Directly the cargo boat had slipped away from the wharf and got lost in the darkness of the harbour the Europeans of Sulaco separated,

to prepare for the coming of the Monterist regime,

which was approaching Sulaco from the mountains,

as well as from the sea.

This bit of manual work in loading the silver was their last concerted action.

It ended the three days of danger,

during which,

according to the newspaper press of Europe,

their energy had preserved the town from the calamities of popular disorder.

At the shore end of the jetty,

Captain Mitchell said good-night and turned back.

His intention was to walk the planks of the wharf till the steamer from Esmeralda turned up.

The engineers of the railway staff,

collecting their Basque and Italian workmen,

marched them away to the railway yards,

leaving the Custom House,

so well defended on the first day of the riot,

standing open to the four winds of heaven.

Their men had conducted themselves bravely and faithfully during the famous "three days" of Sulaco.

In a great part this faithfulness and that courage had been exercised in self-defence rather than in the cause of those material interests to which Charles Gould had pinned his faith.

Amongst the cries of the mob not the least loud had been the cry of death to foreigners.

It was,


a lucky circumstance for Sulaco that the relations of those imported workmen with the people of the country had been uniformly bad from the first.

Doctor Monygham,

going to the door of Viola's kitchen,

observed this retreat marking the end of the foreign interference,

this withdrawal of the army of material progress from the field of Costaguana revolutions.

Algarrobe torches carried on the outskirts of the moving body sent their penetrating aroma into his nostrils.

Their light,

sweeping along the front of the house,

made the letters of the inscription,

"Albergo d'ltalia Una,"

leap out black from end to end of the long wall.

His eyes blinked in the clear blaze.

Several young men,

mostly fair and tall,

shepherding this mob of dark bronzed heads,

surmounted by the glint of slanting rifle barrels,

nodded to him familiarly as they went by.

The doctor was a well-known character.

Some of them wondered what he was doing there.


on the flank of their workmen they tramped on,

following the line of rails.

"Withdrawing your people from the harbour?"

said the doctor,

addressing himself to the chief engineer of the railway,

who had accompanied Charles Gould so far on his way to the town,

walking by the side of the horse,

with his hand on the saddle-bow.

They had stopped just outside the open door to let the workmen cross the road.

"As quick as I can.

We are not a political faction,"

answered the engineer,


"And we are not going to give our new rulers a handle against the railway.

You approve me,



said Charles Gould's impassive voice,

high up and outside the dim parallelogram of light falling on the road through the open door.

With Sotillo expected from one side,

and Pedro Montero from the other,

the engineer-in-chief's only anxiety now was to avoid a collision with either.


for him,

was a railway station,

a terminus,


a great accumulation of stores.

As against the mob the railway defended its property,

but politically the railway was neutral.

He was a brave man;

and in that spirit of neutrality he had carried proposals of truce to the self-appointed chiefs of the popular party,

the deputies Fuentes and Gamacho.

Bullets were still flying about when he had crossed the Plaza on that mission,

waving above his head a white napkin belonging to the table linen of the Amarilla Club.

He was rather proud of this exploit;

and reflecting that the doctor,

busy all day with the wounded in the patio of the Casa Gould,

had not had time to hear the news,

he began a succinct narrative.

He had communicated to them the intelligence from the Construction Camp as to Pedro Montero.

The brother of the victorious general,

he had assured them,

could be expected at Sulaco at any time now.

This news

(as he anticipated),

when shouted out of the window by Senor Gamacho,

induced a rush of the mob along the Campo Road towards Rincon.

The two deputies also,

after shaking hands with him effusively,

mounted and galloped off to meet the great man.

"I have misled them a little as to the time,"

the chief engineer confessed.

"However hard he rides,

he can scarcely get here before the morning.

But my object is attained.

I've secured several hours' peace for the losing party.

But I did not tell them anything about Sotillo,

for fear they would take it into their heads to try to get hold of the harbour again,

either to oppose him or welcome him --there's no saying which.

There was Gould's silver,

on which rests the remnant of our hopes.

Decoud's retreat had to be thought of,


I think the railway has done pretty well by its friends without compromising itself hopelessly.

Now the parties must be left to themselves."

"Costaguana for the Costaguaneros,"

interjected the doctor,


"It is a fine country,

and they have raised a fine crop of hates,



and rapine --those sons of the country."


I am one of them,"

Charles Gould's voice sounded,


"and I must be going on to see to my own crop of trouble.

My wife has driven straight on,



All was quiet on this side.

Mrs. Gould has taken the two girls with her."

Charles Gould rode on,

and the engineer-in-chief followed the doctor indoors.

"That man is calmness personified,"

he said,


dropping on a bench,

and stretching his well-shaped legs in cycling stockings nearly across the doorway.

"He must be extremely sure of himself."

"If that's all he is sure of,

then he is sure of nothing,"

said the doctor.

He had perched himself again on the end of the table.

He nursed his cheek in the palm of one hand,

while the other sustained the elbow.

"It is the last thing a man ought to be sure of."

The candle,

half-consumed and burning dimly with a long wick,

lighted up from below his inclined face,

whose expression affected by the drawn-in cicatrices in the cheeks,

had something vaguely unnatural,

an exaggerated remorseful bitterness.

As he sat there he had the air of meditating upon sinister things.

The engineer-in-chief gazed at him for a time before he protested.

"I really don't see that.

For me there seems to be nothing else.

However -- --"

He was a wise man,

but he could not quite conceal his contempt for that sort of paradox;

in fact.

Dr. Monygham was not liked by the Europeans of Sulaco.

His outward aspect of an outcast,

which he preserved even in Mrs. Gould's drawing-room,

provoked unfavourable criticism.

There could be no doubt of his intelligence;

and as he had lived for over twenty years in the country,

the pessimism of his outlook could not be altogether ignored.

But instinctively,

in self-defence of their activities and hopes,

his hearers put it to the account of some hidden imperfection in the man's character.

It was known that many years before,

when quite young,

he had been made by Guzman Bento chief medical officer of the army.

Not one of the Europeans then in the service of Costaguana had been so much liked and trusted by the fierce old Dictator.

Afterwards his story was not so clear.

It lost itself amongst the innumerable tales of conspiracies and plots against the tyrant as a stream is lost in an arid belt of sandy country before it emerges,

diminished and troubled,


on the other side.

The doctor made no secret of it that he had lived for years in the wildest parts of the Republic,

wandering with almost unknown Indian tribes in the great forests of the far interior where the great rivers have their sources.

But it was mere aimless wandering;

he had written nothing,

collected nothing,

brought nothing for science out of the twilight of the forests,

which seemed to cling to his battered personality limping about Sulaco,

where it had drifted in casually,

only to get stranded on the shores of the sea.

It was also known that he had lived in a state of destitution till the arrival of the Goulds from Europe.

Don Carlos and Dona Emilia had taken up the mad English doctor,

when it became apparent that for all his savage independence he could be tamed by kindness.

Perhaps it was only hunger that had tamed him.

In years gone by he had certainly been acquainted with Charles Gould's father in Sta. Marta;

and now,

no matter what were the dark passages of his history,

as the medical officer of the San Tome mine he became a recognized personality.

He was recognized,

but not unreservedly accepted.

So much defiant eccentricity and such an outspoken scorn for mankind seemed to point to mere recklessness of judgment,

the bravado of guilt.


since he had become again of some account,

vague whispers had been heard that years ago,

when fallen into disgrace and thrown into prison by Guzman Bento at the time of the so-called Great Conspiracy,

he had betrayed some of his best friends amongst the conspirators.

Nobody pretended to believe that whisper;

the whole story of the Great Conspiracy was hopelessly involved and obscure;

it is admitted in Costaguana that there never had been a conspiracy except in the diseased imagination of the Tyrant;



nothing and no one to betray;

though the most distinguished Costaguaneros had been imprisoned and executed upon that accusation.

The procedure had dragged on for years,

decimating the better class like a pestilence.

The mere expression of sorrow for the fate of executed kinsmen had been punished with death.

Don Jose Avellanos was perhaps the only one living who knew the whole story of those unspeakable cruelties.

He had suffered from them himself,

and he,

with a shrug of the shoulders and a nervous,

jerky gesture of the arm,

was wont to put away from him,

as it were,

every allusion to it.

But whatever the reason,

Dr. Monygham,

a personage in the administration of the Gould Concession,

treated with reverent awe by the miners,

and indulged in his peculiarities by Mrs. Gould,

remained somehow outside the pale.

It was not from any liking for the doctor that the engineer-in-chief had lingered in the inn upon the plain.

He liked old Viola much better.

He had come to look upon the Albergo d'ltalia Una as a dependence of the railway.

Many of his subordinates had their quarters there.

Mrs. Gould's interest in the family conferred upon it a sort of distinction.

The engineer-in-chief,

with an army of workers under his orders,

appreciated the moral influence of the old Garibaldino upon his countrymen.

His austere,

old-world Republicanism had a severe,

soldier-like standard of faithfulness and duty,

as if the world were a battlefield where men had to fight for the sake of universal love and brotherhood,

instead of a more or less large share of booty.

"Poor old chap!"

he said,

after he had heard the doctor's account of Teresa.

"He'll never be able to keep the place going by himself.

I shall be sorry."

"He's quite alone up there,"

grunted Doctor Monygham,

with a toss of his heavy head towards the narrow staircase.

"Every living soul has cleared out,

and Mrs. Gould took the girls away just now.

It might not be over-safe for them out here before very long.

Of course,

as a doctor I can do nothing more here;

but she has asked me to stay with old Viola,

and as I have no horse to get back to the mine,

where I ought to be,

I made no difficulty to stay.

They can do without me in the town."

"I have a good mind to remain with you,


till we see whether anything happens to-night at the harbour,"

declared the engineer-in-chief.

"He must not be molested by Sotillo's soldiery,

who may push on as far as this at once.

Sotillo used to be very cordial to me at the Goulds' and at the club.

How that man'll ever dare to look any of his friends here in the face I can't imagine."

"He'll no doubt begin by shooting some of them to get over the first awkwardness,"

said the doctor.

"Nothing in this country serves better your military man who has changed sides than a few summary executions."

He spoke with a gloomy positiveness that left no room for protest.

The engineer-in-chief did not attempt any.

He simply nodded several times regretfully,

then said --

"I think we shall be able to mount you in the morning,


Our peons have recovered some of our stampeded horses.

By riding hard and taking a wide circuit by Los Hatos and along the edge of the forest,

clear of Rincon altogether,

you may hope to reach the San Tome bridge without being interfered with.

The mine is just now,

to my mind,

the safest place for anybody at all compromised.

I only wish the railway was as difficult to touch."

"Am I compromised?"

Doctor Monygham brought out slowly after a short silence.

"The whole Gould Concession is compromised.

It could not have remained for ever outside the political life of the country --if those convulsions may be called life.

The thing is --can it be touched?

The moment was bound to come when neutrality would become impossible,

and Charles Gould understood this well.

I believe he is prepared for every extremity.

A man of his sort has never contemplated remaining indefinitely at the mercy of ignorance and corruption.

It was like being a prisoner in a cavern of banditti with the price of your ransom in your pocket,

and buying your life from day to day.

Your mere safety,

not your liberty,



I know what I am talking about.

The image at which you shrug your shoulders is perfectly correct,

especially if you conceive such a prisoner endowed with the power of replenishing his pocket by means as remote from the faculties of his captors as if they were magic.

You must have understood that as well as I do,


He was in the position of the goose with the golden eggs.

I broached this matter to him as far back as Sir John's visit here.

The prisoner of stupid and greedy banditti is always at the mercy of the first imbecile ruffian,

who may blow out his brains in a fit of temper or for some prospect of an immediate big haul.

The tale of killing the goose with the golden eggs has not been evolved for nothing out of the wisdom of mankind.

It is a story that will never grow old.

That is why Charles Gould in his deep,

dumb way has countenanced the Ribierist Mandate,

the first public act that promised him safety on other than venal grounds.

Ribierism has failed,

as everything merely rational fails in this country.

But Gould remains logical in wishing to save this big lot of silver.

Decoud's plan of a counter-revolution may be practicable or not,

it may have a chance,

or it may not have a chance.

With all my experience of this revolutionary continent,

I can hardly yet look at their methods seriously.

Decoud has been reading to us his draft of a proclamation,

and talking very well for two hours about his plan of action.

He had arguments which should have appeared solid enough if we,

members of old,

stable political and national organizations,

were not startled by the mere idea of a new State evolved like this out of the head of a scoffing young man fleeing for his life,

with a proclamation in his pocket,

to a rough,


half-bred swashbuckler,

who in this part of the world is called a general.

It sounds like a comic fairy tale --and behold,

it may come off;

because it is true to the very spirit of the country."

"Is the silver gone off,


asked the doctor,


The chief engineer pulled out his watch.

"By Captain Mitchell's reckoning --and he ought to know --it has been gone long enough now to be some three or four miles outside the harbour;


as Mitchell says,

Nostromo is the sort of seaman to make the best of his opportunities."

Here the doctor grunted so heavily that the other changed his tone.

"You have a poor opinion of that move,


But why?

Charles Gould has got to play his game out,

though he is not the man to formulate his conduct even to himself,


let alone to others.

It may be that the game has been partly suggested to him by Holroyd;

but it accords with his character,


and that is why it has been so successful.

Haven't they come to calling him

'El Rey de Sulaco' in Sta. Marta?

A nickname may be the best record of a success.

That's what I call putting the face of a joke upon the body of a truth.

My dear sir,

when I first arrived in Sta. Marta I was struck by the way all those journalists,


members of Congress,

and all those generals and judges cringed before a sleepy-eyed advocate without practice simply because he was the plenipotentiary of the Gould Concession.

Sir John when he came out was impressed,


"A new State,

with that plump dandy,


for the first President,"

mused Dr. Monygham,

nursing his cheek and swinging his legs all the time.

"Upon my word,

and why not?"

the chief engineer retorted in an unexpectedly earnest and confidential voice.

It was as if something subtle in the air of Costaguana had inoculated him with the local faith in "pronunciamientos."

All at once he began to talk,

like an expert revolutionist,

of the instrument ready to hand in the intact army at Cayta,

which could be brought back in a few days to Sulaco if only Decoud managed to make his way at once down the coast.

For the military chief there was Barrios,

who had nothing but a bullet to expect from Montero,

his former professional rival and bitter enemy.

Barrios's concurrence was assured.

As to his army,

it had nothing to expect from Montero either;

not even a month's pay.

From that point of view the existence of the treasure was of enormous importance.

The mere knowledge that it had been saved from the Monterists would be a strong inducement for the Cayta troops to embrace the cause of the new State.

The doctor turned round and contemplated his companion for some time.

"This Decoud,

I see,

is a persuasive young beggar,"

he remarked at last.

"And pray is it for this,


that Charles Gould has let the whole lot of ingots go out to sea in charge of that Nostromo?"

"Charles Gould,"

said the engineer-in-chief,

"has said no more about his motive than usual.

You know,

he doesn't talk.

But we all here know his motive,

and he has only one --the safety of the San Tome mine with the preservation of the Gould Concession in the spirit of his compact with Holroyd.

Holroyd is another uncommon man.

They understand each other's imaginative side.

One is thirty,

the other nearly sixty,

and they have been made for each other.

To be a millionaire,

and such a millionaire as Holroyd,

is like being eternally young.

The audacity of youth reckons upon what it fancies an unlimited time at its disposal;

but a millionaire has unlimited means in his hand --which is better.

One's time on earth is an uncertain quantity,

but about the long reach of millions there is no doubt.

The introduction of a pure form of Christianity into this continent is a dream for a youthful enthusiast,

and I have been trying to explain to you why Holroyd at fifty-eight is like a man on the threshold of life,

and better,


He's not a missionary,

but the San Tome mine holds just that for him.

I assure you,

in sober truth,

that he could not manage to keep this out of a strictly business conference upon the finances of Costaguana he had with Sir John a couple of years ago.

Sir John mentioned it with amazement in a letter he wrote to me here,

from San Francisco,

when on his way home.

Upon my word,


things seem to be worth nothing by what they are in themselves.

I begin to believe that the only solid thing about them is the spiritual value which everyone discovers in his own form of activity -- --"


interrupted the doctor,

without stopping for an instant the idle swinging movement of his legs.


Food for that vanity which makes the world go round.


what do you think is going to happen to the treasure floating about the gulf with the great Capataz and the great politician?"

"Why are you uneasy about it,


"I uneasy!

And what the devil is it to me?

I put no spiritual value into my desires,

or my opinions,

or my actions.

They have not enough vastness to give me room for self-flattery.


for instance,

I should certainly have liked to ease the last moments of that poor woman.

And I can't.

It's impossible.

Have you met the impossible face to face --or have you,

the Napoleon of railways,

no such word in your dictionary?"

"Is she bound to have a very bad time of it?"

asked the chief engineer,

with humane concern.


heavy footsteps moved across the planks above the heavy hard wood beams of the kitchen.

Then down the narrow opening of the staircase made in the thickness of the wall,

and narrow enough to be defended by one man against twenty enemies,

came the murmur of two voices,

one faint and broken,

the other deep and gentle answering it,

and in its graver tone covering the weaker sound.

The two men remained still and silent till the murmurs ceased,

then the doctor shrugged his shoulders and muttered --


she's bound to.

And I could do nothing if I went up now."

A long period of silence above and below ensued.

"I fancy,"

began the engineer,

in a subdued voice,

"that you mistrust Captain Mitchell's Capataz."

"Mistrust him!"

muttered the doctor through his teeth.

"I believe him capable of anything --even of the most absurd fidelity.

I am the last person he spoke to before he left the wharf,

you know.

The poor woman up there wanted to see him,

and I let him go up to her.

The dying must not be contradicted,

you know.

She seemed then fairly calm and resigned,

but the scoundrel in those ten minutes or so has done or said something which seems to have driven her into despair.

You know,"

went on the doctor,


"women are so very unaccountable in every position,

and at all times of life,

that I thought sometimes she was in a way,

don't you see?

in love with him --the Capataz.

The rascal has his own charm indubitably,

or he would not have made the conquest of all the populace of the town.



I am not absurd.

I may have given a wrong name to some strong sentiment for him on her part,

to an unreasonable and simple attitude a woman is apt to take up emotionally towards a man.

She used to abuse him to me frequently,


of course,

is not inconsistent with my idea.

Not at all.

It looked to me as if she were always thinking of him.

He was something important in her life.

You know,

I have seen a lot of those people.

Whenever I came down from the mine Mrs. Gould used to ask me to keep my eye on them.

She likes Italians;

she has lived a long time in Italy,

I believe,

and she took a special fancy to that old Garibaldino.

A remarkable chap enough.

A rugged and dreamy character,

living in the republicanism of his young days as if in a cloud.

He has encouraged much of the Capataz's confounded nonsense --the high-strung,

exalted old beggar!"

"What sort of nonsense?"

wondered the chief engineer.

"I found the Capataz always a very shrewd and sensible fellow,

absolutely fearless,

and remarkably useful.

A perfect handy man.

Sir John was greatly impressed by his resourcefulness and attention when he made that overland journey from Sta. Marta.

Later on,

as you might have heard,

he rendered us a service by disclosing to the then chief of police the presence in the town of some professional thieves,

who came from a distance to wreck and rob our monthly pay train.

He has certainly organized the lighterage service of the harbour for the O.S.N.

Company with great ability.

He knows how to make himself obeyed,

foreigner though he is.

It is true that the Cargadores are strangers here,


for the most part --immigrants,


"His prestige is his fortune,"

muttered the doctor,


"The man has proved his trustworthiness up to the hilt on innumerable occasions and in all sorts of ways,"

argued the engineer.

"When this question of the silver arose,

Captain Mitchell naturally was very warmly of the opinion that his Capataz was the only man fit for the trust.

As a sailor,

of course,

I suppose so.

But as a man,

don't you know,



and myself judged that it didn't matter in the least who went.

Any boatman would have done just as well.


what could a thief do with such a lot of ingots?

If he ran off with them he would have in the end to land somewhere,

and how could he conceal his cargo from the knowledge of the people ashore?

We dismissed that consideration from our minds.


Decoud was going.

There have been occasions when the Capataz has been more implicitly trusted."

"He took a slightly different view,"

the doctor said.

"I heard him declare in this very room that it would be the most desperate affair of his life.

He made a sort of verbal will here in my hearing,

appointing old Viola his executor;


by Jove!

do you know,

he --he's not grown rich by his fidelity to you good people of the railway and the harbour.

I suppose he obtains some --how do you say that?

--some spiritual value for his labours,

or else I don't know why the devil he should be faithful to you,



or anybody else.

He knows this country well.

He knows,

for instance,

that Gamacho,

the Deputy from Javira,

has been nothing else but a

'tramposo' of the commonest sort,

a petty pedlar of the Campo,

till he managed to get enough goods on credit from Anzani to open a little store in the wilds,

and got himself elected by the drunken mozos that hang about the Estancias and the poorest sort of rancheros who were in his debt.

And Gamacho,

who to-morrow will be probably one of our high officials,

is a stranger,

too --an Isleno.

He might have been a Cargador on the O. S. N.

wharf had he not

(the posadero of Rincon is ready to swear it)

murdered a pedlar in the woods and stolen his pack to begin life on.

And do you think that Gamacho,


would have ever become a hero with the democracy of this place,

like our Capataz?

Of course not.

He isn't half the man.



I think that Nostromo is a fool."

The doctor's talk was distasteful to the builder of railways.

"It is impossible to argue that point,"

he said,


"Each man has his gifts.

You should have heard Gamacho haranguing his friends in the street.

He has a howling voice,

and he shouted like mad,

lifting his clenched fist right above his head,

and throwing his body half out of the window.

At every pause the rabble below yelled,

'Down with the Oligarchs!

Viva la Libertad!'

Fuentes inside looked extremely miserable.

You know,

he is the brother of Jorge Fuentes,

who has been Minister of the Interior for six months or so,

some few years back.

Of course,

he has no conscience;

but he is a man of birth and education --at one time the director of the Customs of Cayta.

That idiot-brute Gamacho fastened himself upon him with his following of the lowest rabble.

His sickly fear of that ruffian was the most rejoicing sight imaginable."

He got up and went to the door to look out towards the harbour.

"All quiet,"

he said;

"I wonder if Sotillo really means to turn up here?"


Captain Mitchell,

pacing the wharf,

was asking himself the same question.

There was always the doubt whether the warning of the Esmeralda telegraphist --a fragmentary and interrupted message --had been properly understood.


the good man had made up his mind not to go to bed till daylight,

if even then.

He imagined himself to have rendered an enormous service to Charles Gould.

When he thought of the saved silver he rubbed his hands together with satisfaction.

In his simple way he was proud at being a party to this extremely clever expedient.

It was he who had given it a practical shape by suggesting the possibility of intercepting at sea the north-bound steamer.

And it was advantageous to his Company,


which would have lost a valuable freight if the treasure had been left ashore to be confiscated.

The pleasure of disappointing the Monterists was also very great.

Authoritative by temperament and the long habit of command,

Captain Mitchell was no democrat.

He even went so far as to profess a contempt for parliamentarism itself.

"His Excellency Don Vincente Ribiera,"

he used to say,

"whom I and that fellow of mine,


had the honour,


and the pleasure of saving from a cruel death,

deferred too much to his Congress.

It was a mistake --a distinct mistake,


The guileless old seaman superintending the O.S.N.

service imagined that the last three days had exhausted every startling surprise the political life of Costaguana could offer.

He used to confess afterwards that the events which followed surpassed his imagination.

To begin with,


(because of the seizure of the cables and the disorganization of the steam service)

remained for a whole fortnight cut off from the rest of the world like a besieged city.

"One would not have believed it possible;

but so it was,


A full fortnight."

The account of the extraordinary things that happened during that time,

and the powerful emotions he experienced,

acquired a comic impressiveness from the pompous manner of his personal narrative.

He opened it always by assuring his hearer that he was "in the thick of things from first to last."

Then he would begin by describing the getting away of the silver,

and his natural anxiety lest "his fellow" in charge of the lighter should make some mistake.

Apart from the loss of so much precious metal,

the life of Senor Martin Decoud,

an agreeable,


and well-informed young gentleman,

would have been jeopardized through his falling into the hands of his political enemies.

Captain Mitchell also admitted that in his solitary vigil on the wharf he had felt a certain measure of concern for the future of the whole country.

"A feeling,


he explained,

"perfectly comprehensible in a man properly grateful for the many kindnesses received from the best families of merchants and other native gentlemen of independent means,


barely saved by us from the excesses of the mob,


to my mind's eye,

destined to become the prey in person and fortune of the native soldiery,


as is well known,

behave with regrettable barbarity to the inhabitants during their civil commotions.

And then,


there were the Goulds,

for both of whom,

man and wife,

I could not but entertain the warmest feelings deserved by their hospitality and kindness.

I felt,


the dangers of the gentlemen of the Amarilla Club,

who had made me honorary member,

and had treated me with uniform regard and civility,

both in my capacity of Consular Agent and as Superintendent of an important Steam Service.

Miss Antonia Avellanos,

the most beautiful and accomplished young lady whom it had ever been my privilege to speak to,

was not a little in my mind,

I confess.

How the interests of my Company would be affected by the impending change of officials claimed a large share of my attention,


In short,


I was extremely anxious and very tired,

as you may suppose,

by the exciting and memorable events in which I had taken my little part.

The Company's building containing my residence was within five minutes' walk,

with the attraction of some supper and of my hammock

(I always take my nightly rest in a hammock,

as the most suitable to the climate);

but somehow,


though evidently I could do nothing for any one by remaining about,

I could not tear myself away from that wharf,

where the fatigue made me stumble painfully at times.

The night was excessively dark --the darkest I remember in my life;

so that I began to think that the arrival of the transport from Esmeralda could not possibly take place before daylight,

owing to the difficulty of navigating the gulf.

The mosquitoes bit like fury.

We have been infested here with mosquitoes before the late improvements;

a peculiar harbour brand,


renowned for its ferocity.

They were like a cloud about my head,

and I shouldn't wonder that but for their attacks I would have dozed off as I walked up and down,

and got a heavy fall.

I kept on smoking cigar after cigar,

more to protect myself from being eaten up alive than from any real relish for the weed.



when perhaps for the twentieth time I was approaching my watch to the lighted end in order to see the time,

and observing with surprise that it wanted yet ten minutes to midnight,

I heard the splash of a ship's propeller --an unmistakable sound to a sailor's ear on such a calm night.

It was faint indeed,

because they were advancing with precaution and dead slow,

both on account of the darkness and from their desire of not revealing too soon their presence: a very unnecessary care,


I verily believe,

in all the enormous extent of this harbour I was the only living soul about.

Even the usual staff of watchmen and others had been absent from their posts for several nights owing to the disturbances.

I stood stock still,

after dropping and stamping out my cigar --a circumstance highly agreeable,

I should think,

to the mosquitoes,

if I may judge from the state of my face next morning.

But that was a trifling inconvenience in comparison with the brutal proceedings I became victim of on the part of Sotillo.

Something utterly inconceivable,


more like the proceedings of a maniac than the action of a sane man,

however lost to all sense of honour and decency.

But Sotillo was furious at the failure of his thievish scheme."

In this Captain Mitchell was right.

Sotillo was indeed infuriated.

Captain Mitchell,


had not been arrested at once;

a vivid curiosity induced him to remain on the wharf

(which is nearly four hundred feet long)

to see,

or rather hear,

the whole process of disembarkation.

Concealed by the railway truck used for the silver,

which had been run back afterwards to the shore end of the jetty,

Captain Mitchell saw the small detachment thrown forward,

pass by,

taking different directions upon the plain.


the troops were being landed and formed into a column,

whose head crept up gradually so close to him that he made it out,

barring nearly the whole width of the wharf,

only a very few yards from him.

Then the low,



clinking sounds ceased,

and the whole mass remained for about an hour motionless and silent,

awaiting the return of the scouts.

On land nothing was to be heard except the deep baying of the mastiffs at the railway yards,

answered by the faint barking of the curs infesting the outer limits of the town.

A detached knot of dark shapes stood in front of the head of the column.

Presently the picket at the end of the wharf began to challenge in undertones single figures approaching from the plain.

Those messengers sent back from the scouting parties flung to their comrades brief sentences and passed on rapidly,

becoming lost in the great motionless mass,

to make their report to the Staff.

It occurred to Captain Mitchell that his position could become disagreeable and perhaps dangerous,

when suddenly,

at the head of the jetty,

there was a shout of command,

a bugle call,

followed by a stir and a rattling of arms,

and a murmuring noise that ran right up the column.

Near by a loud voice directed hurriedly,

"Push that railway car out of the way!"

At the rush of bare feet to execute the order Captain Mitchell skipped back a pace or two;

the car,

suddenly impelled by many hands,

flew away from him along the rails,

and before he knew what had happened he found himself surrounded and seized by his arms and the collar of his coat.

"We have caught a man hiding here,

mi teniente!"

cried one of his captors.

"Hold him on one side till the rearguard comes along,"

answered the voice.

The whole column streamed past Captain Mitchell at a run,

the thundering noise of their feet dying away suddenly on the shore.

His captors held him tightly,

disregarding his declaration that he was an Englishman and his loud demands to be taken at once before their commanding officer.

Finally he lapsed into dignified silence.

With a hollow rumble of wheels on the planks a couple of field guns,

dragged by hand,

rolled by.


after a small body of men had marched past escorting four or five figures which walked in advance,

with a jingle of steel scabbards,

he felt a tug at his arms,

and was ordered to come along.

During the passage from the wharf to the Custom House it is to be feared that Captain Mitchell was subjected to certain indignities at the hands of the soldiers --such as jerks,

thumps on the neck,

forcible application of the butt of a rifle to the small of his back.

Their ideas of speed were not in accord with his notion of his dignity.

He became flustered,


and helpless.

It was as if the world were coming to an end.

The long building was surrounded by troops,

which were already piling arms by companies and preparing to pass the night lying on the ground in their ponchos with their sacks under their heads.

Corporals moved with swinging lanterns posting sentries all round the walls wherever there was a door or an opening.

Sotillo was taking his measures to protect his conquest as if it had indeed contained the treasure.

His desire to make his fortune at one audacious stroke of genius had overmastered his reasoning faculties.

He would not believe in the possibility of failure;

the mere hint of such a thing made his brain reel with rage.

Every circumstance pointing to it appeared incredible.

The statement of Hirsch,

which was so absolutely fatal to his hopes,

could by no means be admitted.

It is true,


that Hirsch's story had been told so incoherently,

with such excessive signs of distraction,

that it really looked improbable.

It was extremely difficult,

as the saying is,

to make head or tail of it.

On the bridge of the steamer,

directly after his rescue,

Sotillo and his officers,

in their impatience and excitement,

would not give the wretched man time to collect such few wits as remained to him.

He ought to have been quieted,


and reassured,

whereas he had been roughly handled,



and addressed in menacing tones.

His struggles,

his wriggles,

his attempts to get down on his knees,

followed by the most violent efforts to break away,

as if he meant incontinently to jump overboard,

his shrieks and shrinkings and cowering wild glances had filled them first with amazement,

then with a doubt of his genuineness,

as men are wont to suspect the sincerity of every great passion.

His Spanish,


became so mixed up with German that the better half of his statements remained incomprehensible.

He tried to propitiate them by calling them hochwohlgeboren herren,

which in itself sounded suspicious.

When admonished sternly not to trifle he repeated his entreaties and protestations of loyalty and innocence again in German,


because he was not aware in what language he was speaking.

His identity,

of course,

was perfectly known as an inhabitant of Esmeralda,

but this made the matter no clearer.

As he kept on forgetting Decoud's name,

mixing him up with several other people he had seen in the Casa Gould,

it looked as if they all had been in the lighter together;

and for a moment Sotillo thought that he had drowned every prominent Ribierist of Sulaco.

The improbability of such a thing threw a doubt upon the whole statement.

Hirsch was either mad or playing a part --pretending fear and distraction on the spur of the moment to cover the truth.

Sotillo's rapacity,

excited to the highest pitch by the prospect of an immense booty,

could believe in nothing adverse.

This Jew might have been very much frightened by the accident,

but he knew where the silver was concealed,

and had invented this story,

with his Jewish cunning,

to put him entirely off the track as to what had been done.

Sotillo had taken up his quarters on the upper floor in a vast apartment with heavy black beams.

But there was no ceiling,

and the eye lost itself in the darkness under the high pitch of the roof.

The thick shutters stood open.

On a long table could be seen a large inkstand,

some stumpy,

inky quill pens,

and two square wooden boxes,

each holding half a hundred-weight of sand.

Sheets of grey coarse official paper bestrewed the floor.

It must have been a room occupied by some higher official of the Customs,

because a large leathern armchair stood behind the table,

with other high-backed chairs scattered about.

A net hammock was swung under one of the beams --for the official's afternoon siesta,

no doubt.

A couple of candles stuck into tall iron candlesticks gave a dim reddish light.

The colonel's hat,


and revolver lay between them,

and a couple of his more trusty officers lounged gloomily against the table.

The colonel threw himself into the armchair,

and a big negro with a sergeant's stripes on his ragged sleeve,

kneeling down,

pulled off his boots.

Sotillo's ebony moustache contrasted violently with the livid colouring of his cheeks.

His eyes were sombre and as if sunk very far into his head.

He seemed exhausted by his perplexities,

languid with disappointment;

but when the sentry on the landing thrust his head in to announce the arrival of a prisoner,

he revived at once.

"Let him be brought in,"

he shouted,


The door flew open,

and Captain Mitchell,


his waistcoat open,

the bow of his tie under his ear,

was hustled into the room.

Sotillo recognized him at once.

He could not have hoped for a more precious capture;

here was a man who could tell him,

if he chose,

everything he wished to know --and directly the problem of how best to make him talk to the point presented itself to his mind.

The resentment of a foreign nation had no terrors for Sotillo.

The might of the whole armed Europe would not have protected Captain Mitchell from insults and ill-usage,

so well as the quick reflection of Sotillo that this was an Englishman who would most likely turn obstinate under bad treatment,

and become quite unmanageable.

At all events,

the colonel smoothed the scowl on his brow.


The excellent Senor Mitchell!"

he cried,

in affected dismay.

The pretended anger of his swift advance and of his shout,

"Release the caballero at once,"

was so effective that the astounded soldiers positively sprang away from their prisoner.

Thus suddenly deprived of forcible support,

Captain Mitchell reeled as though about to fall.

Sotillo took him familiarly under the arm,

led him to a chair,

waved his hand at the room.

"Go out,

all of you,"

he commanded.

When they had been left alone he stood looking down,

irresolute and silent,

watching till Captain Mitchell had recovered his power of speech.

Here in his very grasp was one of the men concerned in the removal of the silver.

Sotillo's temperament was of that sort that he experienced an ardent desire to beat him;

just as formerly when negotiating with difficulty a loan from the cautious Anzani,

his fingers always itched to take the shopkeeper by the throat.

As to Captain Mitchell,

the suddenness,


and general inconceivableness of this experience had confused his thoughts.


he was physically out of breath.

"I've been knocked down three times between this and the wharf,"

he gasped out at last.

"Somebody shall be made to pay for this."

He had certainly stumbled more than once,

and had been dragged along for some distance before he could regain his stride.

With his recovered breath his indignation seemed to madden him.

He jumped up,


all his white hair bristling,

his eyes glaring vengefully,

and shook violently the flaps of his ruined waistcoat before the disconcerted Sotillo.


Those uniformed thieves of yours downstairs have robbed me of my watch."

The old sailor's aspect was very threatening.

Sotillo saw himself cut off from the table on which his sabre and revolver were lying.

"I demand restitution and apologies,"

Mitchell thundered at him,

quite beside himself.

"From you!


from you!"

For the space of a second or so the colonel stood with a perfectly stony expression of face;


as Captain Mitchell flung out an arm towards the table as if to snatch up the revolver,


with a yell of alarm,

bounded to the door and was gone in a flash,

slamming it after him.

Surprise calmed Captain Mitchell's fury.

Behind the closed door Sotillo shouted on the landing,

and there was a great tumult of feet on the wooden staircase.

"Disarm him!

Bind him!"

the colonel could be heard vociferating.

Captain Mitchell had just the time to glance once at the windows,

with three perpendicular bars of iron each and some twenty feet from the ground,

as he well knew,

before the door flew open and the rush upon him took place.

In an incredibly short time he found himself bound with many turns of a hide rope to a high-backed chair,

so that his head alone remained free.

Not till then did Sotillo,

who had been leaning in the doorway trembling visibly,

venture again within.

The soldiers,

picking up from the floor the rifles they had dropped to grapple with the prisoner,

filed out of the room.

The officers remained leaning on their swords and looking on.

"The watch!

the watch!"

raved the colonel,

pacing to and fro like a tiger in a cage.

"Give me that man's watch."

It was true,

that when searched for arms in the hall downstairs,

before being taken into Sotillo's presence,

Captain Mitchell had been relieved of his watch and chain;

but at the colonel's clamour it was produced quickly enough,

a corporal bringing it up,

carried carefully in the palms of his joined hands.

Sotillo snatched it,

and pushed the clenched fist from which it dangled close to Captain Mitchell's face.

"Now then!

You arrogant Englishman!

You dare to call the soldiers of the army thieves!

Behold your watch."

He flourished his fist as if aiming blows at the prisoner's nose.

Captain Mitchell,

helpless as a swathed infant,

looked anxiously at the sixty-guinea gold half-chronometer,

presented to him years ago by a Committee of Underwriters for saving a ship from total loss by fire.



seemed to perceive its valuable appearance.

He became silent suddenly,

stepped aside to the table,

and began a careful examination in the light of the candles.

He had never seen anything so fine.

His officers closed in and craned their necks behind his back.

He became so interested that for an instant he forgot his precious prisoner.

There is always something childish in the rapacity of the passionate,


Southern races,

wanting in the misty idealism of the Northerners,

who at the smallest encouragement dream of nothing less than the conquest of the earth.

Sotillo was fond of jewels,

gold trinkets,

of personal adornment.

After a moment he turned about,

and with a commanding gesture made all his officers fall back.

He laid down the watch on the table,



pushed his hat over it.


he began,

going up very close to the chair.

"You dare call my valiant soldiers of the Esmeralda regiment,


You dare!

What impudence!

You foreigners come here to rob our country of its wealth.

You never have enough!

Your audacity knows no bounds."

He looked towards the officers,

amongst whom there was an approving murmur.

The older major was moved to declare --


mi colonel.

They are all traitors."

"I shall say nothing,"

continued Sotillo,

fixing the motionless and powerless Mitchell with an angry but uneasy stare.

"I shall say nothing of your treacherous attempt to get possession of my revolver to shoot me while I was trying to treat you with consideration you did not deserve.

You have forfeited your life.

Your only hope is in my clemency."

He watched for the effect of his words,

but there was no obvious sign of fear on Captain Mitchell's face.

His white hair was full of dust,

which covered also the rest of his helpless person.

As if he had heard nothing,

he twitched an eyebrow to get rid of a bit of straw which hung amongst the hairs.

Sotillo advanced one leg and put his arms akimbo.

"It is you,


he said,


"who are the thief,

not my soldiers!"

He pointed at his prisoner a forefinger with a long,

almond-shaped nail.

"Where is the silver of the San Tome mine?

I ask you,


where is the silver that was deposited in this Custom House?

Answer me that!

You stole it.

You were a party to stealing it.

It was stolen from the Government.


you think I do not know what I say;

but I am up to your foreign tricks.

It is gone,

the silver!


Gone in one of your lanchas,

you miserable man!

How dared you?"

This time he produced his effect.

"How on earth could Sotillo know that?"

thought Mitchell.

His head,

the only part of his body that could move,

betrayed his surprise by a sudden jerk.


you tremble,"

Sotillo shouted,


"It is a conspiracy.

It is a crime against the State.

Did you not know that the silver belongs to the Republic till the Government claims are satisfied?

Where is it?

Where have you hidden it,

you miserable thief?"

At this question Captain Mitchell's sinking spirits revived.

In whatever incomprehensible manner Sotillo had already got his information about the lighter,

he had not captured it.

That was clear.

In his outraged heart,

Captain Mitchell had resolved that nothing would induce him to say a word while he remained so disgracefully bound,

but his desire to help the escape of the silver made him depart from this resolution.

His wits were very much at work.

He detected in Sotillo a certain air of doubt,

of irresolution.

"That man,"

he said to himself,

"is not certain of what he advances."

For all his pomposity in social intercourse,

Captain Mitchell could meet the realities of life in a resolute and ready spirit.

Now he had got over the first shock of the abominable treatment he was cool and collected enough.

The immense contempt he felt for Sotillo steadied him,

and he said oracularly,

"No doubt it is well concealed by this time."



had time to cool down.

"Muy bien,


he said in a cold and threatening manner.

"But can you produce the Government receipt for the royalty and the Custom House permit of embarkation,


Can you?

No. Then the silver has been removed illegally,

and the guilty shall be made to suffer,

unless it is produced within five days from this."

He gave orders for the prisoner to be unbound and locked up in one of the smaller rooms downstairs.

He walked about the room,

moody and silent,

till Captain Mitchell,

with each of his arms held by a couple of men,

stood up,

shook himself,

and stamped his feet.

"How did you like to be tied up,


he asked,


"It is the most incredible,

abominable use of power!"

Captain Mitchell declared in a loud voice.

"And whatever your purpose,

you shall gain nothing from it,

I can promise you."

The tall colonel,


with his coal-black ringlets and moustache,


as it were,

to look into the eyes of the short,


red-faced prisoner with rumpled white hair.

"That we shall see.

You shall know my power a little better when I tie you up to a potalon outside in the sun for a whole day."

He drew himself up haughtily,

and made a sign for Captain Mitchell to be led away.

"What about my watch?"

cried Captain Mitchell,

hanging back from the efforts of the men pulling him towards the door.

Sotillo turned to his officers.


But only listen to this picaro,


he pronounced with affected scorn,

and was answered by a chorus of derisive laughter.

"He demands his watch!"

...He ran up again to Captain Mitchell,

for the desire to relieve his feelings by inflicting blows and pain upon this Englishman was very strong within him.

"Your watch!

You are a prisoner in war time,


In war time!

You have no rights and no property!


The very breath in your body belongs to me.

Remember that."


said Captain Mitchell,

concealing a disagreeable impression.

Down below,

in a great hall,

with the earthen floor and with a tall mound thrown up by white ants in a corner,

the soldiers had kindled a small fire with broken chairs and tables near the arched gateway,

through which the faint murmur of the harbour waters on the beach could be heard.

While Captain Mitchell was being led down the staircase,

an officer passed him,

running up to report to Sotillo the capture of more prisoners.

A lot of smoke hung about in the vast gloomy place,

the fire crackled,


as if through a haze,

Captain Mitchell made out,

surrounded by short soldiers with fixed bayonets,

the heads of three tall prisoners --the doctor,

the engineer-in-chief,

and the white leonine mane of old Viola,

who stood half-turned away from the others with his chin on his breast and his arms crossed.

Mitchell's astonishment knew no bounds.

He cried out;

the other two exclaimed also.

But he hurried on,


across the big cavern-like hall.

Lots of thoughts,


hints of caution,

and so on,

crowded his head to distraction.

"Is he actually keeping you?"

shouted the chief engineer,

whose single eyeglass glittered in the firelight.

An officer from the top of the stairs was shouting urgently,

"Bring them all up --all three."

In the clamour of voices and the rattle of arms,

Captain Mitchell made himself heard imperfectly:

"By heavens!

the fellow has stolen my watch."

The engineer-in-chief on the staircase resisted the pressure long enough to shout,


What did you say?"

"My chronometer!"

Captain Mitchell yelled violently at the very moment of being thrust head foremost through a small door into a sort of cell,

perfectly black,

and so narrow that he fetched up against the opposite wall.

The door had been instantly slammed.

He knew where they had put him.

This was the strong room of the Custom House,

whence the silver had been removed only a few hours earlier.

It was almost as narrow as a corridor,

with a small square aperture,

barred by a heavy grating,

at the distant end.

Captain Mitchell staggered for a few steps,

then sat down on the earthen floor with his back to the wall.


not even a gleam of light from anywhere,

interfered with Captain Mitchell's meditation.

He did some hard but not very extensive thinking.

It was not of a gloomy cast.

The old sailor,

with all his small weaknesses and absurdities,

was constitutionally incapable of entertaining for any length of time a fear of his personal safety.

It was not so much firmness of soul as the lack of a certain kind of imagination --the kind whose undue development caused intense suffering to Senor Hirsch;

that sort of imagination which adds the blind terror of bodily suffering and of death,

envisaged as an accident to the body alone,

strictly --to all the other apprehensions on which the sense of one's existence is based.


Captain Mitchell had not much penetration of any kind;


illuminating trifles of expression,


or movement,

escaped him completely.

He was too pompously and innocently aware of his own existence to observe that of others.

For instance,

he could not believe that Sotillo had been really afraid of him,

and this simply because it would never have entered into his head to shoot any one except in the most pressing case of self-defence.

Anybody could see he was not a murdering kind of man,

he reflected quite gravely.

Then why this preposterous and insulting charge?

he asked himself.

But his thoughts mainly clung around the astounding and unanswerable question: How the devil the fellow got to know that the silver had gone off in the lighter?

It was obvious that he had not captured it.



he could not have captured it!

In this last conclusion Captain Mitchell was misled by the assumption drawn from his observation of the weather during his long vigil on the wharf.

He thought that there had been much more wind than usual that night in the gulf;


as a matter of fact,

the reverse was the case.

