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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesVictory - PART FOUR - Chapter THIRTEEN
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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter THIRTEEN Post by :cutepub Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Conrad Date :June 2011 Read :3612

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Victory - PART FOUR - Chapter THIRTEEN

PART FOUR: CHAPTER THIRTEEN


Mr Jones, after firing his shot over Heyst's shoulder, had thought
it proper to dodge away. Like the spectre he was, he noiselessly
vanished from the veranda. Heyst stumbled into the room and looked
around. All the objects in there--the books, portrait on the wall--
seemed shadowy, unsubstantial, the dumb accomplices of an amazing
dream-plot ending in an illusory effect of awakening and the
impossibility of ever closing his eyes again. With dread he forced
himself to look at the girl. Still in the chair, she was leaning
forward far over her knees, and had hidden her face in her hands.
Heyst remembered Wang suddenly. How clear all this was--and how
extremely amusing! Very.

She sat up a little, then leaned back, and taking her hands from her
face, pressed both of them to her breast as if moved to the heart by
seeing him there looking at her with a black, horror-struck
curiosity. He would have pitied her, if the triumphant expression
of her face had not given him a shock which destroyed the balance of
his feelings. She spoke with an accent of wild joy:

"I knew you would come back in time! You are safe now. I have done
it! I would never, never have let him--" Her voice died out, while
her eyes shone at him as when the sun breaks through a mist. "Never
get it back. Oh, my beloved!"

He bowed his head gravely, and said in his polite. Heystian tone:

"No doubt you acted from instinct. Women have been provided with
their own weapon. I was a disarmed man, I have been a disarmed man
all my life as I see it now. You may glory in your resourcefulness
and your profound knowledge of yourself; but I may say that the
other attitude, suggestive of shame, had its charm. For you are
full of charm!"

The exultation vanished from her face.

"You mustn't make fun of me now. I know no shame. I was thanking
God with all my sinful heart for having been able to do it--for
giving you to me in that way--oh, my beloved--all my own at last!"

He stared as if mad. Timidly she tried to excuse herself for
disobeying his directions for her safety. Every modulation of her
enchanting voice cut deep into his very breast, so that he could
hardly understand the words for the sheer pain of it. He turned his
back on her; but a sudden drop, an extraordinary faltering of her
tone, made him spin round. On her white neck her pale head dropped
as in a cruel drought a withered flower droops on its stalk. He
caught his breath, looked at her closely, and seemed to read some
awful intelligence in her eyes. At the moment when her eyelids fell
as if smitten from above by an the gleam of old silver familiar to
him from boyhood, the very invisible power, he snatched her up
bodily out of the chair, and disregarding an unexpected metallic
clatter on the floor, carried her off into the other room. The
limpness of her body frightened him. Laying her down on the bed, he
ran out again, seized a four-branched candlestick on the table, and
ran back, tearing down with a furious jerk the curtain that swung
stupidly in his way, but after putting the candlestick on the table
by the bed, he remained absolutely idle. There did not seem
anything more for him to do. Holding his chin in his hand he looked
down intently at her still face.

"Has she been stabbed with this thing?" asked Davidson, whom
suddenly he saw standing by his side and holding up Ricardo's dagger
to his sight. Heyst uttered no word of recognition or surprise. He
gave Davidson only a dumb look of unutterable awe, then, as if
possessed with a sudden fury, started tearing open the front of the
girls dress. She remained insensible under his hands, and Heyst let
out a groan which made Davidson shudder inwardly the heavy plaint of
a man who falls clubbed in the dark.

They stood side by side, looking mournfully at the little black hole
made by Mr. Jones's bullet under the swelling breast of a dazzling
and as it were sacred whiteness. It rose and fell slightly--so
slightly that only the eyes of the lover could detect the faint stir
of life. Heyst, calm and utterly unlike himself in the face, moving
about noiselessly, prepared a wet cloth, and laid it on the
insignificant wound, round which there was hardly a trace of blood
to mar the charm, the fascination, of that mortal flesh.

Her eyelids fluttered. She looked drowsily about, serene, as if
fatigued only by the exertions of her tremendous victory, capturing
the very sting of death in the service of love. But her eyes became
very wide awake when they caught sight of Ricardo's dagger, the
spoil of vanquished death, which Davidson was still holding,
unconsciously.

"Give it to me," she said. "It's mine."

Davidson put the symbol of her victory into her feeble hands
extended to him with the innocent gesture of a child reaching
eagerly for a toy.

"For you," she gasped, turning her eyes to Heyst. "Kill nobody."

"No," said Heyst, taking the dagger and laying it gently on her
breast, while her hands fell powerless by her side.

The faint smile on her deep-cut lips waned, and her head sank deep
into the pillow, taking on the majestic pallor and immobility of
marble. But over the muscles, which seemed set in their
transfigured beauty for ever, passed a slight and awful tremor.
With an amazing strength she asked loudly:

"What's the matter with me?"

"You have been shot, dear Lena," Heyst said in a steady voice, while
Davidson, at the question, turned away and leaned his forehead
against the post of the foot of the bed.

"Shot? I did think, too, that something had struck me."

Over Samburan the thunder had ceased to growl at last, and the world
of material forms shuddered no more under the emerging stars. The
spirit of the girl which was passing away from under them clung to
her triumph convinced of the reality of her victory over death.

"No more," she muttered. "There will be no more! Oh, my beloved,"
she cried weakly, "I've saved you! Why don't you take me into your
arms and carry me out of this lonely place?"

Heyst bent low over her, cursing his fastidious soul, which even at
that moment kept the true cry of love from his lips in its infernal
mistrust of all life. He dared not touch her and she had no longer
the strength to throw her arms about his neck.

"Who else could have done this for you?" she whispered gloriously.

"No one in the world," he answered her in a murmur of unconcealed
despair.

She tried to raise herself, but all she could do was to lift her
head a little from the pillow. With a terrible and gentle movement,
Heyst hastened to slip his arm under her neck. She felt relieved at
once of an intolerable weight, and was content to surrender to him
the infinite weariness of her tremendous achievement. Exulting, she
saw herself extended on the bed, in a black dress, and profoundly at
peace, while, stooping over her with a kindly, playful smile, he was
ready to lift her up in his firm arms and take her into the
sanctuary of his innermost heart--for ever! The flush of rapture
flooding her whole being broke out in a smile of innocent, girlish
happiness; and with that divine radiance on her lips she breathed
her, last triumphant, seeking for his glance in the shades of death.

Content of PART FOUR CHAPTER THIRTEEN (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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