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lation cleared into the forest, "A

and deserted expecting all kinds of calamities street in deep shadow, high to happen, while, on the other houses, innumerable windows hand, the steamer Fresleven com- with venetian blinds, a dead manded left also in a bad panic, silence, grass sprouting bein charge of the engineer, I tween the stones, imposing believe. Afterwards nobody carriage archways right and seemed to trouble much about left, immense double

doors Fresleven's remains, till I got out standing ponderously ajar. I and stepped into his shoes. I slipped through one of these couldn't let it rest, though; but cracks, went up a swept and when an opportuity offered at ungarnished staircase, as arid last to meet my predecessor, the as a desert, and opened the grass growing through his ribs first door I came to. Two was tall enough to hide his women, one fat and the other bones. They were all there. slim, sat on straw - bottomed The supernatural being had not chairs, knitting black wool. been touched after he fell. And The slim one got up

and the village was deserted, the walked straight at me — still

huts gaped black, rotting, all knitting with downcast eyes askew within the fallen enclos- --and only just as I began A calamity had come to to think

to think of getting out of it, sure enough. The people her way, as you would for a had vanished. Mad terror had somnambulist, stood still, and scattered them, men, women, looked up.

Her dress was as and children, through the bush, plain as

umbrella - cover, and they had never returned. and she turned round withWhat became of the hens I out a word and preceded me don't know either. I should into a waiting-room. I gave think the cause of progress my name, and looked about. got them, anyhow. However, Deal table in the middle, through this glorious affair I plain chairs all round the got my appointment, before I walls, on end a large had fairly begun to hope for it. shining map, marked with all

“I flew around like mad to the colours of rainbow. get ready, and before forty- There was a vast amount of eight hours I was crossing the red — good to at

any Channel to show myself to my time, because one knows that employers, and sign the con- some real work is done in tract. In a very few hours there, a deuce of a lot of I arrived in a city that always blue, a

green, makes me think of a whited of orange, and, on the East sepulchre. Prejudice no doubt. Coast, purple patch, to I had no difficulty in finding show where the jolly pionthe Company's offices. It was of progress drink the the biggest thing in the town, jolly lager - beer. However, I and everybody I met was full wasn't going into any

of of it. They were going to run these. I was going into the an over-sea empire, and make yellow. Dead in the centre. no end of coin by trade. And the river was there






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my French

fascinating - deadly - like affair on her head, had a wart snake. Ough! A door opened, on one cheek, and silver-rimmed a white-haired secretarial head, spectacles hung on the tip of but wearing a compassionate her nose. She glanced at me expression, appeared, and above the glasses. The swift skinny forefinger beckoned me and indifferent placidity of that into the sanctuary. Its light look troubled me. Two youths was dim, and a heavy writing with foolish and cheery countendesk squatted in the middle. ances were being piloted over, From behind that structure and she threw at them the

out an impression of same quick glance of unconpale plumpness in a frock- cerned wisdom. She seemed to coat. The great man himself. know all about them and about He was five feet six, I should

me too.

An eerie feeling came judge, and had his grip on

She seemed uncanny the handle - end of

and fateful.

Often far away many

millions. He shook there I thought of these two, hands, I fancy, murmured guarding the door of Darkness, vaguely, satisfied with knitting black wool as for a Bon voyage.

warm pall, one introducing, “In about forty-five seconds introducing, continuously to the I found myself again in the unknown, the other scrutinising waiting-room with the compas- the cheery and foolish faces with sionate secretary, who, full of unconcerned old eyes. “ Ave! desolation and sympathy, made Old knitter of black wool. me sign some document. I Morituri te salutant. Not many believe I undertook amongst of these she looked at ever saw other things not to disclose her again—not half, by a long any trade secrets.