"How in the name of all that's marvellous did that confounded fellow get wind of the affair?"

was the first question he asked directly after the bang,


and flash of the open door

(which was closed again almost before he could lift his dropped head)

informed him that he had a companion of captivity.

Dr. Monygham's voice stopped muttering curses in English and Spanish.

"Is that you,


he made answer,


"I struck my forehead against this confounded wall with enough force to fell an ox.

Where are you?"

Captain Mitchell,

accustomed to the darkness,

could make out the doctor stretching out his hands blindly.

"I am sitting here on the floor.

Don't fall over my legs,"

Captain Mitchell's voice announced with great dignity of tone.

The doctor,

entreated not to walk about in the dark,

sank down to the ground,


The two prisoners of Sotillo,

with their heads nearly touching,

began to exchange confidences.


the doctor related in a low tone to Captain Mitchell's vehement curiosity,

"we have been nabbed in old Viola's place.

It seems that one of their pickets,

commanded by an officer,

pushed as far as the town gate.

They had orders not to enter,

but to bring along every soul they could find on the plain.

We had been talking in there with the door open,

and no doubt they saw the glimmer of our light.

They must have been making their approaches for some time.

The engineer laid himself on a bench in a recess by the fire-place,

and I went upstairs to have a look.

I hadn't heard any sound from there for a long time.

Old Viola,

as soon as he saw me come up,

lifted his arm for silence.

I stole in on tiptoe.

By Jove,

his wife was lying down and had gone to sleep.

The woman had actually dropped off to sleep!

'Senor Doctor,'

Viola whispers to me,

'it looks as if her oppression was going to get better.'


I said,

very much surprised;

'your wife is a wonderful woman,


Just then a shot was fired in the kitchen,

which made us jump and cower as if at a thunder-clap.

It seems that the party of soldiers had stolen quite close up,

and one of them had crept up to the door.

He looked in,

thought there was no one there,


holding his rifle ready,

entered quietly.

The chief told me that he had just closed his eyes for a moment.

When he opened them,

he saw the man already in the middle of the room peering into the dark corners.

The chief was so startled that,

without thinking,

he made one leap from the recess right out in front of the fireplace.

The soldier,

no less startled,

up with his rifle and pulls the trigger,

deafening and singeing the engineer,

but in his flurry missing him completely.


look what happens!

At the noise of the report the sleeping woman sat up,

as if moved by a spring,

with a shriek,

'The children,

Gian' Battista!

Save the children!'

I have it in my ears now.

It was the truest cry of distress I ever heard.

I stood as if paralyzed,

but the old husband ran across to the bedside,

stretching out his hands.

She clung to them!

I could see her eyes go glazed;

the old fellow lowered her down on the pillows and then looked round at me.

She was dead!

All this took less than five minutes,

and then I ran down to see what was the matter.

It was no use thinking of any resistance.

Nothing we two could say availed with the officer,

so I volunteered to go up with a couple of soldiers and fetch down old Viola.

He was sitting at the foot of the bed,

looking at his wife's face,

and did not seem to hear what I said;

but after I had pulled the sheet over her head,

he got up and followed us downstairs quietly,

in a sort of thoughtful way.

They marched us off along the road,

leaving the door open and the candle burning.

The chief engineer strode on without a word,

but I looked back once or twice at the feeble gleam.

After we had gone some considerable distance,

the Garibaldino,

who was walking by my side,

suddenly said,

'I have buried many men on battlefields on this continent.

The priests talk of consecrated ground!


All the earth made by God is holy;

but the sea,

which knows nothing of kings and priests and tyrants,

is the holiest of all.


I should like to bury her in the sea.

No mummeries,



no holy water mumbled over by priests.

The spirit of liberty is upon the waters.'

...Amazing old man.

He was saying all this in an undertone as if talking to himself."



interrupted Captain Mitchell,


"Poor old chap!

But have you any idea how that ruffian Sotillo obtained his information?

He did not get hold of any of our Cargadores who helped with the truck,

did he?

But no,

it is impossible!

These were picked men we've had in our boats for these five years,

and I paid them myself specially for the job,

with instructions to keep out of the way for twenty-four hours at least.

I saw them with my own eyes march on with the Italians to the railway yards.

The chief promised to give them rations as long as they wanted to remain there."


said the doctor,


"I can tell you that you may say good-bye for ever to your best lighter,

and to the Capataz of Cargadores."

At this,

Captain Mitchell scrambled up to his feet in the excess of his excitement.

The doctor,

without giving him time to exclaim,

stated briefly the part played by Hirsch during the night.

Captain Mitchell was overcome.


he muttered,

in a bewildered and appalled whisper.


Afterwards he kept still,

apparently listening,

but too absorbed in the news of the catastrophe to follow the doctor's narrative with attention.

The doctor had taken up an attitude of perfect ignorance,

till at last Sotillo was induced to have Hirsch brought in to repeat the whole story,

which was got out of him again with the greatest difficulty,

because every moment he would break out into lamentations.

At last,

Hirsch was led away,

looking more dead than alive,

and shut up in one of the upstairs rooms to be close at hand.

Then the doctor,

keeping up his character of a man not admitted to the inner councils of the San Tome Administration,

remarked that the story sounded incredible.

Of course,

he said,

he couldn't tell what had been the action of the Europeans,

as he had been exclusively occupied with his own work in looking after the wounded,

and also in attending Don Jose Avellanos.

He had succeeded in assuming so well a tone of impartial indifference,

that Sotillo seemed to be completely deceived.

Till then a show of regular inquiry had been kept up;

one of the officers sitting at the table wrote down the questions and the answers,

the others,

lounging about the room,

listened attentively,

puffing at their long cigars and keeping their eyes on the doctor.

But at that point Sotillo ordered everybody out.


Directly they were alone,

the colonel's severe official manner changed.

He rose and approached the doctor.

His eyes shone with rapacity and hope;

he became confidential.

"The silver might have been indeed put on board the lighter,

but it was not conceivable that it should have been taken out to sea."

The doctor,

watching every word,

nodded slightly,

smoking with apparent relish the cigar which Sotillo had offered him as a sign of his friendly intentions.

The doctor's manner of cold detachment from the rest of the Europeans led Sotillo on,


from conjecture to conjecture,

he arrived at hinting that in his opinion this was a putup job on the part of Charles Gould,

in order to get hold of that immense treasure all to himself.

The doctor,

observant and self-possessed,


"He is very capable of that."

Here Captain Mitchell exclaimed with amazement,


and indignation,

"You said that of Charles Gould!"


and even some suspicion,

crept into his tone,

for to him,


as to other Europeans,

there appeared to be something dubious about the doctor's personality.

"What on earth made you say that to this watch-stealing scoundrel?"

he asked.

"What's the object of an infernal lie of that sort?

That confounded pick-pocket was quite capable of believing you."

He snorted.

For a time the doctor remained silent in the dark.


that is exactly what I did say,"

he uttered at last,

in a tone which would have made it clear enough to a third party that the pause was not of a reluctant but of a reflective character.

Captain Mitchell thought that he had never heard anything so brazenly impudent in his life.



he muttered to himself,

but he had not the heart to voice his thoughts.

They were swept away by others full of astonishment and regret.

A heavy sense of discomfiture crushed him: the loss of the silver,

the death of Nostromo,

which was really quite a blow to his sensibilities,

because he had become attached to his Capataz as people get attached to their inferiors from love of ease and almost unconscious gratitude.

And when he thought of Decoud being drowned,


his sensibility was almost overcome by this miserable end.

What a heavy blow for that poor young woman!

Captain Mitchell did not belong to the species of crabbed old bachelors;

on the contrary,

he liked to see young men paying attentions to young women.

It seemed to him a natural and proper thing.

Proper especially.

As to sailors,

it was different;

it was not their place to marry,

he maintained,

but it was on moral grounds as a matter of self-denial,


he explained,

life on board ship is not fit for a woman even at best,

and if you leave her on shore,

first of all it is not fair,

and next she either suffers from it or doesn't care a bit,


in both cases,

is bad.

He couldn't have told what upset him most --Charles Gould's immense material loss,

the death of Nostromo,

which was a heavy loss to himself,

or the idea of that beautiful and accomplished young woman being plunged into mourning.


the doctor,

who had been apparently reflecting,

began again,

"he believed me right enough.

I thought he would have hugged me.



he said,

'he will write to that partner of his,

the rich Americano in San Francisco,

that it is all lost.

Why not?

There is enough to share with many people.'"

"But this is perfectly imbecile!"

cried Captain Mitchell.

The doctor remarked that Sotillo was imbecile,

and that his imbecility was ingenious enough to lead him completely astray.

He had helped him only but a little way.

"I mentioned,"

the doctor said,

"in a sort of casual way,

that treasure is generally buried in the earth rather than set afloat upon the sea.

At this my Sotillo slapped his forehead.

'Por Dios,


he said;

'they must have buried it on the shores of this harbour somewhere before they sailed out.'"

"Heavens and earth!"

muttered Captain Mitchell,

"I should not have believed that anybody could be ass enough --" He paused,

then went on mournfully:

"But what's the good of all this?

It would have been a clever enough lie if the lighter had been still afloat.

It would have kept that inconceivable idiot perhaps from sending out the steamer to cruise in the gulf.

That was the danger that worried me no end."

Captain Mitchell sighed profoundly.

"I had an object,"

the doctor pronounced,


"Had you?"

muttered Captain Mitchell.


that's lucky,

or else I would have thought that you went on fooling him for the fun of the thing.

And perhaps that was your object.


I must say I personally wouldn't condescend to that sort of thing.

It is not to my taste.



Blackening a friend's character is not my idea of fun,

if it were to fool the greatest blackguard on earth."

Had it not been for Captain Mitchell's depression,

caused by the fatal news,

his disgust of Dr. Monygham would have taken a more outspoken shape;

but he thought to himself that now it really did not matter what that man,

whom he had never liked,

would say and do.

"I wonder,"

he grumbled,

"why they have shut us up together,

or why Sotillo should have shut you up at all,

since it seems to me you have been fairly chummy up there?"


I wonder,"

said the doctor grimly.

Captain Mitchell's heart was so heavy that he would have preferred for the time being a complete solitude to the best of company.

But any company would have been preferable to the doctor's,

at whom he had always looked askance as a sort of beachcomber of superior intelligence partly reclaimed from his abased state.

That feeling led him to ask --

"What has that ruffian done with the other two?"

"The chief engineer he would have let go in any case,"

said the doctor.

"He wouldn't like to have a quarrel with the railway upon his hands.

Not just yet,

at any rate.

I don't think,

Captain Mitchell,

that you understand exactly what Sotillo's position is --"

"I don't see why I should bother my head about it,"

snarled Captain Mitchell.


assented the doctor,

with the same grim composure.

"I don't see why you should.

It wouldn't help a single human being in the world if you thought ever so hard upon any subject whatever."


said Captain Mitchell,


and with evident depression.

"A man locked up in a confounded dark hole is not much use to anybody."

"As to old Viola,"

the doctor continued,

as though he had not heard,

"Sotillo released him for the same reason he is presently going to release you."



exclaimed Captain Mitchell,

staring like an owl in the darkness.

"What is there in common between me and old Viola?

More likely because the old chap has no watch and chain for the pickpocket to steal.

And I tell you what,

Dr. Monygham,"

he went on with rising choler,

"he will find it more difficult than he thinks to get rid of me.

He will burn his fingers over that job yet,

I can tell you.

To begin with,

I won't go without my watch,

and as to the rest --we shall see.

I dare say it is no great matter for you to be locked up.

But Joe Mitchell is a different kind of man,


I don't mean to submit tamely to insult and robbery.

I am a public character,


And then Captain Mitchell became aware that the bars of the opening had become visible,

a black grating upon a square of grey.

The coming of the day silenced Captain Mitchell as if by the reflection that now in all the future days he would be deprived of the invaluable services of his Capataz.

He leaned against the wall with his arms folded on his breast,

and the doctor walked up and down the whole length of the place with his peculiar hobbling gait,

as if slinking about on damaged feet.

At the end furthest from the grating he would be lost altogether in the darkness.

Only the slight limping shuffle could be heard.

There was an air of moody detachment in that painful prowl kept up without a pause.

When the door of the prison was suddenly flung open and his name shouted out he showed no surprise.

He swerved sharply in his walk,

and passed out at once,

as though much depended upon his speed;

but Captain Mitchell remained for some time with his shoulders against the wall,

quite undecided in the bitterness of his spirit whether it wouldn't be better to refuse to stir a limb in the way of protest.

He had half a mind to get himself carried out,

but after the officer at the door had shouted three or four times in tones of remonstrance and surprise he condescended to walk out.

Sotillo's manner had changed.

The colonel's off-hand civility was slightly irresolute,

as though he were in doubt if civility were the proper course in this case.

He observed Captain Mitchell attentively before he spoke from the big armchair behind the table in a condescending voice --

"I have concluded not to detain you,

Senor Mitchell.

I am of a forgiving disposition.

I make allowances.

Let this be a lesson to you,


The peculiar dawn of Sulaco,

which seems to break far away to the westward and creep back into the shade of the mountains,

mingled with the reddish light of the candles.

Captain Mitchell,

in sign of contempt and indifference,

let his eyes roam all over the room,

and he gave a hard stare to the doctor,

perched already on the casement of one of the windows,

with his eyelids lowered,

careless and thoughtful --or perhaps ashamed.


ensconced in the vast armchair,


"I should have thought that the feelings of a caballero would have dictated to you an appropriate reply."

He waited for it,

but Captain Mitchell remaining mute,

more from extreme resentment than from reasoned intention,

Sotillo hesitated,

glanced towards the doctor,

who looked up and nodded,

then went on with a slight effort --


Senor Mitchell,

is your watch.

Learn how hasty and unjust has been your judgment of my patriotic soldiers."

Lying back in his seat,

he extended his arm over the table and pushed the watch away slightly.

Captain Mitchell walked up with undisguised eagerness,

put it to his ear,

then slipped it into his pocket coolly.

Sotillo seemed to overcome an immense reluctance.

Again he looked aside at the doctor,

who stared at him unwinkingly.

But as Captain Mitchell was turning away,

without as much as a nod or a glance,

he hastened to say --

"You may go and wait downstairs for the senor doctor,

whom I am going to liberate,


You foreigners are insignificant,

to my mind."

He forced a slight,

discordant laugh out of himself,

while Captain Mitchell,

for the first time,

looked at him with some interest.

"The law shall take note later on of your transgressions,"

Sotillo hurried on.

"But as for me,

you can live free,



Do you hear,

Senor Mitchell?

You may depart to your affairs.

You are beneath my notice.

My attention is claimed by matters of the very highest importance."

Captain Mitchell was very nearly provoked to an answer.

It displeased him to be liberated insultingly;

but want of sleep,

prolonged anxieties,

a profound disappointment with the fatal ending of the silver-saving business weighed upon his spirits.

It was as much as he could do to conceal his uneasiness,

not about himself perhaps,

but about things in general.

It occurred to him distinctly that something underhand was going on.

As he went out he ignored the doctor pointedly.

"A brute!"

said Sotillo,

as the door shut.

Dr. Monygham slipped off the window-sill,


thrusting his hands into the pockets of the long,

grey dust coat he was wearing,

made a few steps into the room.

Sotillo got up,



putting himself in the way,

examined him from head to foot.

"So your countrymen do not confide in you very much,

senor doctor.

They do not love you,


Why is that,

I wonder?"

The doctor,

lifting his head,

answered by a long,

lifeless stare and the words,

"Perhaps because I have lived too long in Costaguana."

Sotillo had a gleam of white teeth under the black moustache.


But you love yourself,"

he said,


"If you leave them alone,"

the doctor said,

looking with the same lifeless stare at Sotillo's handsome face,

"they will betray themselves very soon.


I may try to make Don Carlos speak?"


senor doctor,"

said Sotillo,

wagging his head,

"you are a man of quick intelligence.

We were made to understand each other."

He turned away.

He could bear no longer that expressionless and motionless stare,

which seemed to have a sort of impenetrable emptiness like the black depth of an abyss.

Even in a man utterly devoid of moral sense there remains an appreciation of rascality which,

being conventional,

is perfectly clear.

Sotillo thought that Dr. Monygham,

so different from all Europeans,

was ready to sell his countrymen and Charles Gould,

his employer,

for some share of the San Tome silver.

Sotillo did not despise him for that.

The colonel's want of moral sense was of a profound and innocent character.

It bordered upon stupidity,

moral stupidity.

Nothing that served his ends could appear to him really reprehensible.


he despised Dr. Monygham.

He had for him an immense and satisfactory contempt.

He despised him with all his heart because he did not mean to let the doctor have any reward at all.

He despised him,

not as a man without faith and honour,

but as a fool.

Dr. Monygham's insight into his character had deceived Sotillo completely.

Therefore he thought the doctor a fool.

Since his arrival in Sulaco the colonel's ideas had undergone some modification.

He no longer wished for a political career in Montero's administration.

He had always doubted the safety of that course.

Since he had learned from the chief engineer that at daylight most likely he would be confronted by Pedro Montero his misgivings on that point had considerably increased.

The guerrillero brother of the general --the Pedrito of popular speech --had a reputation of his own.

He wasn't safe to deal with.

Sotillo had vaguely planned seizing not only the treasure but the town itself,

and then negotiating at leisure.

But in the face of facts learned from the chief engineer

(who had frankly disclosed to him the whole situation)

his audacity,

never of a very dashing kind,

had been replaced by a most cautious hesitation.

"An army --an army crossed the mountains under Pedrito already,"

he had repeated,

unable to hide his consternation.

"If it had not been that I am given the news by a man of your position I would never have believed it.


"An armed force,"

corrected the engineer,


His aim was attained.

It was to keep Sulaco clear of any armed occupation for a few hours longer,

to let those whom fear impelled leave the town.

In the general dismay there were families hopeful enough to fly upon the road towards Los Hatos,

which was left open by the withdrawal of the armed rabble under Senores Fuentes and Gamacho,

to Rincon,

with their enthusiastic welcome for Pedro Montero.

It was a hasty and risky exodus,

and it was said that Hernandez,

occupying with his band the woods about Los Hatos,

was receiving the fugitives.

That a good many people he knew were contemplating such a flight had been well known to the chief engineer.

Father Corbelan's efforts in the cause of that most pious robber had not been altogether fruitless.

The political chief of Sulaco had yielded at the last moment to the urgent entreaties of the priest,

had signed a provisional nomination appointing Hernandez a general,

and calling upon him officially in this new capacity to preserve order in the town.

The fact is that the political chief,

seeing the situation desperate,

did not care what he signed.

It was the last official document he signed before he left the palace of the Intendencia for the refuge of the O.S.N.

Company's office.

But even had he meant his act to be effective it was already too late.

The riot which he feared and expected broke out in less than an hour after Father Corbelan had left him.


Father Corbelan,

who had appointed a meeting with Nostromo in the Dominican Convent,

where he had his residence in one of the cells,

never managed to reach the place.

From the Intendencia he had gone straight on to the Avellanos's house to tell his brother-in-law,

and though he stayed there no more than half an hour he had found himself cut off from his ascetic abode.


after waiting there for some time,

watching uneasily the increasing uproar in the street,

had made his way to the offices of the Porvenir,

and stayed there till daylight,

as Decoud had mentioned in the letter to his sister.

Thus the Capataz,

instead of riding towards the Los Hatos woods as bearer of Hernandez's nomination,

had remained in town to save the life of the President Dictator,

to assist in repressing the outbreak of the mob,

and at last to sail out with the silver of the mine.

But Father Corbelan,

escaping to Hernandez,

had the document in his pocket,

a piece of official writing turning a bandit into a general in a memorable last official act of the Ribierist party,

whose watchwords were honesty,


and progress.

Probably neither the priest nor the bandit saw the irony of it.

Father Corbelan must have found messengers to send into the town,

for early on the second day of the disturbances there were rumours of Hernandez being on the road to Los Hatos ready to receive those who would put themselves under his protection.

A strange-looking horseman,

elderly and audacious,

had appeared in the town,

riding slowly while his eyes examined the fronts of the houses,

as though he had never seen such high buildings before.

Before the cathedral he had dismounted,


kneeling in the middle of the Plaza,

his bridle over his arm and his hat lying in front of him on the ground,

had bowed his head,

crossing himself and beating his breast for some little time.

Remounting his horse,

with a fearless but not unfriendly look round the little gathering formed about his public devotions,

he had asked for the Casa Avellanos.

A score of hands were extended in answer,

with fingers pointing up the Calle de la Constitucion.

The horseman had gone on with only a glance of casual curiosity upwards to the windows of the Amarilla Club at the corner.

His stentorian voice shouted periodically in the empty street,

"Which is the Casa Avellanos?"

till an answer came from the scared porter,

and he disappeared under the gate.

The letter he was bringing,

written by Father Corbelan with a pencil by the camp-fire of Hernandez,

was addressed to Don Jose,

of whose critical state the priest was not aware.

Antonia read it,


after consulting Charles Gould,

sent it on for the information of the gentlemen garrisoning the Amarilla Club.

For herself,

her mind was made up;

she would rejoin her uncle;

she would entrust the last day --the last hours perhaps --of her father's life to the keeping of the bandit,

whose existence was a protest against the irresponsible tyranny of all parties alike,

against the moral darkness of the land.

The gloom of Los Hatos woods was preferable;

a life of hardships in the train of a robber band less debasing.

Antonia embraced with all her soul her uncle's obstinate defiance of misfortune.

It was grounded in the belief in the man whom she loved.

In his message the Vicar-General answered upon his head for Hernandez's fidelity.

As to his power,

he pointed out that he had remained unsubdued for so many years.

In that letter Decoud's idea of the new Occidental State

(whose flourishing and stable condition is a matter of common knowledge now)

was for the first time made public and used as an argument.


ex-bandit and the last general of Ribierist creation,

was confident of being able to hold the tract of country between the woods of Los Hatos and the coast range till that devoted patriot,

Don Martin Decoud,

could bring General Barrios back to Sulaco for the reconquest of the town.

"Heaven itself wills it.

Providence is on our side,"

wrote Father Corbelan;

there was no time to reflect upon or to controvert his statement;

and if the discussion started upon the reading of that letter in the Amarilla Club was violent,

it was also shortlived.

In the general bewilderment of the collapse some jumped at the idea with joyful astonishment as upon the amazing discovery of a new hope.

Others became fascinated by the prospect of immediate personal safety for their women and children.

The majority caught at it as a drowning man catches at a straw.

Father Corbelan was unexpectedly offering them a refuge from Pedrito Montero with his llaneros allied to Senores Fuentes and Gamacho with their armed rabble.

All the latter part of the afternoon an animated discussion went on in the big rooms of the Amarilla Club.

Even those members posted at the windows with rifles and carbines to guard the end of the street in case of an offensive return of the populace shouted their opinions and arguments over their shoulders.

As dusk fell Don Juste Lopez,

inviting those caballeros who were of his way of thinking to follow him,

withdrew into the corredor,

where at a little table in the light of two candles he busied himself in composing an address,

or rather a solemn declaration to be presented to Pedrito Montero by a deputation of such members of Assembly as had elected to remain in town.

His idea was to propitiate him in order to save the form at least of parliamentary institutions.

Seated before a blank sheet of paper,

a goose-quill pen in his hand and surged upon from all sides,

he turned to the right and to the left,

repeating with solemn insistence --


a moment of silence!

A moment of silence!

We ought to make it clear that we bow in all good faith to the accomplished facts."

The utterance of that phrase seemed to give him a melancholy satisfaction.

The hubbub of voices round him was growing strained and hoarse.

In the sudden pauses the excited grimacing of the faces would sink all at once into the stillness of profound dejection.


the exodus had begun.

Carretas full of ladies and children rolled swaying across the Plaza,

with men walking or riding by their side;

mounted parties followed on mules and horses;

the poorest were setting out on foot,

men and women carrying bundles,

clasping babies in their arms,

leading old people,

dragging along the bigger children.

When Charles Gould,

after leaving the doctor and the engineer at the Casa Viola,

entered the town by the harbour gate,

all those that had meant to go were gone,

and the others had barricaded themselves in their houses.

In the whole dark street there was only one spot of flickering lights and moving figures,

where the Senor Administrador recognized his wife's carriage waiting at the door of the Avellanos's house.

He rode up,

almost unnoticed,

and looked on without a word while some of his own servants came out of the gate carrying Don Jose Avellanos,


with closed eyes and motionless features,

appeared perfectly lifeless.

His wife and Antonia walked on each side of the improvised stretcher,

which was put at once into the carriage.

The two women embraced;

while from the other side of the landau Father Corbelan's emissary,

with his ragged beard all streaked with grey,

and high,

bronzed cheek-bones,


sitting upright in the saddle.

Then Antonia,


got in by the side of the stretcher,


after making the sign of the cross rapidly,

lowered a thick veil upon her face.

The servants and the three or four neighbours who had come to assist,

stood back,

uncovering their heads.

On the box,


resigned now to driving all night

(and to having perhaps his throat cut before daylight)

looked back surlily over his shoulder.

"Drive carefully,"

cried Mrs. Gould in a tremulous voice.



si nina,"

he mumbled,

chewing his lips,

his round leathery cheeks quivering.

And the landau rolled slowly out of the light.

"I will see them as far as the ford,"

said Charles Gould to his wife.

She stood on the edge of the sidewalk with her hands clasped lightly,

and nodded to him as he followed after the carriage.

And now the windows of the Amarilla Club were dark.

The last spark of resistance had died out.

Turning his head at the corner,

Charles Gould saw his wife crossing over to their own gate in the lighted patch of the street.

One of their neighbours,

a well-known merchant and landowner of the province,

followed at her elbow,

talking with great gestures.

As she passed in all the lights went out in the street,

which remained dark and empty from end to end.

The houses of the vast Plaza were lost in the night.

High up,

like a star,

there was a small gleam in one of the towers of the cathedral;

and the equestrian statue gleamed pale against the black trees of the Alameda,

like a ghost of royalty haunting the scenes of revolution.

The rare prowlers they met ranged themselves against the wall.

Beyond the last houses the carriage rolled noiselessly on the soft cushion of dust,

and with a greater obscurity a feeling of freshness seemed to fall from the foliage of the trees bordering the country road.

The emissary from Hernandez's camp pushed his horse close to Charles Gould.


he said in an interested voice,

"you are he whom they call the King of Sulaco,

the master of the mine?

Is it not so?"


I am the master of the mine,"

answered Charles Gould.

The man cantered for a time in silence,

then said,

"I have a brother,

a sereno in your service in the San Tome valley.

You have proved yourself a just man.

There has been no wrong done to any one since you called upon the people to work in the mountains.

My brother says that no official of the Government,

no oppressor of the Campo,

has been seen on your side of the stream.

Your own officials do not oppress the people in the gorge.

Doubtless they are afraid of your severity.

You are a just man and a powerful one,"

he added.

He spoke in an abrupt,

independent tone,

but evidently he was communicative with a purpose.

He told Charles Gould that he had been a ranchero in one of the lower valleys,

far south,

a neighbour of Hernandez in the old days,

and godfather to his eldest boy;

one of those who joined him in his resistance to the recruiting raid which was the beginning of all their misfortunes.

It was he that,

when his compadre had been carried off,

had buried his wife and children,

murdered by the soldiers.



he muttered,


"I and two or three others,

the lucky ones left at liberty,

buried them all in one grave near the ashes of their ranch,

under the tree that had shaded its roof."

It was to him,


that Hernandez came after he had deserted,

three years afterwards.

He had still his uniform on with the sergeant's stripes on the sleeve,

and the blood of his colonel upon his hands and breast.

Three troopers followed him,

of those who had started in pursuit but had ridden on for liberty.

And he told Charles Gould how he and a few friends,

seeing those soldiers,

lay in ambush behind some rocks ready to pull the trigger on them,

when he recognized his compadre and jumped up from cover,

shouting his name,

because he knew that Hernandez could not have been coming back on an errand of injustice and oppression.

Those three soldiers,

together with the party who lay behind the rocks,

had formed the nucleus of the famous band,

and he,

the narrator,

had been the favourite lieutenant of Hernandez for many,

many years.

He mentioned proudly that the officials had put a price upon his head,


but it did not prevent it getting sprinkled with grey upon his shoulders.

And now he had lived long enough to see his compadre made a general.

He had a burst of muffled laughter.

"And now from robbers we have become soldiers.

But look,


at those who made us soldiers and him a general!

Look at these people!"

Ignacio shouted.

The light of the carriage lamps,

running along the nopal hedges that crowned the bank on each side,

flashed upon the scared faces of people standing aside in the road,

sunk deep,

like an English country lane,

into the soft soil of the Campo.

They cowered;

their eyes glistened very big for a second;

and then the light,

running on,

fell upon the half-denuded roots of a big tree,

on another stretch of nopal hedge,

caught up another bunch of faces glaring back apprehensively.

Three women --of whom one was carrying a child --and a couple of men in civilian dress --one armed with a sabre and another with a gun --were grouped about a donkey carrying two bundles tied up in blankets.

Further on Ignacio shouted again to pass a carreta,

a long wooden box on two high wheels,

with the door at the back swinging open.

Some ladies in it must have recognized the white mules,

because they screamed out,

"Is it you,

Dona Emilia?"

At the turn of the road the glare of a big fire filled the short stretch vaulted over by the branches meeting overhead.

Near the ford of a shallow stream a roadside rancho of woven rushes and a roof of grass had been set on fire by accident,

and the flames,

roaring viciously,

lit up an open space blocked with horses,


and a distracted,

shouting crowd of people.

When Ignacio pulled up,

several ladies on foot assailed the carriage,

begging Antonia for a seat.

To their clamour she answered by pointing silently to her father.

"I must leave you here,"

said Charles Gould,

in the uproar.

The flames leaped up sky-high,

and in the recoil from the scorching heat across the road the stream of fugitives pressed against the carriage.

A middle-aged lady dressed in black silk,

but with a coarse manta over her head and a rough branch for a stick in her hand,

staggered against the front wheel.

Two young girls,

frightened and silent,

were clinging to her arms.

Charles Gould knew her very well.


We are getting terribly bruised in this crowd!"

she exclaimed,

smiling up courageously to him.

"We have started on foot.

All our servants ran away yesterday to join the democrats.

We are going to put ourselves under the protection of Father Corbelan,

of your sainted uncle,


He has wrought a miracle in the heart of a most merciless robber.

A miracle!"

She raised her voice gradually up to a scream as she was borne along by the pressure of people getting out of the way of some carts coming up out of the ford at a gallop,

with loud yells and cracking of whips.

Great masses of sparks mingled with black smoke flew over the road;

the bamboos of the walls detonated in the fire with the sound of an irregular fusillade.

And then the bright blaze sank suddenly,

leaving only a red dusk crowded with aimless dark shadows drifting in contrary directions;

the noise of voices seemed to die away with the flame;

and the tumult of heads,



and imprecations passed on fleeing into the darkness.

"I must leave you now,"

repeated Charles Gould to Antonia.

She turned her head slowly and uncovered her face.

The emissary and compadre of Hernandez spurred his horse close up.

"Has not the master of the mine any message to send to Hernandez,

the master of the Campo?"

The truth of the comparison struck Charles Gould heavily.

In his determined purpose he held the mine,

and the indomitable bandit held the Campo by the same precarious tenure.

They were equals before the lawlessness of the land.

It was impossible to disentangle one's activity from its debasing contacts.

A close-meshed net of crime and corruption lay upon the whole country.

An immense and weary discouragement sealed his lips for a time.

"You are a just man,"

urged the emissary of Hernandez.

"Look at those people who made my compadre a general and have turned us all into soldiers.

Look at those oligarchs fleeing for life,

with only the clothes on their backs.

My compadre does not think of that,

but our followers may be wondering greatly,

and I would speak for them to you.



For many months now the Campo has been our own.

We need ask no man for anything;

but soldiers must have their pay to live honestly when the wars are over.

It is believed that your soul is so just that a prayer from you would cure the sickness of every beast,

like the orison of the upright judge.

Let me have some words from your lips that would act like a charm upon the doubts of our partida,

where all are men."

"Do you hear what he says?"

Charles Gould said in English to Antonia.

"Forgive us our misery!"

she exclaimed,


"It is your character that is the inexhaustible treasure which may save us all yet;

your character,


not your wealth.

I entreat you to give this man your word that you will accept any arrangement my uncle may make with their chief.

One word.

He will want no more."

On the site of the roadside hut there remained nothing but an enormous heap of embers,

throwing afar a darkening red glow,

in which Antonia's face appeared deeply flushed with excitement.

Charles Gould,

with only a short hesitation,

pronounced the required pledge.

He was like a man who had ventured on a precipitous path with no room to turn,

where the only chance of safety is to press forward.

At that moment he understood it thoroughly as he looked down at Don Jose stretched out,

hardly breathing,

by the side of the erect Antonia,

vanquished in a lifelong struggle with the powers of moral darkness,

whose stagnant depths breed monstrous crimes and monstrous illusions.

In a few words the emissary from Hernandez expressed his complete satisfaction.

Stoically Antonia lowered her veil,

resisting the longing to inquire about Decoud's escape.

But Ignacio leered morosely over his shoulder.

"Take a good look at the mules,

mi amo,"

he grumbled.

"You shall never see them again!"


Charles Gould turned towards the town.

Before him the jagged peaks of the Sierra came out all black in the clear dawn.

Here and there a muffled lepero whisked round the corner of a grass-grown street before the ringing hoofs of his horse.

Dogs barked behind the walls of the gardens;

and with the colourless light the chill of the snows seemed to fall from the mountains upon the disjointed pavements and the shuttered houses with broken cornices and the plaster peeling in patches between the flat pilasters of the fronts.

The daybreak struggled with the gloom under the arcades on the Plaza,

with no signs of country people disposing their goods for the day's market,

piles of fruit,

bundles of vegetables ornamented with flowers,

on low benches under enormous mat umbrellas;

with no cheery early morning bustle of villagers,



and loaded donkeys.

Only a few scattered knots of revolutionists stood in the vast space,

all looking one way from under their slouched hats for some sign of news from Rincon.

The largest of those groups turned about like one man as Charles Gould passed,

and shouted,

"Viva la libertad!"

after him in a menacing tone.

Charles Gould rode on,

and turned into the archway of his house.

In the patio littered with straw,

a practicante,

one of Dr. Monygham's native assistants,

sat on the ground with his back against the rim of the fountain,

fingering a guitar discreetly,

while two girls of the lower class,

standing up before him,

shuffled their feet a little and waved their arms,

humming a popular dance tune.

Most of the wounded during the two days of rioting had been taken away already by their friends and relations,

but several figures could be seen sitting up balancing their bandaged heads in time to the music.

Charles Gould dismounted.

A sleepy mozo coming out of the bakery door took hold of the horse's bridle;

the practicante endeavoured to conceal his guitar hastily;

the girls,


stepped back smiling;

and Charles Gould,

on his way to the staircase,

glanced into a dark corner of the patio at another group,

a mortally wounded Cargador with a woman kneeling by his side;

she mumbled prayers rapidly,

trying at the same time to force a piece of orange between the stiffening lips of the dying man.

The cruel futility of things stood unveiled in the levity and sufferings of that incorrigible people;

the cruel futility of lives and of deaths thrown away in the vain endeavour to attain an enduring solution of the problem.

Unlike Decoud,

Charles Gould could not play lightly a part in a tragic farce.

It was tragic enough for him in all conscience,

but he could see no farcical element.

He suffered too much under a conviction of irremediable folly.

He was too severely practical and too idealistic to look upon its terrible humours with amusement,

as Martin Decoud,

the imaginative materialist,

was able to do in the dry light of his scepticism.

To him,

as to all of us,

the compromises with his conscience appeared uglier than ever in the light of failure.

His taciturnity,

assumed with a purpose,

had prevented him from tampering openly with his thoughts;

but the Gould Concession had insidiously corrupted his judgment.

He might have known,

he said to himself,

leaning over the balustrade of the corredor,

that Ribierism could never come to anything.

The mine had corrupted his judgment by making him sick of bribing and intriguing merely to have his work left alone from day to day.

Like his father,

he did not like to be robbed.

It exasperated him.

He had persuaded himself that,

apart from higher considerations,

the backing up of Don Jose's hopes of reform was good business.

He had gone forth into the senseless fray as his poor uncle,

whose sword hung on the wall of his study,

had gone forth --in the defence of the commonest decencies of organized society.

Only his weapon was the wealth of the mine,

more far-reaching and subtle than an honest blade of steel fitted into a simple brass guard.

More dangerous to the wielder,


this weapon of wealth,

double-edged with the cupidity and misery of mankind,

steeped in all the vices of self-indulgence as in a concoction of poisonous roots,

tainting the very cause for which it is drawn,

always ready to turn awkwardly in the hand.

There was nothing for it now but to go on using it.

But he promised himself to see it shattered into small bits before he let it be wrenched from his grasp.

After all,

with his English parentage and English upbringing,

he perceived that he was an adventurer in Costaguana,

the descendant of adventurers enlisted in a foreign legion,

of men who had sought fortune in a revolutionary war,

who had planned revolutions,

who had believed in revolutions.

For all the uprightness of his character,

he had something of an adventurer's easy morality which takes count of personal risk in the ethical appraising of his action.

He was prepared,

if need be,

to blow up the whole San Tome mountain sky high out of the territory of the Republic.

This resolution expressed the tenacity of his character,

the remorse of that subtle conjugal infidelity through which his wife was no longer the sole mistress of his thoughts,

something of his father's imaginative weakness,

and something,


of the spirit of a buccaneer throwing a lighted match into the magazine rather than surrender his ship.

Down below in the patio the wounded Cargador had breathed his last.

The woman cried out once,

and her cry,

unexpected and shrill,

made all the wounded sit up.

The practicante scrambled to his feet,


guitar in hand,

gazed steadily in her direction with elevated eyebrows.

The two girls --sitting now one on each side of their wounded relative,

with their knees drawn up and long cigars between their lips --nodded at each other significantly.

Charles Gould,

looking down over the balustrade,

saw three men dressed ceremoniously in black frock-coats with white shirts,

and wearing European round hats,

enter the patio from the street.

One of them,

head and shoulders taller than the two others,

advanced with marked gravity,

leading the way.

This was Don Juste Lopez,

accompanied by two of his friends,

members of Assembly,

coming to call upon the Administrador of the San Tome mine at this early hour.

They saw him,


waved their hands to him urgently,

walking up the stairs as if in procession.

Don Juste,

astonishingly changed by having shaved off altogether his damaged beard,

had lost with it nine-tenths of his outward dignity.

Even at that time of serious pre-occupation Charles Gould could not help noting the revealed ineptitude in the aspect of the man.

His companions looked crestfallen and sleepy.

One kept on passing the tip of his tongue over his parched lips;

the other's eyes strayed dully over the tiled floor of the corredor,

while Don Juste,

standing a little in advance,

harangued the Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine.

It was his firm opinion that forms had to be observed.

A new governor is always visited by deputations from the Cabildo,

which is the Municipal Council,

from the Consulado,

the commercial Board,

and it was proper that the Provincial Assembly should send a deputation,


if only to assert the existence of parliamentary institutions.

Don Juste proposed that Don Carlos Gould,

as the most prominent citizen of the province,

should join the Assembly's deputation.

His position was exceptional,

his personality known through the length and breadth of the whole Republic.

Official courtesies must not be neglected,

if they are gone through with a bleeding heart.

The acceptance of accomplished facts may save yet the precious vestiges of parliamentary institutions.

Don Juste's eyes glowed dully;

he believed in parliamentary institutions --and the convinced drone of his voice lost itself in the stillness of the house like the deep buzzing of some ponderous insect.

Charles Gould had turned round to listen patiently,

leaning his elbow on the balustrade.

He shook his head a little,


almost touched by the anxious gaze of the President of the Provincial Assembly.

It was not Charles Gould's policy to make the San Tome mine a party to any formal proceedings.

"My advice,


is that you should wait for your fate in your houses.

There is no necessity for you to give yourselves up formally into Montero's hands.

Submission to the inevitable,

as Don Juste calls it,

is all very well,

but when the inevitable is called Pedrito Montero there is no need to exhibit pointedly the whole extent of your surrender.

The fault of this country is the want of measure in political life.

Flat acquiescence in illegality,

followed by sanguinary reaction --that,


is not the way to a stable and prosperous future."

Charles Gould stopped before the sad bewilderment of the faces,

the wondering,

anxious glances of the eyes.

The feeling of pity for those men,

putting all their trust into words of some sort,

while murder and rapine stalked over the land,

had betrayed him into what seemed empty loquacity.

Don Juste murmured --

"You are abandoning us,

Don Carlos.

...And yet,

parliamentary institutions --"

He could not finish from grief.

For a moment he put his hand over his eyes.

Charles Gould,

in his fear of empty loquacity,

made no answer to the charge.

He returned in silence their ceremonious bows.

His taciturnity was his refuge.

He understood that what they sought was to get the influence of the San Tome mine on their side.

They wanted to go on a conciliating errand to the victor under the wing of the Gould Concession.

Other public bodies --the Cabildo,

the Consulado --would be coming,



seeking the support of the most stable,

the most effective force they had ever known to exist in their province.

The doctor,

arriving with his sharp,

jerky walk,

found that the master had retired into his own room with orders not to be disturbed on any account.

But Dr. Monygham was not anxious to see Charles Gould at once.

He spent some time in a rapid examination of his wounded.

He gazed down upon each in turn,

rubbing his chin between his thumb and forefinger;

his steady stare met without expression their silently inquisitive look.

All these cases were doing well;

but when he came to the dead Cargador he stopped a little longer,

surveying not the man who had ceased to suffer,

but the woman kneeling in silent contemplation of the rigid face,

with its pinched nostrils and a white gleam in the imperfectly closed eyes.

She lifted her head slowly,

and said in a dull voice --

"It is not long since he had become a Cargador --only a few weeks.

His worship the Capataz had accepted him after many entreaties."

"I am not responsible for the great Capataz,"

muttered the doctor,

moving off.

Directing his course upstairs towards the door of Charles Gould's room,

the doctor at the last moment hesitated;


turning away from the handle with a shrug of his uneven shoulders,

slunk off hastily along the corredor in search of Mrs. Gould's camerista.

Leonarda told him that the senora had not risen yet.

The senora had given into her charge the girls belonging to that Italian posadero.



had put them to bed in her own room.

The fair girl had cried herself to sleep,

but the dark one --the bigger --had not closed her eyes yet.

She sat up in bed clutching the sheets right up under her chin and staring before her like a little witch.

Leonarda did not approve of the Viola children being admitted to the house.

She made this feeling clear by the indifferent tone in which she inquired whether their mother was dead yet.

As to the senora,

she must be asleep.

Ever since she had gone into her room after seeing the departure of Dona Antonia with her dying father,

there had been no sound behind her door.

The doctor,

rousing himself out of profound reflection,

told her abruptly to call her mistress at once.

He hobbled off to wait for Mrs. Gould in the sala.

He was very tired,

but too excited to sit down.

In this great drawing-room,

now empty,

in which his withered soul had been refreshed after many arid years and his outcast spirit had accepted silently the toleration of many side-glances,

he wandered haphazard amongst the chairs and tables till Mrs. Gould,

enveloped in a morning wrapper,

came in rapidly.

"You know that I never approved of the silver being sent away,"

the doctor began at once,

as a preliminary to the narrative of his night's adventures in association with Captain Mitchell,

the engineer-in-chief,

and old Viola,

at Sotillo's headquarters.

To the doctor,

with his special conception of this political crisis,

the removal of the silver had seemed an irrational and ill-omened measure.

It was as if a general were sending the best part of his troops away on the eve of battle upon some recondite pretext.

The whole lot of ingots might have been concealed somewhere where they could have been got at for the purpose of staving off the dangers which were menacing the security of the Gould Concession.

The Administrador had acted as if the immense and powerful prosperity of the mine had been founded on methods of probity,

on the sense of usefulness.

And it was nothing of the kind.

The method followed had been the only one possible.

The Gould Concession had ransomed its way through all those years.

It was a nauseous process.

He quite understood that Charles Gould had got sick of it and had left the old path to back up that hopeless attempt at reform.

The doctor did not believe in the reform of Costaguana.

And now the mine was back again in its old path,

with the disadvantage that henceforth it had to deal not only with the greed provoked by its wealth,

but with the resentment awakened by the attempt to free itself from its bondage to moral corruption.

That was the penalty of failure.

What made him uneasy was that Charles Gould seemed to him to have weakened at the decisive moment when a frank return to the old methods was the only chance.

Listening to Decoud's wild scheme had been a weakness.

The doctor flung up his arms,




He hobbled about the room with slight,

angry laughs.

Many years ago both his ankles had been seriously damaged in the course of a certain investigation conducted in the castle of Sta. Marta by a commission composed of military men.

Their nomination had been signified to them unexpectedly at the dead of night,

with scowling brow,

flashing eyes,

and in a tempestuous voice,

by Guzman Bento.

The old tyrant,

maddened by one of his sudden accesses of suspicion,

mingled spluttering appeals to their fidelity with imprecations and horrible menaces.

The cells and casements of the castle on the hill had been already filled with prisoners.

The commission was charged now with the task of discovering the iniquitous conspiracy against the Citizen-Saviour of his country.

Their dread of the raving tyrant translated itself into a hasty ferocity of procedure.

The Citizen-Saviour was not accustomed to wait.

A conspiracy had to be discovered.

