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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesVictory - PART FOUR - Chapter SEVEN
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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter SEVEN Post by :nhazzard Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Conrad Date :June 2011 Read :2106

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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter SEVEN

PART FOUR: CHAPTER SEVEN


It was at this precise moment of their conversation that Heyst had
intruded on Mr. Jones and his secretary with his warning about Wang,
as he had related to Lena. When he left them, the two looked at
each other in wondering silence. My Jones was the first to break
it.

"I say, Martin!"

"Yes, sir."

"What does this mean?"

"It's some move. Blame me if I can understand."

"Too deep for you?" Mr. Jones inquired dryly.

"It's nothing but some of his infernal impudence," growled the
secretary. "You don't believe all that about the Chink, do you,
sir? 'Tain't true."

"It isn't necessary for it to be true to have a meaning for us.
It's the why of his coming to tell us this tale that's important."

"Do you think he made it up to frighten us?" asked Ricardo.

Mr Jones scowled at him thoughtfully.

"The man looked worried," he muttered, as if to himself. "Suppose
that Chinaman has really stolen his money! The man looked very
worried."

"Nothing but his artfulness, sir," protested Ricardo earnestly, for
the idea was too disconcerting to entertain. "Is it likely that he
would have trusted a Chink with enough knowledge to make it
possible?" he argued warmly. "Why, it's the very thing that he
would keep close about. There's something else there. Ay, but
what?"

"Ha, ha, ha!" Mr. Jones let out a ghostly, squeaky laugh. "I've
never been placed in such a ridiculous position before," he went on,
with a sepulchral equanimity of tone. "It's you, Martin, who
dragged me into it. However, it's my own fault too. I ought to--
but I was really too bored to use my brain, and yours is not to be
trusted. You are a hothead!"

A blasphemous exclamation of grief escaped from Ricardo. Not to be
trusted! Hothead! He was almost tearful.

"Haven't I heard you, sir, saying more than twenty times since we
got fired out from Manila that we should want a lot of capital to
work the East Coast with? You were always telling me that to prime
properly all them officials and Portuguese scallywags we should have
to lose heavily at first. Weren't you always worrying about some
means of getting hold of a good lot of cash? It wasn't to be got
hold of by allowing yourself to become bored in that rotten Dutch
town and playing a two-penny game with confounded beggarly bank
clerks and such like. Well, I've brought you here, where there is
cash to be got--and a big lot, to a moral," he added through his set
teeth.

Silence fell. Each of them was staring into a different corner of
the room. Suddenly, with a slight stamp of his foot, Mr. Jones made
for the door. Ricardo caught him up outside.

"Put an arm through mine, sir," he begged him gently but firmly.
"No use giving the game away. An invalid may well come out for a
breath of fresh air after the sun's gone down a bit. That's it,
sir. But where do you want to go? Why did you come out, sir?"

Mr Jones stopped short.

"I hardly know myself," he confessed in a hollow mutter, staring
intently at the Number One bungalow. "It's quite irrational," he
declared in a still lower tone.

"Better go in, sir," suggested Ricardo. "What's that? Those
screens weren't down before. He's spying from behind them now, I
bet--the dodging, artful, plotting beast!"

"Why not go over there and see if we can't get to the bottom of this
game?" was the unexpected proposal uttered by Mr. Jones. "He will
have to talk to us."

Ricardo repressed a start of dismay, but for a moment could not
speak. He only pressed the governor's hand to his side
instinctively.

"No, sir. What could you say? Do you expect to get to the bottom
of his lies? How could you make him talk? It isn't time yet to
come to grips with that gent. You don't think I would hang back, do
you? His Chink, of course, I'll shoot like a dog the moment I catch
sight of him; but as to that Mr. Blasted Heyst, the time isn't yet.
My head's cooler just now than yours. Let's go in again. Why, we
are exposed here. Suppose he took it into his head to let off a gun
on us! He's an unaccountable, 'yporcritical skunk."

