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Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

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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

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 presidents, members of judicature, and
ministers of State. And this desire persisted, though the names
of these people, he noticed, seldom remained the same for a whole
year together. This desire (since the thing was iniquitous)
seemed quite natural to the boy, though why the affair was
iniquitous he did not know. Afterwards, with advancing wisdom, he
managed to clear the plain truth of the business from the
fantastic intrusions of the Old Man of the Sea, vampires, and
ghouls, which had lent to his father's correspondence the flavour
of a gruesome Arabian Nights tale. In the end, the 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 mine, he reported,
besides other sums extracted from him on account of future
royalties, on 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 receipts, he
wrote, in a rage, whilst 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
dad, and 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 father, yet calm and reflective. His personal
feelings had not been outraged, and it is difficult to resent
with proper and durable indignation the physical or mental
anguish of another organism, even if that other organism is one's
own father. By the time he was twenty Charles Gould had, in his
turn, fallen under the spell of the San Tome mine. But it was
another form of enchantment, more suitable to his youth, into
whose magic formula there entered hope, vigour, and
self-confidence, instead 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 view, too, as 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 Germany, in
Spain, in Cornwall. Abandoned workings had for him strong
fascination. Their desolation appealed to him like the sight of
human misery, whose causes are varied and profound. They might
have been worthless, but also they might have been misunderstood.
His future wife was the first, and 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 him, lingering with
half-open wings like those birds that cannot rise easily from a
flat level, found a pinnacle from which to soar up into the

They had become acquainted in Italy, where the future Mrs. Gould
was staying with an old and pale aunt who, years before, had
married a middle-aged, impoverished Italian marquis. She now
mourned that man, who had known how to give up his life to the
independence and unity of his country, who 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
relic, as a broken spar is suffered to float away disregarded
after a naval victory. The Marchesa led a still, whispering
existence, nun-like in her black robes and a white band over the
forehead, in a corner of the first floor of an ancient and
ruinous palace, whose big, empty halls downstairs sheltered under
their painted ceilings the harvests, the fowls, and even the
cattle, together with the whole family of the tenant farmer.

The two young people had met in Lucca. After that meeting Charles
Gould visited no mines, though they went together in a carriage,
once, to see some marble quarries, where 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 was, "I think sometimes that poor father takes a
wrong view of that San Tome business." And they discussed that
opinion long and earnestly, as 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. Gould, senior, was 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 that, and then make the
inconsequent retort, which he accepted as perfectly sagacious,
because, in fact, it 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 news, straight out
before him in the noonday sun on the white road, and his feet had
brought him face to face with her in the hall of the ruined
palazzo, a room magnificent and naked, with here and there a long
strip of damask, black with damp and age, hanging down on a bare
panel of the wall. It was furnished with exactly one gilt
armchair, with a broken back, and an octagon columnar stand
bearing a heavy marble vase ornamented with sculptured masks and
garlands of flowers, and cracked from top to bottom. Charles
Gould was dusty with the white dust of the road lying on his
boots, on his shoulders, on his cap with two peaks. Water dripped
from under it all over his face, and he grasped a thick oaken
cudgel in his bare right hand.

She went very pale under the roses of her big straw hat, gloved,
swinging a clear sunshade, caught just as she was going out to
meet him at the bottom of the hill, where 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 when, turning suddenly to her, he blurted out twice, "I've
come to you--I've come straight to you--," without being able to
finish his phrase, that 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 hand, raised 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 hills, on the roads, on the enclosed fields of olive
trees; the shadows of poplars, of wide chestnuts, of farm
buildings, of stone walls; and in mid-air the sound of a bell,
thin and alert, was 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
dictators, an attitude that pleased her immensely. It affirmed
her power without detracting from his dignity. That slight girl,
with her little feet, little hands, little 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 generosity, had the fastidious soul of an
experienced woman. She was, before 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 irrational, as 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 assurance, he glanced
down at her, and at once fell a prey to distress, incertitude,
and fear.

The only thing he wanted to know now, he said, was 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 completely, even 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 hair, breathing quickly, and glanced up and down the stony
lane. It was reassuringly empty. Meantime, Charles, stepping with
one foot into a dry and dusty ditch, picked up the open parasol,
which had bounded away from them with a martial sound of drum
taps. He handed it to her soberly, a little crestfallen.