The courtyards of the castle resounded with the clanking of leg-irons,

sounds of blows,

yells of pain;

and the commission of high officers laboured feverishly,

concealing their distress and apprehensions from each other,

and especially from their secretary,

Father Beron,

an army chaplain,

at that time very much in the confidence of the Citizen-Saviour.

That priest was a big round-shouldered man,

with an unclean-looking,

overgrown tonsure on the top of his flat head,

of a dingy,

yellow complexion,

softly fat,

with greasy stains all down the front of his lieutenant's uniform,

and a small cross embroidered in white cotton on his left breast.

He had a heavy nose and a pendant lip.

Dr. Monygham remembered him still.

He remembered him against all the force of his will striving its utmost to forget.

Father Beron had been adjoined to the commission by Guzman Bento expressly for the purpose that his enlightened zeal should assist them in their labours.

Dr. Monygham could by no manner of means forget the zeal of Father Beron,

or his face,

or the pitiless,

monotonous voice in which he pronounced the words,

"Will you confess now?"

This memory did not make him shudder,

but it had made of him what he was in the eyes of respectable people,

a man careless of common decencies,

something between a clever vagabond and a disreputable doctor.

But not all respectable people would have had the necessary delicacy of sentiment to understand with what trouble of mind and accuracy of vision Dr. Monygham,

medical officer of the San Tome mine,

remembered Father Beron,

army chaplain,

and once a secretary of a military commission.

After all these years Dr. Monygham,

in his rooms at the end of the hospital building in the San Tome gorge,

remembered Father Beron as distinctly as ever.

He remembered that priest at night,


in his sleep.

On such nights the doctor waited for daylight with a candle lighted,

and walking the whole length of his rooms to and fro,

staring down at his bare feet,

his arms hugging his sides tightly.

He would dream of Father Beron sitting at the end of a long black table,

behind which,

in a row,

appeared the heads,


and epaulettes of the military members,

nibbling the feather of a quill pen,

and listening with weary and impatient scorn to the protestations of some prisoner calling heaven to witness of his innocence,

till he burst out,

"What's the use of wasting time over that miserable nonsense!

Let me take him outside for a while."

And Father Beron would go outside after the clanking prisoner,

led away between two soldiers.

Such interludes happened on many days,

many times,

with many prisoners.

When the prisoner returned he was ready to make a full confession,

Father Beron would declare,

leaning forward with that dull,

surfeited look which can be seen in the eyes of gluttonous persons after a heavy meal.

The priest's inquisitorial instincts suffered but little from the want of classical apparatus of the Inquisition.

At no time of the world's history have men been at a loss how to inflict mental and bodily anguish upon their fellow-creatures.

This aptitude came to them in the growing complexity of their passions and the early refinement of their ingenuity.

But it may safely be said that primeval man did not go to the trouble of inventing tortures.

He was indolent and pure of heart.

He brained his neighbour ferociously with a stone axe from necessity and without malice.

The stupidest mind may invent a rankling phrase or brand the innocent with a cruel aspersion.

A piece of string and a ramrod;

a few muskets in combination with a length of hide rope;

or even a simple mallet of heavy,

hard wood applied with a swing to human fingers or to the joints of a human body is enough for the infliction of the most exquisite torture.

The doctor had been a very stubborn prisoner,


as a natural consequence of that "bad disposition"

(so Father Beron called it),

his subjugation had been very crushing and very complete.

That is why the limp in his walk,

the twist of his shoulders,

the scars on his cheeks were so pronounced.

His confessions,

when they came at last,

were very complete,


Sometimes on the nights when he walked the floor,

he wondered,

grinding his teeth with shame and rage,

at the fertility of his imagination when stimulated by a sort of pain which makes truth,



and life itself matters of little moment.

And he could not forget Father Beron with his monotonous phrase,

"Will you confess now?"

reaching him in an awful iteration and lucidity of meaning through the delirious incoherence of unbearable pain.

He could not forget.

But that was not the worst.

Had he met Father Beron in the street after all these years Dr. Monygham was sure he would have quailed before him.

This contingency was not to be feared now.

Father Beron was dead;

but the sickening certitude prevented Dr. Monygham from looking anybody in the face.

Dr. Monygham had become,

in a manner,

the slave of a ghost.

It was obviously impossible to take his knowledge of Father Beron home to Europe.

When making his extorted confessions to the Military Board,

Dr. Monygham was not seeking to avoid death.

He longed for it.

Sitting half-naked for hours on the wet earth of his prison,

and so motionless that the spiders,

his companions,

attached their webs to his matted hair,

he consoled the misery of his soul with acute reasonings that he had confessed to crimes enough for a sentence of death --that they had gone too far with him to let him live to tell the tale.


as if by a refinement of cruelty,

Dr. Monygham was left for months to decay slowly in the darkness of his grave-like prison.

It was no doubt hoped that it would finish him off without the trouble of an execution;

but Dr. Monygham had an iron constitution.

It was Guzman Bento who died,

not by the knife thrust of a conspirator,

but from a stroke of apoplexy,

and Dr. Monygham was liberated hastily.

His fetters were struck off by the light of a candle,


after months of gloom,

hurt his eyes so much that he had to cover his face with his hands.

He was raised up.

His heart was beating violently with the fear of this liberty.

When he tried to walk the extraordinary lightness of his feet made him giddy,

and he fell down.

Two sticks were thrust into his hands,

and he was pushed out of the passage.

It was dusk;

candles glimmered already in the windows of the officers' quarters round the courtyard;

but the twilight sky dazed him by its enormous and overwhelming brilliance.

A thin poncho hung over his naked,

bony shoulders;

the rags of his trousers came down no lower than his knees;

an eighteen months' growth of hair fell in dirty grey locks on each side of his sharp cheek-bones.

As he dragged himself past the guard-room door,

one of the soldiers,

lolling outside,

moved by some obscure impulse,

leaped forward with a strange laugh and rammed a broken old straw hat on his head.

And Dr. Monygham,

after having tottered,

continued on his way.

He advanced one stick,

then one maimed foot,

then the other stick;

the other foot followed only a very short distance along the ground,


as though it were almost too heavy to be moved at all;

and yet his legs under the hanging angles of the poncho appeared no thicker than the two sticks in his hands.

A ceaseless trembling agitated his bent body,

all his wasted limbs,

his bony head,

the conical,

ragged crown of the sombrero,

whose ample flat rim rested on his shoulders.

In such conditions of manner and attire did Dr. Monygham go forth to take possession of his liberty.

And these conditions seemed to bind him indissolubly to the land of Costaguana like an awful procedure of naturalization,

involving him deep in the national life,

far deeper than any amount of success and honour could have done.

They did away with his Europeanism;

for Dr. Monygham had made himself an ideal conception of his disgrace.

It was a conception eminently fit and proper for an officer and a gentleman.

Dr. Monygham,

before he went out to Costaguana,

had been surgeon in one of Her Majesty's regiments of foot.

It was a conception which took no account of physiological facts or reasonable arguments;

but it was not stupid for all that.

It was simple.

A rule of conduct resting mainly on severe rejections is necessarily simple.

Dr. Monygham's view of what it behoved him to do was severe;

it was an ideal view,

in so much that it was the imaginative exaggeration of a correct feeling.

It was also,

in its force,


and persistency,

the view of an eminently loyal nature.

There was a great fund of loyalty in Dr. Monygham's nature.

He had settled it all on Mrs. Gould's head.

He believed her worthy of every devotion.

At the bottom of his heart he felt an angry uneasiness before the prosperity of the San Tome mine,

because its growth was robbing her of all peace of mind.

Costaguana was no place for a woman of that kind.

What could Charles Gould have been thinking of when he brought her out there!

It was outrageous!

And the doctor had watched the course of events with a grim and distant reserve which,

he imagined,

his lamentable history imposed upon him.

Loyalty to Mrs. Gould could not,


leave out of account the safety of her husband.

The doctor had contrived to be in town at the critical time because he mistrusted Charles Gould.

He considered him hopelessly infected with the madness of revolutions.

That is why he hobbled in distress in the drawing-room of the Casa Gould on that morning,




in a tone of mournful irritation.

Mrs. Gould,

her colour heightened,

and with glistening eyes,

looked straight before her at the sudden enormity of that disaster.

The finger-tips on one hand rested lightly on a low little table by her side,

and the arm trembled right up to the shoulder.

The sun,

which looks late upon Sulaco,

issuing in all the fulness of its power high up on the sky from behind the dazzling snow-edge of Higuerota,

had precipitated the delicate,


pearly greyness of light,

in which the town lies steeped during the early hours,

into sharp-cut masses of black shade and spaces of hot,

blinding glare.

Three long rectangles of sunshine fell through the windows of the sala;

while just across the street the front of the Avellanos's house appeared very sombre in its own shadow seen through the flood of light.

A voice said at the door,

"What of Decoud?"

It was Charles Gould.

They had not heard him coming along the corredor.

His glance just glided over his wife and struck full at the doctor.

"You have brought some news,


Dr. Monygham blurted it all out at once,

in the rough.

For some time after he had done,

the Administrador of the San Tome mine remained looking at him without a word.

Mrs. Gould sank into a low chair with her hands lying on her lap.

A silence reigned between those three motionless persons.

Then Charles Gould spoke --

"You must want some breakfast."

He stood aside to let his wife pass first.

She caught up her husband's hand and pressed it as she went out,

raising her handkerchief to her eyes.

The sight of her husband had brought Antonia's position to her mind,

and she could not contain her tears at the thought of the poor girl.

When she rejoined the two men in the diningroom after having bathed her face,

Charles Gould was saying to the doctor across the table --


there does not seem any room for doubt."

And the doctor assented.


I don't see myself how we could question that wretched Hirsch's tale.

It's only too true,

I fear."

She sat down desolately at the head of the table and looked from one to the other.

The two men,

without absolutely turning their heads away,

tried to avoid her glance.

The doctor even made a show of being hungry;

he seized his knife and fork,

and began to eat with emphasis,

as if on the stage.

Charles Gould made no pretence of the sort;

with his elbows raised squarely,

he twisted both ends of his flaming moustaches --they were so long that his hands were quite away from his face.

"I am not surprised,"

he muttered,

abandoning his moustaches and throwing one arm over the back of his chair.

His face was calm with that immobility of expression which betrays the intensity of a mental struggle.

He felt that this accident had brought to a point all the consequences involved in his line of conduct,

with its conscious and subconscious intentions.

There must be an end now of this silent reserve,

of that air of impenetrability behind which he had been safeguarding his dignity.

It was the least ignoble form of dissembling forced upon him by that parody of civilized institutions which offended his intelligence,

his uprightness,

and his sense of right.

He was like his father.

He had no ironic eye.

He was not amused at the absurdities that prevail in this world.

They hurt him in his innate gravity.

He felt that the miserable death of that poor Decoud took from him his inaccessible position of a force in the background.

It committed him openly unless he wished to throw up the game --and that was impossible.

The material interests required from him the sacrifice of his aloofness --perhaps his own safety too.

And he reflected that Decoud's separationist plan had not gone to the bottom with the lost silver.

The only thing that was not changed was his position towards Mr. Holroyd.

The head of silver and steel interests had entered into Costaguana affairs with a sort of passion.

Costaguana had become necessary to his existence;

in the San Tome mine he had found the imaginative satisfaction which other minds would get from drama,

from art,

or from a risky and fascinating sport.

It was a special form of the great man's extravagance,

sanctioned by a moral intention,

big enough to flatter his vanity.

Even in this aberration of his genius he served the progress of the world.

Charles Gould felt sure of being understood with precision and judged with the indulgence of their common passion.

Nothing now could surprise or startle this great man.

And Charles Gould imagined himself writing a letter to San Francisco in some such words:


...The men at the head of the movement are dead or have fled;

the civil organization of the province is at an end for the present;

the Blanco party in Sulaco has collapsed inexcusably,

but in the characteristic manner of this country.

But Barrios,

untouched in Cayta,

remains still available.

I am forced to take up openly the plan of a provincial revolution as the only way of placing the enormous material interests involved in the prosperity and peace of Sulaco in a position of permanent safety.


That was clear.

He saw these words as if written in letters of fire upon the wall at which he was gazing abstractedly.

Mrs Gould watched his abstraction with dread.

It was a domestic and frightful phenomenon that darkened and chilled the house for her like a thundercloud passing over the sun.

Charles Gould's fits of abstraction depicted the energetic concentration of a will haunted by a fixed idea.

A man haunted by a fixed idea is insane.

He is dangerous even if that idea is an idea of justice;

for may he not bring the heaven down pitilessly upon a loved head?

The eyes of Mrs. Gould,

watching her husband's profile,

filled with tears again.

And again she seemed to see the despair of the unfortunate Antonia.

"What would I have done if Charley had been drowned while we were engaged?"

she exclaimed,


with horror.

Her heart turned to ice,

while her cheeks flamed up as if scorched by the blaze of a funeral pyre consuming all her earthly affections.

The tears burst out of her eyes.

"Antonia will kill herself!"

she cried out.

This cry fell into the silence of the room with strangely little effect.

Only the doctor,

crumbling up a piece of bread,

with his head inclined on one side,

raised his face,

and the few long hairs sticking out of his shaggy eyebrows stirred in a slight frown.

Dr. Monygham thought quite sincerely that Decoud was a singularly unworthy object for any woman's affection.

Then he lowered his head again,

with a curl of his lip,

and his heart full of tender admiration for Mrs. Gould.

"She thinks of that girl,"

he said to himself;

"she thinks of the Viola children;

she thinks of me;

of the wounded;

of the miners;

she always thinks of everybody who is poor and miserable!

But what will she do if Charles gets the worst of it in this infernal scrimmage those confounded Avellanos have drawn him into?

No one seems to be thinking of her."

Charles Gould,

staring at the wall,

pursued his reflections subtly.

"I shall write to Holroyd that the San Tome mine is big enough to take in hand the making of a new State.

It'll please him.

It'll reconcile him to the risk."

But was Barrios really available?


But he was inaccessible.

To send off a boat to Cayta was no longer possible,

since Sotillo was master of the harbour,

and had a steamer at his disposal.

And now,

with all the democrats in the province up,

and every Campo township in a state of disturbance,

where could he find a man who would make his way successfully overland to Cayta with a message,

a ten days' ride at least;

a man of courage and resolution,

who would avoid arrest or murder,

and if arrested would faithfully eat the paper?

The Capataz de Cargadores would have been just such a man.

But the Capataz of the Cargadores was no more.

And Charles Gould,

withdrawing his eyes from the wall,

said gently,

"That Hirsch!

What an extraordinary thing!

Saved himself by clinging to the anchor,

did he?

I had no idea that he was still in Sulaco.

I thought he had gone back overland to Esmeralda more than a week ago.

He came here once to talk to me about his hide business and some other things.

I made it clear to him that nothing could be done."

"He was afraid to start back on account of Hernandez being about,"

remarked the doctor.

"And but for him we might not have known anything of what has happened,"

marvelled Charles Gould.

Mrs. Gould cried out --

"Antonia must not know!

She must not be told.

Not now."

"Nobody's likely to carry the news,"

remarked the doctor.

"It's no one's interest.


the people here are afraid of Hernandez as if he were the devil."

He turned to Charles Gould.

"It's even awkward,

because if you wanted to communicate with the refugees you could find no messenger.

When Hernandez was ranging hundreds of miles away from here the Sulaco populace used to shudder at the tales of him roasting his prisoners alive."


murmured Charles Gould;

"Captain Mitchell's Capataz was the only man in the town who had seen Hernandez eye to eye.

Father Corbelan employed him.

He opened the communications first.

It is a pity that --"

His voice was covered by the booming of the great bell of the cathedral.

Three single strokes,

one after another,

burst out explosively,

dying away in deep and mellow vibrations.

And then all the bells in the tower of every church,


or chapel in town,

even those that had remained shut up for years,

pealed out together with a crash.

In this furious flood of metallic uproar there was a power of suggesting images of strife and violence which blanched Mrs. Gould's cheek.


who had been waiting at table,

shrinking within himself,

clung to the sideboard with chattering teeth.

It was impossible to hear yourself speak.

"Shut these windows!"

Charles Gould yelled at him,


All the other servants,

terrified at what they took for the signal of a general massacre,

had rushed upstairs,

tumbling over each other,

men and women,

the obscure and generally invisible population of the ground floor on the four sides of the patio.

The women,

screaming "Misericordia!"

ran right into the room,


falling on their knees against the walls,

began to cross themselves convulsively.

The staring heads of men blocked the doorway in an instant --mozos from the stable,


nondescript helpers living on the crumbs of the munificent house --and Charles Gould beheld all the extent of his domestic establishment,

even to the gatekeeper.

This was a half-paralyzed old man,

whose long white locks fell down to his shoulders: an heirloom taken up by Charles Gould's familial piety.

He could remember Henry Gould,

an Englishman and a Costaguanero of the second generation,

chief of the Sulaco province;

he had been his personal mozo years and years ago in peace and war;

had been allowed to attend his master in prison;


on the fatal morning,

followed the firing squad;


peeping from behind one of the cypresses growing along the wall of the Franciscan Convent,

had seen,

with his eyes starting out of his head,

Don Enrique throw up his hands and fall with his face in the dust.

Charles Gould noted particularly the big patriarchal head of that witness in the rear of the other servants.

But he was surprised to see a shrivelled old hag or two,

of whose existence within the walls of his house he had not been aware.

They must have been the mothers,

or even the grandmothers of some of his people.

There were a few children,


more or less naked,

crying and clinging to the legs of their elders.

He had never before noticed any sign of a child in his patio.

Even Leonarda,

the camerista,

came in a fright,

pushing through,

with her spoiled,

pouting face of a favourite maid,

leading the Viola girls by the hand.

The crockery rattled on table and sideboard,

and the whole house seemed to sway in the deafening wave of sound.


During the night the expectant populace had taken possession of all the belfries in the town in order to welcome Pedrito Montero,

who was making his entry after having slept the night in Rincon.

And first came straggling in through the land gate the armed mob of all colours,



and states of raggedness,

calling themselves the Sulaco National Guard,

and commanded by Senor Gamacho.

Through the middle of the street streamed,

like a torrent of rubbish,

a mass of straw hats,



with an enormous green and yellow flag flapping in their midst,

in a cloud of dust,

to the furious beating of drums.

The spectators recoiled against the walls of the houses shouting their Vivas!

Behind the rabble could be seen the lances of the cavalry,

the "army" of Pedro Montero.

He advanced between Senores Fuentes and Gamacho at the head of his llaneros,

who had accomplished the feat of crossing the Paramos of the Higuerota in a snow-storm.

They rode four abreast,

mounted on confiscated Campo horses,

clad in the heterogeneous stock of roadside stores they had looted hurriedly in their rapid ride through the northern part of the province;

for Pedro Montero had been in a great hurry to occupy Sulaco.

The handkerchiefs knotted loosely around their bare throats were glaringly new,

and all the right sleeves of their cotton shirts had been cut off close to the shoulder for greater freedom in throwing the lazo.

Emaciated greybeards rode by the side of lean dark youths,

marked by all the hardships of campaigning,

with strips of raw beef twined round the crowns of their hats,

and huge iron spurs fastened to their naked heels.

Those that in the passes of the mountain had lost their lances had provided themselves with the goads used by the Campo cattlemen: slender shafts of palm fully ten feet long,

with a lot of loose rings jingling under the ironshod point.

They were armed with knives and revolvers.

A haggard fearlessness characterized the expression of all these sun-blacked countenances;

they glared down haughtily with their scorched eyes at the crowd,


blinking upwards insolently,

pointed out to each other some particular head amongst the women at the windows.

When they had ridden into the Plaza and caught sight of the equestrian statue of the King dazzlingly white in the sunshine,

towering enormous and motionless above the surges of the crowd,

with its eternal gesture of saluting,

a murmur of surprise ran through their ranks.

"What is that saint in the big hat?"

they asked each other.

They were a good sample of the cavalry of the plains with which Pedro Montero had helped so much the victorious career of his brother the general.

The influence which that man,

brought up in coast towns,

acquired in a short time over the plainsmen of the Republic can be ascribed only to a genius for treachery of so effective a kind that it must have appeared to those violent men but little removed from a state of utter savagery,

as the perfection of sagacity and virtue.

The popular lore of all nations testifies that duplicity and cunning,

together with bodily strength,

were looked upon,

even more than courage,

as heroic virtues by primitive mankind.

To overcome your adversary was the great affair of life.

Courage was taken for granted.

But the use of intelligence awakened wonder and respect.


providing they did not fail,

were honourable;

the easy massacre of an unsuspecting enemy evoked no feelings but those of gladness,


and admiration.

Not perhaps that primitive men were more faithless than their descendants of to-day,

but that they went straighter to their aim,

and were more artless in their recognition of success as the only standard of morality.

We have changed since.

The use of intelligence awakens little wonder and less respect.

But the ignorant and barbarous plainsmen engaging in civil strife followed willingly a leader who often managed to deliver their enemies bound,

as it were,

into their hands.

Pedro Montero had a talent for lulling his adversaries into a sense of security.

And as men learn wisdom with extreme slowness,

and are always ready to believe promises that flatter their secret hopes,

Pedro Montero was successful time after time.

Whether only a servant or some inferior official in the Costaguana Legation in Paris,

he had rushed back to his country directly he heard that his brother had emerged from the obscurity of his frontier commandancia.

He had managed to deceive by his gift of plausibility the chiefs of the Ribierist movement in the capital,

and even the acute agent of the San Tome mine had failed to understand him thoroughly.

At once he had obtained an enormous influence over his brother.

They were very much alike in appearance,

both bald,

with bunches of crisp hair above their ears,

arguing the presence of some negro blood.

Only Pedro was smaller than the general,

more delicate altogether,

with an ape-like faculty for imitating all the outward signs of refinement and distinction,

and with a parrot-like talent for languages.

Both brothers had received some elementary instruction by the munificence of a great European traveller,

to whom their father had been a body-servant during his journeys in the interior of the country.

In General Montero's case it enabled him to rise from the ranks.


the younger,

incorrigibly lazy and slovenly,

had drifted aimlessly from one coast town to another,

hanging about counting-houses,

attaching himself to strangers as a sort of valet-de-place,

picking up an easy and disreputable living.

His ability to read did nothing for him but fill his head with absurd visions.

His actions were usually determined by motives so improbable in themselves as to escape the penetration of a rational person.

Thus at first sight the agent of the Gould Concession in Sta. Marta had credited him with the possession of sane views,

and even with a restraining power over the general's everlastingly discontented vanity.

It could never have entered his head that Pedrito Montero,

lackey or inferior scribe,

lodged in the garrets of the various Parisian hotels where the Costaguana Legation used to shelter its diplomatic dignity,

had been devouring the lighter sort of historical works in the French language,


for instance as the books of Imbert de Saint Amand upon the Second Empire.

But Pedrito had been struck by the splendour of a brilliant court,

and had conceived the idea of an existence for himself where,

like the Duc de Morny,

he would associate the command of every pleasure with the conduct of political affairs and enjoy power supremely in every way.

Nobody could have guessed that.

And yet this was one of the immediate causes of the Monterist Revolution.

This will appear less incredible by the reflection that the fundamental causes were the same as ever,

rooted in the political immaturity of the people,

in the indolence of the upper classes and the mental darkness of the lower.

Pedrito Montero saw in the elevation of his brother the road wide open to his wildest imaginings.

This was what made the Monterist pronunciamiento so unpreventable.

The general himself probably could have been bought off,

pacified with flatteries,

despatched on a diplomatic mission to Europe.

It was his brother who had egged him on from first to last.

He wanted to become the most brilliant statesman of South America.

He did not desire supreme power.

He would have been afraid of its labour and risk,

in fact.

Before all,

Pedrito Montero,

taught by his European experience,

meant to acquire a serious fortune for himself.

With this object in view he obtained from his brother,

on the very morrow of the successful battle,

the permission to push on over the mountains and take possession of Sulaco.

Sulaco was the land of future prosperity,

the chosen land of material progress,

the only province in the Republic of interest to European capitalists.

Pedrito Montero,

following the example of the Duc de Morny,

meant to have his share of this prosperity.

This is what he meant literally.

Now his brother was master of the country,

whether as President,


or even as Emperor --why not as an Emperor?

--he meant to demand a share in every enterprise --in railways,

in mines,

in sugar estates,

in cotton mills,

in land companies,

in each and every undertaking --as the price of his protection.

The desire to be on the spot early was the real cause of the celebrated ride over the mountains with some two hundred llaneros,

an enterprise of which the dangers had not appeared at first clearly to his impatience.

Coming from a series of victories,

it seemed to him that a Montero had only to appear to be master of the situation.

This illusion had betrayed him into a rashness of which he was becoming aware.

As he rode at the head of his llaneros he regretted that there were so few of them.

The enthusiasm of the populace reassured him.

They yelled "Viva Montero!

Viva Pedrito!"

In order to make them still more enthusiastic,

and from the natural pleasure he had in dissembling,

he dropped the reins on his horse's neck,

and with a tremendous effect of familiarity and confidence slipped his hands under the arms of Senores Fuentes and Gamacho.

In that posture,

with a ragged town mozo holding his horse by the bridle,

he rode triumphantly across the Plaza to the door of the Intendencia.

Its old gloomy walls seemed to shake in the acclamations that rent the air and covered the crashing peals of the cathedral bells.

Pedro Montero,

the brother of the general,

dismounted into a shouting and perspiring throng of enthusiasts whom the ragged Nationals were pushing back fiercely.

Ascending a few steps he surveyed the large crowd gaping at him and the bullet-speckled walls of the houses opposite lightly veiled by a sunny haze of dust.

The word "_Pourvenir_" in immense black capitals,

alternating with broken windows,

stared at him across the vast space;

and he thought with delight of the hour of vengeance,

because he was very sure of laying his hands upon Decoud.

On his left hand,


big and hot,

wiping his hairy wet face,

uncovered a set of yellow fangs in a grin of stupid hilarity.

On his right,

Senor Fuentes,

small and lean,

looked on with compressed lips.

The crowd stared literally open-mouthed,

lost in eager stillness,

as though they had expected the great guerrillero,

the famous Pedrito,

to begin scattering at once some sort of visible largesse.

What he began was a speech.

He began it with the shouted word "Citizens!"

which reached even those in the middle of the Plaza.

Afterwards the greater part of the citizens remained fascinated by the orator's action alone,

his tip-toeing,

the arms flung above his head with the fists clenched,

a hand laid flat upon the heart,

the silver gleam of rolling eyes,

the sweeping,


embracing gestures,

a hand laid familiarly on Gamacho's shoulder;

a hand waved formally towards the little black-coated person of Senor Fuentes,

advocate and politician and a true friend of the people.

The vivas of those nearest to the orator bursting out suddenly propagated themselves irregularly to the confines of the crowd,

like flames running over dry grass,

and expired in the opening of the streets.

In the intervals,

over the swarming Plaza brooded a heavy silence,

in which the mouth of the orator went on opening and shutting,

and detached phrases --"The happiness of the people,"

"Sons of the country,"

"The entire world,

el mundo entiero" --reached even the packed steps of the cathedral with a feeble clear ring,

thin as the buzzing of a mosquito.

But the orator struck his breast;

he seemed to prance between his two supporters.

It was the supreme effort of his peroration.

Then the two smaller figures disappeared from the public gaze and the enormous Gamacho,

left alone,


raising his hat high above his head.

Then he covered himself proudly and yelled out,


A dull roar greeted Senor Gamacho,

ex-pedlar of the Campo,

Commandante of the National Guards.

Upstairs Pedrito Montero walked about rapidly from one wrecked room of the Intendencia to another,

snarling incessantly --

"What stupidity!

What destruction!"

Senor Fuentes,


would relax his taciturn disposition to murmur --

"It is all the work of Gamacho and his Nationals;"

and then,

inclining his head on his left shoulder,

would press together his lips so firmly that a little hollow would appear at each corner.

He had his nomination for Political Chief of the town in his pocket,

and was all impatience to enter upon his functions.

In the long audience room,

with its tall mirrors all starred by stones,

the hangings torn down and the canopy over the platform at the upper end pulled to pieces,

the vast,

deep muttering of the crowd and the howling voice of Gamacho speaking just below reached them through the shutters as they stood idly in dimness and desolation.

"The brute!"

observed his Excellency Don Pedro Montero through clenched teeth.

"We must contrive as quickly as possible to send him and his Nationals out there to fight Hernandez."

The new Gefe Politico only jerked his head sideways,

and took a puff at his cigarette in sign of his agreement with this method for ridding the town of Gamacho and his inconvenient rabble.

Pedrito Montero looked with disgust at the absolutely bare floor,

and at the belt of heavy gilt picture-frames running round the room,

out of which the remnants of torn and slashed canvases fluttered like dingy rags.

"We are not barbarians,"

he said.

This was what said his Excellency,

the popular Pedrito,

the guerrillero skilled in the art of laying ambushes,

charged by his brother at his own demand with the organization of Sulaco on democratic principles.

The night before,

during the consultation with his partisans,

who had come out to meet him in Rincon,

he had opened his intentions to Senor Fuentes --

"We shall organize a popular vote,

by yes or no,

confiding the destinies of our beloved country to the wisdom and valiance of my heroic brother,

the invincible general.

A plebiscite.

Do you understand?"

And Senor Fuentes,

puffing out his leathery cheeks,

had inclined his head slightly to the left,

letting a thin,

bluish jet of smoke escape through his pursed lips.

He had understood.

His Excellency was exasperated at the devastation.

Not a single chair,



etagere or console had been left in the state rooms of the Intendencia.

His Excellency,

though twitching all over with rage,

was restrained from bursting into violence by a sense of his remoteness and isolation.

His heroic brother was very far away.


how was he going to take his siesta?

He had expected to find comfort and luxury in the Intendencia after a year of hard camp life,

ending with the hardships and privations of the daring dash upon Sulaco --upon the province which was worth more in wealth and influence than all the rest of the Republic's territory.

He would get even with Gamacho by-and-by.

And Senor Gamacho's oration,

delectable to popular ears,

went on in the heat and glare of the Plaza like the uncouth howlings of an inferior sort of devil cast into a white-hot furnace.

Every moment he had to wipe his streaming face with his bare fore-arm;

he had flung off his coat,

and had turned up the sleeves of his shirt high above the elbows;

but he kept on his head the large cocked hat with white plumes.

His ingenuousness cherished this sign of his rank as Commandante of the National Guards.

Approving and grave murmurs greeted his periods.

His opinion was that war should be declared at once against France,



and the United States,


by introducing railways,

mining enterprises,


and under such other shallow pretences,

aimed at robbing poor people of their lands,

and with the help of these Goths and paralytics,

the aristocrats would convert them into toiling and miserable slaves.

And the leperos,

flinging about the corners of their dirty white mantas,

yelled their approbation.

General Montero,

Gamacho howled with conviction,

was the only man equal to the patriotic task.

They assented to that,


The morning was wearing on;

there were already signs of disruption,

currents and eddies in the crowd.

Some were seeking the shade of the walls and under the trees of the Alameda.

Horsemen spurred through,


groups of sombreros set level on heads against the vertical sun were drifting away into the streets,

where the open doors of pulperias revealed an enticing gloom resounding with the gentle tinkling of guitars.

The National Guards were thinking of siesta,

and the eloquence of Gamacho,

their chief,

was exhausted.

Later on,


in the cooler hours of the afternoon,

they tried to assemble again for further consideration of public affairs,

detachments of Montero's cavalry camped on the Alameda charged them without parley,

at speed,

with long lances levelled at their flying backs as far as the ends of the streets.

The National Guards of Sulaco were surprised by this proceeding.

But they were not indignant.

No Costaguanero had ever learned to question the eccentricities of a military force.

They were part of the natural order of things.

This must be,

they concluded,

some kind of administrative measure,

no doubt.

But the motive of it escaped their unaided intelligence,

and their chief and orator,


Commandante of the National Guard,

was lying drunk and asleep in the bosom of his family.

His bare feet were upturned in the shadows repulsively,

in the manner of a corpse.

His eloquent mouth had dropped open.

His youngest daughter,

scratching her head with one hand,

with the other waved a green bough over his scorched and peeling face.


The declining sun had shifted the shadows from west to east amongst the houses of the town.

It had shifted them upon the whole extent of the immense Campo,

with the white walls of its haciendas on the knolls dominating the green distances;

with its grass-thatched ranches crouching in the folds of ground by the banks of streams;

with the dark islands of clustered trees on a clear sea of grass,

and the precipitous range of the Cordillera,

immense and motionless,

emerging from the billows of the lower forests like the barren coast of a land of giants.

The sunset rays striking the snow-slope of Higuerota from afar gave it an air of rosy youth,

while the serrated mass of distant peaks remained black,

as if calcined in the fiery radiance.

The undulating surface of the forests seemed powdered with pale gold dust;

and away there,

beyond Rincon,

hidden from the town by two wooded spurs,

the rocks of the San Tome gorge,

with the flat wall of the mountain itself crowned by gigantic ferns,

took on warm tones of brown and yellow,

with red rusty streaks,

and the dark green clumps of bushes rooted in crevices.

From the plain the stamp sheds and the houses of the mine appeared dark and small,

high up,

like the nests of birds clustered on the ledges of a cliff.

The zigzag paths resembled faint tracings scratched on the wall of a cyclopean blockhouse.

To the two serenos of the mine on patrol duty,


carbine in hand,

and watchful eyes,

in the shade of the trees lining the stream near the bridge,

Don Pepe,

descending the path from the upper plateau,

appeared no bigger than a large beetle.

With his air of aimless,

insect-like going to and fro upon the face of the rock,

Don Pepe's figure kept on descending steadily,


when near the bottom,

sank at last behind the roofs of store-houses,


and workshops.

For a time the pair of serenos strolled back and forth before the bridge,

on which they had stopped a horseman holding a large white envelope in his hand.

Then Don Pepe,

emerging in the village street from amongst the houses,

not a stone's throw from the frontier bridge,


striding in wide dark trousers tucked into boots,

a white linen jacket,

sabre at his side,

and revolver at his belt.

In this disturbed time nothing could find the Senor Gobernador with his boots off,

as the saying is.

At a slight nod from one of the serenos,

the man,

a messenger from the town,


and crossed the bridge,

leading his horse by the bridle.

Don Pepe received the letter from his other hand,

slapped his left side and his hips in succession,

feeling for his spectacle case.

After settling the heavy silvermounted affair astride his nose,

and adjusting it carefully behind his ears,

he opened the envelope,

holding it up at about a foot in front of his eyes.

The paper he pulled out contained some three lines of writing.

He looked at them for a long time.

His grey moustache moved slightly up and down,

and the wrinkles,

radiating at the corners of his eyes,

ran together.

He nodded serenely.


he said.

"There is no answer."


in his quiet,

kindly way,

he engaged in a cautious conversation with the man,

who was willing to talk cheerily,

as if something lucky had happened to him recently.

He had seen from a distance Sotillo's infantry camped along the shore of the harbour on each side of the Custom House.

They had done no damage to the buildings.

The foreigners of the railway remained shut up within the yards.

They were no longer anxious to shoot poor people.

He cursed the foreigners;

then he reported Montero's entry and the rumours of the town.

The poor were going to be made rich now.

That was very good.

More he did not know,


breaking into propitiatory smiles,

he intimated that he was hungry and thirsty.

The old major directed him to go to the alcalde of the first village.

The man rode off,

and Don Pepe,

striding slowly in the direction of a little wooden belfry,

looked over a hedge into a little garden,

and saw Father Roman sitting in a white hammock slung between two orange trees in front of the presbytery.

An enormous tamarind shaded with its dark foliage the whole white framehouse.

A young Indian girl with long hair,

big eyes,

and small hands and feet,

carried out a wooden chair,

while a thin old woman,

crabbed and vigilant,

watched her all the time from the verandah.

Don Pepe sat down in the chair and lighted a cigar;

the priest drew in an immense quantity of snuff out of the hollow of his palm.

On his reddish-brown face,


hollowed as if crumbled,

the eyes,

fresh and candid,

sparkled like two black diamonds.

Don Pepe,

in a mild and humorous voice,

informed Father Roman that Pedrito Montero,

by the hand of Senor Fuentes,

had asked him on what terms he would surrender the mine in proper working order to a legally constituted commission of patriotic citizens,

escorted by a small military force.

The priest cast his eyes up to heaven.


Don Pepe continued,

the mozo who brought the letter said that Don Carlos Gould was alive,

and so far unmolested.

Father Roman expressed in a few words his thankfulness at hearing of the Senor Administrador's safety.

The hour of oration had gone by in the silvery ringing of a bell in the little belfry.

The belt of forest closing the entrance of the valley stood like a screen between the low sun and the street of the village.

At the other end of the rocky gorge,

between the walls of basalt and granite,

a forest-clad mountain,

hiding all the range from the San Tome dwellers,

rose steeply,

lighted up and leafy to the very top.

Three small rosy clouds hung motionless overhead in the great depth of blue.

Knots of people sat in the street between the wattled huts.

Before the casa of the alcalde,

the foremen of the night-shift,

already assembled to lead their men,

squatted on the ground in a circle of leather skull-caps,


bowing their bronze backs,

were passing round the gourd of mate.

The mozo from the town,

having fastened his horse to a wooden post before the door,

was telling them the news of Sulaco as the blackened gourd of the decoction passed from hand to hand.

The grave alcalde himself,

in a white waistcloth and a flowered chintz gown with sleeves,

open wide upon his naked stout person with an effect of a gaudy bathing robe,

stood by,

wearing a rough beaver hat at the back of his head,

and grasping a tall staff with a silver knob in his hand.

These insignia of his dignity had been conferred upon him by the Administration of the mine,

the fountain of honour,

of prosperity,

and peace.

He had been one of the first immigrants into this valley;

his sons and sons-in-law worked within the mountain which seemed with its treasures to pour down the thundering ore shoots of the upper mesa,

the gifts of well-being,


and justice upon the toilers.

He listened to the news from the town with curiosity and indifference,

as if concerning another world than his own.

And it was true that they appeared to him so.

In a very few years the sense of belonging to a powerful organization had been developed in these harassed,

half-wild Indians.

They were proud of,

and attached to,

the mine.

It had secured their confidence and belief.

They invested it with a protecting and invincible virtue as though it were a fetish made by their own hands,

for they were ignorant,

and in other respects did not differ appreciably from the rest of mankind which puts infinite trust in its own creations.

It never entered the alcalde's head that the mine could fail in its protection and force.

Politics were good enough for the people of the town and the Campo.

His yellow,

round face,

with wide nostrils,

and motionless in expression,

resembled a fierce full moon.

He listened to the excited vapourings of the mozo without misgivings,

without surprise,

without any active sentiment whatever.

Padre Roman sat dejectedly balancing himself,

his feet just touching the ground,

his hands gripping the edge of the hammock.

With less confidence,

but as ignorant as his flock,

he asked the major what did he think was going to happen now.

Don Pepe,

bolt upright in the chair,

folded his hands peacefully on the hilt of his sword,

standing perpendicular between his thighs,

and answered that he did not know.

The mine could be defended against any force likely to be sent to take possession.

On the other hand,

from the arid character of the valley,

when the regular supplies from the Campo had been cut off,

the population of the three villages could be starved into submission.

Don Pepe exposed these contingencies with serenity to Father Roman,


as an old campaigner,

was able to understand the reasoning of a military man.

They talked with simplicity and directness.

Father Roman was saddened at the idea of his flock being scattered or else enslaved.

He had no illusions as to their fate,

not from penetration,

but from long experience of political atrocities,

which seemed to him fatal and unavoidable in the life of a State.

The working of the usual public institutions presented itself to him most distinctly as a series of calamities overtaking private individuals and flowing logically from each other through hate,



and rapacity,

as though they had been part of a divine dispensation.

Father Roman's clear-sightedness was served by an uninformed intelligence;

but his heart,

preserving its tenderness amongst scenes of carnage,


and violence,

abhorred these calamities the more as his association with the victims was closer.

He entertained towards the Indians of the valley feelings of paternal scorn.

He had been marrying,




and burying the workers of the San Tome mine with dignity and unction for five years or more;

and he believed in the sacredness of these ministrations,

which made them his own in a spiritual sense.

They were dear to his sacerdotal supremacy.

Mrs. Gould's earnest interest in the concerns of these people enhanced their importance in the priest's eyes,

because it really augmented his own.

When talking over with her the innumerable Marias and Brigidas of the villages,

he felt his own humanity expand.

Padre Roman was incapable of fanaticism to an almost reprehensible degree.

The English senora was evidently a heretic;

but at the same time she seemed to him wonderful and angelic.

Whenever that confused state of his feelings occurred to him,

while strolling,

for instance,

his breviary under his arm,

in the wide shade of the tamarind,

he would stop short to inhale with a strong snuffling noise a large quantity of snuff,

and shake his head profoundly.

At the thought of what might befall the illustrious senora presently,

he became gradually overcome with dismay.

He voiced it in an agitated murmur.

Even Don Pepe lost his serenity for a moment.

He leaned forward stiffly.



The very fact that those thieving macaques in Sulaco are trying to find out the price of my honour proves that Senor Don Carlos and all in the Casa Gould are safe.

As to my honour,

that also is safe,

as every man,


and child knows.

But the negro Liberals who have snatched the town by surprise do not know that.


Let them sit and wait.

While they wait they can do no harm."

And he regained his composure.

He regained it easily,

because whatever happened his honour of an old officer of Paez was safe.

He had promised Charles Gould that at the approach of an armed force he would defend the gorge just long enough to give himself time to destroy scientifically the whole plant,


and workshops of the mine with heavy charges of dynamite;

block with ruins the main tunnel,

break down the pathways,

blow up the dam of the water-power,

shatter the famous Gould Concession into fragments,

flying sky high out of a horrified world.

The mine had got hold of Charles Gould with a grip as deadly as ever it had laid upon his father.

But this extreme resolution had seemed to Don Pepe the most natural thing in the world.

His measures had been taken with judgment.

Everything was prepared with a careful completeness.

And Don Pepe folded his hands pacifically on his sword hilt,

and nodded at the priest.

In his excitement,

Father Roman had flung snuff in handfuls at his face,


all besmeared with tobacco,


and beside himself,

had got out of the hammock to walk about,

uttering exclamations.

Don Pepe stroked his grey and pendant moustache,

whose fine ends hung far below the clean-cut line of his jaw,

and spoke with a conscious pride in his reputation.



I don't know what will happen.

But I know that as long as I am here Don Carlos can speak to that macaque,

Pedrito Montero,

and threaten the destruction of the mine with perfect assurance that he will be taken seriously.

For people know me."

He began to turn the cigar in his lips a little nervously,

and went on --

"But that is talk --good for the politicos.

I am a military man.

I do not know what may happen.

But I know what ought to be done --the mine should march upon the town with guns,


knives tied up to sticks --por Dios.

That is what should be done.

Only --"

His folded hands twitched on the hilt.

The cigar turned faster in the corner of his lips.

"And who should lead but I?

Unfortunately --observe --I have given my word of honour to Don Carlos not to let the mine fall into the hands of these thieves.

In war --you know this,

Padre --the fate of battles is uncertain,

and whom could I leave here to act for me in case of defeat?

The explosives are ready.

But it would require a man of high honour,

of intelligence,

of judgment,

of courage,

to carry out the prepared destruction.

Somebody I can trust with my honour as I can trust myself.

Another old officer of Paez,

for instance.

Or --or --perhaps one of Paez's old chaplains would do."

He got up,





with his martial moustache and the bony structure of his face,

from which the glance of the sunken eyes seemed to transfix the priest,

who stood still,

an empty wooden snuff-box held upside down in his hand,

and glared back,


at the governor of the mine.


At about that time,

in the Intendencia of Sulaco,

Charles Gould was assuring Pedrito Montero,

who had sent a request for his presence there,

that he would never let the mine pass out of his hands for the profit of a Government who had robbed him of it.

The Gould Concession could not be resumed.

His father had not desired it.

The son would never surrender it.

He would never surrender it alive.

And once dead,

where was the power capable of resuscitating such an enterprise in all its vigour and wealth out of the ashes and ruin of destruction?

There was no such power in the country.

And where was the skill and capital abroad that would condescend to touch such an ill-omened corpse?

Charles Gould talked in the impassive tone which had for many years served to conceal his anger and contempt.

He suffered.

He was disgusted with what he had to say.

It was too much like heroics.

In him the strictly practical instinct was in profound discord with the almost mystic view he took of his right.

The Gould Concession was symbolic of abstract justice.

Let the heavens fall.

But since the San Tome mine had developed into world-wide fame his threat had enough force and effectiveness to reach the rudimentary intelligence of Pedro Montero,

wrapped up as it was in the futilities of historical anecdotes.

The Gould Concession was a serious asset in the country's finance,


what was more,

in the private budgets of many officials as well.

It was traditional.

It was known.

It was said.

It was credible.

Every Minister of Interior drew a salary from the San Tome mine.

It was natural.

And Pedrito intended to be Minister of the Interior and President of the Council in his brother's Government.

The Duc de Morny had occupied those high posts during the Second French Empire with conspicuous advantage to himself.

A table,

a chair,

a wooden bedstead had been procured for His Excellency,


after a short siesta,

rendered absolutely necessary by the labours and the pomps of his entry into Sulaco,

had been getting hold of the administrative machine by making appointments,

giving orders,

and signing proclamations.

Alone with Charles Gould in the audience room,

His Excellency managed with his well-known skill to conceal his annoyance and consternation.

He had begun at first to talk loftily of confiscation,

but the want of all proper feeling and mobility in the Senor Administrador's features ended by affecting adversely his power of masterful expression.

