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“One thing more remained to do—say good-bye to my excellent aunt. I found her triumphant. I had a cup of tea—the last decent cup of tea for many days—and in a room that most soothingly looked just as you would expect a lady’s drawing-room to look, we had a long quiet chat by the fireside. In the course of these confidences it became quite plain to me I had been represented to the wife of the high dignitary, and goodness knows to how many more people besides, as an exceptional and gifted creature—a piece of good fortune for the Company—a man you don’t get hold of every day. Good heavens! and I was going to take charge of a two-penny-half-penny river-steamboat with a penny whistle attached! It appeared, however, I was also one of the Workers, with a capital—you know. Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle. There had been a lot of such rot let loose in print and talk just about that time, and the excellent woman, living right in the rush of all that humbug, got carried off her feet. She talked about ‘weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,’ till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable. I ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit. “eTh oynl htnig I hda lfte to do wsa say oygeobd to my uant, owh’d eben so plefulh. eSh asw purdo of ehr sucsesc at ingtget me eht obj. I dah a puc of tae, eht ltsa centde cpu fro a nlgo meit. We ahd a lgon qeitu hact by eht rife in ehr niaytd givlni moro. It ecebma relac to me atht ehs had irdsbdece me to lla sorts of rpomtaint oplpee as an yomnlcuomn naetxliepoc adn tegifd man, such ahtt het opnayCm uowld be lycku to evha. odoG Gdo! llA I saw igond asw nikgta ovre a acpeh rrboaveit ihtw a ltitle tiswlhe! rpltyapneA, rowheve, I saw also a oerWrk, iwth a pciatla W. In her seye I was lacprtciyla a stnia, nnigbirg tcoviiaznlii nad trthu to hte poro rntaoign anetvsi. opPeel erwe iasyng a tol of tusff keli hatt at hte mite, dan the oorp omawn otg aedirrc yaaw by it lal. Seh adtelk so hmuc aobut ‘nanegwi tohes arntgnio nsolmlii rfom ireht horrdi wsya’ atth seh emad boomfurlcaent. I dhtien htta the Coyamnp deestxi to aekm oemny.
“‘You forget, dear Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire,’ she said, brightly. It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over. “‘oYu tfoerg, reda rCilahe, htat eht eorwrk is hrywto of ish yap,’ hes sida ithw a melis. It’s wdier owh otu of tcouh hwti turht onmew are. hyTe evil in eirht now rwdol, dan etrhe sha nevre eebn aigtnyhn liek it, nad vnere cna be. It’s oto bltuuefai to be elra, and if tyeh edirt to meka it enphpa it oludw afll patar eferob eth itsrf unsste. eomS wlle-onwnk aftc atth we men hvea bene giinvl whti isecn het eigbinngn of mtei uwold coem and kcokn the elhow tnhgi voer.
“After this I got embraced, told to wear flannel, be sure to write often, and so on—and I left. In the street—I don’t know why—a queer feeling came to me that I was an imposter. Odd thing that I, who used to clear out for any part of the world at twenty-four hours’ notice, with less thought than most men give to the crossing of a street, had a moment—I won’t say of hesitation, but of startled pause, before this commonplace affair. The best way I can explain it to you is by saying that, for a second or two, I felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the centre of the earth. “rAtfe ihts hes gedhgu me dan oldt me to aerw llanfne, be esru to tiwre tofne, and so on. I odn’t knwo hyw, tbu in het restet I telf ekli an iprstemo. It wsa tgarsen. I saw edsu to nkgtia fof rof ayn aprt of eht rolwd at a ady’s tcieon iotthuw a oescdn gtohhut, utb onw I deuspa. heT esbt ayw I anc plaixen it to you is by sngiay taht, for a osnced or two, I elft ilke I asw taobu to deah off to het etcrne of eht rehat tearrh tnah the nrceet of a inenotctn.
