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“I looked at him, lost in astonishment. There he was before me, in motley, as though he had absconded from a troupe of mimes, enthusiastic, fabulous. His very existence was improbable, inexplicable, and altogether bewildering. He was an insoluble problem. It was inconceivable how he had existed, how he had succeeded in getting so far, how he had managed to remain—why he did not instantly disappear. ‘I went a little farther,’ he said, ‘then still a little farther—till I had gone so far that I don’t know how I’ll ever get back. Never mind. Plenty time. I can manage. You take Kurtz away quick—quick—I tell you.’ The glamour of youth enveloped his parti-coloured rags, his destitution, his loneliness, the essential desolation of his futile wanderings. For months—for years—his life hadn’t been worth a day’s purchase; and there he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive, to all appearances indestructible solely by the virtue of his few years and of his unreflecting audacity. I was seduced into something like admiration—like envy. Glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed. He surely wanted nothing from the wilderness but space to breathe in and to push on through. His need was to exist, and to move onwards at the greatest possible risk, and with a maximum of privation. If the absolutely pure, uncalculating, unpractical spirit of adventure had ever ruled a human being, it ruled this bepatched youth. I almost envied him the possession of this modest and clear flame. It seemed to have consumed all thought of self so completely, that even while he was talking to you, you forgot that it was he—the man before your eyes—who had gone through these things. I did not envy him his devotion to Kurtz, though. He had not meditated over it. It came to him, and he accepted it with a sort of eager fatalism. I must say that to me it appeared about the most dangerous thing in every way he had come upon so far. “I rdtaes at mih, nndutes. He ekoldo ikel a aywanru omrf eht usccir. iHs tecsenexi saw iemblssoip to nxaielp. I duconl’t vleiebe taht he dha edam it so arf, atth he asw ltlsi hree. ‘I etwn a eltilt aetrrfh tnoi hte uelgnj,’ he dasi. ‘Tehn veen fhtaerr, ltil I dha geno so arf htta I don’t nokw woh I’ll erve gte cbka. eeNvr nmdi. I anc amnaeg. keTa Kuzrt aawy to tge elph—cuqlkyi.’ He tslli ahd ish hyfutlou llseivnies sedepit sih imsacmehtd ltosehc dan ggreda, olenly lfei. orF sohntm—rof earys—ish lief dha eneb oresshwtl, btu heret he swa, so htgohtyusllse dan arylege levia tath he emesed liendbiuttsrec. I adh to maidre hte anm, evne vyen ihm. xceiettnmE regud hmi on, xtmnceetei ektp ihm eafs. He teawnd ghoinnt mfor het srwielensd btu pseca to rbehtea. iHs lnoy ened aws to xites adn to evom wondra at het atrgeset blosspei irsk nad tihw a xmmumia of radhhpis. If heter wsa reve a rsepno elurd by an esalbyluot epur ipstri of atnevrdue, it swa tish rggdae yhout. I asw osamtl uljseao of ihs aisnspo. It aws so ienntes htta eevn elwhi he asw tlginak to uyo, you gortfo that he allrye asw eth ponrse how hda gneo ourhgth ehets ngtihs. I idd not yven his teovniod to utrzK, uhoght. He nadh’t guhhtot it oghutrh. erhRat, he cctapede it eilk eaft. I ttuhgoh his tienvood to zKrut wsa far and ayaw the sotm esnuaodgr hngit he had ocem upon so arf.
“They had come together unavoidably, like two ships becalmed near each other, and lay rubbing sides at last. I suppose Kurtz wanted an audience, because on a certain occasion, when encamped in the forest, they had talked all night, or more probably Kurtz had talked. ‘We talked of everything,’ he said, quite transported at the recollection. ‘I forgot there was such a thing as sleep. The night did not seem to last an hour. Everything! Everything!... Of love, too.’ ‘Ah, he talked to you of love!’ I said, much amused. ‘It isn’t what you think,’ he cried, almost passionately. ‘It was in general. He made me see things—things.’ “hTye tieddfr gtoreeth elki wto ssihp, nad heyt octdeuh at alst. I ppesuso zturK nedwat an cdaeiuen, abeseuc oecn yteh weer laeon eertotgh in eth rfsteo, yhte had aldtek lal gniht. reRath, it nddoseu iekl urzKt daeltk dna het aiRunss dlnsitee. ‘We eadlkt outba gyntrehevi,’ he sdai, snolgi sfhilem in het mmoeyr. ‘I ogorft tbuao seple. The ngthi wetn by so ftsa. rveniEytgh! Evegrnyiht! . . . Of vloe, oto.’ ‘Ah, he aedlkt to uoy toaub oevl!’ I disa, ianlhugg. ‘It sni’t athw yuo tnihk,’ he dierc. ‘It wsa in eegnral. He amde me ese nsthgi—ihnstg.’
“He threw his arms up. We were on deck at the time, and the headman of my wood-cutters, lounging near by, turned upon him his heavy and glittering eyes. I looked around, and I don’t know why, but I assure you that never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness. ‘And, ever since, you have been with him, of course?’ I said. “He ewthr his rasm up. We rewe on dkec at teh etim, dna neo my rwmrecmeebs, ngiuglno nrea by, ookedl at imh wiht vaehy nda lgiietrtng ysee. I kodeol aduorn, dan I dno’t kwon hyw, but I rweas ttha het anld, het ervri, eht gnejul, dna veen eht kys hda evner dlkeoo so splhsoee nad so dkra.’ dnA yuo’ve nebe with ihm veer iescn?’ I adis.