we rode slowly ontrembling. He
let us pass--a man on a grey horse with his hat down on his
eyes--without a word of greeting; but by-and-by we heard him
galloping after us. We faced aboutbut that did not seem to
intimidate him. He rode up at speedand touching my foot with
the toe of his bootasked me for a cigarwith a blood-curdling
laugh. He did not seem armedbut when he put his hand back to
reach for the matches I saw an enormous revolver strapped to his
waist. I shuddered. He had very fierce whiskersDon Carlosand
as he did not offer to go on we dared not move. At lastblowing
the smoke of my cigar into the air through his nostrilshe said
'Senorit would be perhaps better for you if I rode behind your
party. You are not very far from Sulaco now. Go you with God.'
What would you? We went on. There was no resisting him. He might
have been Hernandez himself; though my servantwho has been many
times to Sulaco by seaassured me that he had recognized him
very well for the Capataz of the Steamship Company's Cargadores.
Laterthat same eveningI saw that very man at the corner of


the Plaza talking to a girla Morenitawho stood by the stirrup
with her hand on the grey horse's mane."

I assure you, Senor Hirsch,murmured Charles Gouldthat you
ran no risk on this occasion.

That may be, senor, though I tremble yet. A most fierce man--to
look at. And what does it mean? A person employed by the
Steamship Company talking with salteadores--no less, senor; the
other horsemen were salteadores--in a lonely place, and behaving
like a robber himself! A cigar is nothing, but what was there to
prevent him asking me for my purse?

No, no, Senor Hirsch,Charles Gould murmuredletting his
glance stray away a little vacantly from the round facewith its
hooked beak upturned towards him in an almost childlike appeal.
If it was the Capataz de Cargadores you met--and there is no
doubt, is there? --you were perfectly safe.

Thank you. You are very good. A very fierce-looking man, Don
Carlos. He asked me for a cigar in a most familiar manner. What
would have happened if I had not had a cigar? I shudder yet. What
business had he to be talking with robbers in a lonely place?

But Charles Gouldopenly preoccupied nowgave not a signmade
no sound. The impenetrability of the embodied Gould Concession
had its surface shades. To be dumb is merely a fatal affliction;
but the King of Sulaco had words enough to give him all the
mysterious weight of a taciturn force. His silencesbacked by
the power of speechhad as many shades of significance as
uttered words in the way of assentof doubtof negation--even
of simple comment. Some seemed to say plainlyThink it over;
others meant clearlyGo ahead; a simplelow "I see with an
affirmative nod, at the end of a patient listening half-hour was
the equivalent of a verbal contract, which men had learned to
trust implicitly, since behind it all there was the great San
Tome mine, the head and front of the material interests, so
strong that it depended on no man's goodwill in the whole length
and breadth of the Occidental Province--that is, on no goodwill
which it could not buy ten times over. But to the little
hook-nosed man from Esmeralda, anxious about the export of hides,
the silence of Charles Gould portended a failure. Evidently this
was no time for extending a modest man's business. He enveloped
in a swift mental malediction the whole country, with all its
inhabitants, partisans of Ribiera and Montero alike; and there
were incipient tears in his mute anger at the thought of the
innumerable ox-hides going to waste upon the dreamy expanse of
the Campo, with its single palms rising like ships at sea within
the perfect circle of the horizon, its clumps of heavy timber
motionless like solid islands of leaves above the running waves
of grass. There were hides there, rotting, with no profit to
anybody--rotting where they had been dropped by men called away
to attend the urgent necessities of political revolutions. The
practical, mercantile soul of Senor Hirsch rebelled against all
that foolishness, while he was taking a respectful but
disconcerted leave of the might and majesty of the San Tome mine
in the person of Charles Gould. He could not restrain a
heart-broken murmur, wrung out of his very aching heart, as it
were.

It is a greatgreat foolishnessDon Carlosall this. The
price of hides in Hamburg is gone up--up. Of course the Ribierist
Government will do away with all that--when it gets established
firmly. Meantime--"


He sighed.

Yes, meantime,repeated Charles Gouldinscrutably.

The other shrugged his shoulders. But he was not ready to go yet.
There was a little matter he would like to mention very much if
permitted. It appeared he had some good friends in Hamburg (he
murmured the name of the firm) who were very anxious to do
businessin dynamitehe explained. A contract for dynamite with
the San Tome mineand thenperhapslater onother mines
which were sure to--The little man from Esmeralda was ready to
enlargebut Charles interrupted him. It seemed as though the
patience of the Senor Administrador was giving way at last.

Senor Hirsch,he saidI have enough dynamite stored up at the
mountain to send it down crashing into the valley--his voice
rose a little--"to send half Sulaco into the air if I liked."

Charles Gould smiled at the roundstartled eyes of the dealer in
hideswho was murmuring hastilyJust so. Just so.And now he
was going. It was impossible to do business in explosives with an
Administrador so well provided and so discouraging. He had
suffered agonies in the saddle and had exposed himself to the
atrocities of the bandit Hernandez for nothing at all. Neither
hides nor dynamite--and the very shoulders of the enterprising
Israelite expressed dejection. At the door he bowed low to the
engineer-in-chief. But at the bottom of the stairs in the patio
he stopped shortwith his podgy hand over his lips in an
attitude of meditative astonishment.

What does he want to keep so much dynamite for?he muttered.
And why does he talk like this to me?

The engineer-in-chieflooking in at the door of the empty sala
whence the political tide had ebbed out to the last insignificant
dropnodded familiarly to the master of the housestanding
motionless like a tall beacon amongst the deserted shoals of
furniture.

Good-night, I am going. Got my bike downstairs. The railway
will know where to go for dynamite should we get short at any
time. We have done cutting and chopping for a while now. We shall
begin soon to blast our way through.

Don't come to me,said Charles Gouldwith perfect serenity. "I
shan't have an ounce to spare for anybody. Not an ounce. Not for
my own brotherif I had a brotherand he were the
engineer-in-chief of the most promising railway in the world."

What's that?asked the engineer-in-chiefwith equanimity.
Unkindness?

No,said Charles Gouldstolidly. "Policy."

Radical, I should think,the engineer-in-chief observed from
the doorway.

Is that the right name?Charles Gould saidfrom the middle of
the room.

I mean, going to the roots, you know,the engineer explained
with an air of enjoyment.


Why, yes,Charles pronouncedslowly. "The Gould Concession has
struck such deep roots in this countryin this provincein that
gorge of the mountainsthat nothing but dynamite shall be
allowed to dislodge it from there. It's my choice. It's my last
card to play."

The engineer-in-chief whistled low. "A pretty game he said,
with a shade of discretion. And have you told Holroyd of that
extraordinary trump card you hold in your hand?"

Card only when it's played; when it falls at the end of the
game. Till then you may call it a--a--

Weapon,suggested the railway man.

No. You may call it rather an argument,corrected Charles
Gouldgently. "And that's how I've presented it to Mr. Holroyd."

And what did he say to it?asked the engineerwith undisguised
interest.

He--Charles Gould spoke after a slight pause--"he said
something about holding on like grim death and putting our trust
in God. I should imagine he must have been rather startled. But
then"--pursued the Administrador of the San Tome mine--"but then
he is very far awayyou knowandas they say in this country
God is very high above."

The engineer's appreciative laugh died away down the stairs
where the Madonna with the Child on her arm seemed to look after
his shaking broad back from her shallow niche.

CHAPTER SIX

A PROFOUND stillness reigned in the Casa Gould. The master of
the housewalking along the corredoropened the door of his
roomand saw his wife sitting in a big armchair--his own smoking
armchair--thoughtfulcontemplating her little shoes. And she did
not raise her eyes when he walked in.

Tired?asked Charles Gould.

A little,said Mrs. Gould. Still without looking upshe added
with feelingThere is an awful sense of unreality about all
this.

Charles Gouldbefore the long table strewn with paperson which
lay a hunting crop and a pair of spursstood looking at his
wife: "The heat and dust must have been awful this afternoon by
the waterside he murmured, sympathetically. The glare on the
water must have been simply terrible."

One could close one's eyes to the glare,said Mrs. Gould.
But, my dear Charley, it is impossible for me to close my eyes
to our position; to this awful . . .

She raised her eyes and looked at her husband's facefrom which
all sign of sympathy or any other feeling had disappeared. "Why
don't you tell me something?" she almost wailed.

I thought you had understood me perfectly from the first,
Charles Gould saidslowly. "I thought we had said all there was


to say a long time ago. There is nothing to say now. There were
things to be done. We have done them; we have gone on doing
them. There is no going back now. I don't suppose thateven
from the firstthere was really any possible way back. And
what's morewe can't even afford to stand still."

Ah, if one only knew how far you mean to go,said his wife.
inwardly tremblingbut in an almost playful tone.

Any distance, any length, of course,was the answerin a
matter-of-fact tonewhich caused Mrs. Gould to make another
effort to repress a shudder.

She stood upsmiling graciouslyand her little figure seemed to
be diminished still more by the heavy mass of her hair and the
long train of her gown.

But always to success,she saidpersuasively.

Charles Gouldenveloping her in the steely blue glance of his
attentive eyesanswered without hesitation-


Oh, there is no alternative.

He put an immense assurance into his tone. As to the wordsthis
was all that his conscience would allow him to say.

Mrs. Gould's smile remained a shade too long upon her lips. She
murmured-


I will leave you; I've a slight headache. The heat, the dust,
were indeed--I suppose you are going back to the mine before the
morning?

At midnight,said Charles Gould. "We are bringing down the
silver to-morrow. Then I shall take three whole days off in town
with you."

Ah, you are going to meet the escort. I shall be on the balcony
at five o'clock to see you pass. Till then, good-bye.

Charles Gould walked rapidly round the tableandseizing her
handsbent downpressing them both to his lips. Before he
straightened himself up again to his full height she had
disengaged one to smooth his cheek with a light touchas if he
were a little boy.

Try to get some rest for a couple of hours,she murmuredwith
a glance at a hammock stretched in a distant part of the room.
Her long train swished softly after her on the red tiles. At the
door she looked back.

Two big lamps with unpolished glass globes bathed in a soft and
abundant light the four white walls of the roomwith a glass
case of armsthe brass hilt of Henry Gould's cavalry sabre on
its square of velvetand the water-colour sketch of the San Tome
gorge. And Mrs. Gouldgazing at the last in its black wooden
framesighed out-


Ah, if we had left it alone, Charley!

No,Charles Gould saidmoodily; "it was impossible to leave it
alone."


Perhaps it was impossible,Mrs. Gould admittedslowly. Her
lips quivered a littlebut she smiled with an air of dainty
bravado. "We have disturbed a good many snakes in that Paradise
Charleyhaven't we?"

Yes, I remember,said Charles Gouldit was Don Pepe who
called the gorge the Paradise of snakes. No doubt we have
disturbed a great many. But remember, my dear, that it is not now
as it was when you made that sketch.He waved his hand towards
the small water-colour hanging alone upon the great bare wall.
It is no longer a Paradise of snakes. We have brought mankind
into it, and we cannot turn our backs upon them to go and begin a
new life elsewhere.

He confronted his wife with a firmconcentrated gazewhich Mrs.
Gould returned with a brave assumption of fearlessness before she
went outclosing the door gently after her.

In contrast with the white glaring room the dimly lit corredor
had a restful mysteriousness of a forest gladesuggested by the
stems and the leaves of the plants ranged along the balustrade of
the open side. In the streaks of light falling through the open
doors of the reception-roomsthe blossomswhite and red and
pale lilaccame out vivid with the brilliance of flowers in a
stream of sunshine; and Mrs. Gouldpassing onhad the vividness
of a figure seen in the clear patches of sun that chequer the
gloom of open glades in the woods. The stones in the rings upon
her hand pressed to her forehead glittered in the lamplight
abreast of the door of the sala.

Who's there?she askedin a startled voice. "Is that you
Basilio?" She looked inand saw Martin Decoud walking about
with an air of having lost somethingamongst the chairs and
tables.

Antonia has forgotten her fan in here,said Decoudwith a
strange air of distraction; "so I entered to see."

Buteven as he said thishe had obviously given up his search
and walked straight towards Mrs. Gouldwho looked at him with
doubtful surprise.

Senora,he beganin a low voice.

What is it, Don Martin?asked Mrs. Gould. And then she added
with a slight laughI am so nervous to-day,as if to explain
the eagerness of the question.

Nothing immediately dangerous,said Decoudwho now could not
conceal his agitation. "Pray don't distress yourself. Noreally
you must not distress yourself."

Mrs. Gouldwith her candid eyes very wide openher lips
composed into a smilewas steadying herself with a little
bejewelled hand against the side of the door.

Perhaps you don't know how alarming you are, appearing like this
unexpectedly--

I! Alarming!he protestedsincerely vexed and surprised. "I
assure you that I am not in the least alarmed myself. A fan is
lost; wellit will be found again. But I don't think it is here.
It is a fan I am looking for. I cannot understand how Antonia
could--Well! Have you found itamigo?"


No, senor,said behind Mrs. Gould the soft voice of Basilio
the head servant of the Casa. "I don't think the senorita could
have left it in this house at all."

Go and look for it in the patio again. Go now, my friend; look
for it on the steps, under the gate; examine every flagstone;
search for it till I come down again. . . . That fellow--he
addressed himself in English to Mrs. Gould--"is always stealing
up behind one's back on his bare feet. I set him to look for that
fan directly I came in to justify my reappearancemy sudden
return."

He paused and Mrs. Gould saidamiablyYou are always welcome.
She paused for a secondtoo. "But I am waiting to learn the
cause of your return."

Decoud affected suddenly the utmost nonchalance.

I can't bear to be spied upon. Oh, the cause? Yes, there is a
cause; there is something else that is lost besides Antonia's
favourite fan. As I was walking home after seeing Don Jose and
Antonia to their house, the Capataz de Cargadores, riding down
the street, spoke to me.

Has anything happened to the Violas?inquired Mrs. Gould.

The Violas? You mean the old Garibaldino who keeps the hotel
where the engineers live? Nothing happened there. The Capataz
said nothing of them; he only told me that the telegraphist of
the Cable Company was walking on the Plaza, bareheaded, looking
out for me. There is news from the interior, Mrs. Gould. I
should rather say rumours of news.

Good news?said Mrs. Gould in a low voice.

Worthless, I should think. But if I must define them, I would
say bad. They are to the effect that a two days' battle had been
fought near Sta. Marta, and that the Ribierists are defeated. It
must have happened a few days ago--perhaps a week. The rumour has
just reached Cayta, and the man in charge of the cable station
there has telegraphed the news to his colleague here. We might
just as well have kept Barrios in Sulaco.

What's to be done now?murmured Mrs. Gould.

Nothing. He's at sea with the troops. He will get to Cayta in a
couple of days' time and learn the news there. What he will do
then, who can say? Hold Cayta? Offer his submission to Montero?
Disband his army--this last most likely, and go himself in one of
the O.S.N. Company's steamers, north or south--to Valparaiso or
to San Francisco, no matter where. Our Barrios has a great
practice in exiles and repatriations, which mark the points in
the political game.

Decoudexchanging a steady stare with Mrs. Gouldadded
tentativelyas it wereAnd yet, if we had could have been
done.

Montero victorious, completely victorious!Mrs. Gould breathed
out in a tone of unbelief.

A canard, probably. That sort of bird is hatched in great
numbers in such times as these. And even if it were true? Well,


let us put things at their worst, let us say it is true.

Then everything is lost,said Mrs. Gouldwith the calmness of
despair.

Suddenly she seemed to divineshe seemed to see Decoud's
tremendous excitement under its cloak of studied carelessness. It
wasindeedbecoming visible in his audacious and watchful
starein the curvehalf-recklesshalf-contemptuousof his
lips. And a French phrase came upon them as iffor this
Costaguanero of the Boulevardthat had been the only forcible
language-


Non, Madame. Rien n'est perdu.

It electrified Mrs. Gould out of her benumbed attitudeand she
saidvivaciously-


What would you think of doing?

But already there was something of mockery in Decoud's suppressed
excitement.

What would you expect a true Costaguanero to do? Another
revolution, of course. On my word of honour, Mrs. Gould, I
believe I am a true hijo del pays, a true son of the country,
whatever Father Corbelan may say. And I'm not so much of an
unbeliever as not to have faith in my own ideas, in my own
remedies, in my own desires.

Yes,said Mrs. Goulddoubtfully.

You don't seem convinced,Decoud went on again in French. "Say
thenin my passions."

Mrs. Gould received this addition unflinchingly. To understand it
thoroughly she did not require to hear his muttered assurance-


There is nothing I would not do for the sake of Antonia. There
is nothing I am not prepared to undertake. There is no risk I am
not ready to run.

Decoud seemed to find a fresh audacity in this voicing of his
thoughts. "You would not believe me if I were to say that it is
the love of the country which--"

She made a sort of discouraged protest with her armas if to
express that she had given up expecting that motive from any one.

A Sulaco revolution,Decoud pursued in a forcible undertone.
The Great Cause may be served here, on the very spot of its
inception, in the place of its birth, Mrs. Gould.

Frowningand biting her lower lip thoughtfullyshe made a step
away from the door.

You are not going to speak to your husband?Decoud arrested her
anxiously.

But you will need his help?

No doubt,Decoud admitted without hesitation. "Everything
turns upon the San Tome minebut I would rather he didn't know
anything as yet of my--my hopes."


A puzzled look came upon Mrs. Gould's faceand Decoud
approachingexplained confidentially-


Don't you see, he's such an idealist.

Mrs. Gould flushed pinkand her eyes grew darker at the same
time.

Charley an idealist!she saidas if to herselfwonderingly.
What on earth do you mean?

Yes,conceded Decoudit's a wonderful thing to say with the
sight of the San Tome mine, the greatest fact in the whole of
South America, perhaps, before our very eyes. But look even at
that, he has idealized this fact to a point--He paused. "Mrs.
Gouldare you aware to what point he has idealized the
existencethe worththe meaning of the San Tome mine? Are you
aware of it?"

He must have known what he was talking about.

The effect he expected was produced. Mrs. Gouldready to take
firegave it up suddenly with a low little sound that resembled
a moan.

What do you know?she asked in a feeble voice.

Nothing,answered Decoudfirmly. "Butthendon't you see
he's an Englishman?"

Well, what of that?asked Mrs. Gould.

Simply that he cannot act or exist without idealizing every
simple feeling, desire, or achievement. He could not believe his
own motives if he did not make them first a part of some fairy
tale. The earth is not quite good enough for him, I fear. Do you
excuse my frankness? Besides, whether you excuse it or not, it is
part of the truth of things which hurts the--what do you call
them?--the Anglo-Saxon's susceptibilities, and at the present
moment I don't feel as if I could treat seriously either his
conception of things or--if you allow me to say so--or yet
yours.

Mrs. Gould gave no sign of being offended. "I suppose Antonia
understands you thoroughly?"

Understands? Well, yes. But I am not sure that she approves.
That, however, makes no difference. I am honest enough to tell
you that, Mrs. Gould.

Your idea, of course, is separation,she said.

Separation, of course,declared Martin. "Yes; separation of the
whole Occidental Province from the rest of the unquiet body. But
my true ideathe only one I care foris not to be separated
from Antonia."

And that is all?asked Mrs. Gouldwithout severity.

Absolutely. I am not deceiving myself about my motives. She
won't leave Sulaco for my sake, therefore Sulaco must leave the
rest of the Republic to its fate. Nothing could be clearer than
that. I like a clearly defined situation. I cannot part with


Antonia, therefore the one and indivisible Republic of Costaguana
must be made to part with its western province. Fortunately it
happens to be also a sound policy. The richest, the most fertile
part of this land may be saved from anarchy. Personally, I care
little, very little; but it's a fact that the establishment of
Montero in power would mean death to me. In all the proclamations
of general pardon which I have seen, my name, with a few others,
is specially excepted. The brothers hate me, as you know very
well, Mrs. Gould; and behold, here is the rumour of them having
won a battle. You say that supposing it is true, I have plenty of
time to run away.

The slightprotesting murmur on the part of Mrs. Gould made him
pause for a momentwhile he looked at her with a sombre and
resolute glance.

Ah, but I would, Mrs. Gould. I would run away if it served that
which at present is my only desire. I am courageous enough to say
that, and to do it, too. But women, even our women, are
idealists. It is Antonia that won't run away. A novel sort of
vanity.

You call it vanity,said Mrs. Gouldin a shocked voice.

Say pride, then, which. Father Corbelan would tell you, is a
mortal sin. But I am not proud. I am simply too much in love to
run away. At the same time I want to live. There is no love for a
dead man. Therefore it is necessary that Sulaco should not
recognize the victorious Montero.

And you think my husband will give you his support?

I think he can be drawn into it, like all idealists, when he
once sees a sentimental basis for his action. But I wouldn't
talk to him. Mere clear facts won't appeal to his sentiment. It
is much better for him to convince himself in his own way. And,
frankly, I could not, perhaps, just now pay sufficient respect to
either his motives or even, perhaps, to yours, Mrs. Gould.

It was evident that Mrs. Gould was very determined not to be
offended. She smiled vaguelywhile she seemed to think the
matter over. As far as she could judge from the girl's
half-confidencesAntonia understood that young man. Obviously
there was promise of safety in his planor rather in his idea.
Moreoverright or wrongthe idea could do no harm. And it was
quite possiblealsothat the rumour was false.

You have some sort of a plan,she said.

Simplicity itself. Barrios has started, let him go on then; he
will hold Cayta, which is the door of the sea route to Sulaco.
They cannot send a sufficient force over the mountains. No; not
even to cope with the band of Hernandez. Meantime we shall
organize our resistance here. And for that, this very Hernandez
will be useful. He has defeated troops as a bandit; he will no
doubt accomplish the same thing if he is made a colonel or even a
general. You know the country well enough not to be shocked by
what I say, Mrs. Gould. I have heard you assert that this poor
bandit was the living,breathing example of cruelty, injustice,
stupidity, and oppression, that ruin men's souls as well as their
fortunes in this country. Well, there would be some poetical
retribution in that man arising to crush the evils which had
driven an honest ranchero into a life of crime. A fine idea of
retribution in that, isn't there?


Decoud had dropped easily into Englishwhich he spoke with
precisionvery correctlybut with too many z sounds.

Think also of your hospitals, of your schools, of your ailing
mothers and feeble old men, of all that population which you and
your husband have brought into the rocky gorge of San Tome. Are
you not responsible to your conscience for all these people? Is
it not worth while to make another effort, which is not at all so
desperate as it looks, rather than--

Decoud finished his thought with an upward toss of the arm
suggesting annihilation; and Mrs. Gould turned away her head with
a look of horror.

Why don't you say all this to my husband?she askedwithout
looking at Decoudwho stood watching the effect of his words.

Ah! But Don Carlos is so English,he began. Mrs. Gould
interrupted-


Leave that alone, Don Martin. He's as much a Costaguanero--No!
He's more of a Costaguanero than yourself.

Sentimentalist, sentimentalist,Decoud almost cooedin a tone
of gentle and soothing deference. "Sentimentalistafter the
amazing manner of your people. I have been watching El Rey de
Sulaco since I came here on a fool's errandand perhaps impelled
by some treason of fate lurking behind the unaccountable turns of
a man's life. But I don't matterI am not a sentimentalistI
cannot endow my personal desires with a shining robe of silk and
jewels. Life is not for me a moral romance derived from the
tradition of a pretty fairy tale. NoMrs. Gould; I am practical.
I am not afraid of my motives. Butpardon meI have been rather
carried away. What I wish to say is that I have been observing. I
won't tell you what I have discovered--"

No. That is unnecessary,whispered Mrs. Gouldonce more
averting her head.

It is. Except one little fact, that your husband does not like
me. It's a small matter, which, in the circumstances, seems to
acquire a perfectly ridiculous importance. Ridiculous and
immense; for, clearly, money is required for my plan,he
reflected; then addedmeaninglyand we have two
sentimentalists to deal with.

I don't know that I understand you, Don Martin,said Mrs.
Gouldcoldlypreserving the low key of their conversation.
But, speaking as if I did, who is the other?

The great Holroyd in San Francisco, of course,Decoud
whisperedlightly. "I think you understand me very well. Women
are idealists; but then they are so perspicacious."

But whatever was the reason of that remarkdisparaging and
complimentary at the same timeMrs. Gould seemed not to pay
attention to it. The name of Holroyd had given a new tone to her
anxiety.

The silver escort is coming down to the harbour tomorrow; a
whole six months' working, Don Martin!she cried in dismay.

Let it come down, then,breathed out Decoudearnestlyalmost


into her ear.

But if the rumour should get about, and especially if it turned
out true, troubles might break out in the town,objected Mrs.
Gould.

Decoud admitted that it was possible. He knew well the town
children of the Sulaco Campo: sullenthievishvindictiveand
bloodthirstywhatever great qualities their brothers of the
plain might have had. But then there was that other
sentimentalistwho attached a strangely idealistic meaning to
concrete facts. This stream of silver must be kept flowing north
to return in the form of financial backing from the great house
of Holroyd. Up at the mountain in the strong room of the mine the
silver bars were worth less for his purpose than so much lead
from which at least bullets may be run. Let it come down to the
harbourready for shipment.

The next north-going steamer would carry it off for the very
salvation of the San Tome minewhich had produced so much
treasure. Andmoreoverthe rumour was probably falsehe
remarkedwith much conviction in his hurried tone.

Besides, senora,concluded Decoudwe may suppress it for many
days. I have been talking with the telegraphist in the middle of
the Plaza Mayor; thus I am certain that we could not have been
overheard. There was not even a bird in the air near us. And
also let me tell you something more. I have been making friends
with this man called Nostromo, the Capataz. We had a
conversation this very evening, I walking by the side of his
horse as he rode slowly out of the town just now. He promised me
that if a riot took place for any reason--even for the most
political of reasons, you understand--his Cargadores, an
important part of the populace, you will admit, should be found
on the side of the Europeans.

He has promised you that?Mrs. Gould inquiredwith interest.
What made him make that promise to you?

Upon my word, I don't know,declared Decoudin a slightly
surprised tone. "He certainly promised me thatbut now you ask
me whyI could not tell you his reasons. He talked with his
usual carelessnesswhichif he had been anything else but a
common sailorI would call a pose or an affectation."

Decoudinterrupting himselflooked at Mrs. Gould curiously.

Upon the whole,he continuedI suppose he expects something
to his advantage from it. You mustn't forget that he does not
exercise his extraordinary power over the lower classes without a
certain amount of personal risk and without a great profusion in
spending his money. One must pay in some way or other for such a
solid thing as individual prestige. He told me after we made
friends at a dance, in a Posada kept by a Mexican just outside
the walls, that he had come here to make his fortune. I suppose
he looks upon his prestige as a sort of investment.

Perhaps he prizes it for its own sake,Mrs. Gould said in a
tone as if she were repelling an undeserved aspersion. "Viola
the Garibaldinowith whom he has lived for some yearscalls him
the Incorruptible."

Ah! he belongs to the group of your proteges out there towards
the harbour, Mrs. Gould. Muy bien. And Captain Mitchell calls


him wonderful. I have heard no end of tales of his strength, his
audacity, his fidelity. No end of fine things. H'm!
incorruptible! It is indeed a name of honour for the Capataz of
the Cargadores of Sulaco. Incorruptible! Fine, but vague.
However, I suppose he's sensible, too. And I talked to him upon
that sane and practical assumption.

I prefer to think him disinterested, and therefore trustworthy,
Mrs. Gould saidwith the nearest approach to curtness it was in
her nature to assume.

Well, if so, then the silver will be still more safe. Let it
come down, senora. Let it come down, so that it may go north and
return to us in the shape of credit.

Mrs. Gould glanced along the corredor towards the door of her
husband's room. Decoudwatching her as if she had his fate in
her handsdetected an almost imperceptible nod of assent. He
bowed with a smileandputting his hand into the breast pocket
of his coatpulled out a fan of light feathers set upon painted
leaves of sandal-wood. "I had it in my pocket he murmured,
triumphantly, for a plausible pretext." He bowed again.
Good-night, senora.

Mrs. Gould continued along the corredor away from her husband's
room. The fate of the San Tome mine was lying heavy upon her
heart. It was a long time now since she had begun to fear it. It
had been an idea. She had watched it with misgivings turning into
a fetishand now the fetish had grown into a monstrous and
crushing weight. It was as if the inspiration of their early
years had left her heart to turn into a wall of silver-bricks
erected by the silent work of evil spiritsbetween her and her
husband. He seemed to dwell alone within a circumvallation of
precious metalleaving her outside with her schoolher
hospitalthe sick mothers and the feeble old menmere
insignificant vestiges of the initial inspiration. "Those poor
people!" she murmured to herself.

Below she heard the voice of Martin Decoud in the patio speaking
loudly:

I have found Dona Antonia's fan, Basilio. Look. here it is!

CHAPTER SEVEN

IT WAS part of what Decoud would have called his sane materialism
that he did not believe in the possibility of friendship between
man and woman.

The one exception he allowed confirmedhe maintainedthat
absolute rule. Friendship was possible between brother and
sistermeaning by friendship the frank unreserveas before
another human beingof thoughts and sensations; all the
objectless and necessary sincerity of one's innermost life trying
to re-act upon the profound sympathies of another existence.

His favourite sisterthe handsomeslightly arbitrary and
resolute angelruling the father and mother Decoud in the
first-floor apartments of a very fine Parisian housewas the
recipient of Martin Decoud's confidences as to his thoughts
actionspurposesdoubtsand even failures. . . .


Prepare our little circle in Paris for the birth of another
South American Republic. One more or less, what does it matter?
They may come into the world like evil flowers on a hotbed of
rotten institutions; but the seed of this one has germinated in
your brother's brain, and that will be enough for your devoted
assent. I am writing this to you by the light of a single
candle, in a sort of inn, near the harbour, kept by an Italian
called Viola, a protege of Mrs. Gould. The whole building, which,
for all I know, may have been contrived by a Conquistador farmer
of the pearl fishery three hundred years ago, is perfectly
silent. So is the plain between the town and the harbour; silent,
but not so dark as the house, because the pickets of Italian
workmen guarding the railway have lighted little fires all along
the line. It was not so quiet around here yesterday. We had an
awful riot--a sudden outbreak of the populace, which was not
suppressed till late today. Its object, no doubt, was loot, and
that was defeated, as you may have learned already from the
cablegram sent via San Francisco and New York last night, when
the cables were still open. You have read already there that the
energetic action of the Europeans of the railway has saved the
town from destruction, and you may believe that. I wrote out the
cable myself. We have no Reuter's agency man here. I have also
fired at the mob from the windows of the club, in company with
some other young men of position. Our object was to keep the
Calle de la Constitucion clear for the exodus of the ladies and
children, who have taken refuge on board a couple of cargo ships
now in the harbour here. That was yesterday. You should also have
learned from the cable that the missing President, Ribiera, who
had disappeared after the battle of Sta. Marta, has turned up
here in Sulaco by one of those strange coincidences that are
almost incredible, riding on a lame mule into the very midst of
the street fighting. It appears that he had fled, in company of
a muleteer called Bonifacio, across the mountains from the
threats of Montero into the arms of an enraged mob.

The Capataz of Cargadoresthat Italian sailor of whom I have
written to you beforehas saved him from an ignoble death. That
man seems to have a particular talent for being on the spot
whenever there is something picturesque to be done.

He was with me at four o'clock in the morning at the offices of
the Porvenir, where he had turned up so early in order to warn me
of the coming trouble, and also to assure me that he would keep
his Cargadores on the side of order. When the full daylight came
we were looking together at the crowd on foot and on horseback,
demonstrating on the Plaza and shying stones at the windows of
the Intendencia. Nostromo (that is the name they call him by
here) was pointing out to me his Cargadores interspersed in the
mob.

The sun shines late upon Sulacofor it has first to climb above
the mountains. In that clear morning lightbrighter than
twilightNostromo saw right across the vast Plazaat the end of
the street beyond the cathedrala mounted man apparently in
difficulties with a yelling knot of leperos. At once he said to
me'That's a stranger. What is it they are doing to him?' Then
he took out the silver whistle he is in the habit of using on the
wharf (this man seems to disdain the use of any metal less
precious than silver) and blew into it twiceevidently a
preconcerted signal for his Cargadores. He ran out immediately
and they rallied round him. I ran outtoobut was too late to
follow them and help in the rescue of the strangerwhose animal
had fallen. I was set upon at once as a hated aristocratand
was only too glad to get into the clubwhere Don Jaime Berges


(you may remember him visiting at our house in Paris some three
years ago) thrust a sporting gun into my hands. They were already
firing from the windows. There were little heaps of cartridges
lying about on the open card-tables. I remember a couple of
overturned chairssome bottles rolling on the floor amongst the
packs of cards scattered suddenly as the caballeros rose from
their game to open fire upon the mob. Most of the young men had
spent the night at the club in the expectation of some such
disturbance. In two of the candelabraon the consolesthe
candles were burning down in their sockets. A large iron nut
probably stolen from the railway workshopsflew in from the
street as I enteredand broke one of the large mirrors set in
the wall. I noticed also one of the club servants tied up hand
and foot with the cords of the curtain and flung in a corner. I
have a vague recollection of Don Jaime assuring me hastily that
the fellow had been detected putting poison into the dishes at
supper. But I remember distinctly he was shrieking for mercy
without stopping at allcontinuouslyand so absolutely
disregarded that nobody even took the trouble to gag him. The
noise he made was so disagreeable that I had half a mind to do it
myself. But there was no time to waste on such trifles. I took my
place at one of the windows and began firing.

I didn't learn till later in the afternoon whom it was that
Nostromo, with his Cargadores and some Italian workmen as well,
had managed to save from those drunken rascals. That man has a
peculiar talent when anything striking to the imagination has to
be done. I made that remark to him afterwards when we met after
some sort of order had been restored in the town, and the answer
he made rather surprised me. He said quite moodily, 'And how much
do I get for that, senor?' Then it dawned upon me that perhaps
this man's vanity has been satiated by the adulation of the
common people and the confidence of his superiors!

Decoud paused to light a cigarettethenwith his head still
over his writinghe blew a cloud of smokewhich seemed to
rebound from the paper. He took up the pencil again.

That was yesterday evening on the Plaza, while he sat on the
steps of the cathedral, his hands between his knees, holding the
bridle of his famous silver-grey mare. He had led his body of
Cargadores splendidly all day long. He looked fatigued. I don't
know how I looked. Very dirty, I suppose. But I suppose I also
looked pleased. From the time the fugitive President had been got
off to the S. S. Minerva, the tide of success had turned against
the mob. They had been driven off the harbour, and out of the
better streets of the town, into their own maze of ruins and
tolderias. You must understand that this riot, whose primary
object was undoubtedly the getting hold of the San Tome silver
stored in the lower rooms of the Custom House (besides the
general looting of the Ricos), had acquired a political colouring
from the fact of two Deputies to the Provincial Assembly, Senores
Gamacho and Fuentes, both from Bolson, putting themselves at the
head of it--late in the afternoon, it is true, when the mob,
disappointed in their hopes of loot, made a stand in the narrow
streets to the cries of 'Viva la Libertad! Down with Feudalism!'
(I wonder what they imagine feudalism to be?) 'Down with the
Goths and Paralytics.' I suppose the Senores Gamacho and Fuentes
knew what they were doing. They are prudent gentlemen. In the
Assembly they called themselves Moderates, and opposed every
energetic measure with philanthropic pensiveness. At the first
rumours of Montero's victory, they showed a subtle change of the
pensive temper, and began to defy poor Don Juste Lopez in his
Presidential tribune with an effrontery to which the poor man


could only respond by a dazed smoothing of his beard and the
ringing of the presidential bell. Then, when the downfall of the
Ribierist cause became confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt,
they have blossomed into convinced Liberals, acting together as
if they were Siamese twins, and ultimately taking charge, as it
were, of the riot in the name of Monterist principles.

Their last move of eight o'clock last night was to organize
themselves into a Monterist Committee which sitsas far as I
knowin a posada kept by a retired Mexican bull-fightera great
politiciantoowhose name I have forgotten. Thence they have
issued a communication to usthe Goths and Paralytics of the
Amarilla Club (who have our own committee)inviting us to come
to some provisional understanding for a trucein orderthey
have the impudence to saythat the noble cause of Liberty
'should not be stained by the criminal excesses of Conservative
selfishness!' As I came out to sit with Nostromo on the cathedral
steps the club was busy considering a proper reply in the
principal roomlittered with exploded cartridgeswith a lot of
broken glassblood smearscandlesticksand all sorts of
wreckage on the floor. But all this is nonsense. Nobody in the
town has any real power except the railway engineerswhose men
occupy the dismantled houses acquired by the Company for their
town station on one side of the Plazaand Nostromowhose
Cargadores were sleeping under the arcades along the front of
Anzani's shops. A fire of broken furniture out of the Intendencia
saloonsmostly giltwas burning on the Plazain a high flame
swaying right upon the statue of Charles IV. The dead body of a
man was lying on the steps of the pedestalhis arms thrown wide
openand his sombrero covering his face--the attention of some
friendperhaps. The light of the flames touched the foliage of
the first trees on the Alamedaand played on the end of a side
street near byblocked up by a jumble of ox-carts and dead
bullocks. Sitting on one of the carcassesa leperomuffled up
smoked a cigarette. It was a truceyou understand. The only
other living being on the Plaza besides ourselves was a Cargador
walking to and frowith a longbare knife in his handlike a
sentry before the Arcadeswhere his friends were sleeping. And
the only other spot of light in the dark town were the lighted
windows of the clubat the corner of the Calle."

After having written so farDon Martin Decoudthe exotic dandy
of the Parisian boulevardgot up and walked across the sanded
floor of the cafe at one end of the Albergo of United Italykept
by Giorgio Violathe old companion of Garibaldi. The highly
coloured lithograph of the Faithful Hero seemed to look dimlyin
the light of one candleat the man with no faith in anything
except the truth of his own sensations. Looking out of the
windowDecoud was met by a darkness so impenetrable that he
could see neither the mountains nor the townnor yet the
buildings near the harbour; and there was not a soundas if the
tremendous obscurity of the Placid Gulfspreading from the
waters over the landhad made it dumb as well as blind.
Presently Decoud felt a light tremor of the floor and a distant
clank of iron. A bright white light appeareddeep in the
darknessgrowing bigger with a thundering noise. The rolling
stock usually kept on the sidings in Rincon was being run back to
the yards for safe keeping. Like a mysterious stirring of the
darkness behind the headlight of the enginethe train passed in
a gust of hollow uproarby the end of the housewhich seemed to
vibrate all over in response. And nothing was clearly visible
buton the end of the last flat cara negroin white trousers
and naked to the waistswinging a blazing torch basket
incessantly with a circular movement of his bare arm. Decoud did


not stir.

Behind himon the back of the chair from which he had risen
hung his elegant Parisian overcoatwith a pearl-grey silk
lining. But when he turned back to come to the table the
candlelight fell upon a face that was grimy and scratched. His
rosy lips were blackened with heatthe smoke of gun-powder. Dirt
and rust tarnished the lustre of his short beard. His shirt
collar and cuffs were crumpled; the blue silken tie hung down his
breast like a rag; a greasy smudge crossed his white brow. He had
not taken off his clothing nor used waterexcept to snatch a
hasty drink greedilyfor some forty hours. An awful restlessness
had made him its ownhad marked him with all the signs of
desperate strifeand put a drysleepless stare into his eyes.
He murmured to himself in a hoarse voiceI wonder if there's
any bread here,looked vaguely about himthen dropped into the
chair and took the pencil up again. He became aware he had not
eaten anything for many hours.

It occurred to him that no one could understand him so well as
his sister. In the most sceptical heart there lurks at such
momentswhen the chances of existence are involveda desire to
leave a correct impression of the feelingslike a light by which
the action may be seen when personality is gonegone where no
light of investigation can ever reach the truth which every death
takes out of the world. Thereforeinstead of looking for
something to eator trying to snatch an hour or so of sleep
Decoud was filling the pages of a large pocket-book with a letter
to his sister.

In the intimacy of that intercourse he could not keep out his
wearinesshis great fatiguethe close touch of his bodily
sensations. He began again as if he were talking to her. With
almost an illusion of her presencehe wrote the phraseI am
very hungry.

I have the feeling of a great solitude around me,he continued.
Is it, perhaps, because I am the only man with a definite idea
in his head, in the complete collapse of every resolve,
intention, and hope about me? But the solitude is also very
real. All the engineers are out, and have been for two days,
looking after the property of the National Central Railway, of
that great Costaguana undertaking which is to put money into the
pockets of Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, Germans, and God
knows who else. The silence about me is ominous. There is above
the middle part of this house a sort of first floor, with narrow
openings like loopholes for windows, probably used in old times
for the better defence against the savages, when the persistent
barbarism of our native continent did not wear the black coats of
politicians, but went about yelling, half-naked, with bows and
arrows in its hands. The woman of the house is dying up there, I
believe, all alone with her old husband. There is a narrow
staircase, the sort of staircase one man could easily defend
against a mob, leading up there, and I have just heard, through
the thickness of the wall, the old fellow going down into their
kitchen for something or other. It was a sort of noise a mouse
might make behind the plaster of a wall. All the servants they
had ran away yesterday and have not returned yet, if ever they
do. For the rest, there are only two children here, two girls.
The father has sent them downstairs, and they have crept into
this cafe, perhaps because I am here. They huddle together in a
corner, in each other's arms; I just noticed them a few minutes
ago, and I feel more lonely than ever.


Decoud turned half round in his chairand askedIs there any
bread here?

Linda's dark head was shaken negatively in responseabove the
fair head of her sister nestling on her breast.

You couldn't get me some bread?insisted Decoud. The child did
not move; he saw her large eyes stare at him very dark from the
corner. "You're not afraid of me?" he said.

No,said Lindawe are not afraid of you. You came here with
Gian' Battista.

You mean Nostromo?said Decoud.

The English call him so, but that is no name either for man or
beast,said the girlpassing her hand gently over her sister's
hair.

But he lets people call him so,remarked Decoud.

Not in this house,retorted the child.

Ah! well, I shall call him the Capataz then.

Decoud gave up the pointand after writing steadily for a while
turned round again.

When do you expect him back?he asked.

After he brought you here he rode off to fetch the Senor Doctor
from the town for mother. He will be back soon.

He stands a good chance of getting shot somewhere on the road,
Decoud murmured to himself audibly; and Linda declared in her
high-pitched voice-


Nobody would dare to fire a shot at Gian' Battista.

You believe that,asked Decouddo you?

I know it,said the childwith conviction. "There is no one in
this place brave enough to attack Gian' Battista."

It doesn't require much bravery to pull a trigger behind a
bush,muttered Decoud to himself. "Fortunatelythe night is
darkor there would be but little chance of saving the silver of
the mine."

He turned again to his pocket-bookglanced back through the
pagesand again started his pencil.

That was the position yesterday, after the Minerva with the
fugitive President had gone out of harbour, and the rioters had
been driven back into the side lanes of the town. I sat on the
steps of the cathedral with Nostromo, after sending out the cable
message for the information of a more or less attentive world.
Strangely enough, though the offices of the Cable Company are in
the same building as the Porvenir, the mob, which has thrown my
presses out of the window and scattered the type all over the
Plaza, has been kept from interfering with the instruments on the
other side of the courtyard. As I sat talking with Nostromo,
Bernhardt, the telegraphist, came out from under the Arcades with
a piece of paper in his hand. The little man had tied himself up


to an enormous sword and was hung all over with revolvers. He is
ridiculous, but the bravest German of his size that ever tapped
the key of a Morse transmitter. He had received the message from
Cayta reporting the transports with Barrios's army just entering
the port, and ending with the words, 'The greatest enthusiasm
prevails.' I walked off to drink some water at the fountain, and
I was shot at from the Alameda by somebody hiding behind a tree.
But I drank, and didn't care; with Barrios in Cayta and the great
Cordillera between us and Montero's victorious army I seemed,
notwithstanding Messrs. Gamacho and Fuentes, to hold my new State
in the hollow of my hand. I was ready to sleep, but when I got as
far as the Casa Gould I found the patio full of wounded laid out
on straw. Lights were burning, and in that enclosed courtyard on
that hot night a faint odour of chloroform and blood hung about.
At one end Doctor Monygham, the doctor of the mine, was dressing
the wounds; at the other, near the stairs, Father Corbelan,
kneeling, listened to the confession of a dying Cargador. Mrs.
Gould was walking about through these shambles with a large
bottle in one hand and a lot of cotton wool in the other. She
just looked at me and never even winked. Her camerista was
following her, also holding a bottle, and sobbing gently to
herself.

I busied myself for some time in fetching water from the cistern
for the wounded. Afterwards I wandered upstairsmeeting some of
the first ladies of Sulacopaler than I had ever seen them
beforewith bandages over their arms. Not all of them had fled
to the ships. A good many had taken refuge for the day in the
Casa Gould. On the landing a girlwith her hair half downwas
kneeling against the wall under the niche where stands a Madonna
in blue robes and a gilt crown on her head. I think it was the
eldest Miss Lopez; I couldn't see her facebut I remember
looking at the high French heel of her little shoe. She did not
make a soundshe did not stirshe was not sobbing; she remained
thereperfectly stillall black against the white walla
silent figure of passionate piety. I am sure she was no more
frightened than the other white-faced ladies I met carrying
bandages. One was sitting on the top step tearing a piece of
linen hastily into strips--the young wife of an elderly man of
fortune here. She interrupted herself to wave her hand to my
bowas though she were in her carriage on the Alameda. The women
of our country are worth looking at during a revolution. The
rouge and pearl powder fall offtogether with that passive
attitude towards the outer world which educationtradition
custom impose upon them from the earliest infancy. I thought of
your facewhich from your infancy had the stamp of intelligence
instead of that patient and resigned cast which appears when some
political commotion tears down the veil of cosmetics and usage.

In the great sala upstairs a sort of Junta of Notables was
sitting, the remnant of the vanished Provincial Assembly. Don
Juste Lopez had had half his beard singed off at the muzzle of a
trabuco loaded with slugs, of which every one missed him,
providentially. And as he turned his head from side to side it
was exactly as if there had been two men inside his frock-coat,
one nobly whiskered and solemn, the other untidy and scared.

They raised a cry of 'Decoud! Don Martin!' at my entrance. I
asked them'What are you deliberating upongentlemen?' There
did not seem to be any presidentthough Don Jose Avellanos sat
at the head of the table. They all answered together'On the
preservation of life and property.' 'Till the new officials
arrive' Don Juste explained to mewith the solemn side of his
face offered to my view. It was as if a stream of water had been


poured upon my glowing idea of a new State. There was a hissing
sound in my earsand the room grew dimas if suddenly filled
with vapour.

I walked up to the table blindly, as though I had been drunk.
'You are deliberating upon surrender,' I said. They all sat
still, with their noses over the sheet of paper each had before
him, God only knows why. Only Don Jose hid his face in his hands,
muttering, 'Never, never!' But as I looked at him, it seemed to
me that I could have blown him away with my breath, he looked so
frail, so weak, so worn out. Whatever happens, he will not
survive. The deception is too great for a man of his age; and
hasn't he seen the sheets of 'Fifty Years of Misrule,' which we
have begun printing on the presses of the Porvenir, littering the
Plaza, floating in the gutters, fired out as wads for trabucos
loaded with handfuls of type, blown in the wind, trampled in the
mud? I have seen pages floating upon the very waters of the
harbour. It would be unreasonable to expect him to survive. It
would be cruel.

'Do you know' I cried'what surrender means to youto your
womento your childrento your property?'

I declaimed for five minutes without drawing breath, it seems to
me, harping on our best chances, on the ferocity of Montero, whom
I made out to be as great a beast as I have no doubt he would
like to be if he had intelligence enough to conceive a systematic
reign of terror. And then for another five minutes or more I
poured out an impassioned appeal to their courage and manliness,
with all the passion of my love for Antonia. For if ever man
spoke well, it would be from a personal feeling, denouncing an
enemy, defending himself, or pleading for what really may be
dearer than life. My dear girl, I absolutely thundered at them.
It seemed as if my voice would burst the walls asunder, and when
I stopped I saw all their scared eyes looking at me dubiously.
And that was all the effect I had produced! Only Don Jose's head
had sunk lower and lower on his breast. I bent my ear to his
withered lips, and made out his whisper, something like, 'In
God's name, then, Martin, my son!' I don't know exactly. There
was the name of God in it, I am certain. It seems to me I have
caught his last breath--the breath of his departing soul on his
lips.

He lives yetit is true. I have seen him since; but it was only
a senile bodylying on its backcovered to the chinwith open
eyesand so still that you might have said it was breathing no
longer. I left him thuswith Antonia kneeling by the side of the
bedjust before I came to this Italian's posadawhere the
ubiquitous death is also waiting. But I know that Don Jose has
really died therein the Casa Gouldwith that whisper urging me
to attempt what no doubt his soulwrapped up in the sanctity of
diplomatic treaties and solemn declarationsmust have abhorred.
I had exclaimed very loud'There is never any God in a country
where men will not help themselves.'

Meanwhile, Don Juste had begun a pondered oration whose solemn
effect was spoiled by the ridiculous disaster to his beard. I did
not wait to make it out. He seemed to argue that Montero's (he
called him The General) intentions were probably not evil,
though, he went on, 'that distinguished man' (only a week ago we
used to call him a gran' bestia) 'was perhaps mistaken as to the
true means.' As you may imagine, I didn't stay to hear the rest.
I know the intentions of Montero's brother, Pedrito, the
guerrillero, whom I exposed in Paris, some years ago, in a cafe


frequented by South American students, where he tried to pass
himself off for a Secretary of Legation. He used to come in and
talk for hours, twisting his felt hat in his hairy paws, and his
ambition seemed to become a sort of Duc de Morny to a sort of
Napoleon. Already, then, he used to talk of his brother in
inflated terms. He seemed fairly safe from being found out,
because the students, all of the Blanco families, did not, as you
may imagine, frequent the Legation. It was only Decoud, a man
without faith and principles, as they used to say, that went in
there sometimes for the sake of the fun, as it were to an
assembly of trained monkeys. I know his intentions. I have seen
him change the plates at table. Whoever is allowed to live on in
terror, I must die the death.

NoI didn't stay to the end to hear Don Juste Lopez trying to
persuade himself in a grave oration of the clemency and justice
and honestyand purity of the brothers Montero. I went out
abruptly to seek Antonia. I saw her in the gallery. As I opened
the doorshe extended to me her clasped hands.

'What are they doing in there?' she asked.

'Talking' I saidwith my eyes looking into hers.

'Yes, yes, but--'

'Empty speeches' I interrupted her. 'Hiding their fears behind
imbecile hopes. They are all great Parliamentarians there--on the
English modelas you know.' I was so furious that I could hardly
speak. She made a gesture of despair.

Through the door I held a little ajar behind me, we heard Dun
Juste's measured mouthing monotone go on from phrase to phrase,
like a sort of awful and solemn madness.

'After allthe Democratic aspirations haveperhapstheir
legitimacy. The ways of human progress are inscrutableand if
the fate of the country is in the hand of Monterowe ought--'

I crashed the door to on that; it was enough; it was too much.
There was never a beautiful face expressing more horror and
despair than the face of Antonia. I couldn't bear it; I seized
her wrists.

'Have they killed my father in there?' she asked.

Her eyes blazed with indignation, but as I looked on,
fascinated, the light in them went out.

'It is a surrender' I said. And I remember I was shaking her
wrists I held apart in my hands. 'But it's more than talk. Your
father told me to go on in God's name.'

My dear girl, there is that in Antonia which would make me
believe in the feasibility of anything. One look at her face is
enough to set my brain on fire. And yet I love her as any other
man would--with the heart, and with that alone. She is more to me
than his Church to Father Corbelan (the Grand Vicar disappeared
last night from the town; perhaps gone to join the band of
Hernandez). She is more to me than his precious mine to that
sentimental Englishman. I won't speak of his wife. She may have
been sentimental once. The San Tome mine stands now between
those two people. 'Your father himself, Antonia,' I repeated;
'your father, do you understand? has told me to go on.'


She averted her faceand in a pained voice-


'He has?' she cried. 'Then, indeed, I fear he will never speak
again.'

She freed her wrists from my clutch and began to cry in her
handkerchief. I disregarded her sorrow; I would rather see her
miserable than not see her at allnever any more; for whether I
escaped or stayed to diethere was for us no coming togetherno
future. And that being soI had no pity to waste upon the
passing moments of her sorrow. I sent her off in tears to fetch
Dona Emilia and Don Carlostoo. Their sentiment was necessary to
the very life of my plan; the sentimentalism of the people that
will never do anything for the sake of their passionate desire
unless it comes to them clothed in the fair robes of an idea.

Late at night we formed a small junta of four--the two women,
Don Carlos, and myself--in Mrs. Gould's blue-and-white boudoir.

El Rey de Sulaco thinks himselfno doubta very honest man.
And so he isif one could look behind his taciturnity. Perhaps
he thinks that this alone makes his honesty unstained. Those
Englishmen live on illusions which somehow or other help them to
get a firm hold of the substance. When he speaks it is by a rare
'yes' or 'no' that seems as impersonal as the words of an oracle.
But he could not impose on me by his dumb reserve. I knew what he
had in his head; he has his mine in his head; and his wife had
nothing in her head but his precious personwhich he has bound
up with the Gould Concession and tied up to that little woman's
neck. No matter. The thing was to make him present the affair to
Holroyd (the Steel and Silver King) in such a manner as to secure
his financial support. At that time last nightjust twenty-four
hours agowe thought the silver of the mine safe in the Custom
House vaults till the north-bound steamer came to take it away.
And as long as the treasure flowed northwithout a breakthat
utter sentimentalistHolroydwould not drop his idea of
introducingnot only justiceindustrypeaceto the benighted
continentsbut also that pet dream of his of a purer form of
Christianity. Later onthe principal European really in Sulaco
the engineer-in-chief of the railwaycame riding up the Calle
from the harbourand was admitted to our conclave. Meantimethe
Junta of the Notables in the great sala was still deliberating;
onlyone of them had run out in the corredor to ask the servant
whether something to eat couldn't be sent in. The first words the
engineer-in-chief said as he came into the boudoir were'What is
your housedear Mrs. Gould? A war hospital belowand apparently
a restaurant above. I saw them carrying trays full of good
things into the sala.'

'And here, in this boudoir,' I said, 'you behold the inner
cabinet of the Occidental Republic that is to be.'

He was so preoccupied that he didn't smile at thathe didn't
even look surprised.

He told us that he was attending to the general dispositions for
the defence of the railway property at the railway yards when he
was sent for to go into the railway telegraph office. The
engineer of the railhead, at the foot of the mountains, wanted to
talk to him from his end of the wire. There was nobody in the
office but himself and the operator of the railway telegraph, who
read off the clicks aloud as the tape coiled its length upon the
floor. And the purport of that talk, clicked nervously from a


wooden shed in the depths of the forests, had informed the chief
that President Ribiera had been, or was being, pursued. This was
news, indeed, to all of us in Sulaco. Ribiera himself, when
rescued, revived, and soothed by us, had been inclined to think
that he had not been pursued.

Ribiera had yielded to the urgent solicitations of his friends
and had left the headquarters of his discomfited army alone
under the guidance of Bonifaciothe muleteerwho had been
willing to take the responsibility with the risk. He had departed
at daybreak of the third day. His remaining forces had melted
away during the night. Bonifacio and he rode hard on horses
towards the Cordillera; then they obtained mulesentered the
passesand crossed the Paramo of Ivie just before a freezing
blast swept over that stony plateauburying in a drift of snow
the little shelter-hut of stones in which they had spent the
night. Afterwards poor Ribiera had many adventuresgot
separated from his guidelost his mountstruggled down to the
Campo on footand if he had not thrown himself on the mercy of a
ranchero would have perished a long way from Sulaco. That man
whoas a matter of factrecognized him at oncelet him have a
fresh mulewhich the fugitiveheavy and unskilfulhad ridden
to death. And it was true he had been pursued by a party
commanded by no less a person than Pedro Monterothe brother of
the general. The cold wind of the Paramo luckily caught the
pursuers on the top of the pass. Some few menand all the
animalsperished in the icy blast. The stragglers diedbut the
main body kept on. They found poor Bonifacio lying half-dead at
the foot of a snow slopeand bayoneted him promptly in the true
Civil War style. They would have had Ribieratooif they had
notfor some reason or otherturned off the track of the old
Camino Realonly to lose their way in the forests at the foot of
the lower slopes. And there they were at lasthaving stumbled
in unexpectedly upon the construction camp. The engineer at the
railhead told his chief by wire that he had Pedro Montero
absolutely therein the very officelistening to the clicks. He
was going to take possession of Sulaco in the name of the
Democracy. He was very overbearing. His men slaughtered some of
the Railway Company's cattle without asking leaveand went to
work broiling the meat on the embers. Pedrito made many pointed
inquiries as to the silver mineand what had become of the
product of the last six months' working. He had said
peremptorilyAsk your chief up there by wire, he ought to know;
tell him that Don Pedro Montero, Chief of the Campo and Minister
of the Interior of the new Government, desires to be correctly
informed.'

He had his feet wrapped up in blood-stained ragsa lean
haggard faceragged beard and hairand had walked in limping
with a crooked branch of a tree for a staff. His followers were
perhaps in a worse plightbut apparently they had not thrown
away their armsandat any ratenot all their ammunition.
Their lean faces filled the door and the windows of the telegraph
hut. As it was at the same time the bedroom of the
engineer-in-charge thereMontero had thrown himself on his clean
blankets and lay there shivering and dictating requisitions to be
transmitted by wire to Sulaco. He demanded a train of cars to be
sent down at once to transport his men up.

'To this I answered from my end,' the engineer-in-chief related
to us, 'that I dared not risk the rolling-stock in the interior,
as there had been attempts to wreck trains all along the line
several times. I did that for your sake, Gould,' said the chief
engineer. 'The answer to this was, in the words of my


subordinate, The filthy brute on my bed said'Suppose I were to
have you shot?'" To which my subordinatewhoit appearswas
himself operatingremarked that it would not bring the cars up.
Upon thatthe otheryawningsaidNever mind, there is no
lack of horses on the Campo.Andturning overwent to sleep on
Harris's bed.'

This is why, my dear girl, I am a fugitive to-night. The last
wire from railhead says that Pedro Montero and his men left at
daybreak, after feeding on asado beef all night. They took all
the horses; they will find more on the road; they'll be here in
less than thirty hours, and thus Sulaco is no place either for me
or the great store of silver belonging to the Gould Concession.

But that is not the worst. The garrison of Esmeralda has gone
over to the victorious party. We have heard this by means of the
telegraphist of the Cable Companywho came to the Casa Gould in
the early morning with the news. In factit was so early that
the day had not yet quite broken over Sulaco. His colleague in
Esmeralda had called him up to say that the garrisonafter
shooting some of their officershad taken possession of a
Government steamer laid up in the harbour. It is really a heavy
blow for me. I thought I could depend on every man in this
province. It was a mistake. It was a Monterist Revolution in
Esmeraldajust such as was attempted in Sulacoonly that that
one came off. The telegraphist was signalling to Bernhardt all
the timeand his last transmitted words were'They are bursting
in the doorand taking possession of the cable office. You are
cut off. Can do no more.'

But, as a matter of fact, he managed somehow to escape the
vigilance of his captors, who had tried to stop the communication
with the outer world. He did manage it. How it was done I don't
know, but a few hours afterwards he called up Sulaco again, and
what he said was, 'The insurgent army has taken possession of the
Government transport in the bay and are filling her with troops,
with the intention of going round the coast to Sulaco. Therefore
look out for yourselves. They will be ready to start in a few
hours, and may be upon you before daybreak.'

This is all he could say. They drove him away from his
instrument this time for goodbecause Bernhardt has been calling
up Esmeralda ever since without getting an answer."

After setting these words down in the pocket-book which he was
filling up for the benefit of his sisterDecoud lifted his head
to listen. But there were no soundsneither in the room nor in
the houseexcept the drip of the water from the filter into the
vast earthenware jar under the wooden stand. And outside the
house there was a great silence. Decoud lowered his head again
over the pocket-book.

I am not running away, you understand,he wrote on. "I am
simply going away with that great treasure of silver which must
be saved at all costs. Pedro Montero from the Campo and the
revolted garrison of Esmeralda from the sea are converging upon
it. That it is there lying ready for them is only an accident.
The real objective is the San Tome mine itselfas you may well
imagine; otherwise the Occidental Province would have beenno
doubtleft alone for many weeksto be gathered at leisure into
the arms of the victorious party. Don Carlos Gould will have
enough to do to save his minewith its organization and its
people; this 'Imperium in Imperio' this wealth-producing thing
to which his sentimentalism attaches a strange idea of justice.


He holds to it as some men hold to the idea of love or revenge.
Unless I am much mistaken in the manit must remain inviolate or
perish by an act of his will alone. A passion has crept into his
cold and idealistic life. A passion which I can only comprehend
intellectually. A passion that is not like the passions we know
we men of another blood. But it is as dangerous as any of ours.

His wife has understood it, too. That is why she is such a good
ally of mine. She seizes upon all my suggestions with a sure
instinct that in the end they make for the safety of the Gould
Concession. And he defers to her because he trusts her perhaps,
but I fancy rather as if he wished to make up for some subtle
wrong, for that sentimental unfaithfulness which surrenders her
happiness, her life, to the seduction of an idea. The little
woman has discovered that he lives for the mine rather than for
her. But let them be. To each his fate, shaped by passion or
sentiment. The principal thing is that she has backed up my
advice to get the silver out of the town, out of the country, at
once, at any cost, at any risk. Don Carlos' mission is to
preserve unstained the fair fame of his mine; Mrs. Gould's
mission is to save him from the effects of that cold and
overmastering passion, which she dreads more than if it were an
infatuation for another woman. Nostromo's mission is to save the
silver. The plan is to load it into the largest of the Company's
lighters, and send it across the gulf to a small port out of
Costaguana territory just on the other side the Azuera, where the
first northbound steamer will get orders to pick it up. The
waters here are calm. We shall slip away into the darkness of the
gulf before the Esmeralda rebels arrive; and by the time the day
breaks over the ocean we shall be out of sight, invisible, hidden
by Azuera, which itself looks from the Sulaco shore like a faint
blue cloud on the horizon.

The incorruptible Capataz de Cargadores is the man for that
work; and Ithe man with a passionbut without a missionI go
with him to return--to play my part in the farce to the endand
if successfulto receive my rewardwhich no one but Antonia can
give me.

I shall not see her again now before I depart. I left her, as I
have said, by Don Jose's bedside. The street was dark, the houses
shut up, and I walked out of the town in the night. Not a single
street-lamp had been lit for two days, and the archway of the
gate was only a mass of darkness in the vague form of a tower, in
which I heard low, dismal groans, that seemed to answer the
murmurs of a man's voice.

I recognized something impassive and careless in its tone
characteristic of that Genoese sailor wholike mehas come
casually here to be drawn into the events for which his
scepticism as well as mine seems to entertain a sort of passive
contempt. The only thing he seems to care foras far as I have
been able to discoveris to be well spoken of. An ambition fit
for noble soulsbut also a profitable one for an exceptionally
intelligent scoundrel. Yes. His very words'To be well spoken
of. Sisenor.' He does not seem to make any difference between
speaking and thinking. Is it sheer naiveness or the practical
point of viewI wonder? Exceptional individualities always
interest mebecause they are true to the general formula
expressing the moral state of humanity.

