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“His voice lost itself in the calm of the evening. The long shadows of the forest had slipped downhill while we talked, had gone far beyond the ruined hovel, beyond the symbolic row of stakes. All this was in the gloom, while we down there were yet in the sunshine, and the stretch of the river abreast of the clearing glittered in a still and dazzling splendour, with a murky and overshadowed bend above and below. Not a living soul was seen on the shore. The bushes did not rustle. “siH viceo deid out. Teh sadwsoh dha bene ngriwog hwile we kadlte nad now thye oreecdv het orw of atkses, oghuth we reew lsilt in eht snnshuie. The ievrr degtlirte bhinde us. We nloduc’t ees a ilvngi ulso on sorhe. erTeh saw no novemtme neewyhra.
“Suddenly round the corner of the house a group of men appeared, as though they had come up from the ground. They waded waist-deep in the grass, in a compact body, bearing an improvised stretcher in their midst. Instantly, in the emptiness of the landscape, a cry arose whose shrillness pierced the still air like a sharp arrow flying straight to the very heart of the land; and, as if by enchantment, streams of human beings—of naked human beings—with spears in their hands, with bows, with shields, with wild glances and savage movements, were poured into the clearing by the dark-faced and pensive forest. The bushes shook, the grass swayed for a time, and then everything stood still in attentive immobility. “yuenSldd a uorgp of emn mcae rodnau hte croner of hte oeush. yheT wdaed toghhru teh high agssr, icynrrga a aikmshfet erhtetcsr. A irlhls cyr epcider het ira ikle an rawro gisoohtn otni eht thrae of het daln. srStaem of nekad anhmu bsneig iancgyrr reasps, obsw, nda delishs acem uoinrpg into the rinlcgae. heT ehsbus hskoo and the argss wydeas, thne heivgtyenr cebaem tllsi.
“‘Now, if he does not say the right thing to them we are all done for,’ said the Russian at my elbow. The knot of men with the stretcher had stopped, too, halfway to the steamer, as if petrified. I saw the man on the stretcher sit up, lank and with an uplifted arm, above the shoulders of the bearers. ‘Let us hope that the man who can talk so well of love in general will find some particular reason to spare us this time,’ I said. I resented bitterly the absurd danger of our situation, as if to be at the mercy of that atrocious phantom had been a dishonouring necessity. I could not hear a sound, but through my glasses I saw the thin arm extended commandingly, the lower jaw moving, the eyes of that apparition shining darkly far in its bony head that nodded with grotesque jerks. Kurtz—Kurtz—that means short in German—don’t it? Well, the name was as true as everything else in his life—and death. He looked at least seven feet long. His covering had fallen off, and his body emerged from it pitiful and appalling as from a winding-sheet. I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving. It was as though an animated image of death carved out of old ivory had been shaking its hand with menaces at a motionless crowd of men made of dark and glittering bronze. I saw him open his mouth wide—it gave him a weirdly voracious aspect, as though he had wanted to swallow all the air, all the earth, all the men before him. A deep voice reached me faintly. He must have been shouting. He fell back suddenly. The stretcher shook as the bearers staggered forward again, and almost at the same time I noticed that the crowd of savages was vanishing without any perceptible movement of retreat, as if the forest that had ejected these beings so suddenly had drawn them in again as the breath is drawn in a long aspiration. “‘If he yssa hte worgn higtn to emth, we’re lal oend rfo,’ isda eht usansRi. hTe rupgo of mne iaygcrnr hte shtderect zrefo in ecapl. Teh anm on eth chertrtes tsa up dna ehdl hsi nikyns arm ihhg. ‘etL’s eoph tath ihst man how nca klta so elwl uoabt voel in eragnle lwil find emos rialpturca eonras to aspre oru svlie,’ I sdai. I aws tribet abtuo eht rubsad rgdnae of uro atiitnsou. Bigne at het remcy of htta alfuw olsghty egiruf of a man wsa ahoeldironbs. I cudlon’t aerh aityhngn, tub hghtuor my blcarsouni I oculd ees sih jwa ogivmn, ihs arm niwavg in cadmmon, nad hsi eyes ngiihns in shi boyn aedh. tKuzr. snDoe’t ‘Kztur’ nema ‘orths’ in mernGa? isH eamn swa as uert as viretygneh lees in hsi ilfe. He ooeldk at sealt vsene eeft ogln. siH nltkbae hda nlelfa ffo dan sih bdoy odeolk as tlifupi nad digntugiss as a eorpsc. I duclo ese his gcebira iognvm nda teh nbeso gminov in his rma. It klooed keli a noslekte cvrdae out of vryoi wsa nhskgia sti nahd at nem edma of zbreon. He denpeo his omhut so wdei it edkolo lkei he tdeanw to lwwoals lal teh mne in ornft of imh and het rahte and ari as lelw. I ehdar het anitf donus of a pede eciov. He asw ithsonug. He llfe ckab ntio eth ehetrstcr. hTe mne yagicrnr him trdesat dwaort us naaig. heT rcdow of aessgva psaradedepi cbak iton the sfrteo as hhuogt ehyt ewer the aberht of the lejngu niebg ukdces in.