Charles Gould had repeated:

"The Government can certainly bring about the destruction of the San Tome mine if it likes;

but without me it can do nothing else."

It was an alarming pronouncement,

and well calculated to hurt the sensibilities of a politician whose mind is bent upon the spoils of victory.

And Charles Gould said also that the destruction of the San Tome mine would cause the ruin of other undertakings,

the withdrawal of European capital,

the withholding,

most probably,

of the last instalment of the foreign loan.

That stony fiend of a man said all these things

(which were accessible to His Excellency's intelligence)

in a coldblooded manner which made one shudder.

A long course of reading historical works,

light and gossipy in tone,

carried out in garrets of Parisian hotels,

sprawling on an untidy bed,

to the neglect of his duties,

menial or otherwise,

had affected the manners of Pedro Montero.

Had he seen around him the splendour of the old Intendencia,

the magnificent hangings,

the gilt furniture ranged along the walls;

had he stood upon a dais on a noble square of red carpet,

he would have probably been very dangerous from a sense of success and elevation.

But in this sacked and devastated residence,

with the three pieces of common furniture huddled up in the middle of the vast apartment,

Pedrito's imagination was subdued by a feeling of insecurity and impermanence.

That feeling and the firm attitude of Charles Gould who had not once,

so far,

pronounced the word "Excellency,"

diminished him in his own eyes.

He assumed the tone of an enlightened man of the world,

and begged Charles Gould to dismiss from his mind every cause for alarm.

He was now conversing,

he reminded him,

with the brother of the master of the country,

charged with a reorganizing mission.

The trusted brother of the master of the country,

he repeated.

Nothing was further from the thoughts of that wise and patriotic hero than ideas of destruction.

"I entreat you,

Don Carlos,

not to give way to your anti-democratic prejudices,"

he cried,

in a burst of condescending effusion.

Pedrito Montero surprised one at first sight by the vast development of his bald forehead,

a shiny yellow expanse between the crinkly coal-black tufts of hair without any lustre,

the engaging form of his mouth,

and an unexpectedly cultivated voice.

But his eyes,

very glistening as if freshly painted on each side of his hooked nose,

had a round,


birdlike stare when opened fully.



he narrowed them agreeably,

throwing his square chin up and speaking with closed teeth slightly through the nose,

with what he imagined to be the manner of a grand seigneur.

In that attitude,

he declared suddenly that the highest expression of democracy was Caesarism: the imperial rule based upon the direct popular vote.

Caesarism was conservative.

It was strong.

It recognized the legitimate needs of democracy which requires orders,


and distinctions.

They would be showered upon deserving men.

Caesarism was peace.

It was progressive.

It secured the prosperity of a country.

Pedrito Montero was carried away.

Look at what the Second Empire had done for France.

It was a regime which delighted to honour men of Don Carlos's stamp.

The Second Empire fell,

but that was because its chief was devoid of that military genius which had raised General Montero to the pinnacle of fame and glory.

Pedrito elevated his hand jerkily to help the idea of pinnacle,

of fame.

"We shall have many talks yet.

We shall understand each other thoroughly,

Don Carlos!"

he cried in a tone of fellowship.

Republicanism had done its work.

Imperial democracy was the power of the future.


the guerrillero,

showing his hand,

lowered his voice forcibly.

A man singled out by his fellow-citizens for the honourable nickname of El Rey de Sulaco could not but receive a full recognition from an imperial democracy as a great captain of industry and a person of weighty counsel,

whose popular designation would be soon replaced by a more solid title.


Don Carlos?


What do you say?

Conde de Sulaco --Eh?

--or marquis ..."

He ceased.

The air was cool on the Plaza,

where a patrol of cavalry rode round and round without penetrating into the streets,

which resounded with shouts and the strumming of guitars issuing from the open doors of pulperias.

The orders were not to interfere with the enjoyments of the people.

And above the roofs,

next to the perpendicular lines of the cathedral towers the snowy curve of Higuerota blocked a large space of darkening blue sky before the windows of the Intendencia.

After a time Pedrito Montero,

thrusting his hand in the bosom of his coat,

bowed his head with slow dignity.

The audience was over.

Charles Gould on going out passed his hand over his forehead as if to disperse the mists of an oppressive dream,

whose grotesque extravagance leaves behind a subtle sense of bodily danger and intellectual decay.

In the passages and on the staircases of the old palace Montero's troopers lounged about insolently,

smoking and making way for no one;

the clanking of sabres and spurs resounded all over the building.

Three silent groups of civilians in severe black waited in the main gallery,

formal and helpless,

a little huddled up,

each keeping apart from the others,

as if in the exercise of a public duty they had been overcome by a desire to shun the notice of every eye.

These were the deputations waiting for their audience.

The one from the Provincial Assembly,

more restless and uneasy in its corporate expression,

was overtopped by the big face of Don Juste Lopez,

soft and white,

with prominent eyelids and wreathed in impenetrable solemnity as if in a dense cloud.

The President of the Provincial Assembly,

coming bravely to save the last shred of parliamentary institutions

(on the English model),

averted his eyes from the Administrador of the San Tome mine as a dignified rebuke of his little faith in that only saving principle.

The mournful severity of that reproof did not affect Charles Gould,

but he was sensible to the glances of the others directed upon him without reproach,

as if only to read their own fate upon his face.

All of them had talked,


and declaimed in the great sala of the Casa Gould.

The feeling of compassion for those men,

struck with a strange impotence in the toils of moral degradation,

did not induce him to make a sign.

He suffered from his fellowship in evil with them too much.

He crossed the Plaza unmolested.

The Amarilla Club was full of festive ragamuffins.

Their frowsy heads protruded from every window,

and from within came drunken shouts,

the thumping of feet,

and the twanging of harps.

Broken bottles strewed the pavement below.

Charles Gould found the doctor still in his house.

Dr. Monygham came away from the crack in the shutter through which he had been watching the street.


You are back at last!"

he said in a tone of relief.

"I have been telling Mrs. Gould that you were perfectly safe,

but I was not by any means certain that the fellow would have let you go."

"Neither was I,"

confessed Charles Gould,

laying his hat on the table.

"You will have to take action."

The silence of Charles Gould seemed to admit that this was the only course.

This was as far as Charles Gould was accustomed to go towards expressing his intentions.

"I hope you did not warn Montero of what you mean to do,"

the doctor said,


"I tried to make him see that the existence of the mine was bound up with my personal safety,"

continued Charles Gould,

looking away from the doctor,

and fixing his eyes upon the water-colour sketch upon the wall.

"He believed you?"

the doctor asked,


"God knows!"

said Charles Gould.

"I owed it to my wife to say that much.

He is well enough informed.

He knows that I have Don Pepe there.

Fuentes must have told him.

They know that the old major is perfectly capable of blowing up the San Tome mine without hesitation or compunction.

Had it not been for that I don't think I'd have left the Intendencia a free man.

He would blow everything up from loyalty and from hate --from hate of these Liberals,

as they call themselves.


The words one knows so well have a nightmarish meaning in this country.




government --all of them have a flavour of folly and murder.

Haven't they,


...I alone can restrain Don Pepe.

If they were to --to do away with me,

nothing could prevent him."

"They will try to tamper with him,"

the doctor suggested,


"It is very possible,"

Charles Gould said very low,

as if speaking to himself,

and still gazing at the sketch of the San Tome gorge upon the wall.


I expect they will try that."

Charles Gould looked for the first time at the doctor.

"It would give me time,"

he added.


said Dr. Monygham,

suppressing his excitement.

"Especially if Don Pepe behaves diplomatically.

Why shouldn't he give them some hope of success?


Otherwise you wouldn't gain so much time.

Couldn't he be instructed to --"

Charles Gould,

looking at the doctor steadily,

shook his head,

but the doctor continued with a certain amount of fire --


to enter into negotiations for the surrender of the mine.

It is a good notion.

You would mature your plan.

Of course,

I don't ask what it is.

I don't want to know.

I would refuse to listen to you if you tried to tell me.

I am not fit for confidences."

"What nonsense!"

muttered Charles Gould,

with displeasure.

He disapproved of the doctor's sensitiveness about that far-off episode of his life.

So much memory shocked Charles Gould.

It was like morbidness.

And again he shook his head.

He refused to tamper with the open rectitude of Don Pepe's conduct,

both from taste and from policy.

Instructions would have to be either verbal or in writing.

In either case they ran the risk of being intercepted.

It was by no means certain that a messenger could reach the mine;



there was no one to send.

It was on the tip of Charles's tongue to say that only the late Capataz de Cargadores could have been employed with some chance of success and the certitude of discretion.

But he did not say that.

He pointed out to the doctor that it would have been bad policy.

Directly Don Pepe let it be supposed that he could be bought over,

the Administrador's personal safety and the safety of his friends would become endangered.

For there would be then no reason for moderation.

The incorruptibility of Don Pepe was the essential and restraining fact.

The doctor hung his head and admitted that in a way it was so.

He couldn't deny to himself that the reasoning was sound enough.

Don Pepe's usefulness consisted in his unstained character.

As to his own usefulness,

he reflected bitterly it was also his own character.

He declared to Charles Gould that he had the means of keeping Sotillo from joining his forces with Montero,

at least for the present.

"If you had had all this silver here,"

the doctor said,

"or even if it had been known to be at the mine,

you could have bribed Sotillo to throw off his recent Monterism.

You could have induced him either to go away in his steamer or even to join you."

"Certainly not that last,"

Charles Gould declared,


"What could one do with a man like that,

afterwards --tell me,


The silver is gone,

and I am glad of it.

It would have been an immediate and strong temptation.

The scramble for that visible plunder would have precipitated a disastrous ending.

I would have had to defend it,


I am glad we've removed it --even if it is lost.

It would have been a danger and a curse."

"Perhaps he is right,"

the doctor,

an hour later,

said hurriedly to Mrs. Gould,

whom he met in the corridor.

"The thing is done,

and the shadow of the treasure may do just as well as the substance.

Let me try to serve you to the whole extent of my evil reputation.

I am off now to play my game of betrayal with Sotillo,

and keep him off the town."

She put out both her hands impulsively.

"Dr. Monygham,

you are running a terrible risk,"

she whispered,

averting from his face her eyes,

full of tears,

for a short glance at the door of her husband's room.

She pressed both his hands,

and the doctor stood as if rooted to the spot,

looking down at her,

and trying to twist his lips into a smile.


I know you will defend my memory,"

he uttered at last,

and ran tottering down the stairs across the patio,

and out of the house.

In the street he kept up a great pace with his smart hobbling walk,

a case of instruments under his arm.

He was known for being loco.

Nobody interfered with him.

From under the seaward gate,

across the dusty,

arid plain,

interspersed with low bushes,

he saw,

more than a mile away,

the ugly enormity of the Custom House,

and the two or three other buildings which at that time constituted the seaport of Sulaco.

Far away to the south groves of palm trees edged the curve of the harbour shore.

The distant peaks of the Cordillera had lost their identity of clearcut shapes in the steadily deepening blue of the eastern sky.

The doctor walked briskly.

A darkling shadow seemed to fall upon him from the zenith.

The sun had set.

For a time the snows of Higuerota continued to glow with the reflected glory of the west.

The doctor,

holding a straight course for the Custom House,

appeared lonely,

hopping amongst the dark bushes like a tall bird with a broken wing.

Tints of purple,


and crimson were mirrored in the clear water of the harbour.

A long tongue of land,

straight as a wall,

with the grass-grown ruins of the fort making a sort of rounded green mound,

plainly visible from the inner shore,

closed its circuit;

while beyond the Placid Gulf repeated those splendours of colouring on a greater scale and with a more sombre magnificence.

The great mass of cloud filling the head of the gulf had long red smears amongst its convoluted folds of grey and black,

as of a floating mantle stained with blood.

The three Isabels,

overshadowed and clear cut in a great smoothness confounding the sea and sky,

appeared suspended,


in the air.

The little wavelets seemed to be tossing tiny red sparks upon the sandy beaches.

The glassy bands of water along the horizon gave out a fiery red glow,

as if fire and water had been mingled together in the vast bed of the ocean.

At last the conflagration of sea and sky,

lying embraced and still in a flaming contact upon the edge of the world,

went out.

The red sparks in the water vanished together with the stains of blood in the black mantle draping the sombre head of the Placid Gulf;

a sudden breeze sprang up and died out after rustling heavily the growth of bushes on the ruined earthwork of the fort.

Nostromo woke up from a fourteen hours' sleep,

and arose full length from his lair in the long grass.

He stood knee deep amongst the whispering undulations of the green blades with the lost air of a man just born into the world.



and supple,

he threw back his head,

flung his arms open,

and stretched himself with a slow twist of the waist and a leisurely growling yawn of white teeth,

as natural and free from evil in the moment of waking as a magnificent and unconscious wild beast.


in the suddenly steadied glance fixed upon nothing from under a thoughtful frown,

appeared the man.


After landing from his swim Nostromo had scrambled up,

all dripping,

into the main quadrangle of the old fort;

and there,

amongst ruined bits of walls and rotting remnants of roofs and sheds,

he had slept the day through.

He had slept in the shadow of the mountains,

in the white blaze of noon,

in the stillness and solitude of that overgrown piece of land between the oval of the harbour and the spacious semi-circle of the gulf.

He lay as if dead.

A rey-zamuro,

appearing like a tiny black speck in the blue,


circling prudently with a stealthiness of flight startling in a bird of that great size.

The shadow of his pearly-white body,

of his black-tipped wings,

fell on the grass no more silently than he alighted himself on a hillock of rubbish within three yards of that man,

lying as still as a corpse.

The bird stretched his bare neck,

craned his bald head,

loathsome in the brilliance of varied colouring,

with an air of voracious anxiety towards the promising stillness of that prostrate body.


sinking his head deeply into his soft plumage,

he settled himself to wait.

The first thing upon which Nostromo's eyes fell on waking was this patient watcher for the signs of death and corruption.

When the man got up the vulture hopped away in great,


fluttering jumps.

He lingered for a while,

morose and reluctant,

before he rose,

circling noiselessly with a sinister droop of beak and claws.

Long after he had vanished,


lifting his eyes up to the sky,


"I am not dead yet."

The Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores had lived in splendour and publicity up to the very moment,

as it were,

when he took charge of the lighter containing the treasure of silver ingots.

The last act he had performed in Sulaco was in complete harmony with his vanity,

and as such perfectly genuine.

He had given his last dollar to an old woman moaning with the grief and fatigue of a dismal search under the arch of the ancient gate.

Performed in obscurity and without witnesses,

it had still the characteristics of splendour and publicity,

and was in strict keeping with his reputation.

But this awakening in solitude,

except for the watchful vulture,

amongst the ruins of the fort,

had no such characteristics.

His first confused feeling was exactly this --that it was not in keeping.

It was more like the end of things.

The necessity of living concealed somehow,

for God knows how long,

which assailed him on his return to consciousness,

made everything that had gone before for years appear vain and foolish,

like a flattering dream come suddenly to an end.

He climbed the crumbling slope of the rampart,


putting aside the bushes,

looked upon the harbour.

He saw a couple of ships at anchor upon the sheet of water reflecting the last gleams of light,

and Sotillo's steamer moored to the jetty.

And behind the pale long front of the Custom House,

there appeared the extent of the town like a grove of thick timber on the plain with a gateway in front,

and the cupolas,


and miradors rising above the trees,

all dark,

as if surrendered already to the night.

The thought that it was no longer open to him to ride through the streets,

recognized by everyone,

great and little,

as he used to do every evening on his way to play monte in the posada of the Mexican Domingo;

or to sit in the place of honour,

listening to songs and looking at dances,

made it appear to him as a town that had no existence.

For a long time he gazed on,

then let the parted bushes spring back,


crossing over to the other side of the fort,

surveyed the vaster emptiness of the great gulf.

The Isabels stood out heavily upon the narrowing long band of red in the west,

which gleamed low between their black shapes,

and the Capataz thought of Decoud alone there with the treasure.

That man was the only one who cared whether he fell into the hands of the Monterists or not,

the Capataz reflected bitterly.

And that merely would be an anxiety for his own sake.

As to the rest,

they neither knew nor cared.

What he had heard Giorgio Viola say once was very true.




the rich in general,

kept the people in poverty and subjection;

they kept them as they kept dogs,

to fight and hunt for their service.

The darkness of the sky had descended to the line of the horizon,

enveloping the whole gulf,

the islets,

and the lover of Antonia alone with the treasure on the Great Isabel.

The Capataz,

turning his back on these things invisible and existing,

sat down and took his face between his fists.

He felt the pinch of poverty for the first time in his life.

To find himself without money after a run of bad luck at monte in the low,

smoky room of Domingo's posada,

where the fraternity of Cargadores gambled,


and danced of an evening;

to remain with empty pockets after a burst of public generosity to some peyne d'oro girl or other

(for whom he did not care),

had none of the humiliation of destitution.

He remained rich in glory and reputation.

But since it was no longer possible for him to parade the streets of the town,

and be hailed with respect in the usual haunts of his leisure,

this sailor felt himself destitute indeed.

His mouth was dry.

It was dry with heavy sleep and extremely anxious thinking,

as it had never been dry before.

It may be said that Nostromo tasted the dust and ashes of the fruit of life into which he had bitten deeply in his hunger for praise.

Without removing his head from between his fists,

he tried to spit before him --"Tfui" --and muttered a curse upon the selfishness of all the rich people.

Since everything seemed lost in Sulaco

(and that was the feeling of his waking),

the idea of leaving the country altogether had presented itself to Nostromo.

At that thought he had seen,

like the beginning of another dream,

a vision of steep and tideless shores,

with dark pines on the heights and white houses low down near a very blue sea.

He saw the quays of a big port,

where the coasting feluccas,

with their lateen sails outspread like motionless wings,

enter gliding silently between the end of long moles of squared blocks that project angularly towards each other,

hugging a cluster of shipping to the superb bosom of a hill covered with palaces.

He remembered these sights not without some filial emotion,

though he had been habitually and severely beaten as a boy on one of these feluccas by a short-necked,

shaven Genoese,

with a deliberate and distrustful manner,


(he firmly believed)

had cheated him out of his orphan's inheritance.

But it is mercifully decreed that the evils of the past should appear but faintly in retrospect.

Under the sense of loneliness,


and failure,

the idea of return to these things appeared tolerable.




With bare feet and head,

with one check shirt and a pair of cotton calzoneros for all worldly possessions?

The renowned Capataz,

his elbows on his knees and a fist dug into each cheek,

laughed with self-derision,

as he had spat with disgust,

straight out before him into the night.

The confused and intimate impressions of universal dissolution which beset a subjective nature at any strong check to its ruling passion had a bitterness approaching that of death itself.

He was simple.

He was as ready to become the prey of any belief,


or desire as a child.

The facts of his situation he could appreciate like a man with a distinct experience of the country.

He saw them clearly.

He was as if sobered after a long bout of intoxication.

His fidelity had been taken advantage of.

He had persuaded the body of Cargadores to side with the Blancos against the rest of the people;

he had had interviews with Don Jose;

he had been made use of by Father Corbelan for negotiating with Hernandez;

it was known that Don Martin Decoud had admitted him to a sort of intimacy,

so that he had been free of the offices of the Porvenir.

All these things had flattered him in the usual way.

What did he care about their politics?

Nothing at all.

And at the end of it all --Nostromo here and Nostromo there --where is Nostromo?

Nostromo can do this and that --work all day and ride all night --behold!

he found himself a marked Ribierist for any sort of vengeance Gamacho,

for instance,

would choose to take,

now the Montero party,


after all,

mastered the town.

The Europeans had given up;

the Caballeros had given up.

Don Martin had indeed explained it was only temporary --that he was going to bring Barrios to the rescue.

Where was that now --with Don Martin

(whose ironic manner of talk had always made the Capataz feel vaguely uneasy)

stranded on the Great Isabel?

Everybody had given up.

Even Don Carlos had given up.

The hurried removal of the treasure out to sea meant nothing else than that.

The Capataz de Cargadores,

on a revulsion of subjectiveness,

exasperated almost to insanity,

beheld all his world without faith and courage.

He had been betrayed!

With the boundless shadows of the sea behind him,

out of his silence and immobility,

facing the lofty shapes of the lower peaks crowded around the white,

misty sheen of Higuerota,

Nostromo laughed aloud again,

sprang abruptly to his feet,

and stood still.

He must go.

But where?

"There is no mistake.

They keep us and encourage us as if we were dogs born to fight and hunt for them.

The vecchio is right,"

he said,

slowly and scathingly.

He remembered old Giorgio taking his pipe out of his mouth to throw these words over his shoulder at the cafe,

full of engine-drivers and fitters from the railway workshops.

This image fixed his wavering purpose.

He would try to find old Giorgio if he could.

God knows what might have happened to him!

He made a few steps,

then stopped again and shook his head.

To the left and right,

in front and behind him,

the scrubby bush rustled mysteriously in the darkness.

"Teresa was right,


he added in a low tone touched with awe.

He wondered whether she was dead in her anger with him or still alive.

As if in answer to this thought,

half of remorse and half of hope,

with a soft flutter and oblique flight,

a big owl,

whose appalling cry:



--it is finished;

it is finished" --announces calamity and death in the popular belief,

drifted vaguely like a large dark ball across his path.

In the downfall of all the realities that made his force,

he was affected by the superstition,

and shuddered slightly.

Signora Teresa must have died,


It could mean nothing else.

The cry of the ill-omened bird,

the first sound he was to hear on his return,

was a fitting welcome for his betrayed individuality.

The unseen powers which he had offended by refusing to bring a priest to a dying woman were lifting up their voice against him.

She was dead.

With admirable and human consistency he referred everything to himself.

She had been a woman of good counsel always.

And the bereaved old Giorgio remained stunned by his loss just as he was likely to require the advice of his sagacity.

The blow would render the dreamy old man quite stupid for a time.

As to Captain Mitchell,


after the manner of trusted subordinates,

considered him as a person fitted by education perhaps to sign papers in an office and to give orders,

but otherwise of no use whatever,

and something of a fool.

The necessity of winding round his little finger,

almost daily,

the pompous and testy self-importance of the old seaman had grown irksome with use to Nostromo.

At first it had given him an inward satisfaction.

But the necessity of overcoming small obstacles becomes wearisome to a self-confident personality as much by the certitude of success as by the monotony of effort.

He mistrusted his superior's proneness to fussy action.

That old Englishman had no judgment,

he said to himself.

It was useless to suppose that,

acquainted with the true state of the case,

he would keep it to himself.

He would talk of doing impracticable things.

Nostromo feared him as one would fear saddling one's self with some persistent worry.

He had no discretion.

He would betray the treasure.

And Nostromo had made up his mind that the treasure should not be betrayed.

The word had fixed itself tenaciously in his intelligence.

His imagination had seized upon the clear and simple notion of betrayal to account for the dazed feeling of enlightenment as to being done for,

of having inadvertently gone out of his existence on an issue in which his personality had not been taken into account.

A man betrayed is a man destroyed.

Signora Teresa

(may God have her soul!)

had been right.

He had never been taken into account.


Her white form sitting up bowed in bed,

the falling black hair,

the wide-browed suffering face raised to him,

the anger of her denunciations appeared to him now majestic with the awfulness of inspiration and of death.

For it was not for nothing that the evil bird had uttered its lamentable shriek over his head.

She was dead --may God have her soul!

Sharing in the anti-priestly freethought of the masses,

his mind used the pious formula from the superficial force of habit,

but with a deep-seated sincerity.

The popular mind is incapable of scepticism;

and that incapacity delivers their helpless strength to the wiles of swindlers and to the pitiless enthusiasms of leaders inspired by visions of a high destiny.

She was dead.

But would God consent to receive her soul?

She had died without confession or absolution,

because he had not been willing to spare her another moment of his time.

His scorn of priests as priests remained;

but after all,

it was impossible to know whether what they affirmed was not true.




are simple and credible notions.

The magnificent Capataz de Cargadores,

deprived of certain simple realities,

such as the admiration of women,

the adulation of men,

the admired publicity of his life,

was ready to feel the burden of sacrilegious guilt descend upon his shoulders.


in a thin shirt and drawers,

he felt the lingering warmth of the fine sand under the soles of his feet.

The narrow strand gleamed far ahead in a long curve,

defining the outline of this wild side of the harbour.

He flitted along the shore like a pursued shadow between the sombre palm-groves and the sheet of water lying as still as death on his right hand.

He strode with headlong haste in the silence and solitude as though he had forgotten all prudence and caution.

But he knew that on this side of the water he ran no risk of discovery.

The only inhabitant was a lonely,


apathetic Indian in charge of the palmarias,

who brought sometimes a load of cocoanuts to the town for sale.

He lived without a woman in an open shed,

with a perpetual fire of dry sticks smouldering near an old canoe lying bottom up on the beach.

He could be easily avoided.

The barking of the dogs about that man's ranche was the first thing that checked his speed.

He had forgotten the dogs.

He swerved sharply,

and plunged into the palm-grove,

as into a wilderness of columns in an immense hall,

whose dense obscurity seemed to whisper and rustle faintly high above his head.

He traversed it,

entered a ravine,

and climbed to the top of a steep ridge free of trees and bushes.

From there,

open and vague in the starlight,

he saw the plain between the town and the harbour.

In the woods above some night-bird made a strange drumming noise.

Below beyond the palmaria on the beach,

the Indian's dogs continued to bark uproariously.

He wondered what had upset them so much,


peering down from his elevation,

was surprised to detect unaccountable movements of the ground below,

as if several oblong pieces of the plain had been in motion.

Those dark,

shifting patches,

alternately catching and eluding the eye,

altered their place always away from the harbour,

with a suggestion of consecutive order and purpose.

A light dawned upon him.

It was a column of infantry on a night march towards the higher broken country at the foot of the hills.

But he was too much in the dark about everything for wonder and speculation.

The plain had resumed its shadowy immobility.

He descended the ridge and found himself in the open solitude,

between the harbour and the town.

Its spaciousness,

extended indefinitely by an effect of obscurity,

rendered more sensible his profound isolation.

His pace became slower.

No one waited for him;

no one thought of him;

no one expected or wished his return.



he muttered to himself.

No one cared.

He might have been drowned by this time.

No one would have cared --unless,


the children,

he thought to himself.

But they were with the English signora,

and not thinking of him at all.

He wavered in his purpose of making straight for the Casa Viola.

To what end?

What could he expect there?

His life seemed to fail him in all its details,

even to the scornful reproaches of Teresa.

He was aware painfully of his reluctance.

Was it that remorse which she had prophesied with,

what he saw now,

was her last breath?


he had deviated from the straight course,

inclining by a sort of instinct to the right,

towards the jetty and the harbour,

the scene of his daily labours.

The great length of the Custom House loomed up all at once like the wall of a factory.

Not a soul challenged his approach,

and his curiosity became excited as he passed cautiously towards the front by the unexpected sight of two lighted windows.

They had the fascination of a lonely vigil kept by some mysterious watcher up there,

those two windows shining dimly upon the harbour in the whole vast extent of the abandoned building.

The solitude could almost be felt.

A strong smell of wood smoke hung about in a thin haze,

which was faintly perceptible to his raised eyes against the glitter of the stars.

As he advanced in the profound silence,

the shrilling of innumerable cicalas in the dry grass seemed positively deafening to his strained ears.


step by step,

he found himself in the great hall,

sombre and full of acrid smoke.

A fire built against the staircase had burnt down impotently to a low heap of embers.

The hard wood had failed to catch;

only a few steps at the bottom smouldered,

with a creeping glow of sparks defining their charred edges.

At the top he saw a streak of light from an open door.

It fell upon the vast landing,

all foggy with a slow drift of smoke.

That was the room.

He climbed the stairs,

then checked himself,

because he had seen within the shadow of a man cast upon one of the walls.

It was a shapeless,

high-shouldered shadow of somebody standing still,

with lowered head,

out of his line of sight.

The Capataz,

remembering that he was totally unarmed,

stepped aside,


effacing himself upright in a dark corner,

waited with his eyes fixed on the door.

The whole enormous ruined barrack of a place,


without ceilings under its lofty roof,

was pervaded by the smoke swaying to and fro in the faint cross draughts playing in the obscurity of many lofty rooms and barnlike passages.

Once one of the swinging shutters came against the wall with a single sharp crack,

as if pushed by an impatient hand.

A piece of paper scurried out from somewhere,

rustling along the landing.

The man,

whoever he was,

did not darken the lighted doorway.

Twice the Capataz,

advancing a couple of steps out of his corner,

craned his neck in the hope of catching sight of what he could be at,

so quietly,

in there.

But every time he saw only the distorted shadow of broad shoulders and bowed head.

He was doing apparently nothing,

and stirred not from the spot,

as though he were meditating --or,


reading a paper.

And not a sound issued from the room.

Once more the Capataz stepped back.

He wondered who it was --some Monterist?

But he dreaded to show himself.

To discover his presence on shore,

unless after many days,


he believed,

endanger the treasure.

With his own knowledge possessing his whole soul,

it seemed impossible that anybody in Sulaco should fail to jump at the right surmise.

After a couple of weeks or so it would be different.

Who could tell he had not returned overland from some port beyond the limits of the Republic?

The existence of the treasure confused his thoughts with a peculiar sort of anxiety,

as though his life had become bound up with it.

It rendered him timorous for a moment before that enigmatic,

lighted door.

Devil take the fellow!

He did not want to see him.

There would be nothing to learn from his face,

known or unknown.

He was a fool to waste his time there in waiting.

Less than five minutes after entering the place the Capataz began his retreat.

He got away down the stairs with perfect success,

gave one upward look over his shoulder at the light on the landing,

and ran stealthily across the hall.

But at the very moment he was turning out of the great door,

with his mind fixed upon escaping the notice of the man upstairs,

somebody he had not heard coming briskly along the front ran full into him.

Both muttered a stifled exclamation of surprise,

and leaped back and stood still,

each indistinct to the other.

Nostromo was silent.

The other man spoke first,

in an amazed and deadened tone.

"Who are you?"

Already Nostromo had seemed to recognize Dr. Monygham.

He had no doubt now.

He hesitated the space of a second.

The idea of bolting without a word presented itself to his mind.

No use!

An inexplicable repugnance to pronounce the name by which he was known kept him silent a little longer.

At last he said in a low voice --

"A Cargador."

He walked up to the other.

Dr. Monygham had received a shock.

He flung his arms up and cried out his wonder aloud,

forgetting himself before the marvel of this meeting.

Nostromo angrily warned him to moderate his voice.

The Custom House was not so deserted as it looked.

There was somebody in the lighted room above.

There is no more evanescent quality in an accomplished fact than its wonderfulness.

Solicited incessantly by the considerations affecting its fears and desires,

the human mind turns naturally away from the marvellous side of events.

And it was in the most natural way possible that the doctor asked this man whom only two minutes before he believed to have been drowned in the gulf --

"You have seen somebody up there?

Have you?"


I have not seen him."

"Then how do you know?"

"I was running away from his shadow when we met."

"His shadow?"


His shadow in the lighted room,"

said Nostromo,

in a contemptuous tone.

Leaning back with folded arms at the foot of the immense building,

he dropped his head,

biting his lips slightly,

and not looking at the doctor.


he thought to himself,

"he will begin asking me about the treasure."

But the doctor's thoughts were concerned with an event not as marvellous as Nostromo's appearance,

but in itself much less clear.

Why had Sotillo taken himself off with his whole command with this suddenness and secrecy?

What did this move portend?


it dawned upon the doctor that the man upstairs was one of the officers left behind by the disappointed colonel to communicate with him.

"I believe he is waiting for me,"

he said.

"It is possible."

"I must see.

Do not go away yet,


"Go away where?"

muttered Nostromo.

Already the doctor had left him.

He remained leaning against the wall,

staring at the dark water of the harbour;

the shrilling of cicalas filled his ears.

An invincible vagueness coming over his thoughts took from them all power to determine his will.



the doctor's voice called urgently from above.

The sense of betrayal and ruin floated upon his sombre indifference as upon a sluggish sea of pitch.

But he stepped out from under the wall,


looking up,

saw Dr. Monygham leaning out of a lighted window.

"Come up and see what Sotillo has done.

You need not fear the man up here."

He answered by a slight,

bitter laugh.

Fear a man!

The Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores fear a man!

It angered him that anybody should suggest such a thing.

It angered him to be disarmed and skulking and in danger because of the accursed treasure,

which was of so little account to the people who had tied it round his neck.

He could not shake off the worry of it.

To Nostromo the doctor represented all these people.

...And he had never even asked after it.

Not a word of inquiry about the most desperate undertaking of his life.

Thinking these thoughts,

Nostromo passed again through the cavernous hall,

where the smoke was considerably thinned,

and went up the stairs,

not so warm to his feet now,

towards the streak of light at the top.

The doctor appeared in it for a moment,

agitated and impatient.

"Come up!

Come up!"

At the moment of crossing the doorway the Capataz experienced a shock of surprise.

The man had not moved.

He saw his shadow in the same place.

He started,

then stepped in with a feeling of being about to solve a mystery.

It was very simple.

For an infinitesimal fraction of a second,

against the light of two flaring and guttering candles,

through a blue,


thin haze which made his eyes smart,

he saw the man standing,

as he had imagined him,

with his back to the door,

casting an enormous and distorted shadow upon the wall.

Swifter than a flash of lightning followed the impression of his constrained,

toppling attitude --the shoulders projecting forward,

the head sunk low upon the breast.

Then he distinguished the arms behind his back,

and wrenched so terribly that the two clenched fists,

lashed together,

had been forced up higher than the shoulder-blades.

From there his eyes traced in one instantaneous glance the hide rope going upwards from the tied wrists over a heavy beam and down to a staple in the wall.

He did not want to look at the rigid legs,

at the feet hanging down nervelessly,

with their bare toes some six inches above the floor,

to know that the man had been given the estrapade till he had swooned.

His first impulse was to dash forward and sever the rope at one blow.

He felt for his knife.

He had no knife --not even a knife.

He stood quivering,

and the doctor,

perched on the edge of the table,

facing thoughtfully the cruel and lamentable sight,

his chin in his hand,


without stirring --

"Tortured --and shot dead through the breast --getting cold."

This information calmed the Capataz.

One of the candles flickering in the socket went out.

"Who did this?"

he asked.


I tell you.

Who else?

Tortured --of course.

But why shot?"

The doctor looked fixedly at Nostromo,

who shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"And mark,

shot suddenly,

on impulse.

It is evident.

I wish I had his secret."

Nostromo had advanced,

and stooped slightly to look.

"I seem to have seen that face somewhere,"

he muttered.

"Who is he?"

The doctor turned his eyes upon him again.

"I may yet come to envying his fate.

What do you think of that,



But Nostromo did not even hear these words.

Seizing the remaining light,

he thrust it under the drooping head.

The doctor sat oblivious,

with a lost gaze.

Then the heavy iron candlestick,

as if struck out of Nostromo's hand,

clattered on the floor.


exclaimed the doctor,

looking up with a start.

He could hear the Capataz stagger against the table and gasp.

In the sudden extinction of the light within,

the dead blackness sealing the window-frames became alive with stars to his sight.

"Of course,

of course,"

the doctor muttered to himself in English.

"Enough to make him jump out of his skin."

Nostromo's heart seemed to force itself into his throat.

His head swam.


The man was Hirsch!

He held on tight to the edge of the table.

"But he was hiding in the lighter,"

he almost shouted His voice fell.

"In the lighter,

and --and --"

"And Sotillo brought him in,"

said the doctor.

"He is no more startling to you than you were to me.

What I want to know is how he induced some compassionate soul to shoot him."

"So Sotillo knows --" began Nostromo,

in a more equable voice.


interrupted the doctor.

The Capataz was heard striking the table with his fist.


What are you saying,



Know everything?

It is impossible!


"Of course.

What do you mean by impossible?

I tell you I have heard this Hirsch questioned last night,


in this very room.

He knew your name,

Decoud's name,

and all about the loading of the silver.

...The lighter was cut in two.

He was grovelling in abject terror before Sotillo,

but he remembered that much.

What do you want more?

He knew least about himself.

They found him clinging to their anchor.

He must have caught at it just as the lighter went to the bottom."

"Went to the bottom?"

repeated Nostromo,


"Sotillo believes that?


The doctor,

a little impatiently,

was unable to imagine what else could anybody believe.


Sotillo believed that the lighter was sunk,

and the Capataz de Cargadores,

together with Martin Decoud and perhaps one or two other political fugitives,

had been drowned.

"I told you well,

senor doctor,"

remarked Nostromo at that point,

"that Sotillo did not know everything."


What do you mean?"

"He did not know I was not dead."

"Neither did we."

"And you did not care --none of you caballeros on the wharf --once you got off a man of flesh and blood like yourselves on a fool's business that could not end well."

"You forget,


I was not on the wharf.

And I did not think well of the business.

So you need not taunt me.

I tell you what,


we had but little leisure to think of the dead.

Death stands near behind us all.

You were gone."

"I went,


broke in Nostromo.

"And for the sake of what --tell me?"


that is your own affair,"

the doctor said,


"Do not ask me."

Their flowing murmurs paused in the dark.

Perched on the edge of the table with slightly averted faces,

they felt their shoulders touch,

and their eyes remained directed towards an upright shape nearly lost in the obscurity of the inner part of the room,

that with projecting head and shoulders,

in ghastly immobility,

seemed intent on catching every word.

"Muy bien!"

Nostromo muttered at last.

"So be it.

Teresa was right.

It is my own affair."

"Teresa is dead,"

remarked the doctor,


while his mind followed a new line of thought suggested by what might have been called Nostromo's return to life.

"She died,

the poor woman."

"Without a priest?"

the Capataz asked,


"What a question!

Who could have got a priest for her last night?"

"May God keep her soul!"

ejaculated Nostromo,

with a gloomy and hopeless fervour which had no time to surprise Dr. Monygham,


reverting to their previous conversation,

he continued in a sinister tone,


senor doctor.

As you were saying,

it is my own affair.

A very desperate affair."

"There are no two men in this part of the world that could have saved themselves by swimming as you have done,"

the doctor said,


And again there was silence between those two men.

They were both reflecting,

and the diversity of their natures made their thoughts born from their meeting swing afar from each other.

The doctor,

impelled to risky action by his loyalty to the Goulds,

wondered with thankfulness at the chain of accident which had brought that man back where he would be of the greatest use in the work of saving the San Tome mine.

The doctor was loyal to the mine.

It presented itself to his fifty-years' old eyes in the shape of a little woman in a soft dress with a long train,

with a head attractively overweighted by a great mass of fair hair and the delicate preciousness of her inner worth,

partaking of a gem and a flower,

revealed in every attitude of her person.

As the dangers thickened round the San Tome mine this illusion acquired force,


and authority.

It claimed him at last!

This claim,

exalted by a spiritual detachment from the usual sanctions of hope and reward,

made Dr. Monygham's thinking,


individuality extremely dangerous to himself and to others,

all his scruples vanishing in the proud feeling that his devotion was the only thing that stood between an admirable woman and a frightful disaster.

It was a sort of intoxication which made him utterly indifferent to Decoud's fate,

but left his wits perfectly clear for the appreciation of Decoud's political idea.

It was a good idea --and Barrios was the only instrument of its realization.

The doctor's soul,

withered and shrunk by the shame of a moral disgrace,

became implacable in the expansion of its tenderness.

Nostromo's return was providential.

He did not think of him humanely,

as of a fellow-creature just escaped from the jaws of death.

The Capataz for him was the only possible messenger to Cayta.

The very man.

The doctor's misanthropic mistrust of mankind

(the bitterer because based on personal failure)

did not lift him sufficiently above common weaknesses.

He was under the spell of an established reputation.

Trumpeted by Captain Mitchell,

grown in repetition,

and fixed in general assent,

Nostromo's faithfulness had never been questioned by Dr. Monygham as a fact.

It was not likely to be questioned now he stood in desperate need of it himself.

Dr. Monygham was human;

he accepted the popular conception of the Capataz's incorruptibility simply because no word or fact had ever contradicted a mere affirmation.

It seemed to be a part of the man,

like his whiskers or his teeth.

It was impossible to conceive him otherwise.

The question was whether he would consent to go on such a dangerous and desperate errand.

The doctor was observant enough to have become aware from the first of something peculiar in the man's temper.

He was no doubt sore about the loss of the silver.

"It will be necessary to take him into my fullest confidence,"

he said to himself,

with a certain acuteness of insight into the nature he had to deal with.

On Nostromo's side the silence had been full of black irresolution,


and mistrust.

He was the first to break it,


"The swimming was no great matter,"

he said.

"It is what went before --and what comes after that --"

He did not quite finish what he meant to say,

breaking off short,

as though his thought had butted against a solid obstacle.

The doctor's mind pursued its own schemes with Machiavellian subtlety.

He said as sympathetically as he was able --

"It is unfortunate,


But no one would think of blaming you.

Very unfortunate.

To begin with,

the treasure ought never to have left the mountain.

But it was Decoud who --however,

he is dead.

There is no need to talk of him."


assented Nostromo,

as the doctor paused,

"there is no need to talk of dead men.

But I am not dead yet."

"You are all right.

Only a man of your intrepidity could have saved himself."

In this Dr. Monygham was sincere.

He esteemed highly the intrepidity of that man,

whom he valued but little,

being disillusioned as to mankind in general,

because of the particular instance in which his own manhood had failed.

Having had to encounter singlehanded during his period of eclipse many physical dangers,

he was well aware of the most dangerous element common to them all: of the crushing,

paralyzing sense of human littleness,

which is what really defeats a man struggling with natural forces,


far from the eyes of his fellows.

He was eminently fit to appreciate the mental image he made for himself of the Capataz,

after hours of tension and anxiety,

precipitated suddenly into an abyss of waters and darkness,

without earth or sky,

and confronting it not only with an undismayed mind,

but with sensible success.

Of course,

the man was an incomparable swimmer,

that was known,

but the doctor judged that this instance testified to a still greater intrepidity of spirit.

It was pleasing to him;

he augured well from it for the success of the arduous mission with which he meant to entrust the Capataz so marvellously restored to usefulness.

And in a tone vaguely gratified,

he observed --

"It must have been terribly dark!"

"It was the worst darkness of the Golfo,"

the Capataz assented,


He was mollified by what seemed a sign of some faint interest in such things as had befallen him,

and dropped a few descriptive phrases with an affected and curt nonchalance.

At that moment he felt communicative.

He expected the continuance of that interest which,

whether accepted or rejected,

would have restored to him his personality --the only thing lost in that desperate affair.

But the doctor,

engrossed by a desperate adventure of his own,

was terrible in the pursuit of his idea.

He let an exclamation of regret escape him.

"I could almost wish you had shouted and shown a light."

This unexpected utterance astounded the Capataz by its character of cold-blooded atrocity.

It was as much as to say,

"I wish you had shown yourself a coward;

I wish you had had your throat cut for your pains."

Naturally he referred it to himself,

whereas it related only to the silver,

being uttered simply and with many mental reservations.

Surprise and rage rendered him speechless,

and the doctor pursued,

practically unheard by Nostromo,

whose stirred blood was beating violently in his ears.

"For I am convinced Sotillo in possession of the silver would have turned short round and made for some small port abroad.

Economically it would have been wasteful,

but still less wasteful than having it sunk.

It was the next best thing to having it at hand in some safe place,

and using part of it to buy up Sotillo.

But I doubt whether Don Carlos would have ever made up his mind to it.

He is not fit for Costaguana,

and that is a fact,


The Capataz had mastered the fury that was like a tempest in his ears in time to hear the name of Don Carlos.

He seemed to have come out of it a changed man --a man who spoke thoughtfully in a soft and even voice.

"And would Don Carlos have been content if I had surrendered this treasure?"

"I should not wonder if they were all of that way of thinking now,"

the doctor said,


"I was never consulted.

Decoud had it his own way.

Their eyes are opened by this time,

I should think.

I for one know that if that silver turned up this moment miraculously ashore I would give it to Sotillo.


as things stand,

I would be approved."

"Turned up miraculously,"

repeated the Capataz very low;

then raised his voice.



would be a greater miracle than any saint could perform."

"I believe you,


said the doctor,


He went on to develop his view of Sotillo's dangerous influence upon the situation.

And the Capataz,

listening as if in a dream,

felt himself of as little account as the indistinct,

motionless shape of the dead man whom he saw upright under the beam,

with his air of listening also,



like a terrible example of neglect.

"Was it for an unconsidered and foolish whim that they came to me,


he interrupted suddenly.

"Had I not done enough for them to be of some account,

por Dios?

Is it that the hombres finos --the gentlemen --need not think as long as there is a man of the people ready to risk his body and soul?



we have no souls --like dogs?"

"There was Decoud,


with his plan,"

the doctor reminded him again.


And the rich man in San Francisco who had something to do with that treasure,

too --what do I know?


I have heard too many things.

It seems to me that everything is permitted to the rich."

"I understand,


the doctor began.

"What Capataz?"

broke in Nostromo,

in a forcible but even voice.

"The Capataz is undone,


There is no Capataz.



You will find the Capataz no more."


this is childish!"

remonstrated the doctor;

and the other calmed down suddenly.

"I have been indeed like a little child,"

he muttered.

And as his eyes met again the shape of the murdered man suspended in his awful immobility,

which seemed the uncomplaining immobility of attention,

he asked,

wondering gently --

"Why did Sotillo give the estrapade to this pitiful wretch?

Do you know?

No torture could have been worse than his fear.

Killing I can understand.

