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Heart of Darkness

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“But they didn’t. Instead of rivets there came an invasion, an infliction, a visitation. It came in sections during the next three weeks, each section headed by a donkey carrying a white man in new clothes and tan shoes, bowing from that elevation right and left to the impressed pilgrims. A quarrelsome band of footsore sulky niggers trod on the heels of the donkey; a lot of tents, camp-stools, tin boxes, white cases, brown bales would be shot down in the courtyard, and the air of mystery would deepen a little over the muddle of the station. Five such installments came, with their absurd air of disorderly flight with the loot of innumerable outfit shops and provision stores, that, one would think, they were lugging, after a raid, into the wilderness for equitable division. It was an inextricable mess of things decent in themselves but that human folly made look like the spoils of thieving. “But they didn’t come. Instead we got an invasion. It came in parts over the next three weeks. Each part was led by a white man in new clothes and tan shoes riding a donkey. The agents were all impressed by him. A group of ragged, worn-out black porters followed him, carrying a lot of tents and boxes into the station. Five such chaotic caravans came over the next three weeks, each looking like a gang of thieves running from a supply store to divide up their loot. All of the objects looked normal on their own, but in the hands of these caravans they looked like a jumble of stolen goods.
“This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and I believe they were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. Who paid the expenses of the noble enterprise I don’t know; but the uncle of our manager was leader of that lot. “This invasion called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition. They were sworn to secrecy about their mission, so naturally they talked like pirates, bragging and cruel and greedy. None of them seemed to take anything seriously. Their only desire was to tear treasure out of the ground like burglars breaking into a safe. I don’t know who was funding the expedition, but their leader was our manager’s uncle.
“In exterior he resembled a butcher in a poor neighbourhood, and his eyes had a look of sleepy cunning. He carried his fat paunch with ostentation on his short legs, and during the time his gang infested the station spoke to no one but his nephew. You could see these two roaming about all day long with their heads close together in an everlasting confab. “This man resembled a butcher you might find in a poor neighborhood. His eyes were shifty. He had a pot belly that he rested on his short legs, and he didn’t talk to anyone but his nephew, the manager. They walked around all day together, in constant private conversation.
“I had given up worrying myself about the rivets. One’s capacity for that kind of folly is more limited than you would suppose. I said Hang!—and let things slide. I had plenty of time for meditation, and now and then I would give some thought to Kurtz. I wasn’t very interested in him. No. Still, I was curious to see whether this man, who had come out equipped with moral ideas of some sort, would climb to the top after all and how he would set about his work when there.” “I stopped waiting for the rivets. There’s only so much of such pointless hope you can take. I said the hell with it and let it go. I had plenty of time to think and now and then would think about Kurtz. I wasn’t very interested in him. No. But I was curious to see whether this man who came out here with such a sense of purpose would rise to the top after all and what he would do once he got there.”

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