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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesVictory - PART FOUR - Chapter ELEVEN
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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter ELEVEN Post by :katsharad Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Conrad Date :June 2011 Read :2965

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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter ELEVEN

PART FOUR: CHAPTER ELEVEN


Two candles were burning on the stand-up desk. Mr. Jones, tightly
enfolded in an old but gorgeous blue silk dressing-gown, kept his
elbows close against his sides and his hands deeply plunged into the
extraordinarily deep pockets of the garment. The costume
accentuated his emaciation. He resembled a painted pole leaning
against the edge of the desk, with a dried head of dubious
distinction stuck on the top of it. Ricardo lounged in the doorway.
Indifferent in appearance to what was going on, he was biding his
time. At a given moment, between two flickers of lightning, he
melted out of his frame into the outer air. His disappearance was
observed on the instant by Mr. Jones, who abandoned his nonchalant
immobility against the desk, and made a few steps calculated to put
him between Heyst and the doorway.

"It's awfully close," he remarked

Heyst, in the middle of the room, had made up his mind to speak
plainly.

"We haven't met to talk about the weather. You favoured me earlier
in the day with a rather cryptic phrase about yourself. 'I am he
that is,' you said. What does that mean?"

Mr. Jones, without looking at Heyst, continued his absentminded
movements till, attaining the desired position, he brought his
shoulders with a thump against the wall near the door, and raised
his head. In the emotion of the decisive moment his haggard face
glistened with perspiration. Drops ran down his hollow cheeks and
almost blinded the spectral eyes in their bony caverns.

"It means that I am a person to be reckoned with. No--stop! Don't
put your hand into your pocket--don't."

His voice had a wild, unexpected shrillness. Heyst started, and
there ensued a moment of suspended animation, during which the
thunder's deep bass muttered distantly and the doorway to the right
of Mr. Jones flickered with bluish light. At last Heyst shrugged
his shoulders; he even looked at his hand. He didn't put it in his
pocket, however. Mr. Jones, glued against the wall, watched him
raise both his hands to the ends of his horizontal moustaches, and
answered the note of interrogation in his steady eyes.

"A matter of prudence," said Mr. Jones in his natural hollow tones,
and with a face of deathlike composure. "A man of your free life
has surely perceived that. You are a much talked-about man, Mr.
Heyst--and though, as far as I understand, you are accustomed to
employ the subtler weapons of intelligence, still I can't afford to
take any risks of the--er--grosser methods. I am not unscrupulous
enough to be a match for you in the use of intelligence; but I
assure you, Mr. Heyst, that in the other way you are no match for
me. I have you covered at this very moment. You have been covered
ever since you entered this room. Yes--from my pocket."

During this harangue Heyst looked deliberately over his shoulder,
stepped back a pace, and sat down on the end of the camp bedstead.
Leaning his elbow on one knee, he laid his cheek in the palm of his
hand and seemed to meditate on what he should say next. Mr. Jones,
planted against the wall, was obviously waiting for some sort of
overture. As nothing came, he resolved to speak himself; but he
hesitated. For, though he considered that the most difficult step
had been taken, he said to himself that every stage of progress
required great caution, lest the man in Ricardo's phraseology,
should "start to prance"--which would be most inconvenient. He fell
back on a previous statement:

"And I am a person to be reckoned with."

The other man went on looking at the floor, as if he were alone in
the room. There was a pause.

"You have heard of me, then?" Heyst said at length, looking up.

"I should think so! We have been staying at Schomberg's hotel."

"Schom--" Heyst choked on the word.

"What's the matter, Mr. Heyst?"

"Nothing. Nausea," Heyst said resignedly. He resumed his former
attitude of meditative indifference. "What is this reckoning you
are talking about?" he asked after a time, in the quietest possible
tone. "I don't know you."

"It's obvious that we belong to the same--social sphere," began Mr.
Jones with languid irony. Inwardly he was as watchful as he could
be. "Something has driven you out--the originality of your ideas,
perhaps. Or your tastes."

