Lord Jim HTML version

Chapter 41
'To the very last moment, till the full day came upon them with a spring, the fires
on the west bank blazed bright and clear; and then Brown saw in a knot of
coloured figures motionless between the advanced houses a man in European
clothes, in a helmet, all white. "That's him; look! look!" Cornelius said excitedly.
All Brown's men had sprung up and crowded at his back with lustreless eyes.
The group of vivid colours and dark faces with the white figure in their midst were
observing the knoll. Brown could see naked arms being raised to shade the eyes
and other brown arms pointing. What should he do? He looked around, and the
forests that faced him on all sides walled the cock-pit of an unequal contest. He
looked once more at his men. A contempt, a weariness, the desire of life, the
wish to try for one more chance--for some other grave--struggled in his breast.
From the outline the figure presented it seemed to him that the white man there,
backed up by all the power of the land, was examining his position through
binoculars. Brown jumped up on the log, throwing his arms up, the palms
outwards. The coloured group closed round the white man, and fell back twice
before he got clear of them, walking slowly alone. Brown remained standing on
the log till Jim, appearing and disappearing between the patches of thorny scrub,
had nearly reached the creek; then Brown jumped off and went down to meet
him on his side.
'They met, I should think, not very far from the place, perhaps on the very spot,
where Jim took the second desperate leap of his life--the leap that landed him
into the life of Patusan, into the trust, the love, the confidence of the people. They
faced each other across the creek, and with steady eyes tried to understand
each other before they opened their lips. Their antagonism must have been
expressed in their glances; I know that Brown hated Jim at first sight. Whatever
hopes he might have had vanished at once. This was not the man he had
expected to see. He hated him for this-- and in a checked flannel shirt with
sleeves cut off at the elbows, grey bearded, with a sunken, sun-blackened face--
he cursed in his heart the other's youth and assurance, his clear eyes and his
untroubled bearing. That fellow had got in a long way before him! He did not look
like a man who would be willing to give anything for assistance. He had all the
advantages on his side--possession, security, power; he was on the side of an
overwhelming force! He was not hungry and desperate, and he did not seem in
the least afraid. And there was something in the very neatness of Jim's clothes,
from the white helmet to the canvas leggings and the pipeclayed shoes, which in
Brown's sombre irritated eyes seemed to belong to things he had in the very
shaping of his life condemned and flouted.
' "Who are you?" asked Jim at last, speaking in his usual voice. "My name's
Brown," answered the other loudly; "Captain Brown. What's yours?" and Jim after
a little pause went on quietly, as If he had not heard: "What made you come