They turned back, and 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 later, in the inhabited corner of the Palazzo above the
vineyards, the marble hills, the pines and olives of Lucca, he
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

In such words he talked to her because his memory was very full
of the country of his childhood, his heart of his life with that
girl, and his mind of the San Tome Concession. He added that he
would have to leave her for a few days to find an American, a man
from San Francisco, who was still somewhere in Europe. A few
months before he had made his acquaintance in an old historic
German town, situated in a mining district. The American had his
womankind with him, but 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
enterprises, knew something of Costaguana, and 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 Costaguana, which he had
supposed to be still considerable, seemed to have melted in the
rascally crucible of revolutions. Apart from some ten thousand
pounds deposited in England, there appeared to be nothing left
except the house in Sulaco, a vague right of forest exploitation
in a remote and savage district, and the San Tome Concession,
which had attended his poor father to the very brink of the

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 life, for great distances,
for a future in which there was an air of adventure, of combat--a
subtle thought of redress and conquest, had filled her with an
intense excitement, which she returned to the giver with a more
open and exquisite display of tenderness.

He left her to walk down the hill, and 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 more, by no effort of will, would 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 consideration, closely affecting his own identity, filled
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 action, the 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 character, which was the sign of no mere
mechanical sprightliness, but 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 Sulaco, simply by lighting the way for her
unselfishness and sympathy. She could converse charmingly, but
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 prejudices, has no random words at its command.
The words it pronounces have the value of acts of integrity,
tolerance, and compassion. A woman's true tenderness, like the
true virility of man, is 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 couple, and 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 carriage, with two white mules, to drive them down to the
harbour, whence 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. Gould, in a low, confidential
mutter, "This 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 quadrangle, with the stamping of horses and mules led
out in pairs to drink at the cistern. A tangle of slender bamboo
stems drooped its narrow, blade-like leaves over the square pool
of water, and the fat coachman sat muffled up on the edge,
holding lazily the ends of halters in his hand. Barefooted
servants passed to and fro, issuing from dark, low 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 up, swung from her hand raised above her
raven black head, a bunch of starched under-skirts dazzlingly
white in the slant of sunshine. Then the old porter would hobble
in, sweeping the flagstones, and the house was ready for the day.
All the lofty rooms on three sides of the quadrangle opened into
each other and into the corredor, with its wrought-iron railings
and a border of flowers, whence, like the lady of the mediaeval
castle, she could witness from above all the departures and
arrivals of the Casa, to 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 Mitchell, the fourth, in attendance,
had already begun a pompous discourse. Then she lingered. She
lingered, approaching 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 Aroa, gay with coloured
featherwork, had 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 parrot, brilliant
like an emerald in a cage that flashed like gold, screamed out
ferociously, "Viva Costaguana!" then called twice mellifluously,
"Leonarda! Leonarda!" in imitation of Mrs. Gould's voice, and
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 Gould, with one foot on a low wooden stool, was already
strapping his spurs. He wanted to hurry back to the mine. Mrs.
Gould, without coming in, glanced about the room. One tall, broad
bookcase, with glass doors, was full of books; but in the other,
without shelves, and lined with red baize, were arranged
firearms: Winchester carbines, revolvers, a couple of shot-guns,
and even two pairs of double-barrelled holster pistols. Between
them, by itself, upon a strip of scarlet velvet, hung an old
cavalry sabre, once the property of Don Enrique Gould, the hero
of the Occidental Province, presented by Don Jose Avellanos, the
hereditary friend of the family.

Otherwise, the plastered white walls were completely bare, except
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 papers, a few chairs, and
a glass show-case containing specimens of ore from the mine.
Mrs. Gould, looking at all these things in turn, wondered aloud
why the talk of these wealthy and enterprising men discussing the
prospects, the working, and the safety of the mine rendered her
so impatient and uneasy, whereas she could talk of the mine by
the hour with her husband with unwearied interest and
satisfaction. And dropping her eyelids expressively, she added--

"What do you feel about it, Charley?"

Then, surprised at her husband's silence, she raised her eyes,
opened wide, as pretty as pale flowers. He had done with the
spurs, and, twisting his moustache with both hands, horizontally,
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 interjected, in 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 insisted, with
veiled menaces, on his taking a long holiday.

"Mr. Holroyd's sense of religion," Mrs. Gould pursued, "was
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. Gould, marvelling inwardly at the
mobility of her physiognomy. "All over the country. He's famous
for that sort of munificence." "Oh, he didn't boast," Mrs. Gould
declared, scrupulously. "I believe he's really a good man, but
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 said, vaguely.

Mrs. Gould, frowning, surveyed him from head to foot. With his
riding breeches, leather leggings (an article of apparel never
before seen in Costaguana), a Norfolk coat of grey flannel, and
those great flaming moustaches, he 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-drawn, keen red face, and his whole, long-limbed, lank
person had an air of breeding and distinction. And Mrs. Gould

"I only wondered what you felt," she murmured, gently.

