Lord Jim HTML version

Chapter 37
'It all begins with a remarkable exploit of a man called Brown, who stole with
complete success a Spanish schooner out of a small bay near Zamboanga. Till I
discovered the fellow my information was incomplete, but most unexpectedly I
did come upon him a few hours before he gave up his arrogant ghost.
Fortunately he was willing and able to talk between the choking fits of asthma,
and his racked body writhed with malicious exultation at the bare thought of Jim.
He exulted thus at the idea that he had "paid out the stuck-up beggar after all."
He gloated over his action. I had to bear the sunken glare of his fierce crow-
footed eyes if I wanted to know; and so I bore it, reflecting how much certain
forms of evil are akin to madness, derived from intense egoism, inflamed by
resistance, tearing the soul to pieces, and giving factitious vigour to the body.
The story also reveals unsuspected depths of cunning in the wretched Cornelius,
whose abject and intense hate acts like a subtle inspiration, pointing out an
unerring way towards revenge.
' "I could see directly I set my eyes on him what sort of a fool he was," gasped
the dying Brown. "He a man! Hell! He was a hollow sham. As if he couldn't have
said straight out, 'Hands off my plunder!' blast him! That would have been like a
man! Rot his superior soul! He had me there--but he hadn't devil enough in him
to make an end of me. Not he! A thing like that letting me off as if I wasn't worth a
kick! . . ." Brown struggled desperately for breath. . . . "Fraud. . . . Letting me off. .
. . And so I did make an end of him after all. . . ." He choked again. . . . "I expect
this thing'll kill me, but I shall die easy now. You . . . you here . . . I don't know
your name--I would give you a five-pound note if--if I had it--for the news--or my
name's not Brown. . . ." He grinned horribly. . . . "Gentleman Brown."
'He said all these things in profound gasps, staring at me with his yellow eyes out
of a long, ravaged, brown face; he jerked his left arm; a pepper-and-salt matted
beard hung almost into his lap; a dirty ragged blanket covered his legs. I had
found him out in Bankok through that busybody Schomberg, the hotel-keeper,
who had, confidentially, directed me where to look. It appears that a sort of
loafing, fuddled vagabond--a white man living amongst the natives with a
Siamese woman--had considered it a great privilege to give a shelter to the last
days of the famous Gentleman Brown. While he was talking to me in the
wretched hovel, and, as it were, fighting for every minute of his life, the Siamese
woman, with big bare legs and a stupid coarse face, sat in a dark corner chewing
betel stolidly. Now and then she would get up for the purpose of shooing a
chicken away from the door. The whole hut shook when she walked. An ugly
yellow child, naked and pot-bellied like a little heathen god, stood at the foot of
the couch, finger in mouth, lost in a profound and calm contemplation of the
dying man.