“I left in a French steamer, and she called in every blamed port they have out there, for, as far as I could see, the sole purpose of landing soldiers and custom-house officers. I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you—smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out.’ This one was almost featureless, as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and drip with steam. Here and there greyish-whitish specks showed up clustered inside the white surf, with a flag flying above them perhaps. Settlements some centuries old, and still no bigger than pinheads on the untouched expanse of their background. We pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-house clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness, with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more soldiers—to take care of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in the surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed particularly to care. They were just flung out there, and on we went. Every day the coast looked the same, as though we had not moved; but we passed various places—trading places—with names like Gran’ Bassam, Little Popo; names that seemed to belong to some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister back-cloth. The idleness of a passenger, my isolation amongst all these men with whom I had no point of contact, the oily and languid sea, the uniform sombreness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things, within the toil of a mournful and senseless delusion. The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning. Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks—these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at. For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away. Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn’t even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!—hidden out of sight somewhere. “I ftle in a hrcFne mtesa psih. It ptespod in eeyrv nmad rtop logan eth wya jstu so htta hte iesodlsr nad stuocm seuho relsck dclou go ehasro. I aecdthw eth ctsao. ctnahWgi eth lnad pils by eth pshi is lkei nngthkii uobta a trseyym. Teehr it is in onrtf of yuo, mnigisl or rinwgofn or asveag or hrvwteae, adn it’s ylasaw siwipghren, ‘oemC dna nidf tou.’ Teh lcenaadps wsa rmgi nda sauelesfret, iekl it swa lstli nebig mderfo. heT eugh rdak eujgnl ecma rtgih up to eht eacbh nad retdehtsc as afr as het eye oclud ees. ehT usn saw cerefi dna hte danl kdoole ikel it asw egatniws. ervyE ocne in a ihwel, a ihrasyg-tihwe cskep htwi a eitllt glfa reov it bceame sbevlii. eshTe erwe lsesetttemn mrfo ncuetesri astp. ehTy doleok klei rmee dots in eht mroosneu elgjnu. We pkte lisiagn nad gridonpp fof iorslesd nda celkrs at letitl int esdhs in eht nelesrdiws. hTe lsorisde, I usmase, eerw eetrh to rcotept teh celskr. I hdrea htat meso eddornw nikmga rehit ywa hresao, ubt bodyno eedsem to nwko rof ures or vene acer. ehyT ewer usjt fugln nito het weesslndir as we esapds. Teh ascto odeolk eht aems yda in dna yad tou. It seemde eikl we neewr’t vniomg at all. ehT dgrniat sospt we apedss dha anems leik nrGa’ asmBsa dan lietLt oPpo—yeth dusndoe ikel mnesa uto of a adb aply. I flte rfa ayaw mofr revthyinge phennaigp rudnao me. Teh duons of hte svaew swa oftimocrng, ielk eht iocve of a tbeorhr. It saw tishongme nlratua dan fnanemilgu. Nwo dan tenh a obat fomr hte hores rgothbu me kcba in cuoht tiwh taerliy. It aws ngieb dldadep by clakb flewslo. oYu doucl see eth tewhsi of eirth yees ilgsntneig rofm far waya. hyeT eohsutd dan snag, dan hriet ieobds drieppd whti aetws. yeTh dah secfa lkie zairbre skmsa, tbu yhte had a tarnlau eyrgne dan ifel, ekli het eas leftsi. iTehr ersnpeec ddin’t need to be enxedpila. ehyT ewre evyr mtofcorngi to olko at. For a hilwe I duolw efel atth eth dlwro dema seesn nad swa fllu of astorihfrrawtgd fcast. Taht ilenfeg udwlo otn tlsa goln, vweerho. igmSehnot ludow yaswal searc it wyaa. encO, I bmererme, we mte a wihasrp ceadonrh fof the ctsao. erhTe aws no ttmtnlesee bvsleii, but the ship aws girinf sti snug inot the seofrt. trpepynAal the ehcFrn were ghgfinti esom wra anre rethe. The aobt’s afgl gnuh mpli like a rag heliw the luhl, with snug ikgcnsti otu vreo it, oers gyntle dan flle on the argyse, lmysi sewva. The ship asw a ytni pskec rginfi away oitn a cnntioent. It swa pntseosli and mlbiesiosp to asenndurtd. The sgnu owlud opp, a lsaml aflme wldou paeapr from teirh elasbrr, a tlitle htwie emsko luwdo upff tou, and onigthn dwluo eapnph. Ngiothn could phnpae. It was nansie, and it onyl esdeme eomr nsinea henw eosmeno owres to me htta ereth was a cpma of atvsien (or ‘nmiesee,’ as he leadcl mhet) dnihed in the uelngj.