During the last few days, as it happened, Charles 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 match, and 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. Gould, however, did 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

They were walking up and down the corredor. Her head just reached
to his shoulder. His arm, extended downwards, was 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 parrot, turning its head askew, followed
their pacing figures with a round, unblinking 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. Gould, senior, who had died too soon to
ever hear of their engagement, remained 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 love, which 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. Gould, an orphan from early childhood and without fortune,
brought up in an atmosphere of intellectual interests, had never
considered the aspects of great wealth. They were too remote, and
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 aunt, the Marchesa, had 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 real, on its immaterial side!

Charles Gould, on his part, had 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 contagious, though 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
Gould, in his unshaken assurance, was absolutely convincing.
Besides, it 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: first, the house of Holroyd, which is
all right; then, Mr. Charles Gould, a citizen of Costaguana, who
is also all right; and, lastly, the Government of the Republic.
So far this resembles the first start of the Atacama nitrate
fields, where there was a financing house, a gentleman of the
name of Edwards, and--a Government; or, rather, two
Governments--two South American Governments. And you know what
came of it. War came of it; devastating and prolonged war came of
it, Mr. Gould. However, here 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
badness, and that Government is the Costaguana Government."

Thus spoke the considerable personage, the 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-limbed, deliberate man, whose
quiet burliness lent to an ample silk-faced frock-coat a
superfine dignity. His hair was iron grey, his eyebrows were
still black, and his massive profile was the profile of a
Caesar's head on an old Roman coin. But his parentage was German
and Scotch and English, with remote strains of Danish and French
blood, giving him the temperament of a Puritan and an insatiable
imagination of conquest. He was completely unbending to his
visitor, because of the warm introduction the visitor had brought
from Europe, and because of an irrational liking for earnestness
and determination wherever met, to 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 intelligence, which was unskilled in the
presentation of general ideas. His intelligence was nourished on
facts; and Charles Gould, whose imagination had been permanently
affected by the one great fact of a silver mine, had 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 smile, which his big interlocutor took for a smile of
discreet and admiring assent. He smiled quietly, too; and
immediately Charles Gould, with that mental agility mankind will
display in defence of a cherished hope, reflected 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 consequence, one way or another, to a man who
referred his action to such a prodigious destiny. And Charles
Gould was not humiliated by this consideration, because 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 aim, definite in space and absolutely attainable within a
limited time, the other man appeared for an instant as a dreamy
idealist of no importance.

The great man, massive and benignant, had 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 conscientious, upright man, that cares nothing
for boodle, and keeps clear of their intrigues, conspiracies, and
factions, soon gets his passports. See that, Mr. Gould? Persona
non grata. That's the reason our Government is never properly
informed. On the other hand, Europe must be kept out of this
continent, and for proper interference on our part the time is
not yet ripe, I dare say. But we here--we are not this country's
Government, neither are we simple souls. Your affair is all
right. The main question for us is whether the second partner,
and that's you, is the right sort to hold his own against the
third and unwelcome partner, which is one or another of the high
and mighty robber gangs that run the Costaguana Government. What
do you think, Mr. Gould, eh?"

He bent forward to look steadily into the unflinching eyes of
Charles Gould, who, remembering the large box full of his
father's letters, put 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 then, in his own private
office, in 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 later, during his unexpected
appearance in Sulaco, he had emphasized his uncompromising
attitude with a freedom of sincerity permitted to his wealth and
influence. He did this with the less reserve, perhaps, because
the inspection of what had been done, and more still the way in
which successive steps had been taken, had impressed him with the
conviction that Charles Gould was perfectly capable of keeping up
his end.

"This young fellow," he thought to himself, "may yet become a
power in the land."

This thought flattered him, for 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 course, he was too great a man to be questioned as to his
motives, even 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 respect, indeed, but rather
as a subject for discreet jocularity. It was a great man's
caprice. In the great Holroyd building (an enormous pile of
iron, glass, and blocks of stone at the corner of two streets,
cobwebbed aloft by the radiation of telegraph wires) the heads of
principal departments exchanged humorous glances, which 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 either, but actually writing in his own hand, with pen
and ink, and, it was to be supposed, taking a copy in his own
private press copy-book, inaccessible to profane eyes. Some
scornful young men, insignificant pieces of minor machinery in
that eleven-storey-high workshop of great affairs, expressed
frankly their private opinion that the great chief had done at
last something silly, and was ashamed of his folly; others,
elderly and insignificant, but full of romantic reverence for the
business that had devoured their best years, used 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 Costaguana, lock, stock, and barrel. But, in 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; but, on the other side of the same feeling, it 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 on, he infused an
added grimness into his assurances of support. Even at the very
last interview, half an hour or so before he rolled out of the
patio, hat in hand, behind Mrs. Gould's white mules, he 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 identity, with which he had endowed it as a boy;
and it remained dependent on himself alone. It was a serious
affair, and he, too, took it grimly.