He joined me on the harbour road after I had passed them under
the dark archway without stopping. It was a woman in trouble he
had been talking to. Through discretion I kept silent while he


walked by my side. After a time he began to talk himself. It was
not what I expected. It was only an old woman, an old lace-maker,
in search of her son, one of the street-sweepers employed by the
municipality. Friends had come the day before at daybreak to the
door of their hovel calling him out. He had gone with them, and
she had not seen him since; so she had left the food she had been
preparing half-cooked on the extinct embers and had crawled out
as far as the harbour, where she had heard that some town mozos
had been killed on the morning of the riot. One of the Cargadores
guarding the Custom House had brought out a lantern, and had
helped her to look at the few dead left lying about there. Now
she was creeping back, having failed in her search. So she sat
down on the stone seat under the arch, moaning, because she was
very tired. The Capataz had questioned her, and after hearing her
broken and groaning tale had advised her to go and look amongst
the wounded in the patio of the Casa Gould. He had also given her
a quarter dollar, he mentioned carelessly.

'Why did you do that?' I asked. 'Do you know her?'

'Nosenor. I don't suppose I have ever seen her before. How
should I? She has not probably been out in the streets for years.
She is one of those old women that you find in this country at
the back of hutscrouching over fireplaceswith a stick on the
ground by their sideand almost too feeble to drive away the
stray dogs from their cooking-pots. Caramba! I could tell by her
voice that death had forgotten her. Butold or youngthey like
moneyand will speak well of the man who gives it to them.' He
laughed a little. 'Senoryou should have felt the clutch of her
paw as I put the piece in her palm.' He paused. 'My lasttoo'
he added.

I made no comment. He's known for his liberality and his bad
luck at the game of monte, which keeps him as poor as when he
first came here.

'I supposeDon Martin' he beganin a thoughtfulspeculative
tone'that the Senor Administrador of San Tome will reward me
some day if I save his silver?'

I said that it could not be otherwise, surely. He walked on,
muttering to himself. 'Si, si, without doubt, without doubt; and,
look you, Senor Martin, what it is to be well spoken of! There is
not another man that could have been even thought of for such a
thing. I shall get something great for it some day. And let it
come soon,' he mumbled. 'Time passes in this country as quick as
anywhere else.'

Thissoeur cherieis my companion in the great escape for the
sake of the great cause. He is more naive than shrewdmore
masterful than craftymore generous with his personality than
the people who make use of him are with their money. At least
that is what he thinks himself with more pride than sentiment. I
am glad I have made friends with him. As a companion he acquires
more importance than he ever had as a sort of minor genius in his
way--as an original Italian sailor whom I allowed to come in in
the small hours and talk familiarly to the editor of the Porvenir
while the paper was going through the press. And it is curious to
have met a man for whom the value of life seems to consist in
personal prestige.

I am waiting for him here now. On arriving at the posada kept by
Viola we found the children alone down below, and the old Genoese
shouted to his countryman to go and fetch the doctor. Otherwise


we would have gone on to the wharf, where it appears Captain
Mitchell with some volunteer Europeans and a few picked
Cargadores are loading the lighter with the silver that must be
saved from Montero's clutches in order to be used for Montero's
defeat. Nostromo galloped furiously back towards the town. He has
been long gone already. This delay gives me time to talk to you.
By the time this pocket-book reaches your hands much will have
happened. But now it is a pause under the hovering wing of death
in this silent house buried in the black night, with this dying
woman, the two children crouching without a sound, and that old
man whom I can hear through the thickness of the wall passing up
and down with a light rubbing noise no louder than a mouse. And
I, the only other with them, don't really know whether to count
myself with the living or with the dead. 'Quien sabe?' as the
people here are prone to say in answer to every question. But no!
feeling for you is certainly not dead, and the whole thing, the
house, the dark night, the silent children in this dim room, my
very presence here--all this is life, must be life, since it is
so much like a dream.

With the writing of the last line there came upon Decoud a moment
of sudden and complete oblivion. He swayed over the table as if
struck by a bullet. The next moment he sat upconfusedwith the
idea that he had heard his pencil roll on the floor. The low door
of the cafewide openwas filled with the glare of a torch in
which was visible half of a horseswitching its tail against the
leg of a rider with a long iron spur strapped to the naked heel.
The two girls were goneand Nostromostanding in the middle of
the roomlooked at him from under the round brim of the sombrero
low down over his brow.

I have brought that sour-faced English doctor in Senora Gould's
carriage,said Nostromo. "I doubt ifwith all his wisdomhe
can save the Padrona this time. They have sent for the children.
A bad sign that."

He sat down on the end of a bench. "She wants to give them her
blessingI suppose."

Dazedly Decoud observed that he must have fallen sound asleep
and Nostromo saidwith a vague smilethat he had looked in at
the window and had seen him lying still across the table with his
head on his arms. The English senora had also come in the
carriageand went upstairs at once with the doctor. She had told
him not to wake up Don Martin yet; but when they sent for the
children he had come into the cafe.

The half of the horse with its half of the rider swung round
outside the door; the torch of tow and resin in the iron basket
which was carried on a stick at the saddle-bow flared right into
the room for a momentand Mrs. Gould entered hastily with a
very whitetired face. The hood of her darkblue cloak had
fallen back. Both men rose.

Teresa wants to see you, Nostromo,she said. The Capataz did
not move. Decoudwith his back to the tablebegan to button up
his coat.

The silver, Mrs. Gould, the silver,he murmured in English.
Don't forget that the Esmeralda garrison have got a steamer.
They may appear at any moment at the harbour entrance.

The doctor says there is no hope,Mrs. Gould spoke rapidly
also in English. "I shall take you down to the wharf in my


carriage and then come back to fetch away the girls." She changed
swiftly into Spanish to address Nostromo. "Why are you wasting
time? Old Giorgio's wife wishes to see you."

I am going to her, senora,muttered the Capataz. Dr. Monygham
now showed himselfbringing back the children. To Mrs. Gould's
inquiring glance he only shook his head and went outside at once
followed by Nostromo.

The horse of the torch-bearermotionlesshung his head lowand
the rider had dropped the reins to light a cigarette. The glare
of the torch played on the front of the house crossed by the big
black letters of its inscription in which only the word ITALIA
was lighted fully. The patch of wavering glare reached as far as
Mrs. Gould's carriage waiting on the roadwith the yellow-faced
portly Ignacio apparently dozing on the box. By his side Basilio
dark and skinnyheld a Winchester carbine in front of himwith
both handsand peered fearfully into the darkness. Nostromo
touched lightly the doctor's shoulder.

Is she really dying, senor doctor?

Yes,said the doctorwith a strange twitch of his scarred
cheek. "And why she wants to see you I cannot imagine."

She has been like that before,suggested Nostromolooking
away.

Well, Capataz, I can assure you she will never be like that
again,snarled Dr. Monygham. "You may go to her or stay away.
There is very little to be got from talking to the dying. But she
told Dona Emilia in my hearing that she has been like a mother to
you ever since you first set foot ashore here."

Si! And she never had a good word to say for me to anybody. It
is more as if she could not forgive me for being alive, and such
a man, too, as she would have liked her son to be.

Maybe!exclaimed a mournful deep voice near them. "Women have
their own ways of tormenting themselves." Giorgio Viola had come
out of the house. He threw a heavy black shadow in the
torchlightand the glare fell on his big faceon the great
bushy head of white hair. He motioned the Capataz indoors with
his extended arm.

Dr. Monyghamafter busying himself with a little medicament box
of polished wood on the seat of the landauturned to old Giorgio
and thrust into his bigtrembling hand one of the
glass-stoppered bottles out of the case.

Give her a spoonful of this now and then, in water,he said.
It will make her easier.

And there is nothing more for her?asked the old man
patiently.

No. Not on earth,said the doctorwith his back to him
clicking the lock of the medicine case.

Nostromo slowly crossed the large kitchenall dark but for the
glow of a heap of charcoal under the heavy mantel of the
cooking-rangewhere water was boiling in an iron pot with a loud
bubbling sound. Between the two walls of a narrow staircase a
bright light streamed from the sick-room above; and the


magnificent Capataz de Cargadores stepping noiselessly in soft
leather sandalsbushy whiskeredhis muscular neck and bronzed
chest bare in the open check shirtresembled a Mediterranean
sailor just come ashore from some wine or fruit-laden felucca. At
the top he pausedbroad shoulderednarrow hipped and supple
looking at the large bedlike a white couch of statewith a
profusion of snowy linenamongst which the Padrona sat unpropped
and bowedher handsomeblack-browed face bent over her chest. A
mass of raven hair with only a few white threads in it covered
her shoulders; one thick strand fallen forward half veiled her
cheek. Perfectly motionless in that poseexpressing physical
anxiety and unrestshe turned her eyes alone towards Nostromo.

The Capataz had a red sash wound many times round his waistand
a heavy silver ring on the forefinger of the hand he raised to
give a twist to his moustache.

Their revolutions, their revolutions,gasped Senora Teresa.
Look, Gian' Battista, it has killed me at last!

Nostromo said nothingand the sick woman with an upward glance
insisted. "Lookthis one has killed mewhile you were away
fighting for what did not concern youfoolish man."

Why talk like this?mumbled the Capataz between his teeth.
Will you never believe in my good sense? It concerns me to keep
on being what I am: every day alike.

You never change, indeed,she saidbitterly. "Always thinking
of yourself and taking your pay out in fine words from those who
care nothing for you."

There was between them an intimacy of antagonism as close in its
way as the intimacy of accord and affection. He had not walked
along the way of Teresa's expectations. It was she who had
encouraged him to leave his shipin the hope of securing a
friend and defender for the girls. The wife of old Giorgio was
aware of her precarious healthand was haunted by the fear of
her aged husband's loneliness and the unprotected state of the
children. She had wanted to annex that apparently quiet and
steady young manaffectionate and pliablean orphan from his
tenderest ageas he had told herwith no ties in Italy except
an uncleowner and master of a feluccafrom whose ill-usage he
had run away before he was fourteen. He had seemed to her
courageousa hard workerdetermined to make his way in the
world. From gratitude and the ties of habit he would become like
a son to herself and Giorgio; and thenwho knowswhen Linda had
grown up. . . . Ten years' difference between husband and wife
was not so much. Her own great man was nearly twenty years older
than herself. Gian' Battista was an attractive young fellow
besides; attractive to menwomenand childrenjust by that
profound quietness of personality whichlike a serene twilight
rendered more seductive the promise of his vigorous form and the
resolution of his conduct.

Old Giorgioin profound ignorance of his wife's views and hopes
had a great regard for his young countryman. "A man ought not to
be tame he used to tell her, quoting the Spanish proverb in
defence of the splendid Capataz. She was growing jealous of his
success. He was escaping from her, she feared. She was practical,
and he seemed to her to be an absurd spendthrift of these
qualities which made him so valuable. He got too little for them.
He scattered them with both hands amongst too many people, she
thought. He laid no money by. She railed at his poverty, his


exploits, his adventures, his loves and his reputation; but in
her heart she had never given him up, as though, indeed, he had
been her son.

Even now, ill as she was, ill enough to feel the chill, black
breath of the approaching end, she had wished to see him. It was
like putting out her benumbed hand to regain her hold. But she
had presumed too much on her strength. She could not command her
thoughts; they had become dim, like her vision. The words
faltered on her lips, and only the paramount anxiety and desire
of her life seemed to be too strong for death.

The Capataz said, I have heard these things many times. You are
unjustbut it does not hurt me. Only now you do not seem to have
much strength to talkand I have but little time to listen. I am
engaged in a work of very great moment."

She made an effort to ask him whether it was true that he had
found time to go and fetch a doctor for her. Nostromo nodded
affirmatively.

She was pleased: it relieved her sufferings to know that the man
had condescended to do so much for those who really wanted his
help. It was a proof of his friendship. Her voice become
stronger.

I want a priest more than a doctor,she saidpathetically. She
did not move her head; only her eyes ran into the corners to
watch the Capataz standing by the side of her bed. "Would you go
to fetch a priest for me now? Think! A dying woman asks you!"

Nostromo shook his head resolutely. He did not believe in priests
in their sacerdotal character. A doctor was an efficacious
person; but a priestas priestwas nothingincapable of doing
either good or harm. Nostromo did not even dislike the sight of
them as old Giorgio did. The utter uselessness of the errand was
what struck him most.

Padrona,he saidyou have been like this before, and got
better after a few days. I have given you already the very last
moments I can spare. Ask Senora Gould to send you one.

He was feeling uneasy at the impiety of this refusal. The
Padrona believed in priestsand confessed herself to them. But
all women did that. It could not be of much consequence. And yet
his heart felt oppressed for a moment--at the thought what
absolution would mean to her if she believed in it only ever so
little. No matter. It was quite true that he had given her
already the very last moment he could spare.

You refuse to go?she gasped. "Ah! you are always yourself
indeed."

Listen to reason, Padrona,he said. "I am needed to save the
silver of the mine. Do you hear? A greater treasure than the one
which they say is guarded by ghosts and devils on Azuera. It is
true. I am resolved to make this the most desperate affair I was
ever engaged on in my whole life."

She felt a despairing indignation. The supreme test had failed.
Standing above herNostromo did not see the distorted features
of her facedistorted by a paroxysm of pain and anger. Only she
began to tremble all over. Her bowed head shook. The broad
shoulders quivered.


Then God, perhaps, will have mercy upon me! But do you look to
it, man, that you get something for yourself out of it, besides
the remorse that shall overtake you some day.

She laughed feebly. "Get riches at least for onceyou
indispensableadmired Gian' Battistato whom the peace of a
dying woman is less than the praise of people who have given you
a silly name--and nothing besides--in exchange for your soul and
body."

The Capataz de Cargadores swore to himself under his breath.

Leave my soul alone, Padrona, and I shall know how to take care
of my body. Where is the harm of people having need of me? What
are you envying me that I have robbed you and the children of?
Those very people you are throwing in my teeth have done more for
old Giorgio than they ever thought of doing for me.

He struck his breast with his open palm; his voice had remained
low though he had spoken in a forcible tone. He twisted his
moustaches one after anotherand his eyes wandered a little
about the room.

Is it my fault that I am the only man for their purposes? What
angry nonsense are you talking, mother? Would you rather have me
timid and foolish, selling water-melons on the market-place or
rowing a boat for passengers along the harbour, like a soft
Neapolitan without courage or reputation? Would you have a young
man live like a monk? I do not believe it. Would you want a monk
for your eldest girl? Let her grow. What are you afraid of? You
have been angry with me for everything I did for years; ever
since you first spoke to me, in secret from old Giorgio, about
your Linda. Husband to one and brother to the other, did you say?
Well, why not! I like the little ones, and a man must marry some
time. But ever since that time you have been making little of me
to everyone. Why? Did you think you could put a collar and chain
on me as if I were one of the watch-dogs they keep over there in
the railway yards? Look here, Padrona, I am the same man who came
ashore one evening and sat down in the thatched ranche you lived
in at that time on the other side of the town and told you all
about himself. You were not unjust to me then. What has happened
since? I am no longer an insignificant youth. A good name,
Giorgio says, is a treasure, Padrona.

They have turned your head with their praises,gasped the sick
woman. "They have been paying you with words. Your folly shall
betray you into povertymiserystarvation. The very leperos
shall laugh at you--the great Capataz."

Nostromo stood for a time as if struck dumb. She never looked at
him. A self-confidentmirthless smile passed quickly from his
lipsand then he backed away. His disregarded figure sank down
beyond the doorway. He descended the stairs backwardswith the
usual sense of having been somehow baffled by this woman's
disparagement of this reputation he had obtained and desired to
keep.

Downstairs in the big kitchen a candle was burningsurrounded by
the shadows of the wallsof the ceilingbut no ruddy glare
filled the open square of the outer door. The carriage with Mrs.
Gould and Don Martinpreceded by the horseman bearing the torch
had gone on to the jetty. Dr. Monyghamwho had remainedsat on
the corner of a hard wood table near the candlestickhis seamed


shaven face inclined sidewayshis arms crossed on his breast
his lips pursed upand his prominent eyes glaring stonily upon
the floor of black earth. Near the overhanging mantel of the
fireplacewhere the pot of water was still boiling violently
old Giorgio held his chin in his handone foot advancedas if
arrested by a sudden thought.

Adios, viejo,said Nostromofeeling the handle of his revolver
in the belt and loosening his knife in its sheath. He picked up a
blue poncho lined with red from the tableand put it over his
head. "Adioslook after the things in my sleeping-roomand if
you hear from me no moregive up the box to Paquita. There is
not much of value thereexcept my new serape from Mexicoand a
few silver buttons on my best jacket. No matter! The things
will look well enough on the next lover she getsand the man
need not be afraid I shall linger on earth after I am deadlike
those Gringos that haunt the Azuera."

Dr. Monygham twisted his lips into a bitter smile. After old
Giorgiowith an almost imperceptible nod and without a wordhad
gone up the narrow stairshe said-


Why, Capataz! I thought you could never fail in anything.

Nostromoglancing contemptuously at the doctorlingered in the
doorway rolling a cigarettethen struck a matchandafter
lighting itheld the burning piece of wood above his head till
the flame nearly touched his fingers.

No wind!he muttered to himself. "Look heresenor--do you know
the nature of my undertaking?"

Dr. Monygham nodded sourly.

It is as if I were taking up a curse upon me, senor doctor. A
man with a treasure on this coast will have every knife raised
against him in every place upon the shore. You see that, senor
doctor? I shall float along with a spell upon my life till I meet
somewhere the north-bound steamer of the Company, and then indeed
they will talk about the Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores from
one end of America to another.

Dr. Monygham laughed his shortthroaty laugh. Nostromo turned
round in the doorway.

But if your worship can find any other man ready and fit for
such business I will stand back. I am not exactly tired of my
life, though I am so poor that I can carry all I have with myself
on my horse's back.

You gamble too much, and never say 'no' to a pretty face,
Capataz,said Dr. Monyghamwith sly simplicity. "That's not
the way to make a fortune. But nobody that I know ever suspected
you of being poor. I hope you have made a good bargain in case
you come back safe from this adventure."

What bargain would your worship have made?asked Nostromo
blowing the smoke out of his lips through the doorway.

Dr. Monygham listened up the staircase for a moment before he
answeredwith another of his shortabrupt laughs-


Illustrious Capataz, for taking the curse of death upon my back,
as you call it, nothing else but the whole treasure would do.


Nostromo vanished out of the doorway with a grunt of discontent
at this jeering answer. Dr. Monygham heard him gallop away.
Nostromo rode furiously in the dark. There were lights in the
buildings of the O.S.N. Company near the wharfbut before he got
there he met the Gould carriage. The horseman preceded it with
the torchwhose light showed the white mules trottingthe
portly Ignacio drivingand Basilio with the carbine on the box.
From the dark body of the landau Mrs. Gould's voice criedThey
are waiting for you, Capataz!She was returningchilly and
excitedwith Decoud's pocket-book still held in her hand. He
had confided it to her to send to his sister. "Perhaps my last
words to her he had said, pressing Mrs. Gould's hand.

The Capataz never checked his speed. At the head of the wharf
vague figures with rifles leapt to the head of his horse; others
closed upon him--cargadores of the company posted by Captain
Mitchell on the watch. At a word from him they fell back with
subservient murmurs, recognizing his voice. At the other end of
the jetty, near a cargo crane, in a dark group with glowing
cigars, his name was pronounced in a tone of relief. Most of the
Europeans in Sulaco were there, rallied round Charles Gould, as
if the silver of the mine had been the emblem of a common cause,
the symbol of the supreme importance of material interests. They
had loaded it into the lighter with their own hands. Nostromo
recognized Don Carlos Gould, a thin, tall shape standing a little
apart and silent, to whom another tall shape, the
engineer-in-chief, said aloud, If it must be lostit is a
million times better that it should go to the bottom of the sea."

Martin Decoud called out from the lighterAu revoir, messieurs,
till we clasp hands again over the new-born Occidental Republic.
Only a subdued murmur responded to his clearringing tones; and
then it seemed to him that the wharf was floating away into the
night; but it was Nostromowho was already pushing against a
pile with one of the heavy sweeps. Decoud did not move; the
effect was that of being launched into space. After a splash or
two there was not a sound but the thud of Nostromo's feet leaping
about the boat. He hoisted the big sail; a breath of wind fanned
Decoud's cheek. Everything had vanished but the light of the
lantern Captain Mitchell had hoisted upon the post at the end of
the jetty to guide Nostromo out of the harbour.

The two menunable to see each otherkept silent till the
lighterslipping before the fitful breezepassed out between
almost invisible headlands into the still deeper darkness of the
gulf. For a time the lantern on the jetty shone after them. The
wind failedthen fanned up againbut so faintly that the big
half-decked boat slipped along with no more noise than if she had
been suspended in the air.

We are out in the gulf now,said the calm voice of Nostromo. A
moment after he addedSenor Mitchell has lowered the light.

Yes,said Decoud; "nobody can find us now."

A great recrudescence of obscurity embraced the boat. The sea in
the gulf was as black as the clouds above. Nostromoafter
striking a couple of matches to get a glimpse of the boat-compass
he had with him in the lightersteered by the feel of the wind
on his cheek.

It was a new experience for Decoudthis mysteriousness of the
great waters spread out strangely smoothas if their


restlessness had been crushed by the weight of that dense night.
The Placido was sleeping profoundly under its black poncho.

The main thing now for success was to get away from the coast and
gain the middle of the gulf before day broke. The Isabels were
somewhere at hand. "On your left as you look forwardsenor
said Nostromo, suddenly. When his voice ceased, the enormous
stillness, without light or sound, seemed to affect Decoud's
senses like a powerful drug. He didn't even know at times whether
he were asleep or awake. Like a man lost in slumber, he heard
nothing, he saw nothing. Even his hand held before his face did
not exist for his eyes. The change from the agitation, the
passions and the dangers, from the sights and sounds of the
shore, was so complete that it would have resembled death had it
not been for the survival of his thoughts. In this foretaste of
eternal peace they floated vivid and light, like unearthly clear
dreams of earthly things that may haunt the souls freed by death
from the misty atmosphere of regrets and hopes. Decoud shook
himself, shuddered a bit, though the air that drifted past him
was warm. He had the strangest sensation of his soul having just
returned into his body from the circumambient darkness in which
land, sea, sky, the mountains, and the rocks were as if they had
not been.

Nostromo's voice was speaking, though he, at the tiller, was also
as if he were not. Have you been asleepDon Martin? Caramba! If
it were possible I would think that Itoohave dozed off. I
have a strange notion somehow of having dreamt that there was a
sound of blubberinga sound a sorrowing man could make
somewhere near this boat. Something between a sigh and a sob."

Strange!muttered Decoudstretched upon the pile of treasure
boxes covered by many tarpaulins. "Could it be that there is
another boat near us in the gulf? We could not see ityou know."

Nostromo laughed a little at the absurdity of the idea. They
dismissed it from their minds. The solitude could almost be felt.
And when the breeze ceasedthe blackness seemed to weigh upon
Decoud like a stone.

This is overpowering,he muttered. "Do we move at all
Capataz?"

Not so fast as a crawling beetle tangled in the grass,answered
Nostromoand his voice seemed deadened by the thick veil of
obscurity that felt warm and hopeless all about them. There were
long periods when he made no soundinvisible and inaudible as if
he had mysteriously stepped out of the lighter.

In the featureless night Nostromo was not even certain which way
the lighter headed after the wind had completely died out. He
peered for the islands. There was not a hint of them to be seen
as if they had sunk to the bottom of the gulf. He threw himself
down by the side of Decoud at lastand whispered into his ear
that if daylight caught them near the Sulaco shore through want
of windit would be possible to sweep the lighter behind the
cliff at the high end of the Great Isabelwhere she would lie
concealed. Decoud was surprised at the grimness of his anxiety.
To him the removal of the treasure was a political move. It was
necessary for several reasons that it should not fall into the
hands of Monterobut here was a man who took another view of
this enterprise. The Caballeros over there did not seem to have
the slightest idea of what they had given him to do. Nostromoas
if affected by the gloom aroundseemed nervously resentful.


Decoud was surprised. The Capatazindifferent to those dangers
that seemed obvious to his companionallowed himself to become
scornfully exasperated by the deadly nature of the trust putas
a matter of courseinto his hands. It was more dangerous
Nostromo saidwith a laugh and a cursethan sending a man to
get the treasure that people said was guarded by devils and
ghosts in the deep ravines of Azuera. "Senor he said, we must
catch the steamer at sea. We must keep out in the open looking
for her till we have eaten and drunk all that has been put on
board here. And if we miss her by some mischancewe must keep
away from the land till we grow weakand perhaps madand die
and drift deaduntil one or another of the steamers of the
Compania comes upon the boat with the two dead men who have saved
the treasure. Thatsenoris the only way to save it; fordon't
you see? for us to come to the land anywhere in a hundred miles
along this coast with this silver in our possession is to run the
naked breast against the point of a knife. This thing has been
given to me like a deadly disease. If men discover it I am dead
and youtoosenorsince you would come with me. There is
enough silver to make a whole province richlet alone a seaboard
pueblo inhabited by thieves and vagabonds. Senorthey would
think that heaven itself sent these riches into their handsand
would cut our throats without hesitation. I would trust no fair
words from the best man around the shores of this wild gulf.
Reflect thateven by giving up the treasure at the first demand
we would not be able to save our lives. Do you understand this
or must I explain?"

No, you needn't explain,said Decouda little listlessly. "I
can see it well enough myselfthat the possession of this
treasure is very much like a deadly disease for men situated as
we are. But it had to be removed from Sulacoand you were the
man for the task."

I was; but I cannot believe,said Nostromothat its loss
would have impoverished Don Carlos Gould very much. There is more
wealth in the mountain. I have heard it rolling down the shoots
on quiet nights when I used to ride to Rincon to see a certain
girl, after my work at the harbour was done. For years the rich
rocks have been pouring down with a noise like thunder, and the
miners say that there is enough at the heart of the mountain to
thunder on for years and years to come. And yet, the day before
yesterday, we have been fighting to save it from the mob, and
to-night I am sent out with it into this darkness, where there is
no wind to get away with; as if it were the last lot of silver on
earth to get bread for the hungry with. Ha! ha! Well, I am going
to make it the most famous and desperate affair of my life--wind
or no wind. It shall be talked about when the little children are
grown up and the grown men are old. Aha! the Monterists must not
get hold of it, I am told, whatever happens to Nostromo the
Capataz; and they shall not have it, I tell you, since it has
been tied for safety round Nostromo's neck.

I see it,murmured Decoud. He sawindeedthat his companion
had his own peculiar view of this enterprise.

Nostromo interrupted his reflections upon the way men's qualities
are made use ofwithout any fundamental knowledge of their
natureby the proposal they should slip the long oars out and
sweep the lighter in the direction of the Isabels. It wouldn't do
for daylight to reveal the treasure floating within a mile or so
of the harbour entrance. The denser the darkness generallythe
smarter were the puffs of wind on which he had reckoned to make
his way; but tonight the gulfunder its poncho of clouds


remained breathlessas if dead rather than asleep.

Don Martin's soft hands suffered cruellytugging at the thick
handle of the enormous oar. He stuck to it manfullysetting his
teeth. Hetoowas in the toils of an imaginative existenceand
that strange work of pulling a lighter seemed to belong naturally
to the inception of a new stateacquired an ideal meaning from
his love for Antonia. For all their effortsthe heavily laden
lighter hardly moved. Nostromo could be heard swearing to himself
between the regular splashes of the sweeps. "We are making a
crooked path he muttered to himself. I wish I could see the
islands."

In his unskilfulness Don Martin over-exerted himself. Now and
then a sort of muscular faintness would run from the tips of his
aching fingers through every fibre of his bodyand pass off in a
flush of heat. He had foughttalkedsuffered mentally and
physicallyexerting his mind and body for the last forty-eight
hours without intermission. He had had no restvery little food
no pause in the stress of his thoughts and his feelings. Even his
love for Antoniawhence he drew his strength and his
inspirationhad reached the point of tragic tension during their
hurried interview by Don Jose's bedside. And nowsuddenlyhe
was thrown out of all this into a dark gulfwhose very gloom
silenceand breathless peace added a torment to the necessity
for physical exertion. He imagined the lighter sinking to the
bottom with an extraordinary shudder of delight. "I am on the
verge of delirium he thought. He mastered the trembling of all
his limbs, of his breast, the inward trembling of all his body
exhausted of its nervous force.

Shall we restCapataz?" he proposed in a careless tone. "There
are many hours of night yet before us."

True. It is but a mile or so, I suppose. Rest your arms, senor,
if that is what you mean. You will find no other sort of rest, I
can promise you, since you let yourself be bound to this treasure
whose loss would make no poor man poorer. No, senor; there is no
rest till we find a north-bound steamer, or else some ship finds
us drifting about stretched out dead upon the Englishman's
silver. Or rather--no; por Dios! I shall cut down the gunwale
with the axe right to the water's edge before thirst and hunger
rob me of my strength. By all the saints and devils I shall let
the sea have the treasure rather than give it up to any stranger.
Since it was the good pleasure of the Caballeros to send me off
on such an errand, they shall learn I am just the man they take
me for.

Decoud lay on the silver boxes panting. All his active sensations
and feelings from as far back as he could remember seemed to him
the maddest of dreams. Even his passionate devotion to Antonia
into which he had worked himself up out of the depths of his
scepticism had lost all appearance of reality. For a moment he
was the prey of an extremely languid but not unpleasant
indifference.

I am sure they didn't mean you to take such a desperate view of
this affair,he said.

What was it, then? A joke?snarled the manwho on the
pay-sheets of the O.S.N. Company's establishment in Sulaco was
described as "Foreman of the wharf" against the figure of his
wages. "Was it for a joke they woke me up from my sleep after two
days of street fighting to make me stake my life upon a bad card?


Everybody knowstoothat I am not a lucky gambler."

Yes, everybody knows of your good luck with women, Capataz,
Decoud propitiated his companion in a weary drawl.

Look here, senor,Nostromo went on. "I never even remonstrated
about this affair. Directly I heard what was wanted I saw what a
desperate affair it must beand I made up my mind to see it out.
Every minute was of importance. I had to wait for you first.
Thenwhen we arrived at the Italia Unaold Giorgio shouted to
me to go for the English doctor. Later onthat poor dying woman
wanted to see meas you know. SenorI was reluctant to go. I
felt already this cursed silver growing heavy upon my backand I
was afraid thatknowing herself to be dyingshe would ask me to
ride off again for a priest. Father Corbelanwho is fearless
would have come at a word; but Father Corbelan is far awaysafe
with the band of Hernandezand the populacethat would have
liked to tear him to piecesare much incensed against the
priests. Not a single fat padre would have consented to put his
head out of his hiding-place to-night to save a Christian soul
exceptperhapsunder my protection. That was in her mind. I
pretended I did not believe she was going to die. SenorI
refused to fetch a priest for a dying woman . . ."

Decoud was heard to stir.

You did, Capataz!he exclaimed. His tone changed. "Wellyou
know--it was rather fine."

You do not believe in priests, Don Martin? Neither do I. What
was the use of wasting time? But she--she believes in them. The
thing sticks in my throat. She may be dead already, and here we
are floating helpless with no wind at all. Curse on all
superstition. She died thinking I deprived her of Paradise, I
suppose. It shall be the most desperate affair of my life.

Decoud remained lost in reflection. He tried to analyze the
sensations awaked by what he had been told. The voice of the
Capataz was heard again:

Now, Don Martin, let us take up the sweeps and try to find the
Isabels. It is either that or sinking the lighter if the day
overtakes us. We must not forget that the steamer from Esmeralda
with the soldiers may be coming along. We will pull straight on
now. I have discovered a bit of a candle here, and we must take
the risk of a small light to make a course by the boat compass.
There is not enough wind to blow it out--may the curse of Heaven
fall upon this blind gulf!

A small flame appeared burning quite straight. It showed
fragmentarily the stout ribs and planking in the hollowempty
part of the lighter. Decoud could see Nostromo standing up to
pull. He saw him as high as the red sash on his waistwith a
gleam of a white-handled revolver and the wooden haft of a long
knife protruding on his left side. Decoud nerved himself for the
effort of rowing. Certainly there was not enough wind to blow the
candle outbut its flame swayed a little to the slow movement of
the heavy boat. It was so big that with their utmost efforts they
could not move it quicker than about a mile an hour. This was
sufficienthoweverto sweep them amongst the Isabels long
before daylight came. There was a good six hours of darkness
before themand the distance from the harbour to the Great
Isabel did not exceed two miles. Decoud put this heavy toil to
the account of the Capataz's impatience. Sometimes they paused


and then strained their ears to hear the boat from Esmeralda. In
this perfect quietness a steamer moving would have been heard
from far off. As to seeing anything it was out of the question.
They could not see each other. Even the lighter's sailwhich
remained setwas invisible. Very often they rested.

Caramba!said Nostromosuddenlyduring one of those intervals
when they lolled idly against the heavy handles of the sweeps.
What is it? Are you distressed, Don Martin?

Decoud assured him that he was not distressed in the least.
Nostromo for a time kept perfectly stilland then in a whisper
invited Martin to come aft.

With his lips touching Decoud's ear he declared his belief that
there was somebody else besides themselves upon the lighter.
Twice now he had heard the sound of stifled sobbing.

Senor,he whispered with awed wonderI am certain that there
is somebody weeping in this lighter.

Decoud had heard nothing. He expressed his incredulity. However
it was easy to ascertain the truth of the matter.

It is most amazing,muttered Nostromo. "Could anybody have
concealed himself on board while the lighter was lying alongside
the wharf?"

And you say it was like sobbing?asked Decoudlowering his
voicetoo. "If he is weepingwhoever he is he cannot be very
dangerous."

Clambering over the precious pile in the middlethey crouched
low on the foreside of the mast and groped under the half-deck.
Right forwardin the narrowest parttheir hands came upon the
limbs of a manwho remained as silent as death. Too startled
themselves to make a soundthey dragged him aft by one arm and
the collar of his coat. He was limp--lifeless.

The light of the bit of candle fell upon a roundhook-nosed face
with black moustaches and little side-whiskers. He was extremely
dirty. A greasy growth of beard was sprouting on the shaven parts
of the cheeks. The thick lips were slightly partedbut the eyes
remained closed. Decoudto his immense astonishmentrecognized
Senor Hirschthe hide merchant from Esmeralda. Nostromotoo
had recognized him. And they gazed at each other across the body
lying with its naked feet higher than its headin an absurd
pretence of sleepfaintnessor death.

CHAPTER EIGHT

FOR a momentbefore this extraordinary findthey forgot their
own concerns and sensations. Senor Hirsch's sensations as he lay
there must have been those of extreme terror. For a long time he
refused to give a sign of lifetill at last Decoud's
objurgationsandperhaps moreNostromo's impatient suggestion
that he should be thrown overboardas he seemed to be dead
induced him to raise one eyelid firstand then the other.

It appeared that he had never found a safe opportunity to leave
Sulaco. He lodged with Anzanithe universal storekeeperon the
Plaza Mayor. But when the riot broke out he had made his escape


from his host's house before daylightand in such a hurry that
he had forgotten to put on his shoes. He had run out impulsively
in his socksand with his hat in his handinto the garden of
Anzani's house. Fear gave him the necessary agility to climb over
several low wallsand afterwards he blundered into the overgrown
cloisters of the ruined Franciscan convent in one of the
by-streets. He forced himself into the midst of matted bushes
with the recklessness of desperationand this accounted for his
scratched body and his torn clothing. He lay hidden there all
dayhis tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth with all the
intensity of thirst engendered by heat and fear. Three times
different bands of men invaded the place with shouts and
imprecationslooking for Father Corbelan; but towards the
eveningstill lying on his face in the busheshe thought he
would die from the fear of silence. He was not very clear as to
what had induced him to leave the placebut evidently he had got
out and slunk successfully out of town along the deserted back
lanes. He wandered in the darkness near the railwayso maddened
by apprehension that he dared not even approach the fires of the
pickets of Italian workmen guarding the line. He had a vague idea
evidently of finding refuge in the railway yardsbut the dogs
rushed upon himbarking; men began to shout; a shot was fired at
random. He fled away from the gates. By the merest accidentas
it happenedhe took the direction of the O.S.N. Company's
offices. Twice he stumbled upon the bodies of men killed during
the day. But everything living frightened him much more. He
crouchedcreptcrawledmade dashesguided by a sort of animal
instinctkeeping away from every light and from every sound of
voices. His idea was to throw himself at the feet of Captain
Mitchell and beg for shelter in the Company's offices. It was all
dark there as he approached on his hands and kneesbut suddenly
someone on guard challenged loudlyQuien vive?There were more
dead men lying aboutand he flattened himself down at once by
the side of a cold corpse. He heard a voice sayingHere is one
of those wounded rascals crawling about. Shall I go and finish
him?And another voice objected that it was not safe to go out
without a lantern upon such an errand; perhaps it was only some
negro Liberal looking for a chance to stick a knife into the
stomach of an honest man. Hirsch didn't stay to hear any more
but crawling away to the end of the wharfhid himself amongst a
lot of empty casks. After a while some people came along
talkingand with glowing cigarettes. He did not stop to ask
himself whether they would be likely to do him any harmbut
bolted incontinently along the jettysaw a lighter lying moored
at the endand threw himself into it. In his desire to find
cover he crept right forward under the half-deckand he had
remained there more dead than alivesuffering agonies of hunger
and thirstand almost fainting with terrorwhen he heard
numerous footsteps and the voices of the Europeans who came in a
body escorting the wagonload of treasurepushed along the rails
by a squad of Cargadores. He understood perfectly what was being
done from the talkbut did not disclose his presence from the
fear that he would not be allowed to remain. His only idea at
the timeoverpowering and masterfulwas to get away from this
terrible Sulaco. And now he regretted it very much. He had heard
Nostromo talk to Decoudand wished himself back on shore. He
did not desire to be involved in any desperate affair--in a
situation where one could not run away. The involuntary groans of
his anguished spirit had betrayed him to the sharp ears of the
Capataz.

They had propped him up in a sitting posture against the side of
the lighterand he went on with the moaning account of his
adventures till his voice brokehis head fell forward. "Water


he whispered, with difficulty. Decoud held one of the cans to
his lips. He revived after an extraordinarily short time, and
scrambled up to his feet wildly. Nostromo, in an angry and
threatening voice, ordered him forward. Hirsch was one of those
men whom fear lashes like a whip, and he must have had an
appalling idea of the Capataz's ferocity. He displayed an
extraordinary agility in disappearing forward into the darkness.
They heard him getting over the tarpaulin; then there was the
sound of a heavy fall, followed by a weary sigh. Afterwards all
was still in the fore-part of the lighter, as though he had
killed himself in his headlong tumble. Nostromo shouted in a
menacing voice-


Lie still there! Do not move a limb. If I hear as much as a loud
breath from you I shall come over there and put a bullet through
your head."

The mere presence of a cowardhowever passivebrings an element
of treachery into a dangerous situation. Nostromo's nervous
impatience passed into gloomy thoughtfulness. Decoudin an
undertoneas if speaking to himselfremarked thatafter all
this bizarre event made no great difference. He could not
conceive what harm the man could do. At most he would be in the
waylike an inanimate and useless object--like a block of wood
for instance.

I would think twice before getting rid of a piece of wood,said
Nostromocalmly. "Something may happen unexpectedly where you
could make use of it. But in an affair like ours a man like this
ought to be thrown overboard. Even if he were as brave as a lion
we would not want him here. We are not running away for our
lives. Senorthere is no harm in a brave man trying to save
himself with ingenuity and courage; but you have heard his tale
Don Martin. His being here is a miracle of fear--" Nostromo
paused. "There is no room for fear in this lighter he added
through his teeth.

Decoud had no answer to make. It was not a position for argument,
for a display of scruples or feelings. There were a thousand
ways in which a panic-stricken man could make himself dangerous.
It was evident that Hirsch could not be spoken to, reasoned with,
or persuaded into a rational line of conduct. The story of his
own escape demonstrated that clearly enough. Decoud thought that
it was a thousand pities the wretch had not died of fright.
Nature, who had made him what he was, seemed to have calculated
cruelly how much he could bear in the way of atrocious anguish
without actually expiring. Some compassion was due to so much
terror. Decoud, though imaginative enough for sympathy, resolved
not to interfere with any action that Nostromo would take. But
Nostromo did nothing. And the fate of Senor Hirsch remained
suspended in the darkness of the gulf at the mercy of events
which could not be foreseen.

The Capataz, extending his hand, put out the candle suddenly. It
was to Decoud as if his companion had destroyed, by a single
touch, the world of affairs, of loves, of revolution, where his
complacent superiority analyzed fearlessly all motives and all
passions, including his own.

He gasped a little. Decoud was affected by the novelty of his
position. Intellectually self-confident, he suffered from being
deprived of the only weapon he could use with effect. No
intelligence could penetrate the darkness of the Placid Gulf.
There remained only one thing he was certain of, and that was the


overweening vanity of his companion. It was direct,
uncomplicated, naive, and effectual. Decoud, who had been making
use of him, had tried to understand his man thoroughly. He had
discovered a complete singleness of motive behind the varied
manifestations of a consistent character. This was why the man
remained so astonishingly simple in the jealous greatness of his
conceit. And now there was a complication. It was evident that he
resented having been given a task in which there were so many
chances of failure. I wonder thought Decoud, how he would
behave if I were not here."

He heard Nostromo mutter againNo! there is no room for fear on
this lighter. Courage itself does not seem good enough. I have a
good eye and a steady hand; no man can say he ever saw me tired
or uncertain what to do; but por Dios, Don Martin, I have been
sent out into this black calm on a business where neither a good
eye, nor a steady hand, nor judgment are any use. . . .He swore
a string of oaths in Spanish and Italian under his breath.
Nothing but sheer desperation will do for this affair.

These words were in strange contrast to the prevailing peace--to
this almost solid stillness of the gulf. A shower fell with an
abrupt whispering sound all round the boatand Decoud took off
his hatandletting his head get wetfelt greatly refreshed.
Presently a steady little draught of air caressed his cheek. The
lighter began to movebut the shower distanced it. The drops
ceased to fall upon his head and handsthe whispering died out
in the distance. Nostromo emitted a grunt of satisfactionand
grasping the tillerchirruped softlyas sailors doto
encourage the wind. Never for the last three days had Decoud felt
less the need for what the Capataz would call desperation.

I fancy I hear another shower on the water,he observed in a
tone of quiet content. "I hope it will catch us up."

Nostromo ceased chirruping at once. "You hear another shower?" he
saiddoubtfully. A sort of thinning of the darkness seemed to
have taken placeand Decoud could see now the outline of his
companion's figureand even the sail came out of the night like
a square block of dense snow.

The sound which Decoud had detected came along the water harshly.
Nostromo recognized that noise partaking of a hiss and a rustle
which spreads out on all sides of a steamer making her way
through a smooth water on a quiet night. It could be nothing else
but the captured transport with troops from Esmeralda. She
carried no lights. The noise of her steaminggrowing louder
every minutewould stop at times altogetherand then begin
again abruptlyand sound startlingly nearer; as if that
invisible vesselwhose position could not be precisely guessed
were making straight for the lighter. Meantimethat last kept on
sailing slowly and noiselessly before a breeze so faint that it
was only by leaning over the side and feeling the water slip
through his fingers that Decoud convinced himself they were
moving at all. His drowsy feeling had departed. He was glad to
know that the lighter was moving. After so much stillness the
noise of the steamer seemed uproarious and distracting. There was
a weirdness in not being able to see her. Suddenly all was still.
She had stoppedbut so close to them that the steamblowing
offsent its rumbling vibration right over their heads.

They are trying to make out where they are,said Decoud in a
whisper. Again he leaned over and put his fingers into the water.
We are moving quite smartly,he informed Nostromo.


We seem to be crossing her bows,said the Capataz in a cautious
tone. "But this is a blind game with death. Moving on is of no
use. We mustn't be seen or heard."

His whisper was hoarse with excitement. Of all his face there was
nothing visible but a gleam of white eyeballs. His fingers
gripped Decoud's shoulder. "That is the only way to save this
treasure from this steamer full of soldiers. Any other would
have carried lights. But you observe there is not a gleam to
show us where she is."

Decoud stood as if paralyzed; only his thoughts were wildly
active. In the space of a second he remembered the desolate
glance of Antonia as he left her at the bedside of her father in
the gloomy house of Avellanoswith shuttered windowsbut all
the doors standing openand deserted by all the servants except
an old negro at the gate. He remembered the Casa Gould on his
last visitthe argumentsthe tones of his voicethe
impenetrable attitude of CharlesMrs. Gould's face so blanched
with anxiety and fatigue that her eyes seemed to have changed
colourappearing nearly black by contrast. Even whole sentences
of the proclamation which he meant to make Barrios issue from his
headquarters at Cayta as soon as he got there passed through his
mind; the very germ of the new Statethe Separationist
proclamation which he had tried before he left to read hurriedly
to Don Josestretched out on his bed under the fixed gaze of his
daughter. God knows whether the old statesman had understood it;
he was unable to speakbut he had certainly lifted his arm off
the coverlet; his hand had moved as if to make the sign of the
cross in the aira gesture of blessingof consent. Decoud had
that very draft in his pocketwritten in pencil on several loose
sheets of paperwith the heavily-printed heading
Administration of the San Tome Silver Mine. Sulaco. Republic of
Costaguana.He had written it furiouslysnatching page after
page on Charles Gould's table. Mrs. Gould had looked several
times over his shoulder as he wrote; but the Senor Administrador
standing straddle-leggedwould not even glance at it when it was
finished. He had waved it away firmly. It must have been scorn
and not cautionsince he never made a remark about the use of
the Administration's paper for such a compromising document. And
that showed his disdainthe true English disdain of common
prudenceas if everything outside the range of their own
thoughts and feelings were unworthy of serious recognition.
Decoud had the time in a second or two to become furiously angry
with Charles Gouldand even resentful against Mrs. Gouldin
whose caretacitly it is truehe had left the safety of
Antonia. Better perish a thousand times than owe your
preservation to such peoplehe exclaimed mentally. The grip of
Nostromo's fingers never removed from his shouldertightening
fiercelyrecalled him to himself.

The darkness is our friend,the Capataz murmured into his ear.
I am going to lower the sail, and trust our escape to this black
gulf. No eyes could make us out lying silent with a naked mast. I
will do it now, before this steamer closes still more upon us.
The faint creak of a block would betray us and the San Tome
treasure into the hands of those thieves.

He moved about as warily as a cat. Decoud heard no sound; and it
was only by the disappearance of the square blotch of darkness
that he knew the yard had come downlowered as carefully as if
it had been made of glass. Next moment he heard Nostromo's quiet
breathing by his side.


You had better not move at all from where you are, Don Martin,
advised the Capatazearnestly. "You might stumble or displace
something which would make a noise. The sweeps and the punting
poles are lying about. Move not for your life. Por DiosDon
Martin he went on in a keen but friendly whisper, I am so
desperate that if I didn't know your worship to be a man of
couragecapable of standing stock still whatever happensI
would drive my knife into your heart."

A deathlike stillness surrounded the lighter. It was difficult to
believe that there was near a steamer full of men with many pairs
of eyes peering from her bridge for some hint of land in the
night. Her steam had ceased blowing offand she remained stopped
too far off apparently for any other sound to reach the lighter.

Perhaps you would, Capataz,Decoud began in a whisper.
However, you need not trouble. There are other things than the
fear of your knife to keep my heart steady. It shall not betray
you. Only, have you forgotten--

I spoke to you openly as to a man as desperate as myself,
explained the Capataz. "The silver must be saved from the
Monterists. I told Captain Mitchell three times that I preferred
to go alone. I told Don Carlos Gouldtoo. It was in the Casa
Gould. They had sent for me. The ladies were there; and when I
tried to explain why I did not wish to have you with methey
promised meboth of themgreat rewards for your safety. A
strange way to talk to a man you are sending out to an almost
certain death. Those gentlefolk do not seem to have sense enough
to understand what they are giving one to do. I told them I could
do nothing for you. You would have been safer with the bandit
Hernandez. It would have been possible to ride out of the town
with no greater risk than a chance shot sent after you in the
dark. But it was as if they had been deaf. I had to promise I
would wait for you under the harbour gate. I did wait. And now
because you are a brave man you are as safe as the silver.
Neither more nor less."

At that momentas if by way of comment upon Nostromo's words
the invisible steamer went ahead at half speed onlyas could be
judged by the leisurely beat of her propeller. The sound shifted
its place markedlybut without coming nearer. It even grew a
little more distant right abeam of the lighterand then ceased
again.

They are trying for a sight of the Isabels,muttered Nostromo
in order to make for the harbour in a straight line and seize
the Custom House with the treasure in it. Have you ever seen the
Commandant of Esmeralda, Sotillo? A handsome fellow, with a soft
voice. When I first came here I used to see him in the Calle
talking to the senoritas at the windows of the houses, and
showing his white teeth all the time. But one of my Cargadores,
who had been a soldier, told me that he had once ordered a man to
be flayed alive in the remote Campo, where he was sent recruiting
amongst the people of the Estancias. It has never entered his
head that the Compania had a man capable of baffling his game.

The murmuring loquacity of the Capataz disturbed Decoud like a
hint of weakness. And yettalkative resolution may be as genuine
as grim silence.

Sotillo is not baffled so far,he said. "Have you forgotten
that crazy man forward?"


Nostromo had not forgotten Senor Hirsch. He reproached himself
bitterly for not having visited the lighter carefully before
leaving the wharf. He reproached himself for not having stabbed
and flung Hirsch overboard at the very moment of discovery
without even looking at his face. That would have been consistent
with the desperate character of the affair. Whatever happened
Sotillo was already baffled. Even if that wretchnow as silent
as deathdid anything to betray the nearness of the lighter
Sotillo--if Sotillo it was in command of the troops on
board--would be still baffled of his plunder.

I have an axe in my hand,Nostromo whisperedwrathfullythat
in three strokes would cut through the side down to the water's
edge. Moreover, each lighter has a plug in the stern, and I know
exactly where it is. I feel it under the sole of my foot.

Decoud recognized the ring of genuine determination in the
nervous murmursthe vindictive excitement of the famous Capataz.
Before the steamerguided by a shriek or two (for there could be
no more than thatNostromo saidgnashing his teeth audibly)
could find the lighter there would be plenty of time to sink this
treasure tied up round his neck.

The last words he hissed into Decoud's ear. Decoud said nothing.
He was perfectly convinced. The usual characteristic quietness
of the man was gone. It was not equal to the situation as he
conceived it. Something deepersomething unsuspected by
everyonehad come to the surface. Decoudwith careful
movementsslipped off his overcoat and divested himself of his
boots; he did not consider himself bound in honour to sink with
the treasure. His object was to get down to Barriosin Caytaas
the Capataz knew very well; and hetoomeantin his own way
to put into that attempt all the desperation of which he was
capable. Nostromo mutteredTrue, true! You are a politician,
senor. Rejoin the army, and start another revolution.He
pointed outhoweverthat there was a little boat belonging to
every lighter fit to carry two menif not more. Theirs was
towing behind.

Of that Decoud had not been aware. Of courseit was too dark to
seeand it was only when Nostromo put his hand upon its painter
fastened to a cleat in the stern that he experienced a full
measure of relief. The prospect of finding himself in the water
and swimmingoverwhelmed by ignorance and darknessprobably in
a circletill he sank from exhaustionwas revolting. The barren
and cruel futility of such an end intimidated his affectation of
careless pessimism. In comparison to itthe chance of being left
floating in a boatexposed to thirsthungerdiscovery
imprisonmentexecutionpresented itself with an aspect of
amenity worth securing even at the cost of some self-contempt. He
did not accept Nostromo's proposal that he should get into the
boat at once. "Something sudden may overwhelm ussenor the
Capataz remarked promising faithfully, at the same time, to let
go the painter at the moment when the necessity became manifest.

But Decoud assured him lightly that he did not mean to take to
the boat till the very last moment, and that then he meant the
Capataz to come along, too. The darkness of the gulf was no
longer for him the end of all things. It was part of a living
world since, pervading it, failure and death could be felt at
your elbow. And at the same time it was a shelter. He exulted in
its impenetrable obscurity. Like a walllike a wall he
muttered to himself.


The only thing which checked his confidence was the thought of
Senor Hirsch. Not to have bound and gagged him seemed to Decoud
now the height of improvident folly. As long as the miserable
creature had the power to raise a yell he was a constant danger.
His abject terror was mute now, but there was no saying from what
cause it might suddenly find vent in shrieks.

This very madness of fear which both Decoud and Nostromo had seen
in the wild and irrational glances, and in the continuous
twitchings of his mouth, protected Senor Hirsch from the cruel
necessities of this desperate affair. The moment of silencing him
for ever had passed. As Nostromo remarked, in answer to Decoud's
regrets, it was too late! It could not be done without noise,
especially in the ignorance of the man's exact position. Wherever
he had elected to crouch and tremble, it was too hazardous to go
near him. He would begin probably to yell for mercy. It was much
better to leave him quite alone since he was keeping so still.
But to trust to his silence became every moment a greater strain
upon Decoud's composure.

I wishCapatazyou had not let the right moment pass he
murmured.

What! To silence him for ever? I thought it good to hear first
how he came to be here. It was too strange. Who could imagine
that it was all an accident? Afterwardssenorwhen I saw you
giving him water to drinkI could not do it. Not after I had
seen you holding up the can to his lips as though he were your
brother. Senorthat sort of necessity must not be thought of too
long. And yet it would have been no cruelty to take away from him
his wretched life. It is nothing but fear. Your compassion saved
him thenDon Martinand now it is too late. It couldn't be done
without noise."

In the steamer they were keeping a perfect silenceand the
stillness was so profound that Decoud felt as if the slightest
sound conceivable must travel unchecked and audible to the end of
the world. What if Hirsch coughed or sneezed? To feel himself at
the mercy of such an idiotic contingency was too exasperating to
be looked upon with irony. Nostromotooseemed to be getting
restless. Was it possiblehe asked himselfthat the steamer
finding the night too dark altogetherintended to remain stopped
where she was till daylight? He began to think that thisafter
allwas the real danger. He was afraid that the darknesswhich
was his protectionwouldin the endcause his undoing.

Sotilloas Nostromo had surmisedwas in command on board the
transport. The events of the last forty-eight hours in Sulaco
were not known to him; neither was he aware that the telegraphist
in Esmeralda had managed to warn his colleague in Sulaco. Like a
good many officers of the troops garrisoning the province
Sotillo had been influenced in his adoption of the Ribierist
cause by the belief that it had the enormous wealth of the Gould
Concession on its side. He had been one of the frequenters of the
Casa Gouldwhere he had aired his Blanco convictions and his
ardour for reform before Don Jose Avellanoscasting frank
honest glances towards Mrs. Gould and Antonia the while. He was
known to belong to a good family persecuted and impoverished
during the tyranny of Guzman Bento. The opinions he expressed
appeared eminently natural and proper in a man of his parentage
and antecedents. And he was not a deceiver; it was perfectly
natural for him to express elevated sentiments while his whole
faculties were taken up with what seemed then a solid and


practical notion--the notion that the husband of Antonia
Avellanos would benaturallythe intimate friend of the Gould
Concession. He even pointed this out to Anzani oncewhen
negotiating the sixth or seventh small loan in the gloomydamp
apartment with enormous iron barsbehind the principal shop in
the whole row under the Arcades. He hinted to the universal
shopkeeper at the excellent terms he was on with the emancipated
senoritawho was like a sister to the Englishwoman. He would
advance one leg and put his arms akimboposing for Anzani's
inspectionand fixing him with a haughty stare.

Look, miserable shopkeeper! How can a man like me fail with any
woman, let alone an emancipated girl living in scandalous
freedom?he seemed to say.

His manner in the Casa Gould wasof coursevery
different--devoid of all truculenceand even slightly mournful.
Like most of his countrymenhe was carried away by the sound of
fine wordsespecially if uttered by himself. He had no
convictions of any sort upon anything except as to the
irresistible power of his personal advantages. But that was so
firm that even Decoud's appearance in Sulacoand his intimacy
with the Goulds and the Avellanosdid not disquiet him. On the
contraryhe tried to make friends with that rich Costaguanero
from Europe in the hope of borrowing a large sum by-and-by. The
only guiding motive of his life was to get money for the
satisfaction of his expensive tasteswhich he indulged
recklesslyhaving no self-control. He imagined himself a master
of intriguebut his corruption was as simple as an animal
instinct. At timesin solitudehe had his moments of ferocity
and also on such occasions asfor instancewhen alone in a room
with Anzani trying to get a loan.

He had talked himself into the command of the Esmeralda garrison.
That small seaport had its importance as the station of the main
submarine cable connecting the Occidental Provinces with the
outer worldand the junction with it of the Sulaco branch. Don
Jose Avellanos proposed himand Barrioswith a rude and jeering
guffawhad saidOh, let Sotillo go. He is a very good man to
keep guard over the cable, and the ladies of Esmeralda ought to
have their turn.Barriosan indubitably brave manhad no great
opinion of Sotillo.

It was through the Esmeralda cable alone that the San Tome mine
could be kept in constant touch with the great financierwhose
tacit approval made the strength of the Ribierist movement. This
movement had its adversaries even there. Sotillo governed
Esmeralda with repressive severity till the adverse course of
events upon the distant theatre of civil war forced upon him the
reflection thatafter allthe great silver mine was fated to
become the spoil of the victors. But caution was necessary. He
began by assuming a dark and mysterious attitude towards the
faithful Ribierist municipality of Esmeralda. Later onthe
information that the commandant was holding assemblies of
officers in the dead of night (which had leaked out somehow)
caused those gentlemen to neglect their civil duties altogether
and remain shut up in their houses. Suddenly one day all the
letters from Sulaco by the overland courier were carried off by a
file of soldiers from the post office to the Commandancia
without disguiseconcealmentor apology. Sotillo had heard
through Cayta of the final defeat of Ribiera.

This was the first open sign of the change in his convictions.
Presently notorious democratswho had been living till then in


constant fear of arrestleg ironsand even floggingscould be
observed going in and out at the great door of the Commandancia
where the horses of the orderlies doze under their heavy saddles
while the menin ragged uniforms and pointed straw hatslounge
on a benchwith their naked feet stuck out beyond the strip of
shade; and a sentryin a red baize coat with holes at the
elbowsstands at the top of the steps glaring haughtily at the
common peoplewho uncover their heads to him as they pass.

Sotillo's ideas did not soar above the care for his personal
safety and the chance of plundering the town in his chargebut
he feared that such a late adhesion would earn but scant
gratitude from the victors. He had believed just a little too
long in the power of the San Tome mine. The seized correspondence
had confirmed his previous information of a large amount of
silver ingots lying in the Sulaco Custom House. To gain
possession of it would be a clear Monterist move; a sort of
service that would have to be rewarded. With the silver in his
hands he could make terms for himself and his soldiers. He was
aware neither of the riotsnor of the President's escape to
Sulaco and the close pursuit led by Montero's brotherthe
guerrillero. The game seemed in his own hands. The initial moves
were the seizure of the cable telegraph office and the securing
of the Government steamer lying in the narrow creek which is the
harbour of Esmeralda. The last was effected without difficulty by
a company of soldiers swarming with a rush over the gangways as
she lay alongside the quay; but the lieutenant charged with the
duty of arresting the telegraphist halted on the way before the
only cafe in Esmeraldawhere he distributed some brandy to his
menand refreshed himself at the expense of the ownera known
Ribierist. The whole party became intoxicatedand proceeded on
their mission up the street yelling and firing random shots at
the windows. This little festivitywhich might have turned out
dangerous to the telegraphist's lifeenabled him in the end to
send his warning to Sulaco. The lieutenantstaggering upstairs
with a drawn sabrewas before long kissing him on both cheeks in
one of those swift changes of mood peculiar to a state of
drunkenness. He clasped the telegraphist close round the neck
assuring him that all the officers of the Esmeralda garrison were
going to be made colonelswhile tears of happiness streamed down
his sodden face. Thus it came about that the town majorcoming
along laterfound the whole party sleeping on the stairs and in
passagesand the telegraphist (who scorned this chance of
escape) very busy clicking the key of the transmitter. The major
led him away bareheadedwith his hands tied behind his backbut
concealed the truth from Sotillowho remained in ignorance of
the warning despatched to Sulaco.

The colonel was not the man to let any sort of darkness stand in
the way of the planned surprise. It appeared to him a dead
certainty; his heart was set upon his object with an
ungovernablechildlike impatience. Ever since the steamer had
rounded Punta Malato enter the deeper shadow of the gulfhe
had remained on the bridge in a group of officers as excited as
himself. Distracted between the coaxings and menaces of Sotillo
and his Staffthe miserable commander of the steamer kept her
moving with as much prudence as they would let him exercise. Some
of them had been drinking heavilyno doubt; but the prospect of
laying hands on so much wealth made them absurdly foolhardyand
at the same timeextremely anxious. The old major of the
battaliona stupidsuspicious manwho had never been afloat in
his lifedistinguished himself by putting out suddenly the
binnacle lightthe only one allowed on board for the necessities
of navigation. He could not understand of what use it could be


for finding the way. To the vehement protestations of the ship's
captainhe stamped his foot and tapped the handle of his sword.
Aha! I have unmasked you,he criedtriumphantly. "You are
tearing your hair from despair at my acuteness. Am I a child to
believe that a light in that brass box can show you where the
harbour is? I am an old soldierI am. I can smell a traitor a
league off. You wanted that gleam to betray our approach to your
friend the Englishman. A thing like that show you the way! What a
miserable lie! Que picardia! You Sulaco people are all in the
pay of those foreigners. You deserve to be run through the body
with my sword." Other officerscrowding roundtried to calm his
indignationrepeating persuasivelyNo, no! This is an
appliance of the mariners, major. This is no treachery.The
captain of the transport flung himself face downwards on the
bridgeand refused to rise. "Put an end to me at once he
repeated in a stifled voice. Sotillo had to interfere.

The uproar and confusion on the bridge became so great that the
helmsman fled from the wheel. He took refuge in the engine-room,
and alarmed the engineers, who, disregarding the threats of the
soldiers set on guard over them, stopped the engines, protesting
that they would rather be shot than run the risk of being drowned
down below.

This was the first time Nostromo and Decoud heard the steamer
stop. After order had been restored, and the binnacle lamp
relighted, she went ahead again, passing wide of the lighter in
her search for the Isabels. The group could not be made out, and,
at the pitiful entreaties of the captain, Sotillo allowed the
engines to be stopped again to wait for one of those periodical
lightenings of darkness caused by the shifting of the cloud
canopy spread above the waters of the gulf.

Sotillo, on the bridge, muttered from time to time angrily to the
captain. The other, in an apologetic and cringing tone, begged su
merced the colonel to take into consideration the limitations put
upon human faculties by the darkness of the night. Sotillo
swelled with rage and impatience. It was the chance of a
lifetime.

If your eyes are of no more use to you than thisI shall have
them put out he yelled.

The captain of the steamer made no answer, for just then the mass
of the Great Isabel loomed up darkly after a passing shower, then
vanished, as if swept away by a wave of greater obscurity
preceding another downpour. This was enough for him. In the
voice of a man come back to life again, he informed Sotillo that
in an hour he would be alongside the Sulaco wharf. The ship was
put then full speed on the course, and a great bustle of
preparation for landing arose among the soldiers on her deck.

It was heard distinctly by Decoud and Nostromo. The Capataz
understood its meaning. They had made out the Isabels, and were
going on now in a straight line for Sulaco. He judged that they
would pass close; but believed that lying still like this, with
the sail lowered, the lighter could not be seen. Nonot even if
they rubbed sides with us he muttered.

The rain began to fall again; first like a wet mist, then with a
heavier touch, thickening into a smart, perpendicular downpour;
and the hiss and thump of the approaching steamer was coming
extremely near. Decoud, with his eyes full of water, and lowered
head, asked himself how long it would be before she drew past,


when unexpectedly he felt a lurch. An inrush of foam broke
swishing over the stern, simultaneously with a crack of timbers
and a staggering shock. He had the impression of an angry hand
laying hold of the lighter and dragging it along to destruction.
The shock, of course, had knocked him down, and he found himself
rolling in a lot of water at the bottom of the lighter. A violent
churning went on alongside; a strange and amazed voice cried out
something above him in the night. He heard a piercing shriek for
help from Senor Hirsch. He kept his teeth hard set all the time.
It was a collision!

