The Secret Agent
The enormous iron padlock on the doors of the wall cupboard was the only object in the
room on which the eye could rest without becoming afflicted by the miserable
unloveliness of forms and the poverty of material. Unsaleable in the ordinary course of
business on account of its noble proportions, it had been ceded to the Professor for a few
pence by a marine dealer in the east of London. The room was large, clean, respectable,
and poor with that poverty suggesting the starvation of every human need except mere
bread. There was nothing on the walls but the paper, an expanse of arsenical green, soiled
with indelible smudges here and there, and with stains resembling faded maps of
At a deal table near a window sat Comrade Ossipon, holding his head between his fists.
The Professor, dressed in his only suit of shoddy tweeds, but flapping to and fro on the
bare boards a pair of incredibly dilapidated slippers, had thrust his hands deep into the
overstrained pockets of his jacket. He was relating to his robust guest a visit he had lately
been paying to the Apostle Michaelis. The Perfect Anarchist had even been unbending a
"The fellow didn't know anything of Verloc's death. Of course! He never looks at the
newspapers. They make him too sad, he says. But never mind. I walked into his cottage.
Not a soul anywhere. I had to shout half-a-dozen times before he answered me. I thought
he was fast asleep yet, in bed. But not at all. He had been writing his book for four hours
already. He sat in that tiny cage in a litter of manuscript. There was a half-eaten raw
carrot on the table near him. His breakfast. He lives on a diet of raw carrots and a little
"How does he look on it?" asked Comrade Ossipon listlessly.
"Angelic. . . . I picked up a handful of his pages from the floor. The poverty of reasoning
is astonishing. He has no logic. He can't think consecutively. But that's nothing. He has
divided his biography into three parts, entitled - `Faith, Hope, Charity.' He is elaborating
now the idea of a world planned out like an immense and nice hospital, with gardens and
flowers, in which the strong are to devote themselves to the nursing of the weak."
The Professor paused.
"Conceive you this folly, Ossipon? The weak! The source of all evil on this earth!" he
continued with his grim assurance. "I told him that I dreamt of a world like shambles,
where the weak would be taken in hand for utter extermination."
"Do you understand, Ossipon? The source of all evil! They are our sinister masters - the
weak, the flabby, the silly, the cowardly, the faint of heart, and the slavish of mind. They
have power. They are the multitude. Theirs is the kingdom of the earth. Exterminate,
exterminate! That is the only way of progress. It is! Follow me, Ossipon. First the great