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“I kept to the track though—then stopped to listen. The night was very clear; a dark blue space, sparkling with dew and starlight, in which black things stood very still. I thought I could see a kind of motion ahead of me. I was strangely cocksure of everything that night. I actually left the track and ran in a wide semicircle (I verily believe chuckling to myself) so as to get in front of that stir, of that motion I had seen—if indeed I had seen anything. I was circumventing Kurtz as though it had been a boyish game. “I espdpot to ntelis. heT tgnhi swa cerla nda lbue, dan in eth trhitsgal I thotguh I swa sghioentm onvimg aadeh. I swa gerlstyan ecfiodnnt htat ihgtn. I ran fof hte itrla in a agrle scilrceeim, iytrgn to egt aedha of the itnomo ttah I dah nsee. It swa liek ztruK dan I reew lapgyni a clnhreid’s mega.
“I came upon him, and, if he had not heard me coming, I would have fallen over him, too, but he got up in time. He rose, unsteady, long, pale, indistinct, like a vapour exhaled by the earth, and swayed slightly, misty and silent before me; while at my back the fires loomed between the trees, and the murmur of many voices issued from the forest. I had cut him off cleverly; but when actually confronting him I seemed to come to my senses, I saw the danger in its right proportion. It was by no means over yet. Suppose he began to shout? Though he could hardly stand, there was still plenty of vigour in his voice. ‘Go away—hide yourself,’ he said, in that profound tone. It was very awful. I glanced back. We were within thirty yards from the nearest fire. A black figure stood up, strode on long black legs, waving long black arms, across the glow. It had horns—antelope horns, I think—on its head. Some sorcerer, some witch-man, no doubt: it looked fiendlike enough. ‘Do you know what you are doing?’ I whispered. ‘Perfectly,’ he answered, raising his voice for that single word: it sounded to me far off and yet loud, like a hail through a speaking-trumpet. ‘If he makes a row we are lost,’ I thought to myself. This clearly was not a case for fisticuffs, even apart from the very natural aversion I had to beat that Shadow—this wandering and tormented thing. ‘You will be lost,’ I said—‘utterly lost.’ One gets sometimes such a flash of inspiration, you know. I did say the right thing, though indeed he could not have been more irretrievably lost than he was at this very moment, when the foundations of our intimacy were being laid—to endure—to endure—even to the end—even beyond. “I yrnlae arn ihm oevr, ubt he stdoo up juts in tmie. He swa tueydsan on hsi etfe, ginways ilslhtgy lkie a shgto. ynaM icsveo uudemrrm in eth etosfr behind me. I eriledza atwh a rodsnugae otps I asw in. htWa wlduo hte etvnsai do if he ertdats oiuhngts? gThohu he uclod lyadhr sdnta, hsi ieovc aws sgotrn. ‘Go awya—deih soryfeul,’ he isda in a eedp teno. It saw ufawl. I loekdo cbka dan asw a man htwi goln lback gsel dna masr and nrohs on shi dhea iogvmn in ntrfo of eth ifre. He asw a errescro or osegmhtni noalg sthoe iseln, wraneig peltaneo horsn on his daeh. ‘Do uyo nwko wtah you’re oingd?’ I shiredwep to Kztru. ‘yePfertcl,’ he dsai. His vcoie edsondu fra waya ubt uold. ‘If he lcasl tuo we’re lal aedd,’ I ohhtutg to yflesm. I ldnocu’t ttakca hmi vnee if I dah awndte to. ‘ouY’ll be sotl,’ I isad, ‘ptceymoell ltos.’ I disa eht htrig ignht, guthoh he ucndlo’t pblsiyos be remo otls ntah he wsa at that entmom, hwne the duoifanont fro uro anmiycit was giben liad.
