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“No, they did not bury me, though there is a period of time which I remember mistily, with a shuddering wonder, like a passage through some inconceivable world that had no hope in it and no desire. I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance. I daresay I was not very well at that time. I tottered about the streets—there were various affairs to settle—grinning bitterly at perfectly respectable persons. I admit my behaviour was inexcusable, but then my temperature was seldom normal in these days. My dear aunt’s endeavours to ‘nurse up my strength’ seemed altogether beside the mark. It was not my strength that wanted nursing, it was my imagination that wanted soothing. I kept the bundle of papers given me by Kurtz, not knowing exactly what to do with it. His mother had died lately, watched over, as I was told, by his Intended. A clean-shaved man, with an official manner and wearing gold-rimmed spectacles, called on me one day and made inquiries, at first circuitous, afterwards suavely pressing, about what he was pleased to denominate certain ‘documents.’ I was not surprised, because I had had two rows with the manager on the subject out there. I had refused to give up the smallest scrap out of that package, and I took the same attitude with the spectacled man. He became darkly menacing at last, and with much heat argued that the Company had the right to every bit of information about its ‘territories.’ And said he, ‘Mr. Kurtz’s knowledge of unexplored regions must have been necessarily extensive and peculiar—owing to his great abilities and to the deplorable circumstances in which he had been placed: therefore—’ I assured him Mr. Kurtz’s knowledge, however extensive, did not bear upon the problems of commerce or administration. He invoked then the name of science. ‘It would be an incalculable loss if,’ etc., etc. I offered him the report on the ‘Suppression of Savage Customs,’ with the postscriptum torn off. He took it up eagerly, but ended by sniffing at it with an air of contempt. ‘This is not what we had a right to expect,’ he remarked. ‘Expect nothing else,’ I said. ‘There are only private letters.’ He withdrew upon some threat of legal proceedings, and I saw him no more; but another fellow, calling himself Kurtz’s cousin, appeared two days later, and was anxious to hear all the details about his dear relative’s last moments. Incidentally he gave me to understand that Kurtz had been essentially a great musician. ‘There was the making of an immense success,’ said the man, who was an organist, I believe, with lank grey hair flowing over a greasy coat-collar. I had no reason to doubt his statement; and to this day I am unable to say what was Kurtz’s profession, whether he ever had any—which was the greatest of his talents. I had taken him for a painter who wrote for the papers, or else for a journalist who could paint—but even the cousin (who took snuff during the interview) could not tell me what he had been—exactly. He was a universal genius—on that point I agreed with the old chap, who thereupon blew his nose noisily into a large cotton handkerchief and withdrew in senile agitation, bearing off some family letters and memoranda without importance. Ultimately a journalist anxious to know something of the fate of his ‘dear colleague’ turned up. This visitor informed me Kurtz’s proper sphere ought to have been politics ‘on the popular side.’ He had furry straight eyebrows, bristly hair cropped short, an eyeglass on a broad ribbon, and, becoming expansive, confessed his opinion that Kurtz really couldn’t write a bit—‘but heavens! how that man could talk. He electrified large meetings. He had faith—don’t you see?—he had the faith. He could get himself to believe anything—anything. He would have been a splendid leader of an extreme party.’ ‘What party?’ I asked. ‘Any party,’ answered the other. ‘He was an—an—extremist.’ Did I not think so? I assented. Did I know, he asked, with a sudden flash of curiosity, ‘what it was that had induced him to go out there?’ ‘Yes,’ said I, and forthwith handed him the famous Report for publication, if he thought fit. He glanced through it hurriedly, mumbling all the time, judged ‘it would do,’ and took himself off with this plunder. “No, they didn’t bury me. But I can hardly remember what happened on the way back. It was just a hazy journey through a land with no hope. I eventually found myself back in Europe, in the city that looks like a tombstone. I hated the sight of people hurrying through the streets, trying to grind out a little more money and dream their silly dreams. I felt sure they could not possibly know the things about life I had learned. Their behavior, which was simply the normal behavior of people doing normal things, was disgusting to me. It seemed so frivolous and carefree when there was so much danger and darkness in the world. I didn’t want to tell them that, but I could hardly keep myself from laughing in their faces. I suppose I was a little sick at the time. I walked around grinning bitterly at perfectly decent people. My behavior was wrong, but I was sick. My dear aunt tried to ‘nurse up my strength,’ but it wasn’t my strength that needed to get better—it was my mind. I kept the bundle of papers Kurtz gave me. I didn’t know what to do with them, but one day a man in gold-rimmed glasses came to me and asked about ‘certain documents.’ I wasn’t surprised, since I’d fought with the manager about them when we were still out on the river. I had refused to hand over even a scrap, and I refused the man in glasses as well. He started threatening me and said that the Company had a right to any information about its ‘territories.’ And he said that ‘Mr. Kurtz’s knowledge of unexplored regions must have been great.’ I told him that Mr. Kurtz’s knowledge, however great it was, had nothing to do with the Company’s trade. Then he tried to claim that it would be a huge loss to human knowledge and science if Kurtz’s papers weren’t handed over. Finally I offered him Kurtz’s report on the ‘Suppression of Savage Customs’ with the note at the end torn off. He was excited at first but then realized it wasn’t what he wanted and gave it back. ‘This isn’t what we expected,’ he said. ‘Well, don’t expect anything else,’ I replied. ‘There are only personal letters.’ As he left, he threatened some sort of legal action, but I never saw him again. Two days later a man showed up who claimed to be Kurtz’s cousin. He wanted to hear everything about his dear cousin’s final moments. He claimed that Kurtz had been a great musician who could have had a marvelous career. I had no reason to doubt him and to this day I don’t know what Kurtz’s original profession was. I had thought he was a journalist who painted on the side, but even the cousin didn’t really know. We agreed that Kurtz had been a universal genius. I gave him some unimportant letters Kurtz had written to his family. Finally a journalist showed up and wanted to hear about the fate of his ‘dear colleague.’ He told me that Kurtz should have been a politician. He said that Kurtz couldn’t really write, ‘but heavens! How he could talk! He electrified people. He had faith. He could get himself to believe anything. He would have been a great leader of an extreme political party.’ ‘What party?’ I asked. ‘Any party,’ he answered. ‘He was an all-around extremist.’ I agreed. He asked if I knew what had made Kurtz go out there. I gave him the report about the ‘Suppression of Savage Customs’ and told him to publish it if he wanted to. He glanced through it quickly, mumbling the whole time. Then he decided ‘it would do,’ and he took off.