Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

Part 10 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

She ceased, seeing Linda standing silent at the corner of the

Nostromo turned to his affianced wife with a greeting, and was
amazed at her sunken eyes, at her hollow cheeks, at the air of
illness and anguish in her face.

"Have you been ill?" he asked, trying to put some concern into
this question.

Her black eyes blazed at him. "Am I thinner?" she asked.

"Yes--perhaps--a little."

"And older?"

"Every day counts--for all of us."

"I shall go grey, I fear, before the ring is on my finger," she
said, slowly, keeping her gaze fastened upon him.

She waited for what he would say, rolling down her turned-up

"No fear of that," he said, absently.

She turned away as if it had been something final, and busied
herself with household cares while Nostromo talked with her
father. Conversation with the old Garibaldino was not easy. Age
had left his faculties unimpaired, only they seemed to have
withdrawn somewhere deep within him. His answers were slow in
coming, with an effect of august gravity. But that day he was
more animated, quicker; there seemed to be more life in the old
lion. He was uneasy for the integrity of his honour. He believed
Sidoni's warning as to Ramirez's designs upon his younger
daughter. And he did not trust her. She was flighty. He said
nothing of his cares to "Son Gian' Battista." It was a touch of
senile vanity. He wanted to show that he was equal yet to the
task of guarding alone the honour of his house.

Nostromo went away early. As soon as he had disappeared, walking
towards the beach, Linda stepped over the threshold and, with a
haggard smile, sat down by the side of her father.

Ever since that Sunday, when the infatuated and desperate Ramirez
had waited for her on the wharf, she had no doubts whatever. The
jealous ravings of that man were no revelation. They had only
fixed with precision, as with a nail driven into her heart, that
sense of unreality and deception which, instead of bliss and
security, she had found in her intercourse with her promised
husband. She had passed on, pouring indignation and scorn upon
Ramirez; but, that Sunday, she nearly died of wretchedness and
shame, lying on the carved and lettered stone of Teresa's grave,
subscribed for by the engine-drivers and the fitters of the
railway workshops, in sign of their respect for the hero of
Italian Unity. Old Viola had not been able to carry out his
desire of burying his wife in the sea; and Linda wept upon the

The gratuitous outrage appalled her. If he wished to break her
heart--well and good. Everything was permitted to Gian' Battista.
But why trample upon the pieces; why seek to humiliate her
spirit? Aha! He could not break that. She dried her tears. And
Giselle! Giselle! The little one that, ever since she could
toddle, had always clung to her skirt for protection. What
duplicity! But she could not help it probably. When there was a
man in the case the poor featherheaded wretch could not help

Linda had a good share of the Viola stoicism. She resolved to say
nothing. But woman-like she put passion into her stoicism.
Giselle's short answers, prompted by fearful caution, drove her
beside herself by their curtness that resembled disdain. One day
she flung herself upon the chair in which her indolent sister was
lying and impressed the mark of her teeth at the base of the
whitest neck in Sulaco. Giselle cried out. But she had her share
of the Viola heroism. Ready to faint with terror, she only said,
in a lazy voice, "Madre de Dios! Are you going to eat me alive,
Linda?" And this outburst passed off leaving no trace upon the
situation. "She knows nothing. She cannot know any thing,"
reflected Giselle. "Perhaps it is not true. It cannot be true,"
Linda tried to persuade herself.

But when she saw Captain Fidanza for the first time after her
meeting with the distracted Ramirez, the certitude of her
misfortune returned. She watched him from the doorway go away to
his boat, asking herself stoically, "Will they meet to-night?"
She made up her mind not to leave the tower for a second. When he
had disappeared she came out and sat down by her father.

The venerable Garibaldino felt, in his own words, "a young man
yet." In one way or another a good deal of talk about Ramirez had
reached him of late; and his contempt and dislike of that man who
obviously was not what his son would have been, had made him
restless. He slept very little now; but for several nights past
instead of reading--or only sitting, with Mrs. Gould's silver
spectacles on his nose, before the open Bible, he had been
prowling actively all about the island with his old gun, on watch
over his honour.