The steamer had struck the lighter obliquely, heeling her over
till she was half swamped, starting some of her timbers, and
swinging her head parallel to her own course with the force of
the blow. The shock of it on board of her was hardly perceptible.
All the violence of that collision was, as usual, felt only on
board the smaller craft. Even Nostromo himself thought that this
was perhaps the end of his desperate adventure. He, too, had
been flung away from the long tiller, which took charge in the
lurch. Next moment the steamer would have passed on, leaving the
lighter to sink or swim after having shouldered her thus out of
her way, and without even getting a glimpse of her form, had it
not been that, being deeply laden with stores and the great
number of people on board, her anchor was low enough to hook
itself into one of the wire shrouds of the lighter's mast. For
the space of two or three gasping breaths that new rope held
against the sudden strain. It was this that gave Decoud the
sensation of the snatching pull, dragging the lighter away to
destruction. The cause of it, of course, was inexplicable to
him. The whole thing was so sudden that he had no time to think.
But all his sensations were perfectly clear; he had kept complete
possession of himself; in fact, he was even pleasantly aware of
that calmness at the very moment of being pitched head first over
the transom, to struggle on his back in a lot of water. Senor
Hirsch's shriek he had heard and recognized while he was
regaining his feet, always with that mysterious sensation of
being dragged headlong through the darkness. Not a word, not a
cry escaped him; he had no time to see anything; and following
upon the despairing screams for help, the dragging motion ceased
so suddenly that he staggered forward with open arms and fell
against the pile of the treasure boxes. He clung to them
instinctively, in the vague apprehension of being flung about
again; and immediately he heard another lot of shrieks for help,
prolonged and despairing, not near him at all, but unaccountably
in the distance, away from the lighter altogether, as if some
spirit in the night were mocking at Senor Hirsch's terror and
despair.

Then all was still--as still as when you wake up in your bed in a
dark room from a bizarre and agitated dream. The lighter rocked
slightly; the rain was still falling. Two groping hands took hold
of his bruised sides from behind, and the Capataz's voice
whispered, in his ear, Silencefor your life! Silence! The
steamer has stopped."

Decoud listened. The gulf was dumb. He felt the water nearly up
to his knees. "Are we sinking?" he asked in a faint breath.

I don't know,Nostromo breathed back to him. "Senormake not
the slightest sound."

Hirschwhen ordered forward by Nostromohad not returned into
his first hiding-place. He had fallen near the mastand had no
strength to rise; moreoverhe feared to move. He had given


himself up for deadbut not on any rational grounds. It was
simply a cruel and terrifying feeling. Whenever he tried to think
what would become of him his teeth would start chattering
violently. He was too absorbed in the utter misery of his fear to
take notice of anything.

Though he was stifling under the lighter's sail which Nostromo
had unwittingly lowered on top of himhe did not even dare to
put out his head till the very moment of the steamer striking.
Thenindeedhe leaped right outspurred on to new miracles of
bodily vigour by this new shape of danger. The inrush of water
when the lighter heeled over unsealed his lips. His shriek
Save me!was the first distinct warning of the collision for
the people on board the steamer. Next moment the wire shroud
partedand the released anchor swept over the lighter's
forecastle. It came against the breast of Senor Hirschwho
simply seized hold of itwithout in the least knowing what it
wasbut curling his arms and legs upon the part above the fluke
with an invincibleunreasonable tenacity. The lighter yawed off
wideand the steamermoving oncarried him awayclinging
hardand shouting for help. It was some timehoweverafter the
steamer had stopped that his position was discovered. His
sustained yelping for help seemed to come from somebody swimming
in the water. At last a couple of men went over the bows and
hauled him on board. He was carried straight off to Sotillo on
the bridge. His examination confirmed the impression that some
craft had been run over and sunkbut it was impracticable on
such a dark night to look for the positive proof of floating
wreckage. Sotillo was more anxious than ever now to enter the
harbour without loss of time; the idea that he had destroyed the
principal object of his expedition was too intolerable to be
accepted. This feeling made the story he had heard appear the
more incredible. Senor Hirschafter being beaten a little for
telling lieswas thrust into the chartroom. But he was beaten
only a little. His tale had taken the heart out of Sotillo's
Staffthough they all repeated round their chiefImpossible!
impossible!with the exception of the old majorwho triumphed
gloomily.

I told you; I told you,he mumbled. "I could smell some
treacherysome diableria a league off."

Meantimethe steamer had kept on her way towards Sulacowhere
only the truth of that matter could be ascertained. Decoud and
Nostromo heard the loud churning of her propeller diminish and
die out; and thenwith no useless wordsbusied themselves in
making for the Isabels. The last shower had brought with it a
gentle but steady breeze. The danger was not over yetand there
was no time for talk. The lighter was leaking like a sieve. They
splashed in the water at every step. The Capataz put into
Decoud's hands the handle of the pump which was fitted at the
side aftand at oncewithout question or remarkDecoud began
to pump in utter forgetfulness of every desire but that of
keeping the treasure afloat. Nostromo hoisted the sailflew back
to the tillerpulled at the sheet like mad. The short flare of a
match (they had been kept dry in a tight tin boxthough the man
himself was completely wet)disclosed to the toiling Decoud the
eagerness of his facebent low over the box of the compassand
the attentive stare of his eyes. He knew now where he wasand he
hoped to run the sinking lighter ashore in the shallow cove where
the highcliff-like end of the Great Isabel is divided in two
equal parts by a deep and overgrown ravine.

Decoud pumped without intermission. Nostromo steered without


relaxing for a second the intensepeering effort of his stare.
Each of them was as if utterly alone with his task. It did not
occur to them to speak. There was nothing in common between them
but the knowledge that the damaged lighter must be slowly but
surely sinking. In that knowledgewhich was like the crucial
test of their desiresthey seemed to have become completely
estrangedas if they had discovered in the very shock of the
collision that the loss of the lighter would not mean the same
thing to them both. This common danger brought their differences
in aimin viewin characterand in positioninto absolute
prominence in the private vision of each. There was no bond of
convictionof common idea; they were merely two adventurers
pursuing each his own adventureinvolved in the same imminence
of deadly peril. Therefore they had nothing to say to each other.
But this perilthis only incontrovertible truth in which they
sharedseemed to act as an inspiration to their mental and
bodily powers.

There was certainly something almost miraculous in the way the
Capataz made the cove with nothing but the shadowy hint of the
island's shape and the vague gleam of a small sandy strip for a
guide. Where the ravine opens between the cliffsand a slender
shallow rivulet meanders out of the bushes to lose itself in the
seathe lighter was run ashore; and the two menwith a
taciturnundaunted energybegan to discharge her precious
freightcarrying each ox-hide box up the bed of the rivulet
beyond the bushes to a hollow place which the caving in of the
soil had made below the roots of a large tree. Its big smooth
trunk leaned like a falling column far over the trickle of water
running amongst the loose stones.

A couple of years before Nostromo had spent a whole Sundayall
aloneexploring the island. He explained this to Decoud after
their task was doneand they satweary in every limbwith
their legs hanging down the low bankand their backs against the
treelike a pair of blind men aware of each other and their
surroundings by some indefinable sixth sense.

Yes,Nostromo repeatedI never forget a place I have
carefully looked at once.He spoke slowlyalmost lazilyas if
there had been a whole leisurely life before himinstead of the
scanty two hours before daylight. The existence of the treasure
barely concealed in this improbable spotlaid a burden of
secrecy upon every contemplated stepupon every intention and
plan of future conduct. He felt the partial failure of this
desperate affair entrusted to the great reputation he had known
how to make for himself. Howeverit was also a partial success.
His vanity was half appeased. His nervous irritation had
subsided.

You never know what may be of use,he pursued with his usual
quietness of tone and manner. "I spent a whole miserable Sunday
in exploring this crumb of land."

A misanthropic sort of occupation,muttered Decoudviciously.
You had no money, I suppose, to gamble with, and to fling about
amongst the girls in your usual haunts, Capataz.

e vero!exclaimed the Capatazsurprised into the use of his
native tongue by so much perspicacity. "I had not! Therefore I
did not want to go amongst those beggarly people accustomed to my
generosity. It is looked for from the Capataz of the Cargadores
who are the rich menandas it werethe Caballeros amongst the
common people. I don't care for cards but as a pastime; and as to


those girls that boast of having opened their doors to my knock
you know I wouldn't look at any one of them twice except for what
the people would say. They are queerthe good people of Sulaco
and I have got much useful information simply by listening
patiently to the talk of the women that everybody believed I was
in love with. Poor Teresa could never understand that. On that
particular Sundaysenorshe scolded so that I went out of the
house swearing that I would never darken their door again unless
to fetch away my hammock and my chest of clothes. Senorthere
is nothing more exasperating than to hear a woman you respect
rail against your good reputation when you have not a single
brass coin in your pocket. I untied one of the small boats and
pulled myself out of the harbour with nothing but three cigars in
my pocket to help me spend the day on this island. But the water
of this rivulet you hear under your feet is cool and sweet and
goodsenorboth before and after a smoke." He was silent for a
whilethen added reflectivelyThat was the first Sunday after
I brought down the white-whiskered English rico all the way down
the mountains from the Paramo on the top of the Entrada Pass--and
in the coach, too! No coach had gone up or down that mountain
road within the memory of man, senor, till I brought this one
down in charge of fifty peons working like one man with ropes,
pickaxes, and poles under my direction. That was the rich
Englishman who, as people say, pays for the making of this
railway. He was very pleased with me. But my wages were not due
till the end of the month.

He slid down the bank suddenly. Decoud heard the splash of his
feet in the brook and followed his footsteps down the ravine. His
form was lost among the bushes till he had reached the strip of
sand under the cliff. As often happens in the gulf when the
showers during the first part of the night had been frequent and
heavythe darkness had thinned considerably towards the morning
though there were no signs of daylight as yet.

The cargo-lighterrelieved of its precious burdenrocked
feeblyhalf-afloatwith her fore-foot on the sand. A long rope
stretched away like a black cotton thread across the strip of
white beach to the grapnel Nostromo had carried ashore and hooked
to the stem of a tree-like shrub in the very opening of the
ravine.

There was nothing for Decoud but to remain on the island. He
received from Nostromo's hands whatever food the foresight of
Captain Mitchell had put on board the lighter and deposited it
temporarily in the little dinghy which on their arrival they had
hauled up out of sight amongst the bushes. It was to be left with
him. The island was to be a hiding-placenot a prison; he could
pull out to a passing ship. The O.S.N. Company's mail boats
passed close to the islands when going into Sulaco from the
north. But the Minervacarrying off the ex-presidenthad taken
the news up north of the disturbances in Sulaco. It was possible
that the next steamer down would get instructions to miss the
port altogether since the townas far as the Minerva's officers
knewwas for the time being in the hands of the rabble. This
would mean that there would be no steamer for a monthas far as
the mail service went; but Decoud had to take his chance of that.
The island was his only shelter from the proscription hanging
over his head. The Capataz wasof coursegoing back. The
unloaded lighter leaked much lessand he thought that she would
keep afloat as far as the harbour.

He passed to Decoudstanding knee-deep alongsideone of the two
spades which belonged to the equipment of each lighter for use


when ballasting ships. By working with it carefully as soon as
there was daylight enough to seeDecoud could loosen a mass of
earth and stones overhanging the cavity in which they had
deposited the treasureso that it would look as if it had fallen
naturally. It would cover up not only the cavitybut even all
traces of their workthe footstepsthe displaced stonesand
even the broken bushes.

Besides, who would think of looking either for you or the
treasure here?Nostromo continuedas if he could not tear
himself away from the spot. "Nobody is ever likely to come here.
What could any man want with this piece of earth as long as there
is room for his feet on the mainland! The people in this country
are not curious. There are even no fishermen here to intrude upon
your worship. All the fishing that is done in the gulf goes on
near Zapigaover there. Senorif you are forced to leave this
island before anything can be arranged for youdo not try to
make for Zapiga. It is a settlement of thieves and matreros
where they would cut your throat promptly for the sake of your
gold watch and chain. Andsenorthink twice before confiding in
any one whatever; even in the officers of the Company's steamers
if you ever get on board one. Honesty alone is not enough for
security. You must look to discretion and prudence in a man. And
always remembersenorbefore you open your lips for a
confidencethat this treasure may be left safely here for
hundreds of years. Time is on its sidesenor. And silver is an
incorruptible metal that can be trusted to keep its value for
ever. . . . An incorruptible metal he repeated, as if the idea
had given him a profound pleasure.

As some men are said to be Decoud pronounced, inscrutably,
while the Capataz, who busied himself in baling out the lighter
with a wooden bucket, went on throwing the water over the side
with a regular splash. Decoud, incorrigible in his scepticism,
reflected, not cynically, but with general satisfaction, that
this man was made incorruptible by his enormous vanity, that
finest form of egoism which can take on the aspect of every
virtue.

Nostromo ceased baling, and, as if struck with a sudden thought,
dropped the bucket with a clatter into the lighter.

Have you any message?" he asked in a lowered voice. "RememberI
shall be asked questions."

You must find the hopeful words that ought to be spoken to the
people in town. I trust for that your intelligence and your
experience, Capataz. You understand?

Si, senor. . . . For the ladies.

Yes, yes,said Decoudhastily. "Your wonderful reputation will
make them attach great value to your words; therefore be careful
what you say. I am looking forward he continued, feeling the
fatal touch of contempt for himself to which his complex nature
was subject, I am looking forward to a glorious and successful
ending to my mission. Do you hearCapataz? Use the words
glorious and successful when you speak to the senorita. Your own
mission is accomplished gloriously and successfully. You have
indubitably saved the silver of the mine. Not only this silver
but probably all the silver that shall ever come out of it."

Nostromo detected the ironic tone. "I dare saySenor Don
Martin he said, moodily. There are very few things that I am


not equal to. Ask the foreign signori. Ia man of the people
who cannot always understand what you mean. But as to this lot
which I must leave herelet me tell you that I would believe it
in greater safety if you had not been with me at all."

An exclamation escaped Decoudand a short pause followed. "Shall
I go back with you to Sulaco?" he asked in an angry tone.

Shall I strike you dead with my knife where you stand?retorted
Nostromocontemptuously. "It would be the same thing as taking
you to Sulaco. Comesenor. Your reputation is in your politics
and mine is bound up with the fate of this silver. Do you wonder
I wish there had been no other man to share my knowledge? I
wanted no one with mesenor."

You could not have kept the lighter afloat without me,Decoud
almost shouted. "You would have gone to the bottom with her."

Yes,uttered Nostromoslowly; "alone."

Here was a manDecoud reflectedthat seemed as though he would
have preferred to die rather than deface the perfect form of his
egoism. Such a man was safe. In silence he helped the Capataz to
get the grapnel on board. Nostromo cleared the shelving shore
with one push of the heavy oarand Decoud found himself solitary
on the beach like a man in a dream. A sudden desire to hear a
human voice once more seized upon his heart. The lighter was
hardly distinguishable from the black water upon which she
floated.

What do you think has become of Hirsch?he shouted.

Knocked overboard and drowned,cried Nostromo's voice
confidently out of the black wastes of sky and sea around the
islet. "Keep close in the ravinesenor. I shall try to come out
to you in a night or two."

A slight swishing rustle showed that Nostromo was setting the
sail. It filled all at once with a sound as of a single loud
drum-tap. Decoud went back to the ravine. Nostromoat the
tillerlooked back from time to time at the vanishing mass of
the Great Isabelwhichlittle by littlemerged into the
uniform texture of the night. At lastwhen he turned his head
againhe saw nothing but a smooth darknesslike a solid wall.

Then hetooexperienced that feeling of solitude which had
weighed heavily on Decoud after the lighter had slipped off the
shore. But while the man on the island was oppressed by a bizarre
sense of unreality affecting the very ground upon which he
walkedthe mind of the Capataz of the Cargadores turned alertly
to the problem of future conduct. Nostromo's facultiesworking
on parallel linesenabled him to steer straightto keep a
look-out for Hermosanear which he had to passand to try to
imagine what would happen tomorrow in Sulaco. To-morroworas a
matter of factto-daysince the dawn was not very farSotillo
would find out in what way the treasure had gone. A gang of
Cargadores had been employed in loading it into a railway truck
from the Custom House store-roomsand running the truck on to
the wharf. There would be arrests madeand certainly before noon
Sotillo would know in what manner the silver had left Sulacoand
who it was that took it out.

Nostromo's intention had been to sail right into the harbour; but
at this thought by a sudden touch of the tiller he threw the


lighter into the wind and checked her rapid way. His
re-appearance with the very boat would raise suspicionswould
cause surmiseswould absolutely put Sotillo on the track. He
himself would be arrested; and once in the Calabozo there was no
saying what they would do to him to make him speak. He trusted
himselfbut he stood up to look round. Near byHermosa showed
low its white surface as flat as a tablewith the slight run of
the sea raised by the breeze washing over its edges noisily. The
lighter must be sunk at once.

He allowed her to drift with her sail aback. There was already a
good deal of water in her. He allowed her to drift towards the
harbour entranceandletting the tiller swing aboutsquatted
down and busied himself in loosening the plug. With that out she
would fill very quicklyand every lighter carried a little iron
ballast--enough to make her go down when full of water. When he
stood up again the noisy wash about the Hermosa sounded far away
almost inaudible; and already he could make out the shape of land
about the harbour entrance. This was a desperate affairand he
was a good swimmer. A mile was nothing to himand he knew of an
easy place for landing just below the earthworks of the old
abandoned fort. It occurred to him with a peculiar fascination
that this fort was a good place in which to sleep the day through
after so many sleepless nights.

With one blow of the tiller he unshipped for the purposehe
knocked the plug outbut did not take the trouble to lower the
sail. He felt the water welling up heavily about his legs before
he leaped on to the taffrail. Thereupright and motionlessin
his shirt and trousers onlyhe stood waiting. When he had felt
her settle he sprang far away with a mighty splash.

At once he turned his head. The gloomyclouded dawn from behind
the mountains showed him on the smooth waters the upper corner of
the saila dark wet triangle of canvas waving slightly to and
fro. He saw it vanishas if jerked underand then struck out
for the shore.

PART THIRD

THE LIGHTHOUSE

CHAPTER ONE

DIRECTLY the cargo boat had slipped away from the wharf and got
lost in the darkness of the harbour the Europeans of Sulaco
separatedto prepare for the coming of the Monterist regime
which was approaching Sulaco from the mountainsas well as from
the sea.

This bit of manual work in loading the silver was their last
concerted action. It ended the three days of dangerduring
whichaccording to the newspaper press of Europetheir energy
had preserved the town from the calamities of popular disorder.
At the shore end of the jettyCaptain Mitchell said good-night
and turned back. His intention was to walk the planks of the
wharf till the steamer from Esmeralda turned up. The engineers of
the railway staffcollecting their Basque and Italian workmen
marched them away to the railway yardsleaving the Custom House
so well defended on the first day of the riotstanding open to


the four winds of heaven. Their men had conducted themselves
bravely and faithfully during the famous "three days" of Sulaco.
In a great part this faithfulness and that courage had been
exercised in self-defence rather than in the cause of those
material interests to which Charles Gould had pinned his faith.
Amongst the cries of the mob not the least loud had been the cry
of death to foreigners. It wasindeeda lucky circumstance for
Sulaco that the relations of those imported workmen with the
people of the country had been uniformly bad from the first.

Doctor Monyghamgoing to the door of Viola's kitchenobserved
this retreat marking the end of the foreign interferencethis
withdrawal of the army of material progress from the field of
Costaguana revolutions.

Algarrobe torches carried on the outskirts of the moving body
sent their penetrating aroma into his nostrils. Their light
sweeping along the front of the housemade the letters of the
inscriptionAlbergo d'ltalia Una,leap out black from end to
end of the long wall. His eyes blinked in the clear blaze.
Several young menmostly fair and tallshepherding this mob of
dark bronzed headssurmounted by the glint of slanting rifle
barrelsnodded to him familiarly as they went by. The doctor was
a well-known character. Some of them wondered what he was doing
there. Thenon the flank of their workmen they tramped on
following the line of rails.

Withdrawing your people from the harbour?said the doctor
addressing himself to the chief engineer of the railwaywho had
accompanied Charles Gould so far on his way to the townwalking
by the side of the horsewith his hand on the saddle-bow. They
had stopped just outside the open door to let the workmen cross
the road.

As quick as I can. We are not a political faction,answered the
engineermeaningly. "And we are not going to give our new rulers
a handle against the railway. You approve meGould?"

Absolutely,said Charles Gould's impassive voicehigh up and
outside the dim parallelogram of light falling on the road
through the open door.

With Sotillo expected from one sideand Pedro Montero from the
otherthe engineer-in-chief's only anxiety now was to avoid a
collision with either. Sulacofor himwas a railway stationa
terminusworkshopsa great accumulation of stores. As against
the mob the railway defended its propertybut politically the
railway was neutral. He was a brave man; and in that spirit of
neutrality he had carried proposals of truce to the
self-appointed chiefs of the popular partythe deputies Fuentes
and Gamacho. Bullets were still flying about when he had crossed
the Plaza on that missionwaving above his head a white napkin
belonging to the table linen of the Amarilla Club.

He was rather proud of this exploit; and reflecting that the
doctorbusy all day with the wounded in the patio of the Casa
Gouldhad not had time to hear the newshe began a succinct
narrative. He had communicated to them the intelligence from the
Construction Camp as to Pedro Montero. The brother of the
victorious generalhe had assured themcould be expected at
Sulaco at any time now. This news (as he anticipated)when
shouted out of the window by Senor Gamachoinduced a rush of the
mob along the Campo Road towards Rincon. The two deputies also
after shaking hands with him effusivelymounted and galloped off


to meet the great man. "I have misled them a little as to the
time the chief engineer confessed. However hard he rideshe
can scarcely get here before the morning. But my object is
attained. I've secured several hours' peace for the losing
party. But I did not tell them anything about Sotillofor fear
they would take it into their heads to try to get hold of the
harbour againeither to oppose him or welcome him--there's no
saying which. There was Gould's silveron which rests the
remnant of our hopes. Decoud's retreat had to be thought oftoo.
I think the railway has done pretty well by its friends without
compromising itself hopelessly. Now the parties must be left to
themselves."

Costaguana for the Costaguaneros,interjected the doctor
sardonically. "It is a fine countryand they have raised a fine
crop of hatesvengeancemurderand rapine--those sons of the
country."

Well, I am one of them,Charles Gould's voice soundedcalmly
and I must be going on to see to my own crop of trouble. My wife
has driven straight on, doctor?

Yes. All was quiet on this side. Mrs. Gould has taken the two
girls with her.

Charles Gould rode onand the engineer-in-chief followed the
doctor indoors.

That man is calmness personified,he saidappreciatively
dropping on a benchand stretching his well-shaped legs in
cycling stockings nearly across the doorway. "He must be
extremely sure of himself."

If that's all he is sure of, then he is sure of nothing,said
the doctor. He had perched himself again on the end of the table.
He nursed his cheek in the palm of one handwhile the other
sustained the elbow. "It is the last thing a man ought to be sure
of." The candlehalf-consumed and burning dimly with a long
wicklighted up from below his inclined facewhose expression
affected by the drawn-in cicatrices in the cheekshad something
vaguely unnaturalan exaggerated remorseful bitterness. As he
sat there he had the air of meditating upon sinister things. The
engineer-in-chief gazed at him for a time before he protested.

I really don't see that. For me there seems to be nothing else.
However----

He was a wise manbut he could not quite conceal his contempt
for that sort of paradox; in fact. Dr. Monygham was not liked by
the Europeans of Sulaco. His outward aspect of an outcastwhich
he preserved even in Mrs. Gould's drawing-roomprovoked
unfavourable criticism. There could be no doubt of his
intelligence; and as he had lived for over twenty years in the
countrythe pessimism of his outlook could not be altogether
ignored. But instinctivelyin self-defence of their activities
and hopeshis hearers put it to the account of some hidden
imperfection in the man's character. It was known that many years
beforewhen quite younghe had been made by Guzman Bento chief
medical officer of the army. Not one of the Europeans then in the
service of Costaguana had been so much liked and trusted by the
fierce old Dictator.

Afterwards his story was not so clear. It lost itself amongst the
innumerable tales of conspiracies and plots against the tyrant as


a stream is lost in an arid belt of sandy country before it
emergesdiminished and troubledperhapson the other side. The
doctor made no secret of it that he had lived for years in the
wildest parts of the Republicwandering with almost unknown
Indian tribes in the great forests of the far interior where the
great rivers have their sources. But it was mere aimless
wandering; he had written nothingcollected nothingbrought
nothing for science out of the twilight of the forestswhich
seemed to cling to his battered personality limping about Sulaco
where it had drifted in casuallyonly to get stranded on the
shores of the sea.

It was also known that he had lived in a state of destitution
till the arrival of the Goulds from Europe. Don Carlos and Dona
Emilia had taken up the mad English doctorwhen it became
apparent that for all his savage independence he could be tamed
by kindness. Perhaps it was only hunger that had tamed him. In
years gone by he had certainly been acquainted with Charles
Gould's father in Sta. Marta; and nowno matter what were the
dark passages of his historyas the medical officer of the San
Tome mine he became a recognized personality. He was recognized
but not unreservedly accepted. So much defiant eccentricity and
such an outspoken scorn for mankind seemed to point to mere
recklessness of judgmentthe bravado of guilt. Besidessince
he had become again of some accountvague whispers had been
heard that years agowhen fallen into disgrace and thrown into
prison by Guzman Bento at the time of the so-called Great
Conspiracyhe had betrayed some of his best friends amongst the
conspirators. Nobody pretended to believe that whisper; the whole
story of the Great Conspiracy was hopelessly involved and
obscure; it is admitted in Costaguana that there never had been a
conspiracy except in the diseased imagination of the Tyrant; and
thereforenothing and no one to betray; though the most
distinguished Costaguaneros had been imprisoned and executed upon
that accusation. The procedure had dragged on for years
decimating the better class like a pestilence. The mere
expression of sorrow for the fate of executed kinsmen had been
punished with death. Don Jose Avellanos was perhaps the only one
living who knew the whole story of those unspeakable cruelties.
He had suffered from them himselfand hewith a shrug of the
shoulders and a nervousjerky gesture of the armwas wont to
put away from himas it wereevery allusion to it. But whatever
the reasonDr. Monyghama personage in the administration of
the Gould Concessiontreated with reverent awe by the miners
and indulged in his peculiarities by Mrs. Gouldremained
somehow outside the pale.

It was not from any liking for the doctor that the
engineer-in-chief had lingered in the inn upon the plain. He
liked old Viola much better. He had come to look upon the Albergo
d'ltalia Una as a dependence of the railway. Many of his
subordinates had their quarters there. Mrs. Gould's interest in
the family conferred upon it a sort of distinction. The
engineer-in-chiefwith an army of workers under his orders
appreciated the moral influence of the old Garibaldino upon his
countrymen. His austereold-world Republicanism had a severe
soldier-like standard of faithfulness and dutyas if the world
were a battlefield where men had to fight for the sake of
universal love and brotherhoodinstead of a more or less large
share of booty.

Poor old chap!he saidafter he had heard the doctor's account
of Teresa. "He'll never be able to keep the place going by
himself. I shall be sorry."


He's quite alone up there,grunted Doctor Monyghamwith a toss
of his heavy head towards the narrow staircase. "Every living
soul has cleared outand Mrs. Gould took the girls away just
now. It might not be over-safe for them out here before very
long. Of courseas a doctor I can do nothing more here; but she
has asked me to stay with old Violaand as I have no horse to
get back to the minewhere I ought to beI made no difficulty
to stay. They can do without me in the town."

I have a good mind to remain with you, doctor, till we see
whether anything happens to-night at the harbour,declared the
engineer-in-chief. "He must not be molested by Sotillo's
soldierywho may push on as far as this at once. Sotillo used to
be very cordial to me at the Goulds' and at the club. How that
man'll ever dare to look any of his friends here in the face I
can't imagine."

He'll no doubt begin by shooting some of them to get over the
first awkwardness,said the doctor. "Nothing in this country
serves better your military man who has changed sides than a few
summary executions." He spoke with a gloomy positiveness that
left no room for protest. The engineer-in-chief did not attempt
any. He simply nodded several times regretfullythen said-


I think we shall be able to mount you in the morning, doctor.
Our peons have recovered some of our stampeded horses. By riding
hard and taking a wide circuit by Los Hatos and along the edge of
the forest, clear of Rincon altogether, you may hope to reach the
San Tome bridge without being interfered with. The mine is just
now, to my mind, the safest place for anybody at all compromised.
I only wish the railway was as difficult to touch.

Am I compromised?Doctor Monygham brought out slowly after a
short silence.

The whole Gould Concession is compromised. It could not have
remained for ever outside the political life of the country--if
those convulsions may be called life. The thing is--can it be
touched? The moment was bound to come when neutrality would
become impossible, and Charles Gould understood this well. I
believe he is prepared for every extremity. A man of his sort has
never contemplated remaining indefinitely at the mercy of
ignorance and corruption. It was like being a prisoner in a
cavern of banditti with the price of your ransom in your pocket,
and buying your life from day to day. Your mere safety, not your
liberty, mind, doctor. I know what I am talking about. The image
at which you shrug your shoulders is perfectly correct,
especially if you conceive such a prisoner endowed with the power
of replenishing his pocket by means as remote from the faculties
of his captors as if they were magic. You must have understood
that as well as I do, doctor. He was in the position of the
goose with the golden eggs. I broached this matter to him as far
back as Sir John's visit here. The prisoner of stupid and greedy
banditti is always at the mercy of the first imbecile ruffian,
who may blow out his brains in a fit of temper or for some
prospect of an immediate big haul. The tale of killing the goose
with the golden eggs has not been evolved for nothing out of the
wisdom of mankind. It is a story that will never grow old. That
is why Charles Gould in his deep, dumb way has countenanced the
Ribierist Mandate, the first public act that promised him safety
on other than venal grounds. Ribierism has failed, as everything
merely rational fails in this country. But Gould remains logical
in wishing to save this big lot of silver. Decoud's plan of a


counter-revolution may be practicable or not, it may have a
chance, or it may not have a chance. With all my experience of
this revolutionary continent, I can hardly yet look at their
methods seriously. Decoud has been reading to us his draft of a
proclamation, and talking very well for two hours about his plan
of action. He had arguments which should have appeared solid
enough if we, members of old, stable political and national
organizations, were not startled by the mere idea of a new State
evolved like this out of the head of a scoffing young man fleeing
for his life, with a proclamation in his pocket, to a rough,
jeering, half-bred swashbuckler, who in this part of the world is
called a general. It sounds like a comic fairy tale--and behold,
it may come off; because it is true to the very spirit of the
country.

Is the silver gone off, then?asked the doctormoodily.

The chief engineer pulled out his watch. "By Captain Mitchell's
reckoning--and he ought to know--it has been gone long enough
now to be some three or four miles outside the harbour; andas
Mitchell saysNostromo is the sort of seaman to make the best of
his opportunities." Here the doctor grunted so heavily that the
other changed his tone.

You have a poor opinion of that move, doctor? But why? Charles
Gould has got to play his game out, though he is not the man to
formulate his conduct even to himself, perhaps, let alone to
others. It may be that the game has been partly suggested to him
by Holroyd; but it accords with his character, too; and that is
why it has been so successful. Haven't they come to calling him
'El Rey de Sulaco' in Sta. Marta? A nickname may be the best
record of a success. That's what I call putting the face of a
joke upon the body of a truth. My dear sir, when I first arrived
in Sta. Marta I was struck by the way all those journalists,
demagogues, members of Congress, and all those generals and
judges cringed before a sleepy-eyed advocate without practice
simply because he was the plenipotentiary of the Gould
Concession. Sir John when he came out was impressed, too.

A new State, with that plump dandy, Decoud, for the first
President,mused Dr. Monyghamnursing his cheek and swinging
his legs all the time.

Upon my word, and why not?the chief engineer retorted in an
unexpectedly earnest and confidential voice. It was as if
something subtle in the air of Costaguana had inoculated him with
the local faith in "pronunciamientos." All at once he began to
talklike an expert revolutionistof the instrument ready to
hand in the intact army at Caytawhich could be brought back in
a few days to Sulaco if only Decoud managed to make his way at
once down the coast. For the military chief there was Barrios
who had nothing but a bullet to expect from Monterohis former
professional rival and bitter enemy. Barrios's concurrence was
assured. As to his armyit had nothing to expect from Montero
either; not even a month's pay. From that point of view the
existence of the treasure was of enormous importance. The mere
knowledge that it had been saved from the Monterists would be a
strong inducement for the Cayta troops to embrace the cause of
the new State.

The doctor turned round and contemplated his companion for some
time.

This Decoud, I see, is a persuasive young beggar,he remarked


at last. "And pray is it for thisthenthat Charles Gould has
let the whole lot of ingots go out to sea in charge of that
Nostromo?"

Charles Gould,said the engineer-in-chiefhas said no more
about his motive than usual. You know, he doesn't talk. But we
all here know his motive, and he has only one--the safety of the
San Tome mine with the preservation of the Gould Concession in
the spirit of his compact with Holroyd. Holroyd is another
uncommon man. They understand each other's imaginative side. One
is thirty, the other nearly sixty, and they have been made for
each other. To be a millionaire, and such a millionaire as
Holroyd, is like being eternally young. The audacity of youth
reckons upon what it fancies an unlimited time at its disposal;
but a millionaire has unlimited means in his hand--which is
better. One's time on earth is an uncertain quantity, but about
the long reach of millions there is no doubt. The introduction
of a pure form of Christianity into this continent is a dream for
a youthful enthusiast, and I have been trying to explain to you
why Holroyd at fifty-eight is like a man on the threshold of
life, and better, too. He's not a missionary, but the San Tome
mine holds just that for him. I assure you, in sober truth, that
he could not manage to keep this out of a strictly business
conference upon the finances of Costaguana he had with Sir John a
couple of years ago. Sir John mentioned it with amazement in a
letter he wrote to me here, from San Francisco, when on his way
home. Upon my word, doctor, things seem to be worth nothing by
what they are in themselves. I begin to believe that the only
solid thing about them is the spiritual value which everyone
discovers in his own form of activity----

Bah!interrupted the doctorwithout stopping for an instant
the idle swinging movement of his legs. "Self-flattery. Food for
that vanity which makes the world go round. Meantimewhat do you
think is going to happen to the treasure floating about the gulf
with the great Capataz and the great politician?"

Why are you uneasy about it, doctor?

I uneasy! And what the devil is it to me? I put no spiritual
value into my desires, or my opinions, or my actions. They have
not enough vastness to give me room for self-flattery. Look, for
instance, I should certainly have liked to ease the last moments
of that poor woman. And I can't. It's impossible. Have you met
the impossible face to face--or have you, the Napoleon of
railways, no such word in your dictionary?

Is she bound to have a very bad time of it?asked the chief
engineerwith humane concern.

Slowheavy footsteps moved across the planks above the heavy
hard wood beams of the kitchen. Then down the narrow opening of
the staircase made in the thickness of the walland narrow
enough to be defended by one man against twenty enemiescame the
murmur of two voicesone faint and brokenthe other deep and
gentle answering itand in its graver tone covering the weaker
sound.

The two men remained still and silent till the murmurs ceased
then the doctor shrugged his shoulders and muttered-


Yes, she's bound to. And I could do nothing if I went up now.

A long period of silence above and below ensued.


I fancy,began the engineerin a subdued voicethat you
mistrust Captain Mitchell's Capataz.

Mistrust him!muttered the doctor through his teeth. "I believe
him capable of anything--even of the most absurd fidelity. I am
the last person he spoke to before he left the wharfyou know.
The poor woman up there wanted to see himand I let him go up to
her. The dying must not be contradictedyou know. She seemed
then fairly calm and resignedbut the scoundrel in those ten
minutes or so has done or said something which seems to have
driven her into despair. You know went on the doctor,
hesitatingly, women are so very unaccountable in every position
and at all times of lifethat I thought sometimes she was in a
waydon't you see? in love with him--the Capataz. The rascal has
his own charm indubitablyor he would not have made the conquest
of all the populace of the town. NonoI am not absurd. I may
have given a wrong name to some strong sentiment for him on her
partto an unreasonable and simple attitude a woman is apt to
take up emotionally towards a man. She used to abuse him to me
frequentlywhichof courseis not inconsistent with my idea.
Not at all. It looked to me as if she were always thinking of
him. He was something important in her life. You knowI have
seen a lot of those people. Whenever I came down from the mine
Mrs. Gould used to ask me to keep my eye on them. She likes
Italians; she has lived a long time in ItalyI believeand she
took a special fancy to that old Garibaldino. A remarkable chap
enough. A rugged and dreamy characterliving in the
republicanism of his young days as if in a cloud. He has
encouraged much of the Capataz's confounded nonsense--the
high-strungexalted old beggar!"

What sort of nonsense?wondered the chief engineer. "I found
the Capataz always a very shrewd and sensible fellowabsolutely
fearlessand remarkably useful. A perfect handy man. Sir John
was greatly impressed by his resourcefulness and attention when
he made that overland journey from Sta. Marta. Later onas you
might have heardhe rendered us a service by disclosing to the
then chief of police the presence in the town of some
professional thieveswho came from a distance to wreck and rob
our monthly pay train. He has certainly organized the lighterage
service of the harbour for the O.S.N. Company with great ability.
He knows how to make himself obeyedforeigner though he is. It
is true that the Cargadores are strangers heretoofor the most
part--immigrantsIslenos."

His prestige is his fortune,muttered the doctorsourly.

The man has proved his trustworthiness up to the hilt on
innumerable occasions and in all sorts of ways,argued the
engineer. "When this question of the silver aroseCaptain
Mitchell naturally was very warmly of the opinion that his
Capataz was the only man fit for the trust. As a sailorof
courseI suppose so. But as a mandon't you knowGould
Decoudand myself judged that it didn't matter in the least who
went. Any boatman would have done just as well. Praywhat could
a thief do with such a lot of ingots? If he ran off with them he
would have in the end to land somewhereand how could he conceal
his cargo from the knowledge of the people ashore? We dismissed
that consideration from our minds. MoreoverDecoud was going.
There have been occasions when the Capataz has been more
implicitly trusted."

He took a slightly different view,the doctor said. "I heard


him declare in this very room that it would be the most desperate
affair of his life. He made a sort of verbal will here in my
hearingappointing old Viola his executor; andby Jove! do you
knowhe--he's not grown rich by his fidelity to you good people
of the railway and the harbour. I suppose he obtains some--how
do you say that?--some spiritual value for his laboursor else I
don't know why the devil he should be faithful to youGould
Mitchellor anybody else. He knows this country well. He knows
for instancethat Gamachothe Deputy from Javirahas been
nothing else but a 'tramposo' of the commonest sorta petty
pedlar of the Campotill he managed to get enough goods on
credit from Anzani to open a little store in the wildsand got
himself elected by the drunken mozos that hang about the
Estancias and the poorest sort of rancheros who were in his debt.
And Gamachowho to-morrow will be probably one of our high
officialsis a strangertoo--an Isleno. He might have been a
Cargador on the O. S. N. wharf had he not (the posadero of Rincon
is ready to swear it) murdered a pedlar in the woods and stolen
his pack to begin life on. And do you think that Gamachothen
would have ever become a hero with the democracy of this place
like our Capataz? Of course not. He isn't half the man. No;
decidedlyI think that Nostromo is a fool."

The doctor's talk was distasteful to the builder of railways. "It
is impossible to argue that point he said, philosophically.
Each man has his gifts. You should have heard Gamacho haranguing
his friends in the street. He has a howling voiceand he
shouted like madlifting his clenched fist right above his head
and throwing his body half out of the window. At every pause the
rabble below yelled'Down with the Oligarchs! Viva la Libertad!'
Fuentes inside looked extremely miserable. You knowhe is the
brother of Jorge Fuenteswho has been Minister of the Interior
for six months or sosome few years back. Of coursehe has no
conscience; but he is a man of birth and education--at one time
the director of the Customs of Cayta. That idiot-brute Gamacho
fastened himself upon him with his following of the lowest
rabble. His sickly fear of that ruffian was the most rejoicing
sight imaginable."

He got up and went to the door to look out towards the harbour.
All quiet,he said; "I wonder if Sotillo really means to turn
up here?"

CHAPTER TWO

CAPTAIN MITCHELLpacing the wharfwas asking himself the same
question. There was always the doubt whether the warning of the
Esmeralda telegraphist--a fragmentary and interrupted
message--had been properly understood. Howeverthe good man had
made up his mind not to go to bed till daylightif even then. He
imagined himself to have rendered an enormous service to Charles
Gould. When he thought of the saved silver he rubbed his hands
together with satisfaction. In his simple way he was proud at
being a party to this extremely clever expedient. It was he who
had given it a practical shape by suggesting the possibility of
intercepting at sea the north-bound steamer. And it was
advantageous to his Companytoowhich would have lost a
valuable freight if the treasure had been left ashore to be
confiscated. The pleasure of disappointing the Monterists was
also very great. Authoritative by temperament and the long habit
of commandCaptain Mitchell was no democrat. He even went so
far as to profess a contempt for parliamentarism itself. "His


Excellency Don Vincente Ribiera he used to say, whom I and
that fellow of mineNostromohad the honoursirand the
pleasure of saving from a cruel deathdeferred too much to his
Congress. It was a mistake--a distinct mistakesir."

The guileless old seaman superintending the O.S.N. service
imagined that the last three days had exhausted every startling
surprise the political life of Costaguana could offer. He used to
confess afterwards that the events which followed surpassed his
imagination. To begin withSulaco (because of the seizure of the
cables and the disorganization of the steam service) remained for
a whole fortnight cut off from the rest of the world like a
besieged city.

One would not have believed it possible; but so it was, sir. A
full fortnight.

The account of the extraordinary things that happened during that
timeand the powerful emotions he experiencedacquired a comic
impressiveness from the pompous manner of his personal narrative.
He opened it always by assuring his hearer that he was "in the
thick of things from first to last." Then he would begin by
describing the getting away of the silverand his natural
anxiety lest "his fellow" in charge of the lighter should make
some mistake. Apart from the loss of so much precious metalthe
life of Senor Martin Decoudan agreeablewealthyand
well-informed young gentlemanwould have been jeopardized
through his falling into the hands of his political enemies.
Captain Mitchell also admitted that in his solitary vigil on the
wharf he had felt a certain measure of concern for the future of
the whole country.

A feeling, sir,he explainedperfectly comprehensible in a
man properly grateful for the many kindnesses received from the
best families of merchants and other native gentlemen of
independent means, who, barely saved by us from the excesses of
the mob, seemed, to my mind's eye, destined to become the prey in
person and fortune of the native soldiery, which, as is well
known, behave with regrettable barbarity to the inhabitants
during their civil commotions. And then, sir, there were the
Goulds, for both of whom, man and wife, I could not but entertain
the warmest feelings deserved by their hospitality and kindness.
I felt, too, the dangers of the gentlemen of the Amarilla Club,
who had made me honorary member, and had treated me with uniform
regard and civility, both in my capacity of Consular Agent and as
Superintendent of an important Steam Service. Miss Antonia
Avellanos, the most beautiful and accomplished young lady whom it
had ever been my privilege to speak to, was not a little in my
mind, I confess. How the interests of my Company would be
affected by the impending change of officials claimed a large
share of my attention, too. In short, sir, I was extremely
anxious and very tired, as you may suppose, by the exciting and
memorable events in which I had taken my little part. The
Company's building containing my residence was within five
minutes' walk, with the attraction of some supper and of my
hammock (I always take my nightly rest in a hammock, as the most
suitable to the climate); but somehow, sir, though evidently I
could do nothing for any one by remaining about, I could not tear
myself away from that wharf, where the fatigue made me stumble
painfully at times. The night was excessively dark--the darkest
I remember in my life; so that I began to think that the arrival
of the transport from Esmeralda could not possibly take place
before daylight, owing to the difficulty of navigating the gulf.
The mosquitoes bit like fury. We have been infested here with


mosquitoes before the late improvements; a peculiar harbour
brand, sir, renowned for its ferocity. They were like a cloud
about my head, and I shouldn't wonder that but for their attacks
I would have dozed off as I walked up and down, and got a heavy
fall. I kept on smoking cigar after cigar, more to protect myself
from being eaten up alive than from any real relish for the weed.
Then, sir, when perhaps for the twentieth time I was approaching
my watch to the lighted end in order to see the time, and
observing with surprise that it wanted yet ten minutes to
midnight, I heard the splash of a ship's propeller--an
unmistakable sound to a sailor's ear on such a calm night. It was
faint indeed, because they were advancing with precaution and
dead slow, both on account of the darkness and from their desire
of not revealing too soon their presence: a very unnecessary
care, because, I verily believe, in all the enormous extent of
this harbour I was the only living soul about. Even the usual
staff of watchmen and others had been absent from their posts for
several nights owing to the disturbances. I stood stock still,
after dropping and stamping out my cigar--a circumstance highly
agreeable, I should think, to the mosquitoes, if I may judge from
the state of my face next morning. But that was a trifling
inconvenience in comparison with the brutal proceedings I became
victim of on the part of Sotillo. Something utterly
inconceivable, sir; more like the proceedings of a maniac than
the action of a sane man, however lost to all sense of honour and
decency. But Sotillo was furious at the failure of his thievish
scheme.

In this Captain Mitchell was right. Sotillo was indeed
infuriated. Captain Mitchellhoweverhad not been arrested at
once; a vivid curiosity induced him to remain on the wharf (which
is nearly four hundred feet long) to seeor rather hearthe
whole process of disembarkation. Concealed by the railway truck
used for the silverwhich had been run back afterwards to the
shore end of the jettyCaptain Mitchell saw the small detachment
thrown forwardpass bytaking different directions upon the
plain. Meantimethe troops were being landed and formed into a
columnwhose head crept up gradually so close to him that he
made it outbarring nearly the whole width of the wharfonly a
very few yards from him. Then the lowshufflingmurmuring
clinking sounds ceasedand the whole mass remained for about an
hour motionless and silentawaiting the return of the scouts. On
land nothing was to be heard except the deep baying of the
mastiffs at the railway yardsanswered by the faint barking of
the curs infesting the outer limits of the town. A detached knot
of dark shapes stood in front of the head of the column.

Presently the picket at the end of the wharf began to challenge
in undertones single figures approaching from the plain. Those
messengers sent back from the scouting parties flung to their
comrades brief sentences and passed on rapidlybecoming lost in
the great motionless massto make their report to the Staff. It
occurred to Captain Mitchell that his position could become
disagreeable and perhaps dangerouswhen suddenlyat the head of
the jettythere was a shout of commanda bugle callfollowed
by a stir and a rattling of armsand a murmuring noise that ran
right up the column. Near by a loud voice directed hurriedly
Push that railway car out of the way!At the rush of bare feet
to execute the order Captain Mitchell skipped back a pace or two;
the carsuddenly impelled by many handsflew away from him
along the railsand before he knew what had happened he found
himself surrounded and seized by his arms and the collar of his
coat.


We have caught a man hiding here, mi teniente!cried one of his
captors.

Hold him on one side till the rearguard comes along,answered
the voice. The whole column streamed past Captain Mitchell at a
runthe thundering noise of their feet dying away suddenly on
the shore. His captors held him tightlydisregarding his
declaration that he was an Englishman and his loud demands to be
taken at once before their commanding officer. Finally he lapsed
into dignified silence. With a hollow rumble of wheels on the
planks a couple of field gunsdragged by handrolled by. Then
after a small body of men had marched past escorting four or five
figures which walked in advancewith a jingle of steel
scabbardshe felt a tug at his armsand was ordered to come
along. During the passage from the wharf to the Custom House it
is to be feared that Captain Mitchell was subjected to certain
indignities at the hands of the soldiers--such as jerksthumps
on the neckforcible application of the butt of a rifle to the
small of his back. Their ideas of speed were not in accord with
his notion of his dignity. He became flusteredflushedand
helpless. It was as if the world were coming to an end.

The long building was surrounded by troopswhich were already
piling arms by companies and preparing to pass the night lying on
the ground in their ponchos with their sacks under their heads.
Corporals moved with swinging lanterns posting sentries all round
the walls wherever there was a door or an opening. Sotillo was
taking his measures to protect his conquest as if it had indeed
contained the treasure. His desire to make his fortune at one
audacious stroke of genius had overmastered his reasoning
faculties. He would not believe in the possibility of failure;
the mere hint of such a thing made his brain reel with rage.
Every circumstance pointing to it appeared incredible. The
statement of Hirschwhich was so absolutely fatal to his hopes
could by no means be admitted. It is truetoothat Hirsch's
story had been told so incoherentlywith such excessive signs of
distractionthat it really looked improbable. It was extremely
difficultas the saying isto make head or tail of it. On the
bridge of the steamerdirectly after his rescueSotillo and his
officersin their impatience and excitementwould not give the
wretched man time to collect such few wits as remained to him. He
ought to have been quietedsoothedand reassuredwhereas he
had been roughly handledcuffedshakenand addressed in
menacing tones. His struggleshis wriggleshis attempts to get
down on his kneesfollowed by the most violent efforts to break
awayas if he meant incontinently to jump overboardhis shrieks
and shrinkings and cowering wild glances had filled them first
with amazementthen with a doubt of his genuinenessas men are
wont to suspect the sincerity of every great passion. His
Spanishtoobecame so mixed up with German that the better half
of his statements remained incomprehensible. He tried to
propitiate them by calling them hochwohlgeboren herrenwhich in
itself sounded suspicious. When admonished sternly not to trifle
he repeated his entreaties and protestations of loyalty and
innocence again in Germanobstinatelybecause he was not aware
in what language he was speaking. His identityof coursewas
perfectly known as an inhabitant of Esmeraldabut this made the
matter no clearer. As he kept on forgetting Decoud's namemixing
him up with several other people he had seen in the Casa Gould
it looked as if they all had been in the lighter together; and
for a moment Sotillo thought that he had drowned every prominent
Ribierist of Sulaco. The improbability of such a thing threw a
doubt upon the whole statement. Hirsch was either mad or playing
a part--pretending fear and distraction on the spur of the


moment to cover the truth. Sotillo's rapacityexcited to the
highest pitch by the prospect of an immense bootycould believe
in nothing adverse. This Jew might have been very much frightened
by the accidentbut he knew where the silver was concealedand
had invented this storywith his Jewish cunningto put him
entirely off the track as to what had been done.

Sotillo had taken up his quarters on the upper floor in a vast
apartment with heavy black beams. But there was no ceilingand
the eye lost itself in the darkness under the high pitch of the
roof. The thick shutters stood open. On a long table could be
seen a large inkstandsome stumpyinky quill pensand two
square wooden boxeseach holding half a hundred-weight of sand.
Sheets of grey coarse official paper bestrewed the floor. It must
have been a room occupied by some higher official of the Customs
because a large leathern armchair stood behind the tablewith
other high-backed chairs scattered about. A net hammock was swung
under one of the beams--for the official's afternoon siestano
doubt. A couple of candles stuck into tall iron candlesticks gave
a dim reddish light. The colonel's hatswordand revolver lay
between themand a couple of his more trusty officers lounged
gloomily against the table. The colonel threw himself into the
armchairand a big negro with a sergeant's stripes on his ragged
sleevekneeling downpulled off his boots. Sotillo's ebony
moustache contrasted violently with the livid colouring of his
cheeks. His eyes were sombre and as if sunk very far into his
head. He seemed exhausted by his perplexitieslanguid with
disappointment; but when the sentry on the landing thrust his
head in to announce the arrival of a prisonerhe revived at
once.

Let him be brought in,he shoutedfiercely.

The door flew openand Captain Mitchellbareheadedhis
waistcoat openthe bow of his tie under his earwas hustled
into the room.

Sotillo recognized him at once. He could not have hoped for a
more precious capture; here was a man who could tell himif he
choseeverything he wished to know--and directly the problem of
how best to make him talk to the point presented itself to his
mind. The resentment of a foreign nation had no terrors for
Sotillo. The might of the whole armed Europe would not have
protected Captain Mitchell from insults and ill-usageso well as
the quick reflection of Sotillo that this was an Englishman who
would most likely turn obstinate under bad treatmentand become
quite unmanageable. At all eventsthe colonel smoothed the scowl
on his brow.

What! The excellent Senor Mitchell!he criedin affected
dismay. The pretended anger of his swift advance and of his
shoutRelease the caballero at once,was so effective that the
astounded soldiers positively sprang away from their prisoner.
Thus suddenly deprived of forcible supportCaptain Mitchell
reeled as though about to fall. Sotillo took him familiarly under
the armled him to a chairwaved his hand at the room. "Go out
all of you he commanded.

When they had been left alone he stood looking down, irresolute
and silent, watching till Captain Mitchell had recovered his
power of speech.

Here in his very grasp was one of the men concerned in the
removal of the silver. Sotillo's temperament was of that sort


that he experienced an ardent desire to beat him; just as
formerly when negotiating with difficulty a loan from the
cautious Anzani, his fingers always itched to take the shopkeeper
by the throat. As to Captain Mitchell, the suddenness,
unexpectedness, and general inconceivableness of this experience
had confused his thoughts. Moreover, he was physically out of
breath.

I've been knocked down three times between this and the wharf
he gasped out at last. Somebody shall be made to pay for this."
He had certainly stumbled more than onceand had been dragged
along for some distance before he could regain his stride. With
his recovered breath his indignation seemed to madden him. He
jumped upcrimsonall his white hair bristlinghis eyes
glaring vengefullyand shook violently the flaps of his ruined
waistcoat before the disconcerted Sotillo. "Look! Those uniformed
thieves of yours downstairs have robbed me of my watch."

The old sailor's aspect was very threatening. Sotillo saw himself
cut off from the table on which his sabre and revolver were
lying.

I demand restitution and apologies,Mitchell thundered at him
quite beside himself. "From you! Yesfrom you!"

For the space of a second or so the colonel stood with a
perfectly stony expression of face; thenas Captain Mitchell
flung out an arm towards the table as if to snatch up the
revolverSotillowith a yell of alarmbounded to the door and
was gone in a flashslamming it after him. Surprise calmed
Captain Mitchell's fury. Behind the closed door Sotillo shouted
on the landingand there was a great tumult of feet on the
wooden staircase.

Disarm him! Bind him!the colonel could be heard vociferating.

Captain Mitchell had just the time to glance once at the windows
with three perpendicular bars of iron each and some twenty feet
from the groundas he well knewbefore the door flew open and
the rush upon him took place. In an incredibly short time he
found himself bound with many turns of a hide rope to a
high-backed chairso that his head alone remained free. Not till
then did Sotillowho had been leaning in the doorway trembling
visiblyventure again within. The soldierspicking up from the
floor the rifles they had dropped to grapple with the prisoner
filed out of the room. The officers remained leaning on their
swords and looking on.

The watch! the watch!raved the colonelpacing to and fro like
a tiger in a cage. "Give me that man's watch."

It was truethat when searched for arms in the hall downstairs
before being taken into Sotillo's presenceCaptain Mitchell had
been relieved of his watch and chain; but at the colonel's
clamour it was produced quickly enougha corporal bringing it
upcarried carefully in the palms of his joined hands. Sotillo
snatched itand pushed the clenched fist from which it dangled
close to Captain Mitchell's face.

Now then! You arrogant Englishman! You dare to call the soldiers
of the army thieves! Behold your watch.

He flourished his fist as if aiming blows at the prisoner's nose.
Captain Mitchellhelpless as a swathed infantlooked anxiously


at the sixty-guinea gold half-chronometerpresented to him years
ago by a Committee of Underwriters for saving a ship from total
loss by fire. Sotillotooseemed to perceive its valuable
appearance. He became silent suddenlystepped aside to the
tableand began a careful examination in the light of the
candles. He had never seen anything so fine. His officers closed
in and craned their necks behind his back.

He became so interested that for an instant he forgot his
precious prisoner. There is always something childish in the
rapacity of the passionateclear-mindedSouthern raceswanting
in the misty idealism of the Northernerswho at the smallest
encouragement dream of nothing less than the conquest of the
earth. Sotillo was fond of jewelsgold trinketsof personal
adornment. After a moment he turned aboutand with a commanding
gesture made all his officers fall back. He laid down the watch
on the tablethennegligentlypushed his hat over it.

Ha!he begangoing up very close to the chair. "You dare call
my valiant soldiers of the Esmeralda regimentthieves. You dare!
What impudence! You foreigners come here to rob our country of
its wealth. You never have enough! Your audacity knows no
bounds."

He looked towards the officersamongst whom there was an
approving murmur. The older major was moved to declare-


Si, mi colonel. They are all traitors.

I shall say nothing,continued Sotillofixing the motionless
and powerless Mitchell with an angry but uneasy stare. "I shall
say nothing of your treacherous attempt to get possession of my
revolver to shoot me while I was trying to treat you with
consideration you did not deserve. You have forfeited your life.
Your only hope is in my clemency."

He watched for the effect of his wordsbut there was no obvious
sign of fear on Captain Mitchell's face. His white hair was full
of dustwhich covered also the rest of his helpless person. As
if he had heard nothinghe twitched an eyebrow to get rid of a
bit of straw which hung amongst the hairs.

Sotillo advanced one leg and put his arms akimbo. "It is you
Mitchell he said, emphatically, who are the thiefnot my
soldiers!" He pointed at his prisoner a forefinger with a long
almond-shaped nail. "Where is the silver of the San Tome mine? I
ask youMitchellwhere is the silver that was deposited in this
Custom House? Answer me that! You stole it. You were a party to
stealing it. It was stolen from the Government. Aha! you think I
do not know what I say; but I am up to your foreign tricks. It is
gonethe silver! No? Gone in one of your lanchasyou miserable
man! How dared you?"

This time he produced his effect. "How on earth could Sotillo
know that?" thought Mitchell. His headthe only part of his body
that could movebetrayed his surprise by a sudden jerk.

Ha! you tremble,Sotillo shoutedsuddenly. "It is a
conspiracy. It is a crime against the State. Did you not know
that the silver belongs to the Republic till the Government
claims are satisfied? Where is it? Where have you hidden ityou
miserable thief?"

At this question Captain Mitchell's sinking spirits revived. In


whatever incomprehensible manner Sotillo had already got his
information about the lighterhe had not captured it. That was
clear. In his outraged heartCaptain Mitchell had resolved that
nothing would induce him to say a word while he remained so
disgracefully boundbut his desire to help the escape of the
silver made him depart from this resolution. His wits were very
much at work. He detected in Sotillo a certain air of doubtof
irresolution.

That man,he said to himselfis not certain of what he
advances.For all his pomposity in social intercourseCaptain
Mitchell could meet the realities of life in a resolute and ready
spirit. Now he had got over the first shock of the abominable
treatment he was cool and collected enough. The immense contempt
he felt for Sotillo steadied himand he said oracularlyNo
doubt it is well concealed by this time.

Sotillotoohad time to cool down. "Muy bienMitchell he
said in a cold and threatening manner. But can you produce the
Government receipt for the royalty and the Custom House permit of
embarkationhey? Can you? No. Then the silver has been removed
illegallyand the guilty shall be made to sufferunless it is
produced within five days from this." He gave orders for the
prisoner to be unbound and locked up in one of the smaller rooms
downstairs. He walked about the roommoody and silenttill
Captain Mitchellwith each of his arms held by a couple of men
stood upshook himselfand stamped his feet.

How did you like to be tied up, Mitchell?he askedderisively.

It is the most incredible, abominable use of power!Captain
Mitchell declared in a loud voice. "And whatever your purpose
you shall gain nothing from itI can promise you."

The tall colonellividwith his coal-black ringlets and
moustachecrouchedas it wereto look into the eyes of the
shortthick-setred-faced prisoner with rumpled white hair.

That we shall see. You shall know my power a little better when
I tie you up to a potalon outside in the sun for a whole day.He
drew himself up haughtilyand made a sign for Captain Mitchell
to be led away.

What about my watch?cried Captain Mitchellhanging back from
the efforts of the men pulling him towards the door.

Sotillo turned to his officers. "No! But only listen to this
picarocaballeros he pronounced with affected scorn, and was
answered by a chorus of derisive laughter. He demands his
watch!" . . . He ran up again to Captain Mitchellfor the desire
to relieve his feelings by inflicting blows and pain upon this
Englishman was very strong within him. "Your watch! You are a
prisoner in war timeMitchell! In war time! You have no rights
and no property! Caramba! The very breath in your body belongs to
me. Remember that."

Bosh!said Captain Mitchellconcealing a disagreeable
impression.

Down belowin a great hallwith the earthen floor and with a
tall mound thrown up by white ants in a cornerthe soldiers had
kindled a small fire with broken chairs and tables near the
arched gatewaythrough which the faint murmur of the harbour
waters on the beach could be heard. While Captain Mitchell was


being led down the staircasean officer passed himrunning up
to report to Sotillo the capture of more prisoners. A lot of
smoke hung about in the vast gloomy placethe fire crackled
andas if through a hazeCaptain Mitchell made outsurrounded
by short soldiers with fixed bayonetsthe heads of three tall
prisoners--the doctorthe engineer-in-chiefand the white
leonine mane of old Violawho stood half-turned away from the
others with his chin on his breast and his arms crossed.
Mitchell's astonishment knew no bounds. He cried out; the other
two exclaimed also. But he hurried ondiagonallyacross the
big cavern-like hall. Lots of thoughtssurmiseshints of
cautionand so oncrowded his head to distraction.

Is he actually keeping you?shouted the chief engineerwhose
single eyeglass glittered in the firelight.

An officer from the top of the stairs was shouting urgently
Bring them all up--all three.

In the clamour of voices and the rattle of armsCaptain Mitchell
made himself heard imperfectly: "By heavens! the fellow has
stolen my watch."

The engineer-in-chief on the staircase resisted the pressure long
enough to shoutWhat? What did you say?

My chronometer!Captain Mitchell yelled violently at the very
moment of being thrust head foremost through a small door into a
sort of cellperfectly blackand so narrow that he fetched up
against the opposite wall. The door had been instantly slammed.
He knew where they had put him. This was the strong room of the
Custom Housewhence the silver had been removed only a few hours
earlier. It was almost as narrow as a corridorwith a small
square aperturebarred by a heavy gratingat the distant end.
Captain Mitchell staggered for a few stepsthen sat down on the
earthen floor with his back to the wall. Nothingnot even a
gleam of light from anywhereinterfered with Captain Mitchell's
meditation. He did some hard but not very extensive thinking. It
was not of a gloomy cast. The old sailorwith all his small
weaknesses and absurditieswas constitutionally incapable of
entertaining for any length of time a fear of his personal
safety. It was not so much firmness of soul as the lack of a
certain kind of imagination--the kind whose undue development
caused intense suffering to Senor Hirsch; that sort of
imagination which adds the blind terror of bodily suffering and
of deathenvisaged as an accident to the body alone
strictly--to all the other apprehensions on which the sense of
one's existence is based. UnfortunatelyCaptain Mitchell had not
much penetration of any kind; characteristicilluminating
trifles of expressionactionor movementescaped him
completely. He was too pompously and innocently aware of his own
existence to observe that of others. For instancehe could not
believe that Sotillo had been really afraid of himand this
simply because it would never have entered into his head to shoot
any one except in the most pressing case of self-defence. Anybody
could see he was not a murdering kind of manhe reflected quite
gravely. Then why this preposterous and insulting charge? he
asked himself. But his thoughts mainly clung around the
astounding and unanswerable question: How the devil the fellow
got to know that the silver had gone off in the lighter? It was
obvious that he had not captured it. Andobviouslyhe could not
have captured it! In this last conclusion Captain Mitchell was
misled by the assumption drawn from his observation of the
weather during his long vigil on the wharf. He thought that there


had been much more wind than usual that night in the gulf;
whereasas a matter of factthe reverse was the case.

