Lord Jim HTML version

Chapter 35
'But next morning, at the first bend of the river shutting off the houses of Patusan,
all this dropped out of my sight bodily, with its colour, its design, and its meaning,
like a picture created by fancy on a canvas, upon which, after long
contemplation, you turn your back for the last time. It remains in the memory
motionless, unfaded, with its life arrested, in an unchanging light. There are the
ambitions, the fears, the hate, the hopes, and they remain in my mind just as I
had seen them--intense and as if for ever suspended in their expression. I had
turned away from the picture and was going back to the world where events
move, men change, light flickers, life flows in a clear stream, no matter whether
over mud or over stones. I wasn't going to dive into it; I would have enough to do
to keep my head above the surface. But as to what I was leaving behind, I cannot
imagine any alteration. The immense and magnanimous Doramin and his little
motherly witch of a wife, gazing together upon the land and nursing secretly their
dreams of parental ambition; Tunku Allang, wizened and greatly perplexed; Dain
Waris, intelligent and brave, with his faith in Jim, with his firm glance and his
ironic friendliness; the girl, absorbed in her frightened, suspicious adoration;
Tamb' Itam, surly and faithful; Cornelius, leaning his forehead against the fence
under the moonlight--I am certain of them. They exist as if under an enchanter's
wand. But the figure round which all these are grouped--that one lives, and I am
not certain of him. No magician's wand can immobilise him under my eyes. He is
one of us.
'Jim, as I've told you, accompanied me on the first stage of my journey back to
the world he had renounced, and the way at times seemed to lead through the
very heart of untouched wilderness. The empty reaches sparkled under the high
sun; between the high walls of vegetation the heat drowsed upon the water, and
the boat, impelled vigorously, cut her way through the air that seemed to have
settled dense and warm under the shelter of lofty trees.
'The shadow of the impending separation had already put an immense space
between us, and when we spoke it was with an effort, as if to force our low voices
across a vast and increasing distance. The boat fairly flew; we sweltered side by
side in the stagnant superheated air; the smell of mud, of mush, the primeval
smell of fecund earth, seemed to sting our faces; till suddenly at a bend it was as
if a great hand far away had lifted a heavy curtain, had flung open un immense
portal. The light itself seemed to stir, the sky above our heads widened, a far-off
murmur reached our ears, a freshness enveloped us, filled our lungs, quickened
our thoughts, our blood, our regrets--and, straight ahead, the forests sank down
against the dark-blue ridge of the sea.
'I breathed deeply, I revelled in the vastness of the opened horizon, in the
different atmosphere that seemed to vibrate with the toil of life, with the energy of