Linda, laying her thin brown hand on his knee, tried to soothe
his excitement. Ramirez was not in Sulaco. Nobody knew where he
was. He was gone. His talk of what he would do meant nothing.

"No," the old man interrupted. "But son Gian' Battista told
me--quite of himself--that the cowardly esclavo was drinking and
gambling with the rascals of Zapiga, over there on the north side
of the gulf. He may get some of the worst scoundrels of that
scoundrelly town of negroes to help him in his attempt upon the
little one. . . . But I am not so old. No!"

She argued earnestly against the probability of any attempt being
made; and at last the old man fell silent, chewing his white
moustache. Women had their obstinate notions which must be
humoured--his poor wife was like that, and Linda resembled her
mother. It was not seemly for a man to argue. "May be. May be,"
he mumbled.

She was by no means easy in her mind. She loved Nostromo. She
turned her eyes upon Giselle, sitting at a distance, with
something of maternal tenderness, and the jealous anguish of a
rival outraged in her defeat. Then she rose and walked over to

"Listen--you," she said, roughly.

The invincible candour of the gaze, raised up all violet and dew,
excited her rage and admiration. She had beautiful eyes--the
Chica--this vile thing of white flesh and black deception. She
did not know whether she wanted to tear them out with shouts of
vengeance or cover up their mysterious and shameless innocence
with kisses of pity and love. And suddenly they became empty,
gazing blankly at her, except for a little fear not quite buried
deep enough with all the other emotions in Giselle's heart.

Linda said, "Ramirez is boasting in town that he will carry you
off from the island."

"What folly!" answered the other, and in a perversity born of
long restraint, she added: "He is not the man," in a jesting tone
with a trembling audacity.

"No?" said Linda, through her clenched teeth. "Is he not? Well,
then, look to it; because father has been walking about with a
loaded gun at night."

"It is not good for him. You must tell him not to, Linda. He will
not listen to me."

"I shall say nothing--never any more--to anybody," cried Linda,

This could not last, thought Giselle. Giovanni must take her away
soon--the very next time he came. She would not suffer these
terrors for ever so much silver. To speak with her sister made
her ill. But she was not uneasy at her father's watchfulness. She
had begged Nostromo not to come to the window that night. He had
promised to keep away for this once. And she did not know, could
not guess or imagine, that he had another reason for coming on
the island.

Linda had gone straight to the tower. It was time to light up.
She unlocked the little door, and went heavily up the spiral
staircase, carrying her love for the magnificent Capataz de
Cargadores like an ever-increasing load of shameful fetters. No;
she could not throw it off. No; let Heaven dispose of these two.
And moving about the lantern, filled with twilight and the sheen
of the moon, with careful movements she lighted the lamp. Then
her arms fell along her body.

"And with our mother looking on," she murmured. "My own
sister--the Chica!"

The whole refracting apparatus, with its brass fittings and rings
of prisms, glittered and sparkled like a domeshaped shrine of
diamonds, containing not a lamp, but some sacred flame,
dominating the sea. And Linda, the keeper, in black, with a pale
face, drooped low in a wooden chair, alone with her jealousy, far
above the shames and passions of the earth. A strange, dragging
pain as if somebody were pulling her about brutally by her dark
hair with bronze glints, made her put her hands up to her
temples. They would meet. They would meet. And she knew where,
too. At the window. The sweat of torture fell in drops on her
cheeks, while the moonlight in the offing closed as if with a
colossal bar of silver the entrance of the Placid Gulf--the
sombre cavern of clouds and stillness in the surf-fretted