"Of course," he said to his wife, alluding to this last
conversation with the departed guest, while they walked slowly up
and down the corredor, followed by the irritated eye of the
parrot--"of course, a 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 in, or he may have to die to-morrow, but the
great silver and iron interests will survive, and some day will
get hold of Costaguana along with the rest of the world."

They had stopped near the cage. The parrot, catching the sound of
a word belonging to his vocabulary, was moved to interfere.
Parrots are very human.

"Viva Costaguana!" he shrieked, with intense self-assertion, and,
instantly ruffling up his feathers, assumed 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 materialism, and--"

"My dear, it's nothing to me," interrupted her husband, in 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. Gould, almost shocked.
The allusion was not to the point. Don Jose was a dear good man,
who talked very well, and was enthusiastic about the greatness of
the San Tome mine. "How can you compare them, Charles?" she
exclaimed, reproachfully. "He has suffered--and yet he hopes."

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

Charles Gould, with a careworn calmness which secured for him at
once his wife's anxious sympathy, assured her that he was not
comparing. He was an American himself, after all, and 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
countries, or else He would let some ray of hope fall through a
rift in the appalling darkness of intrigue, bloodshed, and crime
that hung over the Queen of Continents."

Mrs. Gould had not forgotten. "You read it to me, Charley," 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 law, good faith, order, security. Any one can declaim about
these things, but I pin my faith to material interests. Only let
the material interests once get a firm footing, and 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 said, "you are splendidly disobedient."

He left her suddenly in the corredor to go and get his hat, a
soft, grey sombrero, an article of national costume which
combined unexpectedly well with his English get-up. He came back,
a riding-whip under his arm, buttoning up a dogskin glove; his
face reflected the resolute nature of his thoughts. His wife had
waited for him at the head of the stairs, and before he gave her
the parting kiss he finished the conversation--

"What should be perfectly clear to us," he said, "is 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 mine, which had killed his father, had 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.


"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, "Even, my dear Carlos, if 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 you, Emilia, my
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
labour, had 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 cast, with a further
protection of a small silk mask during the heat of the day, she
rode on a well-shaped, light-footed pony in the centre of a
little cavalcade. Two mozos de campo, picturesque in great hats,
with spurred bare heels, in white embroidered calzoneras, leather
jackets and striped ponchos, rode ahead with carbines across
their shoulders, swaying in unison to the pace of the horses. A
tropilla of pack mules brought up the rear in charge of a thin
brown muleteer, sitting his long-eared beast very near the tail,
legs thrust far forward, the wide brim of his hat set far back,
making a sort of halo for his head. An old Costaguana officer, a
retired senior major of humble origin, but patronized by the
first families on account of his Blanco opinions, had been
recommended by Don Jose for commissary and organizer of that
expedition. The points of his grey moustache hung far below his
chin, and, riding on Mrs. Gould's left hand, he looked about with
kindly eyes, pointing out the features of the country, telling
the names of the little pueblos and of the estates, of the
smooth-walled haciendas like long fortresses crowning the knolls
above the level of the Sulaco Valley. It unrolled itself, with
green young crops, plains, woodland, and gleams of water,
park-like, from the blue vapour of the distant sierra to an
immense quivering horizon of grass and sky, where big white
clouds seemed to fall slowly into the darkness of their own

Men ploughed with wooden ploughs and yoked oxen, small on a
boundless expanse, as if attacking immensity itself. The mounted
figures of vaqueros galloped in the distance, and the great herds
fed with all their horned heads one way, in 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 sad, mute eyes to the cavalcade raising the dust of
the crumbling camino real made by the hands of their enslaved
forefathers. And Mrs. Gould, with each day's journey, seemed 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 towns, a great land of plain and mountain and people,
suffering and mute, waiting for the future in a pathetic
immobility of patience.

She knew its sights and its hospitality, dispensed with a sort of
slumbrous dignity in those great houses presenting long, blind
walls and heavy portals to the wind-swept pastures. She was given
the head of the tables, where 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 gentlemen, well mounted in braided sombreros and
embroidered riding suits, with much silver on the trappings of
their horses, would ride forth to escort the departing guests
before committing them, with grave good-byes, to the care of God
at the boundary pillars of their estates. In all these households
she could hear stories of political outrage; friends, relatives,
ruined, imprisoned, killed in the battles of senseless civil
wars, barbarously executed in ferocious proscriptions, as 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 peace, the dread of officialdom with its
nightmarish parody of administration without law, without
security, and 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 lady, had 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 peasantry, she was able to appreciate the great worth of the
people. She saw the man under the silent, sad-eyed beast of
burden. She saw them on the road carrying loads, lonely figures
upon the plain, toiling under great straw hats, with 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 memory, by the face of some young Indian girl
with a melancholy and sensual profile, raising 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-cart, halted with its shafts in the dust, showed the
strokes of the axe; and a party of charcoal carriers, with 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 labour, the
tribute-labour of vanished nations. The power of king and church
was gone, but at the sight of some heavy ruinous pile overtopping
from a knoll the low mud walls of a village, Don 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 alcaldes, with the fiscales, with the
principal people in towns, and 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 himself, a
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 eyes, inhabiting then the
Palace of the Intendencia in Sulaco, and who piqued himself on
his culture and Europeanism generally in a rather French style
because he had lived in Europe for some years--in exile, he said.
However, it 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 had, amongst
other inconveniences, obliged him to earn his living for a time
as a cafe waiter in Madrid; but his talents must have been great,
after all, since they had enabled him to retrieve his political
fortunes so splendidly. Charles Gould, exposing his business
with an imperturbable steadiness, called him Excellency.