Mr Jones indulged in one of his ghastly smiles. In repose his
features had a curious character of evil, exhausted austerity; but
when he smiled, the whole mask took on an unpleasantly infantile
expression. A recrudescence of the rolling thunder invaded the room
loudly, and passed into silence.

"You are not taking this very well," observed Mr. Jones. This was
what he said, but as a matter of fact he thought that the business
was shaping quite satisfactorily. The man, he said to himself, had
no stomach for a fight. Aloud he continued: "Come! You can't
expect to have it always your own way. You are a man of the world."

"And you?" Heyst interrupted him unexpectedly. "How do you define
yourself?"

"I, my dear sir? In one way I am--yes, I am the world itself, come
to pay you a visit. In another sense I am an outcast--almost an
outlaw. If you prefer a less materialistic view, I am a sort of
fate--the retribution that waits its time."

"I wish to goodness you were the commonest sort of ruffian!" said
Heyst, raising his equable gaze to Mr. Jones. "One would be able to
talk to you straight then, and hope for some humanity. As it is--"

"I dislike violence and ferocity of every sort as much as you do,"
Mr. Jones declared, looking very languid as he leaned against the
wall, but speaking fairly loud. "You can ask my Martin if it is not
so. This, Mr. Heyst, is a soft age. It is also an age without
prejudices. I've heard that you are free from them yourself. You
mustn't be shocked if I tell you plainly that we are after your
money--or I am, if you prefer to make me alone responsible. Pedro,
of course, knows no more of it than any other animal would. Ricardo
is of the faithful-retainer class--absolutely identified with all my
ideas, wishes, and even whims!"

Mr Jones pulled his left hand out of his pocket, got a handkerchief
out of another, and began to wipe the perspiration from his
forehead, neck, and chin. The excitement from which he suffered
made his breathing visible. In his long dressing-gown he had the
air of a convalescent invalid who had imprudently overtaxed his
strength. Heyst, broad-shouldered, robust, watched the operation
from the end of the camp bedstead, very calm, his hands on his
knees.

"And by the by," he asked, "where is he now, that henchman of yours?
Breaking into my desk?"

"That would be crude. Still, crudeness is one of life's
conditions." There was the slightest flavour of banter in the tone
of Ricardo's governor. "Conceivable, but unlikely. Martin is a
little crude; but you are not, Mr. Heyst. To tell you the truth, I
don't know precisely where he is. He has been a little mysterious
of late; but he has my confidence. No, don't get up, Mr. Heyst!"

The viciousness of his spectral face was indescribable. Heyst, who
had moved a little, was surprised by the disclosure.

"It was not my intention," he said.

"Pray remain seated," Mr. Jones insisted in a languid voice, but
with a very determined glitter in his black eye-caverns.

"If you were more observant," said Heyst with dispassionate
contempt, "you would have known before I had been five minutes in
the room that I had no weapon of any sort on me."

"Possibly; but pray keep your hands still. They are very well where
they are. This is too big an affair for me to take any risks."

"Big? Too big?" Heyst repeated with genuine surprise. "Good
Heavens! Whatever you are looking for, there's very little of it
here--very little of anything."

"You would naturally say so, but that's not what we have heard,"
retorted Mr. Jones quickly, with a grin so ghastly that it was
impossible to think it voluntary.

Heyst's face had grown very gloomy. He knitted his brows.

"What have you heard?" he asked.

"A lot, Mr. Heyst--a lot," affirmed Mr. Jones. He was vying to
recover his manner of languid superiority. "We have heard, for
instance, of a certain Mr. Morrison, once your partner."

Heyst could not repress a slight movement.

"Aha!" said Mr. Jones, with a sort of ghostly glee on his face.

The muffled thunder resembled the echo of a distant cannonade below
the horizon, and the two men seemed to be listening to it in sullen
silence.