Linda Viola stood up suddenly with a finger on her lip. He loved
neither her nor her sister. The whole thing seemed so objectless
as to frighten her, and also give her some hope. Why did he not
carry her off? What prevented him? He was incomprehensible. What
were they waiting for? For what end were these two lying and
deceiving? Not for the ends of their love. There was no such
thing. The hope of regaining him for herself made her break her
vow of not leaving the tower that night. She must talk at once to
her father, who was wise, and would understand. She ran down the
spiral stairs. At the moment of opening the door at the bottom
she heard the sound of the first shot ever fired on the Great

She felt a shock, as though the bullet had struck her breast. She
ran on without pausing. The cottage was dark. She cried at the
door, "Giselle! Giselle!" then dashed round the corner and
screamed her sister's name at the open window, without getting an
answer; but as she was rushing, distracted, round the house,
Giselle came out of the door, and darted past her, running
silently, her hair loose, and her eyes staring straight ahead.
She seemed to skim along the grass as if on tiptoe, and vanished.

Linda walked on slowly, with her arms stretched out before her.
All was still on the island; she did not know where she was
going. The tree under which Martin Decoud spent his last days,
beholding life like a succession of senseless images, threw a
large blotch of black shade upon the grass. Suddenly she saw her
father, standing quietly all alone in the moonlight.

The Garibaldino--big, erect, with his snow-white hair and
beard--had a monumental repose in his immobility, leaning upon a
rifle. She put her hand upon his arm lightly. He never stirred.

"What have you done?" she asked, in her ordinary voice.

"I have shot Ramirez--infame!" he answered, with his eyes
directed to where the shade was blackest. "Like a thief he came,
and like a thief he fell. The child had to be protected."

He did not offer to move an inch, to advance a single step. He
stood there, rugged and unstirring, like a statue of an old man
guarding the honour of his house. Linda removed her trembling
hand from his arm, firm and steady like an arm of stone, and,
without a word, entered the blackness of the shade. She saw a
stir of formless shapes on the ground, and stopped short. A
murmur of despair and tears grew louder to her strained hearing.

"I entreated you not to come to-night. Oh, my Giovanni! And you
promised. Oh! Why--why did you come, Giovanni?"

It was her sister's voice. It broke on a heartrending sob. And
the voice of the resourceful Capataz de Cargadores, master and
slave of the San Tome treasure, who had been caught unawares by
old Giorgio while stealing across the open towards the ravine to
get some more silver, answered careless and cool, but sounding
startlingly weak from the ground.

"It seemed as though I could not live through the night without
seeing thee once more--my star, my little flower."

* * * * *

The brilliant tertulia was just over, the last guests had
departed, and the Senor Administrador had gone to his room
already, when Dr. Monygham, who had been expected in the evening
but had not turned up, arrived driving along the wood-block
pavement under the electric-lamps of the deserted Calle de la
Constitucion, and found the great gateway of the Casa still open.

He limped in, stumped up the stairs, and found the fat and sleek
Basilio on the point of turning off the lights in the sala. The
prosperous majordomo remained open-mouthed at this late invasion.

"Don't put out the lights," commanded the doctor. "I want to see
the senora."

"The senora is in the Senor Adminstrador's cancillaria," said
Basilio, in an unctuous voice. "The Senor Administrador starts
for the mountain in an hour. There is some trouble with the
workmen to be feared, it appears. A shameless people without
reason and decency. And idle, senor. Idle."

"You are shamelessly lazy and imbecile yourself," said the
doctor, with that faculty for exasperation which made him so
generally beloved. "Don't put the lights out."

Basilio retired with dignity. Dr. Monygham, waiting in the
brilliantly lighted sala, heard presently a door close at the
further end of the house. A jingle of spurs died out. The Senor
Administrador was off to the mountain.

With a measured swish of her long train, flashing with jewels and
the shimmer of silk, her delicate head bowed as if under the
weight of a mass of fair hair, in which the silver threads were
lost, the "first lady of Sulaco," as Captain Mitchell used to
describe her, moved along the lighted corredor, wealthy beyond
great dreams of wealth, considered, loved, respected, honoured,
and as solitary as any human being had ever been, perhaps, on
this earth.