His anguish was intolerable to behold.

But why should he torment him like this?

He could tell no more."


he could tell nothing more.

Any sane man would have seen that.

He had told him everything.

But I tell you what it is,


Sotillo would not believe what he was told.

Not everything."

"What is it he would not believe?

I cannot understand."

"I can,

because I have seen the man.

He refuses to believe that the treasure is lost."


the Capataz cried out in a discomposed tone.

"That startles you --eh?"

"Am I to understand,


Nostromo went on in a deliberate and,

as it were,

watchful tone,

"that Sotillo thinks the treasure has been saved by some means?"



That would be impossible,"

said the doctor,

with conviction;

and Nostromo emitted a grunt in the dark.

"That would be impossible.

He thinks that the silver was no longer in the lighter when she was sunk.

He has convinced himself that the whole show of getting it away to sea is a mere sham got up to deceive Gamacho and his Nationals,

Pedrito Montero,

Senor Fuentes,

our new Gefe Politico,

and himself,



he says,

he is no such fool."

"But he is devoid of sense.

He is the greatest imbecile that ever called himself a colonel in this country of evil,"

growled Nostromo.

"He is no more unreasonable than many sensible men,"

said the doctor.

"He has convinced himself that the treasure can be found because he desires passionately to possess himself of it.

And he is also afraid of his officers turning upon him and going over to Pedrito,

whom he has not the courage either to fight or trust.

Do you see that,


He need fear no desertion as long as some hope remains of that enormous plunder turning up.

I have made it my business to keep this very hope up."

"You have?"

the Capataz de Cargadores repeated cautiously.


that is wonderful.

And how long do you think you are going to keep it up?"

"As long as I can."

"What does that mean?"

"I can tell you exactly.

As long as I live,"

the doctor retorted in a stubborn voice.


in a few words,

he described the story of his arrest and the circumstances of his release.

"I was going back to that silly scoundrel when we met,"

he concluded.

Nostromo had listened with profound attention.

"You have made up your mind,


to a speedy death,"

he muttered through his clenched teeth.


my illustrious Capataz,"

the doctor said,


"You are not the only one here who can look an ugly death in the face."

"No doubt,"

mumbled Nostromo,

loud enough to be overheard.

"There may be even more than two fools in this place.

Who knows?"

"And that is my affair,"

said the doctor,


"As taking out the accursed silver to sea was my affair,"

retorted Nostromo.

"I see.


Each of us has his reasons.

But you were the last man I conversed with before I started,

and you talked to me as if I were a fool."

Nostromo had a great distaste for the doctor's sardonic treatment of his great reputation.

Decoud's faintly ironic recognition used to make him uneasy;

but the familiarity of a man like Don Martin was flattering,

whereas the doctor was a nobody.

He could remember him a penniless outcast,

slinking about the streets of Sulaco,

without a single friend or acquaintance,

till Don Carlos Gould took him into the service of the mine.

"You may be very wise,"

he went on,


staring into the obscurity of the room,

pervaded by the gruesome enigma of the tortured and murdered Hirsch.

"But I am not such a fool as when I started.

I have learned one thing since,

and that is that you are a dangerous man."

Dr. Monygham was too startled to do more than exclaim --

"What is it you say?"

"If he could speak he would say the same thing,"

pursued Nostromo,

with a nod of his shadowy head silhouetted against the starlit window.

"I do not understand you,"

said Dr. Monygham,




if you had not confirmed Sotillo in his madness,

he would have been in no haste to give the estrapade to that miserable Hirsch."

The doctor started at the suggestion.

But his devotion,

absorbing all his sensibilities,

had left his heart steeled against remorse and pity.


for complete relief,

he felt the necessity of repelling it loudly and contemptuously.


You dare to tell me that,

with a man like Sotillo.

I confess I did not give a thought to Hirsch.

If I had it would have been useless.

Anybody can see that the luckless wretch was doomed from the moment he caught hold of the anchor.

He was doomed,

I tell you!

Just as I myself am doomed --most probably."

This is what Dr. Monygham said in answer to Nostromo's remark,

which was plausible enough to prick his conscience.

He was not a callous man.

But the necessity,

the magnitude,

the importance of the task he had taken upon himself dwarfed all merely humane considerations.

He had undertaken it in a fanatical spirit.

He did not like it.

To lie,

to deceive,

to circumvent even the basest of mankind was odious to him.

It was odious to him by training,


and tradition.

To do these things in the character of a traitor was abhorrent to his nature and terrible to his feelings.

He had made that sacrifice in a spirit of abasement.

He had said to himself bitterly,

"I am the only one fit for that dirty work."

And he believed this.

He was not subtle.

His simplicity was such that,

though he had no sort of heroic idea of seeking death,

the risk,

deadly enough,

to which he exposed himself,

had a sustaining and comforting effect.

To that spiritual state the fate of Hirsch presented itself as part of the general atrocity of things.

He considered that episode practically.

What did it mean?

Was it a sign of some dangerous change in Sotillo's delusion?

That the man should have been killed like this was what the doctor could not understand.


But why shot?"

he murmured to himself.

Nostromo kept very still.


Distracted between doubts and hopes,

dismayed by the sound of bells pealing out the arrival of Pedrito Montero,

Sotillo had spent the morning in battling with his thoughts;

a contest to which he was unequal,

from the vacuity of his mind and the violence of his passions.




and fear made a tumult,

in the colonel's breast louder than the din of bells in the town.

Nothing he had planned had come to pass.

Neither Sulaco nor the silver of the mine had fallen into his hands.

He had performed no military exploit to secure his position,

and had obtained no enormous booty to make off with.

Pedrito Montero,

either as friend or foe,

filled him with dread.

The sound of bells maddened him.

Imagining at first that he might be attacked at once,

he had made his battalion stand to arms on the shore.

He walked to and fro all the length of the room,

stopping sometimes to gnaw the finger-tips of his right hand with a lurid sideways glare fixed on the floor;


with a sullen,

repelling glance all round,

he would resume his tramping in savage aloofness.

His hat,



and revolver were lying on the table.

His officers,

crowding the window giving the view of the town gate,

disputed amongst themselves the use of his field-glass bought last year on long credit from Anzani.

It passed from hand to hand,

and the possessor for the time being was besieged by anxious inquiries.

"There is nothing;

there is nothing to see!"

he would repeat impatiently.

There was nothing.

And when the picket in the bushes near the Casa Viola had been ordered to fall back upon the main body,

no stir of life appeared on the stretch of dusty and arid land between the town and the waters of the port.

But late in the afternoon a horseman issuing from the gate was made out riding up fearlessly.

It was an emissary from Senor Fuentes.

Being all alone he was allowed to come on.

Dismounting at the great door he greeted the silent bystanders with cheery impudence,

and begged to be taken up at once to the "muy valliente" colonel.

Senor Fuentes,

on entering upon his functions of Gefe Politico,

had turned his diplomatic abilities to getting hold of the harbour as well as of the mine.

The man he pitched upon to negotiate with Sotillo was a Notary Public,

whom the revolution had found languishing in the common jail on a charge of forging documents.

Liberated by the mob along with the other "victims of Blanco tyranny,"

he had hastened to offer his services to the new Government.

He set out determined to display much zeal and eloquence in trying to induce Sotillo to come into town alone for a conference with Pedrito Montero.

Nothing was further from the colonel's intentions.

The mere fleeting idea of trusting himself into the famous Pedrito's hands had made him feel unwell several times.

It was out of the question --it was madness.

And to put himself in open hostility was madness,


It would render impossible a systematic search for that treasure,

for that wealth of silver which he seemed to feel somewhere about,

to scent somewhere near.

But where?





why had he allowed that doctor to go!

Imbecile that he was.

But no!

It was the only right course,

he reflected distractedly,

while the messenger waited downstairs chatting agreeably to the officers.

It was in that scoundrelly doctor's true interest to return with positive information.

But what if anything stopped him?

A general prohibition to leave the town,

for instance!

There would be patrols!

The colonel,

seizing his head in his hands,

turned in his tracks as if struck with vertigo.

A flash of craven inspiration suggested to him an expedient not unknown to European statesmen when they wish to delay a difficult negotiation.

Booted and spurred,

he scrambled into the hammock with undignified haste.

His handsome face had turned yellow with the strain of weighty cares.

The ridge of his shapely nose had grown sharp;

the audacious nostrils appeared mean and pinched.

The velvety,

caressing glance of his fine eyes seemed dead,

and even decomposed;

for these almond-shaped,

languishing orbs had become inappropriately bloodshot with much sinister sleeplessness.

He addressed the surprised envoy of Senor Fuentes in a deadened,

exhausted voice.

It came pathetically feeble from under a pile of ponchos,

which buried his elegant person right up to the black moustaches,



in sign of bodily prostration and mental incapacity.


fever --a heavy fever had overtaken the "muy valliente" colonel.

A wavering wildness of expression,

caused by the passing spasms of a slight colic which had declared itself suddenly,

and the rattling teeth of repressed panic,

had a genuineness which impressed the envoy.

It was a cold fit.

The colonel explained that he was unable to think,

to listen,

to speak.

With an appearance of superhuman effort the colonel gasped out that he was not in a state to return a suitable reply or to execute any of his Excellency's orders.

But to-morrow!




Let his Excellency Don Pedro be without uneasiness.

The brave Esmeralda Regiment held the harbour,

held --And closing his eyes,

he rolled his aching head like a half-delirious invalid under the inquisitive stare of the envoy,

who was obliged to bend down over the hammock in order to catch the painful and broken accents.


Colonel Sotillo trusted that his Excellency's humanity would permit the doctor,

the English doctor,

to come out of town with his case of foreign remedies to attend upon him.

He begged anxiously his worship the caballero now present for the grace of looking in as he passed the Casa Gould,

and informing the English doctor,

who was probably there,

that his services were immediately required by Colonel Sotillo,

lying ill of fever in the Custom House.


Most urgently required.

Awaited with extreme impatience.

A thousand thanks.

He closed his eyes wearily and would not open them again,

lying perfectly still,







annihilated by the fell disease.

But as soon as the other had shut after him the door of the landing,

the colonel leaped out with a fling of both feet in an avalanche of woollen coverings.

His spurs having become entangled in a perfect welter of ponchos he nearly pitched on his head,

and did not recover his balance till the middle of the room.

Concealed behind the half-closed jalousies he listened to what went on below.

The envoy had already mounted,

and turning to the morose officers occupying the great doorway,

took off his hat formally.


he said,

in a very loud tone,

"allow me to recommend you to take great care of your colonel.

It has done me much honour and gratification to have seen you all,

a fine body of men exercising the soldierly virtue of patience in this exposed situation,

where there is much sun,

and no water to speak of,

while a town full of wine and feminine charms is ready to embrace you for the brave men you are.


I have the honour to salute you.

There will be much dancing to-night in Sulaco.


But he reined in his horse and inclined his head sideways on seeing the old major step out,

very tall and meagre,

in a straight narrow coat coming down to his ankles as it were the casing of the regimental colours rolled round their staff.

The intelligent old warrior,

after enunciating in a dogmatic tone the general proposition that the "world was full of traitors,"

went on pronouncing deliberately a panegyric upon Sotillo.

He ascribed to him with leisurely emphasis every virtue under heaven,

summing it all up in an absurd colloquialism current amongst the lower class of Occidentals

(especially about Esmeralda).


he concluded,

with a sudden rise in the voice,

"a man of many teeth --'hombre de muchos dientes.'



As to us,"

he pursued,

portentous and impressive,

"your worship is beholding the finest body of officers in the Republic,

men unequalled for valour and sagacity,

'y hombres de muchos dientes.'"


All of them?"

inquired the disreputable envoy of Senor Fuentes,

with a faint,

derisive smile.




the major affirmed,


with conviction.

"Men of many teeth."

The other wheeled his horse to face the portal resembling the high gate of a dismal barn.

He raised himself in his stirrups,

extended one arm.

He was a facetious scoundrel,

entertaining for these stupid Occidentals a feeling of great scorn natural in a native from the central provinces.

The folly of Esmeraldians especially aroused his amused contempt.

He began an oration upon Pedro Montero,

keeping a solemn countenance.

He flourished his hand as if introducing him to their notice.

And when he saw every face set,

all the eyes fixed upon his lips,

he began to shout a sort of catalogue of perfections:




profound" --(he snatched off his hat enthusiastically)

--"a statesman,

an invincible chief of partisans --" He dropped his voice startlingly to a deep,

hollow note --"and a dentist."

He was off instantly at a smart walk;

the rigid straddle of his legs,

the turned-out feet,

the stiff back,

the rakish slant of the sombrero above the square,

motionless set of the shoulders expressing an infinite,

awe-inspiring impudence.


behind the jalousies,

Sotillo did not move for a long time.

The audacity of the fellow appalled him.

What were his officers saying below?

They were saying nothing.

Complete silence.

He quaked.

It was not thus that he had imagined himself at that stage of the expedition.

He had seen himself triumphant,



the idol of the soldiers,

weighing in secret complacency the agreeable alternatives of power and wealth open to his choice.


How different!




burning with fury,

or frozen with terror,

he felt a dread as fathomless as the sea creep upon him from every side.

That rogue of a doctor had to come out with his information.

That was clear.

It would be of no use to him --alone.

He could do nothing with it.


The doctor would never come out.

He was probably under arrest already,

shut up together with Don Carlos.

He laughed aloud insanely.





It was Pedrito Montero who would get the information.





--and the silver.


All at once,

in the midst of the laugh,

he became motionless and silent as if turned into stone.

He too,

had a prisoner.

A prisoner who must,

must know the real truth.

He would have to be made to speak.

And Sotillo,

who all that time had not quite forgotten Hirsch,

felt an inexplicable reluctance at the notion of proceeding to extremities.

He felt a reluctance --part of that unfathomable dread that crept on all sides upon him.

He remembered reluctantly,


the dilated eyes of the hide merchant,

his contortions,

his loud sobs and protestations.

It was not compassion or even mere nervous sensibility.

The fact was that though Sotillo did never for a moment believe his story --he could not believe it;

nobody could believe such nonsense --yet those accents of despairing truth impressed him disagreeably.

They made him feel sick.

And he suspected also that the man might have gone mad with fear.

A lunatic is a hopeless subject.


A pretence.

Nothing but a pretence.

He would know how to deal with that.

He was working himself up to the right pitch of ferocity.

His fine eyes squinted slightly;

he clapped his hands;

a bare-footed orderly appeared noiselessly,

a corporal,

with his bayonet hanging on his thigh and a stick in his hand.

The colonel gave his orders,

and presently the miserable Hirsch,

pushed in by several soldiers,

found him frowning awfully in a broad armchair,

hat on head,

knees wide apart,

arms akimbo,








with his arms tied behind his back,

had been bundled violently into one of the smaller rooms.

For many hours he remained apparently forgotten,

stretched lifelessly on the floor.

From that solitude,

full of despair and terror,

he was torn out brutally,

with kicks and blows,


sunk in hebetude.

He listened to threats and admonitions,

and afterwards made his usual answers to questions,

with his chin sunk on his breast,

his hands tied behind his back,

swaying a little in front of Sotillo,

and never looking up.

When he was forced to hold up his head,

by means of a bayonet-point prodding him under the chin,

his eyes had a vacant,

trance-like stare,

and drops of perspiration as big as peas were seen hailing down the dirt,


and scratches of his white face.

Then they stopped suddenly.

Sotillo looked at him in silence.

"Will you depart from your obstinacy,

you rogue?"

he asked.

Already a rope,

whose one end was fastened to Senor Hirsch's wrists,

had been thrown over a beam,

and three soldiers held the other end,


He made no answer.

His heavy lower lip hung stupidly.

Sotillo made a sign.

Hirsch was jerked up off his feet,

and a yell of despair and agony burst out in the room,

filled the passage of the great buildings,

rent the air outside,

caused every soldier of the camp along the shore to look up at the windows,

started some of the officers in the hall babbling excitedly,

with shining eyes;


setting their lips,

looked gloomily at the floor.


followed by the soldiers,

had left the room.

The sentry on the landing presented arms.

Hirsch went on screaming all alone behind the half-closed jalousies while the sunshine,

reflected from the water of the harbour,

made an ever-running ripple of light high up on the wall.

He screamed with uplifted eyebrows and a wide-open mouth --incredibly wide,



full of teeth --comical.

In the still burning air of the windless afternoon he made the waves of his agony travel as far as the O. S. N.

Company's offices.

Captain Mitchell on the balcony,

trying to make out what went on generally,

had heard him faintly but distinctly,

and the feeble and appalling sound lingered in his ears after he had retreated indoors with blanched cheeks.

He had been driven off the balcony several times during that afternoon.




walked restlessly about,

held consultations with his officers,

gave contradictory orders in this shrill clamour pervading the whole empty edifice.

Sometimes there would be long and awful silences.

Several times he had entered the torture-chamber where his sword,



and field-glass were lying on the table,

to ask with forced calmness,

"Will you speak the truth now?


I can wait."

But he could not afford to wait much longer.

That was just it.

Every time he went in and came out with a slam of the door,

the sentry on the landing presented arms,

and got in return a black,


unsteady glance,


in reality,

saw nothing at all,

being merely the reflection of the soul within --a soul of gloomy hatred,



and fury.

The sun had set when he went in once more.

A soldier carried in two lighted candles and slunk out,

shutting the door without noise.


thou Jewish child of the devil!

The silver!

The silver,

I say!

Where is it?

Where have you foreign rogues hidden it?

Confess or --"

A slight quiver passed up the taut rope from the racked limbs,

but the body of Senor Hirsch,

enterprising business man from Esmeralda,

hung under the heavy beam perpendicular and silent,

facing the colonel awfully.

The inflow of the night air,

cooled by the snows of the Sierra,

spread gradually a delicious freshness through the close heat of the room.

"Speak --thief --scoundrel --picaro --or --"

Sotillo had seized the riding-whip,

and stood with his arm lifted up.

For a word,

for one little word,

he felt he would have knelt,


grovelled on the floor before the drowsy,

conscious stare of those fixed eyeballs starting out of the grimy,

dishevelled head that drooped very still with its mouth closed askew.

The colonel ground his teeth with rage and struck.

The rope vibrated leisurely to the blow,

like the long string of a pendulum starting from a rest.

But no swinging motion was imparted to the body of Senor Hirsch,

the well-known hide merchant on the coast.

With a convulsive effort of the twisted arms it leaped up a few inches,

curling upon itself like a fish on the end of a line.

Senor Hirsch's head was flung back on his straining throat;

his chin trembled.

For a moment the rattle of his chattering teeth pervaded the vast,

shadowy room,

where the candles made a patch of light round the two flames burning side by side.

And as Sotillo,

staying his raised hand,

waited for him to speak,

with the sudden flash of a grin and a straining forward of the wrenched shoulders,

he spat violently into his face.

The uplifted whip fell,

and the colonel sprang back with a low cry of dismay,

as if aspersed by a jet of deadly venom.

Quick as thought he snatched up his revolver,

and fired twice.

The report and the concussion of the shots seemed to throw him at once from ungovernable rage into idiotic stupor.

He stood with drooping jaw and stony eyes.

What had he done,

Sangre de Dios!

What had he done?

He was basely appalled at his impulsive act,

sealing for ever these lips from which so much was to be extorted.

What could he say?

How could he explain?

Ideas of headlong flight somewhere,


passed through his mind;

even the craven and absurd notion of hiding under the table occurred to his cowardice.

It was too late;

his officers had rushed in tumultuously,

in a great clatter of scabbards,


with astonishment and wonder.

But since they did not immediately proceed to plunge their swords into his breast,

the brazen side of his character asserted itself.

Passing the sleeve of his uniform over his face he pulled himself together,

His truculent glance turned slowly here and there,

checked the noise where it fell;

and the stiff body of the late Senor Hirsch,


after swaying imperceptibly,

made a half turn,

and came to a rest in the midst of awed murmurs and uneasy shuffling.

A voice remarked loudly,

"Behold a man who will never speak again."

And another,

from the back row of faces,

timid and pressing,

cried out --

"Why did you kill him,

mi colonel?"

"Because he has confessed everything,"

answered Sotillo,

with the hardihood of desperation.

He felt himself cornered.

He brazened it out on the strength of his reputation with very fair success.

His hearers thought him very capable of such an act.

They were disposed to believe his flattering tale.

There is no credulity so eager and blind as the credulity of covetousness,


in its universal extent,

measures the moral misery and the intellectual destitution of mankind.


he had confessed everything,

this fractious Jew,

this bribon.


Then he was no longer wanted.

A sudden dense guffaw was heard from the senior captain --a big-headed man,

with little round eyes and monstrously fat cheeks which never moved.

The old major,

tall and fantastically ragged like a scarecrow,

walked round the body of the late Senor Hirsch,

muttering to himself with ineffable complacency that like this there was no need to guard against any future treacheries of that scoundrel.

The others stared,

shifting from foot to foot,

and whispering short remarks to each other.

Sotillo buckled on his sword and gave curt,

peremptory orders to hasten the retirement decided upon in the afternoon.



his sombrero pulled right down upon his eyebrows,

he marched first through the door in such disorder of mind that he forgot utterly to provide for Dr. Monygham's possible return.

As the officers trooped out after him,

one or two looked back hastily at the late Senor Hirsch,

merchant from Esmeralda,

left swinging rigidly at rest,

alone with the two burning candles.

In the emptiness of the room the burly shadow of head and shoulders on the wall had an air of life.


the troops fell in silently and moved off by companies without drum or trumpet.

The old scarecrow major commanded the rearguard;

but the party he left behind with orders to fire the Custom House

(and "burn the carcass of the treacherous Jew where it hung")

failed somehow in their haste to set the staircase properly alight.

The body of the late Senor Hirsch dwelt alone for a time in the dismal solitude of the unfinished building,

resounding weirdly with sudden slams and clicks of doors and latches,

with rustling scurries of torn papers,

and the tremulous sighs that at each gust of wind passed under the high roof.

The light of the two candles burning before the perpendicular and breathless immobility of the late Senor Hirsch threw a gleam afar over land and water,

like a signal in the night.

He remained to startle Nostromo by his presence,

and to puzzle Dr. Monygham by the mystery of his atrocious end.

"But why shot?"

the doctor again asked himself,


This time he was answered by a dry laugh from Nostromo.

"You seem much concerned at a very natural thing,

senor doctor.

I wonder why?

It is very likely that before long we shall all get shot one after another,

if not by Sotillo,

then by Pedrito,

or Fuentes,

or Gamacho.

And we may even get the estrapade,


or worse --quien sabe?

--with your pretty tale of the silver you put into Sotillo's head."

"It was in his head already,"

the doctor protested.

"I only --"


And you only nailed it there so that the devil himself --"

"That is precisely what I meant to do,"

caught up the doctor.

"That is what you meant to do.


It is as I say.

You are a dangerous man."

Their voices,

which without rising had been growing quarrelsome,

ceased suddenly.

The late Senor Hirsch,

erect and shadowy against the stars,

seemed to be waiting attentive,

in impartial silence.

But Dr. Monygham had no mind to quarrel with Nostromo.

At this supremely critical point of Sulaco's fortunes it was borne upon him at last that this man was really indispensable,

more indispensable than ever the infatuation of Captain Mitchell,

his proud discoverer,

could conceive;

far beyond what Decoud's best dry raillery about "my illustrious friend,

the unique Capataz de Cargadores,"

had ever intended.

The fellow was unique.

He was not "one in a thousand."

He was absolutely the only one.

The doctor surrendered.

There was something in the genius of that Genoese seaman which dominated the destinies of great enterprises and of many people,

the fortunes of Charles Gould,

the fate of an admirable woman.

At this last thought the doctor had to clear his throat before he could speak.

In a completely changed tone he pointed out to the Capataz that,

to begin with,

he personally ran no great risk.

As far as everybody knew he was dead.

It was an enormous advantage.

He had only to keep out of sight in the Casa Viola,

where the old Garibaldino was known to be alone --with his dead wife.

The servants had all run away.

No one would think of searching for him there,

or anywhere else on earth,

for that matter.

"That would be very true,"

Nostromo spoke up,


"if I had not met you."

For a time the doctor kept silent.

"Do you mean to say that you think I may give you away?"

he asked in an unsteady voice.


Why should I do that?"

"What do I know?

Why not?

To gain a day perhaps.

It would take Sotillo a day to give me the estrapade,

and try some other things perhaps,

before he puts a bullet through my heart --as he did to that poor wretch here.

Why not?"

The doctor swallowed with difficulty.

His throat had gone dry in a moment.

It was not from indignation.

The doctor,

pathetically enough,

believed that he had forfeited the right to be indignant with any one --for anything.

It was simple dread.

Had the fellow heard his story by some chance?

If so,

there was an end of his usefulness in that direction.

The indispensable man escaped his influence,

because of that indelible blot which made him fit for dirty work.

A feeling as of sickness came upon the doctor.

He would have given anything to know,

but he dared not clear up the point.

The fanaticism of his devotion,

fed on the sense of his abasement,

hardened his heart in sadness and scorn.

"Why not,


he reechoed,


"Then the safe thing for you is to kill me on the spot.

I would defend myself.

But you may just as well know I am going about unarmed."

"Por Dios!"

said the Capataz,


"You fine people are all alike.

All dangerous.

All betrayers of the poor who are your dogs."

"You do not understand,"

began the doctor,


"I understand you all!"

cried the other with a violent movement,

as shadowy to the doctor's eyes as the persistent immobility of the late Senor Hirsch.

"A poor man amongst you has got to look after himself.

I say that you do not care for those that serve you.

Look at me!

After all these years,


here I find myself like one of these curs that bark outside the walls --without a kennel or a dry bone for my teeth.

_Caramba!_" But he relented with a contemptuous fairness.

"Of course,"

he went on,


"I do not suppose that you would hasten to give me up to Sotillo,

for example.

It is not that.

It is that I am nothing!

Suddenly --" He swung his arm downwards.

"Nothing to any one,"

he repeated.

The doctor breathed freely.



he said,

stretching out his arm almost affectionately towards Nostromo's shoulder.

"I am going to tell you a very simple thing.

You are safe because you are needed.

I would not give you away for any conceivable reason,

because I want you."

In the dark Nostromo bit his lip.

He had heard enough of that.

He knew what that meant.

No more of that for him.

But he had to look after himself now,

he thought.

And he thought,


that it would not be prudent to part in anger from his companion.

The doctor,

admitted to be a great healer,


amongst the populace of Sulaco,

the reputation of being an evil sort of man.

It was based solidly on his personal appearance,

which was strange,

and on his rough ironic manner --proofs visible,


and incontrovertible of the doctor's malevolent disposition.

And Nostromo was of the people.

So he only grunted incredulously.


to speak plainly,

are the only man,"

the doctor pursued.

"It is in your power to save this town and ...everybody from the destructive rapacity of men who --"



said Nostromo,


"It is not in my power to get the treasure back for you to give up to Sotillo,

or Pedrito,

or Gamacho.

What do I know?"

"Nobody expects the impossible,"

was the answer.

"You have said it yourself --nobody,"

muttered Nostromo,

in a gloomy,

threatening tone.

But Dr. Monygham,

full of hope,

disregarded the enigmatic words and the threatening tone.

To their eyes,

accustomed to obscurity,

the late Senor Hirsch,

growing more distinct,

seemed to have come nearer.

And the doctor lowered his voice in exposing his scheme as though afraid of being overheard.

He was taking the indispensable man into his fullest confidence.

Its implied flattery and suggestion of great risks came with a familiar sound to the Capataz.

His mind,

floating in irresolution and discontent,

recognized it with bitterness.

He understood well that the doctor was anxious to save the San Tome mine from annihilation.

He would be nothing without it.

It was his interest.

Just as it had been the interest of Senor Decoud,

of the Blancos,

and of the Europeans to get his Cargadores on their side.

His thought became arrested upon Decoud.

What would happen to him?

Nostromo's prolonged silence made the doctor uneasy.

He pointed out,

quite unnecessarily,

that though for the present he was safe,

he could not live concealed for ever.

The choice was between accepting the mission to Barrios,

with all its dangers and difficulties,

and leaving Sulaco by stealth,


in poverty.

"None of your friends could reward you and protect you just now,


Not even Don Carlos himself."

"I would have none of your protection and none of your rewards.

I only wish I could trust your courage and your sense.

When I return in triumph,

as you say,

with Barrios,

I may find you all destroyed.

You have the knife at your throat now."

It was the doctor's turn to remain silent in the contemplation of horrible contingencies.


we would trust your courage and your sense.

And you,


have a knife at your throat."


And whom am I to thank for that?

What are your politics and your mines to me --your silver and your constitutions --your Don Carlos this,

and Don Jose that --"

"I don't know,"

burst out the exasperated doctor.

"There are innocent people in danger whose little finger is worth more than you or I and all the Ribierists together.

I don't know.

You should have asked yourself before you allowed Decoud to lead you into all this.

It was your place to think like a man;

but if you did not think then,

try to act like a man now.

Did you imagine Decoud cared very much for what would happen to you?"

"No more than you care for what will happen to me,"

muttered the other.


I care for what will happen to you as little as I care for what will happen to myself."

"And all this because you are such a devoted Ribierist?"

Nostromo said in an incredulous tone.

"All this because I am such a devoted Ribierist,"

repeated Dr. Monygham,


Again Nostromo,

gazing abstractedly at the body of the late Senor Hirsch,

remained silent,

thinking that the doctor was a dangerous person in more than one sense.

It was impossible to trust him.

"Do you speak in the name of Don Carlos?"

he asked at last.


I do,"

the doctor said,


without hesitation.

"He must come forward now.

He must,"

he added in a mutter,

which Nostromo did not catch.

"What did you say,


The doctor started.

"I say that you must be true to yourself,


It would be worse than folly to fail now."

"True to myself,"

repeated Nostromo.

"How do you know that I would not be true to myself if I told you to go to the devil with your propositions?"

"I do not know.

Maybe you would,"

the doctor said,

with a roughness of tone intended to hide the sinking of his heart and the faltering of his voice.

"All I know is,

that you had better get away from here.

Some of Sotillo's men may turn up here looking for me."

He slipped off the table,

listening intently.

The Capataz,


stood up.

"Suppose I went to Cayta,

what would you do meantime?"

he asked.

"I would go to Sotillo directly you had left --in the way I am thinking of."

"A very good way --if only that engineer-in-chief consents.

Remind him,


that I looked after the old rich Englishman who pays for the railway,

and that I saved the lives of some of his people that time when a gang of thieves came from the south to wreck one of his pay-trains.

It was I who discovered it all at the risk of my life,

by pretending to enter into their plans.

Just as you are doing with Sotillo."



of course.

But I can offer him better arguments,"

the doctor said,


"Leave it to me."




I am nothing."

"Not at all.

You are everything."

They moved a few paces towards the door.

Behind them the late Senor Hirsch preserved the immobility of a disregarded man.

"That will be all right.

I know what to say to the engineer,"

pursued the doctor,

in a low tone.

"My difficulty will be with Sotillo."

And Dr. Monygham stopped short in the doorway as if intimidated by the difficulty.

He had made the sacrifice of his life.

He considered this a fitting opportunity.

But he did not want to throw his life away too soon.

In his quality of betrayer of Don Carlos' confidence,

he would have ultimately to indicate the hiding-place of the treasure.

That would be the end of his deception,

and the end of himself as well,

at the hands of the infuriated colonel.

He wanted to delay him to the very last moment;

and he had been racking his brains to invent some place of concealment at once plausible and difficult of access.

He imparted his trouble to Nostromo,

and concluded --

"Do you know what,


I think that when the time comes and some information must be given,

I shall indicate the Great Isabel.

That is the best place I can think of.

What is the matter?"

A low exclamation had escaped Nostromo.

The doctor waited,


and after a moment of profound silence,

heard a thick voice stammer out,

"Utter folly,"

and stop with a gasp.

"Why folly?"


You do not see it,"

began Nostromo,


gathering scorn as he went on.

"Three men in half an hour would see that no ground had been disturbed anywhere on that island.

Do you think that such a treasure can be buried without leaving traces of the work --eh!

senor doctor?


you would not gain half a day more before having your throat cut by Sotillo.

The Isabel!

What stupidity!

What miserable invention!


you are all alike,

you fine men of intelligence.

All you are fit for is to betray men of the people into undertaking deadly risks for objects that you are not even sure about.

If it comes off you get the benefit.

If not,

then it does not matter.

He is only a dog.


Madre de Dios,

I would --" He shook his fists above his head.

The doctor was overwhelmed at first by this fierce,

hissing vehemence.


It seems to me on your own showing that the men of the people are no mean fools,


he said,



but come.

You are so clever.

Have you a better place?"

Nostromo had calmed down as quickly as he had flared up.

"I am clever enough for that,"

he said,


almost with indifference.

"You want to tell him of a hiding-place big enough to take days in ransacking --a place where a treasure of silver ingots can be buried without leaving a sign on the surface."

"And close at hand,"

the doctor put in.

"Just so,


Tell him it is sunk."

"This has the merit of being the truth,"

the doctor said,


"He will not believe it."

"You tell him that it is sunk where he may hope to lay his hands on it,

and he will believe you quick enough.

Tell him it has been sunk in the harbour in order to be recovered afterwards by divers.

Tell him you found out that I had orders from Don Carlos Gould to lower the cases quietly overboard somewhere in a line between the end of the jetty and the entrance.

The depth is not too great there.

He has no divers,

but he has a ship,




sailors --of a sort.

Let him fish for the silver.

Let him set his fools to drag backwards and forwards and crossways while he sits and watches till his eyes drop out of his head."


this is an admirable idea,"

muttered the doctor.


You tell him that,

and see whether he will not believe you!

He will spend days in rage and torment --and still he will believe.

He will have no thought for anything else.

He will not give up till he is driven off --why,

he may even forget to kill you.

He will neither eat nor sleep.

He --"

"The very thing!

The very thing!"

the doctor repeated in an excited whisper.


I begin to believe that you are a great genius in your way."

Nostromo had paused;

then began again in a changed tone,


speaking to himself as though he had forgotten the doctor's existence.

"There is something in a treasure that fastens upon a man's mind.

He will pray and blaspheme and still persevere,

and will curse the day he ever heard of it,

and will let his last hour come upon him unawares,

still believing that he missed it only by a foot.

He will see it every time he closes his eyes.

He will never forget it till he is dead --and even then -- --Doctor,

did you ever hear of the miserable gringos on Azuera,

that cannot die?



Sailors like myself.

There is no getting away from a treasure that once fastens upon your mind."

"You are a devil of a man,


It is the most plausible thing."

Nostromo pressed his arm.

"It will be worse for him than thirst at sea or hunger in a town full of people.

Do you know what that is?

He shall suffer greater torments than he inflicted upon that terrified wretch who had no invention.



Not like me.

I could have told Sotillo a deadly tale for very little pain."

He laughed wildly and turned in the doorway towards the body of the late Senor Hirsch,

an opaque long blotch in the semi-transparent obscurity of the room between the two tall parallelograms of the windows full of stars.

"You man of fear!"

he cried.

"You shall be avenged by me --Nostromo.

Out of my way,


Stand aside --or,

by the suffering soul of a woman dead without confession,

I will strangle you with my two hands."

He bounded downwards into the black,

smoky hall.

With a grunt of astonishment,

Dr. Monygham threw himself recklessly into the pursuit.

At the bottom of the charred stairs he had a fall,

pitching forward on his face with a force that would have stunned a spirit less intent upon a task of love and devotion.

He was up in a moment,



with a queer impression of the terrestrial globe having been flung at his head in the dark.

But it wanted more than that to stop Dr. Monygham's body,

possessed by the exaltation of self-sacrifice;

a reasonable exaltation,

determined not to lose whatever advantage chance put into its way.

He ran with headlong,

tottering swiftness,

his arms going like a windmill in his effort to keep his balance on his crippled feet.

He lost his hat;

the tails of his open gaberdine flew behind him.

He had no mind to lose sight of the indispensable man.

But it was a long time,

and a long way from the Custom House,

before he managed to seize his arm from behind,


out of breath.


Are you mad?"

Already Nostromo was walking slowly,

his head dropping,

as if checked in his pace by the weariness of irresolution.

"What is that to you?


I forgot you want me for something.


Siempre Nostromo."

"What do you mean by talking of strangling me?"

panted the doctor.

"What do I mean?

I mean that the king of the devils himself has sent you out of this town of cowards and talkers to meet me to-night of all the nights of my life."

Under the starry sky the Albergo d'ltalia Una emerged,

black and low,

breaking the dark level of the plain.

Nostromo stopped altogether.

"The priests say he is a tempter,

do they not?"

he added,

through his clenched teeth.

"My good man,

you drivel.

The devil has nothing to do with this.

Neither has the town,

which you may call by what name you please.

But Don Carlos Gould is neither a coward nor an empty talker.

You will admit that?"

He waited.


"Could I see Don Carlos?"

"Great heavens!



What for?"

exclaimed the doctor in agitation.

"I tell you it is madness.

I will not let you go into the town for anything."

"I must."

"You must not!"

hissed the doctor,


almost beside himself with the fear of the man doing away with his usefulness for an imbecile whim of some sort.

"I tell you you shall not.

I would rather -- --"

He stopped at loss for words,

feeling fagged out,


holding on to Nostromo's sleeve,

absolutely for support after his run.

"I am betrayed!"

muttered the Capataz to himself;

and the doctor,

who overheard the last word,

made an effort to speak calmly.

"That is exactly what would happen to you.

You would be betrayed."

He thought with a sickening dread that the man was so well known that he could not escape recognition.

The house of the Senor Administrador was beset by spies,

no doubt.

And even the very servants of the casa were not to be trusted.



he said,


..."What are you laughing at?"

"I am laughing to think that if somebody that did not approve of my presence in town,

for instance --you understand,

senor doctor --if somebody were to give me up to Pedrito,

it would not be beyond my power to make friends even with him.

It is true.

What do you think of that?"

"You are a man of infinite resource,


said Dr. Monygham,


"I recognize that.

But the town is full of talk about you;

and those few Cargadores that are not in hiding with the railway people have been shouting

'Viva Montero' on the Plaza all day."

"My poor Cargadores!"

muttered Nostromo.



"I understand that on the wharf you were pretty free in laying about you with a stick amongst your poor Cargadores,"

the doctor said in a grim tone,

which showed that he was recovering from his exertions.

"Make no mistake.

Pedrito is furious at Senor Ribiera's rescue,

and at having lost the pleasure of shooting Decoud.

Already there are rumours in the town of the treasure having been spirited away.

To have missed that does not please Pedrito either;

but let me tell you that if you had all that silver in your hand for ransom it would not save you."

Turning swiftly,

and catching the doctor by the shoulders,

Nostromo thrust his face close to his.


You follow me speaking of the treasure.

You have sworn my ruin.

You were the last man who looked upon me before I went out with it.

And Sidoni the engine-driver says you have an evil eye."

"He ought to know.

I saved his broken leg for him last year,"

the doctor said,


He felt on his shoulders the weight of these hands famed amongst the populace for snapping thick ropes and bending horseshoes.

"And to you I offer the best means of saving yourself --let me go --and of retrieving your great reputation.

You boasted of making the Capataz de Cargadores famous from one end of America to the other about this wretched silver.

But I bring you a better opportunity --let me go,


Nostromo released him abruptly,

and the doctor feared that the indispensable man would run off again.

But he did not.

He walked on slowly.

The doctor hobbled by his side till,

within a stone's throw from the Casa Viola,

Nostromo stopped again.

Silent in inhospitable darkness,

the Casa Viola seemed to have changed its nature;

his home appeared to repel him with an air of hopeless and inimical mystery.

The doctor said --

"You will be safe there.

Go in,


"How can I go in?"

Nostromo seemed to ask himself in a low,

inward tone.

"She cannot unsay what she said,

and I cannot undo what I have done."

"I tell you it is all right.

Viola is all alone in there.

I looked in as I came out of the town.

You will be perfectly safe in that house till you leave it to make your name famous on the Campo.

I am going now to arrange for your departure with the engineer-in-chief,

and I shall bring you news here long before daybreak."

Dr. Monygham,


or perhaps fearing to penetrate the meaning of Nostromo's silence,

clapped him lightly on the shoulder,

and starting off with his smart,

lame walk,

vanished utterly at the third or fourth hop in the direction of the railway track.

Arrested between the two wooden posts for people to fasten their horses to,

Nostromo did not move,

as if he,


had been planted solidly in the ground.

At the end of half an hour he lifted his head to the deep baying of the dogs at the railway yards,

which had burst out suddenly,

tumultuous and deadened as if coming from under the plain.

That lame doctor with the evil eye had got there pretty fast.

Step by step Nostromo approached the Albergo d'Italia Una,

which he had never known so lightless,

so silent,


The door,

all black in the pale wall,

stood open as he had left it twenty-four hours before,

when he had nothing to hide from the world.

He remained before it,


like a fugitive,

like a man betrayed.




Where had he heard these words?

The anger of a dying woman had prophesied that fate for his folly.

It looked as if it would come true very quickly.

And the leperos would laugh --she had said.


they would laugh if they knew that the Capataz de Cargadores was at the mercy of the mad doctor whom they could remember,

only a few years ago,

buying cooked food from a stall on the Plaza for a copper coin --like one of themselves.

At that moment the notion of seeking Captain Mitchell passed through his mind.

He glanced in the direction of the jetty and saw a small gleam of light in the O.S.N.

Company's building.

The thought of lighted windows was not attractive.

Two lighted windows had decoyed him into the empty Custom House,

only to fall into the clutches of that doctor.


He would not go near lighted windows again on that night.

Captain Mitchell was there.

And what could he be told?

That doctor would worm it all out of him as if he were a child.

On the threshold he called out "Giorgio!"

in an undertone.

Nobody answered.

He stepped in.



Are you there?


In the impenetrable darkness his head swam with the illusion that the obscurity of the kitchen was as vast as the Placid Gulf,

and that the floor dipped forward like a sinking lighter.



he repeated,


swaying where he stood.

His hand,

extended to steady himself,

fell upon the table.

Moving a step forward,

he shifted it,

and felt a box of matches under his fingers.

He fancied he had heard a quiet sigh.

He listened for a moment,

holding his breath;


with trembling hands,

tried to strike a light.

The tiny piece of wood flamed up quite blindingly at the end of his fingers,

raised above his blinking eyes.

A concentrated glare fell upon the leonine white head of old Giorgio against the black fire-place --showed him leaning forward in a chair in staring immobility,



by great masses of shadow,

his legs crossed,

his cheek in his hand,

an empty pipe in the corner of his mouth.

It seemed hours before he attempted to turn his face;

at the very moment the match went out,

and he disappeared,

overwhelmed by the shadows,

as if the walls and roof of the desolate house had collapsed upon his white head in ghostly silence.

Nostromo heard him stir and utter dispassionately the words --

"It may have been a vision."


he said,


"It is no vision,

old man."

A strong chest voice asked in the dark --

"Is that you I hear,

Giovann' Battista?"




Not so loud."

After his release by Sotillo,

Giorgio Viola,

attended to the very door by the good-natured engineer-in-chief,

had reentered his house,

which he had been made to leave almost at the very moment of his wife's death.

All was still.

The lamp above was burning.

He nearly called out to her by name;

and the thought that no call from him would ever again evoke the answer of her voice,

made him drop heavily into the chair with a loud groan,

wrung out by the pain as of a keen blade piercing his breast.

The rest of the night he made no sound.

The darkness turned to grey,

and on the colourless,


glassy dawn the jagged sierra stood out flat and opaque,

as if cut out of paper.

The enthusiastic and severe soul of Giorgio Viola,


champion of oppressed humanity,

enemy of kings,


by the grace of Mrs. Gould,

hotel-keeper of the Sulaco harbour,

had descended into the open abyss of desolation amongst the shattered vestiges of his past.

He remembered his wooing between two campaigns,

a single short week in the season of gathering olives.

Nothing approached the grave passion of that time but the deep,

passionate sense of his bereavement.

He discovered all the extent of his dependence upon the silenced voice of that woman.

It was her voice that he missed.



lost in inward contemplation,

he seldom looked at his wife in those later years.

The thought of his girls was a matter of concern,

not of consolation.

It was her voice that he would miss.

And he remembered the other child --the little boy who died at sea.


a man would have been something to lean upon.



even Gian' Battista --he of whom,

and of Linda,

his wife had spoken to him so anxiously before she dropped off into her last sleep on earth,

he on whom she had called aloud to save the children,

just before she died --even he was dead!

And the old man,

bent forward,

his head in his hand,

sat through the day in immobility and solitude.

He never heard the brazen roar of the bells in town.

When it ceased the earthenware filter in the corner of the kitchen kept on its swift musical drip,

drip into the great porous jar below.

Towards sunset he got up,

and with slow movements disappeared up the narrow staircase.

His bulk filled it;

and the rubbing of his shoulders made a small noise as of a mouse running behind the plaster of a wall.

While he remained up there the house was as dumb as a grave.


with the same faint rubbing noise,

he descended.

He had to catch at the chairs and tables to regain his seat.

He seized his pipe off the high mantel of the fire-place --but made no attempt to reach the tobacco --thrust it empty into the corner of his mouth,

and sat down again in the same staring pose.

The sun of Pedrito's entry into Sulaco,

the last sun of Senor Hirsch's life,

the first of Decoud's solitude on the Great Isabel,

passed over the Albergo d'ltalia Una on its way to the west.