"This diabolical calumny will end in actually and literally taking
my life from me," thought Heyst.

Then, suddenly, he laughed. Portentously spectral, Mr. Jones
frowned at the sound.

"Laugh as much as you please," he said. "I, who have been hounded
out from society by a lot of highly moral souls, can't see anything
funny in that story. But here we are, and you will now have to pay
for your fun, Mr. Heyst."

"You have heard a lot of ugly lies," observed Heyst. "Take my word
for it!"

"You would say so, of course--very natural. As a matter of fact I
haven't heard very much. Strictly speaking, it was Martin. He
collects information, and so on. You don't suppose I would talk to
that Schomberg animal more than I could help? It was Martin whom he
took into his confidence."

"The stupidity of that creature is so great that it becomes
formidable," Heyst said, as if speaking to himself.

Involuntarily, his mind turned to the girl, wandering in the forest,
alone and terrified. Would he ever see her again? At that thought
he nearly lost his self-possession. But the idea that if she
followed his instructions those men were not likely to find her
steadied him a little. They did not know that the island had any
inhabitants; and he himself once disposed of, they would be too
anxious to get away to waste time hunting for a vanished girl.

All this passed through Heyst's mind in a flash, as men think in
moments of danger. He looked speculatively at Mr. Jones, who, of
course, had never for a moment taken his eyes from his intended
victim. And, the conviction came to Heyst that this outlaw from the
higher spheres was an absolutely hard and pitiless scoundrel.

Mr Jones's voice made him start.

"It would be useless, for instance, to tell me that your Chinaman
has run off with your money. A man living alone with a Chinaman on
an island takes care to conceal property of that kind so well that
the devil himself--"

"Certainly," Heyst muttered.

Again, with his left hand, Mr. Jones mopped his frontal bone, his
stalk-like neck, his razor jaws, his fleshless chin. Again his
voice faltered and his aspect became still more gruesomely
malevolent as of a wicked and pitiless corpse.

"I see what you mean," he cried, "but you mustn't put too much trust
in your ingenuity. You don't strike me as a very ingenious person,
Mr. Heyst. Neither am I. My talents lie another way. But Martin--
"

"Who is now engaged in rifling my desk," interjected Heyst.

"I don't think so. What I was going to say is that Martin is much
cleverer than a Chinaman. Do you believe in racial superiority, Mr.
Heyst? I do, firmly. Martin is great at ferreting out such secrets
as yours, for instance."

"Secrets like mine!" repeated Heyst bitterly. "Well I wish him joy
of all he can ferret out!"

"That's very kind of you," remarked Mr. Jones. He was beginning to
be anxious for Martin's return. Of iron self-possession at the
gaming-table, fearless in a sudden affray, he found that this rather
special kind of work was telling on his nerves. "Keep still as you
are!" he cried sharply.

"I've told you I am not armed," said Heyst, folding his arms on his
breast.

"I am really inclined to believe that you are not," admitted Mr.
Jones seriously. "Strange!" he mused aloud, the caverns of his eyes
turned upon Heyst. Then briskly: "But my object is to keep you in
this room. Don't provoke me, by some unguarded movement, to smash
your knee or do something definite of that sort." He passed his
tongue over his lips, which were dry and black, while his forehead
glistened with moisture. "I don't know if it wouldn't be better to
do it at once!"

"He who deliberates is lost," said Heyst with grave mockery.

Mr Jones disregarded the remark. He had the air of communing with
himself.

"Physically I am no match for you," he said slowly, his black gaze
fixed upon the man sitting on the end of the bed. "You could
spring--"

"Are you trying to frighten yourself?" asked Heyst abruptly. "You
don't seem to have quite enough pluck for your business. Why don't
you do it at once?"

Mr Jones, taking violent offence, snorted like a savage skeleton.

