Some Reminiscences HTML version

Chapter 2
As I have said, I was unpacking my luggage after a journey from London into Ukraine.
The MS. of "Almayer's Folly"--my companion already for some three years or more, and
then in the ninth chapter of its age--was deposited unostentatiously on the writing-table
placed between two windows. It didn't occur to me to put it away in the drawer the table
was fitted with, but my eye was attracted by the good form of the same drawer's brass
handles. Two candelabra with four candles each lighted up festally the room which had
waited so many years for the wandering nephew. The blinds were down.
Within five hundred yards of the chair on which I sat stood the first peasant hut of the
village--part of my maternal grandfather's estate, the only part remaining in the
possession of a member of the family; and beyond the village in the limitless blackness of
a winter's night there lay the great unfenced fields--not a flat and severe plain, but a
kindly bread- giving land of low rounded ridges, all white now, with the black patches of
timber nestling in the hollows. The road by which I had come ran through the village
with a turn just outside the gates closing the short drive. Somebody was abroad on the
deep snowtrack; a quick tinkle of bells stole gradually into the stillness of the room like a
tuneful whisper.
My unpacking had been watched over by the servant who had come to help me, and, for
the most part, had been standing attentive but unnecessary at the door of the room. I did
not want him in the least, but I did not like to tell him to go away. He was a young fellow,
certainly more than ten years younger than myself; I had not been--I won't say in that
place but within sixty miles of it, ever since the year '67; yet his guileless physiognomy
of the open peasant type seemed strangely familiar. It was quite possible that he might
have been a descendant, a son or even a grandson, of the servants whose friendly faces
had been familiar to me in my early childhood. As a matter of fact he had no such claim
on my consideration. He was the product of some village near by and was there on his
promotion, having learned the service in one or two houses as pantry-boy. I know this
because I asked the worthy V-- next day. I might well have spared the question. I
discovered before long that all the faces about the house and all the faces in the village:
the grave faces with long moustaches of the heads of families, the downy faces of the
young men, the faces of the little fair-haired children, the handsome, tanned, wide-
browed faces of the mothers seen at the doors of the huts were as familiar to me as
though I had known them all from childhood, and my childhood were a matter of the day
before yesterday.
The tinkle of the traveller's bels, after growing louder, had faded away quickly, and the
tumult of barking dogs in the village had calmed down at last. My uncle, lounging in the
corner of a small couch, smoked his long Turkish chibouk in silence.
"This is an extremely nice writing-table you have got for my room," I remarked.