The doctor's "Mrs. Gould! One minute!" stopped her with a start
at the door of the lighted and empty sala. From the similarity of
mood and circumstance, the sight of the doctor, standing there
all alone amongst the groups of furniture, recalled to her
emotional memory her unexpected meeting with Martin Decoud; she
seemed to hear in the silence the voice of that man, dead
miserably so many years ago, pronounce the words, "Antonia left
her fan here." But it was the doctor's voice that spoke, a little
altered by his excitement. She remarked his shining eyes.

"Mrs. Gould, you are wanted. Do you know what has happened? You
remember what I told you yesterday about Nostromo. Well, it seems
that a lancha, a decked boat, coming from Zapiga, with four
negroes in her, passing close to the Great Isabel, was hailed
from the cliff by a woman's voice--Linda's, as a matter of
fact--commanding them (it's a moonlight night) to go round to the
beach and take up a wounded man to the town. The patron (from
whom I've heard all this), of course, did so at once. He told me
that when they got round to the low side of the Great Isabel,
they found Linda Viola waiting for them. They followed her: she
led them under a tree not far from the cottage. There they found
Nostromo lying on the ground with his head in the younger girl's
lap, and father Viola standing some distance off leaning on his
gun. Under Linda's direction they got a table out of the cottage
for a stretcher, after breaking off the legs. They are here, Mrs.
Gould. I mean Nostromo and--and Giselle. The negroes brought him
in to the first-aid hospital near the harbour. He made the
attendant send for me. But it was not me he wanted to see--it was
you, Mrs. Gould! It was you."

"Me?" whispered Mrs. Gould, shrinking a little.

"Yes, you!" the doctor burst out. "He begged me--his enemy, as
he thinks--to bring you to him at once. It seems he has
something to say to you alone."

"Impossible!" murmured Mrs. Gould.

"He said to me, 'Remind her that I have done something to keep a
roof over her head.' . . . Mrs. Gould," the doctor pursued, in
the greatest excitement. "Do you remember the silver? The silver
in the lighter--that was lost?"

Mrs. Gould remembered. But she did not say she hated the mere
mention of that silver. Frankness personified, she remembered
with an exaggerated horror that for the first and last time of
her life she had concealed the truth from her husband about that
very silver. She had been corrupted by her fears at that time,
and she had never forgiven herself. Moreover, that silver, which
would never have come down if her husband had been made
acquainted with the news brought by Decoud, had been in a
roundabout way nearly the cause of Dr. Monygham's death. And
these things appeared to her very dreadful.

"Was it lost, though?" the doctor exclaimed. "I've always felt
that there was a mystery about our Nostromo ever since. I do
believe he wants now, at the point of death----"

"The point of death?" repeated Mrs. Gould.

"Yes. Yes. . . . He wants perhaps to tell you something
concerning that silver which----"

"Oh, no! No!" exclaimed Mrs. Gould, in a low voice. "Isn't it
lost and done with? Isn't there enough treasure without it to
make everybody in the world miserable?"

The doctor remained still, in a submissive, disappointed silence.
At last he ventured, very low--

"And there is that Viola girl, Giselle. What are we to do? It
looks as though father and sister had----"

Mrs. Gould admitted that she felt in duty bound to do her best
for these girls.

"I have a volante here," the doctor said. "If you don't mind
getting into that----"

He waited, all impatience, till Mrs. Gould reappeared, having
thrown over her dress a grey cloak with a deep hood.

It was thus that, cloaked and monastically hooded over her
evening costume, this woman, full of endurance and compassion,
stood by the side of the bed on which the splendid Capataz de
Cargadores lay stretched out motionless on his back. The
whiteness of sheets and pillows gave a sombre and energetic
relief to his bronzed. face, to the dark, nervous hands, so good
on a tiller, upon a bridle and on a trigger, lying open and idle
upon a white coverlet.