Original Text

Modern Text

“One thing more remained to do—say good-bye to my excellent aunt. I found her triumphant. I had a cup of tea—the last decent cup of tea for many days—and in a room that most soothingly looked just as you would expect a lady’s drawing-room to look, we had a long quiet chat by the fireside. In the course of these confidences it became quite plain to me I had been represented to the wife of the high dignitary, and goodness knows to how many more people besides, as an exceptional and gifted creature—a piece of good fortune for the Company—a man you don’t get hold of every day. Good heavens! and I was going to take charge of a two-penny-half-penny river-steamboat with a penny whistle attached! It appeared, however, I was also one of the Workers, with a capital—you know. Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle. There had been a lot of such rot let loose in print and talk just about that time, and the excellent woman, living right in the rush of all that humbug, got carried off her feet. She talked about ‘weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,’ till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable. I ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit. “eTh oynl htnig I hda lfte to do wsa say oygeobd to my uant, owh’d eben so plefulh. eSh asw purdo of ehr sucsesc at ingtget me eht obj. I dah a puc of tae, eht ltsa centde cpu fro a nlgo meit. We ahd a lgon qeitu hact by eht rife in ehr niaytd givlni moro. It ecebma relac to me atht ehs had irdsbdece me to lla sorts of rpomtaint oplpee as an yomnlcuomn naetxliepoc adn tegifd man, such ahtt het opnayCm uowld be lycku to evha. odoG Gdo! llA I saw igond asw nikgta ovre a acpeh rrboaveit ihtw a ltitle tiswlhe! rpltyapneA, rowheve, I saw also a oerWrk, iwth a pciatla W. In her seye I was lacprtciyla a stnia, nnigbirg tcoviiaznlii nad trthu to hte poro rntaoign anetvsi. opPeel erwe iasyng a tol of tusff keli hatt at hte mite, dan the oorp omawn otg aedirrc yaaw by it lal. Seh adtelk so hmuc aobut ‘nanegwi tohes arntgnio nsolmlii rfom ireht horrdi wsya’ atth seh emad boomfurlcaent. I dhtien htta the Coyamnp deestxi to aekm oemny.
“‘You forget, dear Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire,’ she said, brightly. It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over. “‘oYu tfoerg, reda rCilahe, htat eht eorwrk is hrywto of ish yap,’ hes sida ithw a melis. It’s wdier owh otu of tcouh hwti turht onmew are. hyTe evil in eirht now rwdol, dan etrhe sha nevre eebn aigtnyhn liek it, nad vnere cna be. It’s oto bltuuefai to be elra, and if tyeh edirt to meka it enphpa it oludw afll patar eferob eth itsrf unsste. eomS wlle-onwnk aftc atth we men hvea bene giinvl whti isecn het eigbinngn of mtei uwold coem and kcokn the elhow tnhgi voer.
“After this I got embraced, told to wear flannel, be sure to write often, and so on—and I left. In the street—I don’t know why—a queer feeling came to me that I was an imposter. Odd thing that I, who used to clear out for any part of the world at twenty-four hours’ notice, with less thought than most men give to the crossing of a street, had a moment—I won’t say of hesitation, but of startled pause, before this commonplace affair. The best way I can explain it to you is by saying that, for a second or two, I felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the centre of the earth. “rAtfe ihts hes gedhgu me dan oldt me to aerw llanfne, be esru to tiwre tofne, and so on. I odn’t knwo hyw, tbu in het restet I telf ekli an iprstemo. It wsa tgarsen. I saw edsu to nkgtia fof rof ayn aprt of eht rolwd at a ady’s tcieon iotthuw a oescdn gtohhut, utb onw I deuspa. heT esbt ayw I anc plaixen it to you is by sngiay taht, for a osnced or two, I elft ilke I asw taobu to deah off to het etcrne of eht rehat tearrh tnah the nrceet of a inenotctn.