"Strange as it may seem to you, it is because of my origin, my
breeding, my traditions, my early associations, and such-like
trifles. Not everybody can divest himself of the prejudices of a
gentleman as easily as you have done, Mr, Heyst. But don't worry
about my pluck. If you were to make a clean spring at me, you would
receive in mid air, so to speak, something that would make you
perfectly harmless by the time you landed. No, don't misapprehend
us, Mr. Heyst. We are--er--adequate bandits; and we are after the
fruit of your labours as a--er--successful swindler. It's the way
of the world--gorge and disgorge!"

He leaned wearily the back of his head against the wall. His
vitality seemed exhausted. Even his sunken eyelids drooped within
the bony sockets. Only his thin, waspish, beautifully pencilled
eyebrows, drawn together a little, suggested the will and the power
to sting--something vicious, unconquerable, and deadly.

"Fruits! Swindler!" repeated Heyst, without heat, almost without
contempt. "You are giving yourself no end of trouble, you and your
faithful henchman, to crack an empty nut. There are no fruits here,
as you imagine. There are a few sovereigns, which you may have if
you like; and since you have called yourself a bandit--"

"Yaas!" drawled Mr. Jones. "That, rather than a swindler. Open
warfare at least!"

"Very good! Only let me tell you that there were never in the world
two more deluded bandits--never!"

Heyst uttered these words with such energy that Mr. Jones,
stiffening up, seemed to become thinner and taller in his metallic
blue dressing-gown against the whitewashed wall.

"Fooled by a silly, rascally innkeeper!" Heyst went on. "Talked
over like a pair of children with a promise of sweets!"

"I didn't talk with that disgusting animal," muttered Mr. Jones
sullenly; "but he convinced Martin, who is no fool."

"I should think he wanted very much to be convinced," said Heyst,
with the courteous intonation so well known in the Islands. "I
don't want to disturb your touching trust in your--your follower,
but he must be the most credulous brigand in existence. What do you
imagine? If the story of my riches were ever so true, do you think
Schomberg would have imparted it to you from sheer altruism? Is
that the way of the world, Mr. Jones?"

For a moment the lower jaw of Ricardo's gentleman dropped; but it
came up with a snap of scorn, and he said with spectral intensity:

"The beast is cowardly! He was frightened, and wanted to get rid of
us, if you want to know, Mr. Heyst. I don't know that the material
inducement was so very great, but I was bored, and we decided to
accept the bribe. I don't regret it. All my life I have been
seeking new impressions, and you have turned out to be something
quite out of the common. Martin, of course, looks to the material
results. He's simple--and faithful--and wonderfully acute."

"Ah, yes! He's on the track--" and now Heyst's speech had the
character of politely grim raillery--"but not sufficiently on the
track, as yet, to make it quite convenient to shoot me without more
ado. Didn't Schomberg tell you precisely where I conceal the fruit
of my rapines? Pah! Don't you know he would have told you
anything, true or false, from a very clear motive? Revenge! Mad
hate--the unclean idiot!"

Mr Jones did not seem very much moved. On his right hand the
doorway incessantly flickered with distant lightning, and the
continuous rumble of thunder went on irritatingly, like the growl of
an inarticulate giant muttering fatuously.

Heyst overcame his immense repugnance to allude to her whose image,
cowering in the forest was constantly before his eyes, with all the
pathos and force of its appeal, august, pitiful, and almost holy to
him. It was in a hurried, embarrassed manner that he went on:

"If it had not been for that girl whom he persecuted with his insane
and odious passion, and who threw herself on my protection, he would
never have--but you know well enough!"

"I don't know!" burst out Mr. Jones with amazing heat. "That hotel-
keeper tried to talk to me once of some girl he had lost, but I told
him I didn't want to hear any of his beastly women stories. It had
something to do with you, had it?"

Heyst looked on serenely at this outburst, then lost his patience a
little.

"What sort of comedy is this? You don't mean to say that you didn't
know that I had--that there was a girl living with me here?"

One could see that the eyes of Mr. Jones had become fixed in the
depths of their black holes by the gleam of white becoming steady
there. The whole man seemed frozen still.