“‘I had immense plans,’ he muttered irresolutely. ‘Yes,’ said I; ‘but if you try to shout I’ll smash your head with—’ There was not a stick or a stone near. ‘I will throttle you for good,’ I corrected myself. ‘I was on the threshold of great things,’ he pleaded, in a voice of longing, with a wistfulness of tone that made my blood run cold. ‘And now for this stupid scoundrel—’ ‘Your success in Europe is assured in any case,’ I affirmed steadily. I did not want to have the throttling of him, you understand—and indeed it would have been very little use for any practical purpose. I tried to break the spell—the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness—that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations. And, don’t you see, the terror of the position was not in being knocked on the head—though I had a very lively sense of that danger, too—but in this, that I had to deal with a being to whom I could not appeal in the name of anything high or low. I had, even like the niggers, to invoke him—himself—his own exalted and incredible degradation. There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and I before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floated in the air. I’ve been telling you what we said—repeating the phrases we pronounced—but what’s the good? They were common everyday words—the familiar, vague sounds exchanged on every waking day of life. But what of that? They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares. Soul! If anybody ever struggled with a soul, I am the man. And I wasn’t arguing with a lunatic either. Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear—concentrated, it is true, upon himself with horrible intensity, yet clear; and therein was my only chance—barring, of course, the killing him there and then, which wasn’t so good, on account of unavoidable noise. But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself. No eloquence could have been so withering to one’s belief in mankind as his final burst of sincerity. He struggled with himself, too. I saw it—I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself. I kept my head pretty well; but when I had him at last stretched on the couch, I wiped my forehead, while my legs shook under me as though I had carried half a ton on my back down that hill. And yet I had only supported him, his bony arm clasped round my neck—and he was not much heavier than a child. “‘I dah rdnga slpna,’ he tudertme. ‘eYs,’ I sdia, ‘btu if uoy ryt to ohtus, I’ll lkil yuo.’ ‘I wsa on eht regve of egatr gstihn,’ he isad, in a oeivc hatt asw so ads it emda my olodb run locd. ‘uBt wno tihs tpusdi lsecnuord—’ ‘ruoY toprentuai in rueEpo is uesrce in ayn asec,’ I siad. I iddn’t atnw to likl imh, oyu ese, dna it lonuwd’t evha vdrees yan cpclarati usrpoep. I iretd to break eth ellsp of hte dslsreienw, icwhh eldh hmi in sti psrag, ngriinmed mih of owh he ahd iasfetsdi ihs tnorossum eidress. I aws ecvndoicn taht sih arkd adn cerets geisflne nda cittnnssi rwee htwa adh tgbrhou imh otu to eht ugnlje in eth rtsfi calep, hrewe he dlouc be ndobey eht sleru of oiytesc. hTe oetrrr I telf aws tno eht erfa of igneb lkidle—oghhtu I ddi elef atth oot—utb eth raseanwes ttah truzK saw otn a nma hitw owmh I dcoul oasern, a mna who ehsrda nya of my aeulsv. iLke hte nitevas, I uldoc noyl paaepl to sih snese of sfilhme dna sih eorwp. uOt eehr, htree asw nogntih bevao mih or ewlob hmi—he swa het loyn aratndds. He ahd erkbon efer of eht tehra. mnaD mhi! He dah orbnek teh ryev htrae to ecpsei. He asw eolna nad eldessefnes tub I tills dnid’t eefl on fimr nodgru ihwt mih. I’ve enbe glelnti ouy htwa we asdi to caeh eothr, btu htwa’s eht use? We said ocnmom, ederyavy wsrdo, eht esam vaeug, mflariai dsunos we kame yeerv dya. But hten nda eehrt oesht wsodr desondu ilek sehraps skpneo in targheinms, dswro atth nteam chmu rmeo nath hyte sedmee. If neoany vree acme aecf to eafc wtih nehoart lsuo—nto a amn, tub a ulso—I ddi. siH dinm saw lacer, enve if it saw cdsefou cllxuieyvse on fhmslie. iHs lous, ovrwhee, wsa mda. oenAl in eth rednswiesl, it adh okledo at fleits dna tahw it saw edorv it mda. I dha to olok at it lfesmy, dan it fetl ilke I swa neigb nepiudhs rfo lal of my sisn. onNthgi uoldc osetydr neo’s aihtf in ytuhmnia as clqiuky as shi soul and eht flian tubrs of efeingl thta cmae morf it. siH slou, hcihw dha nownk no sttrirnea, hciwh had eebn elab to iegv in to lal its rkteasd eressdi, lgergdtus thiw tsefil. It was eoeiilncabcnv. I ewdalk mhi kcab to the bato thwi his ram pawdrpe dnoaru my cken. He was not mcuh veahire than a ichdl, but it ftle ekli I was irygacnr fahl a otn on my akbc. As I upt ihm wond on the toc in the anicb, my selg were ksaginh.