The provincial Excellency assumed a weary superiority, tilting
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 then, and twice he raised his hand
imperatively for silence in order to listen to a favourite

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

Of course, rumours had reached him already of the newcomer's
intentions. Besides, he 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 room, he became very affable, and 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 Gould, steadily,
"and I reckon now confidently upon your Excellency's favourable

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 bosom, he rose and fell on
his toes, and for ten minutes, almost without drawing breath,
went on hurling himself intellectually to the assault of Charles
Gould's polite silence; and when, stopping abruptly, he fell back
into his chair, it 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 moody, fatigued 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 air, while Charles Gould bowed and withdrew. Then
he dropped the fan at once, and 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. Cold, dull. 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 unmolested, the obligation of uttering balderdash
personally was by no means included in the bargain. He drew the
line there. To these provincial autocrats, before whom the
peaceable population of all classes had been accustomed to
tremble, the reserve of that English-looking engineer caused an
uneasiness which swung to and fro between cringing and
truculence. Gradually all of them discovered that, no matter what
party was in power, that man remained in most effective touch
with the higher authorities in Sta. Marta.

This was a fact, and 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 Avellanos, who 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 Bar, a man of
reputed ability and good character, member of the distinguished
Moraga family possessing extensive estates in the Sulaco Valley,
was pointed out to strangers, with a shade of mystery and
respect, as the agent of the San Tome mine--"political, you
know." He was tall, black-whiskered, and discreet. It was known
that he had easy access to ministers, and 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 uncle, Don Jose Avellanos; but his
letters--unless those expressing formally his dutiful
affection--were seldom entrusted to the Costaguana Post Office.
There the envelopes are opened, indiscriminately, with 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 circumstances, and 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 outside, he sat near the tail
of his own smart mule, his great hat turned against the sun, an
expression of blissful vacancy on his long face, humming day
after day a love-song in a plaintive key, or, without a change of
expression, letting 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 in, the wooden plug replaced, and 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 Bonifacio, and Don Jose, crossing
the street about five o'clock to call on Dona Emilia, always
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 he, too, was a
discreet man.


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 since, as I am told, with cable cars running
along the streets of the Constitution, and carriage roads far
into the country, to Rincon and other villages, where the foreign
merchants and the Ricos generally have their modern villas, and a
vast railway goods yard by the harbour, which has a quay-side, a
long range of warehouses, and quite serious, organized labour
troubles of its own.

Nobody had ever heard of labour troubles then. The Cargadores of
the port formed, indeed, an unruly brotherhood of all sorts of
scum, with 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 fiesta, before the Indian
market-women had opened their mat parasols on the plaza, when 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 ramparts, between the black, lightless cluster of
huts, like cow-byres, like 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 wall, at 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 saddle, once, twice. The drowsy
answers--grumpy, conciliating, savage, jocular, or
deprecating--came out into the silent darkness in which the
horseman sat still, and presently a dark figure would flit out
coughing in the still air. Sometimes a low-toned woman cried
through the window-hole softly, "He's coming directly, senor,"
and the horseman waited silent on a motionless horse. But if
perchance he had to dismount, then, after a while, from the door
of that hovel or of that pulperia, with a ferocious scuffle and
stifled imprecations, a cargador would fly out head first and
hands abroad, to sprawl under the forelegs of the silver-grey
mare, who only pricked forward her sharp little ears. She was
used to that work; and the man, picking himself up, would walk
away hastily from Nostromo's revolver, reeling 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 shore, would see the lighters already under way, figures
moving busily about the cargo cranes, perhaps hear the invaluable
Nostromo, now dismounted and in the checked shirt and red sash of
a Mediterranean sailor, bawling 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 Sulaco, so characteristic with its stuccoed
houses and barred windows, with 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 altered, too, the
outward character of the crowds on feast days on the plaza before
the open portal of the cathedral, by 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 quality, which 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; but, as Don Pepe would say
with a hopeless shrug to Mrs. Gould, "What would you! Poor
people! Pobrecitos! Pobrecitos! But the State must have its