How in the name of all that's marvellous did that confounded
fellow get wind of the affair?was the first question he asked
directly after the bangclatterand flash of the open door
(which was closed again almost before he could lift his dropped
head) informed him that he had a companion of captivity. Dr.
Monygham's voice stopped muttering curses in English and Spanish.

Is that you, Mitchell?he made answersurlily. "I struck my
forehead against this confounded wall with enough force to fell
an ox. Where are you?"

Captain Mitchellaccustomed to the darknesscould make out the
doctor stretching out his hands blindly.

I am sitting here on the floor. Don't fall over my legs,
Captain Mitchell's voice announced with great dignity of tone.
The doctorentreated not to walk about in the darksank down to
the groundtoo. The two prisoners of Sotillowith their heads
nearly touchingbegan to exchange confidences.

Yes,the doctor related in a low tone to Captain Mitchell's
vehement curiositywe have been nabbed in old Viola's place. It
seems that one of their pickets, commanded by an officer, pushed
as far as the town gate. They had orders not to enter, but to
bring along every soul they could find on the plain. We had been
talking in there with the door open, and no doubt they saw the
glimmer of our light. They must have been making their approaches
for some time. The engineer laid himself on a bench in a recess
by the fire-place, and I went upstairs to have a look. I hadn't
heard any sound from there for a long time. Old Viola, as soon as
he saw me come up, lifted his arm for silence. I stole in on
tiptoe. By Jove, his wife was lying down and had gone to sleep.
The woman had actually dropped off to sleep! 'Senor Doctor,'
Viola whispers to me, 'it looks as if her oppression was going to
get better.' 'Yes,' I said, very much surprised; 'your wife is a
wonderful woman, Giorgio.' Just then a shot was fired in the
kitchen, which made us jump and cower as if at a thunder-clap.
It seems that the party of soldiers had stolen quite close up,
and one of them had crept up to the door. He looked in, thought
there was no one there, and, holding his rifle ready, entered
quietly. The chief told me that he had just closed his eyes for a
moment. When he opened them, he saw the man already in the
middle of the room peering into the dark corners. The chief was
so startled that, without thinking, he made one leap from the
recess right out in front of the fireplace. The soldier, no less
startled, up with his rifle and pulls the trigger, deafening and
singeing the engineer, but in his flurry missing him completely.
But, look what happens! At the noise of the report the sleeping
woman sat up, as if moved by a spring, with a shriek, 'The
children, Gian' Battista! Save the children!' I have it in my
ears now. It was the truest cry of distress I ever heard. I stood
as if paralyzed, but the old husband ran across to the bedside,
stretching out his hands. She clung to them! I could see her eyes
go glazed; the old fellow lowered her down on the pillows and
then looked round at me. She was dead! All this took less than
five minutes, and then I ran down to see what was the matter. It
was no use thinking of any resistance. Nothing we two could say
availed with the officer, so I volunteered to go up with a couple
of soldiers and fetch down old Viola. He was sitting at the foot
of the bed, looking at his wife's face, and did not seem to hear
what I said; but after I had pulled the sheet over her head, he


got up and followed us downstairs quietly, in a sort of
thoughtful way. They marched us off along the road, leaving the
door open and the candle burning. The chief engineer strode on
without a word, but I looked back once or twice at the feeble
gleam. After we had gone some considerable distance, the
Garibaldino, who was walking by my side, suddenly said, 'I have
buried many men on battlefields on this continent. The priests
talk of consecrated ground! Bah! All the earth made by God is
holy; but the sea, which knows nothing of kings and priests and
tyrants, is the holiest of all. Doctor! I should like to bury her
in the sea. No mummeries, candles, incense, no holy water mumbled
over by priests. The spirit of liberty is upon the waters.' . . .
Amazing old man. He was saying all this in an undertone as if
talking to himself.

Yes, yes,interrupted Captain Mitchellimpatiently. "Poor old
chap! But have you any idea how that ruffian Sotillo obtained his
information? He did not get hold of any of our Cargadores who
helped with the truckdid he? But noit is impossible! These
were picked men we've had in our boats for these five yearsand
I paid them myself specially for the jobwith instructions to
keep out of the way for twenty-four hours at least. I saw them
with my own eyes march on with the Italians to the railway yards.
The chief promised to give them rations as long as they wanted to
remain there."

Well,said the doctorslowlyI can tell you that you may say
good-bye for ever to your best lighter, and to the Capataz of
Cargadores.

At thisCaptain Mitchell scrambled up to his feet in the excess
of his excitement. The doctorwithout giving him time to
exclaimstated briefly the part played by Hirsch during the
night.

Captain Mitchell was overcome. "Drowned!" he mutteredin a
bewildered and appalled whisper. "Drowned!" Afterwards he kept
stillapparently listeningbut too absorbed in the news of the
catastrophe to follow the doctor's narrative with attention.

The doctor had taken up an attitude of perfect ignorancetill at
last Sotillo was induced to have Hirsch brought in to repeat the
whole storywhich was got out of him again with the greatest
difficultybecause every moment he would break out into
lamentations. At lastHirsch was led awaylooking more dead
than aliveand shut up in one of the upstairs rooms to be close
at hand. Then the doctorkeeping up his character of a man not
admitted to the inner councils of the San Tome Administration
remarked that the story sounded incredible. Of coursehe said
he couldn't tell what had been the action of the Europeansas he
had been exclusively occupied with his own work in looking after
the woundedand also in attending Don Jose Avellanos. He had
succeeded in assuming so well a tone of impartial indifference
that Sotillo seemed to be completely deceived. Till then a show
of regular inquiry had been kept up; one of the officers sitting
at the table wrote down the questions and the answersthe
otherslounging about the roomlistened attentivelypuffing at
their long cigars and keeping their eyes on the doctor. But at
that point Sotillo ordered everybody out.

CHAPTER THREE


DIRECTLY they were alonethe colonel's severe official manner
changed. He rose and approached the doctor. His eyes shone with
rapacity and hope; he became confidential. "The silver might
have been indeed put on board the lighterbut it was not
conceivable that it should have been taken out to sea." The
doctorwatching every wordnodded slightlysmoking with
apparent relish the cigar which Sotillo had offered him as a sign
of his friendly intentions. The doctor's manner of cold
detachment from the rest of the Europeans led Sotillo ontill
from conjecture to conjecturehe arrived at hinting that in his
opinion this was a putup job on the part of Charles Gouldin
order to get hold of that immense treasure all to himself. The
doctorobservant and self-possessedmutteredHe is very
capable of that.

Here Captain Mitchell exclaimed with amazementamusementand
indignationYou said that of Charles Gould!Disgustand even
some suspicioncrept into his tonefor to himtooas to other
Europeansthere appeared to be something dubious about the
doctor's personality.

What on earth made you say that to this watch-stealing
scoundrel?he asked. "What's the object of an infernal lie of
that sort? That confounded pick-pocket was quite capable of
believing you."

He snorted. For a time the doctor remained silent in the dark.

Yes, that is exactly what I did say,he uttered at lastin a
tone which would have made it clear enough to a third party that
the pause was not of a reluctant but of a reflective character.
Captain Mitchell thought that he had never heard anything so
brazenly impudent in his life.

Well, well!he muttered to himselfbut he had not the heart to
voice his thoughts. They were swept away by others full of
astonishment and regret. A heavy sense of discomfiture crushed
him: the loss of the silverthe death of Nostromowhich was
really quite a blow to his sensibilitiesbecause he had become
attached to his Capataz as people get attached to their inferiors
from love of ease and almost unconscious gratitude. And when he
thought of Decoud being drownedtoohis sensibility was almost
overcome by this miserable end. What a heavy blow for that poor
young woman! Captain Mitchell did not belong to the species of
crabbed old bachelors; on the contraryhe liked to see young men
paying attentions to young women. It seemed to him a natural and
proper thing. Proper especially. As to sailorsit was
different; it was not their place to marryhe maintainedbut it
was on moral grounds as a matter of self-denialforhe
explainedlife on board ship is not fit for a woman even at
bestand if you leave her on shorefirst of all it is not fair
and next she either suffers from it or doesn't care a bitwhich
in both casesis bad. He couldn't have told what upset him
most--Charles Gould's immense material lossthe death of
Nostromowhich was a heavy loss to himselfor the idea of that
beautiful and accomplished young woman being plunged into
mourning.

Yes,the doctorwho had been apparently reflectingbegan
againhe believed me right enough. I thought he would have
hugged me. 'Si, si,' he said, 'he will write to that partner of
his, the rich Americano in San Francisco, that it is all lost.
Why not? There is enough to share with many people.'


But this is perfectly imbecile!cried Captain Mitchell.

The doctor remarked that Sotillo was imbecileand that his
imbecility was ingenious enough to lead him completely astray. He
had helped him only but a little way.

I mentioned,the doctor saidin a sort of casual way, that
treasure is generally buried in the earth rather than set afloat
upon the sea. At this my Sotillo slapped his forehead. 'Por Dios,
yes,' he said; 'they must have buried it on the shores of this
harbour somewhere before they sailed out.'

Heavens and earth!muttered Captain MitchellI should not
have believed that anybody could be ass enough--He pausedthen
went on mournfully: "But what's the good of all this? It would
have been a clever enough lie if the lighter had been still
afloat. It would have kept that inconceivable idiot perhaps from
sending out the steamer to cruise in the gulf. That was the
danger that worried me no end." Captain Mitchell sighed
profoundly.

I had an object,the doctor pronouncedslowly.

Had you?muttered Captain Mitchell. "Wellthat's luckyor
else I would have thought that you went on fooling him for the
fun of the thing. And perhaps that was your object. WellI must
say I personally wouldn't condescend to that sort of thing. It is
not to my taste. Nono. Blackening a friend's character is not
my idea of funif it were to fool the greatest blackguard on
earth."

Had it not been for Captain Mitchell's depressioncaused by the
fatal newshis disgust of Dr. Monygham would have taken a more
outspoken shape; but he thought to himself that now it really did
not matter what that manwhom he had never likedwould say and
do.

I wonder,he grumbledwhy they have shut us up together, or
why Sotillo should have shut you up at all, since it seems to me
you have been fairly chummy up there?

Yes, I wonder,said the doctor grimly.

Captain Mitchell's heart was so heavy that he would have
preferred for the time being a complete solitude to the best of
company. But any company would have been preferable to the
doctor'sat whom he had always looked askance as a sort of
beachcomber of superior intelligence partly reclaimed from his
abased state. That feeling led him to ask-


What has that ruffian done with the other two?

The chief engineer he would have let go in any case,said the
doctor. "He wouldn't like to have a quarrel with the railway upon
his hands. Not just yetat any rate. I don't thinkCaptain
Mitchellthat you understand exactly what Sotillo's position
is--"

I don't see why I should bother my head about it,snarled
Captain Mitchell.

No,assented the doctorwith the same grim composure. "I
don't see why you should. It wouldn't help a single human being
in the world if you thought ever so hard upon any subject


whatever."

No,said Captain Mitchellsimplyand with evident depression.
A man locked up in a confounded dark hole is not much use to
anybody.

As to old Viola,the doctor continuedas though he had not
heardSotillo released him for the same reason he is presently
going to release you.

Eh? What?exclaimed Captain Mitchellstaring like an owl in
the darkness. "What is there in common between me and old Viola?
More likely because the old chap has no watch and chain for the
pickpocket to steal. And I tell you whatDr. Monygham he went
on with rising choler, he will find it more difficult than he
thinks to get rid of me. He will burn his fingers over that job
yetI can tell you. To begin withI won't go without my watch
and as to the rest--we shall see. I dare say it is no great
matter for you to be locked up. But Joe Mitchell is a different
kind of mansir. I don't mean to submit tamely to insult and
robbery. I am a public charactersir."

And then Captain Mitchell became aware that the bars of the
opening had become visiblea black grating upon a square of
grey. The coming of the day silenced Captain Mitchell as if by
the reflection that now in all the future days he would be
deprived of the invaluable services of his Capataz. He leaned
against the wall with his arms folded on his breastand the
doctor walked up and down the whole length of the place with his
peculiar hobbling gaitas if slinking about on damaged feet. At
the end furthest from the grating he would be lost altogether in
the darkness. Only the slight limping shuffle could be heard.
There was an air of moody detachment in that painful prowl kept
up without a pause. When the door of the prison was suddenly
flung open and his name shouted out he showed no surprise. He
swerved sharply in his walkand passed out at onceas though
much depended upon his speed; but Captain Mitchell remained for
some time with his shoulders against the wallquite undecided in
the bitterness of his spirit whether it wouldn't be better to
refuse to stir a limb in the way of protest. He had half a mind
to get himself carried outbut after the officer at the door had
shouted three or four times in tones of remonstrance and surprise
he condescended to walk out.

Sotillo's manner had changed. The colonel's off-hand civility was
slightly irresoluteas though he were in doubt if civility were
the proper course in this case. He observed Captain Mitchell
attentively before he spoke from the big armchair behind the
table in a condescending voice-


I have concluded not to detain you, Senor Mitchell. I am of a
forgiving disposition. I make allowances. Let this be a lesson
to you, however.

The peculiar dawn of Sulacowhich seems to break far away to the
westward and creep back into the shade of the mountainsmingled
with the reddish light of the candles. Captain Mitchellin sign
of contempt and indifferencelet his eyes roam all over the
roomand he gave a hard stare to the doctorperched already on
the casement of one of the windowswith his eyelids lowered
careless and thoughtful--or perhaps ashamed.

Sotilloensconced in the vast armchairremarkedI should have
thought that the feelings of a caballero would have dictated to


you an appropriate reply.

He waited for itbut Captain Mitchell remaining mutemore from
extreme resentment than from reasoned intentionSotillo
hesitatedglanced towards the doctorwho looked up and nodded
then went on with a slight effort-


Here, Senor Mitchell, is your watch. Learn how hasty and unjust
has been your judgment of my patriotic soldiers.

Lying back in his seathe extended his arm over the table and
pushed the watch away slightly. Captain Mitchell walked up with
undisguised eagernessput it to his earthen slipped it into
his pocket coolly.

Sotillo seemed to overcome an immense reluctance. Again he
looked aside at the doctorwho stared at him unwinkingly.

But as Captain Mitchell was turning awaywithout as much as a
nod or a glancehe hastened to say-


You may go and wait downstairs for the senor doctor, whom I am
going to liberate, too. You foreigners are insignificant, to my
mind.

He forced a slightdiscordant laugh out of himselfwhile
Captain Mitchellfor the first timelooked at him with some
interest.

The law shall take note later on of your transgressions,
Sotillo hurried on. "But as for meyou can live freeunguarded
unobserved. Do you hearSenor Mitchell? You may depart to your
affairs. You are beneath my notice. My attention is claimed by
matters of the very highest importance."

Captain Mitchell was very nearly provoked to an answer. It
displeased him to be liberated insultingly; but want of sleep
prolonged anxietiesa profound disappointment with the fatal
ending of the silver-saving business weighed upon his spirits. It
was as much as he could do to conceal his uneasinessnot about
himself perhapsbut about things in general. It occurred to him
distinctly that something underhand was going on. As he went out
he ignored the doctor pointedly.

A brute!said Sotilloas the door shut.

Dr. Monygham slipped off the window-sillandthrusting his
hands into the pockets of the longgrey dust coat he was
wearingmade a few steps into the room.

Sotillo got uptooandputting himself in the wayexamined
him from head to foot.

So your countrymen do not confide in you very much, senor
doctor. They do not love you, eh? Why is that, I wonder?

The doctorlifting his headanswered by a longlifeless stare
and the wordsPerhaps because I have lived too long in
Costaguana.

Sotillo had a gleam of white teeth under the black moustache.

Aha! But you love yourself,he saidencouragingly.


If you leave them alone,the doctor saidlooking with the same
lifeless stare at Sotillo's handsome facethey will betray
themselves very soon. Meantime, I may try to make Don Carlos
speak?

Ah! senor doctor,said Sotillowagging his headyou are a
man of quick intelligence. We were made to understand each
other.He turned away. He could bear no longer that
expressionless and motionless starewhich seemed to have a sort
of impenetrable emptiness like the black depth of an abyss.

Even in a man utterly devoid of moral sense there remains an
appreciation of rascality whichbeing conventionalis perfectly
clear. Sotillo thought that Dr. Monyghamso different from all
Europeanswas ready to sell his countrymen and Charles Gould
his employerfor some share of the San Tome silver. Sotillo did
not despise him for that. The colonel's want of moral sense was
of a profound and innocent character. It bordered upon stupidity
moral stupidity. Nothing that served his ends could appear to him
really reprehensible. Neverthelesshe despised Dr. Monygham.
He had for him an immense and satisfactory contempt. He despised
him with all his heart because he did not mean to let the doctor
have any reward at all. He despised himnot as a man without
faith and honourbut as a fool. Dr. Monygham's insight into his
character had deceived Sotillo completely. Therefore he thought
the doctor a fool.

Since his arrival in Sulaco the colonel's ideas had undergone
some modification.

He no longer wished for a political career in Montero's
administration. He had always doubted the safety of that course.
Since he had learned from the chief engineer that at daylight
most likely he would be confronted by Pedro Montero his
misgivings on that point had considerably increased. The
guerrillero brother of the general--the Pedrito of popular
speech--had a reputation of his own. He wasn't safe to deal with.
Sotillo had vaguely planned seizing not only the treasure but the
town itselfand then negotiating at leisure. But in the face of
facts learned from the chief engineer (who had frankly disclosed
to him the whole situation) his audacitynever of a very dashing
kindhad been replaced by a most cautious hesitation.

An army--an army crossed the mountains under Pedrito already,
he had repeatedunable to hide his consternation. "If it had not
been that I am given the news by a man of your position I would
never have believed it. Astonishing!"

An armed force,corrected the engineersuavely. His aim was
attained. It was to keep Sulaco clear of any armed occupation for
a few hours longerto let those whom fear impelled leave the
town. In the general dismay there were families hopeful enough to
fly upon the road towards Los Hatoswhich was left open by the
withdrawal of the armed rabble under Senores Fuentes and Gamacho
to Rinconwith their enthusiastic welcome for Pedro Montero. It
was a hasty and risky exodusand it was said that Hernandez
occupying with his band the woods about Los Hatoswas receiving
the fugitives. That a good many people he knew were contemplating
such a flight had been well known to the chief engineer.

Father Corbelan's efforts in the cause of that most pious robber
had not been altogether fruitless. The political chief of Sulaco
had yielded at the last moment to the urgent entreaties of the
priesthad signed a provisional nomination appointing Hernandez


a generaland calling upon him officially in this new capacity
to preserve order in the town. The fact is that the political
chiefseeing the situation desperatedid not care what he
signed. It was the last official document he signed before he
left the palace of the Intendencia for the refuge of the O.S.N.
Company's office. But even had he meant his act to be effective
it was already too late. The riot which he feared and expected
broke out in less than an hour after Father Corbelan had left
him. IndeedFather Corbelanwho had appointed a meeting with
Nostromo in the Dominican Conventwhere he had his residence in
one of the cellsnever managed to reach the place. From the
Intendencia he had gone straight on to the Avellanos's house to
tell his brother-in-lawand though he stayed there no more than
half an hour he had found himself cut off from his ascetic abode.
Nostromoafter waiting there for some timewatching uneasily
the increasing uproar in the streethad made his way to the
offices of the Porvenirand stayed there till daylightas
Decoud had mentioned in the letter to his sister. Thus the
Capatazinstead of riding towards the Los Hatos woods as bearer
of Hernandez's nominationhad remained in town to save the life
of the President Dictatorto assist in repressing the outbreak
of the moband at last to sail out with the silver of the mine.

But Father Corbelanescaping to Hernandezhad the document in
his pocketa piece of official writing turning a bandit into a
general in a memorable last official act of the Ribierist party
whose watchwords were honestypeaceand progress. Probably
neither the priest nor the bandit saw the irony of it. Father
Corbelan must have found messengers to send into the townfor
early on the second day of the disturbances there were rumours of
Hernandez being on the road to Los Hatos ready to receive those
who would put themselves under his protection. A strange-looking
horsemanelderly and audacioushad appeared in the townriding
slowly while his eyes examined the fronts of the housesas
though he had never seen such high buildings before. Before the
cathedral he had dismountedandkneeling in the middle of the
Plazahis bridle over his arm and his hat lying in front of him
on the groundhad bowed his headcrossing himself and beating
his breast for some little time. Remounting his horsewith a
fearless but not unfriendly look round the little gathering
formed about his public devotionshe had asked for the Casa
Avellanos. A score of hands were extended in answerwith fingers
pointing up the Calle de la Constitucion.

The horseman had gone on with only a glance of casual curiosity
upwards to the windows of the Amarilla Club at the corner. His
stentorian voice shouted periodically in the empty streetWhich
is the Casa Avellanos?till an answer came from the scared
porterand he disappeared under the gate. The letter he was
bringingwritten by Father Corbelan with a pencil by the
camp-fire of Hernandezwas addressed to Don Joseof whose
critical state the priest was not aware. Antonia read itand
after consulting Charles Gouldsent it on for the information of
the gentlemen garrisoning the Amarilla Club. For herselfher
mind was made up; she would rejoin her uncle; she would entrust
the last day--the last hours perhaps--of her father's life to the
keeping of the banditwhose existence was a protest against the
irresponsible tyranny of all parties alikeagainst the moral
darkness of the land. The gloom of Los Hatos woods was
preferable; a life of hardships in the train of a robber band
less debasing. Antonia embraced with all her soul her uncle's
obstinate defiance of misfortune. It was grounded in the belief
in the man whom she loved.


In his message the Vicar-General answered upon his head for
Hernandez's fidelity. As to his powerhe pointed out that he had
remained unsubdued for so many years. In that letter Decoud's
idea of the new Occidental State (whose flourishing and stable
condition is a matter of common knowledge now) was for the first
time made public and used as an argument. Hernandezex-bandit
and the last general of Ribierist creationwas confident of
being able to hold the tract of country between the woods of Los
Hatos and the coast range till that devoted patriotDon Martin
Decoudcould bring General Barrios back to Sulaco for the
reconquest of the town.

Heaven itself wills it. Providence is on our side,wrote Father
Corbelan; there was no time to reflect upon or to controvert his
statement; and if the discussion started upon the reading of that
letter in the Amarilla Club was violentit was also shortlived.
In the general bewilderment of the collapse some jumped at the
idea with joyful astonishment as upon the amazing discovery of a
new hope. Others became fascinated by the prospect of immediate
personal safety for their women and children. The majority caught
at it as a drowning man catches at a straw. Father Corbelan was
unexpectedly offering them a refuge from Pedrito Montero with his
llaneros allied to Senores Fuentes and Gamacho with their armed
rabble.

All the latter part of the afternoon an animated discussion went
on in the big rooms of the Amarilla Club. Even those members
posted at the windows with rifles and carbines to guard the end
of the street in case of an offensive return of the populace
shouted their opinions and arguments over their shoulders. As
dusk fell Don Juste Lopezinviting those caballeros who were of
his way of thinking to follow himwithdrew into the corredor
where at a little table in the light of two candles he busied
himself in composing an addressor rather a solemn declaration
to be presented to Pedrito Montero by a deputation of such
members of Assembly as had elected to remain in town. His idea
was to propitiate him in order to save the form at least of
parliamentary institutions. Seated before a blank sheet of paper
a goose-quill pen in his hand and surged upon from all sideshe
turned to the right and to the leftrepeating with solemn
insistence-


Caballeros, a moment of silence! A moment of silence! We ought
to make it clear that we bow in all good faith to the
accomplished facts.

The utterance of that phrase seemed to give him a melancholy
satisfaction. The hubbub of voices round him was growing strained
and hoarse. In the sudden pauses the excited grimacing of the
faces would sink all at once into the stillness of profound
dejection.

Meantimethe exodus had begun. Carretas full of ladies and
children rolled swaying across the Plazawith men walking or
riding by their side; mounted parties followed on mules and
horses; the poorest were setting out on footmen and women
carrying bundlesclasping babies in their armsleading old
peopledragging along the bigger children. When Charles Gould
after leaving the doctor and the engineer at the Casa Viola
entered the town by the harbour gateall those that had meant to
go were goneand the others had barricaded themselves in their
houses. In the whole dark street there was only one spot of
flickering lights and moving figureswhere the Senor
Administrador recognized his wife's carriage waiting at the door


of the Avellanos's house. He rode upalmost unnoticedand
looked on without a word while some of his own servants came out
of the gate carrying Don Jose Avellanoswhowith closed eyes
and motionless featuresappeared perfectly lifeless. His wife
and Antonia walked on each side of the improvised stretcher
which was put at once into the carriage. The two women embraced;
while from the other side of the landau Father Corbelan's
emissarywith his ragged beard all streaked with greyand high
bronzed cheek-bonesstaredsitting upright in the saddle. Then
Antoniadry-eyedgot in by the side of the stretcherand
after making the sign of the cross rapidlylowered a thick veil
upon her face. The servants and the three or four neighbours who
had come to assiststood backuncovering their heads. On the
boxIgnacioresigned now to driving all night (and to having
perhaps his throat cut before daylight) looked back surlily over
his shoulder.

Drive carefully,cried Mrs. Gould in a tremulous voice.

Si, carefully; si nina,he mumbledchewing his lipshis round
leathery cheeks quivering. And the landau rolled slowly out of
the light.

I will see them as far as the ford,said Charles Gould to his
wife. She stood on the edge of the sidewalk with her hands
clasped lightlyand nodded to him as he followed after the
carriage. And now the windows of the Amarilla Club were dark. The
last spark of resistance had died out. Turning his head at the
cornerCharles Gould saw his wife crossing over to their own
gate in the lighted patch of the street. One of their neighbours
a well-known merchant and landowner of the provincefollowed at
her elbowtalking with great gestures. As she passed in all the
lights went out in the streetwhich remained dark and empty from
end to end.

The houses of the vast Plaza were lost in the night. High up
like a starthere was a small gleam in one of the towers of the
cathedral; and the equestrian statue gleamed pale against the
black trees of the Alamedalike a ghost of royalty haunting the
scenes of revolution. The rare prowlers they met ranged
themselves against the wall. Beyond the last houses the carriage
rolled noiselessly on the soft cushion of dustand with a
greater obscurity a feeling of freshness seemed to fall from the
foliage of the trees bordering the country road. The emissary
from Hernandez's camp pushed his horse close to Charles Gould.

Caballero,he said in an interested voiceyou are he whom
they call the King of Sulaco, the master of the mine? Is it not
so?

Yes, I am the master of the mine,answered Charles Gould.

The man cantered for a time in silencethen saidI have a
brother, a sereno in your service in the San Tome valley. You
have proved yourself a just man. There has been no wrong done to
any one since you called upon the people to work in the
mountains. My brother says that no official of the Government, no
oppressor of the Campo, has been seen on your side of the stream.
Your own officials do not oppress the people in the gorge.
Doubtless they are afraid of your severity. You are a just man
and a powerful one,he added.

He spoke in an abruptindependent tonebut evidently he was
communicative with a purpose. He told Charles Gould that he had


been a ranchero in one of the lower valleysfar southa
neighbour of Hernandez in the old daysand godfather to his
eldest boy; one of those who joined him in his resistance to the
recruiting raid which was the beginning of all their misfortunes.
It was he thatwhen his compadre had been carried offhad
buried his wife and childrenmurdered by the soldiers.

Si, senor,he mutteredhoarselyI and two or three others,
the lucky ones left at liberty, buried them all in one grave near
the ashes of their ranch, under the tree that had shaded its
roof.

It was to himtoothat Hernandez came after he had deserted
three years afterwards. He had still his uniform on with the
sergeant's stripes on the sleeveand the blood of his colonel
upon his hands and breast. Three troopers followed himof those
who had started in pursuit but had ridden on for liberty. And he
told Charles Gould how he and a few friendsseeing those
soldierslay in ambush behind some rocks ready to pull the
trigger on themwhen he recognized his compadre and jumped up
from covershouting his namebecause he knew that Hernandez
could not have been coming back on an errand of injustice and
oppression. Those three soldierstogether with the party who lay
behind the rockshad formed the nucleus of the famous bandand
hethe narratorhad been the favourite lieutenant of Hernandez
for manymany years. He mentioned proudly that the officials had
put a price upon his headtoo; but it did not prevent it getting
sprinkled with grey upon his shoulders. And now he had lived long
enough to see his compadre made a general.

He had a burst of muffled laughter. "And now from robbers we have
become soldiers. But lookCaballeroat those who made us
soldiers and him a general! Look at these people!"

Ignacio shouted. The light of the carriage lampsrunning along
the nopal hedges that crowned the bank on each sideflashed upon
the scared faces of people standing aside in the roadsunk deep
like an English country laneinto the soft soil of the Campo.
They cowered; their eyes glistened very big for a second; and
then the lightrunning onfell upon the half-denuded roots of a
big treeon another stretch of nopal hedgecaught up another
bunch of faces glaring back apprehensively. Three women--of whom
one was carrying a child--and a couple of men in civilian
dress--one armed with a sabre and another with a gun--were
grouped about a donkey carrying two bundles tied up in blankets.
Further on Ignacio shouted again to pass a carretaa long wooden
box on two high wheelswith the door at the back swinging open.
Some ladies in it must have recognized the white mulesbecause
they screamed outIs it you, Dona Emilia?

At the turn of the road the glare of a big fire filled the short
stretch vaulted over by the branches meeting overhead. Near the
ford of a shallow stream a roadside rancho of woven rushes and a
roof of grass had been set on fire by accidentand the flames
roaring viciouslylit up an open space blocked with horses
mulesand a distractedshouting crowd of people. When Ignacio
pulled upseveral ladies on foot assailed the carriagebegging
Antonia for a seat. To their clamour she answered by pointing
silently to her father.

I must leave you here,said Charles Gouldin the uproar. The
flames leaped up sky-highand in the recoil from the scorching
heat across the road the stream of fugitives pressed against the
carriage. A middle-aged lady dressed in black silkbut with a


coarse manta over her head and a rough branch for a stick in her
handstaggered against the front wheel. Two young girls
frightened and silentwere clinging to her arms. Charles Gould
knew her very well.

Misericordia! We are getting terribly bruised in this crowd!
she exclaimedsmiling up courageously to him. "We have started
on foot. All our servants ran away yesterday to join the
democrats. We are going to put ourselves under the protection of
Father Corbelanof your sainted uncleAntonia. He has wrought a
miracle in the heart of a most merciless robber. A miracle!"

She raised her voice gradually up to a scream as she was borne
along by the pressure of people getting out of the way of some
carts coming up out of the ford at a gallopwith loud yells and
cracking of whips. Great masses of sparks mingled with black
smoke flew over the road; the bamboos of the walls detonated in
the fire with the sound of an irregular fusillade. And then the
bright blaze sank suddenlyleaving only a red dusk crowded with
aimless dark shadows drifting in contrary directions; the noise
of voices seemed to die away with the flame; and the tumult of
headsarmsquarrellingand imprecations passed on fleeing into
the darkness.

I must leave you now,repeated Charles Gould to Antonia. She
turned her head slowly and uncovered her face. The emissary and
compadre of Hernandez spurred his horse close up.

Has not the master of the mine any message to send to Hernandez,
the master of the Campo?

The truth of the comparison struck Charles Gould heavily. In his
determined purpose he held the mineand the indomitable bandit
held the Campo by the same precarious tenure. They were equals
before the lawlessness of the land. It was impossible to
disentangle one's activity from its debasing contacts. A
close-meshed net of crime and corruption lay upon the whole
country. An immense and weary discouragement sealed his lips for
a time.

You are a just man,urged the emissary of Hernandez. "Look at
those people who made my compadre a general and have turned us
all into soldiers. Look at those oligarchs fleeing for life
with only the clothes on their backs. My compadre does not think
of thatbut our followers may be wondering greatlyand I would
speak for them to you. Listensenor! For many months now the
Campo has been our own. We need ask no man for anything; but
soldiers must have their pay to live honestly when the wars are
over. It is believed that your soul is so just that a prayer from
you would cure the sickness of every beastlike the orison of
the upright judge. Let me have some words from your lips that
would act like a charm upon the doubts of our partidawhere all
are men."

Do you hear what he says?Charles Gould said in English to
Antonia.

Forgive us our misery!she exclaimedhurriedly. "It is your
character that is the inexhaustible treasure which may save us
all yet; your characterCarlosnot your wealth. I entreat you
to give this man your word that you will accept any arrangement
my uncle may make with their chief. One word. He will want no
more."


On the site of the roadside hut there remained nothing but an
enormous heap of embersthrowing afar a darkening red glowin
which Antonia's face appeared deeply flushed with excitement.
Charles Gouldwith only a short hesitationpronounced the
required pledge. He was like a man who had ventured on a
precipitous path with no room to turnwhere the only chance of
safety is to press forward. At that moment he understood it
thoroughly as he looked down at Don Jose stretched outhardly
breathingby the side of the erect Antoniavanquished in a
lifelong struggle with the powers of moral darknesswhose
stagnant depths breed monstrous crimes and monstrous illusions.
In a few words the emissary from Hernandez expressed his complete
satisfaction. Stoically Antonia lowered her veilresisting the
longing to inquire about Decoud's escape. But Ignacio leered
morosely over his shoulder.

Take a good look at the mules, mi amo,he grumbled. "You shall
never see them again!"

CHAPTER FOUR

CHARLES GOULD turned towards the town. Before him the jagged
peaks of the Sierra came out all black in the clear dawn. Here
and there a muffled lepero whisked round the corner of a
grass-grown street before the ringing hoofs of his horse. Dogs
barked behind the walls of the gardens; and with the colourless
light the chill of the snows seemed to fall from the mountains
upon the disjointed pavements and the shuttered houses with
broken cornices and the plaster peeling in patches between the
flat pilasters of the fronts. The daybreak struggled with the
gloom under the arcades on the Plazawith no signs of country
people disposing their goods for the day's marketpiles of
fruitbundles of vegetables ornamented with flowerson low
benches under enormous mat umbrellas; with no cheery early
morning bustle of villagerswomenchildrenand loaded donkeys.
Only a few scattered knots of revolutionists stood in the vast
spaceall looking one way from under their slouched hats for
some sign of news from Rincon. The largest of those groups
turned about like one man as Charles Gould passedand shouted
Viva la libertad!after him in a menacing tone.

Charles Gould rode onand turned into the archway of his house.
In the patio littered with strawa practicanteone of Dr.
Monygham's native assistantssat on the ground with his back
against the rim of the fountainfingering a guitar discreetly
while two girls of the lower classstanding up before him
shuffled their feet a little and waved their armshumming a
popular dance tune.

Most of the wounded during the two days of rioting had been taken
away already by their friends and relationsbut several figures
could be seen sitting up balancing their bandaged heads in time
to the music. Charles Gould dismounted. A sleepy mozo coming out
of the bakery door took hold of the horse's bridle; the
practicante endeavoured to conceal his guitar hastily; the girls
unabashedstepped back smiling; and Charles Gouldon his way to
the staircaseglanced into a dark corner of the patio at another
groupa mortally wounded Cargador with a woman kneeling by his
side; she mumbled prayers rapidlytrying at the same time to
force a piece of orange between the stiffening lips of the dying
man.


The cruel futility of things stood unveiled in the levity and
sufferings of that incorrigible people; the cruel futility of
lives and of deaths thrown away in the vain endeavour to attain
an enduring solution of the problem. Unlike DecoudCharles
Gould could not play lightly a part in a tragic farce. It was
tragic enough for him in all consciencebut he could see no
farcical element. He suffered too much under a conviction of
irremediable folly. He was too severely practical and too
idealistic to look upon its terrible humours with amusementas
Martin Decoudthe imaginative materialistwas able to do in the
dry light of his scepticism. To himas to all of usthe
compromises with his conscience appeared uglier than ever in the
light of failure. His taciturnityassumed with a purposehad
prevented him from tampering openly with his thoughts; but the
Gould Concession had insidiously corrupted his judgment. He
might have knownhe said to himselfleaning over the balustrade
of the corredorthat Ribierism could never come to anything. The
mine had corrupted his judgment by making him sick of bribing and
intriguing merely to have his work left alone from day to day.
Like his fatherhe did not like to be robbed. It exasperated
him. He had persuaded himself thatapart from higher
considerationsthe backing up of Don Jose's hopes of reform was
good business. He had gone forth into the senseless fray as his
poor unclewhose sword hung on the wall of his studyhad gone
forth--in the defence of the commonest decencies of organized
society. Only his weapon was the wealth of the minemore
far-reaching and subtle than an honest blade of steel fitted into
a simple brass guard.

More dangerous to the wieldertoothis weapon of wealth
double-edged with the cupidity and misery of mankindsteeped in
all the vices of self-indulgence as in a concoction of poisonous
rootstainting the very cause for which it is drawnalways
ready to turn awkwardly in the hand. There was nothing for it now
but to go on using it. But he promised himself to see it
shattered into small bits before he let it be wrenched from his
grasp.

After allwith his English parentage and English upbringinghe
perceived that he was an adventurer in Costaguanathe descendant
of adventurers enlisted in a foreign legionof men who had
sought fortune in a revolutionary warwho had planned
revolutionswho had believed in revolutions. For all the
uprightness of his characterhe had something of an adventurer's
easy morality which takes count of personal risk in the ethical
appraising of his action. He was preparedif need beto blow up
the whole San Tome mountain sky high out of the territory of the
Republic. This resolution expressed the tenacity of his
characterthe remorse of that subtle conjugal infidelity through
which his wife was no longer the sole mistress of his thoughts
something of his father's imaginative weaknessand something
tooof the spirit of a buccaneer throwing a lighted match into
the magazine rather than surrender his ship.

Down below in the patio the wounded Cargador had breathed his
last. The woman cried out onceand her cryunexpected and
shrillmade all the wounded sit up. The practicante scrambled to
his feetandguitar in handgazed steadily in her direction
with elevated eyebrows. The two girls--sitting now one on each
side of their wounded relativewith their knees drawn up and
long cigars between their lips--nodded at each other
significantly.

Charles Gouldlooking down over the balustradesaw three men


dressed ceremoniously in black frock-coats with white shirtsand
wearing European round hatsenter the patio from the street. One
of themhead and shoulders taller than the two othersadvanced
with marked gravityleading the way. This was Don Juste Lopez
accompanied by two of his friendsmembers of Assemblycoming to
call upon the Administrador of the San Tome mine at this early
hour. They saw himtoowaved their hands to him urgently
walking up the stairs as if in procession.

Don Justeastonishingly changed by having shaved off altogether
his damaged beardhad lost with it ninetenths of his outward
dignity. Even at that time of serious pre-occupation Charles
Gould could not help noting the revealed ineptitude in the aspect
of the man. His companions looked crestfallen and sleepy. One
kept on passing the tip of his tongue over his parched lips; the
other's eyes strayed dully over the tiled floor of the corredor
while Don Justestanding a little in advanceharangued the
Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine. It was his firm opinion
that forms had to be observed. A new governor is always visited
by deputations from the Cabildowhich is the Municipal Council
from the Consuladothe commercial Boardand it was proper that
the Provincial Assembly should send a deputationtooif only to
assert the existence of parliamentary institutions. Don Juste
proposed that Don Carlos Gouldas the most prominent citizen of
the provinceshould join the Assembly's deputation. His position
was exceptionalhis personality known through the length and
breadth of the whole Republic. Official courtesies must not be
neglectedif they are gone through with a bleeding heart. The
acceptance of accomplished facts may save yet the precious
vestiges of parliamentary institutions. Don Juste's eyes glowed
dully; he believed in parliamentary institutions--and the
convinced drone of his voice lost itself in the stillness of the
house like the deep buzzing of some ponderous insect.

Charles Gould had turned round to listen patientlyleaning his
elbow on the balustrade. He shook his head a littlerefusing
almost touched by the anxious gaze of the President of the
Provincial Assembly. It was not Charles Gould's policy to make
the San Tome mine a party to any formal proceedings.

My advice, senores, is that you should wait for your fate in
your houses. There is no necessity for you to give yourselves up
formally into Montero's hands. Submission to the inevitable, as
Don Juste calls it, is all very well, but when the inevitable is
called Pedrito Montero there is no need to exhibit pointedly the
whole extent of your surrender. The fault of this country is the
want of measure in political life. Flat acquiescence in
illegality, followed by sanguinary reaction--that, senores, is
not the way to a stable and prosperous future.

Charles Gould stopped before the sad bewilderment of the faces
the wonderinganxious glances of the eyes. The feeling of pity
for those menputting all their trust into words of some sort
while murder and rapine stalked over the landhad betrayed him
into what seemed empty loquacity. Don Juste murmured-


You are abandoning us, Don Carlos. . . . And yet, parliamentary
institutions--

He could not finish from grief. For a moment he put his hand over
his eyes. Charles Gouldin his fear of empty loquacitymade no
answer to the charge. He returned in silence their ceremonious
bows. His taciturnity was his refuge. He understood that what
they sought was to get the influence of the San Tome mine on


their side. They wanted to go on a conciliating errand to the
victor under the wing of the Gould Concession. Other public
bodies--the Cabildothe Consulado--would be comingtoo
presentlyseeking the support of the most stablethe most
effective force they had ever known to exist in their province.

The doctorarriving with his sharpjerky walkfound that the
master had retired into his own room with. orders not to be
disturbed on any account. But Dr. Monygham was not anxious to
see Charles Gould at once. He spent some time in a rapid
examination of his wounded. He gazed down upon each in turn
rubbing his chin between his thumb and forefinger; his steady
stare met without expression their silently inquisitive look. All
these cases were doing well; but when he came to the dead
Cargador he stopped a little longersurveying not the man who
had ceased to sufferbut the woman kneeling in silent
contemplation of the rigid facewith its pinched nostrils and a
white gleam in the imperfectly closed eyes. She lifted her head
slowlyand said in a dull voice-


It is not long since he had become a Cargador--only a few weeks.
His worship the Capataz had accepted him after many entreaties.

I am not responsible for the great Capataz,muttered the
doctormoving off.

Directing his course upstairs towards the door of Charles Gould's
roomthe doctor at the last moment hesitated; thenturning away
from the handle with a shrug of his uneven shouldersslunk off
hastily along the corredor in search of Mrs. Gould's camerista.

Leonardo told him that the senora had not risen yet. The senora
had given into her charge the girls belonging to that Italian
posadero. SheLeonardahad put them to bed in her own room. The
fair girl had cried herself to sleepbut the dark one--the
bigger--had not closed her eyes yet. She sat up in bed clutching
the sheets right up under her chin and staring before her like a
little witch. Leonarda did not approve of the Viola children
being admitted to the house. She made this feeling clear by the
indifferent tone in which she inquired whether their mother was
dead yet. As to the senorashe must be asleep. Ever since she
had gone into her room after seeing the departure of Dona Antonia
with her dying fatherthere had been no sound behind her door.

The doctorrousing himself out of profound reflectiontold her
abruptly to call her mistress at once. He hobbled off to wait for
Mrs. Gould in the sala. He was very tiredbut too excited to sit
down. In this great drawing-roomnow emptyin which his
withered soul had been refreshed after many arid years and his
outcast spirit had accepted silently the toleration of many
side-glanceshe wandered haphazard amongst the chairs and tables
till Mrs. Gouldenveloped in a morning wrappercame in rapidly.

You know that I never approved of the silver being sent away,
the doctor began at onceas a preliminary to the narrative of
his night's adventures in association with Captain Mitchellthe
engineer-in-chiefand old Violaat Sotillo's headquarters. To
the doctorwith his special conception of this political crisis
the removal of the silver had seemed an irrational and ill-omened
measure. It was as if a general were sending the best part of his
troops away on the eve of battle upon some recondite pretext. The
whole lot of ingots might have been concealed somewhere where
they could have been got at for the purpose of staving off the
dangers which were menacing the security of the Gould Concession.


The Administrador had acted as if the immense and powerful
prosperity of the mine had been founded on methods of probityon
the sense of usefulness. And it was nothing of the kind. The
method followed had been the only one possible. The Gould
Concession had ransomed its way through all those years. It was a
nauseous process. He quite understood that Charles Gould had got
sick of it and had left the old path to back up that hopeless
attempt at reform. The doctor did not believe in the reform of
Costaguana. And now the mine was back again in its old pathwith
the disadvantage that henceforth it had to deal not only with the
greed provoked by its wealthbut with the resentment awakened by
the attempt to free itself from its bondage to moral corruption.
That was the penalty of failure. What made him uneasy was that
Charles Gould seemed to him to have weakened at the decisive
moment when a frank return to the old methods was the only
chance. Listening to Decoud's wild scheme had been a weakness.

The doctor flung up his armsexclaimingDecoud! Decoud!He
hobbled about the room with slightangry laughs. Many years ago
both his ankles had been seriously damaged in the course of a
certain investigation conducted in the castle of Sta. Marta by a
commission composed of military men. Their nomination had been
signified to them unexpectedly at the dead of nightwith
scowling browflashing eyesand in a tempestuous voiceby
Guzman Bento. The old tyrantmaddened by one of his sudden
accesses of suspicionmingled spluttering appeals to their
fidelity with imprecations and horrible menaces. The cells and
casements of the castle on the hill had been already filled with
prisoners. The commission was charged now with the task of
discovering the iniquitous conspiracy against the Citizen-Saviour
of his country.

Their dread of the raving tyrant translated itself into a hasty
ferocity of procedure. The Citizen-Saviour was not accustomed to
wait. A conspiracy had to be discovered. The courtyards of the
castle resounded with the clanking of leg-ironssounds of blows
yells of pain; and the commission of high officers laboured
feverishlyconcealing their distress and apprehensions from each
otherand especially from their secretaryFather Beronan army
chaplainat that time very much in the confidence of the
Citizen-Saviour. That priest was a big round-shouldered manwith
an unclean-lookingovergrown tonsure on the top of his flat
headof a dingyyellow complexionsoftly fatwith greasy
stains all down the front of his lieutenant's uniformand a
small cross embroidered in white cotton on his left breast. He
had a heavy nose and a pendant lip. Dr. Monygham remembered him
still. He remembered him against all the force of his will
striving its utmost to forget. Father Beron had been adjoined to
the commission by Guzman Bento expressly for the purpose that his
enlightened zeal should assist them in their labours. Dr.
Monygham could by no manner of means forget the zeal of Father
Beronor his faceor the pitilessmonotonous voice in which he
pronounced the wordsWill you confess now?

This memory did not make him shudderbut it had made of him what
he was in the eyes of respectable peoplea man careless of
common decenciessomething between a clever vagabond and a
disreputable doctor. But not all respectable people would have
had the necessary delicacy of sentiment to understand with what
trouble of mind and accuracy of vision Dr. Monyghammedical
officer of the San Tome mineremembered Father Beronarmy
chaplainand once a secretary of a military commission. After
all these years Dr. Monyghamin his rooms at the end of the
hospital building in the San Tome gorgeremembered Father Beron


as distinctly as ever. He remembered that priest at night
sometimesin his sleep. On such nights the doctor waited for
daylight with a candle lightedand walking the whole length of
his rooms to and frostaring down at his bare feethis arms
hugging his sides tightly. He would dream of Father Beron sitting
at the end of a long black tablebehind whichin a row
appeared the headsshouldersand epaulettes of the military
membersnibbling the feather of a quill penand listening with
weary and impatient scorn to the protestations of some prisoner
calling heaven to witness of his innocencetill he burst out
What's the use of wasting time over that miserable nonsense! Let
me take him outside for a while.And Father Beron would go
outside after the clanking prisonerled away between two
soldiers. Such interludes happened on many daysmany timeswith
many prisoners. When the prisoner returned he was ready to make a
full confessionFather Beron would declareleaning forward with
that dullsurfeited look which can be seen in the eyes of
gluttonous persons after a heavy meal.

The priest's inquisitorial instincts suffered but little from the
want of classical apparatus of the Inquisition At no time of the
world's history have men been at a loss how to inflict mental and
bodily anguish upon their fellow-creatures. This aptitude came to
them in the growing complexity of their passions and the early
refinement of their ingenuity. But it may safely be said that
primeval man did not go to the trouble of inventing tortures. He
was indolent and pure of heart. He brained his neighbour
ferociously with a stone axe from necessity and without malice.
The stupidest mind may invent a rankling phrase or brand the
innocent with a cruel aspersion. A piece of string and a ramrod;
a few muskets in combination with a length of hide rope; or even
a simple mallet of heavyhard wood applied with a swing to human
fingers or to the joints of a human body is enough for the
infliction of the most exquisite torture. The doctor had been a
very stubborn prisonerandas a natural consequence of that
bad disposition(so Father Beron called it)his subjugation
had been very crushing and very complete. That is why the limp in
his walkthe twist of his shouldersthe scars on his cheeks
were so pronounced. His confessionswhen they came at lastwere
very completetoo. Sometimes on the nights when he walked the
floorhe wonderedgrinding his teeth with shame and rageat
the fertility of his imagination when stimulated by a sort of
pain which makes truthhonourselfrespectand life itself
matters of little moment.

And he could not forget Father Beron with his monotonous phrase
Will you confess now?reaching him in an awful iteration and
lucidity of meaning through the delirious incoherence of
unbearable pain. He could not forget. But that was not the worst.
Had he met Father Beron in the street after all these years Dr.
Monygham was sure he would have quailed before him. This
contingency was not to be feared now. Father Beron was dead; but
the sickening certitude prevented Dr. Monygham from looking
anybody in the face.

Dr. Monygham. had becomein a mannerthe slave of a ghost. It
was obviously impossible to take his knowledge of Father Beron
home to Europe. When making his extorted confessions to the
Military BoardDr. Monygham was not seeking to avoid death. He
longed for it. Sitting half-naked for hours on the wet earth of
his prisonand so motionless that the spidershis companions
attached their webs to his matted hairhe consoled the misery of
his soul with acute reasonings that he had confessed to crimes
enough for a sentence of death--that they had gone too far with


him to let him live to tell the tale.

Butas if by a refinement of crueltyDr. Monygham was left for
months to decay slowly in the darkness of his grave-like prison.
It was no doubt hoped that it would finish him off without the
trouble of an execution; but Dr. Monygham had an iron
constitution. It was Guzman Bento who diednot by the knife
thrust of a conspiratorbut from a stroke of apoplexyand Dr.
Monygham was liberated hastily. His fetters were struck off by
the light of a candlewhichafter months of gloomhurt his
eyes so much that he had to cover his face with his hands. He was
raised up. His heart was beating violently with the fear of this
liberty. When he tried to walk the extraordinary lightness of his
feet made him giddyand he fell down. Two sticks were thrust
into his handsand he was pushed out of the passage. It was
dusk; candles glimmered already in the windows of the officers'
quarters round the courtyard; but the twilight sky dazed him by
its enormous and overwhelming brilliance. A thin poncho hung over
his nakedbony shoulders; the rags of his trousers came down no
lower than his knees; an eighteen months' growth of hair fell in
dirty grey locks on each side of his sharp cheek-bones. As he
dragged himself past the guard-room doorone of the soldiers
lolling outsidemoved by some obscure impulseleaped forward
with a strange laugh and rammed a broken old straw hat on his
head. And Dr. Monyghamafter having totteredcontinued on his
way. He advanced one stickthen one maimed footthen the other
stick; the other foot followed only a very short distance along
the groundtoilfullyas though it were almost too heavy to be
moved at all; and yet his legs under the hanging angles of the
poncho appeared no thicker than the two sticks in his hands. A
ceaseless trembling agitated his bent bodyall his wasted limbs
his bony headthe conicalragged crown of the sombrerowhose
ample flat rim rested on his shoulders.

In such conditions of manner and attire did Dr. Monygham go
forth to take possession of his liberty. And these conditions
seemed to bind him indissolubly to the land of Costaguana like an
awful procedure of naturalizationinvolving him deep in the
national lifefar deeper than any amount of success and honour
could have done. They did away with his Europeanism; for Dr.
Monygham had made himself an ideal conception of his disgrace. It
was a conception eminently fit and proper for an officer and a
gentleman. Dr. Monyghambefore he went out to Costaguanahad
been surgeon in one of Her Majesty's regiments of foot. It was a
conception which took no account of physiological facts or
reasonable arguments; but it was not stupid for all that. It was
simple. A rule of conduct resting mainly on severe rejections is
necessarily simple. Dr. Monygham's view of what it behoved him
to do was severe; it was an ideal viewin so much that it was
the imaginative exaggeration of a correct feeling. It was also
in its forceinfluenceand persistencythe view of an
eminently loyal nature.

There was a great fund of loyalty in Dr. Monygham's nature. He
had settled it all on Mrs. Gould's head. He believed her worthy
of every devotion. At the bottom of his heart he felt an angry
uneasiness before the prosperity of the San Tome minebecause
its growth was robbing her of all peace of mind. Costaguana was
no place for a woman of that kind. What could Charles Gould have
been thinking of when he brought her out there! It was
outrageous! And the doctor had watched the course of events with
a grim and distant reserve whichhe imaginedhis lamentable
history imposed upon him.


Loyalty to Mrs. Gould could nothoweverleave out of account
the safety of her husband. The doctor had contrived to be in town
at the critical time because he mistrusted Charles Gould. He
considered him hopelessly infected with the madness of
revolutions. That is why he hobbled in distress in the
drawing-room of the Casa Gould on that morningexclaiming
Decoud, Decoud!in a tone of mournful irritation.

Mrs. Gouldher colour heightenedand with glistening eyes
looked straight before her at the sudden enormity of that
disaster. The finger-tips on one hand rested lightly on a low
little table by her sideand the arm trembled right up to the
shoulder. The sunwhich looks late upon Sulacoissuing in all
the fulness of its power high up on the sky from behind the
dazzling snow-edge of Higuerotahad precipitated the delicate
smoothpearly greyness of lightin which the town lies steeped
during the early hoursinto sharp-cut masses of black shade and
spaces of hotblinding glare. Three long rectangles of sunshine
fell through the windows of the sala; while just across the
street the front of the Avellanos's house appeared very sombre in
its own shadow seen through the flood of light.

A voice said at the doorWhat of Decoud?

It was Charles Gould. They had not heard him coming along the
corredor. His glance just glided over his wife and struck full at
the doctor.

You have brought some news, doctor?

Dr. Monygham blurted it all out at oncein the rough. For some
time after he had donethe Administrador of the San Tome mine
remained looking at him without a word. Mrs. Gould sank into a
low chair with her hands lying on her lap. A silence reigned
between those three motionless persons. Then Charles Gould
spoke-


You must want some breakfast.

He stood aside to let his wife pass first. She caught up her
husband's hand and pressed it as she went outraising her
handkerchief to her eyes. The sight of her husband had brought
Antonia's position to her mindand she could not contain her
tears at the thought of the poor girl. When she rejoined the two
men in the diningroom after having bathed her faceCharles Gould
was saying to the doctor across the table-


No, there does not seem any room for doubt.

And the doctor assented.

No, I don't see myself how we could question that wretched
Hirsch's tale. It's only too true, I fear.

She sat down desolately at the head of the table and looked from
one to the other. The two menwithout absolutely turning their
heads awaytried to avoid her glance. The doctor even made a
show of being hungry; he seized his knife and forkand began to
eat with emphasisas if on the stage. Charles Gould made no
pretence of the sort; with his elbows raised squarelyhe twisted
both ends of his flaming moustaches--they were so long that his
hands were quite away from his face.

I am not surprised,he mutteredabandoning his moustaches and


throwing one arm over the back of his chair. His face was calm
with that immobility of expression which betrays the intensity of
a mental struggle. He felt that this accident had brought to a
point all the consequences involved in his line of conductwith
its conscious and subconscious intentions. There must be an end
now of this silent reserveof that air of impenetrability behind
which he had been safeguarding his dignity. It was the least
ignoble form of dissembling forced upon him by that parody of
civilized institutions which offended his intelligencehis
uprightnessand his sense of right. He was like his father. He
had no ironic eye. He was not amused at the absurdities that
prevail in this world. They hurt him in his innate gravity. He
felt that the miserable death of that poor Decoud took from him
his inaccessible position of a force in the background. It
committed him openly unless he wished to throw up the game--and
that was impossible. The material interests required from him the
sacrifice of his aloofness--perhaps his own safety too. And he
reflected that Decoud's separationist plan had not gone to the
bottom with the lost silver.

The only thing that was not changed was his position towards Mr.
Holroyd. The head of silver and steel interests had entered into
Costaguana affairs with a sort of passion. Costaguana had become
necessary to his existence; in the San Tome mine he had found the
imaginative satisfaction which other minds would get from drama
from artor from a risky and fascinating sport. It was a
special form of the great man's extravagancesanctioned by a
moral intentionbig enough to flatter his vanity. Even in this
aberration of his genius he served the progress of the world.
Charles Gould felt sure of being understood with precision and
judged with the indulgence of their common passion. Nothing now
could surprise or startle this great man. And Charles Gould
imagined himself writing a letter to San Francisco in some such
words: ". . . . The men at the head of the movement are dead or
have fled; the civil organization of the province is at an end
for the present; the Blanco party in Sulaco has collapsed
inexcusablybut in the characteristic manner of this country.
But Barriosuntouched in Caytaremains still available. I am
forced to take up openly the plan of a provincial revolution as
the only way of placing the enormous material interests involved
in the prosperity and peace of Sulaco in a position of permanent
safety. . . ." That was clear. He saw these words as if written
in letters of fire upon the wall at which he was gazing
abstractedly.

Mrs Gould watched his abstraction with dread. It was a domestic
and frightful phenomenon that darkened and chilled the house for
her like a thundercloud passing over the sun. Charles Gould's
fits of abstraction depicted the energetic concentration of a
will haunted by a fixed idea. A man haunted by a fixed idea is
insane. He is dangerous even if that idea is an idea of justice;
for may he not bring the heaven down pitilessly upon a loved
head? The eyes of Mrs. Gouldwatching her husband's profile
filled with tears again. And again she seemed to see the despair
of the unfortunate Antonia.

What would I have done if Charley had been drowned while we were
engaged?she exclaimedmentallywith horror. Her heart turned
to icewhile her cheeks flamed up as if scorched by the blaze of
a funeral pyre consuming all her earthly affections. The tears
burst out of her eyes.

Antonia will kill herself!she cried out.


This cry fell into the silence of the room with strangely little
effect. Only the doctorcrumbling up a piece of breadwith his
head inclined on one sideraised his faceand the few long
hairs sticking out of his shaggy eyebrows stirred in a slight
frown. Dr. Monygham thought quite sincerely that Decoud was a
singularly unworthy object for any woman's affection. Then he
lowered his head againwith a curl of his lipand his heart
full of tender admiration for Mrs. Gould.

She thinks of that girl,he said to himself; "she thinks of the
Viola children; she thinks of me; of the wounded; of the miners;
she always thinks of everybody who is poor and miserable! But
what will she do if Charles gets the worst of it in this infernal
scrimmage those confounded Avellanos have drawn him into? No one
seems to be thinking of her."

Charles Gouldstaring at the wallpursued his reflections
subtly.

I shall write to Holroyd that the San Tome mine is big enough to
take in hand the making of a new State. It'll please him. It'll
reconcile him to the risk.

But was Barrios really available? Perhaps. But he was
inaccessible. To send off a boat to Cayta was no longer possible
since Sotillo was master of the harbourand had a steamer at his
disposal. And nowwith all the democrats in the province upand
every Campo township in a state of disturbancewhere could he
find a man who would make his way successfully overland to Cayta
with a messagea ten days' ride at least; a man of courage and
resolutionwho would avoid arrest or murderand if arrested
would faithfully eat the paper? The Capataz de Cargadores would
have been just such a man. But the Capataz of the Cargadores was
no more.

And Charles Gouldwithdrawing his eyes from the wallsaid
gentlyThat Hirsch! What an extraordinary thing! Saved himself
by clinging to the anchor, did he? I had no idea that he was
still in Sulaco. I thought he had gone back overland to
Esmeralda more than a week ago. He came here once to talk to me
about his hide business and some other things. I made it clear
to him that nothing could be done.

He was afraid to start back on account of Hernandez being
about,remarked the doctor.

And but for him we might not have known anything of what has
happened,marvelled Charles Gould.

Mrs. Gould cried out-


Antonia must not know! She must not be told. Not now.

Nobody's likely to carry the news,remarked the doctor. "It's
no one's interest. Moreoverthe people here are afraid of
Hernandez as if he were the devil." He turned to Charles Gould.
It's even awkward, because if you wanted to communicate with the
refugees you could find no messenger. When Hernandez was ranging
hundreds of miles away from here the Sulaco populace used to
shudder at the tales of him roasting his prisoners alive.

Yes,murmured Charles Gould; "Captain Mitchell's Capataz was
the only man in the town who had seen Hernandez eye to eye.
Father Corbelan employed him. He opened the communications first.


It is a pity that--"

His voice was covered by the booming of the great bell of the
cathedral. Three single strokesone after anotherburst out
explosivelydying away in deep and mellow vibrations. And then
all the bells in the tower of every churchconventor chapel in
towneven those that had remained shut up for yearspealed out
together with a crash. In this furious flood of metallic uproar
there was a power of suggesting images of strife and violence
which blanched Mrs. Gould's cheek. Basiliowho had been waiting
at tableshrinking within himselfclung to the sideboard with
chattering teeth. It was impossible to hear yourself speak.

Shut these windows!Charles Gould yelled at himangrily. All
the other servantsterrified at what they took for the signal of
a general massacrehad rushed upstairstumbling over each
othermen and womenthe obscure and generally invisible
population of the ground floor on the four sides of the patio.
The womenscreaming "Misericordia!" ran right into the room
andfalling on their knees against the wallsbegan to cross
themselves convulsively. The staring heads of men blocked the
doorway in an instant--mozos from the stablegardeners
nondescript helpers living on the crumbs of the munificent
house--and Charles Gould beheld all the extent of his domestic
establishmenteven to the gatekeeper. This was a half-paralyzed
old manwhose long white locks fell down to his shoulders: an
heirloom taken up by Charles Gould's familial piety. He could
remember Henry Gouldan Englishman and a Costaguanero of the
second generationchief of the Sulaco province; he had been his
personal mozo years and years ago in peace and war; had been
allowed to attend his master in prison; hadon the fatal
morningfollowed the firing squad; andpeeping from behind one
of the cypresses growing along the wall of the Franciscan
Conventhad seenwith his eyes starting out of his headDon
Enrique throw up his hands and fall with his face in the dust.
Charles Gould noted particularly the big patriarchal head of that
witness in the rear of the other servants. But he was surprised
to see a shrivelled old hag or twoof whose existence within the
walls of his house he had not been aware. They must have been the
mothersor even the grandmothers of some of his people. There
were a few childrentoomore or less nakedcrying and clinging
to the legs of their elders. He had never before noticed any sign
of a child in his patio. Even Leonardathe cameristacame in a
frightpushing throughwith her spoiledpouting face of a
favourite maidleading the Viola girls by the hand. The crockery
rattled on table and sideboardand the whole house seemed to
sway in the deafening wave of sound.