"She is innocent," the Capataz was saying in a deep and level
voice, as though afraid that a louder word would break the
slender hold his spirit still kept upon his body. "She is
innocent. It is I alone. But no matter. For these things I would
answer to no man or woman alive."

He paused. Mrs. Gould's face, very white within the shadow of the
hood, bent over him with an invincible and dreary sadness. And
the low sobs of Giselle Viola, kneeling at the end of the bed,
her gold hair with coppery gleams loose and scattered over the
Capataz's feet, hardly troubled the silence of the room.

"Ha! Old Giorgio--the guardian of thine honour! Fancy the
Vecchio coming upon me so light of foot, so steady of aim. I
myself could have done no better. But the price of a charge of
powder might have been saved. The honour was safe. . . . Senora,
she would have followed to the end of the world Nostromo the
thief. . . . I have said the word. The spell is broken!"

A low moan from the girl made him cast his eyes down.

"I cannot see her. . . . No matter," he went on, with the shadow
of the old magnificent carelessness in his voice. "One kiss is
enough, if there is no time for more. An airy soul, senora!
Bright and warm, like sunshine--soon clouded, and soon serene.
They would crush it there between them. Senora, cast on her the
eye of your compassion, as famed from one end of the land to the
other as the courage and daring of the man who speaks to you. She
will console herself in time. And even Ramirez is not a bad
fellow. I am not angry. No! It is not Ramirez who overcame the
Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores." He paused, made an effort, and
in louder voice, a little wildly, declared--

"I die betrayed--betrayed by----"

But he did not say by whom or by what he was dying betrayed.

"She would not have betrayed me," he began again, opening his
eyes very wide. "She was faithful. We were going very far--very
soon. I could have torn myself away from that accursed treasure
for her. For that child I would have left boxes and boxes of
it--full. And Decoud took four. Four ingots. Why? Picardia! To
betray me? How could I give back the treasure with four ingots
missing? They would have said I had purloined them. The doctor
would have said that. Alas! it holds me yet!"

Mrs. Gould bent low, fascinated--cold with apprehension.

"What became of Don Martin on that night, Nostromo?"

"Who knows? I wondered what would become of me. Now I know. Death
was to come upon me unawares. He went away! He betrayed me. And
you think I have killed him! You are all alike, you fine people.
The silver has killed me. It has held me. It holds me yet. Nobody
knows where it is. But you are the wife of Don Carlos, who put it
into my hands and said, 'Save it on your life.' And when I
returned, and you all thought it was lost, what do I hear? 'It
was nothing of importance. Let it go. Up, Nostromo, the faithful,
and ride away to save us, for dear life!'"

"Nostromo!" Mrs. Gould whispered, bending very low. "I, too, have
hated the idea of that silver from the bottom of my heart."

"Marvellous!--that one of you should hate the wealth that you
know so well how to take from the hands of the poor. The world
rests upon the poor, as old Giorgio says. You have been always
good to the poor. But there is something accursed in wealth.
Senora, shall I tell you where the treasure is? To you alone. . .
. Shining! Incorruptible!"

A pained, involuntary reluctance lingered in his tone, in his
eyes, plain to the woman with the genius of sympathetic
intuition. She averted her glance from the miserable subjection
of the dying man, appalled, wishing to hear no more of the

"No, Capataz," she said. "No one misses it now. Let it be lost
for ever."

After hearing these words, Nostromo closed his eyes, uttered no
word, made no movement. Outside the door of the sick-room Dr.
Monygham, excited to the highest pitch, his eyes shining with
eagerness, came up to the two women.

"Now, Mrs. Gould," he said, almost brutally in his impatience,
"tell me, was I right? There is a mystery. You have got the word
of it, have you not? He told you----"

"He told me nothing," said Mrs. Gould, steadily.

The light of his temperamental enmity to Nostromo went out of Dr.
Monygham's eyes. He stepped back submissively. He did not believe
Mrs. Gould. But her word was law. He accepted her denial like an
inexplicable fatality affirming the victory of Nostromo's genius
over his own. Even before that woman, whom he loved with secret
devotion, he had been defeated by the magnificent Capataz de
Cargadores, the man who had lived his own life on the assumption
of unbroken fidelity, rectitude, and courage!