Well, I am way. not going to

“There was yet a visit to “I began to feel slightly un- the doctor. ‘A simple foreasy. You know I am not used mality,' assured me the secreto such ceremonies, and there tary, with an air of taking was something ominous in the an immense part in all my atmosphere. It was just as

Accordingly a young though I had been let into chap wearing his hat over the some conspiracy—I don't know left eyebrow, some clerk I sup—something not quite right; pose, —there must have been and I was glad to get out. In clerks in the business, though the outer room the two women the house was as still as knitted black wool feverishly. house in a city of the dead, People were arriving, and the came from somewhere up-stairs,

younger one was walking back and led me forth.

He was and forth introducing them. shabby and careless, with inkThe old one sat on her chair. stains on the sleeves of his Her flat cloth slippers were jacket, and his cravat propped up on a foot-warmer, large and billowy, under a chin and a cat reposed on her lap. shaped like the toe of an old She wore starched white boot. It was a little too early






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for the doctor, so I proposed a too?' It would be,' he said, drink, and thereupon he de- without taking notice of my veloped a vein of joviality. As irritation, ‘interesting for science we sat over our vermuths he to watch the mental changes of glorified the Company's busi- individuals, on the spot, but ness, and by-and-by I ex- : 'Are you an alienist ?' pressed casually my surprise I interrupted. 'Every doctor at him not going out there. should be—a little,' answered He became very cool and col- that original, imperturbably. lected all at once. 'I am not 'I have a little theory which such a fool as I look, quoth you Messieurs who go out there Plato to his disciples,' he said must help me to prove. This is sententiously, emptied his glass my share in the advantages my with great resolution, and we country shall reap from the

possession of such a magnificent “The old doctor felt my dependency. The mere wealth pulse, evidently thinking of I leave to others. Pardon my something else

the while. questions, but you are the first Good, good for there,' he Englishman coming under my mumbled, and then with a cer- observation .. I hastened tain eagerness asked me whether to assure him I was not in the I would let him measure my least typical. 'If I were,' said head. Rather surprised, I said I, 'I wouldn't be talking like Yes, when he produced a thing this with you.' 'What you say like calipers and got the dimen- is rather profound, and probably sions back and front and every erroneous,' he said, with way, taking notes carefully. laugh. ‘Avoid irritation more He was an unshaven little man than


to the in a threadbare coat like a Adieu. How do you English gaberdine, with his feet in say, eh ? Good - bye.

Ah! slippers, and I thought him a Good - bye. Adieu. In the harmless fool. 'I always ask tropics one must before everyleave, in the interests of science, thing keep calm.' . . . He lifted to measure the crania of those a warning forefinger. ... 'Du going out there,' he said. “And calme, du calme. Adieu.' when they come back too?' I “One thing more remained asked. “Oh, I never see them,' to do — say good-bye to my he remarked; and, moreover, excellent aunt. I found her the changes take place inside, triumphant. I had a cup of you know. He smiled, as if at tea - the last decent cup of some quiet joke. "So you are tea for many days; and in going out there. Famous. In- room that most soothingly teresting too.' He gave me a looked just as you would exsearching glance, and made pect a lady's drawing-room to another note. • Ever any mad- look, we had a long quiet

, ness in your family ?' he asked, chat by the fireside. In the in a matter-of-fact tone. I felt course of these confidences it very annoyed. “Is that ques- became quite plain to me I tion in the interests of science had been represented to the




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wife of the high dignitary, I left. In the street—I don't and goodness knows to how know why - a queer feeling many more people besides, as came to me that I was an iman exceptional and gifted crea- postor. Odd thing that I, who ture—a piece of good fortune used to clear out for any part of for the Company—a man you the world at twenty-four hours' don't get hold of every day. notice, with less thought than Good heavens! and I most men give to the crossing going to take charge of a two- of a street, had a moment—I penny - halfpenny river - steam- won't say of hesitation, but of boat with a penny whistle at startled pause, before this comtached! It appeared, however, monplace affair. The best way I was also one of the Workers, I can explain it to you is by with a capital — you know. saying that, for a second or Something like an emissary of two, I felt as though, instead light, something like a lower of going to the centre of a consort of apostle. There had tinent, I were about to set off been a lot of such rot let loose for the centre of the earth. in print and talk just about “I left in a French steamer, that time, and the excellent and she called in every blamed woman, living right in the rush port they have out there, for, of all that humbug, got carried as far as I could see, the sole off her feet. She talked about purpose of landing soldiers and weaning those ignorant mil- custom-house officers. I watched lions from their horrid ways,' the coast. Watching a coast as till, upon my word, she made it slips by the ship is like think

quite uncomfortable. I ing about an enigma. There it ventured to hint that the Com- is before you—smiling, frowning, pany was run for profit.

