It was like watching the last flickers of a life. His name, you understand, had not been pronounced once. It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. The two fellows there seemed astounded at anybody attempting such a thing. The sheer unexpectedness of it made my hair stir under my cap. There remained a rude table—a plank on two posts; a heap of rubbish reposed in a dark corner, and by the door I picked up a book.
He was an insoluble problem. This reveals the distant but deep relationship between the savage and the human being which were certified long long ago. I observed with assumed innocence that no man was safe from trouble in this world. For me it crawled towards Kurtz—exclusively; but when the steam-pipes started leaking we crawled very slow. The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball—an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and—lo! The man had rolled on his back and stared straight up at me; both his hands clutched that cane.
They were looking on the ground, absorbed in thought. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. They were big powerful men, with not much capacity to weigh the consequences, with courage, with strength, even yet, though their skins were no longer glossy and their muscles no longer hard. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. The cries, he believed, were not cries of violence, and Kurtz's station had to be nearby. This young man began exuberantly expounding the learning experience he had by staying with the illustrious Kurtz--and it turned out this young man, a Russian, had been the one who had left the strange book, with its margin notes, that Marlow had found earlier. Marlow, an english seaman takes a voyage through the Congo River to meet the infamous Kurtz, a man whose true evil was brought out by the darkness of the Congo.
It was impossible--not good for one either--trying to imagine. After all, we had to keep crawling along. What have we learned about Kurtz so far? There are many ways to look at what might have been going through his head or what would have been the vision he was experiencing as the book describes it. A society had asked Kurtz to write down the report for future plans. It would come slowly to one.
As we had plenty of wood, and caution was the word, I brought up in the middle of the stream. I heard a light sigh and then my heart stood still, stopped dead short by an exulting and terrible cry, by the cry of inconceivable triumph and of unspeakable pain. He was just the kind of man who would wish to preserve appearances. Moreover, he pointed out that if the warning to approach cautiously were to be followed, we must approach in daylight—not at dusk or in the dark. They were massive and made our boat feel like a little bug.
At night I slept, or tried to, on the couch. We cleared the snag clumsily. There was surface-truth enough in these things to save a wiser man. In this ghastly and horrific tale, Marlow leads an expedition up the Congo River, only to find everything is not as it seems. Were we to let go our hold of the bottom, we would be absolutely in the air—in space. At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day. And the intimate profundity of that look he gave me when he received his hurt remains to this day in my memory—like a claim of distant kinship affirmed in a supreme moment.
He ought to have been clapping his hands and stamping his feet on the bank, instead of which he was hard at work, a thrall to strange witchcraft, full of improving knowledge. Marlow had a realization about the darkness within man's soul. I held my tongue after that. Of course, a fool, what with sheer fright and fine sentiments, is always safe. Sometimes we would hear drums in the distance all night and into the morning. After all, if you were small, the grimy beetle crawled on—which was just what you wanted it to do.
The rest of the world was nowhere, as far as our eyes and ears were concerned. The earth for us is a place to live in, where we must put up with sights, with sounds, with smells, too, by Jove! I assure you to leave off reading was like tearing myself away from the shelter of an old and solid friendship. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. We sailed past like ghosts, curious but horrified, as sane men would be watching a riot in an asylum. He must face the demons hiding in the dark corners of his psyche.