Lord Jim eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 390 pages of information about Lord Jim.
Under the shade of a lonely tree in the courtyard, the villagers connected with the assault case sat in a picturesque group, looking like a chromo-lithograph of a camp in a book of Eastern travel.  One missed the obligatory thread of smoke in the foreground and the pack-animals grazing.  A blank yellow wall rose behind overtopping the tree, reflecting the glare.  The court-room was sombre, seemed more vast.  High up in the dim space the punkahs were swaying short to and fro, to and fro.  Here and there a draped figure, dwarfed by the bare walls, remained without stirring amongst the rows of empty benches, as if absorbed in pious meditation.  The plaintiff, who had been beaten,—­an obese chocolate-coloured man with shaved head, one fat breast bare and a bright yellow caste-mark above the bridge of his nose,—­sat in pompous immobility:  only his eyes glittered, rolling in the gloom, and the nostrils dilated and collapsed violently as he breathed.  Brierly dropped into his seat looking done up, as though he had spent the night in sprinting on a cinder-track.  The pious sailing-ship skipper appeared excited and made uneasy movements, as if restraining with difficulty an impulse to stand up and exhort us earnestly to prayer and repentance.  The head of the magistrate, delicately pale under the neatly arranged hair, resembled the head of a hopeless invalid after he had been washed and brushed and propped up in bed.  He moved aside the vase of flowers—­a bunch of purple with a few pink blossoms on long stalks—­and seizing in both hands a long sheet of bluish paper, ran his eye over it, propped his forearms on the edge of the desk, and began to read aloud in an even, distinct, and careless voice.

’By Jove!  For all my foolishness about scaffolds and heads rolling off—­I assure you it was infinitely worse than a beheading.  A heavy sense of finality brooded over all this, unrelieved by the hope of rest and safety following the fall of the axe.  These proceedings had all the cold vengefulness of a death-sentence, and the cruelty of a sentence of exile.  This is how I looked at it that morning—­and even now I seem to see an undeniable vestige of truth in that exaggerated view of a common occurrence.  You may imagine how strongly I felt this at the time.  Perhaps it is for that reason that I could not bring myself to admit the finality.  The thing was always with me, I was always eager to take opinion on it, as though it had not been practically settled:  individual opinion—­international opinion—­by Jove!  That Frenchman’s, for instance.  His own country’s pronouncement was uttered in the passionless and definite phraseology a machine would use, if machines could speak.  The head of the magistrate was half hidden by the paper, his brow was like alabaster.

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Lord Jim from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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