"Here! Here!" he screamed out twice. There was no mistaking his
astonishment, his shocked incredulity--something like frightened
disgust.

Heyst was disgusted also, but in another way. He too was
incredulous. He regretted having mentioned the girl; but the thing
was done, his repugnance had been overcome in the heat of his
argument against the absurd bandit.

"Is it possible that you didn't know of that significant fact?" he
inquired. "Of the only effective truth in the welter of silly lies
that deceived you so easily?"

"No, I didn't!" Mr. Jones shouted. "But Martin did!" he added in a
faint whisper, which Heyst's ears just caught and no more.

"I kept her out of sight as long as I could," said Heyst. "Perhaps,
with your bringing up traditions, and so on; you will understand my
reason for it."

"He knew. He knew before!" Mr. Jones mourned in a hollow voice.
"He knew of her from the first!"

Backed hard against the wall he no longer watched Heyst. He had the
air of a man who had seen an abyss yawning under his feet.

"If I want to kill him, this is my time," thought Heyst; but he did
not move.

Next moment Mr. Jones jerked his head up, glaring with sardonic
fury.

"I have a good mind to shoot you, you woman-ridden hermit, you man
in the moon, that can't exist without--no, it won't be you that I'll
shoot. It's the other woman-lover--the prevaricating, sly, low-
class, amorous cuss! And he shaved--shaved under my very nose.
I'll shoot him!"

"He's gone mad," thought Heyst, startled by the spectre's sudden
fury.

He felt himself more in danger, nearer death, than ever since he had
entered that room. An insane bandit is a deadly combination. He
did not, could not know that Mr. Jones was quick-minded enough to
see already the end of his reign over his excellent secretary's
thoughts and feelings; the coming failure of Ricardo's fidelity. A
woman had intervened! A woman, a girl, who apparently possessed the
power to awaken men's disgusting folly. Her power had been proved
in two instances already--the beastly innkeeper, and that man with
moustaches, upon whom Mr. Jones, his deadly right hand twitching in
his pocket, glared more in repulsion than in anger. The very object
of the expedition was lost from view in his sudden and overwhelming
sense of utter insecurity. And this made Mr. Jones feel very
savage; but not against the man with the moustaches. Thus, while
Heyst was really feeling that his life was not worth two minutes,
purchase, he heard himself addressed with no affection of languid
impertinence but with a burst of feverish determination.

"Here! Let's call a truce!" said Mr. Jones.

Heyst's heart was too sick to allow him to smile.

"Have I been making war on you?" he asked wearily. "How do you
expect me to attach any meaning to your words?" he went on. "You
seem to be a morbid, senseless sort of bandit. We don't speak the
same language. If I were to tell you why I am here, talking to you,
you wouldn't believe me, because you would not understand me. It
certainly isn't the love of life, from which I have divorced myself
long ago--not sufficiently, perhaps; but if you are thinking of
yours, then I repeat to you that it has never been in danger from
me. I am unarmed."

Mr Jones was biting his lower lip, in a deep meditation. It was
only towards the last that he looked at Heyst.

"Unarmed, eh?" Then he burst out violently: "I tell you, a
gentleman is no match for the common herd. And yet one must make
use of the brutes. Unarmed, eh? And I suppose that creature is of
the commonest sort. You could hardly have got her out of a drawing-
room. Though they're all alike, for that matter. Unarmed! It's a
pity. I am in much greater danger than you are or were--or I am
much mistaken. But I am not--I know my man!"

He lost his air of mental vacancy and broke out into shrill
exclamations. To Heyst they seemed madder than anything that had
gone before.

"On the track! On the scent!" he cried, forgetting himself to the
point of executing a dance of rage in the middle of the floor.

Heyst looked on, fascinated by this skeleton in a gay dressing-gown,
jerkily agitated like a grotesque toy on the end of an invisible
string. It became quiet suddenly.