The tinkling drip,

drip of the filter had ceased,

the lamp upstairs had burnt itself out,

and the night beset Giorgio Viola and his dead wife with its obscurity and silence that seemed invincible till the Capataz de Cargadores,

returning from the dead,

put them to flight with the splutter and flare of a match.



It is me.



after barricading the door and closing the shutters carefully,

groped upon a shelf for a candle,

and lit it.

Old Viola had risen.

He followed with his eyes in the dark the sounds made by Nostromo.

The light disclosed him standing without support,

as if the mere presence of that man who was loyal,



who was all his son would have been,

were enough for the support of his decaying strength.

He extended his hand grasping the briar-wood pipe,

whose bowl was charred on the edge,

and knitted his bushy eyebrows heavily at the light.

"You have returned,"

he said,

with shaky dignity.


Very well!

I -- --"

He broke off.


leaning back against the table,

his arms folded on his breast,

nodded at him slightly.

"You thought I was drowned!


The best dog of the rich,

of the aristocrats,

of these fine men who can only talk and betray the people,

is not dead yet."

The Garibaldino,


seemed to drink in the sound of the well-known voice.

His head moved slightly once as if in sign of approval;

but Nostromo saw clearly that the old man understood nothing of the words.

There was no one to understand;

no one he could take into the confidence of Decoud's fate,

of his own,

into the secret of the silver.

That doctor was an enemy of the people --a tempter.


Old Giorgio's heavy frame shook from head to foot with the effort to overcome his emotion at the sight of that man,

who had shared the intimacies of his domestic life as though he had been a grown-up son.

"She believed you would return,"

he said,


Nostromo raised his head.

"She was a wise woman.

How could I fail to come back -- --?"

He finished the thought mentally:

"Since she has prophesied for me an end of poverty,


and starvation."

These words of Teresa's anger,

from the circumstances in which they had been uttered,

like the cry of a soul prevented from making its peace with God,

stirred the obscure superstition of personal fortune from which even the greatest genius amongst men of adventure and action is seldom free.

They reigned over Nostromo's mind with the force of a potent malediction.

And what a curse it was that which her words had laid upon him!

He had been orphaned so young that he could remember no other woman whom he called mother.

Henceforth there would be no enterprise in which he would not fail.

The spell was working already.

Death itself would elude him now.

...He said violently --



Get me something to eat.

I am hungry!

Sangre de Dios!

The emptiness of my belly makes me lightheaded."

With his chin dropped again upon his bare breast above his folded arms,


watching from under a gloomy brow the movements of old Viola foraging amongst the cupboards,

he seemed as if indeed fallen under a curse --a ruined and sinister Capataz.

Old Viola walked out of a dark corner,


without a word,

emptied upon the table out of his hollowed palms a few dry crusts of bread and half a raw onion.

While the Capataz began to devour this beggar's fare,

taking up with stony-eyed voracity piece after piece lying by his side,

the Garibaldino went off,

and squatting down in another corner filled an earthenware mug with red wine out of a wicker-covered demijohn.

With a familiar gesture,

as when serving customers in the cafe,

he had thrust his pipe between his teeth to have his hands free.

The Capataz drank greedily.

A slight flush deepened the bronze of his cheek.

Before him,


with a turn of his white and massive head towards the staircase,

took his empty pipe out of his mouth,

and pronounced slowly --

"After the shot was fired down here,

which killed her as surely as if the bullet had struck her oppressed heart,

she called upon you to save the children.

Upon you,

Gian' Battista."

The Capataz looked up.

"Did she do that,


To save the children!

They are with the English senora,

their rich benefactress.


old man of the people.

Thy benefactress.


"I am old,"

muttered Giorgio Viola.

"An Englishwoman was allowed to give a bed to Garibaldi lying wounded in prison.

The greatest man that ever lived.

A man of the people,

too --a sailor.

I may let another keep a roof over my head.

Si ...I am old.

I may let her.

Life lasts too long sometimes."

"And she herself may not have a roof over her head before many days are out,

unless I ...What do you say?

Am I to keep a roof over her head?

Am I to try --and save all the Blancos together with her?"

"You shall do it,"

said old Viola in a strong voice.

"You shall do it as my son would have.


"Thy son,




There never has been a man like thy son.


I must try.

...But what if it were only a part of the curse to lure me on?

...And so she called upon me to save --and then -- --?"

"She spoke no more."

The heroic follower of Garibaldi,

at the thought of the eternal stillness and silence fallen upon the shrouded form stretched out on the bed upstairs,

averted his face and raised his hand to his furrowed brow.

"She was dead before I could seize her hands,"

he stammered out,


Before the wide eyes of the Capataz,

staring at the doorway of the dark staircase,

floated the shape of the Great Isabel,

like a strange ship in distress,

freighted with enormous wealth and the solitary life of a man.

It was impossible for him to do anything.

He could only hold his tongue,

since there was no one to trust.

The treasure would be lost,

probably --unless Decoud.

...And his thought came abruptly to an end.

He perceived that he could not imagine in the least what Decoud was likely to do.

Old Viola had not stirred.

And the motionless Capataz dropped his long,

soft eyelashes,

which gave to the upper part of his fierce,

black-whiskered face a touch of feminine ingenuousness.

The silence had lasted for a long time.

"God rest her soul!"

he murmured,



The next day was quiet in the morning,

except for the faint sound of firing to the northward,

in the direction of Los Hatos.

Captain Mitchell had listened to it from his balcony anxiously.

The phrase,

"In my delicate position as the only consular agent then in the port,



everything was a just cause for anxiety,"

had its place in the more or less stereotyped relation of the "historical events" which for the next few years was at the service of distinguished strangers visiting Sulaco.

The mention of the dignity and neutrality of the flag,

so difficult to preserve in his position,

"right in the thick of these events between the lawlessness of that piratical villain Sotillo and the more regularly established but scarcely less atrocious tyranny of his Excellency Don Pedro Montero,"

came next in order.

Captain Mitchell was not the man to enlarge upon mere dangers much.

But he insisted that it was a memorable day.

On that day,

towards dusk,

he had seen "that poor fellow of mine --Nostromo.

The sailor whom I discovered,


I may say,



The man of the famous ride to Cayta,


An historical event,


Regarded by the O. S. N.

Company as an old and faithful servant,

Captain Mitchell was allowed to attain the term of his usefulness in ease and dignity at the head of the enormously extended service.

The augmentation of the establishment,

with its crowds of clerks,

an office in town,

the old office in the harbour,

the division into departments --passenger,



and so on --secured a greater leisure for his last years in the regenerated Sulaco,

the capital of the Occidental Republic.

Liked by the natives for his good nature and the formality of his manner,

self-important and simple,

known for years as a "friend of our country,"

he felt himself a personality of mark in the town.

Getting up early for a turn in the market-place while the gigantic shadow of Higuerota was still lying upon the fruit and flower stalls piled up with masses of gorgeous colouring,

attending easily to current affairs,

welcomed in houses,

greeted by ladies on the Alameda,

with his entry into all the clubs and a footing in the Casa Gould,

he led his privileged old bachelor,

man-about-town existence with great comfort and solemnity.

But on mail-boat days he was down at the Harbour Office at an early hour,

with his own gig,

manned by a smart crew in white and blue,

ready to dash off and board the ship directly she showed her bows between the harbour heads.

It would be into the Harbour Office that he would lead some privileged passenger he had brought off in his own boat,

and invite him to take a seat for a moment while he signed a few papers.

And Captain Mitchell,

seating himself at his desk,

would keep on talking hospitably --

"There isn't much time if you are to see everything in a day.

We shall be off in a moment.

We'll have lunch at the Amarilla Club --though I belong also to the Anglo-American --mining engineers and business men,

don't you know --and to the Mirliflores as well,

a new club --English,



all sorts --lively young fellows mostly,

who wanted to pay a compliment to an old resident,


But we'll lunch at the Amarilla.

Interest you,

I fancy.

Real thing of the country.

Men of the first families.

The President of the Occidental Republic himself belongs to it,


Fine old bishop with a broken nose in the patio.

Remarkable piece of statuary,

I believe.

Cavaliere Parrochetti --you know Parrochetti,

the famous Italian sculptor --was working here for two years --thought very highly of our old bishop.


I am very much at your service now."

Proud of his experience,

penetrated by the sense of historical importance of men,


and buildings,

he talked pompously in jerky periods,

with slight sweeps of his short,

thick arm,

letting nothing "escape the attention" of his privileged captive.

"Lot of building going on,

as you observe.

Before the Separation it was a plain of burnt grass smothered in clouds of dust,

with an ox-cart track to our Jetty.

Nothing more.

This is the Harbour Gate.


is it not?

Formerly the town stopped short there.

We enter now the Calle de la Constitucion.

Observe the old Spanish houses.

Great dignity.


I suppose it's just as it was in the time of the Viceroys,

except for the pavement.

Wood blocks now.

Sulaco National Bank there,

with the sentry boxes each side of the gate.

Casa Avellanos this side,

with all the ground-floor windows shuttered.

A wonderful woman lives there --Miss Avellanos --the beautiful Antonia.

A character,


A historical woman!

Opposite --Casa Gould.

Noble gateway.


the Goulds of the original Gould Concession,

that all the world knows of now.

I hold seventeen of the thousand-dollar shares in the Consolidated San Tome mines.

All the poor savings of my lifetime,


and it will be enough to keep me in comfort to the end of my days at home when I retire.

I got in on the ground-floor,

you see.

Don Carlos,

great friend of mine.

Seventeen shares --quite a little fortune to leave behind one,


I have a niece --married a parson --most worthy man,

incumbent of a small parish in Sussex;

no end of children.

I was never married myself.

A sailor should exercise self-denial.

Standing under that very gateway,


with some young engineer-fellows,

ready to defend that house where we had received so much kindness and hospitality,

I saw the first and last charge of Pedrito's horsemen upon Barrios's troops,

who had just taken the Harbour Gate.

They could not stand the new rifles brought out by that poor Decoud.

It was a murderous fire.

In a moment the street became blocked with a mass of dead men and horses.

They never came on again."

And all day Captain Mitchell would talk like this to his more or less willing victim --

"The Plaza.

I call it magnificent.

Twice the area of Trafalgar Square."

From the very centre,

in the blazing sunshine,

he pointed out the buildings --

"The Intendencia,

now President's Palace --Cabildo,

where the Lower Chamber of Parliament sits.

You notice the new houses on that side of the Plaza?

Compania Anzani,

a great general store,

like those cooperative things at home.

Old Anzani was murdered by the National Guards in front of his safe.

It was even for that specific crime that the deputy Gamacho,

commanding the Nationals,

a bloodthirsty and savage brute,

was executed publicly by garrotte upon the sentence of a court-martial ordered by Barrios.

Anzani's nephews converted the business into a company.

All that side of the Plaza had been burnt;

used to be colonnaded before.

A terrible fire,

by the light of which I saw the last of the fighting,

the llaneros flying,

the Nationals throwing their arms down,

and the miners of San Tome,

all Indians from the Sierra,

rolling by like a torrent to the sound of pipes and cymbals,

green flags flying,

a wild mass of men in white ponchos and green hats,

on foot,

on mules,

on donkeys.

Such a sight,


will never be seen again.

The miners,


had marched upon the town,

Don Pepe leading on his black horse,

and their very wives in the rear on burros,

screaming encouragement,


and beating tambourines.

I remember one of these women had a green parrot seated on her shoulder,

as calm as a bird of stone.

They had just saved their Senor Administrador;

for Barrios,

though he ordered the assault at once,

at night,


would have been too late.

Pedrito Montero had Don Carlos led out to be shot --like his uncle many years ago --and then,

as Barrios said afterwards,

'Sulaco would not have been worth fighting for.'

Sulaco without the Concession was nothing;

and there were tons and tons of dynamite distributed all over the mountain with detonators arranged,

and an old priest,

Father Roman,

standing by to annihilate the San Tome mine at the first news of failure.

Don Carlos had made up his mind not to leave it behind,

and he had the right men to see to it,


Thus Captain Mitchell would talk in the middle of the Plaza,

holding over his head a white umbrella with a green lining;

but inside the cathedral,

in the dim light,

with a faint scent of incense floating in the cool atmosphere,

and here and there a kneeling female figure,

black or all white,

with a veiled head,

his lowered voice became solemn and impressive.


he would say,

pointing to a niche in the wall of the dusky aisle,

"you see the bust of Don Jose Avellanos,

'Patriot and Statesman,'

as the inscription says,

'Minister to Courts of England and Spain,



died in the woods of Los Hatos worn out with his lifelong struggle for Right and Justice at the dawn of the New Era.'

A fair likeness.

Parrochetti's work from some old photographs and a pencil sketch by Mrs. Gould.

I was well acquainted with that distinguished Spanish-American of the old school,

a true Hidalgo,

beloved by everybody who knew him.

The marble medallion in the wall,

in the antique style,

representing a veiled woman seated with her hands clasped loosely over her knees,

commemorates that unfortunate young gentleman who sailed out with Nostromo on that fatal night,



'To the memory of Martin Decoud,

his betrothed Antonia Avellanos.'




There you have that lady,


as she is.

An exceptional woman.

Those who thought she would give way to despair were mistaken,


She has been blamed in many quarters for not having taken the veil.

It was expected of her.

But Dona Antonia is not the stuff they make nuns of.

Bishop Corbelan,

her uncle,

lives with her in the Corbelan town house.

He is a fierce sort of priest,

everlastingly worrying the Government about the old Church lands and convents.

I believe they think a lot of him in Rome.

Now let us go to the Amarilla Club,

just across the Plaza,

to get some lunch."

Directly outside the cathedral on the very top of the noble flight of steps,

his voice rose pompously,

his arm found again its sweeping gesture.


over there on that first floor,

above those French plate-glass shop-fronts;

our biggest daily.




I should say,


We have the Parliamentary party here of which the actual Chief of the State,

Don Juste Lopez,

is the head;

a very sagacious man,

I think.

A first-rate intellect,


The Democratic party in opposition rests mostly,

I am sorry to say,

on these socialistic Italians,


with their secret societies,


and such-like.

There are lots of Italians settled here on the railway lands,

dismissed navvies,


and so on,

all along the trunk line.

There are whole villages of Italians on the Campo.

And the natives,


are being drawn into these ways ...American bar?


And over there you can see another.

New Yorkers mostly frequent that one -- --Here we are at the Amarilla.

Observe the bishop at the foot of the stairs to the right as we go in."

And the lunch would begin and terminate its lavish and leisurely course at a little table in the gallery,

Captain Mitchell nodding,


getting up to speak for a moment to different officials in black clothes,

merchants in jackets,

officers in uniform,

middle-aged caballeros from the Campo --sallow,


nervous men,

and fat,


swarthy men,

and Europeans or North Americans of superior standing,

whose faces looked very white amongst the majority of dark complexions and black,

glistening eyes.

Captain Mitchell would lie back in the chair,

casting around looks of satisfaction,

and tender over the table a case full of thick cigars.

"Try a weed with your coffee.

Local tobacco.

The black coffee you get at the Amarilla,


you don't meet anywhere in the world.

We get the bean from a famous cafeteria in the foot-hills,

whose owner sends three sacks every year as a present to his fellow members in remembrance of the fight against Gamacho's Nationals,

carried on from these very windows by the caballeros.

He was in town at the time,

and took part,


to the bitter end.

It arrives on three mules --not in the common way,

by rail;

no fear!

--right into the patio,

escorted by mounted peons,

in charge of the Mayoral of his estate,

who walks upstairs,

booted and spurred,

and delivers it to our committee formally with the words,

'For the sake of those fallen on the third of May.'

We call it Tres de Mayo coffee.

Taste it."

Captain Mitchell,

with an expression as though making ready to hear a sermon in a church,

would lift the tiny cup to his lips.

And the nectar would be sipped to the bottom during a restful silence in a cloud of cigar smoke.

"Look at this man in black just going out,"

he would begin,

leaning forward hastily.

"This is the famous Hernandez,

Minister of War.

The Times' special correspondent,

who wrote that striking series of letters calling the Occidental Republic the

'Treasure House of the World,'

gave a whole article to him and the force he has organized --the renowned Carabineers of the Campo."

Captain Mitchell's guest,

staring curiously,

would see a figure in a long-tailed black coat walking gravely,

with downcast eyelids in a long,

composed face,

a brow furrowed horizontally,

a pointed head,

whose grey hair,

thin at the top,

combed down carefully on all sides and rolled at the ends,

fell low on the neck and shoulders.



was the famous bandit of whom Europe had heard with interest.

He put on a high-crowned sombrero with a wide flat brim;

a rosary of wooden beads was twisted about his right wrist.

And Captain Mitchell would proceed --

"The protector of the Sulaco refugees from the rage of Pedrito.

As general of cavalry with Barrios he distinguished himself at the storming of Tonoro,

where Senor Fuentes was killed with the last remnant of the Monterists.

He is the friend and humble servant of Bishop Corbelan.

Hears three Masses every day.

I bet you he will step into the cathedral to say a prayer or two on his way home to his siesta."

He took several puffs at his cigar in silence;


in his most important manner,


"The Spanish race,


is prolific of remarkable characters in every rank of life.

...I propose we go now into the billiard-room,

which is cool,

for a quiet chat.

There's never anybody there till after five.

I could tell you episodes of the Separationist revolution that would astonish you.

When the great heat's over,

we'll take a turn on the Alameda."

The programme went on relentless,

like a law of Nature.

The turn on the Alameda was taken with slow steps and stately remarks.

"All the great world of Sulaco here,


Captain Mitchell bowed right and left with no end of formality;

then with animation,

"Dona Emilia,

Mrs. Gould's carriage.


Always white mules.

The kindest,

most gracious woman the sun ever shone upon.

A great position,


A great position.

First lady in Sulaco --far before the President's wife.

And worthy of it."

He took off his hat;


with a studied change of tone,



that the man in black by her side,

with a high white collar and a scarred,

snarly face,

was Dr. Monygham,

Inspector of State Hospitals,

chief medical officer of the Consolidated San Tome mines.

"A familiar of the house.

Everlastingly there.

No wonder.

The Goulds made him.

Very clever man and all that,

but I never liked him.

Nobody does.

I can recollect him limping about the streets in a check shirt and native sandals with a watermelon under his arm --all he would get to eat for the day.

A big-wig now,


and as nasty as ever.

However ...There's no doubt he played his part fairly well at the time.

He saved us all from the deadly incubus of Sotillo,

where a more particular man might have failed -- --"

His arm went up.

"The equestrian statue that used to stand on the pedestal over there has been removed.

It was an anachronism,"

Captain Mitchell commented,


"There is some talk of replacing it by a marble shaft commemorative of Separation,

with angels of peace at the four corners,

and bronze Justice holding an even balance,

all gilt,

on the top.

Cavaliere Parrochetti was asked to make a design,

which you can see framed under glass in the Municipal Sala.

Names are to be engraved all round the base.


They could do no better than begin with the name of Nostromo.

He has done for Separation as much as anybody else,


added Captain Mitchell,

"has got less than many others by it --when it comes to that."

He dropped on to a stone seat under a tree,

and tapped invitingly at the place by his side.

"He carried to Barrios the letters from Sulaco which decided the General to abandon Cayta for a time,

and come back to our help here by sea.

The transports were still in harbour fortunately.


I did not even know that my Capataz de Cargadores was alive.

I had no idea.

It was Dr. Monygham who came upon him,

by chance,

in the Custom House,

evacuated an hour or two before by the wretched Sotillo.

I was never told;

never given a hint,

nothing --as if I were unworthy of confidence.

Monygham arranged it all.

He went to the railway yards,

and got admission to the engineer-in-chief,


for the sake of the Goulds as much as for anything else,

consented to let an engine make a dash down the line,

one hundred and eighty miles,

with Nostromo aboard.

It was the only way to get him off.

In the Construction Camp at the railhead,

he obtained a horse,


some clothing,

and started alone on that marvellous ride --four hundred miles in six days,

through a disturbed country,

ending by the feat of passing through the Monterist lines outside Cayta.

The history of that ride,


would make a most exciting book.

He carried all our lives in his pocket.




intelligence were not enough.

Of course,

he was perfectly fearless and incorruptible.

But a man was wanted that would know how to succeed.

He was that man,


On the fifth of May,

being practically a prisoner in the Harbour Office of my Company,

I suddenly heard the whistle of an engine in the railway yards,

a quarter of a mile away.

I could not believe my ears.

I made one jump on to the balcony,

and beheld a locomotive under a great head of steam run out of the yard gates,

screeching like mad,

enveloped in a white cloud,

and then,

just abreast of old Viola's inn,

check almost to a standstill.

I made out,


a man --I couldn't tell who --dash out of the Albergo d'ltalia Una,

climb into the cab,

and then,


that engine seemed positively to leap clear of the house,

and was gone in the twinkling of an eye.

As you blow a candle out,


There was a first-rate driver on the foot-plate,


I can tell you.

They were fired heavily upon by the National Guards in Rincon and one other place.

Fortunately the line had not been torn up.

In four hours they reached the Construction Camp.

Nostromo had his start.

...The rest you know.

You've got only to look round you.

There are people on this Alameda that ride in their carriages,

or even are alive at all to-day,

because years ago I engaged a runaway Italian sailor for a foreman of our wharf simply on the strength of his looks.

And that's a fact.

You can't get over it,


On the seventeenth of May,

just twelve days after I saw the man from the Casa Viola get on the engine,

and wondered what it meant,

Barrios's transports were entering this harbour,

and the

'Treasure House of the World,'

as The Times man calls Sulaco in his book,

was saved intact for civilization --for a great future,



with Hernandez on the west,

and the San Tome miners pressing on the land gate,

was not able to oppose the landing.

He had been sending messages to Sotillo for a week to join him.

Had Sotillo done so there would have been massacres and proscription that would have left no man or woman of position alive.

But that's where Dr. Monygham comes in.


blind and deaf to everything,

stuck on board his steamer watching the dragging for silver,

which he believed to be sunk at the bottom of the harbour.

They say that for the last three days he was out of his mind raving and foaming with disappointment at getting nothing,

flying about the deck,

and yelling curses at the boats with the drags,

ordering them in,

and then suddenly stamping his foot and crying out,

'And yet it is there!

I see it!

I feel it!'

"He was preparing to hang Dr. Monygham

(whom he had on board)

at the end of the after-derrick,

when the first of Barrios's transports,

one of our own ships at that,

steamed right in,

and ranging close alongside opened a small-arm fire without as much preliminaries as a hail.

It was the completest surprise in the world,


They were too astounded at first to bolt below.

Men were falling right and left like ninepins.

It's a miracle that Monygham,

standing on the after-hatch with the rope already round his neck,

escaped being riddled through and through like a sieve.

He told me since that he had given himself up for lost,

and kept on yelling with all the strength of his lungs:

'Hoist a white flag!

Hoist a white flag!'

Suddenly an old major of the Esmeralda regiment,

standing by,

unsheathed his sword with a shriek:


perjured traitor!'

and ran Sotillo clean through the body,

just before he fell himself shot through the head."

Captain Mitchell stopped for a while.



I could spin you a yarn for hours.

But it's time we started off to Rincon.

It would not do for you to pass through Sulaco and not see the lights of the San Tome mine,

a whole mountain ablaze like a lighted palace above the dark Campo.

It's a fashionable drive.

...But let me tell you one little anecdote,


just to show you.

A fortnight or more later,

when Barrios,

declared Generalissimo,

was gone in pursuit of Pedrito away south,

when the Provisional Junta,

with Don Juste Lopez at its head,

had promulgated the new Constitution,

and our Don Carlos Gould was packing up his trunks bound on a mission to San Francisco and Washington

(the United States,


were the first great power to recognize the Occidental Republic)

--a fortnight later,

I say,

when we were beginning to feel that our heads were safe on our shoulders,

if I may express myself so,

a prominent man,

a large shipper by our line,

came to see me on business,


says he,

the first thing:

'I say,

Captain Mitchell,

is that fellow'

(meaning Nostromo)

'still the Capataz of your Cargadores or not?'

'What's the matter?'

says I.


if he is,

then I don't mind;

I send and receive a good lot of cargo by your ships;

but I have observed him several days loafing about the wharf,

and just now he stopped me as cool as you please,

with a request for a cigar.


you know,

my cigars are rather special,

and I can't get them so easily as all that.'

'I hope you stretched a point,'

I said,

very gently.



But it's a confounded nuisance.

The fellow's everlastingly cadging for smokes.'


I turned my eyes away,

and then asked,

'Weren't you one of the prisoners in the Cabildo?'

'You know very well I was,

and in chains,


says he.

'And under a fine of fifteen thousand dollars?'

He coloured,


because it got about that he fainted from fright when they came to arrest him,

and then behaved before Fuentes in a manner to make the very policianos,

who had dragged him there by the hair of his head,

smile at his cringing.


he says,

in a sort of shy way.




You stood to lose a tidy bit,'

says I,

'even if you saved your life.

...But what can I do for you?'

He never even saw the point.

Not he.

And that's how the world wags,


He rose a little stiffly,

and the drive to Rincon would be taken with only one philosophical remark,

uttered by the merciless cicerone,

with his eyes fixed upon the lights of San Tome,

that seemed suspended in the dark night between earth and heaven.

"A great power,


for good and evil,


A great power."

And the dinner of the Mirliflores would be eaten,

excellent as to cooking,

and leaving upon the traveller's mind an impression that there were in Sulaco many pleasant,

able young men with salaries apparently too large for their discretion,

and amongst them a few,

mostly Anglo-Saxon,

skilled in the art of,

as the saying is,

"taking a rise" out of his kind host.

With a rapid,

jingling drive to the harbour in a two-wheeled machine

(which Captain Mitchell called a curricle)

behind a fleet and scraggy mule beaten all the time by an obviously Neapolitan driver,

the cycle would be nearly closed before the lighted-up offices of the O. S. N.


remaining open so late because of the steamer.

Nearly --but not quite.

"Ten o'clock.

Your ship won't be ready to leave till half-past twelve,

if by then.

Come in for a brandy-and-soda and one more cigar."

And in the superintendent's private room the privileged passenger by the Ceres,

or Juno,

or Pallas,

stunned and as it were annihilated mentally by a sudden surfeit of sights,




and complicated information imperfectly apprehended,

would listen like a tired child to a fairy tale;

would hear a voice,

familiar and surprising in its pompousness,

tell him,

as if from another world,

how there was "in this very harbour" an international naval demonstration,

which put an end to the Costaguana-Sulaco War.

How the United States cruiser,


was the first to salute the Occidental flag --white,

with a wreath of green laurel in the middle encircling a yellow amarilla flower.

Would hear how General Montero,

in less than a month after proclaiming himself Emperor of Costaguana,

was shot dead

(during a solemn and public distribution of orders and crosses)

by a young artillery officer,

the brother of his then mistress.

"The abominable Pedrito,


fled the country,"

the voice would say.

And it would continue:

"A captain of one of our ships told me lately that he recognized Pedrito the Guerrillero,

arrayed in purple slippers and a velvet smoking-cap with a gold tassel,

keeping a disorderly house in one of the southern ports."

"Abominable Pedrito!

Who the devil was he?"

would wonder the distinguished bird of passage hovering on the confines of waking and sleep with resolutely open eyes and a faint but amiable curl upon his lips,

from between which stuck out the eighteenth or twentieth cigar of that memorable day.

"He appeared to me in this very room like a haunting ghost,

sir" --Captain Mitchell was talking of his Nostromo with true warmth of feeling and a touch of wistful pride.

"You may imagine,


what an effect it produced on me.

He had come round by sea with Barrios,

of course.

And the first thing he told me after I became fit to hear him was that he had picked up the lighter's boat floating in the gulf!

He seemed quite overcome by the circumstance.

And a remarkable enough circumstance it was,

when you remember that it was then sixteen days since the sinking of the silver.

At once I could see he was another man.

He stared at the wall,


as if there had been a spider or something running about there.

The loss of the silver preyed on his mind.

The first thing he asked me about was whether Dona Antonia had heard yet of Decoud's death.

His voice trembled.

I had to tell him that Dona Antonia,

as a matter of fact,

was not back in town yet.

Poor girl!

And just as I was making ready to ask him a thousand questions,

with a sudden,

'Pardon me,


he cleared out of the office altogether.

I did not see him again for three days.

I was terribly busy,

you know.

It seems that he wandered about in and out of the town,

and on two nights turned up to sleep in the baracoons of the railway people.

He seemed absolutely indifferent to what went on.

I asked him on the wharf,

'When are you going to take hold again,


There will be plenty of work for the Cargadores presently.'


says he,

looking at me in a slow,

inquisitive manner,

'would it surprise you to hear that I am too tired to work just yet?

And what work could I do now?

How can I look my Cargadores in the face after losing a lighter?'

"I begged him not to think any more about the silver,

and he smiled.

A smile that went to my heart,


'It was no mistake,'

I told him.

'It was a fatality.

A thing that could not be helped.'



he said,

and turned away.

I thought it best to leave him alone for a bit to get over it.


it took him years really,

to get over it.

I was present at his interview with Don Carlos.

I must say that Gould is rather a cold man.

He had to keep a tight hand on his feelings,

dealing with thieves and rascals,

in constant danger of ruin for himself and wife for so many years,

that it had become a second nature.

They looked at each other for a long time.

Don Carlos asked what he could do for him,

in his quiet,

reserved way.

"'My name is known from one end of Sulaco to the other,'

he said,

as quiet as the other.

'What more can you do for me?'

That was all that passed on that occasion.



there was a very fine coasting schooner for sale,

and Mrs. Gould and I put our heads together to get her bought and presented to him.

It was done,

but he paid all the price back within the next three years.

Business was booming all along this seaboard,



that man always succeeded in everything except in saving the silver.

Poor Dona Antonia,

fresh from her terrible experiences in the woods of Los Hatos,

had an interview with him,


Wanted to hear about Decoud: what they said,

what they did,

what they thought up to the last on that fatal night.

Mrs. Gould told me his manner was perfect for quietness and sympathy.

Miss Avellanos burst into tears only when he told her how Decoud had happened to say that his plan would be a glorious success.

...And there's no doubt,


that it is.

It is a success."

The cycle was about to close at last.

And while the privileged passenger,

shivering with the pleasant anticipations of his berth,

forgot to ask himself,

"What on earth Decoud's plan could be?"

Captain Mitchell was saying,

"Sorry we must part so soon.

Your intelligent interest made this a pleasant day to me.

I shall see you now on board.

You had a glimpse of the

'Treasure House of the World.'

A very good name that."

And the coxswain's voice at the door,

announcing that the gig was ready,

closed the cycle.

Nostromo had,


found the lighter's boat,

which he had left on the Great Isabel with Decoud,

floating empty far out in the gulf.

He was then on the bridge of the first of Barrios's transports,

and within an hour's steaming from Sulaco.


always delighted with a feat of daring and a good judge of courage,

had taken a great liking to the Capataz.

During the passage round the coast the General kept Nostromo near his person,

addressing him frequently in that abrupt and boisterous manner which was the sign of his high favour.

Nostromo's eyes were the first to catch,

broad on the bow,

the tiny,

elusive dark speck,


alone with the forms of the Three Isabels right ahead,

appeared on the flat,

shimmering emptiness of the gulf.

There are times when no fact should be neglected as insignificant;

a small boat so far from the land might have had some meaning worth finding out.

At a nod of consent from Barrios the transport swept out of her course,

passing near enough to ascertain that no one manned the little cockle-shell.

It was merely a common small boat gone adrift with her oars in her.

But Nostromo,

to whose mind Decoud had been insistently present for days,

had long before recognized with excitement the dinghy of the lighter.

There could be no question of stopping to pick up that thing.

Every minute of time was momentous with the lives and futures of a whole town.

The head of the leading ship,

with the General on board,

fell off to her course.

Behind her,

the fleet of transports,

scattered haphazard over a mile or so in the offing,

like the finish of an ocean race,

pressed on,

all black and smoking on the western sky.

"Mi General,"

Nostromo's voice rang out loud,

but quiet,

from behind a group of officers,

"I should like to save that little boat.

Por Dios,

I know her.

She belongs to my Company."


por Dios,"

guffawed Barrios,

in a noisy,

good-humoured voice,

"you belong to me.

I am going to make you a captain of cavalry directly we get within sight of a horse again."

"I can swim far better than I can ride,

mi General,"

cried Nostromo,

pushing through to the rail with a set stare in his eyes.

"Let me -- --"

"Let you?

What a conceited fellow that is,"

bantered the General,


without even looking at him.

"Let him go!




He wants me to admit that we cannot take Sulaco without him!




Would you like to swim off to her,

my son?"

A tremendous shout from one end of the ship to the other stopped his guffaw.

Nostromo had leaped overboard;

and his black head bobbed up far away already from the ship.

The General muttered an appalled "Cielo!

Sinner that I am!"

in a thunderstruck tone.

One anxious glance was enough to show him that Nostromo was swimming with perfect ease;

and then he thundered terribly,



We shall not stop to pick up this impertinent fellow.

Let him drown --that mad Capataz."

Nothing short of main force would have kept Nostromo from leaping overboard.

That empty boat,

coming out to meet him mysteriously,

as if rowed by an invisible spectre,

exercised the fascination of some sign,

of some warning,

seemed to answer in a startling and enigmatic way the persistent thought of a treasure and of a man's fate.

He would have leaped if there had been death in that half-mile of water.

It was as smooth as a pond,

and for some reason sharks are unknown in the Placid Gulf,

though on the other side of the Punta Mala the coastline swarms with them.

The Capataz seized hold of the stern and blew with force.

A queer,

faint feeling had come over him while he swam.

He had got rid of his boots and coat in the water.

He hung on for a time,

regaining his breath.

In the distance the transports,

more in a bunch now,

held on straight for Sulaco,

with their air of friendly contest,

of nautical sport,

of a regatta;

and the united smoke of their funnels drove like a thin,

sulphurous fogbank right over his head.

It was his daring,

his courage,

his act that had set these ships in motion upon the sea,

hurrying on to save the lives and fortunes of the Blancos,

the taskmasters of the people;

to save the San Tome mine;

to save the children.

With a vigorous and skilful effort he clambered over the stern.

The very boat!

No doubt of it;

no doubt whatever.

It was the dinghy of the lighter No. 3 --the dinghy left with Martin Decoud on the Great Isabel so that he should have some means to help himself if nothing could be done for him from the shore.

And here she had come out to meet him empty and inexplicable.

What had become of Decoud?

The Capataz made a minute examination.

He looked for some scratch,

for some mark,

for some sign.

All he discovered was a brown stain on the gunwale abreast of the thwart.

He bent his face over it and rubbed hard with his finger.

Then he sat down in the stern sheets,


with his knees close together and legs aslant.

Streaming from head to foot,

with his hair and whiskers hanging lank and dripping and a lustreless stare fixed upon the bottom boards,

the Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores resembled a drowned corpse come up from the bottom to idle away the sunset hour in a small boat.

The excitement of his adventurous ride,

the excitement of the return in time,

of achievement,

of success,

all this excitement centred round the associated ideas of the great treasure and of the only other man who knew of its existence,

had departed from him.

To the very last moment he had been cudgelling his brains as to how he could manage to visit the Great Isabel without loss of time and undetected.

For the idea of secrecy had come to be connected with the treasure so closely that even to Barrios himself he had refrained from mentioning the existence of Decoud and of the silver on the island.

The letters he carried to the General,


made brief mention of the loss of the lighter,

as having its bearing upon the situation in Sulaco.

In the circumstances,

the one-eyed tiger-slayer,

scenting battle from afar,

had not wasted his time in making inquiries from the messenger.

In fact,


talking with Nostromo,

assumed that both Don Martin Decoud and the ingots of San Tome were lost together,

and Nostromo,

not questioned directly,

had kept silent,

under the influence of some indefinable form of resentment and distrust.

Let Don Martin speak of everything with his own lips --was what he told himself mentally.

And now,

with the means of gaining the Great Isabel thrown thus in his way at the earliest possible moment,

his excitement had departed,

as when the soul takes flight leaving the body inert upon an earth it knows no more.

Nostromo did not seem to know the gulf.

For a long time even his eyelids did not flutter once upon the glazed emptiness of his stare.

Then slowly,

without a limb having stirred,

without a twitch of muscle or quiver of an eyelash,

an expression,

a living expression came upon the still features,

deep thought crept into the empty stare --as if an outcast soul,

a quiet,

brooding soul,

finding that untenanted body in its way,

had come in stealthily to take possession.

The Capataz frowned: and in the immense stillness of sea,


and coast,

of cloud forms on the sky and trails of light upon the water,

the knitting of that brow had the emphasis of a powerful gesture.

Nothing else budged for a long time;

then the Capataz shook his head and again surrendered himself to the universal repose of all visible things.

Suddenly he seized the oars,

and with one movement made the dinghy spin round,

head-on to the Great Isabel.

But before he began to pull he bent once more over the brown stain on the gunwale.

"I know that thing,"

he muttered to himself,

with a sagacious jerk of the head.

"That's blood."

His stroke was long,


and steady.

Now and then he looked over his shoulder at the Great Isabel,

presenting its low cliff to his anxious gaze like an impenetrable face.

At last the stem touched the strand.

He flung rather than dragged the boat up the little beach.

At once,

turning his back upon the sunset,

he plunged with long strides into the ravine,

making the water of the stream spurt and fly upwards at every step,

as if spurning its shallow,


murmuring spirit with his feet.

He wanted to save every moment of daylight.

A mass of earth,


and smashed bushes had fallen down very naturally from above upon the cavity under the leaning tree.

Decoud had attended to the concealment of the silver as instructed,

using the spade with some intelligence.

But Nostromo's half-smile of approval changed into a scornful curl of the lip by the sight of the spade itself flung there in full view,

as if in utter carelessness or sudden panic,

giving away the whole thing.


They were all alike in their folly,

these hombres finos that invented laws and governments and barren tasks for the people.

The Capataz picked up the spade,

and with the feel of the handle in his palm the desire of having a look at the horse-hide boxes of treasure came upon him suddenly.

In a very few strokes he uncovered the edges and corners of several;


clearing away more earth,

became aware that one of them had been slashed with a knife.

He exclaimed at that discovery in a stifled voice,

and dropped on his knees with a look of irrational apprehension over one shoulder,

then over the other.

The stiff hide had closed,

and he hesitated before he pushed his hand through the long slit and felt the ingots inside.

There they were.





four gone.

Taken away.

Four ingots.

But who?


Nobody else.

And why?

For what purpose?

For what cursed fancy?

Let him explain.

Four ingots carried off in a boat,

and --blood!

In the face of the open gulf,

the sun,




plunged into the waters in a grave and untroubled mystery of self-immolation consummated far from all mortal eyes,

with an infinite majesty of silence and peace.

Four ingots short!

--and blood!

The Capataz got up slowly.

"He might simply have cut his hand,"

he muttered.


then -- --"

He sat down on the soft earth,


as if he had been chained to the treasure,

his drawn-up legs clasped in his hands with an air of hopeless submission,

like a slave set on guard.

Once only he lifted his head smartly: the rattle of hot musketry fire had reached his ears,

like pouring from on high a stream of dry peas upon a drum.

After listening for a while,

he said,

half aloud --

"He will never come back to explain."

And he lowered his head again.


he muttered,


The sounds of firing died out.

The loom of a great conflagration in Sulaco flashed up red above the coast,

played on the clouds at the head of the gulf,

seemed to touch with a ruddy and sinister reflection the forms of the Three Isabels.

He never saw it,

though he raised his head.



I cannot know,"

he pronounced,


and remained silent and staring for hours.

He could not know.

Nobody was to know.

As might have been supposed,

the end of Don Martin Decoud never became a subject of speculation for any one except Nostromo.

Had the truth of the facts been known,

there would always have remained the question.


Whereas the version of his death at the sinking of the lighter had no uncertainty of motive.

The young apostle of Separation had died striving for his idea by an ever-lamented accident.

But the truth was that he died from solitude,

the enemy known but to few on this earth,

and whom only the simplest of us are fit to withstand.

The brilliant Costaguanero of the boulevards had died from solitude and want of faith in himself and others.

For some good and valid reasons beyond mere human comprehension,

the sea-birds of the gulf shun the Isabels.

The rocky head of Azuera is their haunt,

whose stony levels and chasms resound with their wild and tumultuous clamour as if they were for ever quarrelling over the legendary treasure.

At the end of his first day on the Great Isabel,


turning in his lair of coarse grass,

under the shade of a tree,

said to himself --

"I have not seen as much as one single bird all day."

And he had not heard a sound,


all day but that one now of his own muttering voice.

It had been a day of absolute silence --the first he had known in his life.

And he had not slept a wink.

Not for all these wakeful nights and the days of fighting,



not for all that last night of danger and hard physical toil upon the gulf,

had he been able to close his eyes for a moment.

And yet from sunrise to sunset he had been lying prone on the ground,

either on his back or on his face.

He stretched himself,

and with slow steps descended into the gully to spend the night by the side of the silver.

If Nostromo returned --as he might have done at any moment --it was there that he would look first;

and night would,

of course,

be the proper time for an attempt to communicate.

He remembered with profound indifference that he had not eaten anything yet since he had been left alone on the island.

He spent the night open-eyed,

and when the day broke he ate something with the same indifference.

The brilliant "Son Decoud,"

the spoiled darling of the family,

the lover of Antonia and journalist of Sulaco,

was not fit to grapple with himself single-handed.

Solitude from mere outward condition of existence becomes very swiftly a state of soul in which the affectations of irony and scepticism have no place.

It takes possession of the mind,

and drives forth the thought into the exile of utter unbelief.

After three days of waiting for the sight of some human face,

Decoud caught himself entertaining a doubt of his own individuality.

It had merged into the world of cloud and water,

of natural forces and forms of nature.

In our activity alone do we find the sustaining illusion of an independent existence as against the whole scheme of things of which we form a helpless part.

Decoud lost all belief in the reality of his action past and to come.

On the fifth day an immense melancholy descended upon him palpably.

He resolved not to give himself up to these people in Sulaco,

who had beset him,

unreal and terrible,

like jibbering and obscene spectres.

He saw himself struggling feebly in their midst,

and Antonia,

gigantic and lovely like an allegorical statue,

looking on with scornful eyes at his weakness.

Not a living being,

not a speck of distant sail,

appeared within the range of his vision;


as if to escape from this solitude,

he absorbed himself in his melancholy.

The vague consciousness of a misdirected life given up to impulses whose memory left a bitter taste in his mouth was the first moral sentiment of his manhood.

But at the same time he felt no remorse.

What should he regret?

He had recognized no other virtue than intelligence,

and had erected passions into duties.

Both his intelligence and his passion were swallowed up easily in this great unbroken solitude of waiting without faith.

Sleeplessness had robbed his will of all energy,

for he had not slept seven hours in the seven days.

His sadness was the sadness of a sceptical mind.

He beheld the universe as a succession of incomprehensible images.

Nostromo was dead.

Everything had failed ignominiously.

He no longer dared to think of Antonia.

She had not survived.

But if she survived he could not face her.

And all exertion seemed senseless.

On the tenth day,

after a night spent without even dozing off once

(it had occurred to him that Antonia could not possibly have ever loved a being so impalpable as himself),

the solitude appeared like a great void,

and the silence of the gulf like a tense,

thin cord to which he hung suspended by both hands,

without fear,

without surprise,

without any sort of emotion whatever.

Only towards the evening,

in the comparative relief of coolness,

he began to wish that this cord would snap.

He imagined it snapping with a report as of a pistol --a sharp,

full crack.

And that would be the end of him.

He contemplated that eventuality with pleasure,

because he dreaded the sleepless nights in which the silence,

remaining unbroken in the shape of a cord to which he hung with both hands,

vibrated with senseless phrases,

always the same but utterly incomprehensible,

about Nostromo,



and proclamations mingled into an ironical and senseless buzzing.

In the daytime he could look at the silence like a still cord stretched to breaking-point,

with his life,

his vain life,

suspended to it like a weight.

"I wonder whether I would hear it snap before I fell,"

he asked himself.

The sun was two hours above the horizon when he got up,




and looked at it with his red-rimmed eyes.

His limbs obeyed him slowly,

as if full of lead,

yet without tremor;

and the effect of that physical condition gave to his movements an unhesitating,

deliberate dignity.

He acted as if accomplishing some sort of rite.

He descended into the gully;

for the fascination of all that silver,

with its potential power,

survived alone outside of himself.

He picked up the belt with the revolver,

that was lying there,

and buckled it round his waist.

The cord of silence could never snap on the island.

It must let him fall and sink into the sea,

he thought.

And sink!

He was looking at the loose earth covering the treasure.

In the sea!

His aspect was that of a somnambulist.

He lowered himself down on his knees slowly and went on grubbing with his fingers with industrious patience till he uncovered one of the boxes.

Without a pause,

as if doing some work done many times before,

he slit it open and took four ingots,

which he put in his pockets.

He covered up the exposed box again and step by step came out of the gully.

The bushes closed after him with a swish.

It was on the third day of his solitude that he had dragged the dinghy near the water with an idea of rowing away somewhere,

but had desisted partly at the whisper of lingering hope that Nostromo would return,

partly from conviction of utter uselessness of all effort.

Now she wanted only a slight shove to be set afloat.

He had eaten a little every day after the first,

and had some muscular strength left yet.

Taking up the oars slowly,

he pulled away from the cliff of the Great Isabel,

that stood behind him warm with sunshine,

as if with the heat of life,

bathed in a rich light from head to foot as if in a radiance of hope and joy.

He pulled straight towards the setting sun.

When the gulf had grown dark,

he ceased rowing and flung the sculls in.