CHAPTER FIVE

DURING the night the expectant populace had taken possession of
all the belfries in the town in order to welcome Pedrito Montero
who was making his entry after having slept the night in Rincon.
And first came straggling in through the land gate the armed mob
of all colourscomplexionstypesand states of raggedness
calling themselves the Sulaco National Guardand commanded by
Senor Gamacho. Through the middle of the street streamedlike a
torrent of rubbisha mass of straw hatsponchosgun-barrels
with an enormous green and yellow flag flapping in their midst
in a cloud of dustto the furious beating of drums. The
spectators recoiled against the walls of the houses shouting
their Vivas! Behind the rabble could be seen the lances of the


cavalrythe "army" of Pedro Montero. He advanced between
Senores Fuentes and Gamacho at the head of his llaneroswho had
accomplished the feat of crossing the Paramos of the Higuerota in
a snow-storm. They rode four abreastmounted on confiscated
Campo horsesclad in the heterogeneous stock of roadside stores
they had looted hurriedly in their rapid ride through the
northern part of the province; for Pedro Montero had been in a
great hurry to occupy Sulaco. The handkerchiefs knotted loosely
around their bare throats were glaringly newand all the right
sleeves of their cotton shirts had been cut off close to the
shoulder for greater freedom in throwing the lazo. Emaciated
greybeards rode by the side of lean dark youthsmarked by all
the hardships of campaigningwith strips of raw beef twined round
the crowns of their hatsand huge iron spurs fastened to their
naked heels. Those that in the passes of the mountain had lost
their lances had provided themselves with the goads used by the
Campo cattlemen: slender shafts of palm fully ten feet longwith
a lot of loose rings jingling under the ironshod point. They were
armed with knives and revolvers. A haggard fearlessness
characterized the expression of all these sun-blacked
countenances; they glared down haughtily with their scorched eyes
at the crowdorblinking upwards insolentlypointed out to
each other some particular head amongst the women at the windows.
When they had ridden into the Plaza and caught sight of the
equestrian statue of the King dazzlingly white in the sunshine
towering enormous and motionless above the surges of the crowd
with its eternal gesture of salutinga murmur of surprise ran
through their ranks. "What is that saint in the big hat?" they
asked each other.

They were a good sample of the cavalry of the plains with which
Pedro Montero had helped so much the victorious career of his
brother the general. The influence which that manbrought up in
coast townsacquired in a short time over the plainsmen of the
Republic can be ascribed only to a genius for treachery of so
effective a kind that it must have appeared to those violent men
but little removed from a state of utter savageryas the
perfection of sagacity and virtue. The popular lore of all
nations testifies that duplicity and cunningtogether with
bodily strengthwere looked uponeven more than courageas
heroic virtues by primitive mankind. To overcome your adversary
was the great affair of life. Courage was taken for granted. But
the use of intelligence awakened wonder and respect. Stratagems
providing they did not failwere honourable; the easy massacre
of an unsuspecting enemy evoked no feelings but those of
gladnessprideand admiration. Not perhaps that primitive men
were more faithless than their descendants of to-daybut that
they went straighter to their aimand were more artless in their
recognition of success as the only standard of morality.

We have changed since. The use of intelligence awakens little
wonder and less respect. But the ignorant and barbarous plainsmen
engaging in civil strife followed willingly a leader who often
managed to deliver their enemies boundas it wereinto their
hands. Pedro Montero had a talent for lulling his adversaries
into a sense of security. And as men learn wisdom with extreme
slownessand are always ready to believe promises that flatter
their secret hopesPedro Montero was successful time after time.
Whether only a servant or some inferior official in the
Costaguana Legation in Parishe had rushed back to his country
directly he heard that his brother had emerged from the obscurity
of his frontier commandancia. He had managed to deceive by his
gift of plausibility the chiefs of the Ribierist movement in the
capitaland even the acute agent of the San Tome mine had failed


to understand him thoroughly. At once he had obtained an
enormous influence over his brother. They were very much alike in
appearanceboth baldwith bunches of crisp hair above their
earsarguing the presence of some negro blood. Only Pedro was
smaller than the generalmore delicate altogetherwith an
ape-like faculty for imitating all the outward signs of
refinement and distinctionand with a parrot-like talent for
languages. Both brothers had received some elementary instruction
by the munificence of a great European travellerto whom their
father had been a body-servant during his journeys in the
interior of the country. In General Montero's case it enabled him
to rise from the ranks. Pedritothe youngerincorrigibly lazy
and slovenlyhad drifted aimlessly from one coast town to
anotherhanging about counting-housesattaching himself to
strangers as a sort of valet-de-placepicking up an easy and
disreputable living. His ability to read did nothing for him but
fill his head with absurd visions. His actions were usually
determined by motives so improbable in themselves as to escape
the penetration of a rational person.

Thus at first sight the agent of the Gould Concession in Sta.
Marta had credited him with the possession of sane viewsand
even with a restraining power over the general's everlastingly
discontented vanity. It could never have entered his head that
Pedrito Monterolackey or inferior scribelodged in the garrets
of the various Parisian hotels where the Costaguana Legation used
to shelter its diplomatic dignityhad been devouring the lighter
sort of historical works in the French languagesuchfor
instance as the books of Imbert de Saint Amand upon the Second
Empire. But Pedrito had been struck by the splendour of a
brilliant courtand had conceived the idea of an existence for
himself wherelike the Duc de Mornyhe would associate the
command of every pleasure with the conduct of political affairs
and enjoy power supremely in every way. Nobody could have guessed
that. And yet this was one of the immediate causes of the
Monterist Revolution. This will appear less incredible by the
reflection that the fundamental causes were the same as ever
rooted in the political immaturity of the peoplein the
indolence of the upper classes and the mental darkness of the
lower.

Pedrito Montero saw in the elevation of his brother the road wide
open to his wildest imaginings. This was what made the Monterist
pronunciamiento so unpreventable. The general himself probably
could have been bought offpacified with flatteriesdespatched
on a diplomatic mission to Europe. It was his brother who had
egged him on from first to last. He wanted to become the most
brilliant statesman of South America. He did not desire supreme
power. He would have been afraid of its labour and riskin fact.
Before allPedrito Monterotaught by his European experience
meant to acquire a serious fortune for himself. With this object
in view he obtained from his brotheron the very morrow of the
successful battlethe permission to push on over the mountains
and take possession of Sulaco. Sulaco was the land of future
prosperitythe chosen land of material progressthe only
province in the Republic of interest to European capitalists.
Pedrito Monterofollowing the example of the Duc de Mornymeant
to have his share of this prosperity. This is what he meant
literally. Now his brother was master of the countrywhether as
PresidentDictatoror even as Emperor--why not as an
Emperor?--he meant to demand a share in every enterprise--in
railwaysin minesin sugar estatesin cotton millsin land
companiesin each and every undertaking--as the price of his
protection. The desire to be on the spot early was the real cause


of the celebrated ride over the mountains with some two hundred
llanerosan enterprise of which the dangers had not appeared at
first clearly to his impatience. Coming from a series of
victoriesit seemed to him that a Montero had only to appear to
be master of the situation. This illusion had betrayed him into a
rashness of which he was becoming aware. As he rode at the head
of his llaneros he regretted that there were so few of them. The
enthusiasm of the populace reassured him. They yelled "Viva
Montero! Viva Pedrito!" In order to make them still more
enthusiasticand from the natural pleasure he had in
dissemblinghe dropped the reins on his horse's neckand with a
tremendous effect of familiarity and confidence slipped his hands
under the arms of Senores Fuentes and Gamacho. In that posture
with a ragged town mozo holding his horse by the bridlehe rode
triumphantly across the Plaza to the door of the Intendencia. Its
old gloomy walls seemed to shake in the acclamations that rent
the air and covered the crashing peals of the cathedral bells.

Pedro Monterothe brother of the generaldismounted into a
shouting and perspiring throng of enthusiasts whom the ragged
Nationals were pushing back fiercely. Ascending a few steps he
surveyed the large crowd gaping at him. and the bullet-speckled
walls of the houses opposite lightly veiled by a sunny haze of
dust. The word "PORVENIR" in immense black capitalsalternating
with broken windowsstared at him across the vast space; and he
thought with delight of the hour of vengeancebecause he was
very sure of laying his hands upon Decoud. On his left hand
Gamachobig and hotwiping his hairy wet faceuncovered a set
of yellow fangs in a grin of stupid hilarity. On his right
Senor Fuentessmall and leanlooked on with compressed lips.
The crowd stared literally open-mouthedlost in eager stillness
as though they had expected the great guerrillerothe famous
Pedritoto begin scattering at once some sort of visible
largesse. What he began was a speech. He began it with the
shouted word "Citizens!" which reached even those in the middle
of the Plaza. Afterwards the greater part of the citizens
remained fascinated by the orator's action alonehis tip-toeing
the arms flung above his head with the fists clencheda hand
laid flat upon the heartthe silver gleam of rolling eyesthe
sweepingpointingembracing gesturesa hand laid familiarly on
Gamacho's shoulder; a hand waved formally towards the little
black-coated person of Senor Fuentesadvocate and politician and
a true friend of the people. The vivas of those nearest to the
orator bursting out suddenly propagated themselves irregularly to
the confines of the crowdlike flames running over dry grass
and expired in the opening of the streets. In the intervalsover
the swarming Plaza brooded a heavy silencein which the mouth of
the orator went on opening and shuttingand detached
phrases--"The happiness of the people Sons of the country
The entire worldel mundo entiero"--reached even the packed
steps of the cathedral with a feeble clear ringthin as the
buzzing of a mosquito. But the orator struck his breast; he
seemed to prance between his two supporters. It was the supreme
effort of his peroration. Then the two smaller figures
disappeared from the public gaze and the enormous Gamacholeft
aloneadvancedraising his hat high above his head. Then he
covered himself proudly and yelled outCiudadanos!A dull roar
greeted Senor Gamachoex-pedlar of the CampoCommandante of the
National Guards.

Upstairs Pedrito Montero walked about rapidly from one wrecked
room of the Intendencia to anothersnarling incessantly-


What stupidity! What destruction!


Senor Fuentesfollowingwould relax his taciturn disposition to
murmur-


It is all the work of Gamacho and his Nationals;and then
inclining his head on his left shoulderwould press together his
lips so firmly that a little hollow would appear at each corner.
He had his nomination for Political Chief of the town in his
pocketand was all impatience to enter upon his functions.

In the long audience roomwith its tall mirrors all starred by
stonesthe hangings torn down and the canopy over the platform
at the upper end pulled to piecesthe vastdeep muttering of
the crowd and the howling voice of Gamacho speaking just below
reached them through the shutters as they stood idly in dimness
and desolation.

The brute!observed his Excellency Don Pedro Montero through
clenched teeth. "We must contrive as quickly as possible to send
him and his Nationals out there to fight Hernandez."

The new Gefe Politico only jerked his head sidewaysand took a
puff at his cigarette in sign of his agreement with this method
for ridding the town of Gamacho and his inconvenient rabble.

Pedrito Montero looked with disgust at the absolutely bare floor
and at the belt of heavy gilt picture-frames running round the
roomout of which the remnants of torn and slashed canvases
fluttered like dingy rags.

We are not barbarians,he said.

This was what said his Excellencythe popular Pedritothe
guerrillero skilled in the art of laying ambushescharged by his
brother at his own demand with the organization of Sulaco on
democratic principles. The night beforeduring the consultation
with his partisanswho had come out to meet him in Rinconhe
had opened his intentions to Senor Fuentes-


We shall organize a popular vote, by yes or no, confiding the
destinies of our beloved country to the wisdom and valiance of my
heroic brother, the invincible general. A plebiscite. Do you
understand?

And Senor Fuentespuffing out his leathery cheekshad inclined
his head slightly to the leftletting a thinbluish jet of
smoke escape through his pursed lips. He had understood.

His Excellency was exasperated at the devastation. Not a single
chairtablesofaetagere or console had been left in the state
rooms of the Intendencia. His Excellencythough twitching all
over with ragewas restrained from bursting into violence by a
sense of his remoteness and isolation. His heroic brother was
very far away. Meantimehow was he going to take his siesta? He
had expected to find comfort and luxury in the Intendencia after
a year of hard camp lifeending with the hardships and
privations of the daring dash upon Sulaco--upon the province
which was worth more in wealth and influence than all the rest of
the Republic's territory. He would get even with Gamacho
by-and-by. And Senor Gamacho's orationdelectable to popular
earswent on in the heat and glare of the Plaza like the uncouth
howlings of an inferior sort of devil cast into a white-hot
furnace. Every moment he had to wipe his streaming face with his
bare fore-arm; he had flung off his coatand had turned up the


sleeves of his shirt high above the elbows; but he kept on his
head the large cocked hat with white plumes. His ingenuousness
cherished this sign of his rank as Commandante of the National
Guards. Approving and grave murmurs greeted his periods. His
opinion was that war should be declared at once against France
EnglandGermanyand the United Stateswhoby introducing
railwaysmining enterprisescolonizationand under such other
shallow pretencesaimed at robbing poor people of their lands
and with the help of these Goths and paralyticsthe aristocrats
would convert them into toiling and miserable slaves. And the
leperosflinging about the corners of their dirty white mantas
yelled their approbation. General MonteroGamacho howled with
convictionwas the only man equal to the patriotic task. They
assented to thattoo.

The morning was wearing on; there were already signs of
disruptioncurrents and eddies in the crowd. Some were seeking
the shade of the walls and under the trees of the Alameda.
Horsemen spurred throughshouting; groups of sombreros set level
on heads against the vertical sun were drifting away into the
streetswhere the open doors of pulperias revealed an enticing
gloom resounding with the gentle tinkling of guitars. The
National Guards were thinking of siestaand the eloquence of
Gamachotheir chiefwas exhausted. Later onwhenin the
cooler hours of the afternoonthey tried to assemble again for
further consideration of public affairsdetachments of Montero's
cavalry camped on the Alameda charged them without parleyat
speedwith long lances levelled at their flying backs as far as
the ends of the streets. The National Guards of Sulaco were
surprised by this proceeding. But they were not indignant. No
Costaguanero had ever learned to question the eccentricities of a
military force. They were part of the natural order of things.
This must bethey concludedsome kind of administrative
measureno doubt. But the motive of it escaped their unaided
intelligenceand their chief and oratorGamachoCommandante of
the National Guardwas lying drunk and asleep in the bosom of
his family. His bare feet were upturned in the shadows
repulsivelyin the manner of a corpse. His eloquent mouth had
dropped open. His youngest daughterscratching her head with one
handwith the other waved a green bough over his scorched and
peeling face.

CHAPTER SIX

THE declining sun had shifted the shadows from west to east
amongst the houses of the town. It had shifted them upon the
whole extent of the immense Campowith the white walls of its
haciendas on the knolls dominating the green distances; with its
grass-thatched ranches crouching in the folds of ground by the
banks of streams; with the dark islands of clustered trees on a
clear sea of grassand the precipitous range of the Cordillera
immense and motionlessemerging from the billows of the lower
forests like the barren coast of a land of giants. The sunset
rays striking the snow-slope of Higuerota from afar gave it an
air of rosy youthwhile the serrated mass of distant peaks
remained blackas if calcined in the fiery radiance. The
undulating surface of the forests seemed powdered with pale gold
dust; and away therebeyond Rinconhidden from the town by two
wooded spursthe rocks of the San Tome gorgewith the flat wall
of the mountain itself crowned by gigantic fernstook on warm
tones of brown and yellowwith red rusty streaksand the dark
green clumps of bushes rooted in crevices. From the plain the


stamp sheds and the houses of the mine appeared dark and small
high uplike the nests of birds clustered on the ledges of a
cliff. The zigzag paths resembled faint tracings scratched on the
wall of a cyclopean blockhouse. To the two serenos of the mine
on patrol dutystrollingcarbine in handand watchful eyesin
the shade of the trees lining the stream near the bridgeDon
Pepedescending the path from the upper plateauappeared no
bigger than a large beetle.

With his air of aimlessinsect-like going to and fro upon the
face of the rockDon Pepe's figure kept on descending steadily
andwhen near the bottomsank at last behind the roofs of
store-housesforgesand workshops. For a time the pair of
serenos strolled back and forth before the bridgeon which they
had stopped a horseman holding a large white envelope in his
hand. Then Don Pepeemerging in the village street from amongst
the housesnot a stone's throw from the frontier bridge
approachedstriding in wide dark trousers tucked into bootsa
white linen jacketsabre at his sideand revolver at his belt.
In this disturbed time nothing could find the Senor Gobernador
with his boots offas the saying is.

At a slight nod from one of the serenosthe mana messenger
from the towndismountedand crossed the bridgeleading his
horse by the bridle.

Don Pepe received the letter from his other handslapped his
left side and his hips in successionfeeling for his spectacle
case. After settling the heavy silvermounted affair astride his
noseand adjusting it carefully behind his earshe opened the
envelopeholding it up at about a foot in front of his eyes. The
paper he pulled out contained some three lines of writing. He
looked at them for a long time. His grey moustache moved slightly
up and downand the wrinklesradiating at the corners of his
eyesran together. He nodded serenely. "Bueno he said. There
is no answer."

Thenin his quietkindly wayhe engaged in a cautious
conversation with the manwho was willing to talk cheerilyas
if something lucky had happened to him recently. He had seen from
a distance Sotillo's infantry camped along the shore of the
harbour on each side of the Custom House. They had done no damage
to the buildings. The foreigners of the railway remained shut up
within the yards. They were no longer anxious to shoot poor
people. He cursed the foreigners; then he reported Montero's
entry and the rumours of the town. The poor were going to be made
rich now. That was very good. More he did not knowand
breaking into propitiatory smileshe intimated that he was
hungry and thirsty. The old major directed him to go to the
alcalde of the first village. The man rode offand Don Pepe
striding slowly in the direction of a little wooden belfry
looked over a hedge into a little gardenand saw Father Roman
sitting in a white hammock slung between two orange trees in
front of the presbytery.

An enormous tamarind shaded with its dark foliage the whole white
framehouse. A young Indian girl with long hairbig eyesand
small hands and feetcarried out a wooden chairwhile a thin
old womancrabbed and vigilantwatched her all the time from
the verandah.

Don Pepe sat down in the chair and lighted a cigar; the priest
drew in an immense quantity of snuff out of the hollow of his
palm. On his reddish-brown facewornhollowed as if crumbled


the eyesfresh and candidsparkled like two black diamonds.

Don Pepein a mild and humorous voiceinformed Father Roman
that Pedrito Monteroby the hand of Senor Fuenteshad asked him
on what terms he would surrender the mine in proper working order
to a legally constituted commission of patriotic citizens
escorted by a small military force. The priest cast his eyes up
to heaven. HoweverDon Pepe continuedthe mozo who brought the
letter said that Don Carlos Gould was aliveand so far
unmolested.

Father Roman expressed in a few words his thankfulness at hearing
of the Senor Administrador's safety.

The hour of oration had gone by in the silvery ringing of a bell
in the little belfry. The belt of forest closing the entrance of
the valley stood like a screen between the low sun and the street
of the village. At the other end of the rocky gorgebetween the
walls of basalt and granitea forest-clad mountainhiding all
the range from the San Tome dwellersrose steeplylighted up
and leafy to the very top. Three small rosy clouds hung
motionless overhead in the great depth of blue. Knots of people
sat in the street between the wattled huts. Before the casa of
the alcaldethe foremen of the night-shiftalready assembled to
lead their mensquatted on the ground in a circle of leather
skull-capsandbowing their bronze backswere passing round
the gourd of mate. The mozo from the townhaving fastened his
horse to a wooden post before the doorwas telling them the news
of Sulaco as the blackened gourd of the decoction passed from
hand to hand. The grave alcalde himselfin a white waistcloth
and a flowered chintz gown with sleevesopen wide upon his naked
stout person with an effect of a gaudy bathing robestood by
wearing a rough beaver hat at the back of his headand grasping
a tall staff with a silver knob in his hand. These insignia of
his dignity had been conferred upon him by the Administration of
the minethe fountain of honourof prosperityand peace. He
had been one of the first immigrants into this valley; his sons
and sons-in-law worked within the mountain which seemed with its
treasures to pour down the thundering ore shoots of the upper
mesathe gifts of well-beingsecurityand justice upon the
toilers. He listened to the news from the town with curiosity and
indifferenceas if concerning another world than his own. And it
was true that they appeared to him so. In a very few years the
sense of belonging to a powerful organization had been developed
in these harassedhalf-wild Indians. They were proud ofand
attached tothe mine. It had secured their confidence and
belief. They invested it with a protecting and invincible virtue
as though it were a fetish made by their own handsfor they were
ignorantand in other respects did not differ appreciably from
the rest of mankind which puts infinite trust in its own
creations. It never entered the alcalde's head that the mine
could fail in its protection and force. Politics were good enough
for the people of the town and the Campo. His yellowround face
with wide nostrilsand motionless in expressionresembled a
fierce full moon. He listened to the excited vapourings of the
mozo without misgivingswithout surprisewithout any active
sentiment whatever.

Padre Roman sat dejectedly balancing himselfhis feet just
touching the groundhis hands gripping the edge of the hammock.
With less confidencebut as ignorant as his flockhe asked the
major what did he think was going to happen now.

Don Pepebolt upright in the chairfolded his hands peacefully


on the hilt of his swordstanding perpendicular between his
thighsand answered that he did not know. The mine could be
defended against any force likely to be sent to take possession.
On the other handfrom the arid character of the valleywhen
the regular supplies from the Campo had been cut offthe
population of the three villages could be starved into
submission. Don Pepe exposed these contingencies with serenity
to Father Romanwhoas an old campaignerwas able to
understand the reasoning of a military man. They talked with
simplicity and directness. Father Roman was saddened at the idea
of his flock being scattered or else enslaved. He had no
illusions as to their fatenot from penetrationbut from long
experience of political atrocitieswhich seemed to him fatal and
unavoidable in the life of a State. The working of the usual
public institutions presented itself to him most distinctly as a
series of calamities overtaking private individuals and flowing
logically from each other through haterevengefollyand
rapacityas though they had been part of a divine dispensation.
Father Roman's clear-sightedness was served by an uninformed
intelligence; but his heartpreserving its tenderness amongst
scenes of carnagespoliationand violenceabhorred these
calamities the more as his association with the victims was
closer. He entertained towards the Indians of the valley feelings
of paternal scorn. He had been marryingbaptizingconfessing
absolvingand burying the workers of the San Tome mine with
dignity and unction for five years or more; and he believed in
the sacredness of these ministrationswhich made them his own in
a spiritual sense. They were dear to his sacerdotal supremacy.
Mrs. Gould's earnest interest in the concerns of these people
enhanced their importance in the priest's eyesbecause it really
augmented his own. When talking over with her the innumerable
Marias and Brigidas of the villageshe felt his own humanity
expand. Padre Roman was incapable of fanaticism to an almost
reprehensible degree. The English senora was evidently a
heretic; but at the same time she seemed to him wonderful and
angelic. Whenever that confused state of his feelings occurred
to himwhile strollingfor instancehis breviary under his
armin the wide shade of the tamarindhe would stop short to
inhale with a strong snuffling noise a large quantity of snuff
and shake his head profoundly. At the thought of what might
befall the illustrious senora presentlyhe became gradually
overcome with dismay. He voiced it in an agitated murmur. Even
Don Pepe lost his serenity for a moment. He leaned forward
stiffly.

Listen, Padre. The very fact that those thieving macaques in
Sulaco are trying to find out the price of my honour proves that
Senor Don Carlos and all in the Casa Gould are safe. As to my
honour, that also is safe, as every man, woman, and child knows.
But the negro Liberals who have snatched the town by surprise do
not know that. Bueno. Let them sit and wait. While they wait they
can do no harm.

And he regained his composure. He regained it easilybecause
whatever happened his honour of an old officer of Paez was safe.
He had promised Charles Gould that at the approach of an armed
force he would defend the gorge just long enough to give himself
time to destroy scientifically the whole plantbuildingsand
workshops of the mine with heavy charges of dynamite; block with
ruins the main tunnelbreak down the pathwaysblow up the dam
of the water-powershatter the famous Gould Concession into
fragmentsflying sky high out of a horrified world. The mine had
got hold of Charles Gould with a grip as deadly as ever it had
laid upon his father. But this extreme resolution had seemed to


Don Pepe the most natural thing in the world. His measures had
been taken with judgment. Everything was prepared with a careful
completeness. And Don Pepe folded his hands pacifically on his
sword hiltand nodded at the priest. In his excitementFather
Roman had flung snuff in handfuls at his faceandall besmeared
with tobaccoround-eyedand beside himselfhad got out of the
hammock to walk aboututtering exclamations.

Don Pepe stroked his grey and pendant moustachewhose fine ends
hung far below the clean-cut line of his jawand spoke with a
conscious pride in his reputation.

So, Padre, I don't know what will happen. But I know that as
long as I am here Don Carlos can speak to that macaque, Pedrito
Montero, and threaten the destruction of the mine with perfect
assurance that he will be taken seriously. For people know me.

He began to turn the cigar in his lips a little nervouslyand
went on-


But that is talk--good for the politicos. I am a military man. I
do not know what may happen. But I know what ought to be
done--the mine should march upon the town with guns, axes, knives
tied up to sticks--por Dios. That is what should be done.
Only--

His folded hands twitched on the hilt. The cigar turned faster in
the corner of his lips.

And who should lead but I? Unfortunately--observe--I have given
my word of honour to Don Carlos not to let the mine fall into the
hands of these thieves. In war--you know this, Padre--the fate
of battles is uncertain, and whom could I leave here to act for
me in case of defeat? The explosives are ready. But it would
require a man of high honour, of intelligence, of judgment, of
courage, to carry out the prepared destruction. Somebody I can
trust with my honour as I can trust myself. Another old officer
of Paez, for instance. Or--or--perhaps one of Paez's old
chaplains would do.

He got uplonglankuprighthardwith his martial moustache
and the bony structure of his facefrom which the glance of the
sunken eyes seemed to transfix the priestwho stood stillan
empty wooden snuff-box held upside down in his handand glared
backspeechlessat the governor of the mine.

CHAPTER SEVEN

AT ABOUT that timein the Intendencia of SulacoCharles Gould
was assuring Pedrito Monterowho had sent a request for his
presence therethat he would never let the mine pass out of his
hands for the profit of a Government who had robbed him of it.
The Gould Concession could not be resumed. His father had not
desired it. The son would never surrender it. He would never
surrender it alive. And once deadwhere was the power capable of
resuscitating such an enterprise in all its vigour and wealth out
of the ashes and ruin of destruction? There was no such power in
the country. And where was the skill and capital abroad that
would condescend to touch such an ill-omened corpse? Charles
Gould talked in the impassive tone which had for many years
served to conceal his anger and contempt. He suffered. He was
disgusted with what he had to say. It was too much like heroics.


In him the strictly practical instinct was in profound discord
with the almost mystic view he took of his right. The Gould
Concession was symbolic of abstract justice. Let the heavens
fall. But since the San Tome mine had developed into world-wide
fame his threat had enough force and effectiveness to reach the
rudimentary intelligence of Pedro Monterowrapped up as it was
in the futilities of historical anecdotes. The Gould Concession
was a serious asset in the country's financeandwhat was more
in the private budgets of many officials as well. It was
traditional. It was known. It was said. It was credible. Every
Minister of Interior drew a salary from the San Tome mine. It was
natural. And Pedrito intended to be Minister of the Interior and
President of the Council in his brother's Government. The Duc de
Morny had occupied those high posts during the Second French
Empire with conspicuous advantage to himself.

A tablea chaira wooden bedstead had been procured for His
Excellencywhoafter a short siestarendered absolutely
necessary by the labours and the pomps of his entry into Sulaco
had been getting hold of the administrative machine by making
appointmentsgiving ordersand signing proclamations. Alone
with Charles Gould in the audience roomHis Excellency managed
with his well-known skill to conceal his annoyance and
consternation. He had begun at first to talk loftily of
confiscationbut the want of all proper feeling and mobility in
the Senor Administrador's features ended by affecting adversely
his power of masterful expression. Charles Gould had repeated:
The Government can certainly bring about the destruction of the
San Tome mine if it likes; but without me it can do nothing
else.It was an alarming pronouncementand well calculated to
hurt the sensibilities of a politician whose mind is bent upon
the spoils of victory. And Charles Gould said also that the
destruction of the San Tome mine would cause the ruin of other
undertakingsthe withdrawal of European capitalthe
withholdingmost probablyof the last instalment of the foreign
loan. That stony fiend of a man said all these things (which were
accessible to His Excellency's intelligence) in a coldblooded
manner which made one shudder.

A long course of reading historical workslight and gossipy in
tonecarried out in garrets of Parisian hotelssprawling on an
untidy bedto the neglect of his dutiesmenial or otherwise
had affected the manners of Pedro Montero. Had he seen around him
the splendour of the old Intendenciathe magnificent hangings
the gilt furniture ranged along the walls; had he stood upon a
dais on a noble square of red carpethe would have probably been
very dangerous from a sense of success and elevation. But in this
sacked and devastated residencewith the three pieces of common
furniture huddled up in the middle of the vast apartment
Pedrito's imagination was subdued by a feeling of insecurity and
impermanence. That feeling and the firm attitude of Charles
Gould who had not onceso farpronounced the word "Excellency
diminished him in his own eyes. He assumed the tone of an
enlightened man of the world, and begged Charles Gould to dismiss
from his mind every cause for alarm. He was now conversing, he
reminded him, with the brother of the master of the country,
charged with a reorganizing mission. The trusted brother of the
master of the country, he repeated. Nothing was further from the
thoughts of that wise and patriotic hero than ideas of
destruction. I entreat youDon Carlosnot to give way to your
anti-democratic prejudices he cried, in a burst of
condescending effusion.

Pedrito Montero surprised one at first sight by the vast


development of his bald forehead, a shiny yellow expanse between
the crinkly coal-black tufts of hair without any lustre, the
engaging form of his mouth, and an unexpectedly cultivated voice.
But his eyes, very glistening as if freshly painted on each side
of his hooked nose, had a round, hopeless, birdlike stare when
opened fully. Now, however, he narrowed them agreeably, throwing
his square chin up and speaking with closed teeth slightly
through the nose, with what he imagined to be the manner of a
grand seigneur.

In that attitude, he declared suddenly that the highest
expression of democracy was Caesarism: the imperial rule based
upon the direct popular vote. Caesarism was conservative. It was
strong. It recognized the legitimate needs of democracy which
requires orders, titles, and distinctions. They would be showered
upon deserving men. Caesarism was peace. It was progressive. It
secured the prosperity of a country. Pedrito Montero was carried
away. Look at what the Second Empire had done for France. It was
a regime which delighted to honour men of Don Carlos's stamp.
The Second Empire fell, but that was because its chief was devoid
of that military genius which had raised General Montero to the
pinnacle of fame and glory. Pedrito elevated his hand jerkily to
help the idea of pinnacle, of fame. We shall have many talks
yet. We shall understand each other thoroughlyDon Carlos!" he
cried in a tone of fellowship. Republicanism had done its work.
Imperial democracy was the power of the future. Pedritothe
guerrilleroshowing his handlowered his voice forcibly. A man
singled out by his fellow-citizens for the honourable nickname of
El Rey de Sulaco could not but receive a full recognition from an
imperial democracy as a great captain of industry and a person of
weighty counselwhose popular designation would be soon replaced
by a more solid title. "EhDon Carlos? No! What do you say?
Conde de Sulaco--Eh?--or marquis . . ."

He ceased. The air was cool on the Plazawhere a patrol of
cavalry rode round and round without penetrating into the
streetswhich resounded with shouts and the strumming of guitars
issuing from the open doors of pulperias. The orders were not to
interfere with the enjoyments of the people. And above the roofs
next to the perpendicular lines of the cathedral towers the snowy
curve of Higuerota blocked a large space of darkening blue sky
before the windows of the Intendencia. After a time Pedrito
Monterothrusting his hand in the bosom of his coatbowed his
head with slow dignity. The audience was over.

Charles Gould on going out passed his hand over his forehead as
if to disperse the mists of an oppressive dreamwhose grotesque
extravagance leaves behind a subtle sense of bodily danger and
intellectual decay. In the passages and on the staircases of the
old palace Montero's troopers lounged about insolentlysmoking
and making way for no one; the clanking of sabres and spurs
resounded all over the building. Three silent groups of civilians
in severe black waited in the main galleryformal and helpless
a little huddled upeach keeping apart from the othersas if in
the exercise of a public duty they had been overcome by a desire
to shun the notice of every eye. These were the deputations
waiting for their audience. The one from the Provincial Assembly
more restless and uneasy in its corporate expressionwas
overtopped by the big face of Don Juste Lopezsoft and white
with prominent eyelids and wreathed in impenetrable solemnity as
if in a dense cloud. The President of the Provincial Assembly
coming bravely to save the last shred of parliamentary
institutions (on the English model)averted his eyes from the
Administrador of the San Tome mine as a dignified rebuke of his


little faith in that only saving principle.

The mournful severity of that reproof did not affect Charles
Gouldbut he was sensible to the glances of the others directed
upon him without reproachas if only to read their own fate upon
his face. All of them had talkedshoutedand declaimed in the
great sala of the Casa Gould. The feeling of compassion for those
menstruck with a strange impotence in the toils of moral
degradationdid not induce him to make a sign. He suffered from
his fellowship in evil with them too much. He crossed the Plaza
unmolested. The Amarilla Club was full of festive ragamuffins.
Their frowsy heads protruded from every windowand from within
came drunken shoutsthe thumping of feetand the twanging of
harps. Broken bottles strewed the pavement below. Charles Gould
found the doctor still in his house.

Dr. Monygham came away from the crack in the shutter through
which he had been watching the street.

Ah! You are back at last!he said in a tone of relief. "I have
been telling Mrs. Gould that you were perfectly safebut I was
not by any means certain that the fellow would have let you go."

Neither was I,confessed Charles Gouldlaying his hat on the
table.

You will have to take action.

The silence of Charles Gould seemed to admit that this was the
only course. This was as far as Charles Gould was accustomed to
go towards expressing his intentions.

I hope you did not warn Montero of what you mean to do,the
doctor saidanxiously.

I tried to make him see that the existence of the mine was bound
up with my personal safety,continued Charles Gouldlooking
away from the doctorand fixing his eyes upon the water-colour
sketch upon the wall.

He believed you?the doctor askedeagerly.

God knows!said Charles Gould. "I owed it to my wife to say
that much. He is well enough informed. He knows that I have Don
Pepe there. Fuentes must have told him. They know that the old
major is perfectly capable of blowing up the San Tome mine
without hesitation or compunction. Had it not been for that I
don't think I'd have left the Intendencia a free man. He would
blow everything up from loyalty and from hate--from hate of these
Liberalsas they call themselves. Liberals! The words one knows
so well have a nightmarish meaning in this country. Liberty
democracypatriotismgovernment--all of them have a flavour of
folly and murder. Haven't theydoctor? . . . I alone can
restrain Don Pepe. If they were to--to do away with menothing
could prevent him."

They will try to tamper with him,the doctor suggested
thoughtfully.

It is very possible,Charles Gould said very lowas if
speaking to himselfand still gazing at the sketch of the San
Tome gorge upon the wall. "YesI expect they will try that."
Charles Gould looked for the first time at the doctor. "It would
give me time he added.


Exactly said Dr. Monygham, suppressing his excitement.
Especially if Don Pepe behaves diplomatically. Why shouldn't he
give them some hope of success? Eh? Otherwise you wouldn't gain
so much time. Couldn't he be instructed to--"

Charles Gouldlooking at the doctor steadilyshook his head
but the doctor continued with a certain amount of fire-


Yes, to enter into negotiations for the surrender of the mine.
It is a good notion. You would mature your plan. Of course, I
don't ask what it is. I don't want to know. I would refuse to
listen to you if you tried to tell me. I am not fit for
confidences.

What nonsense!muttered Charles Gouldwith displeasure.

He disapproved of the doctor's sensitiveness about that far-off
episode of his life. So much memory shocked Charles Gould. It was
like morbidness. And again he shook his head. He refused to
tamper with the open rectitude of Don Pepe's conductboth from
taste and from policy. Instructions would have to be either
verbal or in writing. In either case they ran the risk of being
intercepted. It was by no means certain that a messenger could
reach the mine; andbesidesthere was no one to send. It was on
the tip of Charles's tongue to say that only the late Capataz de
Cargadores could have been employed with some chance of success
and the certitude of discretion. But he did not say that. He
pointed out to the doctor that it would have been bad policy.
Directly Don Pepe let it be supposed that he could be bought
overthe Administrador's personal safety and the safety of his
friends would become endangered. For there would be then no
reason for moderation. The incorruptibility of Don Pepe was the
essential and restraining fact. The doctor hung his head and
admitted that in a way it was so.

He couldn't deny to himself that the reasoning was sound enough.
Don Pepe's usefulness consisted in his unstained character. As to
his own usefulnesshe reflected bitterly it was also his own
character. He declared to Charles Gould that he had the means of
keeping Sotillo from joining his forces with Monteroat least
for the present.

If you had had all this silver here,the doctor saidor even
if it had been known to be at the mine, you could have bribed
Sotillo to throw off his recent Monterism. You could have
induced him either to go away in his steamer or even to join
you.

Certainly not that last,Charles Gould declaredfirmly. "What
could one do with a man like thatafterwards--tell medoctor?
The silver is goneand I am glad of it. It would have been an
immediate and strong temptation. The scramble for that visible
plunder would have precipitated a disastrous ending. I would
have had to defend ittoo. I am glad we've removed it--even if
it is lost. It would have been a danger and a curse."

Perhaps he is right,the doctoran hour latersaid hurriedly
to Mrs. Gouldwhom he met in the corridor. "The thing is done
and the shadow of the treasure may do just as well as the
substance. Let me try to serve you to the whole extent of my evil
reputation. I am off now to play my game of betrayal with
Sotilloand keep him off the town."


She put out both her hands impulsively. "Dr. Monyghamyou are
running a terrible risk she whispered, averting from his face
her eyes, full of tears, for a short glance at the door of her
husband's room. She pressed both his hands, and the doctor stood
as if rooted to the spot, looking down at her, and trying to
twist his lips into a smile.

OhI know you will defend my memory he uttered at last, and
ran tottering down the stairs across the patio, and out of the
house. In the street he kept up. a great pace with his smart
hobbling walk, a case of instruments under his arm. He was known
for being loco. Nobody interfered with him. From under the
seaward gate, across the dusty, arid plain, interspersed with low
bushes, he saw, more than a mile away, the ugly enormity of the
Custom House, and the two or three other buildings which at that
time constituted the seaport of Sulaco. Far away to the south
groves of palm trees edged the curve of the harbour shore. The
distant peaks of the Cordillera had lost their identity of
clearcut shapes in the steadily deepening blue of the eastern
sky. The doctor walked briskly. A darkling shadow seemed to fall
upon him from the zenith. The sun had set. For a time the snows
of Higuerota continued to glow with the reflected glory of the
west. The doctor, holding a straight course for the Custom House,
appeared lonely, hopping amongst the dark bushes like a tall bird
with a broken wing.

Tints of purple, gold, and crimson were mirrored in the clear
water of the harbour. A long tongue of land, straight as a wall,
with the grass-grown ruins of the fort making a sort of rounded
green mound, plainly visible from the inner shore, closed its
circuit; while beyond the Placid Gulf repeated those splendours
of colouring on a greater scale and with a more sombre
magnificence. The great mass of cloud filling the head of the
gulf had long red smears amongst its convoluted folds of grey and
black, as of a floating mantle stained with blood. The three
Isabels, overshadowed and clear cut in a great smoothness
confounding the sea and sky, appeared suspended, purple-black, in
the air. The little wavelets seemed to be tossing tiny red
sparks upon the sandy beaches. The glassy bands of water along
the horizon gave out a fiery red glow, as if fire and water had
been mingled together in the vast bed of the ocean.

At last the conflagration of sea and sky, lying embraced and
still in a flaming contact upon the edge of the world, went out.
The red sparks in the water vanished together with the stains of
blood in the black mantle draping the sombre head of the Placid
Gulf; a sudden breeze sprang up and died out after rustling
heavily the growth of bushes on the ruined earthwork of the fort.
Nostromo woke up from a fourteen hours' sleep, and arose full
length from his lair in the long grass. He stood knee deep
amongst the whispering undulations of the green blades with the
lost air of a man just born into the world. Handsome, robust, and
supple, he threw back his head, flung his arms open, and
stretched himself with a slow twist of the waist and a leisurely
growling yawn of white teeth, as natural and free from evil in
the moment of waking as a magnificent and unconscious wild beast.
Then, in the suddenly steadied glance fixed upon nothing from
under a thoughtful frown, appeared the man.

CHAPTER EIGHT

AFTER landing from his swim Nostromo had scrambled up, all


dripping, into the main quadrangle of the old fort; and there,
amongst ruined bits of walls and rotting remnants of roofs and
sheds, he had slept the day through. He had slept in the shadow
of the mountains, in the white blaze of noon, in the stillness
and solitude of that overgrown piece of land between the oval of
the harbour and the spacious semi-circle of the gulf. He lay as
if dead. A rey-zamuro, appearing like a tiny black speck in the
blue, stooped, circling prudently with a stealthiness of flight
startling in a bird of that great size. The shadow of his
pearly-white body, of his black-tipped wings, fell on the grass
no more silently than he alighted himself on a hillock of rubbish
within three yards of that man, lying as still as a corpse. The
bird stretched his bare neck, craned his bald head, loathsome in
the brilliance of varied colouring, with an air of voracious
anxiety towards the promising stillness of that prostrate body.
Then, sinking his head deeply into his soft plumage, he settled
himself to wait. The first thing upon which Nostromo's eyes fell
on waking was this patient watcher for the signs of death and
corruption. When the man got up the vulture hopped away in great,
side-long, fluttering jumps. He lingered for a while, morose and
reluctant, before he rose, circling noiselessly with a sinister
droop of beak and claws.

Long after he had vanished, Nostromo, lifting his eyes up to the
sky, muttered, I am not dead yet."

The Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores had lived in splendour and
publicity up to the very momentas it werewhen he took charge
of the lighter containing the treasure of silver ingots.

The last act he had performed in Sulaco was in complete harmony
with his vanityand as such perfectly genuine. He had given his
last dollar to an old woman moaning with the grief and fatigue of
a dismal search under the arch of the ancient gate. Performed in
obscurity and without witnessesit had still the characteristics
of splendour and publicityand was in strict keeping with his
reputation. But this awakening in solitudeexcept for the
watchful vultureamongst the ruins of the forthad no such
characteristics. His first confused feeling was exactly
this--that it was not in keeping. It was more like the end of
things. The necessity of living concealed somehowfor God knows
how longwhich assailed him on his return to consciousnessmade
everything that had gone before for years appear vain and
foolishlike a flattering dream come suddenly to an end.

He climbed the crumbling slope of the rampartandputting aside
the busheslooked upon the harbour. He saw a couple of ships at
anchor upon the sheet of water reflecting the last gleams of
lightand Sotillo's steamer moored to the jetty. And behind the
pale long front of the Custom Housethere appeared the extent of
the town like a grove of thick timber on the plain with a gateway
in frontand the cupolastowersand miradors rising above the
treesall darkas if surrendered already to the night. The
thought that it was no longer open to him to ride through the
streetsrecognized by everyonegreat and littleas he used to
do every evening on his way to play monte in the posada of the
Mexican Domingo; or to sit in the place of honourlistening to
songs and looking at dancesmade it appear to him as a town that
had no existence.

For a long time he gazed onthen let the parted bushes spring
backandcrossing over to the other side of the fortsurveyed
the vaster emptiness of the great gulf. The Isabels stood out
heavily upon the narrowing long band of red in the westwhich


gleamed low between their black shapesand the Capataz thought
of Decoud alone there with the treasure. That man was the only
one who cared whether he fell into the hands of the Monterists or
notthe Capataz reflected bitterly. And that merely would be an
anxiety for his own sake. As to the restthey neither knew nor
cared. What he had heard Giorgio Viola say once was very true.
Kingsministersaristocratsthe rich in generalkept the
people in poverty and subjection; they kept them as they kept
dogsto fight and hunt for their service.

The darkness of the sky had descended to the line of the horizon
enveloping the whole gulfthe isletsand the lover of Antonia
alone with the treasure on the Great Isabel. The Capatazturning
his back on these things invisible and existingsat down and
took his face between his fists. He felt the pinch of poverty for
the first time in his life. To find himself without money after a
run of bad luck at monte in the lowsmoky room of Domingo's
posadawhere the fraternity of Cargadores gambledsangand
danced of an evening; to remain with empty pockets after a burst
of public generosity to some peyne d'oro girl or other (for whom
he did not care)had none of the humiliation of destitution. He
remained rich in glory and reputation. But since it was no longer
possible for him to parade the streets of the townand be hailed
with respect in the usual haunts of his leisurethis sailor felt
himself destitute indeed.

His mouth was dry. It was dry with heavy sleep and extremely
anxious thinkingas it had never been dry before. It may be said
that Nostromo tasted the dust and ashes of the fruit of life into
which he had bitten deeply in his hunger for praise. Without
removing his head from between his fistshe tried to spit before
him--"Tfui"--and muttered a curse upon the selfishness of all the
rich people.

Since everything seemed lost in Sulaco (and that was the feeling
of his waking)the idea of leaving the country altogether had
presented itself to Nostromo. At that thought he had seenlike
the beginning of another dreama vision of steep and tideless
shoreswith dark pines on the heights and white houses low down
near a very blue sea. He saw the quays of a big portwhere the
coasting feluccaswith their lateen sails outspread like
motionless wingsenter gliding silently between the end of long
moles of squared blocks that project angularly towards each
otherhugging a cluster of shipping to the superb bosom of a
hill covered with palaces. He remembered these sights not without
some filial emotionthough he had been habitually and severely
beaten as a boy on one of these feluccas by a short-necked
shaven Genoesewith a deliberate and distrustful mannerwho (he
firmly believed) had cheated him out of his orphan's inheritance.
But it is mercifully decreed that the evils of the past should
appear but faintly in retrospect. Under the sense of loneliness
abandonmentand failurethe idea of return to these things
appeared tolerable. Butwhat? Return? With bare feet and head
with one check shirt and a pair of cotton calzoneros for all
worldly possessions?

The renowned Capatazhis elbows on his knees and a fist dug into
each cheeklaughed with self-derisionas he had spat with
disguststraight out before him into the night. The confused and
intimate impressions of universal dissolution which beset a
subjective nature at any strong check to its ruling passion had a
bitterness approaching that of death itself. He was simple. He
was as ready to become the prey of any beliefsuperstitionor
desire as a child.


The facts of his situation he could appreciate like a man with a
distinct experience of the country. He saw them clearly. He was
as if sobered after a long bout of intoxication. His fidelity had
been taken advantage of. He had persuaded the body of Cargadores
to side with the Blancos against the rest of the people; he had
had interviews with Don Jose; he had been made use of by Father
Corbelan for negotiating with Hernandez; it was known that Don
Martin Decoud had admitted him to a sort of intimacyso that he
had been free of the offices of the Porvenir. All these things
had flattered him in the usual way. What did he care about their
politics? Nothing at all. And at the end of it all--Nostromo
here and Nostromo there--where is Nostromo? Nostromo can do this
and that--work all day and ride all night--behold! he found
himself a marked Ribierist for any sort of vengeance Gamachofor
instancewould choose to takenow the Montero partyhadafter
allmastered the town. The Europeans had given up; the
Caballeros had given up. Don Martin had indeed explained it was
only temporary--that he was going to bring Barrios to the
rescue. Where was that now--with Don Martin (whose ironic manner
of talk had always made the Capataz feel vaguely uneasy) stranded
on the Great Isabel? Everybody had given up. Even Don Carlos had
given up. The hurried removal of the treasure out to sea meant
nothing else than that. The Capataz de Cargadoreson a revulsion
of subjectivenessexasperated almost to insanitybeheld all his
world without faith and courage. He had been betrayed!

With the boundless shadows of the sea behind himout of his
silence and immobilityfacing the lofty shapes of the lower
peaks crowded around the whitemisty sheen of Higuerota
Nostromo laughed aloud againsprang abruptly to his feetand
stood still. He must go. But where?

There is no mistake. They keep us and encourage us as if we were
dogs born to fight and hunt for them. The vecchio is right,he
saidslowly and scathingly. He remembered old Giorgio taking
his pipe out of his mouth to throw these words over his shoulder
at the cafefull of engine-drivers and fitters from the railway
workshops. This image fixed his wavering purpose. He would try
to find old Giorgio if he could. God knows what might have
happened to him! He made a few stepsthen stopped again and
shook his head. To the left and rightin front and behind him
the scrubby bush rustled mysteriously in the darkness.

Teresa was right, too,he added in a low tone touched with awe.
He wondered whether she was dead in her anger with him or still
alive. As if in answer to this thoughthalf of remorse and half
of hopewith a soft flutter and oblique flighta big owlwhose
appalling cry: "Ya-acabo! Ya-acabo!--it is finished; it is
finished"--announces calamity and death in the popular belief
drifted vaguely like a large dark ball across his path. In the
downfall of all the realities that made his forcehe was
affected by the superstitionand shuddered slightly. Signora
Teresa must have diedthen. It could mean nothing else. The cry
of the ill-omened birdthe first sound he was to hear on his
returnwas a fitting welcome for his betrayed individuality. The
unseen powers which he had offended by refusing to bring a priest
to a dying woman were lifting up their voice against him. She was
dead. With admirable and human consistency he referred everything
to himself. She had been a woman of good counsel always. And the
bereaved old Giorgio remained stunned by his loss just as he was
likely to require the advice of his sagacity. The blow would
render the dreamy old man quite stupid for a time.


As to Captain MitchellNostromoafter the manner of trusted
subordinatesconsidered him as a person fitted by education
perhaps to sign papers in an office and to give ordersbut
otherwise of no use whateverand something of a fool. The
necessity of winding round his little fingeralmost dailythe
pompous and testy self-importance of the old seaman had grown
irksome with use to Nostromo. At first it had given him an inward
satisfaction. But the necessity of overcoming small obstacles
becomes wearisome to a self-confident personality as much by the
certitude of success as by the monotony of effort. He mistrusted
his superior's proneness to fussy action. That old Englishman had
no judgmenthe said to himself. It was useless to suppose that
acquainted with the true state of the casehe would keep it to
himself. He would talk of doing impracticable things. Nostromo
feared him as one would fear saddling one's self with some
persistent worry. He had no discretion. He would betray the
treasure. And Nostromo had made up his mind that the treasure
should not be betrayed.

The word had fixed itself tenaciously in his intelligence. His
imagination had seized upon the clear and simple notion of
betrayal to account for the dazed feeling of enlightenment as to
being done forof having inadvertently gone out of his existence
on an issue in which his personality had not been taken into
account. A man betrayed is a man destroyed. Signora Teresa (may
God have her soul!) had been right. He had never been taken into
account. Destroyed! Her white form sitting up bowed in bedthe
falling black hairthe wide-browed suffering face raised to him
the anger of her denunciations appeared to him now majestic with
the awfulness of inspiration and of death. For it was not for
nothing that the evil bird had uttered its lamentable shriek over
his head. She was dead--may God have her soul!

Sharing in the anti-priestly freethought of the masseshis mind
used the pious formula from the superficial force of habitbut
with a deep-seated sincerity. The popular mind is incapable of
scepticism; and that incapacity delivers their helpless strength
to the wiles of swindlers and to the pitiless enthusiasms of
leaders inspired by visions of a high destiny. She was dead. But
would God consent to receive her soul? She had died without
confession or absolutionbecause he had not been willing to
spare her another moment of his time. His scorn of priests as
priests remained; but after allit was impossible to know
whether what they affirmed was not true. Powerpunishment
pardonare simple and credible notions. The magnificent Capataz
de Cargadoresdeprived of certain simple realitiessuch as the
admiration of womenthe adulation of menthe admired publicity
of his lifewas ready to feel the burden of sacrilegious guilt
descend upon his shoulders.

Bareheadedin a thin shirt and drawershe felt the lingering
warmth of the fine sand under the soles of his feet. The narrow
strand gleamed far ahead in a long curvedefining the outline of
this wild side of the harbour. He flitted along the shore like a
pursued shadow between the sombre palm-groves and the sheet of
water lying as still as death on his right hand. He strode with
headlong haste in the silence and solitude as though he had
forgotten all prudence and caution. But he knew that on this
side of the water he ran no risk of discovery. The only
inhabitant was a lonelysilentapathetic Indian in charge of
the palmariaswho brought sometimes a load of cocoanuts to the
town for sale. He lived without a woman in an open shedwith a
perpetual fire of dry sticks smouldering near an old canoe lying
bottom up on the beach. He could be easily avoided.


The barking of the dogs about that man's ranche was the first
thing that checked his speed. He had forgotten the dogs. He
swerved sharplyand plunged into the palm-groveas into a
wilderness of columns in an immense hallwhose dense obscurity
seemed to whisper and rustle faintly high above his head. He
traversed itentered a ravineand climbed to the top of a steep
ridge free of trees and bushes.

From thereopen and vague in the starlighthe saw the plain
between the town and the harbour. In the woods above some
night-bird made a strange drumming noise. Below beyond the
palmaria on the beachthe Indian's dogs continued to bark
uproariously. He wondered what had upset them so muchand
peering down from his elevationwas surprised to detect
unaccountable movements of the ground belowas if several oblong
pieces of the plain had been in motion. Those darkshifting
patchesalternately catching and eluding the eyealtered their
place always away from the harbourwith a suggestion of
consecutive order and purpose. A light dawned upon him. It was a
column of infantry on a night march towards the higher broken
country at the foot of the hills. But he was too much in the dark
about everything for wonder and speculation.

The plain had resumed its shadowy immobility. He descended the
ridge and found himself in the open solitudebetween the harbour
and the town. Its spaciousnessextended indefinitely by an
effect of obscurityrendered more sensible his profound
isolation. His pace became slower. No one waited for him; no one
thought of him; no one expected or wished his return. "Betrayed!
Betrayed!" he muttered to himself. No one cared. He might have
been drowned by this time. No one would have cared--unless
perhapsthe childrenhe thought to himself. But they were with
the English signoraand not thinking of him at all.

He wavered in his purpose of making straight for the Casa Viola.
To what end? What could he expect there? His life seemed to fail
him in all its detailseven to the scornful reproaches of
Teresa. He was aware painfully of his reluctance. Was it that
remorse which she had prophesied withwhat he saw nowwas her
last breath?

Meantimehe had deviated from the straight courseinclining by
a sort of instinct to the righttowards the jetty and the
harbourthe scene of his daily labours. The great length of the
Custom House loomed up all at once like the wall of a factory.
Not a soul challenged his approachand his curiosity became
excited as he passed cautiously towards the front by the
unexpected sight of two lighted windows.

They had the fascination of a lonely vigil kept by some
mysterious watcher up therethose two windows shining dimly upon
the harbour in the whole vast extent of the abandoned building.
The solitude could almost be felt. A strong smell of wood smoke
hung about in a thin hazewhich was faintly perceptible to his
raised eyes against the glitter of the stars. As he advanced in
the profound silencethe shrilling of innumerable cicalas in the
dry grass seemed positively deafening to his strained ears.
Slowlystep by stephe found himself in the great hallsombre
and full of acrid smoke.

A fire built against the staircase had burnt down impotently to a
low heap of embers. The hard wood had failed to catch; only a few
steps at the bottom smoulderedwith a creeping glow of sparks


defining their charred edges. At the top he saw a streak of light
from an open door. It fell upon the vast landingall foggy with
a slow drift of smoke. That was the room. He climbed the stairs
then checked himselfbecause he had seen within the shadow of a
man cast upon one of the walls. It was a shapeless
highshouldered shadow of somebody standing stillwith lowered
headout of his line of sight. The Capatazremembering that he
was totally unarmedstepped asideandeffacing himself upright
in a dark cornerwaited with his eyes fixed on the door.

The whole enormous ruined barrack of a placeunfinishedwithout
ceilings under its lofty roofwas pervaded by the smoke swaying
to and fro in the faint cross draughts playing in the obscurity
of many lofty rooms and barnlike passages. Once one of the
swinging shutters came against the wall with a single sharp
crackas if pushed by an impatient hand. A piece of paper
scurried out from somewhererustling along the landing. The
manwhoever he wasdid not darken the lighted doorway. Twice
the Capatazadvancing a couple of steps out of his corner
craned his neck in the hope of catching sight of what he could be
atso quietlyin there. But every time he saw only the
distorted shadow of broad shoulders and bowed head. He was doing
apparently nothingand stirred not from the spotas though he
were meditating--orperhapsreading a paper. And not a sound
issued from the room.

Once more the Capataz stepped back. He wondered who it was--some
Monterist? But he dreaded to show himself. To discover his
presence on shoreunless after many dayswouldhe believed
endanger the treasure. With his own knowledge possessing his
whole soulit seemed impossible that anybody in Sulaco should
fail to jump at the right surmise. After a couple of weeks or so
it would be different. Who could tell he had not returned
overland from some port beyond the limits of the Republic? The
existence of the treasure confused his thoughts with a peculiar
sort of anxietyas though his life had become bound up with it.
It rendered him timorous for a moment before that enigmatic
lighted door. Devil take the fellow! He did not want to see him.
There would be nothing to learn from his faceknown or unknown.
He was a fool to waste his time there in waiting.

Less than five minutes after entering the place the Capataz began
his retreat. He got away down the stairs with perfect success
gave one upward look over his shoulder at the light on the
landingand ran stealthily across the hall. But at the very
moment he was turning out of the great doorwith his mind fixed
upon escaping the notice of the man upstairssomebody he had not
heard coming briskly along the front ran full into him. Both
muttered a stifled exclamation of surpriseand leaped back and
stood stilleach indistinct to the other. Nostromo was silent.
The other man spoke firstin an amazed and deadened tone.

Who are you?

Already Nostromo had seemed to recognize Dr. Monygham. He had no
doubt now. He hesitated the space of a second. The idea of
bolting without a word presented itself to his mind. No use! An
inexplicable repugnance to pronounce the name by which he was
known kept him silent a little longer. At last he said in a low
voice-


A Cargador.

He walked up to the other. Dr. Monygham had received a shock. He


flung his arms up and cried out his wonder aloudforgetting
himself before the marvel of this meeting. Nostromo angrily
warned him to moderate his voice. The Custom House was not so
deserted as it looked. There was somebody in the lighted room
above.

There is no more evanescent quality in an accomplished fact than
its wonderfulness. Solicited incessantly by the considerations
affecting its fears and desiresthe human mind turns naturally
away from the marvellous side of events. And it was in the most
natural way possible that the doctor asked this man whom only two
minutes before he believed to have been drowned in the gulf-


You have seen somebody up there? Have you?

No, I have not seen him.

Then how do you know?

I was running away from his shadow when we met.

His shadow?

Yes. His shadow in the lighted room,said Nostromoin a
contemptuous tone. Leaning back with folded arms at the foot of
the immense buildinghe dropped his headbiting his lips
slightlyand not looking at the doctor. "Now he thought to
himself, he will begin asking me about the treasure."

But the doctor's thoughts were concerned with an event not as
marvellous as Nostromo's appearancebut in itself much less
clear. Why had Sotillo taken himself off with his whole command
with this suddenness and secrecy? What did this move portend?
Howeverit dawned upon the doctor that the man upstairs was one
of the officers left behind by the disappointed colonel to
communicate with him.

I believe he is waiting for me,he said.

It is possible.

I must see. Do not go away yet, Capataz.

Go away where?muttered Nostromo.

Already the doctor had left him. He remained leaning against the
wallstaring at the dark water of the harbour; the shrilling of
cicalas filled his ears. An invincible vagueness coming over his
thoughts took from them all power to determine his will.

Capataz! Capataz!the doctor's voice called urgently from
above.

The sense of betrayal and ruin floated upon his sombre
indifference as upon a sluggish sea of pitch. But he stepped out
from under the wallandlooking upsaw Dr. Monygham leaning
out of a lighted window.

Come up and see what Sotillo has done. You need not fear the man
up here.

He answered by a slightbitter laugh. Fear a man! The Capataz
of the Sulaco Cargadores fear a man! It angered him that anybody
should suggest such a thing. It angered him to be disarmed and


skulking and in danger because of the accursed treasurewhich
was of so little account to the people who had tied it round his
neck. He could not shake off the worry of it. To Nostromo the
doctor represented all these people. . . . And he had never even
asked after it. Not a word of inquiry about the most desperate
undertaking of his life.

Thinking these thoughtsNostromo passed again through the
cavernous hallwhere the smoke was considerably thinnedand
went up the stairsnot so warm to his feet nowtowards the
streak of light at the top. The doctor appeared in it for a
momentagitated and impatient.

Come up! Come up!

At the moment of crossing the doorway the Capataz experienced a
shock of surprise. The man had not moved. He saw his shadow in
the same place. He startedthen stepped in with a feeling of
being about to solve a mystery.

It was very simple. For an infinitesimal fraction of a second
against the light of two flaring and guttering candlesthrough a
bluepungentthin haze which made his eyes smarthe saw the
man standingas he had imagined himwith his back to the door
casting an enormous and distorted shadow upon the wall. Swifter
than a flash of lightning followed the impression of his
constrainedtoppling attitude--the shoulders projecting forward
the head sunk low upon the breast. Then he distinguished the arms
behind his backand wrenched so terribly that the two clenched
fistslashed togetherhad been forced up higher than the
shoulder-blades. From there his eyes traced in one instantaneous
glance the hide rope going upwards from the tied wrists over a
heavy beam and down to a staple in the wall. He did not want to
look at the rigid legsat the feet hanging down nervelessly
with their bare toes some six inches above the floorto know
that the man had been given the estrapade till he had swooned.
His first impulse was to dash forward and sever the rope at one
blow. He felt for his knife. He had no knife--not even a knife.
He stood quiveringand the doctorperched on the edge of the
tablefacing thoughtfully the cruel and lamentable sighthis
chin in his handutteredwithout stirring-


Tortured--and shot dead through the breast--getting cold.

This information calmed the Capataz. One of the candles
flickering in the socket went out. "Who did this?" he asked.

Sotillo, I tell you. Who else? Tortured--of course. But why
shot?The doctor looked fixedly at Nostromowho shrugged his
shoulders slightly. "And markshot suddenlyon impulse. It is
evident. I wish I had his secret."

Nostromo had advancedand stooped slightly to look. "I seem to
have seen that face somewhere he muttered. Who is he?"

The doctor turned his eyes upon him again. "I may yet come to
envying his fate. What do you think of thatCapatazeh?"

But Nostromo did not even hear these words. Seizing the remaining
lighthe thrust it under the drooping head. The doctor sat
obliviouswith a lost gaze. Then the heavy iron candlestickas
if struck out of Nostromo's handclattered on the floor.

Hullo!exclaimed the doctorlooking up with a start. He could


hear the Capataz stagger against the table and gasp. In the
sudden extinction of the light withinthe dead blackness sealing
the window-frames became alive with stars to his sight.

Of course, of course,the doctor muttered to himself in
English. "Enough to make him jump out of his skin."

Nostromo's heart seemed to force itself into his throat. His
head swam. Hirsch! The man was Hirsch! He held on tight to the
edge of the table.

But he was hiding in the lighter,he almost shouted His voice
fell. "In the lighterand--and--"

And Sotillo brought him in,said the doctor. "He is no more
startling to you than you were to me. What I want to know is how
he induced some compassionate soul to shoot him."

So Sotillo knows--began Nostromoin a more equable voice.

Everything!interrupted the doctor.

The Capataz was heard striking the table with his fist.
Everything? What are you saying, there? Everything? Know
everything? It is impossible! Everything?

Of course. What do you mean by impossible? I tell you I have
heard this Hirsch questioned last night, here, in this very room.
He knew your name, Decoud's name, and all about the loading of
the silver. . . . The lighter was cut in two. He was grovelling
in abject terror before Sotillo, but he remembered that much.
What do you want more? He knew least about himself. They found
him clinging to their anchor. He must have caught at it just as
the lighter went to the bottom.

Went to the bottom?repeated Nostromoslowly. "Sotillo
believes that? Bueno!"

The doctora little impatientlywas unable to imagine what else
could anybody believe. YesSotillo believed that the lighter was
sunkand the Capataz de Cargadorestogether with Martin Decoud
and perhaps one or two other political fugitiveshad been
drowned.

I told you well, senor doctor,remarked Nostromo at that point
that Sotillo did not know everything.

Eh? What do you mean?

He did not know I was not dead.

Neither did we.

And you did not care--none of you caballeros on the wharf--once
you got off a man of flesh and blood like yourselves on a fool's
business that could not end well.

