Lord Jim eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Lord Jim.
which nothing seemed able to subdue.  Most of my informants were of the opinion that the stone was probably unlucky,—­like the famous stone of the Sultan of Succadana, which in the old times had brought wars and untold calamities upon that country.  Perhaps it was the same stone—­one couldn’t say.  Indeed the story of a fabulously large emerald is as old as the arrival of the first white men in the Archipelago; and the belief in it is so persistent that less than forty years ago there had been an official Dutch inquiry into the truth of it.  Such a jewel—­it was explained to me by the old fellow from whom I heard most of this amazing Jim-myth—­a sort of scribe to the wretched little Rajah of the place;—­such a jewel, he said, cocking his poor purblind eyes up at me (he was sitting on the cabin floor out of respect), is best preserved by being concealed about the person of a woman.  Yet it is not every woman that would do.  She must be young—­he sighed deeply—­and insensible to the seductions of love.  He shook his head sceptically.  But such a woman seemed to be actually in existence.  He had been told of a tall girl, whom the white man treated with great respect and care, and who never went forth from the house unattended.  People said the white man could be seen with her almost any day; they walked side by side, openly, he holding her arm under his—­pressed to his side—­thus—­in a most extraordinary way.  This might be a lie, he conceded, for it was indeed a strange thing for any one to do:  on the other hand, there could be no doubt she wore the white man’s jewel concealed upon her bosom.’


’This was the theory of Jim’s marital evening walks.  I made a third on more than one occasion, unpleasantly aware every time of Cornelius, who nursed the aggrieved sense of his legal paternity, slinking in the neighbourhood with that peculiar twist of his mouth as if he were perpetually on the point of gnashing his teeth.  But do you notice how, three hundred miles beyond the end of telegraph cables and mail-boat lines, the haggard utilitarian lies of our civilisation wither and die, to be replaced by pure exercises of imagination, that have the futility, often the charm, and sometimes the deep hidden truthfulness, of works of art?  Romance had singled Jim for its own—­and that was the true part of the story, which otherwise was all wrong.  He did not hide his jewel.  In fact, he was extremely proud of it.

’It comes to me now that I had, on the whole, seen very little of her.  What I remember best is the even, olive pallor of her complexion, and the intense blue-black gleams of her hair, flowing abundantly from under a small crimson cap she wore far back on her shapely head.  Her movements were free, assured, and she blushed a dusky red.  While Jim and I were talking, she would come and go with rapid glances at us, leaving on her passage an impression of grace and charm and a distinct suggestion of watchfulness. 

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Lord Jim from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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