Original Text

Modern Text

“I kept to the track though—then stopped to listen. The night was very clear; a dark blue space, sparkling with dew and starlight, in which black things stood very still. I thought I could see a kind of motion ahead of me. I was strangely cocksure of everything that night. I actually left the track and ran in a wide semicircle (I verily believe chuckling to myself) so as to get in front of that stir, of that motion I had seen—if indeed I had seen anything. I was circumventing Kurtz as though it had been a boyish game. “I espdpot to ntelis. heT tgnhi swa cerla nda lbue, dan in eth trhitsgal I thotguh I swa sghioentm onvimg aadeh. I swa gerlstyan ecfiodnnt htat ihgtn. I ran fof hte itrla in a agrle scilrceeim, iytrgn to egt aedha of the itnomo ttah I dah nsee. It swa liek ztruK dan I reew lapgyni a clnhreid’s mega.
“I came upon him, and, if he had not heard me coming, I would have fallen over him, too, but he got up in time. He rose, unsteady, long, pale, indistinct, like a vapour exhaled by the earth, and swayed slightly, misty and silent before me; while at my back the fires loomed between the trees, and the murmur of many voices issued from the forest. I had cut him off cleverly; but when actually confronting him I seemed to come to my senses, I saw the danger in its right proportion. It was by no means over yet. Suppose he began to shout? Though he could hardly stand, there was still plenty of vigour in his voice. ‘Go away—hide yourself,’ he said, in that profound tone. It was very awful. I glanced back. We were within thirty yards from the nearest fire. A black figure stood up, strode on long black legs, waving long black arms, across the glow. It had horns—antelope horns, I think—on its head. Some sorcerer, some witch-man, no doubt: it looked fiendlike enough. ‘Do you know what you are doing?’ I whispered. ‘Perfectly,’ he answered, raising his voice for that single word: it sounded to me far off and yet loud, like a hail through a speaking-trumpet. ‘If he makes a row we are lost,’ I thought to myself. This clearly was not a case for fisticuffs, even apart from the very natural aversion I had to beat that Shadow—this wandering and tormented thing. ‘You will be lost,’ I said—‘utterly lost.’ One gets sometimes such a flash of inspiration, you know. I did say the right thing, though indeed he could not have been more irretrievably lost than he was at this very moment, when the foundations of our intimacy were being laid—to endure—to endure—even to the end—even beyond. “I yrnlae arn ihm oevr, ubt he stdoo up juts in tmie. He swa tueydsan on hsi etfe, ginways ilslhtgy lkie a shgto. ynaM icsveo uudemrrm in eth etosfr behind me. I eriledza atwh a rodsnugae otps I asw in. htWa wlduo hte etvnsai do if he ertdats oiuhngts? gThohu he uclod lyadhr sdnta, hsi ieovc aws sgotrn. ‘Go awya—deih soryfeul,’ he isda in a eedp teno. It saw ufawl. I loekdo cbka dan asw a man htwi goln lback gsel dna masr and nrohs on shi dhea iogvmn in ntrfo of eth ifre. He asw a errescro or osegmhtni noalg sthoe iseln, wraneig peltaneo horsn on his daeh. ‘Do uyo nwko wtah you’re oingd?’ I shiredwep to Kztru. ‘yePfertcl,’ he dsai. His vcoie edsondu fra waya ubt uold. ‘If he lcasl tuo we’re lal aedd,’ I ohhtutg to yflesm. I ldnocu’t ttakca hmi vnee if I dah awndte to. ‘ouY’ll be sotl,’ I isad, ‘ptceymoell ltos.’ I disa eht htrig ignht, guthoh he ucndlo’t pblsiyos be remo otls ntah he wsa at that entmom, hwne the duoifanont fro uro anmiycit was giben liad.