"Pray send at once somebody for my carriage," spoke Mrs. Gould
from within her hood. Then, turning to Giselle Viola, "Come
nearer me, child; come closer. We will wait here."

Giselle Viola, heartbroken and childlike, her face veiled in her
falling hair, crept up to her side. Mrs. Gould slipped her hand
through the arm of the unworthy daughter of old Viola, the
immaculate republican, the hero without a stain. Slowly,
gradually, as a withered flower droops, the head of the girl, who
would have followed a thief to the end of the world, rested on
the shoulder of Dona Emilia, the first lady of Sulaco, the wife
of the Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine. And Mrs. Gould,
feeling her suppressed sobbing, nervous and excited, had the
first and only moment of bitterness in her life. It was worthy of
Dr. Monygham himself.

"Console yourself, child. Very soon he would have forgotten you
for his treasure."

"Senora, he loved me. He loved me," Giselle whispered,
despairingly. "He loved me as no one had ever been loved before."

"I have been loved, too," Mrs. Gould said in a severe tone.

Giselle clung to her convulsively. "Oh, senora, but you shall
live adored to the end of your life," she sobbed out.

Mrs. Gould kept an unbroken silence till the carriage arrived.
She helped in the half-fainting girl. After the doctor had shut
the door of the landau, she leaned over to him.

"You can do nothing?" she whispered.

"No, Mrs. Gould. Moreover, he won't let us touch him. It does not
matter. I just had one look. . . . Useless."

But he promised to see old Viola and the other girl that very
night. He could get the police-boat to take him off to the
island. He remained in the street, looking after the landau
rolling away slowly behind the white mules.

The rumour of some accident--an accident to Captain Fidanza--had
been spreading along the new quays with their rows of lamps and
the dark shapes of towering cranes. A knot of night prowlers--the
poorest of the poor--hung about the door of the first-aid
hospital, whispering in the moonlight of the empty street.

There was no one with the wounded man but the pale photographer,
small, frail, bloodthirsty, the hater of capitalists, perched on
a high stool near the head of the bed with his knees up and his
chin in his hands. He had been fetched by a comrade who, working
late on the wharf, had heard from a negro belonging to a lancha,
that Captain Fidanza had been brought ashore mortally wounded.

"Have you any dispositions to make, comrade?" he asked,
anxiously. "Do not forget that we want money for our work. The
rich must be fought with their own weapons."

Nostromo made no answer. The other did not insist, remaining
huddled up on the stool, shock-headed, wildly hairy, like a
hunchbacked monkey. Then, after a long silence--

"Comrade Fidanza," he began, solemnly, "you have refused all aid
from that doctor. Is he really a dangerous enemy of the people?"

In the dimly lit room Nostromo rolled his head slowly on the
pillow and opened his eyes, directing at the weird figure perched
by his bedside a glance of enigmatic and profound inquiry. Then
his head rolled back, his eyelids fell, and the Capataz de
Cargadores died without a word or moan after an hour of
immobility, broken by short shudders testifying to the most
atrocious sufferings.

Dr. Monygham, going out in the police-galley to the islands,
beheld the glitter of the moon upon the gulf and the high black
shape of the Great Isabel sending a shaft of light afar, from
under the canopy of clouds.

"Pull easy," he said, wondering what he would find there. He
tried to imagine Linda and her father, and discovered a strange
reluctance within himself. "Pull easy," he repeated.

* * * * * *

From the moment he fired at the thief of his honour, Giorgio
Viola had not stirred from the spot. He stood, his old gun
grounded, his hand grasping the barrel near the muzzle. After the
lancha carrying off Nostromo for ever from her had left the
shore, Linda, coming up, stopped before him. He did not seem to
be aware of her presence, but when, losing her forced calmness,
she cried out--

"Do you know whom you have killed?" he answered--

"Ramirez the vagabond."

