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“She turned away slowly, walked on, following the bank, and passed into the bushes to the left. Once only her eyes gleamed back at us in the dusk of the thickets before she disappeared. “She turned away and walked slowly along the bank and into the bush. We saw her eyes shining back at us through the thicket and then she disappeared.
“‘If she had offered to come aboard I really think I would have tried to shoot her,’ said the man of patches, nervously. ‘I have been risking my life every day for the last fortnight to keep her out of the house. She got in one day and kicked up a row about those miserable rags I picked up in the storeroom to mend my clothes with. I wasn’t decent. At least it must have been that, for she talked like a fury to Kurtz for an hour, pointing at me now and then. I don’t understand the dialect of this tribe. Luckily for me, I fancy Kurtz felt too ill that day to care, or there would have been mischief. I don’t understand.... No—it’s too much for me. Ah, well, it’s all over now.’ “‘If she had tried to come aboard I think I would have shot her,’ said the Russian. ‘I’ve been trying to keep her out of the house for the past two weeks. She got in one day and threw a fit about some rags I was using to patch my clothes. She rambled on furiously at Kurtz for an hour, pointing at me now and then. I don’t understand their language here. Fortunately, Kurtz was too sick that day to care. I don’t understand. . . . It’s too much for me. Oh well, it’s all over now.’
“At this moment I heard Kurtz’s deep voice behind the curtain: ‘Save me!—save the ivory, you mean. Don’t tell me. Save me! Why, I’ve had to save you. You are interrupting my plans now. Sick! Sick! Not so sick as you would like to believe. Never mind. I’ll carry my ideas out yet—I will return. I’ll show you what can be done. You with your little peddling notions—you are interfering with me. I will return. I....’ “Just then I heard Kurtz’s deep voice inside the cabin. ‘Save me? Save the ivory, you mean. Don’t tell me. Save me! I’ve had to save you. Sick? Sick? Not as sick as you wish. Never mind. I’ll come back and carry out my ideas. I’ll show you what can be done. You with all of your little silly ideas. You’re interfering with me. I’ll return. I . . .’
“The manager came out. He did me the honour to take me under the arm and lead me aside. ‘He is very low, very low,’ he said. He considered it necessary to sigh, but neglected to be consistently sorrowful. ‘We have done all we could for him—haven’t we? But there is no disguising the fact, Mr. Kurtz has done more harm than good to the Company. He did not see the time was not ripe for vigorous action. Cautiously, cautiously—that’s my principle. We must be cautious yet. The district is closed to us for a time. Deplorable! Upon the whole, the trade will suffer. I don’t deny there is a remarkable quantity of ivory—mostly fossil. We must save it, at all events—but look how precarious the position is—and why? Because the method is unsound.’ ‘Do you,’ said I, looking at the shore, ‘call it “unsound method?”’ ‘Without doubt,’ he exclaimed hotly. ‘Don’t you?’... ‘No method at all,’ I murmured after a while. ‘Exactly,’ he exulted. ‘I anticipated this. Shows a complete want of judgment. It is my duty to point it out in the proper quarter.’ ‘Oh,’ said I, ‘that fellow—what’s his name?—the brickmaker, will make a readable report for you.’ He appeared confounded for a moment. It seemed to me I had never breathed an atmosphere so vile, and I turned mentally to Kurtz for relief—positively for relief. ‘Nevertheless I think Mr. Kurtz is a remarkable man,’ I said with emphasis. He started, dropped on me a heavy glance, said very quietly, ‘he was,’ and turned his back on me. My hour of favour was over; I found myself lumped along with Kurtz as a partisan of methods for which the time was not ripe: I was unsound! Ah! but it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares. “The manager came out and took me aside. ‘He is very sick, very sick,’ he said. He pretended to sigh but obviously wasn’t sad. ‘We’ve done everything we could for him, haven’t we? But we can’t deny that Mr. Kurtz has done more harm than good for the Company. He didn’t see that it wasn’t time for action. Caution, that’s my motto. We must be cautious. The district is closed to us for a while. It’s awful. Trade will go down. I can’t deny that there’s a lot of ivory, even if it is mostly fossil. We must save it, in any case. But look how dangerous our position is. And it’s all because his method was unsound.’ I looked at the shore and asked, ‘Did you call it an “unsound method?”’ ‘Without a doubt,’ he said angrily. ‘Don’t you think so?’ ‘It seems like no method at all,’ I said after a while. ‘Exactly,’ he said triumphantly. ‘I knew this would happen. It shows a complete lack of judgment. I’ll have to report it.’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘that guy, the brickmaker, he can write a good report for you.’ He looked stunned for a moment. I had never been in such a vile atmosphere. To take my mind off of things, I turned my thoughts to Kurtz. ‘I nevertheless think Mr. Kurtz is a remarkable man,’ I said. He shot me a dark glance and said, quietly, ‘He was,’ before turning away. I was lumped together with Kurtz as a man of unsound methods. But at least I could choose which nightmare I had.