You forget, Capataz, I was not on the wharf. And I did not think
well of the business. So you need not taunt me. I tell you what,
man, we had but little leisure to think of the dead. Death stands
near behind us all. You were gone.

I went, indeed!broke in Nostromo. "And for the sake of
what--tell me?"


Ah! that is your own affair,the doctor saidroughly. "Do not
ask me."

Their flowing murmurs paused in the dark. Perched on the edge of
the table with slightly averted facesthey felt their shoulders
touchand their eyes remained directed towards an upright shape
nearly lost in the obscurity of the inner part of the roomthat
with projecting head and shouldersin ghastly immobilityseemed
intent on catching every word.

Muy bien!Nostromo muttered at last. "So be it. Teresa was
right. It is my own affair."

Teresa is dead,remarked the doctorabsentlywhile his mind
followed a new line of thought suggested by what might have been
called Nostromo's return to life. "She diedthe poor woman."

Without a priest?the Capataz askedanxiously.

What a question! Who could have got a priest for her last
night?

May God keep her soul!ejaculated Nostromowith a gloomy and
hopeless fervour which had no time to surprise Dr. Monygham
beforereverting to their previous conversationhe continued in
a sinister toneSi, senor doctor. As you were saying, it is my
own affair. A very desperate affair.

There are no two men in this part of the world that could have
saved themselves by swimming as you have done,the doctor said
admiringly.

And again there was silence between those two men. They were
both reflectingand the diversity of their natures made their
thoughts born from their meeting swing afar from each other. The
doctorimpelled to risky action by his loyalty to the Goulds
wondered with thankfulness at the chain of accident which had
brought that man back where he would be of the greatest use in
the work of saving the San Tome mine. The doctor was loyal to the
mine. It presented itself to his fifty-years' old eyes in the
shape of a little woman in a soft dress with a long trainwith a
head attractively overweighted by a great mass of fair hair and
the delicate preciousness of her inner worthpartaking of a gem
and a flowerrevealed in every attitude of her person. As the
dangers thickened round the San Tome mine this illusion acquired
forcepermanencyand authority. It claimed him at last! This
claimexalted by a spiritual detachment from the usual sanctions
of hope and rewardmade Dr. Monygham's thinkingacting
individuality extremely dangerous to himself and to othersall
his scruples vanishing in the proud feeling that his devotion was
the only thing that stood between an admirable woman and a
frightful disaster.

It was a sort of intoxication which made him utterly indifferent
to Decoud's fatebut left his wits perfectly clear for the
appreciation of Decoud's political idea. It was a good idea--and
Barrios was the only instrument of its realization. The doctor's
soulwithered and shrunk by the shame of a moral disgrace
became implacable in the expansion of its tenderness. Nostromo's
return was providential. He did not think of him humanelyas of
a fellow-creature just escaped from the jaws of death. The
Capataz for him was the only possible messenger to Cayta. The
very man. The doctor's misanthropic mistrust of mankind (the


bitterer because based on personal failure) did not lift him
sufficiently above common weaknesses. He was under the spell of
an established reputation. Trumpeted by Captain Mitchellgrown
in repetitionand fixed in general assentNostromo's
faithfulness had never been questioned by Dr. Monygham as a fact.
It was not likely to be questioned now he stood in desperate need
of it himself. Dr. Monygham was human; he accepted the popular
conception of the Capataz's incorruptibility simply because no
word or fact had ever contradicted a mere affirmation. It seemed
to be a part of the manlike his whiskers or his teeth. It was
impossible to conceive him otherwise. The question was whether he
would consent to go on such a dangerous and desperate errand. The
doctor was observant enough to have become aware from the first
of something peculiar in the man's temper. He was no doubt sore
about the loss of the silver.

It will be necessary to take him into my fullest confidence,he
said to himselfwith a certain acuteness of insight into the
nature he had to deal with.

On Nostromo's side the silence had been full of black
irresolutionangerand mistrust. He was the first to break it
however.

The swimming was no great matter,he said. "It is what went
before--and what comes after that--"

He did not quite finish what he meant to saybreaking off short
as though his thought had butted against a solid obstacle. The
doctor's mind pursued its own schemes with Machiavellian
subtlety. He said as sympathetically as he was able-


It is unfortunate, Capataz. But no one would think of blaming
you. Very unfortunate. To begin with, the treasure ought never to
have left the mountain. But it was Decoud who--however, he is
dead. There is no need to talk of him.

No,assented Nostromoas the doctor pausedthere is no need
to talk of dead men. But I am not dead yet.

You are all right. Only a man of your intrepidity could have
saved himself.

In this Dr. Monygham was sincere. He esteemed highly the
intrepidity of that manwhom he valued but littlebeing
disillusioned as to mankind in generalbecause of the particular
instance in which his own manhood had failed. Having had to
encounter singlehanded during his period of eclipse many physical
dangershe was well aware of the most dangerous element common
to them all: of the crushingparalyzing sense of human
littlenesswhich is what really defeats a man struggling with
natural forcesalonefar from the eyes of his fellows. He was
eminently fit to appreciate the mental image he made for himself
of the Capatazafter hours of tension and anxietyprecipitated
suddenly into an abyss of waters and darknesswithout earth or
skyand confronting it not only with an undismayed mindbut
with sensible success. Of coursethe man was an incomparable
swimmerthat was knownbut the doctor judged that this instance
testified to a still greater intrepidity of spirit. It was
pleasing to him; he augured well from it for the success of the
arduous mission with which he meant to entrust the Capataz so
marvellously restored to usefulness. And in a tone vaguely
gratifiedhe observed-



It must have been terribly dark!

It was the worst darkness of the Golfo,the Capataz assented
briefly. He was mollified by what seemed a sign of some faint
interest in such things as had befallen himand dropped a few
descriptive phrases with an affected and curt nonchalance. At
that moment he felt communicative. He expected the continuance of
that interest whichwhether accepted or rejectedwould have
restored to him his personality--the only thing lost in that
desperate affair. But the doctorengrossed by a desperate
adventure of his ownwas terrible in the pursuit of his idea. He
let an exclamation of regret escape him.

I could almost wish you had shouted and shown a light.

This unexpected utterance astounded the Capataz by its character
of cold-blooded atrocity. It was as much as to sayI wish you
had shown yourself a coward; I wish you had had your throat cut
for your pains.Naturally he referred it to himselfwhereas it
related only to the silverbeing uttered simply and with many
mental reservations. Surprise and rage rendered him speechless
and the doctor pursuedpractically unheard by Nostromowhose
stirred blood was beating violently in his ears.

For I am convinced Sotillo in possession of the silver would
have turned short round and made for some small port abroad.
Economically it would have been wasteful, but still less wasteful
than having it sunk. It was the next best thing to having it at
hand in some safe place, and using part of it to buy up Sotillo.
But I doubt whether Don Carlos would have ever made up his mind
to it. He is not fit for Costaguana, and that is a fact,
Capataz.

The Capataz had mastered the fury that was like a tempest in his
ears in time to hear the name of Don Carlos. He seemed to have
come out of it a changed man--a man who spoke thoughtfully in a
soft and even voice.

And would Don Carlos have been content if I had surrendered this
treasure?

I should not wonder if they were all of that way of thinking
now,the doctor saidgrimly. "I was never consulted. Decoud had
it his own way. Their eyes are opened by this timeI should
think. I for one know that if that silver turned up this moment
miraculously ashore I would give it to Sotillo. Andas things
standI would be approved."

Turned up miraculously,repeated the Capataz very low; then
raised his voice. "Thatsenorwould be a greater miracle than
any saint could perform."

I believe you, Capataz,said the doctordrily.

He went on to develop his view of Sotillo's dangerous influence
upon the situation. And the Capatazlistening as if in a dream
felt himself of as little account as the indistinctmotionless
shape of the dead man whom he saw upright under the beamwith
his air of listening alsodisregardedforgottenlike a
terrible example of neglect.

Was it for an unconsidered and foolish whim that they came to
me, then?he interrupted suddenly. "Had I not done enough for
them to be of some accountpor Dios? Is it that the hombres


finos--the gentlemen--need not think as long as there is a man
of the people ready to risk his body and soul? Orperhapswe
have no souls--like dogs?"

There was Decoud, too, with his plan,the doctor reminded him
again.

Si! And the rich man in San Francisco who had something to do
with that treasure, too--what do I know? No! I have heard too
many things. It seems to me that everything is permitted to the
rich.

I understand, Capataz,the doctor began.

What Capataz?broke in Nostromoin a forcible but even voice.
The Capataz is undone, destroyed. There is no Capataz. Oh, no!
You will find the Capataz no more.

Come, this is childish!remonstrated the doctor; and the other
calmed down suddenly.

I have been indeed like a little child,he muttered.

And as his eyes met again the shape of the murdered man suspended
in his awful immobilitywhich seemed the uncomplaining
immobility of attentionhe askedwondering gently-


Why did Sotillo give the estrapade to this pitiful wretch? Do
you know? No torture could have been worse than his fear. Killing
I can understand. His anguish was intolerable to behold. But why
should he torment him like this? He could tell no more.

No; he could tell nothing more. Any sane man would have seen
that. He had told him everything. But I tell you what it is,
Capataz. Sotillo would not believe what he was told. Not
everything.

What is it he would not believe? I cannot understand.

I can, because I have seen the man. He refuses to believe that
the treasure is lost.

What?the Capataz cried out in a discomposed tone.

That startles you--eh?

Am I to understand, senor,Nostromo went on in a deliberate
andas it werewatchful tonethat Sotillo thinks the treasure
has been saved by some means?

No! no! That would be impossible,said the doctorwith
conviction; and Nostromo emitted a grunt in the dark. "That would
be impossible. He thinks that the silver was no longer in the
lighter when she was sunk. He has convinced himself that the
whole show of getting it away to sea is a mere sham got up to
deceive Gamacho and his NationalsPedrito MonteroSenor
Fuentesour new Gefe Politicoand himselftoo. Onlyhe says
he is no such fool."

But he is devoid of sense. He is the greatest imbecile that ever
called himself a colonel in this country of evil,growled
Nostromo.

He is no more unreasonable than many sensible men,said the


doctor. "He has convinced himself that the treasure can be found
because he desires passionately to possess himself of it. And he
is also afraid of his officers turning upon him and going over to
Pedritowhom he has not the courage either to fight or trust. Do
you see thatCapataz? He need fear no desertion as long as some
hope remains of that enormous plunder turning up. I have made it
my business to keep this very hope up."

You have?the Capataz de Cargadores repeated cautiously. "Well
that is wonderful. And how long do you think you are going to
keep it up?"

As long as I can.

What does that mean?

I can tell you exactly. As long as I live,the doctor retorted
in a stubborn voice. Thenin a few wordshe described the story
of his arrest and the circumstances of his release. "I was going
back to that silly scoundrel when we met he concluded.

Nostromo had listened with profound attention. You have made up
your mindthento a speedy death he muttered through his
clenched teeth.

Perhapsmy illustrious Capataz the doctor said, testily. You
are not the only one here who can look an ugly death in the
face."

No doubt,mumbled Nostromoloud enough to be overheard. "There
may be even more than two fools in this place. Who knows?"

And that is my affair,said the doctorcurtly.

As taking out the accursed silver to sea was my affair,
retorted Nostromo. "I see. Bueno! Each of us has his reasons. But
you were the last man I conversed with before I startedand you
talked to me as if I were a fool."

Nostromo had a great distaste for the doctor's sardonic treatment
of his great reputation. Decoud's faintly ironic recognition used
to make him uneasy; but the familiarity of a man like Don Martin
was flatteringwhereas the doctor was a nobody. He could
remember him a penniless outcastslinking about the streets of
Sulacowithout a single friend or acquaintancetill Don Carlos
Gould took him into the service of the mine.

You may be very wise,he went onthoughtfullystaring into
the obscurity of the roompervaded by the gruesome enigma of the
tortured and murdered Hirsch. "But I am not such a fool as when
I started. I have learned one thing sinceand that is that you
are a dangerous man."

Dr. Monygham was too startled to do more than exclaim-


What is it you say?

If he could speak he would say the same thing,pursued
Nostromowith a nod of his shadowy head silhouetted against the
starlit window.

I do not understand you,said Dr. Monyghamfaintly.

No? Perhaps, if you had not confirmed Sotillo in his madness, he


would have been in no haste to give the estrapade to that
miserable Hirsch.

The doctor started at the suggestion. But his devotionabsorbing
all his sensibilitieshad left his heart steeled against remorse
and pity. Stillfor complete reliefhe felt the necessity of
repelling it loudly and contemptuously.

Bah! You dare to tell me that, with a man like Sotillo. I
confess I did not give a thought to Hirsch. If I had it would
have been useless. Anybody can see that the luckless wretch was
doomed from the moment he caught hold of the anchor. He was
doomed, I tell you! Just as I myself am doomed--most probably.

This is what Dr. Monygham said in answer to Nostromo's remark
which was plausible enough to prick his conscience. He was not a
callous man. But the necessitythe magnitudethe importance of
the task he had taken upon himself dwarfed all merely humane
considerations. He had undertaken it in a fanatical spirit. He
did not like it. To lieto deceiveto circumvent even the
basest of mankind was odious to him. It was odious to him by
traininginstinctand tradition. To do these things in the
character of a traitor was abhorrent to his nature and terrible
to his feelings. He had made that sacrifice in a spirit of
abasement. He had said to himself bitterlyI am the only one
fit for that dirty work.And he believed this. He was not
subtle. His simplicity was such thatthough he had no sort of
heroic idea of seeking deaththe riskdeadly enoughto which
he exposed himselfhad a sustaining and comforting effect. To
that spiritual state the fate of Hirsch presented itself as part
of the general atrocity of things. He considered that episode
practically. What did it mean? Was it a sign of some dangerous
change in Sotillo's delusion? That the man should have been
killed like this was what the doctor could not understand.

Yes. But why shot?he murmured to himself.

Nostromo kept very still.

CHAPTER NINE

DISTRACTED between doubts and hopesdismayed by the sound of
bells pealing out the arrival of Pedrito MonteroSotillo had
spent the morning in battling with his thoughts; a contest to
which he was unequalfrom the vacuity of his mind and the
violence of his passions. Disappointmentgreedangerand fear
made a tumultin the colonel's breast louder than the din of
bells in the town. Nothing he had planned had come to pass.
Neither Sulaco nor the silver of the mine had fallen into his
hands. He had performed no military exploit to secure his
positionand had obtained no enormous booty to make off with.
Pedrito Monteroeither as friend or foefilled him with dread.
The sound of bells maddened him.

Imagining at first that he might be attacked at oncehe had made
his battalion stand to arms on the shore. He walked to and fro
all the length of the roomstopping sometimes to gnaw the
finger-tips of his right hand with a lurid sideways glare fixed
on the floor; thenwith a sullenrepelling glance all roundhe
would resume his tramping in savage aloofness. His hat
horsewhipswordand revolver were lying on the table. His
officerscrowding the window giving the view of the town gate


disputed amongst themselves the use of his field-glass bought
last year on long credit from Anzani. It passed from hand to
handand the possessor for the time being was besieged by
anxious inquiries.

There is nothing; there is nothing to see!he would repeat
impatiently.

There was nothing. And when the picket in the bushes near the
Casa Viola had been ordered to fall back upon the main bodyno
stir of life appeared on the stretch of dusty and arid land
between the town and the waters of the port. But late in the
afternoon a horseman issuing from the gate was made out riding up
fearlessly. It was an emissary from Senor Fuentes. Being all
alone he was allowed to come on. Dismounting at the great door he
greeted the silent bystanders with cheery impudenceand begged
to be taken up at once to the "muy valliente" colonel.

Senor Fuenteson entering upon his functions of Gefe Politico
had turned his diplomatic abilities to getting hold of the
harbour as well as of the mine. The man he pitched upon to
negotiate with Sotillo was a Notary Publicwhom the revolution
had found languishing in the common jail on a charge of forging
documents. Liberated by the mob along with the other "victims of
Blanco tyranny he had hastened to offer his services to the new
Government.

He set out determined to display much zeal and eloquence in
trying to induce Sotillo to come into town alone for a conference
with Pedrito Montero. Nothing was further from the colonel's
intentions. The mere fleeting idea of trusting himself into the
famous Pedrito's hands had made him feel unwell several times.
It was out of the question--it was madness. And to put himself in
open hostility was madness, too. It would render impossible a
systematic search for that treasure, for that wealth of silver
which he seemed to feel somewhere about, to scent somewhere near.

But where? Where? Heavens! Where? Oh! why had he allowed that
doctor to go! Imbecile that he was. But no! It was the only
right course, he reflected distractedly, while the messenger
waited downstairs chatting agreeably to the officers. It was in
that scoundrelly doctor's true interest to return with positive
information. But what if anything stopped him? A general
prohibition to leave the town, for instance! There would be
patrols!

The colonel, seizing his head in his hands, turned in his tracks
as if struck with vertigo. A flash of craven inspiration
suggested to him an expedient not unknown to European statesmen
when they wish to delay a difficult negotiation. Booted and
spurred, he scrambled into the hammock with undignified haste.
His handsome face had turned yellow with the strain of weighty
cares. The ridge of his shapely nose had grown sharp; the
audacious nostrils appeared mean and pinched. The velvety,
caressing glance of his fine eyes seemed dead, and even
decomposed; for these almond-shaped, languishing orbs had become
inappropriately bloodshot with much sinister sleeplessness. He
addressed the surprised envoy of Senor Fuentes in a deadened,
exhausted voice. It came pathetically feeble from under a pile of
ponchos, which buried his elegant person right up to the black
moustaches, uncurled, pendant, in sign of bodily prostration and
mental incapacity. Fever, fever--a heavy fever had overtaken the
muy valliente" colonel. A wavering wildness of expression
caused by the passing spasms of a slight colic which had declared


itself suddenlyand the rattling teeth of repressed panichad a
genuineness which impressed the envoy. It was a cold fit. The
colonel explained that he was unable to thinkto listento
speak. With an appearance of superhuman effort the colonel gasped
out that he was not in a state to return a suitable reply or to
execute any of his Excellency's orders. But to-morrow!
To-morrow! Ah! to-morrow! Let his Excellency Don Pedro be without
uneasiness. The brave Esmeralda Regiment held the harbour
held--And closing his eyeshe rolled his aching head like a
half-delirious invalid under the inquisitive stare of the envoy
who was obliged to bend down over the hammock in order to catch
the painful and broken accents. MeantimeColonel Sotillo trusted
that his Excellency's humanity would permit the doctorthe
English doctorto come out of town with his case of foreign
remedies to attend upon him. He begged anxiously his worship the
caballero now present for the grace of looking in as he passed
the Casa Gouldand informing the English doctorwho was
probably therethat his services were immediately required by
Colonel Sotillolying ill of fever in the Custom House.
Immediately. Most urgently required. Awaited with extreme
impatience. A thousand thanks. He closed his eyes wearily and
would not open them againlying perfectly stilldeafdumb
insensibleovercomevanquishedcrushedannihilated by the
fell disease.

But as soon as the other had shut after him the door of the
landingthe colonel leaped out with a fling of both feet in an
avalanche of woollen coverings. His spurs having become entangled
in a perfect welter of ponchos he nearly pitched on his headand
did not recover his balance till the middle of the room.
Concealed behind the half-closed jalousies he listened to what
went on below.

The envoy had already mountedand turning to the morose officers
occupying the great doorwaytook off his hat formally.

Caballeros,he saidin a very loud toneallow me to
recommend you to take great care of your colonel. It has done me
much honour and gratification to have seen you all, a fine body
of men exercising the soldierly virtue of patience in this
exposed situation, where there is much sun, and no water to speak
of, while a town full of wine and feminine charms is ready to
embrace you for the brave men you are. Caballeros, I have the
honour to salute you. There will be much dancing to-night in
Sulaco. Good-bye!

But he reined in his horse and inclined his head sideways on
seeing the old major step outvery tall and meagrein a
straight narrow coat coming down to his ankles as it were the
casing of the regimental colours rolled round their staff.

The intelligent old warriorafter enunciating in a dogmatic tone
the general proposition that the "world was full of traitors
went on pronouncing deliberately a panegyric upon Sotillo. He
ascribed to him with leisurely emphasis every virtue under
heaven, summing it all up in an absurd colloquialism current
amongst the lower class of Occidentals (especially about
Esmeralda). And he concluded, with a sudden rise in the
voice, a man of many teeth--'hombre de muchos dientes.' Si
senor. As to us he pursued, portentous and impressive, your
worship is beholding the finest body of officers in the Republic
men unequalled for valour and sagacity'y hombres de muchos
dientes.'"


What? All of them?inquired the disreputable envoy of Senor
Fuenteswith a faintderisive smile.

Todos. Si, senor,the major affirmedgravelywith conviction.
Men of many teeth.

The other wheeled his horse to face the portal resembling the
high gate of a dismal barn. He raised himself in his stirrups
extended one arm. He was a facetious scoundrelentertaining for
these stupid Occidentals a feeling of great scorn natural in a
native from the central provinces. The folly of Esmeraldians
especially aroused his amused contempt. He began an oration upon
Pedro Monterokeeping a solemn countenance. He flourished his
hand as if introducing him to their notice. And when he saw every
face setall the eyes fixed upon his lipshe began to shout a
sort of catalogue of perfections: "Generousvalorousaffable
profound"--(he snatched off his hat enthusiastically)--"a
statesmanan invincible chief of partisans--" He dropped his
voice startlingly to a deephollow note--"and a dentist."

He was off instantly at a smart walk; the rigid straddle of his
legsthe turned-out feetthe stiff backthe rakish slant of
the sombrero above the squaremotionless set of the shoulders
expressing an infiniteawe-inspiring impudence.

Upstairsbehind the jalousiesSotillo did not move for a long
time. The audacity of the fellow appalled him. What were his
officers saying below? They were saying nothing. Complete
silence. He quaked. It was not thus that he had imagined himself
at that stage of the expedition. He had seen himself triumphant
unquestionedappeasedthe idol of the soldiersweighing in
secret complacency the agreeable alternatives of power and wealth
open to his choice. Alas! How different! Distractedrestless
supineburning with furyor frozen with terrorhe felt a dread
as fathomless as the sea creep upon him from every side. That
rogue of a doctor had to come out with his information. That was
clear. It would be of no use to him--alone. He could do nothing
with it. Malediction! The doctor would never come out. He was
probably under arrest alreadyshut up together with Don Carlos.
He laughed aloud insanely. Ha! ha! ha! ha! It was Pedrito Montero
who would get the information. Ha! ha! ha! ha!--and the silver.
Ha!

All at oncein the midst of the laughhe became motionless and
silent as if turned into stone. He toohad a prisoner. A
prisoner who mustmust know the real truth. He would have to be
made to speak. And Sotillowho all that time had not quite
forgotten Hirschfelt an inexplicable reluctance at the notion
of proceeding to extremities.

He felt a reluctance--part of that unfathomable dread that crept
on all sides upon him. He remembered reluctantlytoothe
dilated eyes of the hide merchanthis contortionshis loud sobs
and protestations. It was not compassion or even mere nervous
sensibility. The fact was that though Sotillo did never for a
moment believe his story--he could not believe it; nobody could
believe such nonsense--yet those accents of despairing truth
impressed him disagreeably. They made him feel sick. And he
suspected also that the man might have gone mad with fear. A
lunatic is a hopeless subject. Bah! A pretence. Nothing but a
pretence. He would know how to deal with that.

He was working himself up to the right pitch of ferocity. His
fine eyes squinted slightly; he clapped his hands; a bare-footed


orderly appeared noiselesslya corporalwith his bayonet
hanging on his thigh and a stick in his hand.

The colonel gave his ordersand presently the miserable Hirsch
pushed in by several soldiersfound him frowning awfully in a
broad armchairhat on headknees wide apartarms akimbo
masterfulimposingirresistiblehaughtysublimeterrible.

Hirschwith his arms tied behind his backhad been bundled
violently into one of the smaller rooms. For many hours he
remained apparently forgottenstretched lifelessly on the floor.
From that solitudefull of despair and terrorhe was torn out
brutallywith kicks and blowspassivesunk in hebetude. He
listened to threats and admonitionsand afterwards made his
usual answers to questionswith his chin sunk on his breasthis
hands tied behind his backswaying a little in front of Sotillo
and never looking up. When he was forced to hold up his headby
means of a bayonet-point prodding him under the chinhis eyes
had a vacanttrance-like stareand drops of perspiration as big
as peas were seen hailing down the dirtbruisesand scratches
of his white face. Then they stopped suddenly.

Sotillo looked at him in silence. "Will you depart from your
obstinacyyou rogue?" he asked. Already a ropewhose one end
was fastened to Senor Hirsch's wristshad been thrown over a
beamand three soldiers held the other endwaiting. He made no
answer. His heavy lower lip hung stupidly. Sotillo made a sign.
Hirsch was jerked up off his feetand a yell of despair and
agony burst out in the roomfilled the passage of the great
buildingsrent the air outsidecaused every soldier of the camp
along the shore to look up at the windowsstarted some of the
officers in the hall babbling excitedlywith shining eyes;
otherssetting their lipslooked gloomily at the floor.

Sotillofollowed by the soldiershad left the room. The sentry
on the landing presented arms. Hirsch went on screaming all alone
behind the half-closed jalousies while the sunshinereflected
from the water of the harbourmade an ever-running ripple of
light high up on the wall. He screamed with uplifted eyebrows and
a wide-open mouth--incredibly wideblackenormousfull of
teeth--comical.

In the still burning air of the windless afternoon he made the
waves of his agony travel as far as the O. S. N. Company's
offices. Captain Mitchell on the balconytrying to make out what
went on generallyhad heard him faintly but distinctlyand the
feeble and appalling sound lingered in his ears after he had
retreated indoors with blanched cheeks. He had been driven off
the balcony several times during that afternoon.

Sotilloirritablemoodywalked restlessly aboutheld
consultations with his officersgave contradictory orders in
this shrill clamour pervading the whole empty edifice. Sometimes
there would be long and awful silences. Several times he had
entered the torture-chamber where his swordhorsewhiprevolver
and field-glass were lying on the tableto ask with forced
calmnessWill you speak the truth now? No? I can wait.But he
could not afford to wait much longer. That was just it. Every
time he went in and came out with a slam of the doorthe sentry
on the landing presented armsand got in return a black
venomousunsteady glancewhichin realitysaw nothing at all
being merely the reflection of the soul within--a soul of gloomy
hatredirresolutionavariceand fury.


The sun had set when he went in once more. A soldier carried in
two lighted candles and slunk outshutting the door without
noise.

Speak, thou Jewish child of the devil! The silver! The silver,
I say! Where is it? Where have you foreign rogues hidden it?
Confess or--

A slight quiver passed up the taut rope from the racked limbs
but the body of Senor Hirschenterprising business man from
Esmeraldahung under the heavy beam perpendicular and silent
facing the colonel awfully. The inflow of the night aircooled
by the snows of the Sierraspread gradually a delicious
freshness through the close heat of the room.

Speak--thief--scoundrel--picaro--or--

Sotillo had seized the riding-whipand stood with his arm lifted
up. For a wordfor one little wordhe felt he would have knelt
cringedgrovelled on the floor before the drowsyconscious
stare of those fixed eyeballs starting out of the grimy
dishevelled head that drooped very still with its mouth closed
askew. The colonel ground his teeth with rage and struck. The
rope vibrated leisurely to the blowlike the long string of a
pendulum starting from a rest. But no swinging motion was
imparted to the body of Senor Hirschthe well-known hide
merchant on the coast. With a convulsive effort of the twisted
arms it leaped up a few inchescurling upon itself like a fish
on the end of a line. Senor Hirsch's head was flung back on his
straining throat; his chin trembled. For a moment the rattle of
his chattering teeth pervaded the vastshadowy roomwhere the
candles made a patch of light round the two flames burning side
by side. And as Sotillostaying his raised handwaited for him
to speakwith the sudden flash of a grin and a straining forward
of the wrenched shouldershe spat violently into his face.

The uplifted whip felland the colonel sprang back with a low
cry of dismayas if aspersed by a jet of deadly venom. Quick as
thought he snatched up his revolverand fired twice. The report
and the concussion of the shots seemed to throw him at once from
ungovernable rage into idiotic stupor. He stood with drooping jaw
and stony eyes. What had he doneSangre de Dios! What had he
done? He was basely appalled at his impulsive actsealing for
ever these lips from which so much was to be extorted. What could
he say? How could he explain? Ideas of headlong flight somewhere
anywherepassed through his mind; even the craven and absurd
notion of hiding under the table occurred to his cowardice. It
was too late; his officers had rushed in tumultuouslyin a great
clatter of scabbardsclamouringwith astonishment and wonder.
But since they did not immediately proceed to plunge their swords
into his breastthe brazen side of his character asserted
itself. Passing the sleeve of his uniform over his face he pulled
himself togetherHis truculent glance turned slowly here and
therechecked the noise where it fell; and the stiff body of the
late Senor Hirschmerchantafter swaying imperceptiblymade a
half turnand came to a rest in the midst of awed murmurs and
uneasy shuffling.

A voice remarked loudlyBehold a man who will never speak
again.And anotherfrom the back row of facestimid and
pressingcried out-


Why did you kill him, mi colonel?


Because he has confessed everything,answered Sotillowith the
hardihood of desperation. He felt himself cornered. He brazened
it out on the strength of his reputation with very fair success.
His hearers thought him very capable of such an act. They were
disposed to believe his flattering tale. There is no credulity so
eager and blind as the credulity of covetousnesswhichin its
universal extentmeasures the moral misery and the intellectual
destitution of mankind. Ah! he had confessed everythingthis
fractious Jewthis bribon. Good! Then he was no longer wanted. A
sudden dense guffaw was heard from the senior captain--a
big-headed manwith little round eyes and monstrously fat cheeks
which never moved. The old majortall and fantastically ragged
like a scarecrowwalked round the body of the late Senor Hirsch
muttering to himself with ineffable complacency that like this
there was no need to guard against any future treacheries of that
scoundrel. The others staredshifting from foot to footand
whispering short remarks to each other.

Sotillo buckled on his sword and gave curtperemptory orders to
hasten the retirement decided upon in the afternoon. Sinister
impressivehis sombrero pulled right down upon his eyebrowshe
marched first through the door in such disorder of mind that he
forgot utterly to provide for Dr. Monygham's possible return. As
the officers trooped out after himone or two looked back
hastily at the late Senor Hirschmerchant from Esmeraldaleft
swinging rigidly at restalone with the two burning candles. In
the emptiness of the room the burly shadow of head and shoulders
on the wall had an air of life.

Belowthe troops fell in silently and moved off by companies
without drum or trumpet. The old scarecrow major commanded the
rearguard; but the party he left behind with orders to fire the
Custom House (and "burn the carcass of the treacherous Jew where
it hung") failed somehow in their haste to set the staircase
properly alight. The body of the late Senor Hirsch dwelt alone
for a time in the dismal solitude of the unfinished building
resounding weirdly with sudden slams and clicks of doors and
latcheswith rustling scurries of torn papersand the tremulous
sighs that at each gust of wind passed under the high roof. The
light of the two candles burning before the perpendicular and
breathless immobility of the late Senor Hirsch threw a gleam afar
over land and waterlike a signal in the night. He remained to
startle Nostromo by his presenceand to puzzle Dr. Monygham by
the mystery of his atrocious end.

But why shot?the doctor again asked himselfaudibly. This
time he was answered by a dry laugh from Nostromo.

You seem much concerned at a very natural thing, senor doctor. I
wonder why? It is very likely that before long we shall all get
shot one after another, if not by Sotillo, then by Pedrito, or
Fuentes, or Gamacho. And we may even get the estrapade, too, or
worse--quien sabe?--with your pretty tale of the silver you put
into Sotillo's head.

It was in his head already,the doctor protested. "I only--"

Yes. And you only nailed it there so that the devil himself--

That is precisely what I meant to do,caught up the doctor.

That is what you meant to do. Bueno. It is as I say. You are a
dangerous man.


Their voiceswhich without rising had been growing quarrelsome
ceased suddenly. The late Senor Hirscherect and shadowy against
the starsseemed to be waiting attentivein impartial silence.

But Dr. Monygham had no mind to quarrel with Nostromo. At this
supremely critical point of Sulaco's fortunes it was borne upon
him at last that this man was really indispensablemore
indispensable than ever the infatuation of Captain Mitchellhis
proud discoverercould conceive; far beyond what Decoud's best
dry raillery about "my illustrious friendthe unique Capataz de
Cargadores had ever intended. The fellow was unique. He was not
one in a thousand." He was absolutely the only one. The doctor
surrendered. There was something in the genius of that Genoese
seaman which dominated the destinies of great enterprises and of
many peoplethe fortunes of Charles Gouldthe fate of an
admirable woman. At this last thought the doctor had to clear his
throat before he could speak.

In a completely changed tone he pointed out to the Capataz that
to begin withhe personally ran no great risk. As far as
everybody knew he was dead. It was an enormous advantage. He had
only to keep out of sight in the Casa Violawhere the old
Garibaldino was known to be alone--with his dead wife. The
servants had all run away. No one would think of searching for
him thereor anywhere else on earthfor that matter.

That would be very true,Nostromo spoke upbitterlyif I had
not met you.

For a time the doctor kept silent. "Do you mean to say that you
think I may give you away?" he asked in an unsteady voice. "Why?
Why should I do that?"

What do I know? Why not? To gain a day perhaps. It would take
Sotillo a day to give me the estrapade, and try some other things
perhaps, before he puts a bullet through my heart--as he did to
that poor wretch here. Why not?

The doctor swallowed with difficulty. His throat had gone dry in
a moment. It was not from indignation. The doctorpathetically
enoughbelieved that he had forfeited the right to be indignant
with any one--for anything. It was simple dread. Had the fellow
heard his story by some chance? If sothere was an end of his
usefulness in that direction. The indispensable man escaped his
influencebecause of that indelible blot which made him fit for
dirty work. A feeling as of sickness came upon the doctor. He
would have given anything to knowbut he dared not clear up the
point. The fanaticism of his devotionfed on the sense of his
abasementhardened his heart in sadness and scorn.

Why not, indeed?he reechoedsardonically. "Then the safe
thing for you is to kill me on the spot. I would defend myself.
But you may just as well know I am going about unarmed."

Por Dios!said the Capatazpassionately. "You fine people are
all alike. All dangerous. All betrayers of the poor who are your
dogs."

You do not understand,began the doctorslowly.

I understand you all!cried the other with a violent movement
as shadowy to the doctor's eyes as the persistent immobility of
the late Senor Hirsch. "A poor man amongst you has got to look
after himself. I say that you do not care for those that serve


you. Look at me! After all these yearssuddenlyhere I find
myself like one of these curs that bark outside the walls
--without a kennel or a dry bone for my teeth. (Caramba!" But he
relented with a contemptuous fairness. "Of course he went on,
quietly, I do not suppose that you would hasten to give me up to
Sotillofor example. It is not that. It is that I am nothing!
Suddenly--" He swung his arm downwards. "Nothing to any one he
repeated.

The doctor breathed freely. ListenCapataz he said,
stretching out his arm almost affectionately towards Nostromo's
shoulder. I am going to tell you a very simple thing. You are
safe because you are needed. I would not give you away for any
conceivable reasonbecause I want you."

In the dark Nostromo bit his lip. He had heard enough of that. He
knew what that meant. No more of that for him. But he had to look
after himself nowhe thought. And he thoughttoothat it would
not be prudent to part in anger from his companion. The doctor
admitted to be a great healerhadamongst the populace of
Sulacothe reputation of being an evil sort of man. It was based
solidly on his personal appearancewhich was strangeand on his
rough ironic manner--proofs visiblesensibleand
incontrovertible of the doctor's malevolent disposition. And
Nostromo was of the people. So he only grunted incredulously.

You, to speak plainly, are the only man,the doctor pursued.
It is in your power to save this town and . . . everybody from
the destructive rapacity of men who--

No, senor,said Nostromosullenly. "It is not in my power to
get the treasure back for you to give up to Sotilloor Pedrito
or Gamacho. What do I know?"

Nobody expects the impossible,was the answer.

You have said it yourself--nobody,muttered Nostromoin a
gloomythreatening tone.

But Dr. Monyghamfull of hopedisregarded the enigmatic words
and the threatening tone. To their eyesaccustomed to obscurity
the late Senor Hirschgrowing more distinctseemed to have come
nearer. And the doctor lowered his voice in exposing his scheme
as though afraid of being overheard.

He was taking the indispensable man into his fullest confidence.
Its implied flattery and suggestion of great risks came with a
familiar sound to the Capataz. His mindfloating in irresolution
and discontentrecognized it with bitterness. He understood well
that the doctor was anxious to save the San Tome mine from
annihilation. He would be nothing without it. It was his
interest. Just as it had been the interest of Senor Decoudof
the Blancosand of the Europeans to get his Cargadores on their
side. His thought became arrested upon Decoud. What would happen
to him?

Nostromo's prolonged silence made the doctor uneasy. He pointed
outquite unnecessarilythat though for the present he was
safehe could not live concealed for ever. The choice was
between accepting the mission to Barrioswith all its dangers
and difficultiesand leaving Sulaco by stealthingloriouslyin
poverty.

None of your friends could reward you and protect you just now,


Capataz. Not even Don Carlos himself.

I would have none of your protection and none of your rewards. I
only wish I could trust your courage and your sense. When I
return in triumph, as you say, with Barrios, I may find you all
destroyed. You have the knife at your throat now.

It was the doctor's turn to remain silent in the contemplation of
horrible contingencies.

Well, we would trust your courage and your sense. And you, too,
have a knife at your throat.

Ah! And whom am I to thank for that? What are your politics and
your mines to me--your silver and your constitutions--your Don
Carlos this, and Don Jose that--

I don't know,burst out the exasperated doctor. "There are
innocent people in danger whose little finger is worth more than
you or I and all the Ribierists together. I don't know. You
should have asked yourself before you allowed Decoud to lead you
into all this. It was your place to think like a man; but if you
did not think thentry to act like a man now. Did you imagine
Decoud cared very much for what would happen to you?"

No more than you care for what will happen to me,muttered the
other.

No; I care for what will happen to you as little as I care for
what will happen to myself.

And all this because you are such a devoted Ribierist?Nostromo
said in an incredulous tone.

All this because I am such a devoted Ribierist,repeated Dr.
Monyghamgrimly.

Again Nostromogazing abstractedly at the body of the late Senor
Hirschremained silentthinking that the doctor was a dangerous
person in more than one sense. It was impossible to trust him.

Do you speak in the name of Don Carlos?he asked at last.

Yes. I do,the doctor saidloudlywithout hesitation. "He
must come forward now. He must he added in a mutter, which
Nostromo did not catch.

What did you saysenor?"

The doctor started. "I say that you must be true to yourself
Capataz. It would be worse than folly to fail now."

True to myself,repeated Nostromo. "How do you know that I
would not be true to myself if I told you to go to the devil with
your propositions?"

I do not know. Maybe you would,the doctor saidwith a
roughness of tone intended to hide the sinking of his heart and
the faltering of his voice. "All I know isthat you had better
get away from here. Some of Sotillo's men may turn up here
looking for me."

He slipped off the tablelistening intently. The Capataztoo
stood up.


Suppose I went to Cayta, what would you do meantime?he asked.

I would go to Sotillo directly you had left--in the way I am
thinking of.

A very good way--if only that engineer-in-chief consents. Remind
him, senor, that I looked after the old rich Englishman who pays
for the railway, and that I saved the lives of some of his people
that time when a gang of thieves came from the south to wreck one
of his pay-trains. It was I who discovered it all at the risk of
my life, by pretending to enter into their plans. Just as you are
doing with Sotillo.

Yes. Yes, of course. But I can offer him better arguments,the
doctor saidhastily. " Leave it to me."

Ah, yes! True. I am nothing.

Not at all. You are everything.

They moved a few paces towards the door. Behind them the late
Senor Hirsch preserved the immobility of a disregarded man.

That will be all right. I know what to say to the engineer,
pursued the doctorin a low tone. "My difficulty will be with
Sotillo."

And Dr. Monygham stopped short in the doorway as if intimidated
by the difficulty. He had made the sacrifice of his life. He
considered this a fitting opportunity. But he did not want to
throw his life away too soon. In his quality of betrayer of Don
Carlos' confidencehe would have ultimately to indicate the
hiding-place of the treasure. That would be the end of his
deceptionand the end of himself as wellat the hands of the
infuriated colonel. He wanted to delay him to the very last
moment; and he had been racking his brains to invent some place
of concealment at once plausible and difficult of access.

He imparted his trouble to Nostromoand concluded-


Do you know what, Capataz? I think that when the time comes and
some information must be given, I shall indicate the Great
Isabel. That is the best place I can think of. What is the
matter?

A low exclamation had escaped Nostromo. The doctor waited
surprisedand after a moment of profound silenceheard a thick
voice stammer outUtter folly,and stop with a gasp.

Why folly?

Ah! You do not see it,began Nostromoscathinglygathering
scorn as he went on. "Three men in half an hour would see that no
ground had been disturbed anywhere on that island. Do you think
that such a treasure can be buried without leaving traces of the
work--eh! senor doctor? Why! you would not gain half a day more
before having your throat cut by Sotillo. The Isabel! What
stupidity! What miserable invention! Ah! you are all alikeyou
fine men of intelligence. All you are fit for is to betray men of
the people into undertaking deadly risks for objects that you are
not even sure about. If it comes off you get the benefit. If not
then it does not matter. He is only a dog. Ah! Madre de DiosI
would--" He shook his fists above his head.


The doctor was overwhelmed at first by this fiercehissing
vehemence.

Well! It seems to me on your own showing that the men of the
people are no mean fools, too,he saidsullenly. "Nobut
come. You are so clever. Have you a better place?"

Nostromo had calmed down as quickly as he had flared up.

I am clever enough for that,he saidquietlyalmost with
indifference. "You want to tell him of a hiding-place big enough
to take days in ransacking--a place where a treasure of silver
ingots can be buried without leaving a sign on the surface."

And close at hand,the doctor put in.

Just so, senor. Tell him it is sunk.

This has the merit of being the truth,the doctor said
contemptuously. "He will not believe it."

You tell him that it is sunk where he may hope to lay his hands
on it, and he will believe you quick enough. Tell him it has
been sunk in the harbour in order to be recovered afterwards by
divers. Tell him you found out that I had orders from Don Carlos
Gould to lower the cases quietly overboard somewhere in a line
between the end of the jetty and the entrance. The depth is not
too great there. He has no divers, but he has a ship, boats,
ropes, chains, sailors--of a sort. Let him fish for the silver.
Let him set his fools to drag backwards and forwards and
crossways while he sits and watches till his eyes drop out of his
head.

Really, this is an admirable idea,muttered the doctor.

Si. You tell him that, and see whether he will not believe you!
He will spend days in rage and torment--and still he will
believe. He will have no thought for anything else. He will not
give up till he is driven off--why, he may even forget to kill
you. He will neither eat nor sleep. He--

The very thing! The very thing!the doctor repeated in an
excited whisper. "CapatazI begin to believe that you are a
great genius in your way."

Nostromo had paused; then began again in a changed tonesombre
speaking to himself as though he had forgotten the doctor's
existence.

There is something in a treasure that fastens upon a man's mind.
He will pray and blaspheme and still persevere, and will curse
the day he ever heard of it, and will let his last hour come upon
him unawares, still believing that he missed it only by a foot.
He will see it every time he closes his eyes. He will never
forget it till he is dead--and even then----Doctor, did you ever
hear of the miserable gringos on Azuera, that cannot die? Ha! ha!
Sailors like myself. There is no getting away from a treasure
that once fastens upon your mind.

You are a devil of a man, Capataz. It is the most plausible
thing.

Nostromo pressed his arm.


It will be worse for him than thirst at sea or hunger in a town
full of people. Do you know what that is? He shall suffer
greater torments than he inflicted upon that terrified wretch who
had no invention. None! none! Not like me. I could have told
Sotillo a deadly tale for very little pain.

He laughed wildly and turned in the doorway towards the body of
the late Senor Hirschan opaque long blotch in the
semi-transparent obscurity of the room between the two tall
parallelograms of the windows full of stars.

You man of fear!he cried. "You shall be avenged by
me--Nostromo. Out of my waydoctor! Stand aside--orby the
suffering soul of a woman dead without confessionI will
strangle you with my two hands."

He bounded downwards into the blacksmoky hall. With a grunt of
astonishmentDr. Monygham threw himself recklessly into the
pursuit. At the bottom of the charred stairs he had a fall
pitching forward on his face with a force that would have stunned
a spirit less intent upon a task of love and devotion. He was up
in a momentjarredshakenwith a queer impression of the
terrestrial globe having been flung at his head in the dark. But
it wanted more than that to stop Dr. Monygham's bodypossessed
by the exaltation of self-sacrifice; a reasonable exaltation
determined not to lose whatever advantage chance put into its
way. He ran with headlongtottering swiftnesshis arms going
like a windmill in his effort to keep his balance on his crippled
feet. He lost his hat; the tails of his open gaberdine flew
behind him. He had no mind to lose sight of the indispensable
man. But it was a long timeand a long way from the Custom
Housebefore he managed to seize his arm from behindroughly
out of breath.

Stop! Are you mad?

Already Nostromo was walking slowlyhis head droppingas if
checked in his pace by the weariness of irresolution.

What is that to you? Ah! I forgot you want me for something.
Always. Siempre Nostromo.

What do you mean by talking of strangling me?panted the
doctor.

What do I mean? I mean that the king of the devils himself has
sent you out of this town of cowards and talkers to meet me
to-night of all the nights of my life.

Under the starry sky the Albergo d'ltalia Una emergedblack and
lowbreaking the dark level of the plain. Nostromo stopped
altogether.

The priests say he is a tempter, do they not?he addedthrough
his clenched teeth.

My good man, you drivel. The devil has nothing to do with this.
Neither has the town, which you may call by what name you please.
But Don Carlos Gould is neither a coward nor an empty talker. You
will admit that?He waited. "Well?"

Could I see Don Carlos?


Great heavens! No! Why? What for?exclaimed the doctor in
agitation. "I tell you it is madness. I will not let you go into
the town for anything."

I must.

You must not!hissed the doctorfiercelyalmost beside
himself with the fear of the man doing away with his usefulness
for an imbecile whim of some sort. "I tell you you shall not. I
would rather----"

He stopped at loss for wordsfeeling fagged outpowerless
holding on to Nostromo's sleeveabsolutely for support after his
run.

I am betrayed!muttered the Capataz to himself; and the doctor
who overheard the last wordmade an effort to speak calmly.

That is exactly what would happen to you. You would be
betrayed.

He thought with a sickening dread that the man was so well known
that he could not escape recognition. The house of the Senor
Administrador was beset by spiesno doubt. And even the very
servants of the casa were not to be trusted. "ReflectCapataz
he said, impressively. . . . What are you laughing at?"

I am laughing to think that if somebody that did not approve of
my presence in town, for instance--you understand, senor
doctor--if somebody were to give me up to Pedrito, it would not
be beyond my power to make friends even with him. It is true.
What do you think of that?

You are a man of infinite resource, Capataz,said Dr. Monygham
dismally. "I recognize that. But the town is full of talk about
you; and those few Cargadores that are not in hiding with the
railway people have been shouting 'Viva Montero' on the Plaza all
day."

My poor Cargadores!muttered Nostromo. "Betrayed! Betrayed!"

I understand that on the wharf you were pretty free in laying
about you with a stick amongst your poor Cargadores,the doctor
said in a grim tonewhich showed that he was recovering from his
exertions. "Make no mistake. Pedrito is furious at Senor
Ribiera's rescueand at having lost the pleasure of shooting
Decoud. Already there are rumours in the town of the treasure
having been spirited away. To have missed that does not please
Pedrito either; but let me tell you that if you had all that
silver in your hand for ransom it would not save you."

Turning swiftlyand catching the doctor by the shoulders
Nostromo thrust his face close to his.

Maladetta! You follow me speaking of the treasure. You have
sworn my ruin. You were the last man who looked upon me before I
went out with it. And Sidoni the engine-driver says you have an
evil eye.

He ought to know. I saved his broken leg for him last year,the
doctor saidstoically. He felt on his shoulders the weight of
these hands famed amongst the populace for snapping thick ropes
and bending horseshoes. "And to you I offer the best means of
saving yourself--let me go--and of retrieving your great


reputation. You boasted of making the Capataz de Cargadores
famous from one end of America to the other about this wretched
silver. But I bring you a better opportunity--let me gohombre!"

Nostromo released him abruptlyand the doctor feared that the
indispensable man would run off again. But he did not. He walked
on slowly. The doctor hobbled by his side tillwithin a stone's
throw from the Casa ViolaNostromo stopped again.

Silent in inhospitable darknessthe Casa Viola seemed to have
changed its nature; his home appeared to repel him with an air of
hopeless and inimical mystery. The doctor said-


You will be safe there. Go in, Capataz.

How can I go in?Nostromo seemed to ask himself in a low
inward tone. "She cannot unsay what she saidand I cannot undo
what I have done."

I tell you it is all right. Viola is all alone in there. I
looked in as I came out of the town. You will be perfectly safe
in that house till you leave it to make your name famous on the
Campo. I am going now to arrange for your departure with the
engineer-in-chief, and I shall bring you news here long before
daybreak.

Dr. Monyghamdisregardingor perhaps fearing to penetrate the
meaning of Nostromo's silenceclapped him lightly on the
shoulderand starting off with his smartlame walkvanished
utterly at the third or fourth hop in the direction of the
railway track. Arrested between the two wooden posts for people
to fasten their horses toNostromo did not moveas if hetoo
had been planted solidly in the ground. At the end of half an
hour he lifted his head to the deep baying of the dogs at the
railway yardswhich had burst out suddenlytumultuous and
deadened as if coming from under the plain. That lame doctor with
the evil eye had got there pretty fast.

Step by step Nostromo approached the Albergo d'Italia Unawhich
he had never known so lightlessso silentbefore. The doorall
black in the pale wallstood open as he had left it twenty-four
hours beforewhen he had nothing to hide from the world. He
remained before itirresolutelike a fugitivelike a man
betrayed. Povertymiserystarvation! Where had he heard these
words? The anger of a dying woman had prophesied that fate for
his folly. It looked as if it would come true very quickly. And
the leperos would laugh--she had said. Yesthey would laugh if
they knew that the Capataz de Cargadores was at the mercy of the
mad doctor whom they could rememberonly a few years agobuying
cooked food from a stall on the Plaza for a copper coin--like one
of themselves.

At that moment the notion of seeking Captain Mitchell passed
through his mind. He glanced in the direction of the jetty and
saw a small gleam of light in the O.S.N. Company's building. The
thought of lighted windows was not attractive. Two lighted
windows had decoyed him into the empty Custom Houseonly to fall
into the clutches of that doctor. No! He would not go near
lighted windows again on that night. Captain Mitchell was there.
And what could he be told? That doctor would worm it all out of
him as if he were a child.

On the threshold he called out "Giorgio!" in an undertone. Nobody
answered. He stepped in. "Ola! viejo! Are you there? . . ." In


the impenetrable darkness his head swam with the illusion that
the obscurity of the kitchen was as vast as the Placid Gulfand
that the floor dipped forward like a sinking lighter. "Ola!
viejo!" he repeatedfalteringlyswaying where he stood. His
handextended to steady himselffell upon the table. Moving a
step forwardhe shifted itand felt a box of matches under his
fingers. He fancied he had heard a quiet sigh. He listened for a
momentholding his breath; thenwith trembling handstried to
strike a light.

The tiny piece of wood flamed up quite blindingly at the end of
his fingersraised above his blinking eyes. A concentrated
glare fell upon the leonine white head of old Giorgio against the
black fire-place--showed him leaning forward in a chair in
staring immobilitysurroundedoverhungby great masses of
shadowhis legs crossedhis cheek in his handan empty pipe in
the corner of his mouth. It seemed hours before he attempted to
turn his face; at the very moment the match went outand he
disappearedoverwhelmed by the shadowsas if the walls and roof
of the desolate house had collapsed upon his white head in
ghostly silence.

Nostromo heard him stir and utter dispassionately the words-


It may have been a vision.

No,he saidsoftly. "It is no visionold man."

A strong chest voice asked in the dark-


Is that you I hear, Giovann' Battista?

Si, viejo. Steady. Not so loud.

After his release by SotilloGiorgio Violaattended to the very
door by the good-natured engineer-in-chiefhad reentered his
housewhich he had been made to leave almost at the very moment
of his wife's death. All was still. The lamp above was burning.
He nearly called out to her by name; and the thought that no call
from him would ever again evoke the answer of her voicemade him
drop heavily into the chair with a loud groanwrung out by the
pain as of a keen blade piercing his breast.

The rest of the night he made no sound. The darkness turned to
greyand on the colourlessclearglassy dawn the jagged sierra
stood out flat and opaqueas if cut out of paper.

The enthusiastic and severe soul of Giorgio Violasailor
champion of oppressed humanityenemy of kingsandby the grace
of Mrs. Gouldhotel-keeper of the Sulaco harbourhad descended
into the open abyss of desolation amongst the shattered vestiges
of his past. He remembered his wooing between two campaignsa
single short week in the season of gathering olives. Nothing
approached the grave passion of that time but the deep
passionate sense of his bereavement. He discovered all the extent
of his dependence upon the silenced voice of that woman. It was
her voice that he missed. Abstractedbusylost in inward
contemplationhe seldom looked at his wife in those later years.
The thought of his girls was a matter of concernnot of
consolation. It was her voice that he would miss. And he
remembered the other child--the little boy who died at sea. Ah! a
man would have been something to lean upon. Andalas! even Gian'
Battista--he of whomand of Lindahis wife had spoken to him so
anxiously before she dropped off into her last sleep on earthhe


on whom she had called aloud to save the childrenjust before
she died--even he was dead!

And the old manbent forwardhis head in his handsat through
the day in immobility and solitude. He never heard the brazen
roar of the bells in town. When it ceased the earthenware filter
in the corner of the kitchen kept on its swift musical dripdrip
into the great porous jar below.

Towards sunset he got upand with slow movements disappeared up
the narrow staircase. His bulk filled it; and the rubbing of his
shoulders made a small noise as of a mouse running behind the
plaster of a wall. While he remained up there the house was as
dumb as a grave. Thenwith the same faint rubbing noisehe
descended. He had to catch at the chairs and tables to regain
his seat. He seized his pipe off the high mantel of the
fire-place--but made no attempt to reach the tobacco--thrust it
empty into the corner of his mouthand sat down again in the
same staring pose. The sun of Pedrito's entry into Sulacothe
last sun of Senor Hirsch's lifethe first of Decoud's solitude
on the Great Isabelpassed over the Albergo d'ltalia Una on its
way to the west. The tinkling dripdrip of the filter had
ceasedthe lamp upstairs had burnt itself outand the night
beset Giorgio Viola and his dead wife with its obscurity and
silence that seemed invincible till the Capataz de Cargadores
returning from the deadput them to flight with the splutter and
flare of a match.

Si, viejo. It is me. Wait.

Nostromoafter barricading the door and closing the shutters
carefullygroped upon a shelf for a candleand lit it.

Old Viola had risen. He followed with his eyes in the dark the
sounds made by Nostromo. The light disclosed him standing without
supportas if the mere presence of that man who was loyal
braveincorruptiblewho was all his son would have beenwere
enough for the support of his decaying strength.

He extended his hand grasping the briar-wood pipewhose bowl was
charred on the edgeand knitted his bushy eyebrows heavily at
the light.

You have returned,he saidwith shaky dignity. "Ah! Very
well! I----"

He broke off. Nostromoleaning back against the tablehis arms
folded on his breastnodded at him slightly.

You thought I was drowned! No! The best dog of the rich, of the
aristocrats, of these fine men who can only talk and betray the
people, is not dead yet.

The Garibaldinomotionlessseemed to drink in the sound of the
well-known voice. His head moved slightly once as if in sign of
approval; but Nostromo saw clearly that the old man understood
nothing of the words. There was no one to understand; no one he
could take into the confidence of Decoud's fateof his owninto
the secret of the silver. That doctor was an enemy of the
people--a tempter. . . .

Old Giorgio's heavy frame shook from head to foot with the effort
to overcome his emotion at the sight of that manwho had shared
the intimacies of his domestic life as though he had been a


grown-up son.

She believed yon would return,he saidsolemnly.

Nostromo raised his head.

She was a wise woman. How could I fail to come back----?

He finished the thought mentally: "Since she has prophesied for
me an end of povertymiseryand starvation." These words of
Teresa's angerfrom the circumstances in which they had been
utteredlike the cry of a soul prevented from making its peace
with Godstirred the obscure superstition of personal fortune
from which even the greatest genius amongst men of adventure and
action is seldom free. They reigned over Nostromo's mind with the
force of a potent malediction. And what a curse it was that which
her words had laid upon him! He had been orphaned so young that
he could remember no other woman whom he called mother.
Henceforth there would be no enterprise in which he would not
fail. The spell was working already. Death itself would elude him
now. . . . He said violently-


Come, viejo! Get me something to eat. I am hungry! Sangre de
Dios! The emptiness of my belly makes me lightheaded.

With his chin dropped again upon his bare breast above his folded
armsbarefootedwatching from under a gloomy brow the movements
of old Viola foraging amongst the cupboardshe seemed as if
indeed fallen under a curse--a ruined and sinister Capataz.

Old Viola walked out of a dark cornerandwithout a word
emptied upon the table out of his hollowed palms a few dry crusts
of bread and half a raw onion.

While the Capataz began to devour this beggar's faretaking up
with stony-eyed voracity piece after piece lying by his sidethe
Garibaldino went offand squatting down in another corner filled
an earthenware mug with red wine out of a wicker-covered
demijohn. With a familiar gestureas when serving customers in
the cafehe had thrust his pipe between his teeth to have his
hands free.

The Capataz drank greedily. A slight flush deepened the bronze of
his cheek. Before himViolawith a turn of his white and
massive head towards the staircasetook his empty pipe out of
his mouthand pronounced slowly-


After the shot was fired down here, which killed her as surely
as if the bullet had struck her oppressed heart, she called upon
you to save the children. Upon you, Gian' Battista.

The Capataz looked up.

Did she do that, Padrone? To save the children! They are with
the English senora, their rich benefactress. Hey! old man of the
people. Thy benefactress. . . .

I am old,muttered Giorgio Viola. "An Englishwoman was allowed
to give a bed to Garibaldi lying wounded in prison. The greatest
man that ever lived. A man of the peopletoo--a sailor. I may
let another keep a roof over my head. Si . . . I am old. I may
let her. Life lasts too long sometimes."

And she herself may not have a roof over her head before many


days are out, unless I . . . What do you say? Am I to keep a roof
over her head? Am I to try--and save all the Blancos together
with her?

You shall do it,said old Viola in a strong voice. "You shall
do it as my son would have. . . ."

Thy son, viejo! .. .. There never has been a man like thy son.
Ha, I must try. . . . But what if it were only a part of the
curse to lure me on? . . . And so she called upon me to
save--and then----?

She spoke no more.The heroic follower of Garibaldiat the
thought of the eternal stillness and silence fallen upon the
shrouded form stretched out on the bed upstairsaverted his face
and raised his hand to his furrowed brow. "She was dead before I
could seize her hands he stammered out, pitifully.

Before the wide eyes of the Capataz, staring at the doorway of
the dark staircase, floated the shape of the Great Isabel, like a
strange ship in distress, freighted with enormous wealth and the
solitary life of a man. It was impossible for him to do
anything. He could only hold his tongue, since there was no one
to trust. The treasure would be lost, probably--unless Decoud.
. . . And his thought came abruptly to an end. He perceived that
he could not imagine in the least what Decoud was likely to do.

Old Viola had not stirred. And the motionless Capataz dropped his
long, soft eyelashes, which gave to the upper part of his fierce,
black-whiskered face a touch of feminine ingenuousness. The
silence had lasted for a long time.

God rest her soul!" he murmuredgloomily.

CHAPTER TEN

THE next day was quiet in the morningexcept for the faint sound
of firing to the northwardin the direction of Los Hatos.
Captain Mitchell had listened to it from his balcony anxiously.
The phraseIn my delicate position as the only consular agent
then in the port, everything, sir, everything was a just cause
for anxiety,had its place in the more or less stereotyped
relation of the "historical events" which for the next few years
was at the service of distinguished strangers visiting Sulaco.
The mention of the dignity and neutrality of the flagso
difficult to preserve in his positionright in the thick of
these events between the lawlessness of that piratical villain
Sotillo and the more regularly established but scarcely less
atrocious tyranny of his Excellency Don Pedro Montero,came next
in order. Captain Mitchell was not the man to enlarge upon mere
dangers much. But he insisted that it was a memorable day. On
that daytowards duskhe had seen "that poor fellow of
mine--Nostromo. The sailor whom I discoveredandI may say
madesir. The man of the famous ride to Caytasir. An
historical eventsir!"

Regarded by the O. S. N. Company as an old and faithful servant
Captain Mitchell was allowed to attain the term of his usefulness
in ease and dignity at the head of the enormously extended
service. The augmentation of the establishmentwith its crowds
of clerksan office in townthe old office in the harbourthe
division into departments--passengercargolighterageand so


on--secured a greater leisure for his last years in the
regenerated Sulacothe capital of the Occidental Republic.
Liked by the natives for his good nature and the formality of his
mannerself-important and simpleknown for years as a "friend
of our country he felt himself a personality of mark in the
town. Getting up early for a turn in the market-place while the
gigantic shadow of Higuerota was still lying upon the fruit and
flower stalls piled up with masses of gorgeous colouring,
attending easily to current affairs, welcomed in houses, greeted
by ladies on the Alameda, with his entry into all the clubs and a
footing in the Casa Gould, he led his privileged old bachelor,
man-about-town existence with great comfort and solemnity. But on
mail-boat days he was down at the Harbour Office at an early
hour, with his own gig, manned by a smart crew in white and blue,
ready to dash off and board the ship directly she showed her bows
between the harbour heads.

It would be into the Harbour Office that he would lead some
privileged passenger he had brought off in his own boat, and
invite him to take a seat for a moment while he signed a few
papers. And Captain Mitchell, seating himself at his desk, would
keep on talking hospitably-


There isn't much time if you are to see everything in a day. We
shall be off in a moment. We'll have lunch at the Amarilla
Club--though I belong also to the Anglo-American--mining
engineers and business mendon't you know--and to the
Mirliflores as wella new club--EnglishFrenchItaliansall
sorts--lively young fellows mostlywho wanted to pay a
compliment to an old residentsir. But we'll lunch at the
Amarilla. Interest youI fancy. Real thing of the country. Men
of the first families. The President of the Occidental Republic
himself belongs to itsir. Fine old bishop with a broken nose in
the patio. Remarkable piece of statuaryI believe. Cavaliere
Parrochetti--you know Parrochettithe famous Italian
sculptor--was working here for two years--thought very highly of
our old bishop. . . . There! I am very much at your service now."

Proud of his experiencepenetrated by the sense of historical
importance of meneventsand buildingshe talked pompously in
jerky periodswith slight sweeps of his shortthick arm
letting nothing "escape the attention" of his privileged captive.