Thus professionally spoke Don Pepe, the fighter, with pendent
moustaches, a nut-brown, lean face, and a clean run of a
cast-iron jaw, suggesting the type of a cattle-herd horseman from
the great Llanos of the South. "If you will listen to an old
officer of Paez, senores," 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

It was reported in Sulaco that up there "at the mountain" Don
Pepe walked about precipitous paths, girt with a great sword and
in a shabby uniform with tarnished bullion epaulettes of a senior
major. Most miners being Indians, with big wild eyes, addressed
him as Taita (father), as these barefooted people of Costaguana
will address anybody who wears shoes; but it was Basilio, Mr.
Gould's own mozo and the head servant of the Casa, who, in all
good faith and from a sense of propriety, announced him once in
the solemn words, "El Senor Gobernador has arrived."

Don Jose Avellanos, then in the drawing-room, was delighted
beyond measure at the aptness of the title, with 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
moustaches, as much as to say, "You might have found a worse name
for an old soldier."

And El Senor Gobernador he had remained, with his small jokes
upon his function and upon his domain, where 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 individually, all the
innumerable Joses, Manuels, Ignacios, from the villages
primero--segundo--or tercero (there were three mining villages)
under his government. He could distinguish them not only by their
flat, joyless faces, which to Mrs. Gould looked all alike, as if
run into the same ancestral mould of suffering and patience, but
apparently also by the infinitely graduated shades of
reddish-brown, of blackish-brown, of coppery-brown backs, as the
two shifts, stripped to linen drawers and leather skull-caps,
mingled together with a confusion of naked limbs, of shouldered
picks, swinging lamps, in 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 ceaseless, violent rush of water in the
open flumes could be heard, murmuring fiercely, with the splash
and rumble of revolving turbine-wheels, and the thudding march of
the stamps pounding to powder the treasure rock on the plateau
below. The heads of gangs, distinguished by brass medals hanging
on their bare breasts, marshalled their squads; and at last the
mountain would swallow one-half of the silent crowd, while the
other half would move off in long files down the zigzag paths
leading to the bottom of the gorge. It was deep; and, far below,
a thread of vegetation winding between the blazing rock faces
resembled a slender green cord, in which three lumpy knots of
banana patches, palm-leaf roots, and shady trees marked the
Village One, Village Two, Village Three, housing the miners of
the Gould Concession.

Whole families had been moving from the first towards the spot in
the Higuerota range, whence the rumour of work and safety had
spread over the pastoral Campo, forcing its way also, even as the
waters of a high flood, into the nooks and crannies of the
distant blue walls of the Sierras. Father first, in a pointed
straw hat, then the mother with the bigger children, generally
also a diminutive donkey, all under burdens, except the leader
himself, or perhaps some grown girl, the pride of the family,
stepping barefooted and straight as an arrow, with braids of
raven hair, a thick, haughty profile, and 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 pastures, or camped by
the side of the royal road, travellers on horseback would remark
to each other--

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

And spurring on in the dusk they would discuss the great news of
the province, the news of the San Tome mine. A rich Englishman
was going to work it--and perhaps not an Englishman, Quien sabe!
A foreigner with much money. Oh, yes, it 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
Rincon, only a short league from the town, the lights on the
mountain were visible, twinkling above the trees. And there was a
woman seen riding a horse sideways, not in the chair seat, but
upon a sort of saddle, and a man's hat on her head. She walked
about, too, on foot up the mountain paths. A woman engineer, it
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 road, for 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 well, but he
seemed able, with one attentive, thoughtful glance, to classify
each woman, girl, or 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 side, meditative and gazing across the
street of a village at a lot of sedate brown children, trying to
sort them out, as it were, in low, consulting tones, or else they
would together put searching questions as to the parentage of
some small, staid urchin met wandering, naked and grave, along
the road with a cigar in his baby mouth, and perhaps his mother's
rosary, purloined for purposes of ornamentation, hanging 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. Monygham, the medical pastor, who had accepted
the charge from Mrs. Gould, and lived in the hospital building,
they were on not so intimate terms. But no one could be on
intimate terms with El Senor Doctor, who, with his twisted
shoulders, drooping head, sardonic mouth, and side-long bitter
glance, was mysterious and uncanny. The other two authorities
worked in harmony. Father Roman, dried-up, small, alert,
wrinkled, with big round eyes, a sharp chin, and a great
snuff-taker, was an old campaigner, too; he had shriven many
simple souls on the battlefields of the Republic, kneeling by the
dying on hillsides, in the long grass, in the gloom of the
forests, to hear the last confession with the smell of gunpowder
smoke in his nostrils, the rattle of muskets, the hum and spatter
of bullets in his ears. And where was the harm if, at the
presbytery, they had a game with a pack of greasy cards in the
early evening, before 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 house, which Father Roman called the
presbytery. Near by, a long, low, dark building, steeple-roofed,
like a vast barn with a wooden cross over the gable, was the
miners' chapel. There Father Roman said Mass every day before a
sombre altar-piece representing the Resurrection, the grey slab
of the tombstone balanced on one corner, a figure soaring
upwards, long-limbed and livid, in an oval of pallid light, and a
helmeted brown legionary smitten down, right across the
bituminous foreground. "This picture, my children, muy 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
Administrador, has been painted in Europe, a country of saints
and miracles, and 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
situated, whether up or down the coast, Father Roman, to conceal
his perplexity, became 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 earth, with its countries and
populations altogether beyond your understanding."