"I might have smelt a rat! I always knew that this would be the
danger." He changed suddenly to a confidential tone, fixing his
sepulchral stare on Heyst. "And yet here I am, taken in by the
fellow, like the veriest fool. I've been always on the watch for
some beastly influence, but here I am, fairly caught. He shaved
himself right in front of me and I never guessed!"

The shrill laugh, following on the low tone of secrecy, sounded so
convincingly insane that Heyst got up as if moved by a spring. Mr.
Jones stepped back two paces, but displayed no uneasiness.

"It's as clear as daylight!" he uttered mournfully, and fell silent.

Behind him the doorway flickered lividly, and the sound as of a
naval action somewhere away on the horizon filled the breathless
pause. Mr, Jones inclined his head on his shoulder. His mood had
completely changed.

"What do you say, unarmed man? Shall we go and see what is
detaining my trusted Martin so long? He asked me to keep you
engaged in friendly conversation till he made a further examination
of that track. Ha, ha, ha!"

"He is no doubt ransacking my house," said Heyst.

He was is bewildered. It seemed to him that all this was an
incomprehensible dream, or perhaps an elaborate other-world joke,
contrived by that spectre in a gorgeous dressing gown.

Mr Jones looked at him with a horrible, cadaverous smile of
inscrutable mockery, and pointed to the door. Heyst passed through
it first. His feelings had become so blunted that he did not care
how soon he was shot in the back.

"How oppressive the air is!" the voice of Mr. Jones said at his
elbow. "This stupid storm gets on my nerves. I would welcome some
rain, though it would be unpleasant to get wet. On the other hand,
this exasperating thunder has the advantage of covering the sound of
our approach. The lightning's not so convenient. Ah, your house is
fully illuminated! My clever Martin is punishing your stock of
candles. He belongs to the unceremonious classes, which are also
unlovely, untrustworthy, and so on."

"I left the candles burning," said Heyst, "to save him trouble."

"You really believed he would go to your house?" asked Mr. Jones
with genuine interest.

"I had that notion, strongly. I do believe he is there now."

"And you don't mind?"

"No!"

"You don't!" Mr. Jones stopped to wonder. "You are an extraordinary
man," he said suspiciously, and moved on, touching elbows with
Heyst.

In the latter's breast dwelt a deep silence, the complete silence of
unused faculties. At this moment, by simply shouldering Mr. Jones,
he could have thrown him down and put himself, by a couple of leaps,
beyond the certain aim of the revolver; but he did not even think of
that. His very will seemed dead of weariness. He moved
automatically, his head low, like a prisoner captured by the evil
power of a masquerading skeleton out of a grave. Mr. Jones took
charge of the direction. They fetched a wide sweep. The echoes of
distant thunder seemed to dog their footsteps.

"By the by," said Mr. Jones, as if unable to restrain his curiosity,
"aren't you anxious about that--ouch!--that fascinating creature to
whom you owe whatever pleasure you can find in our visit?"

"I have placed her in safety," said Heyst. "I--I took good care of
that."

Mr Jones laid a hand on his arm.

"You have? Look! is that what you mean?"

Heyst raised his head. In the flicker of lightning the desolation
of the cleared ground on his left leaped out and sank into the
night, together with the elusive forms of things distant, pale,
unearthly. But in the brilliant square of the door he saw the girl-
-the woman he had longed to see once more as if enthroned, with her
hands on the arms of the chair. She was in black; her face was
white, her head dreamily inclined on her breast. He saw her only as
low as her knees. He saw her--there, in the room, alive with a
sombre reality. It was no mocking vision. She was not in the
forest--but there! She sat there in the chair, seemingly without
strength, yet without fear, tenderly stooping.

"Can you understand their power?" whispered the hot breath of Mr.
Jones into his ear. "Can there be a more disgusting spectacle?
It's enough to make the earth detestable. She seems to have found
her affinity. Move on closer. If I have to shoot you in the end,
then perhaps you will die cured."