Lot of building going on, as you observe. Before the Separation
it was a plain of burnt grass smothered in clouds of dust, with
an ox-cart track to our Jetty. Nothing more. This is the Harbour
Gate. Picturesque, is it not? Formerly the town stopped short
there. We enter now the Calle de la Constitucion. Observe the
old Spanish houses. Great dignity. Eh? I suppose it's just as it
was in the time of the Viceroys, except for the pavement. Wood
blocks now. Sulaco National Bank there, with the sentry boxes
each side of the gate. Casa Avellanos this side, with all the
ground-floor windows shuttered. A wonderful woman lives
there--Miss Avellanos--the beautiful Antonia. A character, sir!
A historical woman! Opposite--Casa Gould. Noble gateway. Yes,
the Goulds of the original Gould Concession, that all the world
knows of now. I hold seventeen of the thousand-dollar shares in
the Consolidated San Tome mines. All the poor savings of my
lifetime, sir, and it will be enough to keep me in comfort to the
end of my days at home when I retire. I got in on the
ground-floor, you see. Don Carlos, great friend of mine.
Seventeen shares--quite a little fortune to leave behind one,
too. I have a niece--married a parson--most worthy man, incumbent
of a small parish in Sussex; no end of children. I was never


married myself. A sailor should exercise self-denial. Standing
under that very gateway, sir, with some young engineer-fellows,
ready to defend that house where we had received so much kindness
and hospitality, I saw the first and last charge of Pedrito's
horsemen upon Barrios's troops, who had just taken the Harbour
Gate. They could not stand the new rifles brought out by that
poor Decoud. It was a murderous fire. In a moment the street
became blocked with a mass of dead men and horses. They never
came on again.

And all day Captain Mitchell would talk like this to his more or
less willing victim-


The Plaza. I call it magnificent. Twice the area of Trafalgar
Square.

From the very centrein the blazing sunshinehe pointed out the
buildings-


The Intendencia, now President's Palace--Cabildo, where the
Lower Chamber of Parliament sits. You notice the new houses on
that side of the Plaza? Compania Anzani, a great general store,
like those cooperative things at home. Old Anzani was murdered by
the National Guards in front of his safe. It was even for that
specific crime that the deputy Gamacho, commanding the Nationals,
a bloodthirsty and savage brute, was executed publicly by
garrotte upon the sentence of a court-martial ordered by Barrios.
Anzani's nephews converted the business into a company. All that
side of the Plaza had been burnt; used to be colonnaded before. A
terrible fire, by the light of which I saw the last of the
fighting, the llaneros flying, the Nationals throwing their arms
down, and the miners of San Tome, all Indians from the Sierra,
rolling by like a torrent to the sound of pipes and cymbals,
green flags flying, a wild mass of men in white ponchos and green
hats, on foot, on mules, on donkeys. Such a sight, sir, will
never be seen again. The miners, sir, had marched upon the town,
Don Pepe leading on his black horse, and their very wives in the
rear on burros, screaming encouragement, sir, and beating
tambourines. I remember one of these women had a green parrot
seated on her shoulder, as calm as a bird of stone. They had just
saved their Senor Administrador; for Barrios, though he ordered
the assault at once, at night, too, would have been too late.
Pedrito Montero had Don Carlos led out to be shot--like his uncle
many years ago--and then, as Barrios said afterwards, 'Sulaco
would not have been worth fighting for.' Sulaco without the
Concession was nothing; and there were tons and tons of dynamite
distributed all over the mountain with detonators arranged, and
an old priest, Father Roman, standing by to annihilate the San
Tome mine at the first news of failure. Don Carlos had made up
his mind not to leave it behind, and he had the right men to see
to it, too.

Thus Captain Mitchell would talk in the middle of the Plaza
holding over his head a white umbrella with a green lining; but
inside the cathedralin the dim lightwith a faint scent of
incense floating in the cool atmosphereand here and there a
kneeling female figureblack or all whitewith a veiled head
his lowered voice became solemn and impressive.

Here,he would saypointing to a niche in the wall of the
dusky aisleyou see the bust of Don Jose Avellanos, 'Patriot
and Statesman,' as the inscription says, 'Minister to Courts of
England and Spain, etc., etc., died in the woods of Los Hatos
worn out with his lifelong struggle for Right and Justice at the


dawn of the New Era.' A fair likeness. Parrochetti's work from
some old photographs and a pencil sketch by Mrs. Gould. I was
well acquainted with that distinguished Spanish-American of the
old school, a true Hidalgo, beloved by everybody who knew him.
The marble medallion in the wall, in the antique style,
representing a veiled woman seated with her hands clasped loosely
over her knees, commemorates that unfortunate young gentleman who
sailed out with Nostromo on that fatal night, sir. See, 'To the
memory of Martin Decoud, his betrothed Antonia Avellanos.' Frank,
simple, noble. There you have that lady, sir, as she is. An
exceptional woman. Those who thought she would give way to
despair were mistaken, sir. She has been blamed in many quarters
for not having taken the veil. It was expected of her. But Dona
Antonia is not the stuff they make nuns of. Bishop Corbelan, her
uncle, lives with her in the Corbelan town house. He is a fierce
sort of priest, everlastingly worrying the Government about the
old Church lands and convents. I believe they think a lot of him
in Rome. Now let us go to the Amarilla Club, just across the
Plaza, to get some lunch.

Directly outside the cathedral on the very top of the noble
flight of stepshis voice rose pompouslyhis arm found again
its sweeping gesture.

Porvenir, over there on that first floor, above those French
plate-glass shop-fronts; our biggest daily. Conservative, or,
rather, I should say, Parliamentary. We have the Parliamentary
party here of which the actual Chief of the State, Don Juste
Lopez, is the head; a very sagacious man, I think. A first-rate
intellect, sir. The Democratic party in opposition rests mostly,
I am sorry to say, on these socialistic Italians, sir, with their
secret societies, camorras, and such-like. There are lots of
Italians settled here on the railway lands, dismissed navvies,
mechanics, and so on, all along the trunk line. There are whole
villages of Italians on the Campo. And the natives, too, are
being drawn into these ways . . . American bar? Yes. And over
there you can see another. New Yorkers mostly frequent that
one----Here we are at the Amarilla. Observe the bishop at the
foot of the stairs to the right as we go in.

And the lunch would begin and terminate its lavish and leisurely
course at a little table in the galleryCaptain Mitchell
noddingbowinggetting up to speak for a moment to different
officials in black clothesmerchants in jacketsofficers in
uniformmiddle-aged caballeros from the Campo--sallowlittle
nervous menand fatplacidswarthy menand Europeans or North
Americans of superior standingwhose faces looked very white
amongst the majority of dark complexions and blackglistening
eyes.

Captain Mitchell would lie back in the chaircasting around
looks of satisfactionand tender over the table a case full of
thick cigars.

Try a weed with your coffee. Local tobacco. The black coffee you
get at the Amarilla, sir, you don't meet anywhere in the world.
We get the bean from a famous cafeteria in the foot-hills, whose
owner sends three sacks every year as a present to his fellow
members in remembrance of the fight against Gamacho's Nationals,
carried on from these very windows by the caballeros. He was in
town at the time, and took part, sir, to the bitter end. It
arrives on three mules--not in the common way, by rail; no
fear!--right into the patio, escorted by mounted peons, in charge
of the Mayoral of his estate, who walks upstairs, booted and


spurred, and delivers it to our committee formally with the
words, 'For the sake of those fallen on the third of May.' We
call it Tres de Mayo coffee. Taste it.

Captain Mitchellwith an expression as though making ready to
hear a sermon in a churchwould lift the tiny cup to his lips.
And the nectar would be sipped to the bottom during a restful
silence in a cloud of cigar smoke.

Look at this man in black just going out,he would begin
leaning forward hastily. "This is the famous HernandezMinister
of War. The Times' special correspondentwho wrote that striking
series of letters calling the Occidental Republic the 'Treasure
House of the World' gave a whole article to him and the force he
has organized--the renowned Carabineers of the Campo."

Captain Mitchell's gueststaring curiouslywould see a figure
in a long-tailed black coat walking gravelywith downcast
eyelids in a longcomposed facea brow furrowed horizontallya
pointed headwhose grey hairthin at the topcombed down
carefully on all sides and rolled at the endsfell low on the
neck and shoulders. Thisthenwas the famous bandit of whom
Europe had heard with interest. He put on a high-crowned sombrero
with a wide flat brim; a rosary of wooden beads was twisted about
his right wrist. And Captain Mitchell would proceed-


The protector of the Sulaco refugees from the rage of Pedrito.
As general of cavalry with Barrios he distinguished himself at
the storming of Tonoro, where Senor Fuentes was killed with the
last remnant of the Monterists. He is the friend and humble
servant of Bishop Corbelan. Hears three Masses every day. I bet
you he will step into the cathedral to say a prayer or two on his
way home to his siesta.

He took several puffs at his cigar in silence; thenin his most
important mannerpronounced:

The Spanish race, sir, is prolific of remarkable characters in
every rank of life. . . . I propose we go now into the
billiard-room, which is cool, for a quiet chat. There's never
anybody there till after five. I could tell you episodes of the
Separationist revolution that would astonish you. When the great
heat's over, we'll take a turn on the Alameda.

The programme went on relentlesslike a law of Nature. The turn
on the Alameda was taken with slow steps and stately remarks.

All the great world of Sulaco here, sir.Captain Mitchell bowed
right and left with no end of formality; then with animation
Dona Emilia, Mrs. Gould's carriage. Look. Always white mules.
The kindest, most gracious woman the sun ever shone upon. A great
position, sir. A great position. First lady in Sulaco--far before
the President's wife. And worthy of it.He took off his hat;
thenwith a studied change of toneaddednegligentlythat the
man in black by her sidewith a high white collar and a scarred
snarly facewas Dr. MonyghamInspector of State Hospitals
chief medical officer of the Consolidated San Tome mines. "A
familiar of the house. Everlastingly there. No wonder. The Goulds
made him. Very clever man and all thatbut I never liked him.
Nobody does. I can recollect him limping about the streets in a
check shirt and native sandals with a watermelon under his
arm--all he would get to eat for the day. A big-wig nowsirand
as nasty as ever. However . . . There's no doubt he played his
part fairly well at the time. He saved us all from the deadly


incubus of Sotillowhere a more particular man might have
failed----"

His arm went up.

The equestrian statue that used to stand on the pedestal over
there has been removed. It was an anachronism,Captain Mitchell
commentedobscurely. "There is some talk of replacing it by a
marble shaft commemorative of Separationwith angels of peace at
the four cornersand bronze Justice holding an even balanceall
gilton the top. Cavaliere Parrochetti was asked to make a
designwhich you can see framed under glass in the Municipal
Sala. Names are to be engraved all round the base. Well! They
could do no better than begin with the name of Nostromo. He has
done for Separation as much as anybody elseand added Captain
Mitchell, has got less than many others by it--when it comes to
that." He dropped on to a stone seat under a treeand tapped
invitingly at the place by his side. "He carried to Barrios the
letters from Sulaco which decided the General to abandon Cayta
for a timeand come back to our help here by sea. The
transports were still in harbour fortunately. SirI did not even
know that my Capataz de Cargadores was alive. I had no idea. It
was Dr. Monygham who came upon himby chancein the Custom
Houseevacuated an hour or two before by the wretched Sotillo.
I was never told; never given a hintnothing--as if I were
unworthy of confidence. Monygham arranged it all. He went to the
railway yardsand got admission to the engineer-in-chiefwho
for the sake of the Goulds as much as for anything else
consented to let an engine make a dash down the lineone hundred
and eighty mileswith Nostromo aboard. It was the only way to
get him off. In the Construction Camp at the railheadhe
obtained a horsearmssome clothingand started alone on that
marvellous ride--four hundred miles in six daysthrough a
disturbed countryending by the feat of passing through the
Monterist lines outside Cayta. The history of that ridesir
would make a most exciting book. He carried all our lives in his
pocket. Devotioncouragefidelityintelligence were not
enough. Of coursehe was perfectly fearless and incorruptible.
But a man was wanted that would know how to succeed. He was that
mansir. On the fifth of Maybeing practically a prisoner in
the Harbour Office of my CompanyI suddenly heard the whistle of
an engine in the railway yardsa quarter of a mile away. I could
not believe my ears. I made one jump on to the balconyand
beheld a locomotive under a great head of steam run out of the
yard gatesscreeching like madenveloped in a white cloudand
thenjust abreast of old Viola's inncheck almost to a
standstill. I made outsira man--I couldn't tell who--dash
out of the Albergo d'ltalia Unaclimb into the caband then
sirthat engine seemed positively to leap clear of the house
and was gone in the twinkling of an eye. As you blow a candle
outsir! There was a first-rate driver on the foot-platesirI
can tell you. They were fired heavily upon by the National Guards
in Rincon and one other place. Fortunately the line had not been
torn up. In four hours they reached the Construction Camp.
Nostromo had his start. . . . The rest you know. You've got only
to look round you. There are people on this Alameda that ride in
their carriagesor even are alive at all to-daybecause years
ago I engaged a runaway Italian sailor for a foreman of our wharf
simply on the strength of his looks. And that's a fact. You can't
get over itsir. On the seventeenth of Mayjust twelve days
after I saw the man from the Casa Viola get on the engineand
wondered what it meantBarrios's transports were entering this
harbourand the 'Treasure House of the World' as The Times man
calls Sulaco in his bookwas saved intact for civilization--for


a great futuresir. Pedritowith Hernandez on the westand the
San Tome miners pressing on the land gatewas not able to oppose
the landing. He had been sending messages to Sotillo for a week
to join him. Had Sotillo done so there would have been massacres
and proscription that would have left no man or woman of position
alive. But that's where Dr. Monygham comes in. Sotilloblind and
deaf to everythingstuck on board his steamer watching the
dragging for silverwhich he believed to be sunk at the bottom
of the harbour. They say that for the last three days he was out
of his mind raving and foaming with disappointment at getting
nothingflying about the deckand yelling curses at the boats
with the dragsordering them inand then suddenly stamping his
foot and crying out'And yet it is there! I see it! I feel it!'

He was preparing to hang Dr. Monygham (whom he had on board) at
the end of the after-derrick, when the first of Barrios's
transports, one of our own ships at that, steamed right in, and
ranging close alongside opened a small-arm fire without as much
preliminaries as a hail. It was the completest surprise in the
world, sir. They were too astounded at first to bolt below. Men
were falling right and left like ninepins. It's a miracle that
Monygham, standing on the after-hatch with the rope already round
his neck, escaped being riddled through and through like a sieve.
He told me since that he had given himself up for lost, and kept
on yelling with all the strength of his lungs: 'Hoist a white
flag! Hoist a white flag!' Suddenly an old major of the Esmeralda
regiment, standing by, unsheathed his sword with a shriek: 'Die,
perjured traitor!' and ran Sotillo clean through the body, just
before he fell himself shot through the head.

Captain Mitchell stopped for a while.

Begad, sir! I could spin you a yarn for hours. But it's time we
started off to Rincon. It would not do for you to pass through
Sulaco and not see the lights of the San Tome mine, a whole
mountain ablaze like a lighted palace above the dark Campo. It's
a fashionable drive. . . . But let me tell you one little
anecdote, sir; just to show you. A fortnight or more later, when
Barrios, declared Generalissimo, was gone in pursuit of Pedrito
away south, when the Provisional Junta, with Don Juste Lopez at
its head, had promulgated the new Constitution, and our Don
Carlos Gould was packing up his trunks bound on a mission to San
Francisco and Washington (the United States, sir, were the first
great power to recognize the Occidental Republic)--a fortnight
later, I say, when we were beginning to feel that our heads were
safe on our shoulders, if I may express myself so, a prominent
man, a large shipper by our line, came to see me on business,
and, says he, the first thing: 'I say, Captain Mitchell, is that
fellow' (meaning Nostromo) 'still the Capataz of your Cargadores
or not?' 'What's the matter?' says I. 'Because, if he is, then I
don't mind; I send and receive a good lot of cargo by your ships;
but I have observed him several days loafing about the wharf, and
just now he stopped me as cool as you please, with a request for
a cigar. Now, you know, my cigars are rather special, and I can't
get them so easily as all that.' 'I hope you stretched a point,'
I said, very gently. 'Why, yes. But it's a confounded nuisance.
The fellow's everlastingly cadging for smokes.' Sir, I turned my
eyes away, and then asked, 'Weren't you one of the prisoners in
the Cabildo?' 'You know very well I was, and in chains, too,'
says he. 'And under a fine of fifteen thousand dollars?' He
coloured, sir, because it got about that he fainted from fright
when they came to arrest him, and then behaved before Fuentes in
a manner to make the very policianos, who had dragged him there
by the hair of his head, smile at his cringing. 'Yes,' he says,


in a sort of shy way. 'Why?' 'Oh, nothing. You stood to lose a
tidy bit,' says I, 'even if you saved your life. . . . But what
can I do for you?' He never even saw the point. Not he. And
that's how the world wags, sir.

He rose a little stifflyand the drive to Rincon would be taken
with only one philosophical remarkuttered by the merciless
ciceronewith his eyes fixed upon the lights of San Tomethat
seemed suspended in the dark night between earth and heaven.

A great power, this, for good and evil, sir. A great power.

And the dinner of the Mirliflores would be eatenexcellent as to
cookingand leaving upon the traveller's mind an impression that
there were in Sulaco many pleasantable young men with salaries
apparently too large for their discretionand amongst them a
fewmostly Anglo-Saxonskilled in the art ofas the saying is
taking a riseout of his kind host.

With a rapidjingling drive to the harbour in a twowheeled
machine (which Captain Mitchell called a curricle) behind a fleet
and scraggy mule beaten all the time by an obviously Neapolitan
driverthe cycle would be nearly closed before the lighted-up
offices of the O. S. N. Companyremaining open so late because
of the steamer. Nearly--but not quite.

Ten o'clock. Your ship won't be ready to leave till half-past
twelve, if by then. Come in for a brandy-and-soda and one more
cigar.

And in the superintendent's private room the privileged passenger
by the Ceresor Junoor Pallasstunned and as it were
annihilated mentally by a sudden surfeit of sightssounds
namesfactsand complicated information imperfectly
apprehendedwould listen like a tired child to a fairy tale;
would hear a voicefamiliar and surprising in its pompousness
tell himas if from another worldhow there was "in this very
harbour" an international naval demonstrationwhich put an end
to the Costaguana-Sulaco War. How the United States cruiser
Powhattanwas the first to salute the Occidental flag--white
with a wreath of green laurel in the middle encircling a yellow
amarilla flower. Would hear how General Monteroin less than a
month after proclaiming himself Emperor of Costaguanawas shot
dead (during a solemn and public distribution of orders and
crosses) by a young artillery officerthe brother of his then
mistress.

The abominable Pedrito, sir, fled the country,the voice would
say. And it would continue: "A captain of one of our ships told
me lately that he recognized Pedrito the Guerrilleroarrayed in
purple slippers and a velvet smoking-cap with a gold tassel
keeping a disorderly house in one of the southern ports."

Abominable Pedrito! Who the devil was he?would wonder the
distinguished bird of passage hovering on the confines of waking
and sleep with resolutely open eyes and a faint but amiable curl
upon his lipsfrom between which stuck out the eighteenth or
twentieth cigar of that memorable day.

He appeared to me in this very room like a haunting ghost,
sir--Captain Mitchell was talking of his Nostromo with true
warmth of feeling and a touch of wistful pride. "You may imagine
sirwhat an effect it produced on me. He had come round by sea
with Barriosof course. And the first thing he told me after I


became fit to hear him was that he had picked up the lighter's
boat floating in the gulf! He seemed quite overcome by the
circumstance. And a remarkable enough circumstance it waswhen
you remember that it was then sixteen days since the sinking of
the silver. At once I could see he was another man. He stared at
the wallsiras if there had been a spider or something running
about there. The loss of the silver preyed on his mind. The first
thing he asked me about was whether Dona Antonia had heard yet of
Decoud's death. His voice trembled. I had to tell him that Dona
Antoniaas a matter of factwas not back in town yet. Poor
girl! And just as I was making ready to ask him a thousand
questionswith a sudden'Pardon mesenor' he cleared out of
the office altogether. I did not see him again for three days. I
was terribly busyyou know. It seems that he wandered about in
and out of the townand on two nights turned up to sleep in the
baracoons of the railway people. He seemed absolutely
indifferent to what went on. I asked him on the wharf'When are
you going to take hold againNostromo? There will be plenty of
work for the Cargadores presently.'

'Senor,' says he, looking at me in a slow, inquisitive manner,
'would it surprise you to hear that I am too tired to work just
yet? And what work could I do now? How can I look my Cargadores
in the face after losing a lighter?'

I begged him not to think any more about the silverand he
smiled. A smile that went to my heartsir. 'It was no mistake'
I told him. 'It was a fatality. A thing that could not be
helped.' 'Sisi!" he saidand turned away. I thought it best to
leave him alone for a bit to get over it. Sirit took him years
reallyto get over it. I was present at his interview with Don
Carlos. I must say that Gould is rather a cold man. He had to
keep a tight hand on his feelingsdealing with thieves and
rascalsin constant danger of ruin for himself and wife for so
many yearsthat it had become a second nature. They looked at
each other for a long time. Don Carlos asked what he could do for
himin his quietreserved way.

'My name is known from one end of Sulaco to the other,' he said,
as quiet as the other. 'What more can you do for me?' That was
all that passed on that occasion. Later, however, there was a
very fine coasting schooner for sale, and Mrs. Gould and I put
our heads together to get her bought and presented to him. It
was done, but he paid all the price back within the next three
years. Business was booming all along this seaboard, sir.
Moreover, that man always succeeded in everything except in
saving the silver. Poor Dona Antonia, fresh from her terrible
experiences in the woods of Los Hatos, had an interview with him,
too. Wanted to hear about Decoud: what they said, what they did,
what they thought up to the last on that fatal night. Mrs. Gould
told me his manner was perfect for quietness and sympathy. Miss
Avellanos burst into tears only when he told her how Decoud had
happened to say that his plan would be a glorious success. . . .
And there's no doubt, sir, that it is. It is a success.

The cycle was about to close at last. And while the privileged
passengershivering with the pleasant anticipations of his
berthforgot to ask himselfWhat on earth Decoud's plan could
be?Captain Mitchell was sayingSorry we must part so soon.
Your intelligent interest made this a pleasant day to me. I shall
see you now on board. You had a glimpse of the 'Treasure House of
the World.' A very good name that.And the coxswain's voice at
the doorannouncing that the gig was readyclosed the cycle.


Nostromo hadindeedfound the lighter's boatwhich he had left
on the Great Isabel with Decoudfloating empty far out in the
gulf. He was then on the bridge of the first of Barrios's
transportsand within an hour's steaming from Sulaco. Barrios
always delighted with a feat of daring and a good judge of
couragehad taken a great liking to the Capataz. During the
passage round the coast the General kept Nostromo near his
personaddressing him frequently in that abrupt and boisterous
manner which was the sign of his high favour.

Nostromo's eyes were the first to catchbroad on the bowthe
tinyelusive dark speckwhichalone with the forms of the
Three Isabels right aheadappeared on the flatshimmering
emptiness of the gulf. There are times when no fact should be
neglected as insignificant; a small boat so far from the land
might have had some meaning worth finding out. At a nod of
consent from Barrios the transport swept out of her course
passing near enough to ascertain that no one manned the little
cockle-shell. It was merely a common small boat gone adrift with
her oars in her. But Nostromoto whose mind Decoud had been
insistently present for dayshad long before recognized with
excitement the dinghy of the lighter.

There could be no question of stopping to pick up that thing.
Every minute of time was momentous with the lives and futures of
a whole town. The head of the leading shipwith the General on
boardfell off to her course. Behind herthe fleet of
transportsscattered haphazard over a mile or so in the offing
like the finish of an ocean racepressed onall black and
smoking on the western sky.

Mi General,Nostromo's voice rang out loudbut quietfrom
behind a group of officersI should like to save that little
boat. Por Dios, I know her. She belongs to my Company.

And, por Dios,guffawed Barriosin a noisygoodhumoured
voiceyou belong to me. I am going to make you a captain of
cavalry directly we get within sight of a horse again.

I can swim far better than I can ride, mi General,cried
Nostromopushing through to the rail with a set
stare in his eyes. "Let me----"

Let you? What a conceited fellow that is,bantered the General
joviallywithout even looking at him. "Let him go! Ha! ha! ha!
He wants me to admit that we cannot take Sulaco without him! Ha!
ha! ha! Would you like to swim off to hermy son?"

A tremendous shout from one end of the ship to the other stopped
his guffaw. Nostromo had leaped overboard; and his black head
bobbed up far away already from the ship. The General muttered an
appalled "Cielo! Sinner that I am!" in a thunderstruck tone. One
anxious glance was enough to show him that Nostromo was swimming
with perfect ease; and then he thundered terriblyNo! no! We
shall not stop to pick up this impertinent fellow. Let him
drown--that mad Capataz.

Nothing short of main force would have kept Nostromo from leaping
overboard. That empty boatcoming out to meet him mysteriously
as if rowed by an invisible spectreexercised the fascination of
some signof some warningseemed to answer in a startling and
enigmatic way the persistent thought of a treasure and of a man's
fate. He would have leaped if there had been death in that
half-mile of water. It was as smooth as a pondand for some


reason sharks are unknown in the Placid Gulfthough on the other
side of the Punta Mala the coastline swarms with them.

The Capataz seized hold of the stern and blew with force. A
queerfaint feeling had come over him while he swam. He had got
rid of his boots and coat in the water. He hung on for a time
regaining his breath. In the distance the transportsmore in a
bunch nowheld on straight for Sulacowith their air of
friendly contestof nautical sportof a regatta; and the united
smoke of their funnels drove like a thinsulphurous fogbank
right over his head. It was his daringhis couragehis act that
had set these ships in motion upon the seahurrying on to save
the lives and fortunes of the Blancosthe taskmasters of the
people; to save the San Tome mine; to save the children.

With a vigorous and skilful effort he clambered over the stern.
The very boat! No doubt of it; no doubt whatever. It was the
dinghy of the lighter No. 3--the dinghy left with Martin Decoud
on the Great Isabel so that he should have some means to help
himself if nothing could be done for him from the shore. And here
she had come out to meet him empty and inexplicable. What had
become of Decoud? The Capataz made a minute examination. He
looked for some scratchfor some markfor some sign. All he
discovered was a brown stain on the gunwale abreast of the
thwart. He bent his face over it and rubbed hard with his finger.
Then he sat down in the stern sheetspassivewith his knees
close together and legs aslant.

Streaming from head to footwith his hair and whiskers hanging
lank and dripping and a lustreless stare fixed upon the bottom
boardsthe Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores resembled a drowned
corpse come up from the bottom to idle away the sunset hour in a
small boat. The excitement of his adventurous ridethe
excitement of the return in timeof achievementof successall
this excitement centred round the associated ideas of the great
treasure and of the only other man who knew of its existencehad
departed from him. To the very last moment he had been
cudgelling his brains as to how he could manage to visit the
Great Isabel without loss of time and undetected. For the idea of
secrecy had come to be connected with the treasure so closely
that even to Barrios himself he had refrained from mentioning the
existence of Decoud and of the silver on the island. The letters
he carried to the Generalhowevermade brief mention of the
loss of the lighteras having its bearing upon the situation in
Sulaco. In the circumstancesthe one-eyed tiger-slayerscenting
battle from afarhad not wasted his time in making inquiries
from the messenger. In factBarriostalking with Nostromo
assumed that both Don Martin Decoud and the ingots of San Tome
were lost togetherand Nostromonot questioned directlyhad
kept silentunder the influence of some indefinable form of
resentment and distrust. Let Don Martin speak of everything with
his own lips--was what he told himself mentally.

And nowwith the means of gaining the Great Isabel thrown thus
in his way at the earliest possible momenthis excitement had
departedas when the soul takes flight leaving the body inert
upon an earth it knows no more. Nostromo did not seem to know the
gulf. For a long time even his eyelids did not flutter once upon
the glazed emptiness of his stare. Then slowlywithout a limb
having stirredwithout a twitch of muscle or quiver of an
eyelashan expressiona living expression came upon the still
featuresdeep thought crept into the empty stare--as if an
outcast soula quietbrooding soulfinding that untenanted
body in its wayhad come in stealthily to take possession.


The Capataz frowned: and in the immense stillness of sea
islandsand coastof cloud forms on the sky and trails of light
upon the waterthe knitting of that brow had the emphasis of a
powerful gesture. Nothing else budged for a long time; then the
Capataz shook his head and again surrendered himself to the
universal repose of all visible things. Suddenly he seized the
oarsand with one movement made the dinghy spin roundhead-on
to the Great Isabel. But before he began to pull he bent once
more over the brown stain on the gunwale.

I know that thing,he muttered to himselfwith a sagacious
jerk of the head. "That's blood."

His stroke was longvigorousand steady. Now and then he looked
over his shoulder at the Great Isabelpresenting its low cliff
to his anxious gaze like an impenetrable face. At last the stem
touched the strand. He flung rather than dragged the boat up the
little beach. At onceturning his back upon the sunsethe
plunged with long strides into the ravinemaking the water of
the stream spurt and fly upwards at every stepas if spurning
its shallowclearmurmuring spirit with his feet. He wanted to
save every moment of daylight.

A mass of earthgrassand smashed bushes had fallen down very
naturally from above upon the cavity under the leaning tree.
Decoud had attended to the concealment of the silver as
instructedusing the spade with some intelligence. But
Nostromo's half-smile of approval changed into a scornful curl of
the lip by the sight of the spade itself flung there in full
viewas if in utter carelessness or sudden panicgiving away
the whole thing. Ah! They were all alike in their follythese
hombres finos that invented laws and governments and barren tasks
for the people.

The Capataz picked up the spadeand with the feel of the handle
in his palm the desire of having a look at the horse-hide boxes
of treasure came upon him suddenly. In a very few strokes he
uncovered the edges and corners of several; thenclearing away
more earthbecame aware that one of them had been slashed with a
knife.

He exclaimed at that discovery in a stifled voiceand dropped on
his knees with a look of irrational apprehension over one
shoulderthen over the other. The stiff hide had closedand he
hesitated before he pushed his hand through the long slit and
felt the ingots inside. There they were. Onetwothree. Yes
four gone. Taken away. Four ingots. But who? Decoud? Nobody
else. And why? For what purpose? For what cursed fancy? Let him
explain. Four ingots carried off in a boatand--blood!

In the face of the open gulfthe sunclearunclouded
unalteredplunged into the waters in a grave and untroubled
mystery of self-immolation consummated far from all mortal eyes
with an infinite majesty of silence and peace. Four ingots
short!--and blood!

The Capataz got up slowly.

He might simply have cut his hand,he muttered. "But
then----"

He sat down on the soft earthunresistingas if he had been
chained to the treasurehis drawn-up legs clasped in his hands


with an air of hopeless submissionlike a slave set on guard.
Once only he lifted his head smartly: the rattle of hot musketry
fire had reached his earslike pouring from on high a stream of
dry peas upon a drum. After listening for a whilehe saidhalf
aloud-


He will never come back to explain.

And he lowered his head again.

Impossible!he mutteredgloomily.

The sounds of firing died out. The loom of a great conflagration
in Sulaco flashed up red above the coastplayed on the clouds at
the head of the gulfseemed to touch with a ruddy and sinister
reflection the forms of the Three Isabels. He never saw it
though he raised his head.

But, then, I cannot know,he pronounceddistinctlyand
remained silent and staring for hours.

He could not know. Nobody was to know. As might have been
supposedthe end of Don Martin Decoud never became a subject of
speculation for any one except Nostromo. Had the truth of the
facts been knownthere would always have remained the question.
Why? Whereas the version of his death at the sinking of the
lighter had no uncertainty of motive. The young apostle of
Separation had died striving for his idea by an ever-lamented
accident. But the truth was that he died from solitudethe
enemy known but to few on this earthand whom only the simplest
of us are fit to withstand. The brilliant Costaguanero of the
boulevards had died from solitude and want of faith in himself
and others.

For some good and valid reasons beyond mere human comprehension
the sea-birds of the gulf shun the Isabels. The rocky head of
Azuera is their hauntwhose stony levels and chasms resound with
their wild and tumultuous clamour as if they were for ever
quarrelling over the legendary treasure.

At the end of his first day on the Great IsabelDecoudturning
in his lair of coarse grassunder the shade of a treesaid to
himself-


I have not seen as much as one single bird all day.

And he had not heard a soundeitherall day but that one now of
his own muttering voice. It had been a day of absolute
silence--the first he had known in his life. And he had not slept
a wink. Not for all these wakeful nights and the days of
fightingplanningtalking; not for all that last night of
danger and hard physical toil upon the gulfhad he been able to
close his eyes for a moment. And yet from sunrise to sunset he
had been lying prone on the groundeither on his back or on his
face.

He stretched himselfand with slow steps descended into the
gully to spend the night by the side of the silver. If Nostromo
returned--as he might have done at any moment--it was there that
he would look first; and night wouldof coursebe the proper
time for an attempt to communicate. He remembered with profound
indifference that he had not eaten anything yet since he had been
left alone on the island.


He spent the night open-eyedand when the day broke he ate
something with the same indifference. The brilliant "Son
Decoud the spoiled darling of the family, the lover of Antonia
and journalist of Sulaco, was not fit to grapple with himself
single-handed. Solitude from mere outward condition of existence
becomes very swiftly a state of soul in which the affectations of
irony and scepticism have no place. It takes possession of the
mind, and drives forth the thought into the exile of utter
unbelief. After three days of waiting for the sight of some human
face, Decoud caught himself entertaining a doubt of his own
individuality. It had merged into the world of cloud and water,
of natural forces and forms of nature. In our activity alone do
we find the sustaining illusion of an independent existence as
against the whole scheme of things of which we form a helpless
part. Decoud lost all belief in the reality of his action past
and to come. On the fifth day an immense melancholy descended
upon him palpably. He resolved not to give himself up to these
people in Sulaco, who had beset him, unreal and terrible, like
jibbering and obscene spectres. He saw himself struggling feebly
in their midst, and Antonia, gigantic and lovely like an
allegorical statue, looking on with scornful eyes at his
weakness.

Not a living being, not a speck of distant sail, appeared within
the range of his vision; and, as if to escape from this solitude,
he absorbed himself in his melancholy. The vague consciousness of
a misdirected life given up to impulses whose memory left a
bitter taste in his mouth was the first moral sentiment of his
manhood. But at the same time he felt no remorse. What should he
regret? He had recognized no other virtue than intelligence, and
had erected passions into duties. Both his intelligence and his
passion were swallowed up easily in this great unbroken solitude
of waiting without faith. Sleeplessness had robbed his will of
all energy, for he had not slept seven hours in the seven days.
His sadness was the sadness of a sceptical mind. He beheld the
universe as a succession of incomprehensible images. Nostromo was
dead. Everything had failed ignominiously. He no longer dared to
think of Antonia. She had not survived. But if she survived he
could not face her. And all exertion seemed senseless.

On the tenth day, after a night spent without even dozing off
once (it had occurred to him that Antonia could not possibly have
ever loved a being so impalpable as himself), the solitude
appeared like a great void, and the silence of the gulf like a
tense, thin cord to which he hung suspended by both hands,
without fear, without surprise, without any sort of emotion
whatever. Only towards the evening, in the comparative relief of
coolness, he began to wish that this cord would snap. He imagined
it snapping with a report as of a pistol--a sharp, full crack.
And that would be the end of him. He contemplated that
eventuality with pleasure, because he dreaded the sleepless
nights in which the silence, remaining unbroken in the shape of a
cord to which he hung with both hands, vibrated with senseless
phrases, always the same but utterly incomprehensible, about
Nostromo, Antonia, Barrios, and proclamations mingled into an
ironical and senseless buzzing. In the daytime he could look at
the silence like a still cord stretched to breakingpoint, with
his life, his vain life, suspended to it like a weight.

I wonder whether I would hear it snap before I fell he asked
himself.

The sun was two hours above the horizon when he got up, gaunt,
dirty, white-faced, and looked at it with his red-rimmed eyes.


His limbs obeyed him slowly, as if full of lead, yet without
tremor; and the effect of that physical condition gave to his
movements an unhesitating, deliberate dignity. He acted as if
accomplishing some sort of rite. He descended into the gully; for
the fascination of all that silver, with its potential power,
survived alone outside of himself. He picked up the belt with the
revolver, that was lying there, and buckled it round his waist.
The cord of silence could never snap on the island. It must let
him fall and sink into the sea, he thought. And sink! He was
looking at the loose earth covering the treasure. In the sea!
His aspect was that of a somnambulist. He lowered himself down on
his knees slowly and went on grubbing with his fingers with
industrious patience till he uncovered one of the boxes. Without
a pause, as if doing some work done many times before, he slit it
open and took four ingots, which he put in his pockets. He
covered up the exposed box again and step by step came out of the
gully. The bushes closed after him with a swish.

It was on the third day of his solitude that he had dragged the
dinghy near the water with an idea of rowing away somewhere, but
had desisted partly at the whisper of lingering hope that
Nostromo would return, partly from conviction of utter
uselessness of all effort. Now she wanted only a slight shove to
be set afloat. He had eaten a little every day after the first,
and had some muscular strength left yet. Taking up the oars
slowly, he pulled away from the cliff of the Great Isabel, that
stood behind him warm with sunshine, as if with the heat of life,
bathed in a rich light from head to foot as if in a radiance of
hope and joy. He pulled straight towards the setting sun. When
the gulf had grown dark, he ceased rowing and flung the sculls
in. The hollow clatter they made in falling was the loudest noise
he had ever heard in his life. It was a revelation. It seemed to
recall him from far away, Actually the thought, Perhaps I may
sleep to-night passed through his mind. But he did not believe
it. He believed in nothing; and he remained sitting on the
thwart.

The dawn from behind the mountains put a gleam into his unwinking
eyes. After a clear daybreak the sun appeared splendidly above
the peaks of the range. The great gulf burst into a glitter all
around the boat; and in this glory of merciless solitude the
silence appeared again before him, stretched taut like a dark,
thin string.

His eyes looked at it while, without haste, he shifted his seat
from the thwart to the gunwale. They looked at it fixedly, while
his hand, feeling about his waist, unbuttoned the flap of the
leather case, drew the revolver, cocked it, brought it forward
pointing at his breast, pulled the trigger, and, with convulsive
force, sent the still-smoking weapon hurtling through the air.
His eyes looked at it while he fell forward and hung with his
breast on the gunwale and the fingers of his right hand hooked
under the thwart. They looked---


It is done he stammered out, in a sudden flow of blood. His
last thought was: I wonder how that Capataz died." The stiffness
of the fingers relaxedand the lover of Antonia Avellanos rolled
overboard without having heard the cord of silence snap in the
solitude of the Placid Gulfwhose glittering surface remained
untroubled by the fall of his body.

A victim of the disillusioned weariness which is the retribution
meted out to intellectual audacitythe brilliant Don Martin
Decoudweighted by the bars of San Tome silverdisappeared


without a traceswallowed up in the immense indifference of
things. His sleeplesscrouching figure was gone from the side of
the San Tome silver; and for a time the spirits of good and evil
that hover near every concealed treasure of the earth might have
thought that this one had been forgotten by all mankind. Then
after a few daysanother form appeared striding away from the
setting sun to sit motionless and awake in the narrow black gully
all through the nightin nearly the same posein the same place
in which had sat that other sleepless man who had gone away for
ever so quietly in a small boatabout the time of sunset. And
the spirits of good and evil that hover about a forbidden
treasure understood well that the silver of San Tome was provided
now with a faithful and lifelong slave.

The magnificent Capataz de Cargadoresvictim of the disenchanted
vanity which is the reward of audacious actionsat in the weary
pose of a hunted outcast through a night of sleeplessness as
tormenting as any known to Decoudhis companion in the most
desperate affair of his life. And he wondered how Decoud had
died. But he knew the part he had played himself. First a woman
then a manabandoned both in their last extremityfor the sake
of this accursed treasure. It was paid for by a soul lost and by
a vanished life. The blank stillness of awe was succeeded by a
gust of immense pride. There was no one in the world but Gian'
Battista FidanzaCapataz de Cargadoresthe incorruptible and
faithful Nostromoto pay such a price.

He had made up his mind that nothing should be allowed now to rob
him of his bargain. Nothing. Decoud had died. But how? That he
was dead he had not a shadow of a doubt. But four ingots? . . .
What for? Did he mean to come for more--some other time?

The treasure was putting forth its latent power. It troubled the
clear mind of the man who had paid the price. He was sure that
Decoud was dead. The island seemed full of that whisper. Dead!
Gone! And he caught himself listening for the swish of bushes
and the splash of the footfalls in the bed of the brook. Dead!
The talkerthe novio of Dona Antonia!

Ha!he murmuredwith his head on his kneesunder the livid
clouded dawn breaking over the liberated Sulaco and upon the gulf
as gray as ashes. "It is to her that he will fly. To her that he
will fly!"

And four ingots! Did he take them in revengeto cast a spell
like the angry woman who had prophesied remorse and failureand
yet had laid upon him the task of saving the children? Wellhe
had saved the children. He had defeated the spell of poverty and
starvation. He had done it all alone--or perhaps helped by the
devil. Who cared? He had done itbetrayed as he wasand saving
by the same stroke the San Tome minewhich appeared to him
hateful and immenselording it by its vast wealth over the
valourthe toilthe fidelity of the poorover war and peace
over the labours of the townthe seaand the Campo.

The sun lit up the sky behind the peaks of the Cordillera. The
Capataz looked down for a time upon the fall of loose earth
stonesand smashed bushesconcealing the hiding-place of the
silver.

I must grow rich very slowly,he meditatedaloud.


CHAPTER ELEVEN

SULACO outstripped Nostromo's prudencegrowing rich swiftly on
the hidden treasures of the earthhovered over by the anxious
spirits of good and eviltorn out by the labouring hands of the
people. It was like a second youthlike a new lifefull of
promiseof unrestof toilscattering lavishly its wealth to
the four corners of an excited world. Material changes swept
along in the train of material interests. And other changes more
subtleoutwardly unmarkedaffected the minds and hearts of the
workers. Captain Mitchell had gone home to live on his savings
invested in the San Tome mine; and Dr. Monygham had grown older
with his head steel-grey and the unchanged expression of his
faceliving on the inexhaustible treasure of his devotion drawn
upon in the secret of his heart like a store of unlawful wealth.

The Inspector-General of State Hospitals (whose maintenance is a
charge upon the Gould Concession)Official Adviser on Sanitation
to the MunicipalityChief Medical Officer of the San Tome
Consolidated Mines (whose territorycontaining goldsilver
copperleadcobaltextends for miles along the foot-hills of
the Cordillera)had felt poverty-strickenmiserableand
starved during the prolongedsecond visit the Goulds paid to
Europe and the United States of America. Intimate of the casa
proved frienda bachelor without ties and without establishment
(except of the professional sort)he had been asked to take up
his quarters in the Gould house. In the eleven months of
their absence the familiar roomsrecalling at every glance the
woman to whom he had given all his loyaltyhad grown
intolerable. As the day approached for the arrival of the mail
boat Hermes (the latest addition to the O. S. N. Co.'s splendid
fleet)the doctor hobbled about more vivaciouslysnapped more
sardonically at simple and gentle out of sheer nervousness.

He packed up his modest trunk with speedwith furywith
enthusiasmand saw it carried out past the old porter at the
gate of the Casa Gould with delightwith intoxication; thenas
the hour approachedsitting alone in the great landau behind the
white mulesa little sidewayshis drawn-in face positively
venomous with the effort of self-controland holding a pair of
new gloves in his left handhe drove to the harbour.

His heart dilated within him sowhen he saw the Goulds on the
deck of the Hermesthat his greetings were reduced to a casual
mutter. Driving back to townall three were silent. And in the
patio the doctorin a more natural mannersaid-


I'll leave you now to yourselves. I'll call to-morrow if I may?

Come to lunch, dear Dr. Monygham, and come early,said Mrs.
Gouldin her travelling dress and her veil downturning to look
at him at the foot of the stairs; while at the top of the flight
the Madonnain blue robes and the Child on her armseemed to
welcome her with an aspect of pitying tenderness.

Don't expect to find me at home,Charles Gould warned him.
I'll be off early to the mine.

After lunchDona Emilia and the senor doctor came slowly through
the inner gateway of the patio. The large gardens of the Casa
Gouldsurrounded by high wallsand the red-tile slopes of
neighbouring roofslay open before themwith masses of shade
under the trees and level surfaces of sunlight upon the lawns. A
triple row of old orange trees surrounded the whole. Barefooted


brown gardenersin snowy white shirts and wide calzoneras
dotted the groundssquatting over flowerbedspassing between
the treesdragging slender India-rubber tubes across the gravel
of the paths; and the fine jets of water crossed each other in
graceful curvessparkling in the sunshine with a slight
pattering noise upon the bushesand an effect of showered
diamonds upon the grass.

Dona Emiliaholding up the train of a clear dresswalked by the
side of Dr. Monyghamin a longish black coat and severe black
bow on an immaculate shirtfront. Under a shady clump of trees
where stood scattered little tables and wicker easy-chairsMrs.
Gould sat down in a low and ample seat.

Don't go yet,she said to Dr. Monyghamwho was unable to tear
himself away from the spot. His chin nestling within the points
of his collarhe devoured her stealthily with his eyeswhich
luckilywere round and hard like clouded marblesand incapable
of disclosing his sentiments. His pitying emotion at the marks of
time upon the face of that womanthe air of frailty and weary
fatigue that had settled upon the eyes and temples of the
Never-tired Senora(as Don Pepe years ago used to call her with
admiration)touched him almost to tears. "Don't go yet. To-day
is all my own Mrs. Gould urged, gently. We are not back yet
officially. No one will come. It's only to-morrow that the
windows of the Casa Gould are to be lit up for a reception."

The doctor dropped into a chair.

Giving a tertulia?he saidwith a detached air.

A simple greeting for all the kind friends who care to come.

And only to-morrow?

Yes. Charles would be tired out after a day at the mine, and so
I----It would be good to have him to myself for one evening on
our return to this house I love. It has seen all my life.

Ah, yes!snarled the doctorsuddenly. "Women count time from
the marriage feast. Didn't you live a little before?"

Yes; but what is there to remember? There were no cares.

Mrs. Gould sighed. And as two friendsafter a long separation
will revert to the most agitated period of their livesthey
began to talk of the Sulaco Revolution. It seemed strange to
Mrs. Gould that people who had taken part in it seemed to forget
its memory and its lesson.

And yet,struck in the doctorwe who played our part in it
had our reward. Don Pepe, though superannuated, still can sit a
horse. Barrios is drinking himself to death in jovial company
away somewhere on his fundacion beyond the Bolson de Tonoro. And
the heroic Father Roman--I imagine the old padre blowing up
systematically the San Tome mine, uttering a pious exclamation at
every bang, and taking handfuls of snuff between the
explosions--the heroic Padre Roman says that he is not afraid of
the harm Holroyd's missionaries can do to his flock, as long as
he is alive.

Mrs. Gould shuddered a little at the allusion to the destruction
that had come so near to the San Tome mine.


Ah, but you, dear friend?

I did the work I was fit for.

You faced the most cruel dangers of all. Something more than
death.

No, Mrs. Gould! Only death--by hanging. And I am rewarded beyond
my deserts.

Noticing Mrs. Gould's gaze fixed upon himhe dropped his eyes.

I've made my career--as you see,said the Inspector-General of
State Hospitalstaking up lightly the lapels of his superfine
black coat. The doctor's self-respect marked inwardly by the
almost complete disappearance from his dreams of Father Beron
appeared visibly in whatby contrast with former carelessness
seemed an immoderate cult of personal appearance. Carried out
within severe limits of form and colourand in perpetual
freshnessthis change of apparel gave to Dr. Monygham an air at
the same time professional and festive; while his gait and the
unchanged crabbed character of his face acquired from it a
startling force of incongruity.

Yes,he went on. "We all had our rewards--the
engineer-in-chiefCaptain Mitchell----"

We saw him,interrupted Mrs. Gouldin her charming voice. "The
poor dear man came up from the country on purpose to call on us
in our hotel in London. He comported himself with great dignity
but I fancy he regrets Sulaco. He rambled feebly about
'historical events' till I felt I could have a cry."

H'm,grunted the doctor; "getting oldI suppose. Even
Nostromo is getting older--though he is not changed. And
speaking of that fellowI wanted to tell you something----"

For some time the house had been full of murmursof agitation.
Suddenly the two gardenersbusy with rose trees at the side of
the garden archfell upon their knees with bowed heads on the
passage of Antonia Avellanoswho appeared walking beside her
uncle.

Invested with the red hat after a short visit to Romewhere he
had been invited by the PropagandaFather Corbelanmissionary
to the wild Indiansconspiratorfriend and patron of Hernandez
the robberadvanced with bigslow stridesgaunt and leaning
forwardwith his powerful hands clasped behind his back. The
first Cardinal-Archbishop of Sulaco had preserved his fanatical
and morose air; the aspect of a chaplain of bandits. It was
believed that his unexpected elevation to the purple was a
counter-move to the Protestant invasion of Sulaco organized by
the Holroyd Missionary Fund. Antoniathe beauty of her face as
if a little blurredher figure slightly fulleradvanced with
her light walk and her high serenitysmiling from a distance at
Mrs. Gould. She had brought her uncle over to see dear Emilia
without ceremonyjust for a moment before the siesta.

When all were seated againDr. Monyghamwho had come to dislike
heartily everybody who approached Mrs. Gould with any intimacy
kept asidepretending to be lost in profound meditation. A
louder phrase of Antonia made him lift his head.

How can we abandon, groaning under oppression, those who have


been our countrymen only a few years ago, who are our countrymen
now?Miss Avellanos was saying. "How can we remain blindand
deaf without pity to the cruel wrongs suffered by our brothers?
There is a remedy."

Annex the rest of Costaguana to the order and prosperity of
Sulaco,snapped the doctor. "There is no other remedy."

I am convinced, senor doctor,Antonia saidwith the earnest
calm of invincible resolutionthat this was from the first poor
Martin's intention.

Yes, but the material interests will not let you jeopardize
their development for a mere idea of pity and justice,the
doctor muttered grumpily. "And it is just as well perhaps."

The Cardinal-Archbishop straightened up his gauntbony frame.

We have worked for them; we have made them, these material
interests of the foreigners,the last of the Corbelans uttered
in a deepdenunciatory tone.

And without them you are nothing,cried the doctor from the
distance. "They will not let you."

Let them beware, then, lest the people, prevented from their
aspirations, should rise and claim their share of the wealth and
their share of the power,the popular Cardinal-Archbishop of
Sulaco declaredsignificantlymenacingly.

A silence ensuedduring which his Eminence staredfrowning at
the groundand Antoniagraceful and rigid in her chair
breathed calmly in the strength of her convictions. Then the
conversation took a social turntouching on the visit of the
Goulds to Europe. The Cardinal-Archbishopwhen in Romehad
suffered from neuralgia in the head all the time. It was the
climate--the bad air.

When uncle and niece had gone awaywith the servants again
falling on their kneesand the old porterwho had known Henry
Gouldalmost totally blind and impotent nowcreeping up to kiss
his Eminence's extended handDr. Monyghamlooking after them
pronounced the one word-


Incorrigible!

Mrs. Gouldwith a look upwardsdropped wearily on her lap her
white hands flashing with the gold and stones of many rings.

Conspiring. Yes!said the doctor. "The last of the Avellanos
and the last of the Corbelans are conspiring with the refugees
from Sta. Marta that flock here after every revolution. The Cafe
Lambroso at the corner of the Plaza is full of them; you can hear
their chatter across the street like the noise of a parrothouse.
They are conspiring for the invasion of Costaguana. And do you
know where they go for strengthfor the necessary force? To the
secret societies amongst immigrants and nativeswhere
Nostromo--I should say Captain Fidanza--is the great man. What
gives him that position? Who can say? Genius? He has genius. He
is greater with the populace than ever he was before. It is as if
he had some secret power; some mysterious means to keep up his
influence. He holds conferences with the Archbishopas in those
old days which you and I remember. Barrios is useless. But for a
military head they have the pious Hernandez. And they may raise


the country with the new cry of the wealth for the people."

Will there be never any peace? Will there be no rest?Mrs.
Gould whispered. "I thought that we----"

No!interrupted the doctor. "There is no peace and no rest in
the development of material interests. They have their lawand
their justice. But it is founded on expediencyand is inhuman;
it is without rectitudewithout the continuity and the force
that can be found only in a moral principle. Mrs. Gouldthe time
approaches when all that the Gould Concession stands for shall
weigh as heavily upon the people as the barbarismcrueltyand
misrule of a few years back."

How can you say that, Dr. Monygham?she cried outas if hurt
in the most sensitive place of her soul.

I can say what is true,the doctor insistedobstinately.
It'll weigh as heavily, and provoke resentment, bloodshed, and
vengeance, because the men have grown different. Do you think
that now the mine would march upon the town to save their Senor
Administrador? Do you think that?

She pressed the backs of her entwined hands on her eyes and
murmured hopelessly-


Is it this we have worked for, then?

The doctor lowered his head. He could follow her silent thought.
Was it for this that her life had been robbed of all the intimate
felicities of daily affection which her tenderness needed as the
human body needs air to breathe? And the doctorindignant with
Charles Gould's blindnesshastened to change the conversation.

It is about Nostromo that I wanted to talk to you. Ah! that
fellow has some continuity and force. Nothing will put an end to
him. But never mind that. There's something inexplicable going
on--or perhaps only too easy to explain. You know, Linda is
practically the lighthouse keeper of the Great Isabel light. The
Garibaldino is too old now. His part is to clean the lamps and to
cook in the house; but he can't get up the stairs any longer. The
black-eyed Linda sleeps all day and watches the light all night.
Not all day, though. She is up towards five in the afternoon,
when our Nostromo, whenever he is in harbour with his schooner,
comes out on his courting visit, pulling in a small boat.

Aren't they married yet?Mrs. Gould asked. "The mother wished
itas far as I can understandwhile Linda was yet quite a
child. When I had the girls with me for a year or so during the
War of Separationthat extraordinary Linda used to declare quite
simply that she was going to be Gian' Battista's wife."

They are not married yet,said the doctorcurtly. "I have
looked after them a little."

Thank you, dear Dr. Monygham,said Mrs. Gould; and under the
shade of the big trees her littleeven teeth gleamed in a
youthful smile of gentle malice. "People don't know how really
good you are. You will not let them knowas if on purpose to
annoy mewho have put my faith in your good heart long ago."

The doctorwith a lifting up of his upper lipas though he were
longing to bitebowed stiffly in his chair. With the utter
absorption of a man to whom love comes latenot as the most


splendid of illusionsbut like an enlightening and priceless
misfortunethe sight of that woman (of whom he had been deprived
for nearly a year) suggested ideas of adorationof kissing the
hem of her robe. And this excess of feeling translated itself
naturally into an augmented grimness of speech.

I am afraid of being overwhelmed by too much gratitude. However,
these people interest me. I went out several times to the Great
Isabel light to look after old Giorgio.

He did not tell Mrs. Gould that it was because he found therein
her absencethe relief of an atmosphere of congenial sentiment
in old Giorgio's austere admiration for the "English signora--the
benefactress"; in black-eyed Linda's volubletorrential
passionate affection for "our Dona Emilia--that angel"; in the
white-throatedfair Giselle's adoring upward turn of the eyes
which then glided towards him with a sidelonghalf-arch
half-candid glancewhich made the doctor exclaim to himself
mentallyIf I weren't what I am, old and ugly, I would think
the minx is making eyes at me. And perhaps she is. I dare say she
would make eyes at anybody.Dr. Monygham said nothing of this to
Mrs. Gouldthe providence of the Viola familybut reverted to
what he called "our great Nostromo."

What I wanted to tell you is this: Our great Nostromo did not
take much notice of the old man and the children for some years.
It's true, too, that he was away on his coasting voyages
certainly ten months out of the twelve. He was making his
fortune, as he told Captain Mitchell once. He seems to have done
uncommonly well. It was only to be expected. He is a man full of
resource, full of confidence in himself, ready to take chances
and risks of every sort. I remember being in Mitchell's office
one day, when he came in with that calm, grave air he always
carries everywhere. He had been away trading in the Gulf of
California, he said, looking straight past us at the wall, as his
manner is, and was glad to see on his return that a lighthouse
was being built on the cliff of the Great Isabel. Very glad, he
repeated. Mitchell explained that it was the O. S. N. Co. who was
building it, for the convenience of the mail service, on his own
advice. Captain Fidanza was good enough to say that it was
excellent advice. I remember him twisting up his moustaches and
looking all round the cornice of the room before he proposed that
old Giorgio should be made the keeper of that light.

I heard of this. I was consulted at the time,Mrs. Gould said.
I doubted whether it would be good for these girls to be shut up
on that island as if in a prison.

The proposal fell in with the old Garibaldino's humour. As to
Linda, any place was lovely and delightful enough for her as long
as it was Nostromo's suggestion. She could wait for her Gian'
Battista's good pleasure there as well as anywhere else. My
opinion is that she was always in love with that incorruptible
Capataz. Moreover, both father and sister were anxious to get
Giselle away from the attentions of a certain Ramirez.

Ah!said Mrs. Gouldinterested. "Ramirez? What sort of man is
that?"

Just a mozo of the town. His father was a Cargador. As a lanky
boy he ran about the wharf in rags, till Nostromo took him up and
made a man of him. When he got a little older, he put him into a
lighter and very soon gave him charge of the No. 3 boat--the boat
which took the silver away, Mrs. Gould. Nostromo selected that


lighter for the work because she was the best sailing and the
strongest boat of all the Company's fleet. Young Ramirez was one
of the five Cargadores entrusted with the removal of the treasure
from the Custom House on that famous night. As the boat he had
charge of was sunk, Nostromo, on leaving the Company's service,
recommended him to Captain Mitchell for his successor. He had
trained him in the routine of work perfectly, and thus Mr.
Ramirez, from a starving waif, becomes a man and the Capataz of
the Sulaco Cargadores.

Thanks to Nostromo,said Mrs. Gouldwith warm approval.

Thanks to Nostromo,repeated Dr. Monygham. "Upon my wordthe
fellow's power frightens me when I think of it. That our poor old
Mitchell was only too glad to appoint somebody trained to the
workwho saved him troubleis not surprising. What is wonderful
is the fact that the Sulaco Cargadores accepted Ramirez for their
chiefsimply because such was Nostromo's good pleasure. Of
coursehe is not a second Nostromoas he fondly imagined he
would be; but stillthe position was brilliant enough. It
emboldened him to make up to Giselle Violawhoyou knowis the
recognized beauty of the town. The old Garibaldinohowevertook
a violent dislike to him. I don't know why. Perhaps because he
was not a model of perfection like his Gian' Battistathe
incarnation of the couragethe fidelitythe honour of 'the
people.' Signor Viola does not think much of Sulaco natives. Both
of themthe old Spartan and that white-faced Lindawith her red
mouth and coal-black eyeswere looking rather fiercely after the
fair one. Ramirez was warned off. Father ViolaI am told
threatened him with his gun once."

But what of Giselle herself?asked Mrs. Gould.

She's a bit of a flirt, I believe,said the doctor. "I don't
think she cared much one way or another. Of course she likes
men's attentions. Ramirez was not the only onelet me tell you
Mrs. Gould. There was one engineerat leaston the railway
staff who got warned off with a guntoo. Old Viola does not
allow any trifling with his honour. He has grown uneasy and
suspicious since his wife died. He was very pleased to remove his
youngest girl away from the town. But look what happensMrs.
Gould. Ramirezthe honestlovelorn swainis forbidden the
island. Very well. He respects the prohibitionbut naturally
turns his eyes frequently towards the Great Isabel. It seems as
though he had been in the habit of gazing late at night upon the
light. And during these sentimental vigils he discovers that
NostromoCaptain Fidanza that isreturns very late from his
visits to the Violas. As late as midnight at times."

The doctor paused and stared meaningly at Mrs. Gould.

Yes. But I don't understand,she beganlooking puzzled.

Now comes the strange part,went on Dr. Monygham. "Violawho
is king on his islandwill allow no visitor on it after dark.
Even Captain Fidanza has got to leave after sunsetwhen Linda
has gone up to tend the light. And Nostromo goes away obediently.
But what happens afterwards? What does he do in the gulf between
half-past six and midnight? He has been seen more than once at
that late hour pulling quietly into the harbour. Ramirez is
devoured by jealousy. He dared not approach old Viola; but he
plucked up courage to rail at Linda about it on Sunday morning as
she came on the mainland to hear mass and visit her mother's
grave. There was a scene on the wharfwhichas a matter of


factI witnessed. It was early morning. He must have been
waiting for her on purpose. I was there by the merest chance
having been called to an urgent consultation by the doctor of the
German gunboat in the harbour. She poured wrathscornand flame
upon Ramirezwho seemed out of his mind. It was a strange sight
Mrs. Gould: the long jettywith this raving Cargador in his
crimson sash and the girl all in blackat the end; the early
Sunday morning quiet of the harbour in the shade of the
mountains; nothing but a canoe or two moving between the ships at
anchorand the German gunboat's gig coming to take me off. Linda
passed me within a foot. I noticed her wild eyes. I called out to
her. She never heard me. She never saw me. But I looked at her
face. It was awful in its anger and wretchedness."

Mrs. Gould sat upopening her eyes very wide.

What do you mean, Dr. Monygham? Do you mean to say that you
suspect the younger sister?

Quien sabe! Who can tell?said the doctorshrugging his
shoulders like a born Costaguanero. "Ramirez came up to me on
the wharf. He reeled--he looked insane. He took his head into his
hands. He had to talk to someone--simply had to. Of course for
all his mad state he recognized me. People know me well here. I
have lived too long amongst them to be anything else but the
evil-eyed doctorwho can cure all the ills of the fleshand
bring bad luck by a glance. He came up to me. He tried to be
calm. He tried to make it out that he wanted merely to warn me
against Nostromo. It seems that Captain Fidanza at some secret
meeting or other had mentioned me as the worst despiser of all
the poor--of the people. It's very possible. He honours me with
his undying dislike. And a word from the great Fidanza may be
quite enough to send some fool's knife into my back. The Sanitary
Commission I preside over is not in favour with the populace.
'Beware of himsenor doctor. Destroy himsenor doctor' Ramirez
hissed right into my face. And then he broke out. 'That man' he
spluttered'has cast a spell upon both these girls.' As to
himselfhe had said too much. He must run away now--run away and
hide somewhere. He moaned tenderly about Giselleand then called
her names that cannot be repeated. If he thought she could be
made to love him by any meanshe would carry her off from the
island. Off into the woods. But it was no good. . . . He strode
awayflourishing his arms above his head. Then I noticed an old
negrowho had been sitting behind a pile of casesfishing from
the wharf. He wound up his lines and slunk away at once. But he
must have heard somethingand must have talkedtoobecause
some of the old Garibaldino's railway friendsI supposewarned
him against Ramirez. At any ratethe father has been warned. But
Ramirez has disappeared from the town."

I feel I have a duty towards these girls,said Mrs. Gould
uneasily. "Is Nostromo in Sulaco now?"

He is, since last Sunday.

He ought to be spoken to--at once.

Who will dare speak to him? Even the love-mad Ramirez runs away
from the mere shadow of Captain Fidanza.

I can. I will,Mrs. Gould declared. "A word will be enough for
a man like Nostromo."

The doctor smiled sourly.


He must end this situation which lends itself to----I can't
believe it of that child,pursued Mrs. Gould.

He's very attractive,muttered the doctorgloomily.

He'll see it, I am sure. He must put an end to all this by
marrying Linda at once,pronounced the first lady of Sulaco with
immense decision.

Through the garden gate emerged Basiliogrown fat and sleek
with an elderly hairless facewrinkles at the corners of his
eyesand his jet-blackcoarse hair plastered down smoothly.
Stooping carefully behind an ornamental clump of busheshe put
down with precaution a small child he had been carrying on his
shoulder--his own and Leonarda's last born. The poutingspoiled
Camerista and the head mozo of the Casa Gould had been married
for some years now.

He remained squatting on his heels for a timegazing fondly at
his offspringwhich returned his stare with imperturbable
gravity; thensolemn and respectablewalked down the path.

What is it, Basilio?asked Mrs. Gould.

A telephone came through from the office of the mine. The master
remains to sleep at the mountain to-night.

Dr. Monygham had got up and stood looking away. A profound
silence reigned for a time under the shade of the biggest trees
in the lovely gardens of the Casa Gould.

