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Heart of Darkness

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“I gave him Towson’s book. He made as though he would kiss me, but restrained himself. ‘The only book I had left, and I thought I had lost it,’ he said, looking at it ecstatically. ‘So many accidents happen to a man going about alone, you know. Canoes get upset sometimes—and sometimes you’ve got to clear out so quick when the people get angry.’ He thumbed the pages. ‘You made notes in Russian?’ I asked. He nodded. ‘I thought they were written in cipher,’ I said. He laughed, then became serious. ‘I had lots of trouble to keep these people off,’ he said. ‘Did they want to kill you?’ I asked. ‘Oh, no!’ he cried, and checked himself. ‘Why did they attack us?’ I pursued. He hesitated, then said shamefacedly, ‘They don’t want him to go.’ ‘Don’t they?’ I said curiously. He nodded a nod full of mystery and wisdom. ‘I tell you,’ he cried, ‘this man has enlarged my mind.’ He opened his arms wide, staring at me with his little blue eyes that were perfectly round.” “I gave him Towson’s book. He looked like he would kiss me, he was so grateful. ‘The only book I had left, and I thought I lost it,’ he said. ‘So many accidents happen to a man wandering around alone. Canoes tip over, and sometimes you have to leave places in a hurry when people get upset.’ He thumbed the pages. ‘You made notes in Russian?’ I asked. He nodded. ‘I thought they were some sort of code,’ I said. He laughed, then suddenly he became serious. ‘It was hard keeping these people away,’ he said, referring to the natives I knew were nearby. ‘Did they try to kill you?’ I asked. ‘Oh, of course not,’ he said. ‘Then why did they attack us?’ I asked. He paused, then said, ‘They don’t want him to go.’ ‘They don’t?’ I said curiously. He nodded mysteriously, spread his arms, and said, ‘That man has enlarged my mind.’

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