Lord Jim eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Lord Jim.
forward; his pale face hovered near the flowers, and then dropping sideways over the arm of his chair, he rested his temple in the palm of his hand.  The wind of the punkahs eddied down on the heads, on the dark-faced natives wound about in voluminous draperies, on the Europeans sitting together very hot and in drill suits that seemed to fit them as close as their skins, and holding their round pith hats on their knees; while gliding along the walls the court peons, buttoned tight in long white coats, flitted rapidly to and fro, running on bare toes, red-sashed, red turban on head, as noiseless as ghosts, and on the alert like so many retrievers.

Jim’s eyes, wandering in the intervals of his answers, rested upon a white man who sat apart from the others, with his face worn and clouded, but with quiet eyes that glanced straight, interested and clear.  Jim answered another question and was tempted to cry out, ’What’s the good of this! what’s the good!’ He tapped with his foot slightly, bit his lip, and looked away over the heads.  He met the eyes of the white man.  The glance directed at him was not the fascinated stare of the others.  It was an act of intelligent volition.  Jim between two questions forgot himself so far as to find leisure for a thought.  This fellow—­ran the thought—­looks at me as though he could see somebody or something past my shoulder.  He had come across that man before—­in the street perhaps.  He was positive he had never spoken to him.  For days, for many days, he had spoken to no one, but had held silent, incoherent, and endless converse with himself, like a prisoner alone in his cell or like a wayfarer lost in a wilderness.  At present he was answering questions that did not matter though they had a purpose, but he doubted whether he would ever again speak out as long as he lived.  The sound of his own truthful statements confirmed his deliberate opinion that speech was of no use to him any longer.  That man there seemed to be aware of his hopeless difficulty.  Jim looked at him, then turned away resolutely, as after a final parting.

And later on, many times, in distant parts of the world, Marlow showed himself willing to remember Jim, to remember him at length, in detail and audibly.

Perhaps it would be after dinner, on a verandah draped in motionless foliage and crowned with flowers, in the deep dusk speckled by fiery cigar-ends.  The elongated bulk of each cane-chair harboured a silent listener.  Now and then a small red glow would move abruptly, and expanding light up the fingers of a languid hand, part of a face in profound repose, or flash a crimson gleam into a pair of pensive eyes overshadowed by a fragment of an unruffled forehead; and with the very first word uttered Marlow’s body, extended at rest in the seat, would become very still, as though his spirit had winged its way back into the lapse of time and were speaking through his lips from the past.

CHAPTER 5

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Project Gutenberg
Lord Jim from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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