Very well, Basilio,said Mrs. Gould. She watched him walk away
along the pathstep aside behind the flowering bushand
reappear with the child seated on his shoulder. He passed through
the gateway between the garden and the patio with measured steps
careful of his light burden.

The doctorwith his back to Mrs. Gouldcontemplated a
flower-bed away in the sunshine. People believed him scornful and
soured. The truth of his nature consisted in his capacity for
passion and in the sensitiveness of his temperament. What he
lacked was the polished callousness of men of the worldthe
callousness from which springs an easy tolerance for oneself and
others; the tolerance wide as poles asunder from true sympathy
and human compassion. This want of callousness accounted for his
sardonic turn of mind and his biting speeches.

In profound silenceand glaring viciously at the brilliant
flower-bedDr. Monygham poured mental imprecations on Charles
Gould's head. Behind him the immobility of Mrs. Gould added to
the grace of her seated figure the charm of artof an attitude
caught and interpreted for ever. Turning abruptlythe doctor
took his leave.

Mrs. Gould leaned back in the shade of the big trees planted in a
circle. She leaned back with her eyes closed and her white hands
lying idle on the arms of her seat. The half-light under the
thick mass of leaves brought out the youthful prettiness of her
face; made the clearlight fabrics and white lace of her dress
appear luminous. Small and daintyas if radiating a light of her
own in the deep shade of the interlaced boughsshe resembled a
good fairyweary with a long career of well-doingtouched by
the withering suspicion of the uselessness of her laboursthe


powerlessness of her magic.

Had anybody asked her of what she was thinkingalone in the
garden of the Casawith her husband at the mine and the house
closed to the street like an empty dwellingher frankness would
have had to evade the question. It had come into her mind that
for life to be large and fullit must contain the care of the
past and of the future in every passing moment of the present.
Our daily work must be done to the glory of the deadand for the
good of those who come after. She thought thatand sighed
without opening her eyes--without moving at all. Mrs. Gould's
face became set and rigid for a secondas if to receivewithout
flinchinga great wave of loneliness that swept over her head.
And it came into her mindtoothat no one would ever ask her
with solicitude what she was thinking of. No one. No onebut
perhaps the man who had just gone away. No; no one who could be
answered with careless sincerity in the ideal perfection of
confidence.

The word "incorrigible"--a word lately pronounced by Dr.
Monygham--floated into her still and sad immobility.
Incorrigible in his devotion to the great silver mine was the
Senor Administrador! Incorrigible in his harddetermined service
of the material interests to which he had pinned his faith in the
triumph of order and justice. Poor boy! She had a clear vision of
the grey hairs on his temples. He was perfect--perfect. What
more could she have expected? It was a colossal and lasting
success; and love was only a short moment of forgetfulnessa
short intoxicationwhose delight one remembered with a sense of
sadnessas if it had been a deep grief lived through. There was
something inherent in the necessities of successful action which
carried with it the moral degradation of the idea. She saw the
San Tome mountain hanging over the Campoover the whole land
fearedhatedwealthy; more soulless than any tyrantmore
pitiless and autocratic than the worst Government; ready to crush
innumerable lives in the expansion of its greatness. He did not
see it. He could not see it. It was not his fault. He was
perfectperfect; but she would never have him to herself. Never;
not for one short hour altogether to herself in this old Spanish
house she loved so well! Incorrigiblethe last of the Corbelans
the last of the Avellanosthe doctor had said; but she saw
clearly the San Tome mine possessingconsumingburning up the
life of the last of the Costaguana Goulds; mastering the
energetic spirit of the son as it had mastered the lamentable
weakness of the father. A terrible success for the last of the
Goulds. The last! She had hoped for a longlong timethat
perhaps----But no! There were to be no more. An immense
desolationthe dread of her own continued lifedescended upon
the first lady of Sulaco. With a prophetic vision she saw herself
surviving alone the degradation of her young ideal of lifeof
loveof work--all alone in the Treasure House of the World. The
profoundblindsuffering expression of a painful dream settled
on her face with its closed eyes. In the indistinct voice of an
unlucky sleeper. lying passive in the grip of a merciless
nightmareshe stammered out aimlessly the words-


Material interest.

CHAPTER TWELVE

NOSTROMO had been growing rich very slowly. It was an effect of
his prudence. He could command himself even when thrown off his


balance. And to become the slave of a treasure with full
self-knowledge is an occurrence rare and mentally disturbing. But
it was also in a great part because of the difficulty of
converting it into a form in which it could become available. The
mere act of getting it away from the island piecemeallittle by
littlewas surrounded by difficultiesby the dangers of
imminent detection. He had to visit the Great Isabel in secret
between his voyages along the coastwhich were the ostensible
source of his fortune. The crew of his own schooner were to be
feared as if they had been spies upon their dreaded captain. He
did not dare stay too long in port. When his coaster was
unloadedhe hurried away on another tripfor he feared arousing
suspicion even by a day's delay. Sometimes during a week's stay
or morehe could only manage one visit to the treasure. And that
was all. A couple of ingots. He suffered through his fears as
much as through his prudence. To do things by stealth humiliated
him. And he suffered most from the concentration of his thought
upon the treasure.

A transgressiona crimeentering a man's existenceeats it up
like a malignant growthconsumes it like a fever. Nostromo had
lost his peace; the genuineness of all his qualities was
destroyed. He felt it himselfand often cursed the silver of San
Tome. His couragehis magnificencehis leisurehis work
everything was as beforeonly everything was a sham. But the
treasure was real. He clung to it with a more tenaciousmental
grip. But he hated the feel of the ingots. Sometimesafter
putting away a couple of them in his cabin--the fruit of a secret
night expedition to the Great Isabel--he would look fixedly at
his fingersas if surprised they had left no stain on his skin.

He had found means of disposing of the silver bars in distant
ports. The necessity to go far afield made his coasting voyages
longand caused his visits to the Viola household to be rare and
far between. He was fated to have his wife from there. He had
said so once to Giorgio himself. But the Garibaldino had put the
subject aside with a majestic wave of his handclutching a
smouldering black briar-root pipe. There was plenty of time; he
was not the man to force his girls upon anybody.

As time went onNostromo discovered his preference for the
younger of the two. They had some profound similarities of
naturewhich must exist for complete confidence and
understandingno matter what outward differences of temperament
there may be to exercise their own fascination of contrast. His
wife would have to know his secret or else life would be
impossible. He was attracted by Gisellewith her candid gaze
and white throatpliablesilentfond of excitement under her
quiet indolence; whereas Lindawith her intensepassionately
pale faceenergeticall fire and wordstouched with gloom and
scorna chip of the old blocktrue daughter of the austere
republicanbut with Teresa's voiceinspired him with a
deep-seated mistrust. Moreoverthe poor girl could not conceal
her love for Gian' Battista. He could see it would be violent
exactingsuspiciousuncompromising--like her soul. Giselleby
her fair but warm beautyby the surface placidity of her nature
holding a promise of submissivenessby the charm of her girlish
mysteriousnessexcited his passion and allayed his fears as to
the future.

His absences from Sulaco were long. On returning from the longest
of themhe made out lighters loaded with blocks of stone lying
under the cliff of the Great Isabel; cranes and scaffolding
above; workmen's figures moving aboutand a small lighthouse


already rising from its foundations on the edge of the cliff.

At this unexpectedundreamt-ofstartling sighthe thought
himself lost irretrievably. What could save him from detection
now? Nothing! He was struck with amazed dread at this turn of
chancethat would kindle a far-reaching light upon the only
secret spot of his life; that life whose very essencevalue
realityconsisted in its reflection from the admiring eyes of
men. All of it but that thing which was beyond common
comprehension; which stood between him and the power that hears
and gives effect to the evil intention of curses. It was dark.
Not every man had such a darkness. And they were going to put a
light there. A light! He saw it shining upon disgracepoverty
contempt. Somebody was sure to. . . . Perhaps somebody had
already. . . .

The incomparable Nostromothe Capatazthe respected and feared
Captain Fidanzathe unquestioned patron of secret societiesa
republican like old Giorgioand a revolutionist at heart (but in
another manner)was on the point of jumping overboard from the
deck of his own schooner. That mansubjective almost to
insanitylooked suicide deliberately in the face. But he never
lost his head. He was checked by the thought that this was no
escape. He imagined himself deadand the disgracethe shame
going on. Orratherproperly speakinghe could not imagine
himself dead. He was possessed too strongly by the sense of his
own existencea thing of infinite duration in its changesto
grasp the notion of finality. The earth goes on for ever.

And he was courageous. It was a corrupt couragebut it was as
good for his purposes as the other kind. He sailed close to the
cliff of the Great Isabelthrowing a penetrating glance from the
deck at the mouth of the ravinetangled in an undisturbed growth
of bushes. He sailed close enough to exchange hails with the
workmenshading their eyes on the edge of the sheer drop of the
cliff overhung by the jib-head of a powerful crane. He perceived
that none of them had any occasion even to approach the ravine
where the silver lay hidden; let alone to enter it. In the
harbour he learned that no one slept on the island. The labouring
gangs returned to port every eveningsinging chorus songs in the
empty lighters towed by a harbour tug. For the moment he had
nothing to fear.

But afterwards? he asked himself. Laterwhen a keeper came to
live in the cottage that was being built some hundred and fifty
yards back from the low lighttowerand four hundred or so from
the darkshadedjungly ravinecontaining the secret of his
safetyof his influenceof his magnificenceof his power over
the futureof his defiance of ill-luckof every possible
betrayal from rich and poor alike--what then? He could never
shake off the treasure. His audacitygreater than that of other
menhad welded that vein of silver into his life. And the
feeling of fearful and ardent subjectionthe feeling of his
slavery--so irremediable and profound that oftenin his
thoughtshe compared himself to the legendary Gringosneither
dead nor alivebound down to their conquest of unlawful wealth
on Azuera--weighed heavily on the independent Captain Fidanza
owner and master of a coasting schoonerwhose smart appearance
(and fabulous good-luck in trading) were so well known along the
western seaboard of a vast continent.

Fiercely whiskered and gravea shade less supple in his walk
the vigour and symmetry of his powerful limbs lost in the
vulgarity of a brown tweed suitmade by Jews in the slums of


Londonand sold by the clothing department of the Compania
AnzaniCaptain Fidanza was seen in the streets of Sulaco
attending to his businessas usualthat trip. Andas usualhe
allowed it to get about that he had made a great profit on his
cargo. It was a cargo of salt fishand Lent was approaching. He
was seen in tramcars going to and fro between the town and the
harbour; he talked with people in a cafe or two in his measured
steady voice. Captain Fidanza was seen. The generation that
would know nothing of the famous ride to Cayta was not born yet.

Nostromothe miscalled Capataz de Cargadoreshad made for
himselfunder his rightful nameanother public existencebut
modified by the new conditionsless picturesquemore difficult
to keep up in the increased size and varied population of Sulaco
the progressive capital of the Occidental Republic.

Captain Fidanzaunpicturesquebut always a little mysterious
was recognized quite sufficiently under the lofty glass and iron
roof of the Sulaco railway station. He took a local trainand
got out in Rinconwhere he visited the widow of the Cargador who
had died of his wounds (at the dawn of the New Eralike Don Jose
Avellanos) in the patio of the Casa Gould. He consented to sit
down and drink a glass of cool lemonade in the hutwhile the
womanstanding uppoured a perfect torrent of words to which he
did not listen. He left some money with heras usual. The
orphaned childrengrowing up and well schooledcalling him
uncleclamoured for his blessing. He gave thattoo; and in the
doorway paused for a moment to look at the flat face of the San
Tome mountain with a faint frown. This slight contraction of his
bronzed brow casting a marked tinge of severity upon his usual
unbending expressionwas observed at the Lodge which he attended
--but went away before the banquet. He wore it at the meeting of
some good comradesItalians and Occidentalsassembled in his
honour under the presidency of an indigentsicklysomewhat
hunchbacked little photographerwith a white face and a
magnanimous soul dyed crimson by a bloodthirsty hate of all
capitalistsoppressors of the two hemispheres. The heroic
Giorgio Violaold revolutionistwould have understood nothing
of his opening speech; and Captain Fidanzalavishly generous as
usual to some poor comradesmade no speech at all. He had
listenedfrowningwith his mind far awayand walked off
unapproachablesilentlike a man full of cares.

His frown deepened asin the early morninghe watched the
stone-masons go off to the Great Isabelin lighters loaded with
squared blocks of stoneenough to add another course to the
squat light-tower. That was the rate of the work. One course per
day.

And Captain Fidanza meditated. The presence of strangers on the
island would cut him completely off the treasure. It had been
difficult and dangerous enough before. He was afraidand he was
angry. He thought with the resolution of a master and the cunning
of a cowed slave. Then he went ashore.

He was a man of resource and ingenuity; andas usualthe
expedient he found at a critical moment was effective enough to
alter the situation radically. He had the gift of evolving safety
out of the very dangerthis incomparable Nostromothis "fellow
in a thousand." With Giorgio established on the Great Isabel
there would be no need for concealment. He would be able to go
openlyin daylightto see his daughters--one of his
daughters--and stay late talking to the old Garibaldino. Then in
the dark . . . Night after night . . . He would dare to grow rich


quicker now. He yearned to claspembraceabsorbsubjugate in
unquestioned possession this treasurewhose tyranny had weighed
upon his mindhis actionshis very sleep.

He went to see his friend Captain Mitchell--and the thing was
done as Dr. Monygham had related to Mrs. Gould. When the project
was mooted to the Garibaldinosomething like the faint
reflectionthe dim ghost of a very ancient smilestole under
the white and enormous moustaches of the old hater of kings and
ministers. His daughters were the object of his anxious care.
The youngerespecially. Lindawith her mother's voicehad
taken more her mother's place. Her deepvibrating "EhPadre?"
seemedbut for the change of the wordthe very echo of the
impassionedremonstrating "EhGiorgio?" of poor Signora Teresa.
It was his fixed opinion that the town was no proper place for
his girls. The infatuated but guileless Ramirez was the object of
his profound aversionas resuming the sins of the country whose
people were blindvile esclavos.

On his return from his next voyageCaptain Fidanza found the
Violas settled in the light-keeper's cottage. His knowledge of
Giorgio's idiosyncrasies had not played him false. The
Garibaldino had refused to entertain the idea of any companion
whateverexcept his girls. And Captain Mitchellanxious to
please his poor Nostromowith that felicity of inspiration which
only true affection can givehad formally appointed Linda Viola
as under-keeper of the Isabel's Light.

The light is private property,he used to explain. "It belongs
to my Company. I've the power to nominate whom I likeand Viola
it shall be. It's about the only thing Nostromo--a man worth his
weight in goldmind you--has ever asked me to do for him."

Directly his schooner was anchored opposite the New Custom House
with its sham air of a Greek templeflatroofedwith a
colonnadeCaptain Fidanza went pulling his small boat out of the
harbourbound for the Great Isabelopenly in the light of a
declining daybefore all men's eyeswith a sense of having
mastered the fates. He must establish a regular position. He
would ask him for his daughter now. He thought of Giselle as he
pulled. Linda loved himperhapsbut the old man would be glad
to keep the elderwho had his wife's voice.

He did not pull for the narrow strand where he had landed with
Decoudand afterwards alone on his first visit to the treasure.
He made for the beach at the other endand walked up the regular
and gentle slope of the wedge-shaped island. Giorgio Violawhom
he saw from afarsitting on a bench under the front wall of the
cottagelifted his arm slightly to his loud hail. He walked up.
Neither of the girls appeared.

It is good here,said the old manin his austerefar-away
manner.

Nostromo nodded; thenafter a short silence-


You saw my schooner pass in not two hours ago? Do you know why
I am here before, so to speak, my anchor has fairly bitten into
the ground of this port of Sulaco?

You are welcome like a son,the old man declaredquietly
staring away upon the sea.

Ah! thy son. I know. I am what thy son would have been. It is


well, viejo. It is a very good welcome. Listen, I have come to
ask you for----

A sudden dread came upon the fearless and incorruptible Nostromo.
He dared not utter the name in his mind. The slight pause only
imparted a marked weight and solemnity to the changed end of the
phrase.

For my wife!. . . His heart was beating fast." It is time
you----"

The Garibaldino arrested him with an extended arm. "That was
left for you to judge."

He got up slowly. His beardunclipped since Teresa's death
thicksnow-whitecovered his powerful chest. He turned his head
to the doorand called out in his strong voice-


Linda.

Her answer came sharp and faint from within; and the appalled
Nostromo stood uptoobut remained mutegazing at the door. He
was afraid. He was not afraid of being refused the girl he
loved--no mere refusal could stand between him and a woman he
desired--but the shining spectre of the treasure rose before him
claiming his allegiance in a silence that could not be gainsaid.
He was afraidbecauseneither dead nor alivelike the Gringos
on Azuerahe belonged body and soul to the unlawfulness of his
audacity. He was afraid of being forbidden the island. He was
afraidand said nothing.

Seeing the two men standing up side by side to await herLinda
stopped in the doorway. Nothing could alter the passionate dead
whiteness of her face; but her black eyes seemed to catch and
concentrate all the light of the low sun in a flaming spark
within the black depthscovered at once by the slow descent of
heavy eyelids.

Behold thy husband, master, and benefactor.Old Viola's voice
resounded with a force that seemed to fill the whole gulf.

She stepped forward with her eyes nearly closedlike a
sleep-walker in a beatific dream.

Nostromo made a superhuman effort. "It is timeLindawe two
were betrothed he said, steadily, in his level, careless,
unbending tone.

She put her hand into his offered palm, lowering her head, dark
with bronze glints, upon which her father's hand rested for a
moment.

And so the soul of the dead is satisfied."

This came from Giorgio Violawho went on talking for a while of
his dead wife; while the twositting side by sidenever looked
at each other. Then the old man ceased; and Lindamotionless
began to speak.

Ever since I felt I lived in the world, I have lived for you
alone, Gian' Battista. And that you knew! You knew it . . .
Battistino.

She pronounced the name exactly with her mother's intonation. A


gloom as of the grave covered Nostromo's heart.

Yes. I knew,he said.

The heroic Garibaldino sat on the same bench bowing his hoary
headhis old soul dwelling alone with its memoriestender and
violentterrible and dreary--solitary on the earth full of men.

And Lindahis best-loved daughterwas sayingI was yours ever
since I can remember. I had only to think of you for the earth to
become empty to my eyes. When you were there, I could see no one
else. I was yours. Nothing is changed. The world belongs to you,
and you let me live in it.. . . She dropped her lowvibrating
voice to a still lower noteand found other things to
say--torturing for the man at her side. Her murmur ran on ardent
and voluble. She did not seem to see her sisterwho came out
with an altar-cloth she was embroidering in her handsand passed
in front of themsilentfreshfairwith a quick glance and a
faint smileto sit a little away on the other side of Nostromo.

The evening was still. The sun sank almost to the edge of a
purple ocean; and the white lighthouselivid against the
background of clouds filling the head of the gulfbore the
lantern red and glowinglike a live ember kindled by the fire of
the sky. Giselleindolent and demureraised the altar-cloth
from time to time to hide nervous yawnsas of a young panther.

Suddenly Linda rushed at her sisterand seizing her head
covered her face with kisses. Nostromo's brain reeled. When she
left heras if stunned by the violent caresseswith her hands
lying in her lapthe slave of the treasure felt as if he could
shoot that woman. Old Giorgio lifted his leonine head.

Where are you going, Linda?

To the light, padre mio.

Si, si--to your duty.

He got uptoolooked after his eldest daughter; thenin a tone
whose festive note seemed the echo of a mood lost in the night of
ages-


I am going in to cook something. Aha! Son! The old man knows
where to find a bottle of wine, too.

He turned to Gisellewith a change to austere tenderness.

And you, little one, pray not to the God of priests and slaves,
but to the God of orphans, of the oppressed, of the poor, of
little children, to give thee a man like this one for a husband.

His hand rested heavily for a moment on Nostromo's shoulder; then
he went in. The hopeless slave of the San Tome silver felt at
these words the venomous fangs of jealousy biting deep into his
heart. He was appalled by the novelty of the experienceby its
forceby its physical intimacy. A husband! A husband for her!
And yet it was natural that Giselle should have a husband at some
time or other. He had never realized that before. In discovering
that her beauty could belong to another he felt as though he
could kill this one of old Giorgio's daughters also. He muttered
moodily-


They say you love Ramirez.


She shook her head without looking at him. Coppery glints rippled
to and fro on the wealth of her gold hair. Her smooth forehead
had the softpure sheen of a priceless pearl in the splendour of
the sunsetmingling the gloom of starry spacesthe purple of
the seaand the crimson of the sky in a magnificent stillness.

No,she saidslowly. "I never loved him. I think I never . . .
He loves me--perhaps."

The seduction of her slow voice died out of the airand her
raised eyes remained fixed on nothingas if indifferent and
without thought.

Ramirez told you he loved you?asked Nostromorestraining
himself.

Ah! once--one evening . . .

The miserable . . . Ha!

He had jumped up as if stung by a gad-flyand stood before her
mute with anger.

Misericordia Divina! You, too, Gian' Battista! Poor wretch that
I am!she lamented in ingenuous tones. "I told Lindaand she
scolded--she scolded. Am I to live blinddumband deaf in this
world? And she told fatherwho took down his gun and cleaned it.
Poor Ramirez! Then you cameand she told you."

He looked at her. He fastened his eyes upon the hollow of her
white throatwhich had the invincible charm of things young
palpitatingdelicateand alive. Was this the child he had
known? Was it possible? It dawned upon him that in these last
years he had really seen very little--nothing--of her. Nothing.
She had come into the world like a thing unknown. She had come
upon him unawares. She was a danger. A frightful danger. The
instinctive mood of fierce determination that had never failed
him before the perils of this life added its steady force to the
violence of his passion. Shein a voice that recalled to him the
song of running waterthe tinkling of a silver bellcontinued-


And between you three you have brought me here into this
captivity to the sky and water. Nothing else. Sky and water. Oh,
Sanctissima Madre. My hair shall turn grey on this tedious
island. I could hate you, Gian' Battista!

He laughed loudly. Her voice enveloped him like a caress. She
bemoaned her fatespreading unconsciouslylike a flower its
perfume in the coolness of the eveningthe indefinable seduction
of her person. Was it her fault that nobody ever had admired
Linda? Even when they were littlegoing out with their mother to
Massshe remembered that people took no notice of Lindawho was
fearlessand chose instead to frighten herwho was timidwith
their attention. It was her hair like goldshe supposed.

He broke out-


Your hair like gold, and your eyes like violets, and your lips
like the rose; your round arms, your white throat.. . .

Imperturbable in the indolence of her poseshe blushed deeply
all over to the roots of her hair. She was not conceited. She was
no more self-conscious than a flower. But she was pleased. And


perhaps even a flower loves to hear itself praised. He glanced
downand addedimpetuously-


Your little feet!

Leaning back against the rough stone wall of the cottageshe
seemed to bask languidly in the warmth of the rosy flush. Only
her lowered eyes glanced at her little feet.

And so you are going at last to marry our Linda. She is
terrible. Ah! now she will understand better since you have told
her you love her. She will not be so fierce.

Chica!said NostromoI have not told her anything.

Then make haste. Come to-morrow. Come and tell her, so that I
may have some peace from her scolding and--perhaps--who knows . .
.

Be allowed to listen to your Ramirez, eh? Is that it? You . . .

Mercy of God! How violent you are, Giovanni,she said
unmoved. "Who is Ramirez . . . Ramirez . . . Who is he?"
she repeateddreamilyin the dusk and gloom of the clouded
gulfwith a low red streak in the west like a hot bar of glowing
iron laid across the entrance of a world sombre as a cavern
where the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores had hidden his
conquests of love and wealth.

Listen, Giselle,he saidin measured tones; "I will tell no
word of love to your sister. Do you want to know why?"

Alas! I could not understand perhaps, Giovanni. Father says you
are not like other men; that no one had ever understood you
properly; that the rich will be surprised yet. . . . Oh! saints
in heaven! I am weary.

She raised her embroidery to conceal the lower part of her face
then let it fall on her lap. The lantern was shaded on the land
sidebut slanting away from the dark column of the lighthouse
they could see the long shaft of lightkindled by Lindago out
to strike the expiring glow in a horizon of purple and red.

Giselle Violawith her head resting against the wall of the
househer eyes half closedand her little feetin white
stockings and black slipperscrossed over each otherseemed to
surrender herselftranquil and fatalto the gathering dusk. The
charm of her bodythe promising mysteriousness of her indolence
went out into the night of the Placid Gulf like a fresh and
intoxicating fragrance spreading out in the shadowsimpregnating
the air. The incorruptible Nostromo breathed her ambient
seduction in the tumultuous heaving of his breast. Before leaving
the harbour he had thrown off the store clothing of Captain
Fidanzafor greater ease in the long pull out to the islands. He
stood before her in the red sash and check shirt as he used to
appear on the Company's wharf--a Mediterranean sailor come ashore
to try his luck in Costaguana. The dusk of purple and red
enveloped himtoo--closesoftprofoundas no more than fifty
yards from that spot it had gathered evening after evening about
the self-destructive passion of Don Martin Decoud's utter
scepticismflaming up to death in solitude.

You have got to hear,he began at lastwith perfect
self-control. "I shall say no word of love to your sisterto


whom I am betrothed from this eveningbecause it is you that I
love. It is you!" . . .

The dusk let him see yet the tender and voluptuous smile that
came instinctively upon her lips shaped for love and kisses
freeze hard in the drawnhaggard lines of terror. He could not
restrain himself any longer. While she shrank from his approach
her arms went out to himabandoned and regal in the dignity of
her languid surrender. He held her head in his two handsand
showered rapid kisses upon the upturned face that gleamed in the
purple dusk. Masterful and tenderhe was entering slowly upon
the fulness of his possession. And he perceived that she was
crying. Then the incomparable Capatazthe man of careless loves
became gentle and caressinglike a woman to the grief of a
child. He murmured to her fondly. He sat down by her and nursed
her fair head on his breast. He called her his star and his
little flower.

It had grown dark. From the living-room of the light-keeper's
cottagewhere Giorgioone of the Immortal Thousandwas bending
his leonine and heroic head over a charcoal firethere came the
sound of sizzling and the aroma of an artistic frittura.

In the obscure disarray of that thinghappening like a
cataclysmit was in her feminine head that some gleam of reason
survived. He was lost to the world in their embraced stillness.
But she saidwhispering into his ear-


God of mercy! What will become of me--here--now--between this
sky and this water I hate? Linda, Linda--I see her!. . . She
tried to get out of his armssuddenly relaxed at the sound of
that name. But there was no one approaching their black shapes
enlaced and struggling on the white background of the wall.
Linda! Poor Linda! I tremble! I shall die of fear before my poor
sister Linda, betrothed to-day to Giovanni--my lover! Giovanni,
you must have been mad! I cannot understand you! You are not like
other men! I will not give you up--never--only to God himself!
But why have you done this blind, mad, cruel, frightful thing?

Releasedshe hung her headlet fall her hands. The altar-cloth
as if tossed by a great windlay far away from themgleaming
white on the black ground.

From fear of losing my hope of you,said Nostromo.

You knew that you had my soul! You know everything! It was made
for you! But what could stand between you and me? What? Tell me!
she repeatedwithout impatiencein superb assurance.

Your dead mother,he saidvery low.

Ah! . . . Poor mother! She has always . . . She is a saint in
heaven now, and I cannot give you up to her. No, Giovanni. Only
to God alone. You were mad--but it is done. Oh! what have you
done? Giovanni, my beloved, my life, my master, do not leave me
here in this grave of clouds. You cannot leave me now. You must
take me away--at once--this instant--in the little boat.
Giovanni, carry me off to-night, from my fear of Linda's eyes,
before I have to look at her again.

She nestled close to him. The slave of the San Tome silver felt
the weight as of chains upon his limbsa pressure as of a cold
hand upon his lips. He struggled against the spell.


I cannot,he said. "Not yet. There is something that stands
between us two and the freedom of the world."

She pressed her form closer to his side with a subtle and naive
instinct of seduction.

You rave, Giovanni--my lover!she whisperedengagingly. "What
can there be? Carry me off--in thy very hands--to Dona
Emilia--away from here. I am not very heavy."

It seemed as though she expected him to lift her up at once in
his two palms. She had lost the notion of all impossibility.
Anything could happen on this night of wonder. As he made no
movementshe almost cried aloud-


I tell you I am afraid of Linda!And still he did not move. She
became quiet and wily. "What can there be?" she askedcoaxingly.

He felt her warmbreathingalivequivering in the hollow of
his arm. In the exulting consciousness of his strengthand the
triumphant excitement of his mindhe struck out for his freedom.

A treasure,he said. All was still. She did not understand. "A
treasure. A treasure of silver to buy a gold crown for thy brow."

A treasure?she repeated in a faint voiceas if from the
depths of a dream. "What is it you say?"

She disengaged herself gently. He got up and looked down at her
aware of her faceof her hairher lipsthe dimples on her
cheeks--seeing the fascination of her person in the night of the
gulf as if in the blaze of noonday. Her nonchalant and seductive
voice trembled with the excitement of admiring awe and
ungovernable curiosity.

A treasure of silver!she stammered out. Then pressed on
faster: "What? Where? How did you get itGiovanni?"

He wrestled with the spell of captivity. It was as if striking a
heroic blow that he burst out-


Like a thief!

The densest blackness of the Placid Gulf seemed to fall upon his
head. He could not see her now. She had vanished into a long
obscure abysmal silencewhence her voice came back to him after
a time with a faint glimmerwhich was her face.

I love you! I love you!

These words gave him an unwonted sense of freedom; they cast a
spell stronger than the accursed spell of the treasure; they
changed his weary subjection to that dead thing into an exulting
conviction of his power. He would cherish herhe saidin a
splendour as great as Dona Emilia's. The rich lived on wealth
stolen from the peoplebut he had taken from the rich nothing
--nothing that was not lost to them already by their folly and
their betrayal. For he had been betrayed--he said--deceived
tempted. She believed him. . . . He had kept the treasure for
purposes of revenge; but now he cared nothing for it. He cared
only for her. He would put her beauty in a palace on a hill
crowned with olive trees--a white palace above a blue sea. He
would keep her there like a jewel in a casket. He would get land
for her--her own land fertile with vines and corn--to set her


little feet upon. He kissed them. . . . He had already paid for
it all with the soul of a woman and the life of a man. . . . The
Capataz de Cargadores tasted the supreme intoxication of his
generosity. He flung the mastered treasure superbly at her feet
in the impenetrable darkness of the gulfin the darkness
defying--as men said--the knowledge of God and the wit of the
devil. But she must let him grow rich first--he warned her.

She listened as if in a trance. Her fingers stirred in his hair.
He got up from his knees reelingweakemptyas though he had
flung his soul away.

Make haste, then,she said. "Make hasteGiovannimy lovermy
masterfor I will give thee up to no one but God. And I am
afraid of Linda."

He guessed at her shudderand swore to do his best. He trusted
the courage of her love. She promised to be brave in order to be
loved always--far away in a white palace upon a hill above a blue
sea. Then with a timidtentative eagerness she murmured-


Where is it? Where? Tell me that, Giovanni.

He opened his mouth and remained silent--thunderstruck.

Not that! Not that!he gasped outappalled at the spell of
secrecy that had kept him dumb before so many people falling upon
his lips again with unimpaired force. Not even to her. Not even
to her. It was too dangerous. "I forbid thee to ask he cried at
her, deadening cautiously the anger of his voice.

He had not regained his freedom. The spectre of the unlawful
treasure arose, standing by her side like a figure of silver,
pitiless and secret, with a finger on its pale lips. His soul
died within him at the vision of himself creeping in presently
along the ravine, with the smell of earth, of damp foliage in his
nostrils--creeping in, determined in a purpose that numbed his
breast, and creeping out again loaded with silver, with his ears
alert to every sound. It must be done on this very night--that
work of a craven slave!

He stooped low, pressed the hem of her skirt to his lips, with a
muttered command-


Tell him I would not stay and was gone suddenly from her,
silent, without as much as a footfall in the dark night.

She sat still, her head resting indolently against the wall, and
her little feet in white stockings and black slippers crossed
over each other. Old Giorgio, coming out, did not seem to be
surprised at the intelligence as much as she had vaguely feared.
For she was full of inexplicable fear now--fear of everything and
everybody except of her Giovanni and his treasure. But that was
incredible.

The heroic Garibaldino accepted Nostromo's abrupt departure with
a sagacious indulgence. He remembered his own feelings, and
exhibited a masculine penetration of the true state of the case.

Va bene. Let him go. Ha! ha! No matter how fair the womanit
galls a little. Libertyliberty. There's more than one kind! He
has said the great wordand son Gian' Battista is not tame." He
seemed to be instructing the motionless and scared Giselle. . .
. "A man should not be tame he added, dogmatically out of the


doorway. Her stillness and silence seemed to displease him. Do
not give way to the enviousness of your sister's lot he
admonished her, very grave, in his deep voice.

Presently he had to come to the door again to call in his younger
daughter. It was late. He shouted her name three times before she
even moved her head. Left alone, she had become the helpless prey
of astonishment. She walked into the bedroom she shared with
Linda like a person profoundly asleep. That aspect was so marked
that even old Giorgio, spectacled, raising his eyes from the
Bible, shook his head as she shut the door behind her.

She walked right across the room without looking at anything, and
sat down at once by the open window. Linda, stealing down from
the tower in the exuberance of her happiness, found her with a
lighted candle at her back, facing the black night full of
sighing gusts of wind and the sound of distant showers--a true
night of the gulf, too dense for the eye of God and the wiles of
the devil. She did not turn her head at the opening of the door.

There was something in that immobility which reached Linda in the
depths of her paradise. The elder sister guessed angrily: the
child is thinking of that wretched Ramirez. Linda longed to talk.
She said in her arbitrary voice, Giselle!" and was not answered
by the slightest movement.

The girl that was going to live in a palace and walk on ground of
her own was ready to die with terror. Not for anything in the
world would she have turned her head to face her sister. Her
heart was beating madly. She said with subdued haste-


Do not speak to me. I am praying.

Lindadisappointedwent out quietly; and Giselle sat on
unbelievinglostdazedpatientas if waiting for the
confirmation of the incredible. The hopeless blackness of the
clouds seemed part of a dreamtoo. She waited.

She did not wait in vain. The man whose soul was dead within him
creeping out of the ravineweighted with silverhad seen the
gleam of the lighted windowand could not help retracing his
steps from the beach.

On that impenetrable backgroundobliterating the lofty mountains
by the seaboardshe saw the slave of the San Tome silveras if
by an extraordinary power of a miracle. She accepted his return
as if henceforth the world could hold no surprise for all
eternity.

She rosecompelled and rigidand began to speak long before the
light from within fell upon the face of the approaching man.

You have come back to carry me off. It is well! Open thy arms,
Giovanni, my lover. I am coming.

His prudent footsteps stoppedand with his eyes glistening
wildlyhe spoke in a harsh voice:

Not yet. I must grow rich slowly.. . . A threatening note came
into his tone. "Do not forget that you have a thief for your
lover."

Yes! Yes!she whisperedhastily. "Come nearer! Listen! Do not
give me upGiovanni! Nevernever! . . . I will be patient! . . ."


Her form drooped consolingly over the low casement towards the
slave of the unlawful treasure. The light in the room went out
and weighted with silverthe magnificent Capataz clasped her
round her white neck in the darkness of the gulf as a drowning
man clutches at a straw.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

ON THE day Mrs. Gould was goingin Dr. Monygham's wordsto
give a tertulia,Captain Fidanza went down the side of his
schooner lying in Sulaco harbourcalmunbendingdeliberate in
the way he sat down in his dinghy and took up his sculls. He was
later than usual. The afternoon was well advanced before he
landed on the beach of the Great Isabeland with a steady pace
climbed the slope of the island.

From a distance he made out Giselle sitting in a chair tilted
back against the end of the houseunder the window of the girl's
room. She had her embroidery in her handsand held it well up to
her eyes. The tranquillity of that girlish figure exasperated the
feeling of perpetual struggle and strife he carried in his
breast. He became angry. It seemed to him that she ought to hear
the clanking of his fetters--his silver fettersfrom afar. And
while ashore that dayhe had met the doctor with the evil eye
who had looked at him very hard.

The raising of her eyes mollified him. They smiled in their
flower-like freshness straight upon his heart. Then she frowned.
It was a warning to be cautious. He stopped some distance away
and in a loudindifferent tonesaid-


Good day, Giselle. Is Linda up yet?

Yes. She is in the big room with father.

He approached thenandlooking through the window into the
bedroom for fear of being detected by Linda returning there for
some reasonhe saidmoving only his lips-


You love me?

More than my life.She went on with her embroidery under his
contemplating gaze and continued to speaklooking at her work
Or I could not live. I could not, Giovanni. For this life is
like death. Oh, Giovanni, I shall perish if you do not take me
away.

He smiled carelessly. "I will come to the window when it's dark
he said.

Nodon'tGiovanni. Not-to-night. Linda and father have been
talking together for a long time today."

What about?

Ramirez, I fancy I heard. I do not know. I am afraid. I am
always afraid. It is like dying a thousand times a day. Your love
is to me like your treasure to you. It is there, but I can never
get enough of it.

He looked at her very still. She was beautiful. His desire had


grown within him. He had two masters now. But she was incapable
of sustained emotion. She was sincere in what she saidbut she
slept placidly at night. When she saw him she flamed up always.
Then only an increased taciturnity marked the change in her. She
was afraid of betraying herself. She was afraid of painof
bodily harmof sharp wordsof facing angerand witnessing
violence. For her soul was light and tender with a pagan
sincerity in its impulses. She murmured-


Give up the palazzo, Giovanni, and the vineyard on the hills,
for which we are starving our love.

She ceasedseeing Linda standing silent at the corner of the
house.

Nostromo turned to his affianced wife with a greetingand was
amazed at her sunken eyesat her hollow cheeksat the air of
illness and anguish in her face.

Have you been ill?he askedtrying to put some concern into
this question.

Her black eyes blazed at him. "Am I thinner?" she asked.

Yes--perhaps--a little.

And older?

Every day counts--for all of us.

I shall go grey, I fear, before the ring is on my finger,she
saidslowlykeeping her gaze fastened upon him.

She waited for what he would sayrolling down her turned-up
sleeves.

No fear of that,he saidabsently.

She turned away as if it had been something finaland busied
herself with household cares while Nostromo talked with her
father. Conversation with the old Garibaldino was not easy. Age
had left his faculties unimpairedonly they seemed to have
withdrawn somewhere deep within him. His answers were slow in
comingwith an effect of august gravity. But that day he was
more animatedquicker; there seemed to be more life in the old
lion. He was uneasy for the integrity of his honour. He believed
Sidoni's warning as to Ramirez's designs upon his younger
daughter. And he did not trust her. She was flighty. He said
nothing of his cares to "Son Gian' Battista." It was a touch of
senile vanity. He wanted to show that he was equal yet to the
task of guarding alone the honour of his house.

Nostromo went away early. As soon as he had disappearedwalking
towards the beachLinda stepped over the threshold andwith a
haggard smilesat down by the side of her father.

Ever since that Sundaywhen the infatuated and desperate Ramirez
had waited for her on the wharfshe had no doubts whatever. The
jealous ravings of that man were no revelation. They had only
fixed with precisionas with a nail driven into her heartthat
sense of unreality and deception whichinstead of bliss and
securityshe had found in her intercourse with her promised
husband. She had passed onpouring indignation and scorn upon
Ramirez; butthat Sundayshe nearly died of wretchedness and


shamelying on the carved and lettered stone of Teresa's grave
subscribed for by the engine-drivers and the fitters of the
railway workshopsin sign of their respect for the hero of
Italian Unity. Old Viola had not been able to carry out his
desire of burying his wife in the sea; and Linda wept upon the
stone.

The gratuitous outrage appalled her. If he wished to break her
heart--well and good. Everything was permitted to Gian' Battista.
But why trample upon the pieces; why seek to humiliate her
spirit? Aha! He could not break that. She dried her tears. And
Giselle! Giselle! The little one thatever since she could
toddlehad always clung to her skirt for protection. What
duplicity! But she could not help it probably. When there was a
man in the case the poor featherheaded wretch could not help
herself.

Linda had a good share of the Viola stoicism. She resolved to say
nothing. But woman-like she put passion into her stoicism.
Giselle's short answersprompted by fearful cautiondrove her
beside herself by their curtness that resembled disdain. One day
she flung herself upon the chair in which her indolent sister was
lying and impressed the mark of her teeth at the base of the
whitest neck in Sulaco. Giselle cried out. But she had her share
of the Viola heroism. Ready to faint with terrorshe only said
in a lazy voiceMadre de Dios! Are you going to eat me alive,
Linda?And this outburst passed off leaving no trace upon the
situation. "She knows nothing. She cannot know any thing
reflected Giselle. Perhaps it is not true. It cannot be true
Linda tried to persuade herself.

But when she saw Captain Fidanza for the first time after her
meeting with the distracted Ramirez, the certitude of her
misfortune returned. She watched him from the doorway go away to
his boat, asking herself stoically, Will they meet to-night?"
She made up her mind not to leave the tower for a second. When he
had disappeared she came out and sat down by her father.

The venerable Garibaldino feltin his own wordsa young man
yet.In one way or another a good deal of talk about Ramirez had
reached him of late; and his contempt and dislike of that man who
obviously was not what his son would have beenhad made him
restless. He slept very little now; but for several nights past
instead of reading--or only sittingwith Mrs. Gould's silver
spectacles on his nosebefore the open Biblehe had been
prowling actively all about the island with his old gunon watch
over his honour.

Lindalaying her thin brown hand on his kneetried to soothe
his excitement. Ramirez was not in Sulaco. Nobody knew where he
was. He was gone. His talk of what he would do meant nothing.

No,the old man interrupted. "But son Gian' Battista told
me--quite of himself--that the cowardly esclavo was drinking and
gambling with the rascals of Zapigaover there on the north side
of the gulf. He may get some of the worst scoundrels of that
scoundrelly town of negroes to help him in his attempt upon the
little one. . . . But I am not so old. No!"

She argued earnestly against the probability of any attempt being
made; and at last the old man fell silentchewing his white
moustache. Women had their obstinate notions which must be
humoured--his poor wife was like thatand Linda resembled her
mother. It was not seemly for a man to argue. "May be. May be


he mumbled.

She was by no means easy in her mind. She loved Nostromo. She
turned her eyes upon Giselle, sitting at a distance, with
something of maternal tenderness, and the jealous anguish of a
rival outraged in her defeat. Then she rose and walked over to
her.

Listen--you she said, roughly.

The invincible candour of the gaze, raised up all violet and dew,
excited her rage and admiration. She had beautiful eyes--the
Chica--this vile thing of white flesh and black deception. She
did not know whether she wanted to tear them out with shouts of
vengeance or cover up their mysterious and shameless innocence
with kisses of pity and love. And suddenly they became empty,
gazing blankly at her, except for a little fear not quite buried
deep enough with all the other emotions in Giselle's heart.

Linda said, Ramirez is boasting in town that he will carry you
off from the island."

What folly!answered the otherand in a perversity born of
long restraintshe added: "He is not the man in a jesting tone
with a trembling audacity.

No?" said Lindathrough her clenched teeth. "Is he not? Well
thenlook to it; because father has been walking about with a
loaded gun at night."

It is not good for him. You must tell him not to, Linda. He will
not listen to me.

I shall say nothing--never any more--to anybody,cried Linda
passionately.

This could not lastthought Giselle. Giovanni must take her away
soon--the very next time he came. She would not suffer these
terrors for ever so much silver. To speak with her sister made
her ill. But she was not uneasy at her father's watchfulness. She
had begged Nostromo not to come to the window that night. He had
promised to keep away for this once. And she did not knowcould
not guess or imaginethat he had another reason for coming on
the island.

Linda had gone straight to the tower. It was time to light up.
She unlocked the little doorand went heavily up the spiral
staircasecarrying her love for the magnificent Capataz de
Cargadores like an ever-increasing load of shameful fetters. No;
she could not throw it off. No; let Heaven dispose of these two.
And moving about the lanternfilled with twilight and the sheen
of the moonwith careful movements she lighted the lamp. Then
her arms fell along her body.

And with our mother looking on,she murmured. "My own
sister--the Chica!"

The whole refracting apparatuswith its brass fittings and rings
of prismsglittered and sparkled like a domeshaped shrine of
diamondscontaining not a lampbut some sacred flame
dominating the sea. And Lindathe keeperin blackwith a pale
facedrooped low in a wooden chairalone with her jealousyfar
above the shames and passions of the earth. A strangedragging
pain as if somebody were pulling her about brutally by her dark


hair with bronze glintsmade her put her hands up to her
temples. They would meet. They would meet. And she knew where
too. At the window. The sweat of torture fell in drops on her
cheekswhile the moonlight in the offing closed as if with a
colossal bar of silver the entrance of the Placid Gulf--the
sombre cavern of clouds and stillness in the surf-fretted
seaboard.

Linda Viola stood up suddenly with a finger on her lip. He loved
neither her nor her sister. The whole thing seemed so objectless
as to frighten herand also give her some hope. Why did he not
carry her off? What prevented him? He was incomprehensible. What
were they waiting for? For what end were these two lying and
deceiving? Not for the ends of their love. There was no such
thing. The hope of regaining him for herself made her break her
vow of not leaving the tower that night. She must talk at once to
her fatherwho was wiseand would understand. She ran down the
spiral stairs. At the moment of opening the door at the bottom
she heard the sound of the first shot ever fired on the Great
Isabel.

She felt a shockas though the bullet had struck her breast. She
ran on without pausing. The cottage was dark. She cried at the
doorGiselle! Giselle!then dashed round the corner and
screamed her sister's name at the open windowwithout getting an
answer; but as she was rushingdistractedround the house
Giselle came out of the doorand darted past herrunning
silentlyher hair looseand her eyes staring straight ahead.
She seemed to skim along the grass as if on tiptoeand vanished.

Linda walked on slowlywith her arms stretched out before her.
All was still on the island; she did not know where she was
going. The tree under which Martin Decoud spent his last days
beholding life like a succession of senseless imagesthrew a
large blotch of black shade upon the grass. Suddenly she saw her
fatherstanding quietly all alone in the moonlight.

The Garibaldino--bigerectwith his snow-white hair and
beard--had a monumental repose in his immobilityleaning upon a
rifle. She put her hand upon his arm lightly. He never stirred.

What have you done?she askedin her ordinary voice.

I have shot Ramirez--infame!he answeredwith his eyes
directed to where the shade was blackest. "Like a thief he came
and like a thief he fell. The child had to be protected."

He did not offer to move an inchto advance a single step. He
stood thererugged and unstirringlike a statue of an old man
guarding the honour of his house. Linda removed her trembling
hand from his armfirm and steady like an arm of stoneand
without a wordentered the blackness of the shade. She saw a
stir of formless shapes on the groundand stopped short. A
murmur of despair and tears grew louder to her strained hearing.

I entreated you not to come to-night. Oh, my Giovanni! And you
promised. Oh! Why--why did you come, Giovanni?

It was her sister's voice. It broke on a heartrending sob. And
the voice of the resourceful Capataz de Cargadoresmaster and
slave of the San Tome treasurewho had been caught unawares by
old Giorgio while stealing across the open towards the ravine to
get some more silveranswered careless and coolbut sounding
startlingly weak from the ground.


It seemed as though I could not live through the night without
seeing thee once more--my star, my little flower.

* * * * *

The brilliant tertulia was just overthe last guests had
departedand the Senor Administrador had gone to his room
alreadywhen Dr. Monyghamwho had been expected in the evening
but had not turned uparrived driving along the wood-block
pavement under the electric-lamps of the deserted Calle de la
Constitucionand found the great gateway of the Casa still open.

He limped instumped up the stairsand found the fat and sleek
Basilio on the point of turning off the lights in the sala. The
prosperous majordomo remained open-mouthed at this late invasion.

Don't put out the lights,commanded the doctor. "I want to see
the senora."

The senora is in the Senor Adminstrador's cancillaria,said
Basilioin an unctuous voice. "The Senor Administrador starts
for the mountain in an hour. There is some trouble with the
workmen to be fearedit appears. A shameless people without
reason and decency. And idlesenor. Idle."

You are shamelessly lazy and imbecile yourself,said the
doctorwith that faculty for exasperation which made him so
generally beloved. "Don't put the lights out."

Basilio retired with dignity. Dr. Monyghamwaiting in the
brilliantly lighted salaheard presently a door close at the
further end of the house. A jingle of spurs died out. The Senor
Administrador was off to the mountain.

With a measured swish of her long trainflashing with jewels and
the shimmer of silkher delicate head bowed as if under the
weight of a mass of fair hairin which the silver threads were
lostthe "first lady of Sulaco as Captain Mitchell used to
describe her, moved along the lighted corredor, wealthy beyond
great dreams of wealth, considered, loved, respected, honoured,
and as solitary as any human being had ever been, perhaps, on
this earth.

The doctor's Mrs. Gould! One minute!" stopped her with a start
at the door of the lighted and empty sala. From the similarity of
mood and circumstancethe sight of the doctorstanding there
all alone amongst the groups of furniturerecalled to her
emotional memory her unexpected meeting with Martin Decoud; she
seemed to hear in the silence the voice of that mandead
miserably so many years agopronounce the wordsAntonia left
her fan here.But it was the doctor's voice that spokea little
altered by his excitement. She remarked his shining eyes.

Mrs. Gould, you are wanted. Do you know what has happened? You
remember what I told you yesterday about Nostromo. Well, it seems
that a lancha, a decked boat, coming from Zapiga, with four
negroes in her, passing close to the Great Isabel, was hailed
from the cliff by a woman's voice--Linda's, as a matter of
fact--commanding them (it's a moonlight night) to go round to the
beach and take up a wounded man to the town. The patron (from
whom I've heard all this), of course, did so at once. He told me
that when they got round to the low side of the Great Isabel,
they found Linda Viola waiting for them. They followed her: she


led them under a tree not far from the cottage. There they found
Nostromo lying on the ground with his head in the younger girl's
lap, and father Viola standing some distance off leaning on his
gun. Under Linda's direction they got a table out of the cottage
for a stretcher, after breaking off the legs. They are here, Mrs.
Gould. I mean Nostromo and--and Giselle. The negroes brought him
in to the first-aid hospital near the harbour. He made the
attendant send for me. But it was not me he wanted to see--it was
you, Mrs. Gould! It was you.

Me?whispered Mrs. Gouldshrinking a little.

Yes, you!the doctor burst out. "He begged me--his enemyas
he thinks--to bring you to him at once. It seems he has
something to say to you alone."

Impossible!murmured Mrs. Gould.

He said to me, 'Remind her that I have done something to keep a
roof over her head.' . . . Mrs. Gould,the doctor pursuedin
the greatest excitement. "Do you remember the silver? The silver
in the lighter--that was lost?"

Mrs. Gould remembered. But she did not say she hated the mere
mention of that silver. Frankness personifiedshe remembered
with an exaggerated horror that for the first and last time of
her life she had concealed the truth from her husband about that
very silver. She had been corrupted by her fears at that time
and she had never forgiven herself. Moreoverthat silverwhich
would never have come down if her husband had been made
acquainted with the news brought by Decoudhad been in a
roundabout way nearly the cause of Dr. Monygham's death. And
these things appeared to her very dreadful.

Was it lost, though?the doctor exclaimed. "I've always felt
that there was a mystery about our Nostromo ever since. I do
believe he wants nowat the point of death----"

The point of death?repeated Mrs. Gould.

Yes. Yes. . . . He wants perhaps to tell you something
concerning that silver which----

Oh, no! No!exclaimed Mrs. Gouldin a low voice. "Isn't it
lost and done with? Isn't there enough treasure without it to
make everybody in the world miserable?"

The doctor remained stillin a submissivedisappointed silence.
At last he venturedvery low-


And there is that Viola girl, Giselle. What are we to do? It
looks as though father and sister had----

Mrs. Gould admitted that she felt in duty bound to do her best
for these girls.

I have a volante here,the doctor said. "If you don't mind
getting into that----"

He waitedall impatiencetill Mrs. Gould reappearedhaving
thrown over her dress a grey cloak with a deep hood.

It was thus thatcloaked and monastically hooded over her
evening costumethis womanfull of endurance and compassion


stood by the side of the bed on which the splendid Capataz de
Cargadores lay stretched out motionless on his back. The
whiteness of sheets and pillows gave a sombre and energetic
relief to his bronzed. faceto the darknervous handsso good
on a tillerupon a bridle and on a triggerlying open and idle
upon a white coverlet.

She is innocent,the Capataz was saying in a deep and level
voiceas though afraid that a louder word would break the
slender hold his spirit still kept upon his body. "She is
innocent. It is I alone. But no matter. For these things I would
answer to no man or woman alive."

He paused. Mrs. Gould's facevery white within the shadow of the
hoodbent over him with an invincible and dreary sadness. And
the low sobs of Giselle Violakneeling at the end of the bed
her gold hair with coppery gleams loose and scattered over the
Capataz's feethardly troubled the silence of the room.

Ha! Old Giorgio--the guardian of thine honour! Fancy the
Vecchio coming upon me so light of foot, so steady of aim. I
myself could have done no better. But the price of a charge of
powder might have been saved. The honour was safe. . . . Senora,
she would have followed to the end of the world Nostromo the
thief. . . . I have said the word. The spell is broken!

A low moan from the girl made him cast his eyes down.

I cannot see her. . . . No matter,he went onwith the shadow
of the old magnificent carelessness in his voice. "One kiss is
enoughif there is no time for more. An airy soulsenora!
Bright and warmlike sunshine--soon cloudedand soon serene.
They would crush it there between them. Senoracast on her the
eye of your compassionas famed from one end of the land to the
other as the courage and daring of the man who speaks to you. She
will console herself in time. And even Ramirez is not a bad
fellow. I am not angry. No! It is not Ramirez who overcame the
Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores." He pausedmade an effortand
in louder voicea little wildlydeclared-


I die betrayed--betrayed by----

But he did not say by whom or by what he was dying betrayed.

She would not have betrayed me,he began againopening his
eyes very wide. "She was faithful. We were going very far--very
soon. I could have torn myself away from that accursed treasure
for her. For that child I would have left boxes and boxes of
it--full. And Decoud took four. Four ingots. Why? Picardia! To
betray me? How could I give back the treasure with four ingots
missing? They would have said I had purloined them. The doctor
would have said that. Alas! it holds me yet!"

Mrs. Gould bent lowfascinated--cold with apprehension.

What became of Don Martin on that night, Nostromo?

Who knows? I wondered what would become of me. Now I know. Death
was to come upon me unawares. He went away! He betrayed me. And
you think I have killed him! You are all alike, you fine people.
The silver has killed me. It has held me. It holds me yet. Nobody
knows where it is. But you are the wife of Don Carlos, who put it
into my hands and said, 'Save it on your life.' And when I
returned, and you all thought it was lost, what do I hear? 'It


was nothing of importance. Let it go. Up, Nostromo, the faithful,
and ride away to save us, for dear life!'

Nostromo!Mrs. Gould whisperedbending very low. "Itoohave
hated the idea of that silver from the bottom of my heart."

Marvellous!--that one of you should hate the wealth that you
know so well how to take from the hands of the poor. The world
rests upon the poor, as old Giorgio says. You have been always
good to the poor. But there is something accursed in wealth.
Senora, shall I tell you where the treasure is? To you alone. . .
. Shining! Incorruptible!

A painedinvoluntary reluctance lingered in his tonein his
eyesplain to the woman with the genius of sympathetic
intuition. She averted her glance from the miserable subjection
of the dying manappalledwishing to hear no more of the
silver.

No, Capataz,she said. "No one misses it now. Let it be lost
for ever."

After hearing these wordsNostromo closed his eyesuttered no
wordmade no movement. Outside the door of the sick-room Dr.
Monyghamexcited to the highest pitchhis eyes shining with
eagernesscame up to the two women.

Now, Mrs. Gould,he saidalmost brutally in his impatience
tell me, was I right? There is a mystery. You have got the word
of it, have you not? He told you----

He told me nothing,said Mrs. Gouldsteadily.

The light of his temperamental enmity to Nostromo went out of Dr.
Monygham's eyes. He stepped back submissively. He did not believe
Mrs. Gould. But her word was law. He accepted her denial like an
inexplicable fatality affirming the victory of Nostromo's genius
over his own. Even before that womanwhom he loved with secret
devotionhe had been defeated by the magnificent Capataz de
Cargadoresthe man who had lived his own life on the assumption
of unbroken fidelityrectitudeand courage!

Pray send at once somebody for my carriage,spoke Mrs. Gould
from within her hood. Thenturning to Giselle ViolaCome
nearer me, child; come closer. We will wait here.

Giselle Violaheartbroken and childlikeher face veiled in her
falling haircrept up to her side. Mrs. Gould slipped her hand
through the arm of the unworthy daughter of old Violathe
immaculate republicanthe hero without a stain. Slowly
graduallyas a withered flower droopsthe head of the girlwho
would have followed a thief to the end of the worldrested on
the shoulder of Dona Emiliathe first lady of Sulacothe wife
of the Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine. And Mrs. Gould
feeling her suppressed sobbingnervous and excitedhad the
first and only moment of bitterness in her life. It was worthy of
Dr. Monygham himself.

Console yourself, child. Very soon he would have forgotten you
for his treasure.

Senora, he loved me. He loved me,Giselle whispered
despairingly. "He loved me as no one had ever been loved before."


I have been loved, too,Mrs. Gould said in a severe tone.

Giselle clung to her convulsively. "Ohsenorabut you shall
live adored to the end of your life she sobbed out.

Mrs. Gould kept an unbroken silence till the carriage arrived.
She helped in the half-fainting girl. After the doctor had shut
the door of the landau, she leaned over to him.

You can do nothing?" she whispered.

No, Mrs. Gould. Moreover, he won't let us touch him. It does not
matter. I just had one look. . . . Useless.

But he promised to see old Viola and the other girl that very
night. He could get the police-boat to take him off to the
island. He remained in the streetlooking after the landau
rolling away slowly behind the white mules.

The rumour of some accident--an accident to Captain Fidanza--had
been spreading along the new quays with their rows of lamps and
the dark shapes of towering cranes. A knot of night prowlers--the
poorest of the poor--hung about the door of the first-aid
hospitalwhispering in the moonlight of the empty street.

There was no one with the wounded man but the pale photographer
smallfrailbloodthirstythe hater of capitalistsperched on
a high stool near the head of the bed with his knees up and his
chin in his hands. He had been fetched by a comrade whoworking
late on the wharfhad heard from a negro belonging to a lancha
that Captain Fidanza had been brought ashore mortally wounded.

Have you any dispositions to make, comrade?he asked
anxiously. "Do not forget that we want money for our work. The
rich must be fought with their own weapons."

Nostromo made no answer. The other did not insistremaining
huddled up on the stoolshock-headedwildly hairylike a
hunchbacked monkey. Thenafter a long silence-


Comrade Fidanza,he begansolemnlyyou have refused all aid
from that doctor. Is he really a dangerous enemy of the people?

In the dimly lit room Nostromo rolled his head slowly on the
pillow and opened his eyesdirecting at the weird figure perched
by his bedside a glance of enigmatic and profound inquiry. Then
his head rolled backhis eyelids felland the Capataz de
Cargadores died without a word or moan after an hour of
immobilitybroken by short shudders testifying to the most
atrocious sufferings.

Dr. Monyghamgoing out in the police-galley to the islands
beheld the glitter of the moon upon the gulf and the high black
shape of the Great Isabel sending a shaft of light afarfrom
under the canopy of clouds.

Pull easy,he saidwondering what he would find there. He
tried to imagine Linda and her fatherand discovered a strange
reluctance within himself. "Pull easy he repeated.

* * * * * *

From the moment he fired at the thief of his honour, Giorgio
Viola had not stirred from the spot. He stood, his old gun


grounded, his hand grasping the barrel near the muzzle. After the
lancha carrying off Nostromo for ever from her had left the
shore, Linda, coming up, stopped before him. He did not seem to
be aware of her presence, but when, losing her forced calmness,
she cried out-


Do you know whom you have killed?" he answered-


Ramirez the vagabond.

Whiteand staring insanely at her fatherLinda laughed in his
face. After a time he joined her faintly in a deep-toned and
distant echo of her peals. Then she stoppedand the old man
spoke as if startled-


He cried out in son Gian' Battista's voice.

The gun fell from his opened handbut the arm remained extended
for a moment as if still supported. Linda seized it roughly.

You are too old to understand. Come into the house.

He let her lead him. On the threshold he stumbled heavilynearly
coming to the ground together with his daughter. His excitement
his activity of the last few dayshad been like the flare of a
dying lamp. He caught at the back of his chair.

In son Gian' Battista's voice,he repeated in a severe tone. "I
heard him--Ramirez--the miserable----"

Linda helped him into the chairandbending lowhissed into
his ear-


You have killed Gian' Battista.

The old man smiled under his thick moustache. Women had strange
fancies.

Where is the child?he askedsurprised at the penetrating
chilliness of the air and the unwonted dimness of the lamp by
which he used to sit up half the night with the open Bible before
him.

Linda hesitated a momentthen averted her eyes.

She is asleep,she said. "We shall talk of her tomorrow."

She could not bear to look at him. He filled her with terror and
with an almost unbearable feeling of pity. She had observed the
change that came over him. He would never understand what he had
done; and even to her the whole thing remained incomprehensible.
He said with difficulty-


Give me the book.

Linda laid on the table the closed volume in its worn leather
coverthe Bible given him ages ago by an Englishman in Palermo.

The child had to be protected,he saidin a strangemournful
voice.

Behind his chair Linda wrung her handscrying without noise.
Suddenly she started for the door. He heard her move.


Where are you going? he asked.

To the light,she answeredturning round to look at him
balefully.

The light! Si--duty.

Very uprightwhite-hairedleonineheroic in his absorbed
quietnesshe felt in the pocket of his red shirt for the
spectacles given him by Dona Emilia. He put them on. After a long
period of immobility he opened the bookand from on high looked
through the glasses at the small print in double columns. A
rigidstern expression settled upon his features with a slight
frownas if in response to some gloomy thought or unpleasant
sensation. But he never detached his eyes from the book while he
swayed forwardgentlygraduallytill his snow-white head
rested upon the open pages. A wooden clock ticked methodically on
the white-washed walland growing slowly cold the Garibaldino
lay aloneruggedundecayedlike an old oak uprooted by a
treacherous gust of wind.

The light of the Great Isabel burned unfailing above the lost
treasure of the San Tome mine. Into the bluish sheen of a night
without stars the lantern sent out a yellow beam towards the far
horizon. Like a black speck upon the shining panesLinda
crouching in the outer galleryrested her head on the rail. The
moondrooping in the western boardlooked at her radiantly.

Belowat the foot of the cliffthe regular splash of oars from
a passing boat ceasedand Dr. Monygham stood up in the stern
sheets.

Linda!he shoutedthrowing back his head. "Linda!"

Linda stood up. She had recognized the voice.

Is he dead?she criedbending over.

Yes, my poor girl. I am coming round,the doctor answered from
below. "Pull to the beach he said to the rowers.

Linda's black figure detached itself upright on the light of the
lantern with her arms raised above her head as though she were
going to throw herself over.

It is I who loved you she whispered, with a face as set and
white as marble in the moonlight. I! Only I! She will forget
theekilled miserably for her pretty face. I cannot understand.
I cannot understand. But I shall never forget thee. Never!"

She stood silent and stillcollecting her strength to throw all
her fidelityher painbewildermentand despair into one great
cry.

Never! Gian' Battista!

Dr. Monyghampulling round in the police-galleyheard the name
pass over his head. It was another of Nostromo's triumphsthe
greatestthe most enviablethe most sinister of all. In that
true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta
Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon
overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid
silverthe genius of the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores
dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and


love.