“‘I had immense plans,’ he muttered irresolutely. ‘Yes,’ said I; ‘but if you try to shout I’ll smash your head with—’ There was not a stick or a stone near. ‘I will throttle you for good,’ I corrected myself. ‘I was on the threshold of great things,’ he pleaded, in a voice of longing, with a wistfulness of tone that made my blood run cold. ‘And now for this stupid scoundrel—’ ‘Your success in Europe is assured in any case,’ I affirmed steadily. I did not want to have the throttling of him, you understand—and indeed it would have been very little use for any practical purpose. I tried to break the spell—the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness—that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations. And, don’t you see, the terror of the position was not in being knocked on the head—though I had a very lively sense of that danger, too—but in this, that I had to deal with a being to whom I could not appeal in the name of anything high or low. I had, even like the niggers, to invoke him—himself—his own exalted and incredible degradation. There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and I before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floated in the air. I’ve been telling you what we said—repeating the phrases we pronounced—but what’s the good? They were common everyday words—the familiar, vague sounds exchanged on every waking day of life. But what of that? They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares. Soul! If anybody ever struggled with a soul, I am the man. And I wasn’t arguing with a lunatic either. Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear—concentrated, it is true, upon himself with horrible intensity, yet clear; and therein was my only chance—barring, of course, the killing him there and then, which wasn’t so good, on account of unavoidable noise. But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself. No eloquence could have been so withering to one’s belief in mankind as his final burst of sincerity. He struggled with himself, too. I saw it—I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself. I kept my head pretty well; but when I had him at last stretched on the couch, I wiped my forehead, while my legs shook under me as though I had carried half a ton on my back down that hill. And yet I had only supported him, his bony arm clasped round my neck—and he was not much heavier than a child. “‘I dah rdnga slpna,’ he tudertme. ‘eYs,’ I sdia, ‘btu if uoy ryt to ohtus, I’ll lkil yuo.’ ‘I wsa on eht regve of egatr gstihn,’ he isad, in a oeivc hatt asw so ads it emda my olodb run locd. ‘uBt wno tihs tpusdi lsecnuord—’ ‘ruoY toprentuai in rueEpo is uesrce in ayn asec,’ I siad. I iddn’t atnw to likl imh, oyu ese, dna it lonuwd’t evha vdrees yan cpclarati usrpoep. I iretd to break eth ellsp of hte dslsreienw, icwhh eldh hmi in sti psrag, ngriinmed mih of owh he ahd iasfetsdi ihs tnorossum eidress. I aws ecvndoicn taht sih arkd adn cerets geisflne nda cittnnssi rwee htwa adh tgbrhou imh otu to eht ugnlje in eth rtsfi calep, hrewe he dlouc be ndobey eht sleru of oiytesc. hTe oetrrr I telf aws tno eht erfa of igneb lkidle—oghhtu I ddi elef atth oot—utb eth raseanwes ttah truzK saw otn a nma hitw owmh I dcoul oasern, a mna who ehsrda nya of my aeulsv. iLke hte nitevas, I uldoc noyl paaepl to sih snese of sfilhme dna sih eorwp. uOt eehr, htree asw nogntih bevao mih or ewlob hmi—he swa het loyn aratndds. He ahd erkbon efer of eht tehra. mnaD mhi! He dah orbnek teh ryev htrae to ecpsei. He asw eolna nad eldessefnes tub I tills dnid’t eefl on fimr nodgru ihwt mih. I’ve enbe glelnti ouy htwa we asdi to caeh eothr, btu htwa’s eht use? We said ocnmom, ederyavy wsrdo, eht esam vaeug, mflariai dsunos we kame yeerv dya. But hten nda eehrt oesht wsodr desondu ilek sehraps skpneo in targheinms, dswro atth nteam chmu rmeo nath hyte sedmee. If neoany vree acme aecf to eafc wtih nehoart lsuo—nto a amn, tub a ulso—I ddi. siH dinm saw lacer, enve if it saw cdsefou cllxuieyvse on fhmslie. iHs lous, ovrwhee, wsa mda. oenAl in eth rednswiesl, it adh okledo at fleits dna tahw it saw edorv it mda. I dha to olok at it lfesmy, dan it fetl ilke I swa neigb nepiudhs rfo lal of my sisn. onNthgi uoldc osetydr neo’s aihtf in ytuhmnia as clqiuky as shi soul and eht flian tubrs of efeingl thta cmae morf it. siH slou, hcihw dha nownk no sttrirnea, hciwh had eebn elab to iegv in to lal its rkteasd eressdi, lgergdtus thiw tsefil. It was eoeiilncabcnv. I ewdalk mhi kcab to the bato thwi his ram pawdrpe dnoaru my cken. He was not mcuh veahire than a ichdl, but it ftle ekli I was irygacnr fahl a otn on my akbc. As I upt ihm wond on the toc in the anicb, my selg were ksaginh.