inviting, grand, mean, insipid, “You forget, dear Charlie, or savage, and always mute that the labourer is worthy of with an air of whispering, Come his hire,' she said, brightly. and find out.

This one It's queer how out of touch almost featureless, as if still in with truth women are. They the making, with an aspect of live in a world of their own, monotonous grimness. The edge and there had never been any- of a colossal jungle, so darkthing like it, and never green as to be almost black, be. It is too beautiful alto- fringed with white surf, ran gether, and if they were to set straight, like a ruled line, far, it up it would go to pieces far away along a blue sea before the first sunset. Some whose glitter was blurred by confounded fact we men have a creeping mist. The sun was been living contentedly with fierce, the land seemed to glisever since the day of creation ten and drip with steam. Here would start up and knock the and there greyish - whitish whole thing over.

specks showed up, clustered in“ After this I got embraced, side the white surf, with a flag told to wear flannel, be sure flying above them perhaps. to write often, and so on and Settlements some centuries old,






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and still no bigger than pin- these chaps; but they had bone, heads on the untouched ex- muscle, wild vitality, an

their background. intense energy of movement, We pounded along, stopped, that was as natural and true landed soldiers; went on, land- as the surf along their coast. ed custom-house clerks to levy They wanted no

excuse for toll in what looked like a God- being there. They were a great forsaken wilderness, with a tin comfort to look at. For a time shed and a flag-pole lost in it; I would feel I belonged still to landed more soldiers—to take a world of straightforward facts; care of the custom-house clerks, but the feeling would not last presumably. Some, I heard, long. Something would turn got drowned in the surf; but up to scare it away. Once, I whether they did or not, no- remember, we came upon a manbody seemed particularly to of-war anchored off the coast.

They were just flung There wasn't even a shed there, out there, and on we went. and she was shelling the bush. Every day the coast looked It appears the French had one the same, as though we had of their wars going on therenot moved; but we passed vari- abouts. Her ensign dropped ous places — trading places — limp like a rag; the muzzles of with names like Gran' Bassam the long eight-inch guns stuck Little Popo, names that seemed out all over the low hull; the to belong to some sordid farce greasy, slimy swell swung her acted in front of a sinister up lazily and let her down, backcloth.

The idleness of a swaying her thin masts. In the passenger, my isolation amongst empty immensity of earth, sky, all these men with whom I and water, there she was, inhad no point of contact, the comprehensible, firing into a oily and languid sea, the uni- continent. Pop, would go one form sombreness of the coast, of the eight-inch guns; a small seemed to keep me away from flame would dart and vanish, a the truth of things within the little white smoke would distoil of a mournful and senseless appear, a tiny projectile would delusion. The voice of the surf give a feeble screech and heard now and then was a posi- nothing happened. Nothing tive pleasure, like the speech of could happen.

There was a brother. It was something touch of insanity in the pronatural, that had its reason, ceeding, a sense of lugubrious that had a meaning. Now and drollery in the sight; and it was then a boat from the shore gave not dissipated by somebody on one a momentary contact with board assuring me earnestly reality. It was paddled by there was a camp of nativesblack fellows. You could see he called them enemies !-hidden from afar the white of their eye- out of sight somewhere. balls glistening. They shouted, “We gave her her letters (I sang; their bodies streamed heard the men in that lonely with perspiration; they had ship were dying of fever at the faces like grotesque masks — rate of three a-day) and went




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