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Almayer's Folly

Chapter 11
After Chief Inspector Heat had left him Mr Verloc moved about the parlour.
From time to time he eyed his wife through the open door. "She knows all about it
now," he thought to himself with commiseration for her sorrow and with some
satisfaction as regarded himself. Mr Verloc's soul, if lacking greatness perhaps,
was capable of tender sentiments. The prospect of having to break the news to
her had put him into a fever. Chief Inspector Heat had relieved him of the task.
That was good as far as it went. It remained for him now to face her grief.
Mr Verloc had never expected to have to face it on account of death, whose
catastrophic character cannot be argued away by sophisticated reasoning or
persuasive eloquence. Mr Verloc never meant Stevie to perish with such abrupt
violence. He did not mean him to perish at all. Stevie dead was a much greater
nuisance than ever he had been when alive. Mr Verloc had augured a favourable
issue to his enterprise, basing himself not on Stevie's intelligence, which
sometimes plays queer tricks with a man, but on the blind docility and on the
blind devotion of the boy. Though not much of a psychologist, Mr Verloc had
gauged the depth of Stevie's fanaticism. He dared cherish the hope of Stevie
walking away from the walls of the Observatory as he had been instructed to do,
taking the way shown to him several times previously, and rejoining his brother-
in-law, the wise and good Mr Verloc, outside the precincts of the park. Fifteen
minutes ought to have been enough for the veriest fool to deposit the engine and
walk away. And the Professor had guaranteed more than fifteen minutes. But
Stevie had stumbled within five minutes of being left to himself. And Mr Verloc
was shaken morally to pieces. He had foreseen everything but that. He had
foreseen Stevie distracted and lost - sought for - found in some police station or
provincial workhouse in the end. He had foreseen Stevie arrested, and was not
afraid, because Mr Verloc had a great opinion of Stevie's loyalty, which had been
carefully indoctrinated with the necessity of silence in the course of many walks.
Like a peripatetic philosopher, Mr Verloc, strolling along the streets of London,
had modified Stevie's view of the police by conversations full of subtle
reasonings. Never had a sage a more attentive and admiring disciple. The
submission and worship were so apparent that Mr Verloc had come to feel
something like a liking for the boy. In any case, he had not foreseen the swift
bringing home of his connection. That his wife should hit upon the precaution of
sewing the boy's address inside his overcoat was the last thing Mr Verloc would
have thought of. One can't think of everything. That was what she meant when
she said that he need not worry if he lost Stevie during their walks. She had
assured him that the boy would turn up all right. Well, he had turned up with a
vengeance!
 
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