’I stopped; the silence over Patusan was profound, and the feeble dry sound of a paddle striking the side of a canoe somewhere in the middle of the river seemed to make it infinite. “Why?” she murmured. I felt that sort of rage one feels during a hard tussle. The spectre was trying to slip out of my grasp. “Why?” she repeated louder; “tell me!” And as I remained confounded, she stamped with her foot like a spoilt child. “Why? Speak.” “You want to know?” I asked in a fury. “Yes!” she cried. “Because he is not good enough,” I said brutally. During the moment’s pause I noticed the fire on the other shore blaze up, dilating the circle of its glow like an amazed stare, and contract suddenly to a red pin-point. I only knew how close to me she had been when I felt the clutch of her fingers on my forearm. Without raising her voice, she threw into it an infinity of scathing contempt, bitterness, and despair.
’"This is the very thing he said. . . . You lie!”
’The last two words she cried at me in the native dialect. “Hear me out!” I entreated; she caught her breath tremulously, flung my arm away. “Nobody, nobody is good enough,” I began with the greatest earnestness. I could hear the sobbing labour of her breath frightfully quickened. I hung my head. What was the use? Footsteps were approaching; I slipped away without another word. . . .’
Marlow swung his legs out, got up quickly, and staggered a little, as though he had been set down after a rush through space. He leaned his back against the balustrade and faced a disordered array of long cane chairs. The bodies prone in them seemed startled out of their torpor by his movement. One or two sat up as if alarmed; here and there a cigar glowed yet; Marlow looked at them all with the eyes of a man returning from the excessive remoteness of a dream. A throat was cleared; a calm voice encouraged negligently, ‘Well.’