Allowing himself to be persuaded, Mr. Jones returned to his
seclusion. The secretary, however, remained on the veranda--for the
purpose, he said, of seeing whether that Chink wasn't sneaking
around; in which case he proposed to take a long shot at the galoot
and chance the consequences. His real reason was that he wanted to
be alone, away from the governor's deep-sunk eyes. He felt a
sentimental desire to indulge his fancies in solitude. A great
change had come over Mr. Ricardo since that morning. A whole side
of him which from prudence, from necessity, from loyalty, had been
kept dormant, was aroused now, colouring his thoughts and disturbing
his mental poise by the vision of such staggering consequences as,
for instance, the possibility of an active conflict with the
governor. The appearance of the monstrous Pedro with his news drew
Ricardo out of a feeling of dreaminess wrapped up in a sense of
impending trouble. A woman? Yes, there was one; and it made all
the difference. After driving away Pedro, and watching the white
helmets of Heyst and Lena vanishing among the bushes he stood lost
in meditation.

"Where could they be off to like this?" he mentally asked himself.

The answer found by his speculative faculties on their utmost
stretch was--to meet that Chink. For in the desertion of Wang
Ricardo did not believe. It was a lying yarn, the organic part of a
dangerous plot. Heyst had gone to combine some fresh move. But
then Ricardo felt sure that the girl was with him--the girl full of
pluck, full of sense, full of understanding; an ally of his own
kind!

He went indoors briskly. Mr. Jones had resumed his cross-legged
pose at the head of the bed, with his back against the wall.

"Anything new?"

"No, sir."

Ricardo walked about the room as if he had no care in the world. He
hummed snatches of song. Mr. Jones raised his waspish eyebrows, at
the sound. The secretary got down on his knees before an old
leather trunk, and, rummaging in there, brought out a small looking-
glass. He fell to examining his physiognomy in it with silent
absorption.

"I think I'll shave," he decided, getting up.

He gave a sidelong glance to the governor, and repeated it several
times during the operation, which did not take long, and even
afterwards, when after putting away the implements, he resumed his
walking, humming more snatches of unknown songs. Mr. Jones
preserved a complete immobility, his thin lips compressed, his eyes
veiled. His face was like a carving.

"So you would like to try your hand at cards with that skunk, sir?"
said Ricardo, stopping suddenly and rubbing his hands.

Mr Jones gave no sign of having heard anything.

"Well, why not? Why shouldn't he have the experience? You remember
in that Mexican town--what's its name?--the robber fellow they
caught in the mountains and condemned to be shot? He played cards
half the night with the jailer and the sheriff. Well, this fellow
is condemned, too. He must give you your game. Hang it all, a
gentleman ought to have some little relaxation! And you have been
uncommonly patient, sir."

"You are uncommonly volatile all of a sudden," Mr. Jones remarked in
a bored voice. "What's come to you?"

The secretary hummed for a while, and then said:

"I'll try to get him over here for you tonight, after dinner. If I
ain't here myself, don't you worry, sir. I shall be doing a bit of
nosing around--see?"

"I see," sneered Mr. Jones languidly. "But what do you expect to
see in the dark?"

Ricardo made no answer, and after another turn or two slipped out of
the room. He no longer felt comfortable alone with the governor.

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

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PART FOUR: CHAPTER EIGHTMeantime Heyst and Lena, walking rather fast, approached Wang's hut.Asking the girl to wait, Heyst ascended the little ladder of bamboosgiving access to the door. It was as he had expected. The smokyinterior was empty, except for a big chest of sandalwood too heavyfor hurried removal. Its lid was thrown up, but whatever it mighthave contained was no longer there. All Wang's possessions weregone. Without tarrying in the hut, Heyst came back to the girl, whoasked no questions, with her strange air of knowing or understandingeverything."Let us push on," he said.He went ahead,
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PART FOUR: CHAPTER SIXAs luck would have it, Ricardo was lounging alone on the veranda ofthe former counting-house. He scented some new development at once,and ran down to meet the trotting, bear-like figure. The deep,growling noises it made, though they had only a very remoteresemblance to the Spanish language, or indeed to any sort of humanspeech, were from long practice quite intelligible to Mr. Jones'ssecretary. Ricardo was rather surprised. He had imagined that thegirl would continue to keep out of sight. That line apparently wasgiven up. He did not mistrust her. How could he?
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