The hollow clatter they made in falling was the loudest noise he had ever heard in his life.

It was a revelation.

It seemed to recall him from far away,

Actually the thought,

"Perhaps I may sleep to-night,"

passed through his mind.

But he did not believe it.

He believed in nothing;

and he remained sitting on the thwart.

The dawn from behind the mountains put a gleam into his unwinking eyes.

After a clear daybreak the sun appeared splendidly above the peaks of the range.

The great gulf burst into a glitter all around the boat;

and in this glory of merciless solitude the silence appeared again before him,

stretched taut like a dark,

thin string.

His eyes looked at it while,

without haste,

he shifted his seat from the thwart to the gunwale.

They looked at it fixedly,

while his hand,

feeling about his waist,

unbuttoned the flap of the leather case,

drew the revolver,

cocked it,

brought it forward pointing at his breast,

pulled the trigger,


with convulsive force,

sent the still-smoking weapon hurtling through the air.

His eyes looked at it while he fell forward and hung with his breast on the gunwale and the fingers of his right hand hooked under the thwart.

They looked -- --

"It is done,"

he stammered out,

in a sudden flow of blood.

His last thought was:

"I wonder how that Capataz died."

The stiffness of the fingers relaxed,

and the lover of Antonia Avellanos rolled overboard without having heard the cord of silence snap in the solitude of the Placid Gulf,

whose glittering surface remained untroubled by the fall of his body.

A victim of the disillusioned weariness which is the retribution meted out to intellectual audacity,

the brilliant Don Martin Decoud,

weighted by the bars of San Tome silver,

disappeared without a trace,

swallowed up in the immense indifference of things.

His sleepless,

crouching figure was gone from the side of the San Tome silver;

and for a time the spirits of good and evil that hover near every concealed treasure of the earth might have thought that this one had been forgotten by all mankind.


after a few days,

another form appeared striding away from the setting sun to sit motionless and awake in the narrow black gully all through the night,

in nearly the same pose,

in the same place in which had sat that other sleepless man who had gone away for ever so quietly in a small boat,

about the time of sunset.

And the spirits of good and evil that hover about a forbidden treasure understood well that the silver of San Tome was provided now with a faithful and lifelong slave.

The magnificent Capataz de Cargadores,

victim of the disenchanted vanity which is the reward of audacious action,

sat in the weary pose of a hunted outcast through a night of sleeplessness as tormenting as any known to Decoud,

his companion in the most desperate affair of his life.

And he wondered how Decoud had died.

But he knew the part he had played himself.

First a woman,

then a man,

abandoned both in their last extremity,

for the sake of this accursed treasure.

It was paid for by a soul lost and by a vanished life.

The blank stillness of awe was succeeded by a gust of immense pride.

There was no one in the world but Gian' Battista Fidanza,

Capataz de Cargadores,

the incorruptible and faithful Nostromo,

to pay such a price.

He had made up his mind that nothing should be allowed now to rob him of his bargain.


Decoud had died.

But how?

That he was dead he had not a shadow of a doubt.

But four ingots?

...What for?

Did he mean to come for more --some other time?

The treasure was putting forth its latent power.

It troubled the clear mind of the man who had paid the price.

He was sure that Decoud was dead.

The island seemed full of that whisper.



And he caught himself listening for the swish of bushes and the splash of the footfalls in the bed of the brook.


The talker,

the novio of Dona Antonia!


he murmured,

with his head on his knees,

under the livid clouded dawn breaking over the liberated Sulaco and upon the gulf as gray as ashes.

"It is to her that he will fly.

To her that he will fly!"

And four ingots!

Did he take them in revenge,

to cast a spell,

like the angry woman who had prophesied remorse and failure,

and yet had laid upon him the task of saving the children?


he had saved the children.

He had defeated the spell of poverty and starvation.

He had done it all alone --or perhaps helped by the devil.

Who cared?

He had done it,

betrayed as he was,

and saving by the same stroke the San Tome mine,

which appeared to him hateful and immense,

lording it by its vast wealth over the valour,

the toil,

the fidelity of the poor,

over war and peace,

over the labours of the town,

the sea,

and the Campo.

The sun lit up the sky behind the peaks of the Cordillera.

The Capataz looked down for a time upon the fall of loose earth,


and smashed bushes,

concealing the hiding-place of the silver.

"I must grow rich very slowly,"

he meditated,



Sulaco outstripped Nostromo's prudence,

growing rich swiftly on the hidden treasures of the earth,

hovered over by the anxious spirits of good and evil,

torn out by the labouring hands of the people.

It was like a second youth,

like a new life,

full of promise,

of unrest,

of toil,

scattering lavishly its wealth to the four corners of an excited world.

Material changes swept along in the train of material interests.

And other changes more subtle,

outwardly unmarked,

affected the minds and hearts of the workers.

Captain Mitchell had gone home to live on his savings invested in the San Tome mine;

and Dr. Monygham had grown older,

with his head steel-grey and the unchanged expression of his face,

living on the inexhaustible treasure of his devotion drawn upon in the secret of his heart like a store of unlawful wealth.

The Inspector-General of State Hospitals

(whose maintenance is a charge upon the Gould Concession),

Official Adviser on Sanitation to the Municipality,

Chief Medical Officer of the San Tome Consolidated Mines

(whose territory,

containing gold,





extends for miles along the foot-hills of the Cordillera),

had felt poverty-stricken,


and starved during the prolonged,

second visit the Goulds paid to Europe and the United States of America.

Intimate of the casa,

proved friend,

a bachelor without ties and without establishment

(except of the professional sort),

he had been asked to take up his quarters in the Gould house.

In the eleven months of their absence the familiar rooms,

recalling at every glance the woman to whom he had given all his loyalty,

had grown intolerable.

As the day approached for the arrival of the mail boat Hermes

(the latest addition to the O. S. N.

Co.'s splendid fleet),

the doctor hobbled about more vivaciously,

snapped more sardonically at simple and gentle out of sheer nervousness.

He packed up his modest trunk with speed,

with fury,

with enthusiasm,

and saw it carried out past the old porter at the gate of the Casa Gould with delight,

with intoxication;


as the hour approached,

sitting alone in the great landau behind the white mules,

a little sideways,

his drawn-in face positively venomous with the effort of self-control,

and holding a pair of new gloves in his left hand,

he drove to the harbour.

His heart dilated within him so,

when he saw the Goulds on the deck of the Hermes,

that his greetings were reduced to a casual mutter.

Driving back to town,

all three were silent.

And in the patio the doctor,

in a more natural manner,

said --

"I'll leave you now to yourselves.

I'll call to-morrow if I may?"

"Come to lunch,

dear Dr. Monygham,

and come early,"

said Mrs. Gould,

in her travelling dress and her veil down,

turning to look at him at the foot of the stairs;

while at the top of the flight the Madonna,

in blue robes and the Child on her arm,

seemed to welcome her with an aspect of pitying tenderness.

"Don't expect to find me at home,"

Charles Gould warned him.

"I'll be off early to the mine."

After lunch,

Dona Emilia and the senor doctor came slowly through the inner gateway of the patio.

The large gardens of the Casa Gould,

surrounded by high walls,

and the red-tile slopes of neighbouring roofs,

lay open before them,

with masses of shade under the trees and level surfaces of sunlight upon the lawns.

A triple row of old orange trees surrounded the whole.


brown gardeners,

in snowy white shirts and wide calzoneras,

dotted the grounds,

squatting over flowerbeds,

passing between the trees,

dragging slender India-rubber tubes across the gravel of the paths;

and the fine jets of water crossed each other in graceful curves,

sparkling in the sunshine with a slight pattering noise upon the bushes,

and an effect of showered diamonds upon the grass.

Dona Emilia,

holding up the train of a clear dress,

walked by the side of Dr. Monygham,

in a longish black coat and severe black bow on an immaculate shirtfront.

Under a shady clump of trees,

where stood scattered little tables and wicker easy-chairs,

Mrs. Gould sat down in a low and ample seat.

"Don't go yet,"

she said to Dr. Monygham,

who was unable to tear himself away from the spot.

His chin nestling within the points of his collar,

he devoured her stealthily with his eyes,



were round and hard like clouded marbles,

and incapable of disclosing his sentiments.

His pitying emotion at the marks of time upon the face of that woman,

the air of frailty and weary fatigue that had settled upon the eyes and temples of the "Never-tired Senora"

(as Don Pepe years ago used to call her with admiration),

touched him almost to tears.

"Don't go yet.

To-day is all my own,"

Mrs. Gould urged,


"We are not back yet officially.

No one will come.

It's only to-morrow that the windows of the Casa Gould are to be lit up for a reception."

The doctor dropped into a chair.

"Giving a tertulia?"

he said,

with a detached air.

"A simple greeting for all the kind friends who care to come."

"And only to-morrow?"


Charles would be tired out after a day at the mine,

and so I -- --It would be good to have him to myself for one evening on our return to this house I love.

It has seen all my life."



snarled the doctor,


"Women count time from the marriage feast.

Didn't you live a little before?"


but what is there to remember?

There were no cares."

Mrs. Gould sighed.

And as two friends,

after a long separation,

will revert to the most agitated period of their lives,

they began to talk of the Sulaco Revolution.

It seemed strange to Mrs. Gould that people who had taken part in it seemed to forget its memory and its lesson.

"And yet,"

struck in the doctor,

"we who played our part in it had our reward.

Don Pepe,

though superannuated,

still can sit a horse.

Barrios is drinking himself to death in jovial company away somewhere on his fundacion beyond the Bolson de Tonoro.

And the heroic Father Roman --I imagine the old padre blowing up systematically the San Tome mine,

uttering a pious exclamation at every bang,

and taking handfuls of snuff between the explosions --the heroic Padre Roman says that he is not afraid of the harm Holroyd's missionaries can do to his flock,

as long as he is alive."

Mrs. Gould shuddered a little at the allusion to the destruction that had come so near to the San Tome mine.


but you,

dear friend?"

"I did the work I was fit for."

"You faced the most cruel dangers of all.

Something more than death."


Mrs. Gould!

Only death --by hanging.

And I am rewarded beyond my deserts."

Noticing Mrs. Gould's gaze fixed upon him,

he dropped his eyes.

"I've made my career --as you see,"

said the Inspector-General of State Hospitals,

taking up lightly the lapels of his superfine black coat.

The doctor's self-respect marked inwardly by the almost complete disappearance from his dreams of Father Beron appeared visibly in what,

by contrast with former carelessness,

seemed an immoderate cult of personal appearance.

Carried out within severe limits of form and colour,

and in perpetual freshness,

this change of apparel gave to Dr. Monygham an air at the same time professional and festive;

while his gait and the unchanged crabbed character of his face acquired from it a startling force of incongruity.


he went on.

"We all had our rewards --the engineer-in-chief,

Captain Mitchell -- --"

"We saw him,"

interrupted Mrs. Gould,

in her charming voice.

"The poor dear man came up from the country on purpose to call on us in our hotel in London.

He comported himself with great dignity,

but I fancy he regrets Sulaco.

He rambled feebly about

'historical events' till I felt I could have a cry."


grunted the doctor;

"getting old,

I suppose.

Even Nostromo is getting older --though he is not changed.


speaking of that fellow,

I wanted to tell you something -- --"

For some time the house had been full of murmurs,

of agitation.

Suddenly the two gardeners,

busy with rose trees at the side of the garden arch,

fell upon their knees with bowed heads on the passage of Antonia Avellanos,

who appeared walking beside her uncle.

Invested with the red hat after a short visit to Rome,

where he had been invited by the Propaganda,

Father Corbelan,

missionary to the wild Indians,


friend and patron of Hernandez the robber,

advanced with big,

slow strides,

gaunt and leaning forward,

with his powerful hands clasped behind his back.

The first Cardinal-Archbishop of Sulaco had preserved his fanatical and morose air;

the aspect of a chaplain of bandits.

It was believed that his unexpected elevation to the purple was a counter-move to the Protestant invasion of Sulaco organized by the Holroyd Missionary Fund.


the beauty of her face as if a little blurred,

her figure slightly fuller,

advanced with her light walk and her high serenity,

smiling from a distance at Mrs. Gould.

She had brought her uncle over to see dear Emilia,

without ceremony,

just for a moment before the siesta.

When all were seated again,

Dr. Monygham,

who had come to dislike heartily everybody who approached Mrs. Gould with any intimacy,

kept aside,

pretending to be lost in profound meditation.

A louder phrase of Antonia made him lift his head.

"How can we abandon,

groaning under oppression,

those who have been our countrymen only a few years ago,

who are our countrymen now?"

Miss Avellanos was saying.

"How can we remain blind,

and deaf without pity to the cruel wrongs suffered by our brothers?

There is a remedy."

"Annex the rest of Costaguana to the order and prosperity of Sulaco,"

snapped the doctor.

"There is no other remedy."

"I am convinced,

senor doctor,"

Antonia said,

with the earnest calm of invincible resolution,

"that this was from the first poor Martin's intention."


but the material interests will not let you jeopardize their development for a mere idea of pity and justice,"

the doctor muttered grumpily.

"And it is just as well perhaps."

The Cardinal-Archbishop straightened up his gaunt,

bony frame.

"We have worked for them;

we have made them,

these material interests of the foreigners,"

the last of the Corbelans uttered in a deep,

denunciatory tone.

"And without them you are nothing,"

cried the doctor from the distance.

"They will not let you."

"Let them beware,


lest the people,

prevented from their aspirations,

should rise and claim their share of the wealth and their share of the power,"

the popular Cardinal-Archbishop of Sulaco declared,



A silence ensued,

during which his Eminence stared,

frowning at the ground,

and Antonia,

graceful and rigid in her chair,

breathed calmly in the strength of her convictions.

Then the conversation took a social turn,

touching on the visit of the Goulds to Europe.

The Cardinal-Archbishop,

when in Rome,

had suffered from neuralgia in the head all the time.

It was the climate --the bad air.

When uncle and niece had gone away,

with the servants again falling on their knees,

and the old porter,

who had known Henry Gould,

almost totally blind and impotent now,

creeping up to kiss his Eminence's extended hand,

Dr. Monygham,

looking after them,

pronounced the one word --


Mrs. Gould,

with a look upwards,

dropped wearily on her lap her white hands flashing with the gold and stones of many rings.



said the doctor.

"The last of the Avellanos and the last of the Corbelans are conspiring with the refugees from Sta. Marta that flock here after every revolution.

The Cafe Lambroso at the corner of the Plaza is full of them;

you can hear their chatter across the street like the noise of a parrot-house.

They are conspiring for the invasion of Costaguana.

And do you know where they go for strength,

for the necessary force?

To the secret societies amongst immigrants and natives,

where Nostromo --I should say Captain Fidanza --is the great man.

What gives him that position?

Who can say?


He has genius.

He is greater with the populace than ever he was before.

It is as if he had some secret power;

some mysterious means to keep up his influence.

He holds conferences with the Archbishop,

as in those old days which you and I remember.

Barrios is useless.

But for a military head they have the pious Hernandez.

And they may raise the country with the new cry of the wealth for the people."

"Will there be never any peace?

Will there be no rest?"

Mrs. Gould whispered.

"I thought that we -- --"


interrupted the doctor.

"There is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests.

They have their law,

and their justice.

But it is founded on expediency,

and is inhuman;

it is without rectitude,

without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle.

Mrs. Gould,

the time approaches when all that the Gould Concession stands for shall weigh as heavily upon the people as the barbarism,


and misrule of a few years back."

"How can you say that,

Dr. Monygham?"

she cried out,

as if hurt in the most sensitive place of her soul.

"I can say what is true,"

the doctor insisted,


"It'll weigh as heavily,

and provoke resentment,


and vengeance,

because the men have grown different.

Do you think that now the mine would march upon the town to save their Senor Administrador?

Do you think that?"

She pressed the backs of her entwined hands on her eyes and murmured hopelessly --

"Is it this we have worked for,


The doctor lowered his head.

He could follow her silent thought.

Was it for this that her life had been robbed of all the intimate felicities of daily affection which her tenderness needed as the human body needs air to breathe?

And the doctor,

indignant with Charles Gould's blindness,

hastened to change the conversation.

"It is about Nostromo that I wanted to talk to you.


that fellow has some continuity and force.

Nothing will put an end to him.

But never mind that.

There's something inexplicable going on --or perhaps only too easy to explain.

You know,

Linda is practically the lighthouse keeper of the Great Isabel light.

The Garibaldino is too old now.

His part is to clean the lamps and to cook in the house;

but he can't get up the stairs any longer.

The black-eyed Linda sleeps all day and watches the light all night.

Not all day,


She is up towards five in the afternoon,

when our Nostromo,

whenever he is in harbour with his schooner,

comes out on his courting visit,

pulling in a small boat."

"Aren't they married yet?"

Mrs. Gould asked.

"The mother wished it,

as far as I can understand,

while Linda was yet quite a child.

When I had the girls with me for a year or so during the War of Separation,

that extraordinary Linda used to declare quite simply that she was going to be Gian' Battista's wife."

"They are not married yet,"

said the doctor,


"I have looked after them a little."

"Thank you,

dear Dr. Monygham,"

said Mrs. Gould;

and under the shade of the big trees her little,

even teeth gleamed in a youthful smile of gentle malice.

"People don't know how really good you are.

You will not let them know,

as if on purpose to annoy me,

who have put my faith in your good heart long ago."

The doctor,

with a lifting up of his upper lip,

as though he were longing to bite,

bowed stiffly in his chair.

With the utter absorption of a man to whom love comes late,

not as the most splendid of illusions,

but like an enlightening and priceless misfortune,

the sight of that woman

(of whom he had been deprived for nearly a year)

suggested ideas of adoration,

of kissing the hem of her robe.

And this excess of feeling translated itself naturally into an augmented grimness of speech.

"I am afraid of being overwhelmed by too much gratitude.


these people interest me.

I went out several times to the Great Isabel light to look after old Giorgio."

He did not tell Mrs. Gould that it was because he found there,

in her absence,

the relief of an atmosphere of congenial sentiment in old Giorgio's austere admiration for the "English signora --the benefactress";

in black-eyed Linda's voluble,


passionate affection for "our Dona Emilia --that angel";

in the white-throated,

fair Giselle's adoring upward turn of the eyes,

which then glided towards him with a sidelong,


half-candid glance,

which made the doctor exclaim to himself mentally,

"If I weren't what I am,

old and ugly,

I would think the minx is making eyes at me.

And perhaps she is.

I dare say she would make eyes at anybody."

Dr. Monygham said nothing of this to Mrs. Gould,

the providence of the Viola family,

but reverted to what he called "our great Nostromo."

"What I wanted to tell you is this: Our great Nostromo did not take much notice of the old man and the children for some years.

It's true,


that he was away on his coasting voyages certainly ten months out of the twelve.

He was making his fortune,

as he told Captain Mitchell once.

He seems to have done uncommonly well.

It was only to be expected.

He is a man full of resource,

full of confidence in himself,

ready to take chances and risks of every sort.

I remember being in Mitchell's office one day,

when he came in with that calm,

grave air he always carries everywhere.

He had been away trading in the Gulf of California,

he said,

looking straight past us at the wall,

as his manner is,

and was glad to see on his return that a lighthouse was being built on the cliff of the Great Isabel.

Very glad,

he repeated.

Mitchell explained that it was the O. S. N.


who was building it,

for the convenience of the mail service,

on his own advice.

Captain Fidanza was good enough to say that it was excellent advice.

I remember him twisting up his moustaches and looking all round the cornice of the room before he proposed that old Giorgio should be made the keeper of that light."

"I heard of this.

I was consulted at the time,"

Mrs. Gould said.

"I doubted whether it would be good for these girls to be shut up on that island as if in a prison."

"The proposal fell in with the old Garibaldino's humour.

As to Linda,

any place was lovely and delightful enough for her as long as it was Nostromo's suggestion.

She could wait for her Gian' Battista's good pleasure there as well as anywhere else.

My opinion is that she was always in love with that incorruptible Capataz.


both father and sister were anxious to get Giselle away from the attentions of a certain Ramirez."


said Mrs. Gould,



What sort of man is that?"

"Just a mozo of the town.

His father was a Cargador.

As a lanky boy he ran about the wharf in rags,

till Nostromo took him up and made a man of him.

When he got a little older,

he put him into a lighter and very soon gave him charge of the No. 3 boat --the boat which took the silver away,

Mrs. Gould.

Nostromo selected that lighter for the work because she was the best sailing and the strongest boat of all the Company's fleet.

Young Ramirez was one of the five Cargadores entrusted with the removal of the treasure from the Custom House on that famous night.

As the boat he had charge of was sunk,


on leaving the Company's service,

recommended him to Captain Mitchell for his successor.

He had trained him in the routine of work perfectly,

and thus Mr. Ramirez,

from a starving waif,

becomes a man and the Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores."

"Thanks to Nostromo,"

said Mrs. Gould,

with warm approval.

"Thanks to Nostromo,"

repeated Dr. Monygham.

"Upon my word,

the fellow's power frightens me when I think of it.

That our poor old Mitchell was only too glad to appoint somebody trained to the work,

who saved him trouble,

is not surprising.

What is wonderful is the fact that the Sulaco Cargadores accepted Ramirez for their chief,

simply because such was Nostromo's good pleasure.

Of course,

he is not a second Nostromo,

as he fondly imagined he would be;

but still,

the position was brilliant enough.

It emboldened him to make up to Giselle Viola,


you know,

is the recognized beauty of the town.

The old Garibaldino,


took a violent dislike to him.

I don't know why.

Perhaps because he was not a model of perfection like his Gian' Battista,

the incarnation of the courage,

the fidelity,

the honour of

'the people.'

Signor Viola does not think much of Sulaco natives.

Both of them,

the old Spartan and that white-faced Linda,

with her red mouth and coal-black eyes,

were looking rather fiercely after the fair one.

Ramirez was warned off.

Father Viola,

I am told,

threatened him with his gun once."

"But what of Giselle herself?"

asked Mrs. Gould.

"She's a bit of a flirt,

I believe,"

said the doctor.

"I don't think she cared much one way or another.

Of course she likes men's attentions.

Ramirez was not the only one,

let me tell you,

Mrs. Gould.

There was one engineer,

at least,

on the railway staff who got warned off with a gun,


Old Viola does not allow any trifling with his honour.

He has grown uneasy and suspicious since his wife died.

He was very pleased to remove his youngest girl away from the town.

But look what happens,

Mrs. Gould.


the honest,

lovelorn swain,

is forbidden the island.

Very well.

He respects the prohibition,

but naturally turns his eyes frequently towards the Great Isabel.

It seems as though he had been in the habit of gazing late at night upon the light.

And during these sentimental vigils he discovers that Nostromo,

Captain Fidanza that is,

returns very late from his visits to the Violas.

As late as midnight at times."

The doctor paused and stared meaningly at Mrs. Gould.


But I don't understand,"

she began,

looking puzzled.

"Now comes the strange part,"

went on Dr. Monygham.


who is king on his island,

will allow no visitor on it after dark.

Even Captain Fidanza has got to leave after sunset,

when Linda has gone up to tend the light.

And Nostromo goes away obediently.

But what happens afterwards?

What does he do in the gulf between half-past six and midnight?

He has been seen more than once at that late hour pulling quietly into the harbour.

Ramirez is devoured by jealousy.

He dared not approach old Viola;

but he plucked up courage to rail at Linda about it on Sunday morning as she came on the mainland to hear mass and visit her mother's grave.

There was a scene on the wharf,


as a matter of fact,

I witnessed.

It was early morning.

He must have been waiting for her on purpose.

I was there by the merest chance,

having been called to an urgent consultation by the doctor of the German gunboat in the harbour.

She poured wrath,


and flame upon Ramirez,

who seemed out of his mind.

It was a strange sight,

Mrs. Gould: the long jetty,

with this raving Cargador in his crimson sash and the girl all in black,

at the end;

the early Sunday morning quiet of the harbour in the shade of the mountains;

nothing but a canoe or two moving between the ships at anchor,

and the German gunboat's gig coming to take me off.

Linda passed me within a foot.

I noticed her wild eyes.

I called out to her.

She never heard me.

She never saw me.

But I looked at her face.

It was awful in its anger and wretchedness."

Mrs. Gould sat up,

opening her eyes very wide.

"What do you mean,

Dr. Monygham?

Do you mean to say that you suspect the younger sister?"

"Quien sabe!

Who can tell?"

said the doctor,

shrugging his shoulders like a born Costaguanero.

"Ramirez came up to me on the wharf.

He reeled --he looked insane.

He took his head into his hands.

He had to talk to someone --simply had to.

Of course for all his mad state he recognized me.

People know me well here.

I have lived too long amongst them to be anything else but the evil-eyed doctor,

who can cure all the ills of the flesh,

and bring bad luck by a glance.

He came up to me.

He tried to be calm.

He tried to make it out that he wanted merely to warn me against Nostromo.

It seems that Captain Fidanza at some secret meeting or other had mentioned me as the worst despiser of all the poor --of the people.

It's very possible.

He honours me with his undying dislike.

And a word from the great Fidanza may be quite enough to send some fool's knife into my back.

The Sanitary Commission I preside over is not in favour with the populace.

'Beware of him,

senor doctor.

Destroy him,

senor doctor,'

Ramirez hissed right into my face.

And then he broke out.

'That man,'

he spluttered,

'has cast a spell upon both these girls.'

As to himself,

he had said too much.

He must run away now --run away and hide somewhere.

He moaned tenderly about Giselle,

and then called her names that cannot be repeated.

If he thought she could be made to love him by any means,

he would carry her off from the island.

Off into the woods.

But it was no good.

...He strode away,

flourishing his arms above his head.

Then I noticed an old negro,

who had been sitting behind a pile of cases,

fishing from the wharf.

He wound up his lines and slunk away at once.

But he must have heard something,

and must have talked,


because some of the old Garibaldino's railway friends,

I suppose,

warned him against Ramirez.

At any rate,

the father has been warned.

But Ramirez has disappeared from the town."

"I feel I have a duty towards these girls,"

said Mrs. Gould,


"Is Nostromo in Sulaco now?"

"He is,

since last Sunday."

"He ought to be spoken to --at once."

"Who will dare speak to him?

Even the love-mad Ramirez runs away from the mere shadow of Captain Fidanza."

"I can.

I will,"

Mrs. Gould declared.

"A word will be enough for a man like Nostromo."

The doctor smiled sourly.

"He must end this situation which lends itself to -- --I can't believe it of that child,"

pursued Mrs. Gould.

"He's very attractive,"

muttered the doctor,


"He'll see it,

I am sure.

He must put an end to all this by marrying Linda at once,"

pronounced the first lady of Sulaco with immense decision.

Through the garden gate emerged Basilio,

grown fat and sleek,

with an elderly hairless face,

wrinkles at the corners of his eyes,

and his jet-black,

coarse hair plastered down smoothly.

Stooping carefully behind an ornamental clump of bushes,

he put down with precaution a small child he had been carrying on his shoulder --his own and Leonarda's last born.

The pouting,

spoiled Camerista and the head mozo of the Casa Gould had been married for some years now.

He remained squatting on his heels for a time,

gazing fondly at his offspring,

which returned his stare with imperturbable gravity;


solemn and respectable,

walked down the path.

"What is it,


asked Mrs. Gould.

"A telephone came through from the office of the mine.

The master remains to sleep at the mountain to-night."

Dr. Monygham had got up and stood looking away.

A profound silence reigned for a time under the shade of the biggest trees in the lovely gardens of the Casa Gould.

"Very well,


said Mrs. Gould.

She watched him walk away along the path,

step aside behind the flowering bush,

and reappear with the child seated on his shoulder.

He passed through the gateway between the garden and the patio with measured steps,

careful of his light burden.

The doctor,

with his back to Mrs. Gould,

contemplated a flower-bed away in the sunshine.

People believed him scornful and soured.

The truth of his nature consisted in his capacity for passion and in the sensitiveness of his temperament.

What he lacked was the polished callousness of men of the world,

the callousness from which springs an easy tolerance for oneself and others;

the tolerance wide as poles asunder from true sympathy and human compassion.

This want of callousness accounted for his sardonic turn of mind and his biting speeches.

In profound silence,

and glaring viciously at the brilliant flower-bed,

Dr. Monygham poured mental imprecations on Charles Gould's head.

Behind him the immobility of Mrs. Gould added to the grace of her seated figure the charm of art,

of an attitude caught and interpreted for ever.

Turning abruptly,

the doctor took his leave.

Mrs. Gould leaned back in the shade of the big trees planted in a circle.

She leaned back with her eyes closed and her white hands lying idle on the arms of her seat.

The half-light under the thick mass of leaves brought out the youthful prettiness of her face;

made the clear,

light fabrics and white lace of her dress appear luminous.

Small and dainty,

as if radiating a light of her own in the deep shade of the interlaced boughs,

she resembled a good fairy,

weary with a long career of well-doing,

touched by the withering suspicion of the uselessness of her labours,

the powerlessness of her magic.

Had anybody asked her of what she was thinking,

alone in the garden of the Casa,

with her husband at the mine and the house closed to the street like an empty dwelling,

her frankness would have had to evade the question.

It had come into her mind that for life to be large and full,

it must contain the care of the past and of the future in every passing moment of the present.

Our daily work must be done to the glory of the dead,

and for the good of those who come after.

She thought that,

and sighed without opening her eyes --without moving at all.

Mrs. Gould's face became set and rigid for a second,

as if to receive,

without flinching,

a great wave of loneliness that swept over her head.

And it came into her mind,


that no one would ever ask her with solicitude what she was thinking of.

No one.

No one,

but perhaps the man who had just gone away.


no one who could be answered with careless sincerity in the ideal perfection of confidence.

The word "incorrigible" --a word lately pronounced by Dr. Monygham --floated into her still and sad immobility.

Incorrigible in his devotion to the great silver mine was the Senor Administrador!

Incorrigible in his hard,

determined service of the material interests to which he had pinned his faith in the triumph of order and justice.

Poor boy!

She had a clear vision of the grey hairs on his temples.

He was perfect --perfect.

What more could she have expected?

It was a colossal and lasting success;

and love was only a short moment of forgetfulness,

a short intoxication,

whose delight one remembered with a sense of sadness,

as if it had been a deep grief lived through.

There was something inherent in the necessities of successful action which carried with it the moral degradation of the idea.

She saw the San Tome mountain hanging over the Campo,

over the whole land,




more soulless than any tyrant,

more pitiless and autocratic than the worst Government;

ready to crush innumerable lives in the expansion of its greatness.

He did not see it.

He could not see it.

It was not his fault.

He was perfect,


but she would never have him to herself.


not for one short hour altogether to herself in this old Spanish house she loved so well!


the last of the Corbelans,

the last of the Avellanos,

the doctor had said;

but she saw clearly the San Tome mine possessing,


burning up the life of the last of the Costaguana Goulds;

mastering the energetic spirit of the son as it had mastered the lamentable weakness of the father.

A terrible success for the last of the Goulds.

The last!

She had hoped for a long,

long time,

that perhaps -- --But no!

There were to be no more.

An immense desolation,

the dread of her own continued life,

descended upon the first lady of Sulaco.

With a prophetic vision she saw herself surviving alone the degradation of her young ideal of life,

of love,

of work --all alone in the Treasure House of the World.

The profound,


suffering expression of a painful dream settled on her face with its closed eyes.

In the indistinct voice of an unlucky sleeper lying passive in the grip of a merciless nightmare,

she stammered out aimlessly the words --

"Material interest."


Nostromo had been growing rich very slowly.

It was an effect of his prudence.

He could command himself even when thrown off his balance.

And to become the slave of a treasure with full self-knowledge is an occurrence rare and mentally disturbing.

But it was also in a great part because of the difficulty of converting it into a form in which it could become available.

The mere act of getting it away from the island piecemeal,

little by little,

was surrounded by difficulties,

by the dangers of imminent detection.

He had to visit the Great Isabel in secret,

between his voyages along the coast,

which were the ostensible source of his fortune.

The crew of his own schooner were to be feared as if they had been spies upon their dreaded captain.

He did not dare stay too long in port.

When his coaster was unloaded,

he hurried away on another trip,

for he feared arousing suspicion even by a day's delay.

Sometimes during a week's stay,

or more,

he could only manage one visit to the treasure.

And that was all.

A couple of ingots.

He suffered through his fears as much as through his prudence.

To do things by stealth humiliated him.

And he suffered most from the concentration of his thought upon the treasure.

A transgression,

a crime,

entering a man's existence,

eats it up like a malignant growth,

consumes it like a fever.

Nostromo had lost his peace;

the genuineness of all his qualities was destroyed.

He felt it himself,

and often cursed the silver of San Tome.

His courage,

his magnificence,

his leisure,

his work,

everything was as before,

only everything was a sham.

But the treasure was real.

He clung to it with a more tenacious,

mental grip.

But he hated the feel of the ingots.


after putting away a couple of them in his cabin --the fruit of a secret night expedition to the Great Isabel --he would look fixedly at his fingers,

as if surprised they had left no stain on his skin.

He had found means of disposing of the silver bars in distant ports.

The necessity to go far afield made his coasting voyages long,

and caused his visits to the Viola household to be rare and far between.

He was fated to have his wife from there.

He had said so once to Giorgio himself.

But the Garibaldino had put the subject aside with a majestic wave of his hand,

clutching a smouldering black briar-root pipe.

There was plenty of time;

he was not the man to force his girls upon anybody.

As time went on,

Nostromo discovered his preference for the younger of the two.

They had some profound similarities of nature,

which must exist for complete confidence and understanding,

no matter what outward differences of temperament there may be to exercise their own fascination of contrast.

His wife would have to know his secret or else life would be impossible.

He was attracted by Giselle,

with her candid gaze and white throat,



fond of excitement under her quiet indolence;

whereas Linda,

with her intense,

passionately pale face,


all fire and words,

touched with gloom and scorn,

a chip of the old block,

true daughter of the austere republican,

but with Teresa's voice,

inspired him with a deep-seated mistrust.


the poor girl could not conceal her love for Gian' Battista.

He could see it would be violent,



uncompromising --like her soul.


by her fair but warm beauty,

by the surface placidity of her nature holding a promise of submissiveness,

by the charm of her girlish mysteriousness,

excited his passion and allayed his fears as to the future.

His absences from Sulaco were long.

On returning from the longest of them,

he made out lighters loaded with blocks of stone lying under the cliff of the Great Isabel;

cranes and scaffolding above;

workmen's figures moving about,

and a small lighthouse already rising from its foundations on the edge of the cliff.

At this unexpected,


startling sight,

he thought himself lost irretrievably.

What could save him from detection now?


He was struck with amazed dread at this turn of chance,

that would kindle a far-reaching light upon the only secret spot of his life;

that life whose very essence,



consisted in its reflection from the admiring eyes of men.

All of it but that thing which was beyond common comprehension;

which stood between him and the power that hears and gives effect to the evil intention of curses.

It was dark.

Not every man had such a darkness.

And they were going to put a light there.

A light!

He saw it shining upon disgrace,



Somebody was sure to.

...Perhaps somebody had already.


The incomparable Nostromo,

the Capataz,

the respected and feared Captain Fidanza,

the unquestioned patron of secret societies,

a republican like old Giorgio,

and a revolutionist at heart

(but in another manner),

was on the point of jumping overboard from the deck of his own schooner.

That man,

subjective almost to insanity,

looked suicide deliberately in the face.

But he never lost his head.

He was checked by the thought that this was no escape.

He imagined himself dead,

and the disgrace,

the shame going on.



properly speaking,

he could not imagine himself dead.

He was possessed too strongly by the sense of his own existence,

a thing of infinite duration in its changes,

to grasp the notion of finality.

The earth goes on for ever.

And he was courageous.

It was a corrupt courage,

but it was as good for his purposes as the other kind.

He sailed close to the cliff of the Great Isabel,

throwing a penetrating glance from the deck at the mouth of the ravine,

tangled in an undisturbed growth of bushes.

He sailed close enough to exchange hails with the workmen,

shading their eyes on the edge of the sheer drop of the cliff overhung by the jib-head of a powerful crane.

He perceived that none of them had any occasion even to approach the ravine where the silver lay hidden;

let alone to enter it.

In the harbour he learned that no one slept on the island.

The labouring gangs returned to port every evening,

singing chorus songs in the empty lighters towed by a harbour tug.

For the moment he had nothing to fear.

But afterwards?

he asked himself.


when a keeper came to live in the cottage that was being built some hundred and fifty yards back from the low lighttower,

and four hundred or so from the dark,


jungly ravine,

containing the secret of his safety,

of his influence,

of his magnificence,

of his power over the future,

of his defiance of ill-luck,

of every possible betrayal from rich and poor alike --what then?

He could never shake off the treasure.

His audacity,

greater than that of other men,

had welded that vein of silver into his life.

And the feeling of fearful and ardent subjection,

the feeling of his slavery --so irremediable and profound that often,

in his thoughts,

he compared himself to the legendary Gringos,

neither dead nor alive,

bound down to their conquest of unlawful wealth on Azuera --weighed heavily on the independent Captain Fidanza,

owner and master of a coasting schooner,

whose smart appearance

(and fabulous good-luck in trading)

were so well known along the western seaboard of a vast continent.

Fiercely whiskered and grave,

a shade less supple in his walk,

the vigour and symmetry of his powerful limbs lost in the vulgarity of a brown tweed suit,

made by Jews in the slums of London,

and sold by the clothing department of the Compania Anzani,

Captain Fidanza was seen in the streets of Sulaco attending to his business,

as usual,

that trip.


as usual,

he allowed it to get about that he had made a great profit on his cargo.

It was a cargo of salt fish,

and Lent was approaching.

He was seen in tramcars going to and fro between the town and the harbour;

he talked with people in a cafe or two in his measured,

steady voice.

Captain Fidanza was seen.

The generation that would know nothing of the famous ride to Cayta was not born yet.


the miscalled Capataz de Cargadores,

had made for himself,

under his rightful name,

another public existence,

but modified by the new conditions,

less picturesque,

more difficult to keep up in the increased size and varied population of Sulaco,

the progressive capital of the Occidental Republic.

Captain Fidanza,


but always a little mysterious,

was recognized quite sufficiently under the lofty glass and iron roof of the Sulaco railway station.

He took a local train,

and got out in Rincon,

where he visited the widow of the Cargador who had died of his wounds

(at the dawn of the New Era,

like Don Jose Avellanos)

in the patio of the Casa Gould.

He consented to sit down and drink a glass of cool lemonade in the hut,

while the woman,

standing up,

poured a perfect torrent of words to which he did not listen.

He left some money with her,

as usual.

The orphaned children,

growing up and well schooled,

calling him uncle,

clamoured for his blessing.

He gave that,


and in the doorway paused for a moment to look at the flat face of the San Tome mountain with a faint frown.

This slight contraction of his bronzed brow casting a marked tinge of severity upon his usual unbending expression,

was observed at the Lodge which he attended --but went away before the banquet.

He wore it at the meeting of some good comrades,

Italians and Occidentals,

assembled in his honour under the presidency of an indigent,


somewhat hunchbacked little photographer,

with a white face and a magnanimous soul dyed crimson by a bloodthirsty hate of all capitalists,

oppressors of the two hemispheres.

The heroic Giorgio Viola,

old revolutionist,

would have understood nothing of his opening speech;

and Captain Fidanza,

lavishly generous as usual to some poor comrades,

made no speech at all.

He had listened,


with his mind far away,

and walked off unapproachable,


like a man full of cares.

His frown deepened as,

in the early morning,

he watched the stone-masons go off to the Great Isabel,

in lighters loaded with squared blocks of stone,

enough to add another course to the squat light-tower.

That was the rate of the work.

One course per day.

And Captain Fidanza meditated.

The presence of strangers on the island would cut him completely off the treasure.

It had been difficult and dangerous enough before.

He was afraid,

and he was angry.

He thought with the resolution of a master and the cunning of a cowed slave.

Then he went ashore.

He was a man of resource and ingenuity;


as usual,

the expedient he found at a critical moment was effective enough to alter the situation radically.

He had the gift of evolving safety out of the very danger,

this incomparable Nostromo,

this "fellow in a thousand."

With Giorgio established on the Great Isabel,

there would be no need for concealment.

He would be able to go openly,

in daylight,

to see his daughters --one of his daughters --and stay late talking to the old Garibaldino.

Then in the dark ...Night after night ...He would dare to grow rich quicker now.

He yearned to clasp,



subjugate in unquestioned possession this treasure,

whose tyranny had weighed upon his mind,

his actions,

his very sleep.

He went to see his friend Captain Mitchell --and the thing was done as Dr. Monygham had related to Mrs. Gould.

When the project was mooted to the Garibaldino,

something like the faint reflection,

the dim ghost of a very ancient smile,

stole under the white and enormous moustaches of the old hater of kings and ministers.

His daughters were the object of his anxious care.

The younger,



with her mother's voice,

had taken more her mother's place.

Her deep,

vibrating "Eh,



but for the change of the word,

the very echo of the impassioned,

remonstrating "Eh,


of poor Signora Teresa.

It was his fixed opinion that the town was no proper place for his girls.

The infatuated but guileless Ramirez was the object of his profound aversion,

as resuming the sins of the country whose people were blind,

vile esclavos.

On his return from his next voyage,

Captain Fidanza found the Violas settled in the light-keeper's cottage.

His knowledge of Giorgio's idiosyncrasies had not played him false.

The Garibaldino had refused to entertain the idea of any companion whatever,

except his girls.

And Captain Mitchell,

anxious to please his poor Nostromo,

with that felicity of inspiration which only true affection can give,

had formally appointed Linda Viola as under-keeper of the Isabel's Light.

"The light is private property,"

he used to explain.

"It belongs to my Company.

I've the power to nominate whom I like,

and Viola it shall be.

It's about the only thing Nostromo --a man worth his weight in gold,

mind you --has ever asked me to do for him."

Directly his schooner was anchored opposite the New Custom House,

with its sham air of a Greek temple,


with a colonnade,

Captain Fidanza went pulling his small boat out of the harbour,

bound for the Great Isabel,

openly in the light of a declining day,

before all men's eyes,

with a sense of having mastered the fates.

He must establish a regular position.

He would ask him for his daughter now.

He thought of Giselle as he pulled.

Linda loved him,


but the old man would be glad to keep the elder,

who had his wife's voice.

He did not pull for the narrow strand where he had landed with Decoud,

and afterwards alone on his first visit to the treasure.

He made for the beach at the other end,

and walked up the regular and gentle slope of the wedge-shaped island.

Giorgio Viola,

whom he saw from afar,

sitting on a bench under the front wall of the cottage,

lifted his arm slightly to his loud hail.

He walked up.

Neither of the girls appeared.

"It is good here,"

said the old man,

in his austere,

far-away manner.

Nostromo nodded;


after a short silence --

"You saw my schooner pass in not two hours ago?

Do you know why I am here before,

so to speak,

my anchor has fairly bitten into the ground of this port of Sulaco?"

"You are welcome like a son,"

the old man declared,


staring away upon the sea.


thy son.

I know.

I am what thy son would have been.

It is well,


It is a very good welcome.


I have come to ask you for -- --"

A sudden dread came upon the fearless and incorruptible Nostromo.

He dared not utter the name in his mind.

The slight pause only imparted a marked weight and solemnity to the changed end of the phrase.

"For my wife!"

...His heart was beating fast.

"It is time you -- --"

The Garibaldino arrested him with an extended arm.

"That was left for you to judge."

He got up slowly.

His beard,

unclipped since Teresa's death,



covered his powerful chest.

He turned his head to the door,

and called out in his strong voice --


Her answer came sharp and faint from within;

and the appalled Nostromo stood up,


but remained mute,

gazing at the door.

He was afraid.

He was not afraid of being refused the girl he loved --no mere refusal could stand between him and a woman he desired --but the shining spectre of the treasure rose before him,

claiming his allegiance in a silence that could not be gainsaid.

He was afraid,


neither dead nor alive,

like the Gringos on Azuera,

he belonged body and soul to the unlawfulness of his audacity.

He was afraid of being forbidden the island.

He was afraid,

and said nothing.

Seeing the two men standing up side by side to await her,

Linda stopped in the doorway.

Nothing could alter the passionate dead whiteness of her face;

but her black eyes seemed to catch and concentrate all the light of the low sun in a flaming spark within the black depths,

covered at once by the slow descent of heavy eyelids.

"Behold thy husband,


and benefactor."

Old Viola's voice resounded with a force that seemed to fill the whole gulf.

She stepped forward with her eyes nearly closed,

like a sleep-walker in a beatific dream.

Nostromo made a superhuman effort.

"It is time,


we two were betrothed,"

he said,


in his level,


unbending tone.

She put her hand into his offered palm,

lowering her head,

dark with bronze glints,

upon which her father's hand rested for a moment.

"And so the soul of the dead is satisfied."

This came from Giorgio Viola,

who went on talking for a while of his dead wife;

while the two,

sitting side by side,

never looked at each other.

Then the old man ceased;

and Linda,


began to speak.

"Ever since I felt I lived in the world,

I have lived for you alone,

Gian' Battista.

And that you knew!

You knew it ...Battistino."

She pronounced the name exactly with her mother's intonation.

A gloom as of the grave covered Nostromo's heart.


I knew,"

he said.

The heroic Garibaldino sat on the same bench bowing his hoary head,

his old soul dwelling alone with its memories,

tender and violent,

terrible and dreary --solitary on the earth full of men.

And Linda,

his best-loved daughter,

was saying,

"I was yours ever since I can remember.

I had only to think of you for the earth to become empty to my eyes.