With a "Good-night, Padre," "Good-night, Don 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 snakes, senora."

And then they had wheeled their horses and ridden back to sleep
that night at Rincon. The alcalde--an old, skinny Moreno, a
sergeant of Guzman Bento's time--had cleared respectfully out of
his house with his three pretty daughters, to 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 affirmed, straightening his bent back martially, "many 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 pool, and
the high ravine was only a big trench half filled up with the
refuse of excavations and tailings. The torrent, dammed up
above, sent 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 waterfall, with its amazing
fernery, like a hanging garden above the rocks of the gorge, was
preserved in Mrs. Gould's water-colour sketch; she had made it
hastily one day from a cleared patch in the bushes, sitting 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 wilderness, the making of the road, the 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 two, and 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 silent, and
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 hands, with an
eagerness that made them tremble, upon 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 conception, as though it were not a mere fact, but
something far-reaching and impalpable, like the true expression
of an emotion or the emergence of a principle.

Don Pepe, extremely interested, too, looked over her shoulder
with a smile that, making longitudinal folds on his face, caused
it to resemble a leathern mask with a benignantly diabolic

"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 remarked, jocularly.

Hernandez, the robber, had been an inoffensive, small ranchero,
kidnapped with circumstances of peculiar atrocity from his home
during one of the civil wars, and forced to serve in the army.
There his conduct as soldier was exemplary, till, watching his
chance, he killed his colonel, and managed to get clear away.
With a band of deserters, who chose him for their chief, he 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 ride, single-handed, into the villages and
the little towns on the Campo, driving a pack mule before him,
with two revolvers in his belt, go straight to the shop or store,
select what he wanted, and 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
followers, mounted on stolen horses, laughed at the pursuit of
the regular cavalry sent to hunt them down, and 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 course, to open negotiations with him, without
in the slightest way affecting the even tenor of his career. At
last, in true Costaguana fashion, the Fiscal of Tonoro, who 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 first, but 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 came, indeed, at the appointed time,
but creeping on their hands and knees through the bush, and 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
(who, being better mounted, rode 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 daughters, for bringing this disgrace
upon the National Army. The highest civil official of Tonoro,
falling to the ground in a swoon, was 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 Campo, so characteristic of the rulers
of the country with its story of oppression, inefficiency,
fatuous methods, treachery, and savage brutality, was perfectly
known to Mrs. Gould. That it should be accepted with no indignant
comment by people of intelligence, refinement, and 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
silver, she 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 Pepe, with enthusiasm, "it 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 permanently, as 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 institution, a 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 fact, the
mine, with its organization, its population growing fiercely
attached to their position of privileged safety, with its
armoury, with its Don Pepe, with its armed body of serenos
(where, it was said, many 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 laugh, once, when discussing the line of
action taken by the Sulaco authorities at a time of political

"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 power, with a
lemon-coloured face and a very short and curly, not to say
woolly, head of hair) went so far in his temporary discontent as
to shake his yellow fist under the nose of his interlocutor, and

"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 cabinet, and the prominent
man's passion would end in a cynical shrug of the shoulders.
After all, he seemed to say, what did it matter as long as the
minister himself was not forgotten during his brief day of
authority? But all the same, the unofficial agent of the San
Tome mine, working for a good cause, had his moments of anxiety,
which were reflected in his letters to Don Jose Avellanos, his
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. "Except, of course, as an
honoured guest--for our Senor Administrador is a deep politico."
But to Charles Gould, in his own room, the old Major would remark
with a grim and soldierly cheeriness, "We are all playing our
heads at this game."

