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Almayer's Folly

Chapter 2
Such was the house, the household, and the business Mr Verloc left behind him
on his way westward at the hour of half-past ten in the morning. It was unusually
early for him; his whole person exhaled the charm of almost dewy freshness; he
wore his blue cloth overcoat unbuttoned; his boots were shiny; his cheeks,
freshly shaven, had a sort of gloss; and even his heavy-lidded eyes, refreshed by
a night of peaceful slumber, sent out glances of comparative alertness. Through
the park railings these glances beheld men and women riding in the Row,
couples cantering past harmoniously, others advancing sedately at a walk,
loitering groups of three or four, solitary horsemen looking unsociable, and
solitary women followed at a long distance by a groom with a cockade to his hat
and a leather belt over his tight-fitting coat. Carriages went bowling by, mostly
two-horse broughams, with here and there a victoria with the skin of some wild
beast inside and a woman's face and hat emerging above the folded hood. And a
peculiarly London sun - against which nothing could be said except that it looked
bloodshot - glorified all this by its stare. It hung at a moderate elevation above
Hyde Park Corner with an air of punctual and benign vigilance. The very
pavement under Mr Verloc's feet had an old-gold tinge in that diffused light, in
which neither wall, nor tree, nor beast, nor man cast a shadow. Mr Verloc was
going westward through a town without shadows in an atmosphere of powdered
old gold. There were red, coppery gleams on the roofs of houses, on the corners
of walls, on the panels of carriages, on the very coats of the horses, and on the
broad back of Mr Verloc's overcoat, where they produced a dull effect of
rustiness. But Mr Verloc was not in the least conscious of having got rusty. He
surveyed through the park railings the evidences of the town's opulence and
luxury with an approving eye. All these people had to be protected. Protection is
the first necessity of opulence and luxury. They had to be protected; and their
horses, carriages, houses, servants had to be protected; and the source of their
wealth had to be protected in the heart of the city and the heart of the country;
the whole social order favourable to their hygienic idleness had to be protected
against the shallow enviousness of unhygienic labour. It had to - and Mr Verloc
would have rubbed his hands with satisfaction had he not been constitutionally
averse from every superfluous exertion. His idleness was not hygienic, but it
suited him very well. He was in a manner devoted to it with a sort of inert
fanaticism, or perhaps rather with a fanatical inertness. Born of industrious
parents for a life of toil, he had embraced indolence from an impulse as profound
as inexplicable and as imperious as the impulse which directs a man's
preference for one particular woman in a given thousand. He was too lazy even
for a mere demagogue, for a workman orator, for a leader of labour. It was too
much trouble. He required a more perfect form of ease; or it might have been that
he was the victim of a philosophical unbelief in the effectiveness of every human
effort. Such a form of indolence requires, implies, a certain amount of
intelligence. Mr Verloc was not devoid of intelligence - and at the notion of a
menaced social order he would perhaps have winked to himself if there had not
 
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