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Chapter III.11
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, silver, copper, lead, cobalt, extends for miles along the foot-hills of the
Cordillera), had felt poverty-stricken, miserable, 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; then, 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,
"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."