When you were there,

I could see no one else.

I was yours.

Nothing is changed.

The world belongs to you,

and you let me live in it."

...She dropped her low,

vibrating voice to a still lower note,

and found other things to say --torturing for the man at her side.

Her murmur ran on ardent and voluble.

She did not seem to see her sister,

who came out with an altar-cloth she was embroidering in her hands,

and passed in front of them,




with a quick glance and a faint smile,

to sit a little away on the other side of Nostromo.

The evening was still.

The sun sank almost to the edge of a purple ocean;

and the white lighthouse,

livid against the background of clouds filling the head of the gulf,

bore the lantern red and glowing,

like a live ember kindled by the fire of the sky.


indolent and demure,

raised the altar-cloth from time to time to hide nervous yawns,

as of a young panther.

Suddenly Linda rushed at her sister,

and seizing her head,

covered her face with kisses.

Nostromo's brain reeled.

When she left her,

as if stunned by the violent caresses,

with her hands lying in her lap,

the slave of the treasure felt as if he could shoot that woman.

Old Giorgio lifted his leonine head.

"Where are you going,


"To the light,

padre mio."


si --to your duty."

He got up,


looked after his eldest daughter;


in a tone whose festive note seemed the echo of a mood lost in the night of ages --

"I am going in to cook something.



The old man knows where to find a bottle of wine,


He turned to Giselle,

with a change to austere tenderness.

"And you,

little one,

pray not to the God of priests and slaves,

but to the God of orphans,

of the oppressed,

of the poor,

of little children,

to give thee a man like this one for a husband."

His hand rested heavily for a moment on Nostromo's shoulder;

then he went in.

The hopeless slave of the San Tome silver felt at these words the venomous fangs of jealousy biting deep into his heart.

He was appalled by the novelty of the experience,

by its force,

by its physical intimacy.

A husband!

A husband for her!

And yet it was natural that Giselle should have a husband at some time or other.

He had never realized that before.

In discovering that her beauty could belong to another he felt as though he could kill this one of old Giorgio's daughters also.

He muttered moodily --

"They say you love Ramirez."

She shook her head without looking at him.

Coppery glints rippled to and fro on the wealth of her gold hair.

Her smooth forehead had the soft,

pure sheen of a priceless pearl in the splendour of the sunset,

mingling the gloom of starry spaces,

the purple of the sea,

and the crimson of the sky in a magnificent stillness.


she said,


"I never loved him.

I think I never ...He loves me --perhaps."

The seduction of her slow voice died out of the air,

and her raised eyes remained fixed on nothing,

as if indifferent and without thought.

"Ramirez told you he loved you?"

asked Nostromo,

restraining himself.


once --one evening ..."

"The miserable ...Ha!"

He had jumped up as if stung by a gad-fly,

and stood before her mute with anger.

"Misericordia Divina!



Gian' Battista!

Poor wretch that I am!"

she lamented in ingenuous tones.

"I told Linda,

and she scolded --she scolded.

Am I to live blind,


and deaf in this world?

And she told father,

who took down his gun and cleaned it.

Poor Ramirez!

Then you came,

and she told you."

He looked at her.

He fastened his eyes upon the hollow of her white throat,

which had the invincible charm of things young,



and alive.

Was this the child he had known?

Was it possible?

It dawned upon him that in these last years he had really seen very little --nothing --of her.


She had come into the world like a thing unknown.

She had come upon him unawares.

She was a danger.

A frightful danger.

The instinctive mood of fierce determination that had never failed him before the perils of this life added its steady force to the violence of his passion.


in a voice that recalled to him the song of running water,

the tinkling of a silver bell,

continued --

"And between you three you have brought me here into this captivity to the sky and water.

Nothing else.

Sky and water.


Sanctissima Madre.

My hair shall turn grey on this tedious island.

I could hate you,

Gian' Battista!"

He laughed loudly.

Her voice enveloped him like a caress.

She bemoaned her fate,

spreading unconsciously,

like a flower its perfume in the coolness of the evening,

the indefinable seduction of her person.

Was it her fault that nobody ever had admired Linda?

Even when they were little,

going out with their mother to Mass,

she remembered that people took no notice of Linda,

who was fearless,

and chose instead to frighten her,

who was timid,

with their attention.

It was her hair like gold,

she supposed.

He broke out --

"Your hair like gold,

and your eyes like violets,

and your lips like the rose;

your round arms,

your white throat."


Imperturbable in the indolence of her pose,

she blushed deeply all over to the roots of her hair.

She was not conceited.

She was no more self-conscious than a flower.

But she was pleased.

And perhaps even a flower loves to hear itself praised.

He glanced down,

and added,

impetuously --

"Your little feet!"

Leaning back against the rough stone wall of the cottage,

she seemed to bask languidly in the warmth of the rosy flush.

Only her lowered eyes glanced at her little feet.

"And so you are going at last to marry our Linda.

She is terrible.


now she will understand better since you have told her you love her.

She will not be so fierce."


said Nostromo,

"I have not told her anything."

"Then make haste.

Come to-morrow.

Come and tell her,

so that I may have some peace from her scolding and --perhaps --who knows ..."

"Be allowed to listen to your Ramirez,


Is that it?

You ..."

"Mercy of God!

How violent you are,


she said,


"Who is Ramirez ...Ramirez ...Who is he?"

she repeated,


in the dusk and gloom of the clouded gulf,

with a low red streak in the west like a hot bar of glowing iron laid across the entrance of a world sombre as a cavern,

where the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores had hidden his conquests of love and wealth.



he said,

in measured tones;

"I will tell no word of love to your sister.

Do you want to know why?"


I could not understand perhaps,


Father says you are not like other men;

that no one had ever understood you properly;

that the rich will be surprised yet.


saints in heaven!

I am weary."

She raised her embroidery to conceal the lower part of her face,

then let it fall on her lap.

The lantern was shaded on the land side,

but slanting away from the dark column of the lighthouse they could see the long shaft of light,

kindled by Linda,

go out to strike the expiring glow in a horizon of purple and red.

Giselle Viola,

with her head resting against the wall of the house,

her eyes half closed,

and her little feet,

in white stockings and black slippers,

crossed over each other,

seemed to surrender herself,

tranquil and fatal,

to the gathering dusk.

The charm of her body,

the promising mysteriousness of her indolence,

went out into the night of the Placid Gulf like a fresh and intoxicating fragrance spreading out in the shadows,

impregnating the air.

The incorruptible Nostromo breathed her ambient seduction in the tumultuous heaving of his breast.

Before leaving the harbour he had thrown off the store clothing of Captain Fidanza,

for greater ease in the long pull out to the islands.

He stood before her in the red sash and check shirt as he used to appear on the Company's wharf --a Mediterranean sailor come ashore to try his luck in Costaguana.

The dusk of purple and red enveloped him,

too --close,



as no more than fifty yards from that spot it had gathered evening after evening about the self-destructive passion of Don Martin Decoud's utter scepticism,

flaming up to death in solitude.

"You have got to hear,"

he began at last,

with perfect self-control.

"I shall say no word of love to your sister,

to whom I am betrothed from this evening,

because it is you that I love.

It is you!"


The dusk let him see yet the tender and voluptuous smile that came instinctively upon her lips shaped for love and kisses,

freeze hard in the drawn,

haggard lines of terror.

He could not restrain himself any longer.

While she shrank from his approach,

her arms went out to him,

abandoned and regal in the dignity of her languid surrender.

He held her head in his two hands,

and showered rapid kisses upon the upturned face that gleamed in the purple dusk.

Masterful and tender,

he was entering slowly upon the fulness of his possession.

And he perceived that she was crying.

Then the incomparable Capataz,

the man of careless loves,

became gentle and caressing,

like a woman to the grief of a child.

He murmured to her fondly.

He sat down by her and nursed her fair head on his breast.

He called her his star and his little flower.

It had grown dark.

From the living-room of the light-keeper's cottage,

where Giorgio,

one of the Immortal Thousand,

was bending his leonine and heroic head over a charcoal fire,

there came the sound of sizzling and the aroma of an artistic frittura.

In the obscure disarray of that thing,

happening like a cataclysm,

it was in her feminine head that some gleam of reason survived.

He was lost to the world in their embraced stillness.

But she said,

whispering into his ear --

"God of mercy!

What will become of me --here --now --between this sky and this water I hate?


Linda --I see her!"

...She tried to get out of his arms,

suddenly relaxed at the sound of that name.

But there was no one approaching their black shapes,

enlaced and struggling on the white background of the wall.


Poor Linda!

I tremble!

I shall die of fear before my poor sister Linda,

betrothed to-day to Giovanni --my lover!


you must have been mad!

I cannot understand you!

You are not like other men!

I will not give you up --never --only to God himself!

But why have you done this blind,



frightful thing?"


she hung her head,

let fall her hands.

The altar-cloth,

as if tossed by a great wind,

lay far away from them,

gleaming white on the black ground.

"From fear of losing my hope of you,"

said Nostromo.

"You knew that you had my soul!

You know everything!

It was made for you!

But what could stand between you and me?


Tell me!"

she repeated,

without impatience,

in superb assurance.

"Your dead mother,"

he said,

very low.


...Poor mother!

She has always ...She is a saint in heaven now,

and I cannot give you up to her.



Only to God alone.

You were mad --but it is done.


what have you done?


my beloved,

my life,

my master,

do not leave me here in this grave of clouds.

You cannot leave me now.

You must take me away --at once --this instant --in the little boat.


carry me off to-night,

from my fear of Linda's eyes,

before I have to look at her again."

She nestled close to him.

The slave of the San Tome silver felt the weight as of chains upon his limbs,

a pressure as of a cold hand upon his lips.

He struggled against the spell.

"I cannot,"

he said.

"Not yet.

There is something that stands between us two and the freedom of the world."

She pressed her form closer to his side with a subtle and naive instinct of seduction.

"You rave,

Giovanni --my lover!"

she whispered,


"What can there be?

Carry me off --in thy very hands --to Dona Emilia --away from here.

I am not very heavy."

It seemed as though she expected him to lift her up at once in his two palms.

She had lost the notion of all impossibility.

Anything could happen on this night of wonder.

As he made no movement,

she almost cried aloud --

"I tell you I am afraid of Linda!"

And still he did not move.

She became quiet and wily.

"What can there be?"

she asked,


He felt her warm,



quivering in the hollow of his arm.

In the exulting consciousness of his strength,

and the triumphant excitement of his mind,

he struck out for his freedom.

"A treasure,"

he said.

All was still.

She did not understand.

"A treasure.

A treasure of silver to buy a gold crown for thy brow."

"A treasure?"

she repeated in a faint voice,

as if from the depths of a dream.

"What is it you say?"

She disengaged herself gently.

He got up and looked down at her,

aware of her face,

of her hair,

her lips,

the dimples on her cheeks --seeing the fascination of her person in the night of the gulf as if in the blaze of noonday.

Her nonchalant and seductive voice trembled with the excitement of admiring awe and ungovernable curiosity.

"A treasure of silver!"

she stammered out.

Then pressed on faster:



How did you get it,


He wrestled with the spell of captivity.

It was as if striking a heroic blow that he burst out --

"Like a thief!"

The densest blackness of the Placid Gulf seemed to fall upon his head.

He could not see her now.

She had vanished into a long,

obscure abysmal silence,

whence her voice came back to him after a time with a faint glimmer,

which was her face.

"I love you!

I love you!"

These words gave him an unwonted sense of freedom;

they cast a spell stronger than the accursed spell of the treasure;

they changed his weary subjection to that dead thing into an exulting conviction of his power.

He would cherish her,

he said,

in a splendour as great as Dona Emilia's.

The rich lived on wealth stolen from the people,

but he had taken from the rich nothing --nothing that was not lost to them already by their folly and their betrayal.

For he had been betrayed --he said --deceived,


She believed him.

...He had kept the treasure for purposes of revenge;

but now he cared nothing for it.

He cared only for her.

He would put her beauty in a palace on a hill crowned with olive trees --a white palace above a blue sea.

He would keep her there like a jewel in a casket.

He would get land for her --her own land fertile with vines and corn --to set her little feet upon.

He kissed them.

...He had already paid for it all with the soul of a woman and the life of a man.

...The Capataz de Cargadores tasted the supreme intoxication of his generosity.

He flung the mastered treasure superbly at her feet in the impenetrable darkness of the gulf,

in the darkness defying --as men said --the knowledge of God and the wit of the devil.

But she must let him grow rich first --he warned her.

She listened as if in a trance.

Her fingers stirred in his hair.

He got up from his knees reeling,



as though he had flung his soul away.

"Make haste,


she said.

"Make haste,


my lover,

my master,

for I will give thee up to no one but God.

And I am afraid of Linda."

He guessed at her shudder,

and swore to do his best.

He trusted the courage of her love.

She promised to be brave in order to be loved always --far away in a white palace upon a hill above a blue sea.

Then with a timid,

tentative eagerness she murmured --

"Where is it?


Tell me that,


He opened his mouth and remained silent --thunderstruck.

"Not that!

Not that!"

he gasped out,

appalled at the spell of secrecy that had kept him dumb before so many people falling upon his lips again with unimpaired force.

Not even to her.

Not even to her.

It was too dangerous.

"I forbid thee to ask,"

he cried at her,

deadening cautiously the anger of his voice.

He had not regained his freedom.

The spectre of the unlawful treasure arose,

standing by her side like a figure of silver,

pitiless and secret,

with a finger on its pale lips.

His soul died within him at the vision of himself creeping in presently along the ravine,

with the smell of earth,

of damp foliage in his nostrils --creeping in,

determined in a purpose that numbed his breast,

and creeping out again loaded with silver,

with his ears alert to every sound.

It must be done on this very night --that work of a craven slave!

He stooped low,

pressed the hem of her skirt to his lips,

with a muttered command --

"Tell him I would not stay,"

and was gone suddenly from her,


without as much as a footfall in the dark night.

She sat still,

her head resting indolently against the wall,

and her little feet in white stockings and black slippers crossed over each other.

Old Giorgio,

coming out,

did not seem to be surprised at the intelligence as much as she had vaguely feared.

For she was full of inexplicable fear now --fear of everything and everybody except of her Giovanni and his treasure.

But that was incredible.

The heroic Garibaldino accepted Nostromo's abrupt departure with a sagacious indulgence.

He remembered his own feelings,

and exhibited a masculine penetration of the true state of the case.

"Va bene.

Let him go.



No matter how fair the woman,

it galls a little.



There's more than one kind!

He has said the great word,

and son Gian' Battista is not tame."

He seemed to be instructing the motionless and scared Giselle.

..."A man should not be tame,"

he added,

dogmatically out of the doorway.

Her stillness and silence seemed to displease him.

"Do not give way to the enviousness of your sister's lot,"

he admonished her,

very grave,

in his deep voice.

Presently he had to come to the door again to call in his younger daughter.

It was late.

He shouted her name three times before she even moved her head.

Left alone,

she had become the helpless prey of astonishment.

She walked into the bedroom she shared with Linda like a person profoundly asleep.

That aspect was so marked that even old Giorgio,


raising his eyes from the Bible,

shook his head as she shut the door behind her.

She walked right across the room without looking at anything,

and sat down at once by the open window.


stealing down from the tower in the exuberance of her happiness,

found her with a lighted candle at her back,

facing the black night full of sighing gusts of wind and the sound of distant showers --a true night of the gulf,

too dense for the eye of God and the wiles of the devil.

She did not turn her head at the opening of the door.

There was something in that immobility which reached Linda in the depths of her paradise.

The elder sister guessed angrily: the child is thinking of that wretched Ramirez.

Linda longed to talk.

She said in her arbitrary voice,


and was not answered by the slightest movement.

The girl that was going to live in a palace and walk on ground of her own was ready to die with terror.

Not for anything in the world would she have turned her head to face her sister.

Her heart was beating madly.

She said with subdued haste --

"Do not speak to me.

I am praying."



went out quietly;

and Giselle sat on unbelieving,




as if waiting for the confirmation of the incredible.

The hopeless blackness of the clouds seemed part of a dream,


She waited.

She did not wait in vain.

The man whose soul was dead within him,

creeping out of the ravine,

weighted with silver,

had seen the gleam of the lighted window,

and could not help retracing his steps from the beach.

On that impenetrable background,

obliterating the lofty mountains by the seaboard,

she saw the slave of the San Tome silver,

as if by an extraordinary power of a miracle.

She accepted his return as if henceforth the world could hold no surprise for all eternity.

She rose,

compelled and rigid,

and began to speak long before the light from within fell upon the face of the approaching man.

"You have come back to carry me off.

It is well!

Open thy arms,


my lover.

I am coming."

His prudent footsteps stopped,

and with his eyes glistening wildly,

he spoke in a harsh voice:

"Not yet.

I must grow rich slowly."

...A threatening note came into his tone.

"Do not forget that you have a thief for your lover."



she whispered,


"Come nearer!


Do not give me up,




...I will be patient!


Her form drooped consolingly over the low casement towards the slave of the unlawful treasure.

The light in the room went out,

and weighted with silver,

the magnificent Capataz clasped her round her white neck in the darkness of the gulf as a drowning man clutches at a straw.


On the day Mrs. Gould was going,

in Dr. Monygham's words,

to "give a tertulia,"

Captain Fidanza went down the side of his schooner lying in Sulaco harbour,



deliberate in the way he sat down in his dinghy and took up his sculls.

He was later than usual.

The afternoon was well advanced before he landed on the beach of the Great Isabel,

and with a steady pace climbed the slope of the island.

From a distance he made out Giselle sitting in a chair tilted back against the end of the house,

under the window of the girl's room.

She had her embroidery in her hands,

and held it well up to her eyes.

The tranquillity of that girlish figure exasperated the feeling of perpetual struggle and strife he carried in his breast.

He became angry.

It seemed to him that she ought to hear the clanking of his fetters --his silver fetters,

from afar.

And while ashore that day,

he had met the doctor with the evil eye,

who had looked at him very hard.

The raising of her eyes mollified him.

They smiled in their flower-like freshness straight upon his heart.

Then she frowned.

It was a warning to be cautious.

He stopped some distance away,

and in a loud,

indifferent tone,

said --

"Good day,


Is Linda up yet?"


She is in the big room with father."

He approached then,


looking through the window into the bedroom for fear of being detected by Linda returning there for some reason,

he said,

moving only his lips --

"You love me?"

"More than my life."

She went on with her embroidery under his contemplating gaze and continued to speak,

looking at her work,

"Or I could not live.

I could not,


For this life is like death.



I shall perish if you do not take me away."

He smiled carelessly.

"I will come to the window when it's dark,"

he said.





Linda and father have been talking together for a long time today."

"What about?"


I fancy I heard.

I do not know.

I am afraid.

I am always afraid.

It is like dying a thousand times a day.

Your love is to me like your treasure to you.

It is there,

but I can never get enough of it."

He looked at her very still.

She was beautiful.

His desire had grown within him.

He had two masters now.

But she was incapable of sustained emotion.

She was sincere in what she said,

but she slept placidly at night.

When she saw him she flamed up always.

Then only an increased taciturnity marked the change in her.

She was afraid of betraying herself.

She was afraid of pain,

of bodily harm,

of sharp words,

of facing anger,

and witnessing violence.

For her soul was light and tender with a pagan sincerity in its impulses.

She murmured --

"Give up the palazzo,


and the vineyard on the hills,

for which we are starving our love."

She ceased,

seeing Linda standing silent at the corner of the house.

Nostromo turned to his affianced wife with a greeting,

and was amazed at her sunken eyes,

at her hollow cheeks,

at the air of illness and anguish in her face.

"Have you been ill?"

he asked,

trying to put some concern into this question.

Her black eyes blazed at him.

"Am I thinner?"

she asked.

"Yes --perhaps --a little."

"And older?"

"Every day counts --for all of us."

"I shall go grey,

I fear,

before the ring is on my finger,"

she said,


keeping her gaze fastened upon him.

She waited for what he would say,

rolling down her turned-up sleeves.

"No fear of that,"

he said,


She turned away as if it had been something final,

and busied herself with household cares while Nostromo talked with her father.

Conversation with the old Garibaldino was not easy.

Age had left his faculties unimpaired,

only they seemed to have withdrawn somewhere deep within him.

His answers were slow in coming,

with an effect of august gravity.

But that day he was more animated,


there seemed to be more life in the old lion.

He was uneasy for the integrity of his honour.

He believed Sidoni's warning as to Ramirez's designs upon his younger daughter.

And he did not trust her.

She was flighty.

He said nothing of his cares to "Son Gian' Battista."

It was a touch of senile vanity.

He wanted to show that he was equal yet to the task of guarding alone the honour of his house.

Nostromo went away early.

As soon as he had disappeared,

walking towards the beach,

Linda stepped over the threshold and,

with a haggard smile,

sat down by the side of her father.

Ever since that Sunday,

when the infatuated and desperate Ramirez had waited for her on the wharf,

she had no doubts whatever.

The jealous ravings of that man were no revelation.

They had only fixed with precision,

as with a nail driven into her heart,

that sense of unreality and deception which,

instead of bliss and security,

she had found in her intercourse with her promised husband.

She had passed on,

pouring indignation and scorn upon Ramirez;


that Sunday,

she nearly died of wretchedness and shame,

lying on the carved and lettered stone of Teresa's grave,

subscribed for by the engine-drivers and the fitters of the railway workshops,

in sign of their respect for the hero of Italian Unity.

Old Viola had not been able to carry out his desire of burying his wife in the sea;

and Linda wept upon the stone.

The gratuitous outrage appalled her.

If he wished to break her heart --well and good.

Everything was permitted to Gian' Battista.

But why trample upon the pieces;

why seek to humiliate her spirit?


He could not break that.

She dried her tears.

And Giselle!


The little one that,

ever since she could toddle,

had always clung to her skirt for protection.

What duplicity!

But she could not help it probably.

When there was a man in the case the poor featherheaded wretch could not help herself.

Linda had a good share of the Viola stoicism.

She resolved to say nothing.

But woman-like she put passion into her stoicism.

Giselle's short answers,

prompted by fearful caution,

drove her beside herself by their curtness that resembled disdain.

One day she flung herself upon the chair in which her indolent sister was lying and impressed the mark of her teeth at the base of the whitest neck in Sulaco.

Giselle cried out.

But she had her share of the Viola heroism.

Ready to faint with terror,

she only said,

in a lazy voice,

"Madre de Dios!

Are you going to eat me alive,


And this outburst passed off leaving no trace upon the situation.

"She knows nothing.

She cannot know any thing,"

reflected Giselle.

"Perhaps it is not true.

It cannot be true,"

Linda tried to persuade herself.

But when she saw Captain Fidanza for the first time after her meeting with the distracted Ramirez,

the certitude of her misfortune returned.

She watched him from the doorway go away to his boat,

asking herself stoically,

"Will they meet to-night?"

She made up her mind not to leave the tower for a second.

When he had disappeared she came out and sat down by her father.

The venerable Garibaldino felt,

in his own words,

"a young man yet."

In one way or another a good deal of talk about Ramirez had reached him of late;

and his contempt and dislike of that man who obviously was not what his son would have been,

had made him restless.

He slept very little now;

but for several nights past instead of reading --or only sitting,

with Mrs. Gould's silver spectacles on his nose,

before the open Bible,

he had been prowling actively all about the island with his old gun,

on watch over his honour.


laying her thin brown hand on his knee,

tried to soothe his excitement.

Ramirez was not in Sulaco.

Nobody knew where he was.

He was gone.

His talk of what he would do meant nothing.


the old man interrupted.

"But son Gian' Battista told me --quite of himself --that the cowardly esclavo was drinking and gambling with the rascals of Zapiga,

over there on the north side of the gulf.

He may get some of the worst scoundrels of that scoundrelly town of negroes to help him in his attempt upon the little one.

...But I am not so old.


She argued earnestly against the probability of any attempt being made;

and at last the old man fell silent,

chewing his white moustache.

Women had their obstinate notions which must be humoured --his poor wife was like that,

and Linda resembled her mother.

It was not seemly for a man to argue.

"May be.

May be,"

he mumbled.

She was by no means easy in her mind.

She loved Nostromo.

She turned her eyes upon Giselle,

sitting at a distance,

with something of maternal tenderness,

and the jealous anguish of a rival outraged in her defeat.

Then she rose and walked over to her.

"Listen --you,"

she said,


The invincible candour of the gaze,

raised up all violet and dew,

excited her rage and admiration.

She had beautiful eyes --the Chica --this vile thing of white flesh and black deception.

She did not know whether she wanted to tear them out with shouts of vengeance or cover up their mysterious and shameless innocence with kisses of pity and love.

And suddenly they became empty,

gazing blankly at her,

except for a little fear not quite buried deep enough with all the other emotions in Giselle's heart.

Linda said,

"Ramirez is boasting in town that he will carry you off from the island."

"What folly!"

answered the other,

and in a perversity born of long restraint,

she added:

"He is not the man,"

in a jesting tone with a trembling audacity.


said Linda,

through her clenched teeth.

"Is he not?



look to it;

because father has been walking about with a loaded gun at night."

"It is not good for him.

You must tell him not to,


He will not listen to me."

"I shall say nothing --never any more --to anybody,"

cried Linda,


This could not last,

thought Giselle.

Giovanni must take her away soon --the very next time he came.

She would not suffer these terrors for ever so much silver.

To speak with her sister made her ill.

But she was not uneasy at her father's watchfulness.

She had begged Nostromo not to come to the window that night.

He had promised to keep away for this once.

And she did not know,

could not guess or imagine,

that he had another reason for coming on the island.

Linda had gone straight to the tower.

It was time to light up.

She unlocked the little door,

and went heavily up the spiral staircase,

carrying her love for the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores like an ever-increasing load of shameful fetters.


she could not throw it off.


let Heaven dispose of these two.

And moving about the lantern,

filled with twilight and the sheen of the moon,

with careful movements she lighted the lamp.

Then her arms fell along her body.

"And with our mother looking on,"

she murmured.

"My own sister --the Chica!"

The whole refracting apparatus,

with its brass fittings and rings of prisms,

glittered and sparkled like a domeshaped shrine of diamonds,

containing not a lamp,

but some sacred flame,

dominating the sea.

And Linda,

the keeper,

in black,

with a pale face,

drooped low in a wooden chair,

alone with her jealousy,

far above the shames and passions of the earth.

A strange,

dragging pain as if somebody were pulling her about brutally by her dark hair with bronze glints,

made her put her hands up to her temples.

They would meet.

They would meet.

And she knew where,


At the window.

The sweat of torture fell in drops on her cheeks,

while the moonlight in the offing closed as if with a colossal bar of silver the entrance of the Placid Gulf --the sombre cavern of clouds and stillness in the surf-fretted seaboard.

Linda Viola stood up suddenly with a finger on her lip.

He loved neither her nor her sister.

The whole thing seemed so objectless as to frighten her,

and also give her some hope.

Why did he not carry her off?

What prevented him?

He was incomprehensible.

What were they waiting for?

For what end were these two lying and deceiving?

Not for the ends of their love.

There was no such thing.

The hope of regaining him for herself made her break her vow of not leaving the tower that night.

She must talk at once to her father,

who was wise,

and would understand.

She ran down the spiral stairs.

At the moment of opening the door at the bottom she heard the sound of the first shot ever fired on the Great Isabel.

She felt a shock,

as though the bullet had struck her breast.

She ran on without pausing.

The cottage was dark.

She cried at the door,



then dashed round the corner and screamed her sister's name at the open window,

without getting an answer;

but as she was rushing,


round the house,

Giselle came out of the door,

and darted past her,

running silently,

her hair loose,

and her eyes staring straight ahead.

She seemed to skim along the grass as if on tiptoe,

and vanished.

Linda walked on slowly,

with her arms stretched out before her.

All was still on the island;

she did not know where she was going.

The tree under which Martin Decoud spent his last days,

beholding life like a succession of senseless images,

threw a large blotch of black shade upon the grass.

Suddenly she saw her father,

standing quietly all alone in the moonlight.

The Garibaldino --big,


with his snow-white hair and beard --had a monumental repose in his immobility,

leaning upon a rifle.

She put her hand upon his arm lightly.

He never stirred.

"What have you done?"

she asked,

in her ordinary voice.

"I have shot Ramirez --infame!"

he answered,

with his eyes directed to where the shade was blackest.

"Like a thief he came,

and like a thief he fell.

The child had to be protected."

He did not offer to move an inch,

to advance a single step.

He stood there,

rugged and unstirring,

like a statue of an old man guarding the honour of his house.

Linda removed her trembling hand from his arm,

firm and steady like an arm of stone,


without a word,

entered the blackness of the shade.

She saw a stir of formless shapes on the ground,

and stopped short.

A murmur of despair and tears grew louder to her strained hearing.

"I entreated you not to come to-night.


my Giovanni!

And you promised.


Why --why did you come,


It was her sister's voice.

It broke on a heartrending sob.

And the voice of the resourceful Capataz de Cargadores,

master and slave of the San Tome treasure,

who had been caught unawares by old Giorgio while stealing across the open towards the ravine to get some more silver,

answered careless and cool,

but sounding startlingly weak from the ground.

"It seemed as though I could not live through the night without seeing thee once more --my star,

my little flower."

* * * * *

The brilliant tertulia was just over,

the last guests had departed,

and the Senor Administrador had gone to his room already,

when Dr. Monygham,

who had been expected in the evening but had not turned up,

arrived driving along the wood-block pavement under the electric-lamps of the deserted Calle de la Constitucion,

and found the great gateway of the Casa still open.

He limped in,

stumped up the stairs,

and found the fat and sleek Basilio on the point of turning off the lights in the sala.

The prosperous majordomo remained open-mouthed at this late invasion.

"Don't put out the lights,"

commanded the doctor.

"I want to see the senora."

"The senora is in the Senor Adminstrador's cancillaria,"

said Basilio,

in an unctuous voice.

"The Senor Administrador starts for the mountain in an hour.

There is some trouble with the workmen to be feared,

it appears.

A shameless people without reason and decency.

And idle,



"You are shamelessly lazy and imbecile yourself,"

said the doctor,

with that faculty for exasperation which made him so generally beloved.

"Don't put the lights out."

Basilio retired with dignity.

Dr. Monygham,

waiting in the brilliantly lighted sala,

heard presently a door close at the further end of the house.

A jingle of spurs died out.

The Senor Administrador was off to the mountain.

With a measured swish of her long train,

flashing with jewels and the shimmer of silk,

her delicate head bowed as if under the weight of a mass of fair hair,

in which the silver threads were lost,

the "first lady of Sulaco,"

as Captain Mitchell used to describe her,

moved along the lighted corredor,

wealthy beyond great dreams of wealth,





and as solitary as any human being had ever been,


on this earth.

The doctor's "Mrs. Gould!

One minute!"

stopped her with a start at the door of the lighted and empty sala.

From the similarity of mood and circumstance,

the sight of the doctor,

standing there all alone amongst the groups of furniture,

recalled to her emotional memory her unexpected meeting with Martin Decoud;

she seemed to hear in the silence the voice of that man,

dead miserably so many years ago,

pronounce the words,

"Antonia left her fan here."

But it was the doctor's voice that spoke,

a little altered by his excitement.

She remarked his shining eyes.

"Mrs. Gould,

you are wanted.

Do you know what has happened?

You remember what I told you yesterday about Nostromo.


it seems that a lancha,

a decked boat,

coming from Zapiga,

with four negroes in her,

passing close to the Great Isabel,

was hailed from the cliff by a woman's voice --Linda's,

as a matter of fact --commanding them

(it's a moonlight night)

to go round to the beach and take up a wounded man to the town.

The patron

(from whom I've heard all this),

of course,

did so at once.

He told me that when they got round to the low side of the Great Isabel,

they found Linda Viola waiting for them.

They followed her: she led them under a tree not far from the cottage.

There they found Nostromo lying on the ground with his head in the younger girl's lap,

and father Viola standing some distance off leaning on his gun.

Under Linda's direction they got a table out of the cottage for a stretcher,

after breaking off the legs.

They are here,

Mrs. Gould.

I mean Nostromo and --and Giselle.

The negroes brought him in to the first-aid hospital near the harbour.

He made the attendant send for me.

But it was not me he wanted to see --it was you,

Mrs. Gould!

It was you."


whispered Mrs. Gould,

shrinking a little.



the doctor burst out.

"He begged me --his enemy,

as he thinks --to bring you to him at once.

It seems he has something to say to you alone."


murmured Mrs. Gould.

"He said to me,

'Remind her that I have done something to keep a roof over her head.'

...Mrs. Gould,"

the doctor pursued,

in the greatest excitement.

"Do you remember the silver?

The silver in the lighter --that was lost?"

Mrs. Gould remembered.

But she did not say she hated the mere mention of that silver.

Frankness personified,

she remembered with an exaggerated horror that for the first and last time of her life she had concealed the truth from her husband about that very silver.

She had been corrupted by her fears at that time,

and she had never forgiven herself.


that silver,

which would never have come down if her husband had been made acquainted with the news brought by Decoud,

had been in a roundabout way nearly the cause of Dr. Monygham's death.

And these things appeared to her very dreadful.

"Was it lost,


the doctor exclaimed.

"I've always felt that there was a mystery about our Nostromo ever since.

I do believe he wants now,

at the point of death -- --"

"The point of death?"

repeated Mrs. Gould.



...He wants perhaps to tell you something concerning that silver which -- --"




exclaimed Mrs. Gould,

in a low voice.

"Isn't it lost and done with?

Isn't there enough treasure without it to make everybody in the world miserable?"

The doctor remained still,

in a submissive,

disappointed silence.

At last he ventured,

very low --

"And there is that Viola girl,


What are we to do?

It looks as though father and sister had -- --"

Mrs. Gould admitted that she felt in duty bound to do her best for these girls.

"I have a volante here,"

the doctor said.

"If you don't mind getting into that -- --"

He waited,

all impatience,

till Mrs. Gould reappeared,

having thrown over her dress a grey cloak with a deep hood.

It was thus that,

cloaked and monastically hooded over her evening costume,

this woman,

full of endurance and compassion,

stood by the side of the bed on which the splendid Capataz de Cargadores lay stretched out motionless on his back.

The whiteness of sheets and pillows gave a sombre and energetic relief to his bronzed face,

to the dark,

nervous hands,

so good on a tiller,

upon a bridle and on a trigger,

lying open and idle upon a white coverlet.

"She is innocent,"

the Capataz was saying in a deep and level voice,

as though afraid that a louder word would break the slender hold his spirit still kept upon his body.

"She is innocent.

It is I alone.

But no matter.

For these things I would answer to no man or woman alive."

He paused.

Mrs. Gould's face,

very white within the shadow of the hood,

bent over him with an invincible and dreary sadness.

And the low sobs of Giselle Viola,

kneeling at the end of the bed,

her gold hair with coppery gleams loose and scattered over the Capataz's feet,

hardly troubled the silence of the room.


Old Giorgio --the guardian of thine honour!

Fancy the Vecchio coming upon me so light of foot,

so steady of aim.

I myself could have done no better.

But the price of a charge of powder might have been saved.

The honour was safe.


she would have followed to the end of the world Nostromo the thief.

...I have said the word.

The spell is broken!"

A low moan from the girl made him cast his eyes down.

"I cannot see her.

...No matter,"

he went on,

with the shadow of the old magnificent carelessness in his voice.

"One kiss is enough,

if there is no time for more.

An airy soul,


Bright and warm,

like sunshine --soon clouded,

and soon serene.

They would crush it there between them.


cast on her the eye of your compassion,

as famed from one end of the land to the other as the courage and daring of the man who speaks to you.

She will console herself in time.

And even Ramirez is not a bad fellow.

I am not angry.


It is not Ramirez who overcame the Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores."

He paused,

made an effort,

and in louder voice,

a little wildly,

declared --

"I die betrayed --betrayed by -- --"

But he did not say by whom or by what he was dying betrayed.

"She would not have betrayed me,"

he began again,

opening his eyes very wide.

"She was faithful.

We were going very far --very soon.

I could have torn myself away from that accursed treasure for her.

For that child I would have left boxes and boxes of it --full.

And Decoud took four.

Four ingots.



To betray me?

How could I give back the treasure with four ingots missing?

They would have said I had purloined them.

The doctor would have said that.


it holds me yet!"

Mrs. Gould bent low,

fascinated --cold with apprehension.

"What became of Don Martin on that night,


"Who knows?

I wondered what would become of me.

Now I know.

Death was to come upon me unawares.

He went away!

He betrayed me.

And you think I have killed him!

You are all alike,

you fine people.

The silver has killed me.

It has held me.

It holds me yet.

Nobody knows where it is.

But you are the wife of Don Carlos,

who put it into my hands and said,

'Save it on your life.'

And when I returned,

and you all thought it was lost,

what do I hear?

'It was nothing of importance.

Let it go.



the faithful,

and ride away to save us,

for dear life!'"


Mrs. Gould whispered,

bending very low.



have hated the idea of that silver from the bottom of my heart."


--that one of you should hate the wealth that you know so well how to take from the hands of the poor.

The world rests upon the poor,

as old Giorgio says.

You have been always good to the poor.

But there is something accursed in wealth.


shall I tell you where the treasure is?

To you alone.



A pained,

involuntary reluctance lingered in his tone,

in his eyes,

plain to the woman with the genius of sympathetic intuition.

She averted her glance from the miserable subjection of the dying man,


wishing to hear no more of the silver.



she said.

"No one misses it now.

Let it be lost for ever."

After hearing these words,

Nostromo closed his eyes,

uttered no word,

made no movement.

Outside the door of the sick-room Dr. Monygham,

excited to the highest pitch,

his eyes shining with eagerness,

came up to the two women.


Mrs. Gould,"

he said,

almost brutally in his impatience,

"tell me,

was I right?

There is a mystery.

You have got the word of it,

have you not?

He told you -- --"

"He told me nothing,"

said Mrs. Gould,


The light of his temperamental enmity to Nostromo went out of Dr. Monygham's eyes.

He stepped back submissively.

He did not believe Mrs. Gould.

But her word was law.

He accepted her denial like an inexplicable fatality affirming the victory of Nostromo's genius over his own.

Even before that woman,

whom he loved with secret devotion,

he had been defeated by the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores,

the man who had lived his own life on the assumption of unbroken fidelity,


and courage!

"Pray send at once somebody for my carriage,"

spoke Mrs. Gould from within her hood.


turning to Giselle Viola,

"Come nearer me,


come closer.

We will wait here."

Giselle Viola,

heartbroken and childlike,

her face veiled in her falling hair,

crept up to her side.

Mrs. Gould slipped her hand through the arm of the unworthy daughter of old Viola,

the immaculate republican,

the hero without a stain.



as a withered flower droops,

the head of the girl,

who would have followed a thief to the end of the world,

rested on the shoulder of Dona Emilia,

the first lady of Sulaco,

the wife of the Senor Administrador of the San Tome mine.

And Mrs. Gould,

feeling her suppressed sobbing,

nervous and excited,

had the first and only moment of bitterness in her life.

It was worthy of Dr. Monygham himself.

"Console yourself,


Very soon he would have forgotten you for his treasure."


he loved me.

He loved me,"

Giselle whispered,


"He loved me as no one had ever been loved before."

"I have been loved,


Mrs. Gould said in a severe tone.

Giselle clung to her convulsively.



but you shall live adored to the end of your life,"

she sobbed out.

Mrs. Gould kept an unbroken silence till the carriage arrived.

She helped in the half-fainting girl.

After the doctor had shut the door of the landau,

she leaned over to him.

"You can do nothing?"

she whispered.


Mrs. Gould.


he won't let us touch him.

It does not matter.

I just had one look.


But he promised to see old Viola and the other girl that very night.

He could get the police-boat to take him off to the island.

He remained in the street,

looking after the landau rolling away slowly behind the white mules.

The rumour of some accident --an accident to Captain Fidanza --had been spreading along the new quays with their rows of lamps and the dark shapes of towering cranes.

A knot of night prowlers --the poorest of the poor --hung about the door of the first-aid hospital,

whispering in the moonlight of the empty street.

There was no one with the wounded man but the pale photographer,




the hater of capitalists,

perched on a high stool near the head of the bed with his knees up and his chin in his hands.

He had been fetched by a comrade who,

working late on the wharf,

had heard from a negro belonging to a lancha,

that Captain Fidanza had been brought ashore mortally wounded.

"Have you any dispositions to make,


he asked,


"Do not forget that we want money for our work.

The rich must be fought with their own weapons."

Nostromo made no answer.

The other did not insist,

remaining huddled up on the stool,


wildly hairy,

like a hunchbacked monkey.


after a long silence --

"Comrade Fidanza,"

he began,


"you have refused all aid from that doctor.

Is he really a dangerous enemy of the people?"

In the dimly lit room Nostromo rolled his head slowly on the pillow and opened his eyes,

directing at the weird figure perched by his bedside a glance of enigmatic and profound inquiry.

Then his head rolled back,

his eyelids fell,

and the Capataz de Cargadores died without a word or moan after an hour of immobility,

broken by short shudders testifying to the most atrocious sufferings.

Dr. Monygham,

going out in the police-galley to the islands,

beheld the glitter of the moon upon the gulf and the high black shape of the Great Isabel sending a shaft of light afar,

from under the canopy of clouds.

"Pull easy,"

he said,

wondering what he would find there.

He tried to imagine Linda and her father,

and discovered a strange reluctance within himself.

"Pull easy,"

he repeated.

* * * * * *

From the moment he fired at the thief of his honour,

Giorgio Viola had not stirred from the spot.

He stood,

his old gun grounded,

his hand grasping the barrel near the muzzle.

After the lancha carrying off Nostromo for ever from her had left the shore,


coming up,

stopped before him.

He did not seem to be aware of her presence,

but when,

losing her forced calmness,

she cried out --

"Do you know whom you have killed?"

he answered --

"Ramirez the vagabond."


and staring insanely at her father,

Linda laughed in his face.

After a time he joined her faintly in a deep-toned and distant echo of her peals.

Then she stopped,

and the old man spoke as if startled --

"He cried out in son Gian' Battista's voice."

The gun fell from his opened hand,

but the arm remained extended for a moment as if still supported.

Linda seized it roughly.

"You are too old to understand.

Come into the house."

He let her lead him.

On the threshold he stumbled heavily,

nearly coming to the ground together with his daughter.

His excitement,

his activity of the last few days,

had been like the flare of a dying lamp.

He caught at the back of his chair.

"In son Gian' Battista's voice,"

he repeated in a severe tone.

"I heard him --Ramirez --the miserable -- --"

Linda helped him into the chair,


bending low,

hissed into his ear --

"You have killed Gian' Battista."

The old man smiled under his thick moustache.

Women had strange fancies.

"Where is the child?"

he asked,

surprised at the penetrating chilliness of the air and the unwonted dimness of the lamp by which he used to sit up half the night with the open Bible before him.

Linda hesitated a moment,

then averted her eyes.

"She is asleep,"

she said.

"We shall talk of her tomorrow."

She could not bear to look at him.

He filled her with terror and with an almost unbearable feeling of pity.

She had observed the change that came over him.

He would never understand what he had done;

and even to her the whole thing remained incomprehensible.

He said with difficulty --

"Give me the book."

Linda laid on the table the closed volume in its worn leather cover,

the Bible given him ages ago by an Englishman in Palermo.

"The child had to be protected,"

he said,

in a strange,

mournful voice.

Behind his chair Linda wrung her hands,

crying without noise.

Suddenly she started for the door.

He heard her move.

"Where are you going?"

he asked.

"To the light,"

she answered,

turning round to look at him balefully.

"The light!

Si --duty."

Very upright,



heroic in his absorbed quietness,

he felt in the pocket of his red shirt for the spectacles given him by Dona Emilia.

He put them on.

After a long period of immobility he opened the book,

and from on high looked through the glasses at the small print in double columns.

A rigid,

stern expression settled upon his features with a slight frown,

as if in response to some gloomy thought or unpleasant sensation.

But he never detached his eyes from the book while he swayed forward,



till his snow-white head rested upon the open pages.

A wooden clock ticked methodically on the white-washed wall,

and growing slowly cold the Garibaldino lay alone,



like an old oak uprooted by a treacherous gust of wind.

The light of the Great Isabel burned unfailing above the lost treasure of the San Tome mine.

Into the bluish sheen of a night without stars the lantern sent out a yellow beam towards the far horizon.

Like a black speck upon the shining panes,


crouching in the outer gallery,

rested her head on the rail.

The moon,

drooping in the western board,

looked at her radiantly.


at the foot of the cliff,

the regular splash of oars from a passing boat ceased,

and Dr. Monygham stood up in the stern sheets.


he shouted,

throwing back his head.


Linda stood up.

She had recognized the voice.

"Is he dead?"

she cried,

bending over.


my poor girl.

I am coming round,"

the doctor answered from below.

"Pull to the beach,"

he said to the rowers.

Linda's black figure detached itself upright on the light of the lantern with her arms raised above her head as though she were going to throw herself over.

"It is I who loved you,"

she whispered,

with a face as set and white as marble in the moonlight.


Only I!

She will forget thee,

killed miserably for her pretty face.

I cannot understand.

I cannot understand.

But I shall never forget thee.


She stood silent and still,

collecting her strength to throw all her fidelity,

her pain,


and despair into one great cry.


Gian' Battista!"

Dr. Monygham,

pulling round in the police-galley,

heard the name pass over his head.

It was another of Nostromo's triumphs,

the greatest,

the most enviable,

the most sinister of all.

In that true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon,

overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid silver,

the genius of the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and love.