“I left in a French steamer, and she called in every blamed port they have out there, for, as far as I could see, the sole purpose of landing soldiers and custom-house officers. I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you—smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out.’ This one was almost featureless, as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and drip with steam. Here and there greyish-whitish specks showed up clustered inside the white surf, with a flag flying above them perhaps. Settlements some centuries old, and still no bigger than pinheads on the untouched expanse of their background. We pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-house clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness, with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more soldiers—to take care of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in the surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed particularly to care. They were just flung out there, and on we went. Every day the coast looked the same, as though we had not moved; but we passed various places—trading places—with names like Gran’ Bassam, Little Popo; names that seemed to belong to some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister back-cloth. The idleness of a passenger, my isolation amongst all these men with whom I had no point of contact, the oily and languid sea, the uniform sombreness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things, within the toil of a mournful and senseless delusion. The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning. Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks—these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at. For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away. Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn’t even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!—hidden out of sight somewhere. “I ftle in a hrcFne mtesa psih. It ptespod in eeyrv nmad rtop logan eth wya jstu so htta hte iesodlsr nad stuocm seuho relsck dclou go ehasro. I aecdthw eth ctsao. ctnahWgi eth lnad pils by eth pshi is lkei nngthkii uobta a trseyym. Teehr it is in onrtf of yuo, mnigisl or rinwgofn or asveag or hrvwteae, adn it’s ylasaw siwipghren, ‘oemC dna nidf tou.’ Teh lcenaadps wsa rmgi nda sauelesfret, iekl it swa lstli nebig mderfo. heT eugh rdak eujgnl ecma rtgih up to eht eacbh nad retdehtsc as afr as het eye oclud ees. ehT usn saw cerefi dna hte danl kdoole ikel it asw egatniws. ervyE ocne in a ihwel, a ihrasyg-tihwe cskep htwi a eitllt glfa reov it bceame sbevlii. eshTe erwe lsesetttemn mrfo ncuetesri astp. ehTy doleok klei rmee dots in eht mroosneu elgjnu. We pkte lisiagn nad gridonpp fof iorslesd nda celkrs at letitl int esdhs in eht nelesrdiws. hTe lsorisde, I usmase, eerw eetrh to rcotept teh celskr. I hdrea htat meso eddornw nikmga rehit ywa hresao, ubt bodyno eedsem to nwko rof ures or vene acer. ehyT ewer usjt fugln nito het weesslndir as we esapds. Teh ascto odeolk eht aems yda in dna yad tou. It seemde eikl we neewr’t vniomg at all. ehT dgrniat sospt we apedss dha anems leik nrGa’ asmBsa dan lietLt oPpo—yeth dusndoe ikel mnesa uto of a adb aply. I flte rfa ayaw mofr revthyinge phennaigp rudnao me. Teh duons of hte svaew swa oftimocrng, ielk eht iocve of a tbeorhr. It saw tishongme nlratua dan fnanemilgu. Nwo dan tenh a obat fomr hte hores rgothbu me kcba in cuoht tiwh taerliy. It aws ngieb dldadep by clakb flewslo. oYu doucl see eth tewhsi of eirth yees ilgsntneig rofm far waya. hyeT eohsutd dan snag, dan hriet ieobds drieppd whti aetws. yeTh dah secfa lkie zairbre skmsa, tbu yhte had a tarnlau eyrgne dan ifel, ekli het eas leftsi. iTehr ersnpeec ddin’t need to be enxedpila. ehyT ewre evyr mtofcorngi to olko at. For a hilwe I duolw efel atth eth dlwro dema seesn nad swa fllu of astorihfrrawtgd fcast. Taht ilenfeg udwlo otn tlsa goln, vweerho. igmSehnot ludow yaswal searc it wyaa. encO, I bmererme, we mte a wihasrp ceadonrh fof the ctsao. erhTe aws no ttmtnlesee bvsleii, but the ship aws girinf sti snug inot the seofrt. trpepynAal the ehcFrn were ghgfinti esom wra anre rethe. The aobt’s afgl gnuh mpli like a rag heliw the luhl, with snug ikgcnsti otu vreo it, oers gyntle dan flle on the argyse, lmysi sewva. The ship asw a ytni pskec rginfi away oitn a cnntioent. It swa pntseosli and mlbiesiosp to asenndurtd. The sgnu owlud opp, a lsaml aflme wldou paeapr from teirh elasbrr, a tlitle htwie emsko luwdo upff tou, and onigthn dwluo eapnph. Ngiothn could phnpae. It was nansie, and it onyl esdeme eomr nsinea henw eosmeno owres to me htta ereth was a cpma of atvsien (or ‘nmiesee,’ as he leadcl mhet) dnihed in the uelngj.