Heyst obeyed the pushing pressure of a revolver barrel between his
shoulders. He felt it distinctly, but he did not feel the ground
under his feet. They found the steps, without his being aware that
he was ascending them--slowly, one by one. Doubt entered into him--
a doubt of a new kind, formless, hideous. It seemed to spread
itself all over him, enter his limbs, and lodge in his entrails. He
stopped suddenly, with a thought that he who experienced such a
feeling had no business to live--or perhaps was no longer living.

Everything--the bungalow, the forest, the open ground--trembled
incessantly, the earth, the sky itself, shivered all the time, and
the only thing immovable in the shuddering universe was the interior
of the lighted room and the woman in black sitting in the light of
the eight candle-flames. They flung around her an intolerable
brilliance which hurt his eyes, seemed to sear his very brain with
the radiation of infernal heat. It was some time before his
scorched eyes made out Ricardo seated on the floor at some little
distance, his back to the doorway, but only partly so; one side of
his upturned face showing the absorbed, all forgetful rapture of his
contemplation.

The grip of Mr. Jones's hard claw drew Heyst back a little. In the
roll of thunder, swelling and subsiding, he whispered in his ear a
sarcastic: "Of course!"

A great shame descended upon Heyst--the shame of guilt, absurd and
maddening. Mr. Jones drew him still farther back into the darkness
of the veranda.

"This is serious," he went on, distilling his ghostly venom into
Heyst's very ear. "I had to shut my eyes many times to his little
flings; but this is serious. He has found his soul-mate. Mud
souls, obscene and cunning! Mud bodies, too--the mud of the gutter!
I tell you, we are no match for the vile populace. I, even I, have
been nearly caught. He asked me to detain you till he gave me the
signal. It won't be you that I'll have to shoot, but him. I
wouldn't trust him near me for five minutes after this!"

He shook Heyst's arm a little.

"If you had not happened to mention the creature, we should both
have been dead before morning. He would have stabbed you as you
came down the steps after leaving me and then he would have walked
up to me and planted the same knife between my ribs. He has no
prejudices. The viler the origin, the greater the freedom of these
simple souls!"

He drew a cautious, hissing breath and added in an agitated murmur:
"I can see right into his mind, I have been nearly caught napping by
his cunning."

He stretched his neck to peer into the room from the side. Heyst,
too, made a step forward, under the slight impulse of that slender
hand clasping his hand with a thin, bony grasp.

"Behold!" the skeleton of the crazy bandit jabbered thinly into his
ear in spectral fellowship. "Behold the simple, Acis kissing the
sandals of the nymph, on the way to her lips, all forgetful, while
the menacing life of Polyphemus already sounds close at hand--if he
could only hear it! Stoop a little."

Content of PART FOUR CHAPTER ELEVEN (Joseph Conrad's novel: Victory)

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PART FOUR: CHAPTER TWELVEOn returning to the Heyst bungalow, rapid as if on wings, Ricardofound Lena waiting for him. She was dressed in black; and at oncehis uplifting exultation was replaced by an awed and quiveringpatience before her white face, before the immobility of herreposeful pose, the more amazing to him who had encountered thestrength of her limbs and the indomitable spirit in her body. Shehad come out after Heyst's departure, and had sat down under theportrait to wait for the return of the man of violence and death.While lifting the curtain, she felt the anguish of her disobedienceto
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PART FOUR: CHAPTER TENShe passed by Heyst as if she had indeed been blinded by somesecret, lurid, and consuming glare into which she was about toenter. The curtain of the bedroom door fell behind her into rigidfolds. Ricardo's vacant gaze seemed to be watching the dancingflight of a fly in mid air."Extra dark outside, ain't it?" he muttered."Not so dark but that I could see that man of yours prowling aboutthere," said Heyst in measured tones."What--Pedro? He's scarcely a man you know; or else I wouldn't beso fond of him as I am.""Very well. Let's call him
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