Don Jose Avellanos would mutter "Imperium in imperio, Emilia, my
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 arm, on the point of
starting "for the mountain." Then Don Pepe, modestly martial in
his chair, the llanero who seemed somehow to have found his
martial jocularity, his knowledge of the world, and his manner
perfect for his station, in the midst of savage armed contests
with his kind; Avellanos, polished and familiar, the diplomatist
with his loquacity covering much caution and wisdom in delicate
advice, with 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 three, and also Dona Emilia amongst them, gracious,
small, and fairy-like, before the glittering tea-set, with one
common master-thought in their heads, with one common feeling of
a tense situation, with one ever-present aim to preserve the
inviolable character of the mine at every cost. And there was
also to be seen Captain Mitchell, a little apart, near one of the
long windows, with an air of old-fashioned neat old bachelorhood
about him, slightly pompous, in a white waistcoat, a little
disregarded and unconscious of it; utterly in the dark, and
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 rubicund, rather handsome face, set off by snow-white close
hair and short whiskers, he 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
had, of course, "marked an epoch" for Captain Mitchell. The
ingots packed in boxes of stiff ox-hide with plaited handles,
small enough to be carried easily by two men, were brought down
by the serenos of the mine walking in careful couples along the
half-mile or so of steep, zigzag paths to the foot of the
mountain. There they would be loaded into a string of two-wheeled
carts, resembling roomy coffers with a door at the back, and
harnessed tandem with two mules each, waiting under the guard of
armed and mounted serenos. Don Pepe padlocked each door in
succession, and at the signal of his whistle the string of carts
would move off, closely surrounded by the clank of spur and
carbine, with jolts and cracking of whips, with 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
thing, the 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 primrose, pale 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 harbour, a mass of heavy, fair hair twisted up
negligently on her little head, and a lot of lace about the neck
of her muslin wrapper. With a smile to her husband's single,
quick, upward glance, she would watch the whole thing stream past
below her feet with an orderly uproar, till she answered by a
friendly sign the salute of the galloping Don Pepe, the stiff,
deferential inclination with a sweep of the hat below the knee.

The string of padlocked carts lengthened, the 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
harbour, there to await shipment for the North. Increasing in
volume, and of immense value also; for, as Charles Gould told his
wife once with some exultation, there had never been seen
anything in the world to approach the vein of the Gould
Concession. For them both, each 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 imbecility, plenty of cruelty and suffering still,
but much less of the old-time fierce and blindly ferocious
political fanaticism. It was all more vile, more base, more
contemptible, and 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 Sulaco, once the field
of cruel party vengeances, had 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: nephews, brothers, husbands
of favourite sisters, bosom friends, trusty 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 list, whose
items and amounts, fixed in consultation by Charles Gould and
Senor Avellanos, were known to a prominent business man in the
United States, who for twenty minutes or so in every month gave
his undivided attention to Sulaco affairs. At the same time the
material interests of all sorts, backed up by the influence of
the San Tome mine, were quietly gathering substance in that part
of the Republic. If, for instance, the Sulaco Collectorship was
generally understood, in the political world of the capital, to
open the way to the Ministry of Finance, and so on for every
official post, then, on the other hand, the despondent business
circles of the Republic had come to consider the Occidental
Province as the promised land of safety, especially 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 wonder, then, that Sir John, coming from Europe to smooth the
path for his railway, had 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 gentleman, Sir 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 had, in part, at least, financed the last
revolution, which had brought into a five-year dictatorship Don
Vincente Ribiera, a man of culture and of unblemished character,
invested with a mandate of reform by the best elements of the
State. Serious, well-informed men seemed to believe the fact, to
hope for better things, for the establishment of legality, of
good faith and order in public life. So much the better, then,
thought Sir John. He worked always on a great scale; there was a
loan to the State, and a project for systematic colonization of
the Occidental Province, involved in one vast scheme with the
construction of the National Central Railway. Good faith, order,
honesty, peace, were badly wanted for this great development of
material interests. Anybody on the side of these things, and
especially if able to help, had an importance in Sir John's eyes.
He had not been disappointed in the "King of Sulaco." The local
difficulties had fallen away, as the engineer-in-chief had
foretold they would, before Charles Gould's mediation. Sir John
had been extremely feted in Sulaco, next to the
President-Dictator, a 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 sail, taking 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 felt, and 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 struggle, he hoped, into a period of peace and
material prosperity.

Mrs. Gould, listening to the mellow, slightly mournful voice,
looking at this rotund, dark, spectacled face, at the short body,
obese to the point of infirmity, thought that this man of
delicate and melancholy mind, physically almost a cripple, coming
out of his retirement into a dangerous strife at the call of his
fellows, had the right to speak with the authority of his
self-sacrifice. And yet she was made uneasy. He was more pathetic
than promising, this first civilian Chief of the State Costaguana
had ever known, pronouncing, glass in hand, his simple watchwords
of honesty, peace, respect for law, political good faith abroad
and at home--the safeguards of national honour.

He sat down. During the respectful, appreciative buzz of voices
that followed the speech, General 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
party, though secretly impressed by the sudden novelties and
splendours of his position (he had never been on board a ship
before, and had hardly ever seen the sea except from a distance),

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