White, and staring insanely at her father, Linda laughed in his
face. After a time he joined her faintly in a deep-toned and
distant echo of her peals. Then she stopped, and the old man
spoke as if startled--

"He cried out in son Gian' Battista's voice."

The gun fell from his opened hand, but the arm remained extended
for a moment as if still supported. Linda seized it roughly.

"You are too old to understand. Come into the house."

He let her lead him. On the threshold he stumbled heavily, nearly
coming to the ground together with his daughter. His excitement,
his activity of the last few days, had been like the flare of a
dying lamp. He caught at the back of his chair.

"In son Gian' Battista's voice," he repeated in a severe tone. "I
heard him--Ramirez--the miserable----"

Linda helped him into the chair, and, bending low, hissed into
his ear--

"You have killed Gian' Battista."

The old man smiled under his thick moustache. Women had strange

"Where is the child?" he asked, surprised at the penetrating
chilliness of the air and the unwonted dimness of the lamp by
which he used to sit up half the night with the open Bible before

Linda hesitated a moment, then averted her eyes.

"She is asleep," she said. "We shall talk of her tomorrow."

She could not bear to look at him. He filled her with terror and
with an almost unbearable feeling of pity. She had observed the
change that came over him. He would never understand what he had
done; and even to her the whole thing remained incomprehensible.
He said with difficulty--

"Give me the book."

Linda laid on the table the closed volume in its worn leather
cover, the Bible given him ages ago by an Englishman in Palermo.

"The child had to be protected," he said, in a strange, mournful

Behind his chair Linda wrung her hands, crying without noise.
Suddenly she started for the door. He heard her move.

"Where are you going? "he asked.

"To the light," she answered, turning round to look at him

"The light! Si--duty."

Very upright, white-haired, leonine, heroic in his absorbed
quietness, he felt in the pocket of his red shirt for the
spectacles given him by Dona Emilia. He put them on. After a long
period of immobility he opened the book, and from on high looked
through the glasses at the small print in double columns. A
rigid, stern expression settled upon his features with a slight
frown, as if in response to some gloomy thought or unpleasant
sensation. But he never detached his eyes from the book while he
swayed forward, gently, gradually, till his snow-white head
rested upon the open pages. A wooden clock ticked methodically on
the white-washed wall, and growing slowly cold the Garibaldino
lay alone, rugged, undecayed, like an old oak uprooted by a
treacherous gust of wind.

The light of the Great Isabel burned unfailing above the lost
treasure of the San Tome mine. Into the bluish sheen of a night
without stars the lantern sent out a yellow beam towards the far
horizon. Like a black speck upon the shining panes, Linda,
crouching in the outer gallery, rested her head on the rail. The
moon, drooping in the western board, looked at her radiantly.

Below, at the foot of the cliff, the regular splash of oars from
a passing boat ceased, and Dr. Monygham stood up in the stern

"Linda!" he shouted, throwing back his head. "Linda!"

Linda stood up. She had recognized the voice.

"Is he dead?" she cried, bending over.

"Yes, my poor girl. I am coming round," the doctor answered from
below. "Pull to the beach," he said to the rowers.

Linda's black figure detached itself upright on the light of the
lantern with her arms raised above her head as though she were
going to throw herself over.

"It is I who loved you," she whispered, with a face as set and
white as marble in the moonlight. "I! Only I! She will forget
thee, killed miserably for her pretty face. I cannot understand.
I cannot understand. But I shall never forget thee. Never!"

She stood silent and still, collecting her strength to throw all
her fidelity, her pain, bewilderment, and despair into one great

"Never! Gian' Battista!"

Dr. Monygham, pulling round in the police-galley, heard the name
pass over his head. It was another of Nostromo's triumphs, the
greatest, the most enviable, the most sinister of all. In that
true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta
Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon,
overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid
silver, the genius of the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores
dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest