فصل 02

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کتاب های ساده

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فصل 02

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

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CHAPTER TWO

‘I sailed for Africa in a French steamer,’ Marlow went on. ‘We stopped at every port on the way to land soldiers and customs officers. I watched the coast as we sailed along. I could see the beginnings of the huge jungle. Sometimes I saw a trading post - a small collection of huts flying a flag. It went on like that for days.

‘We stopped. The soldiers and customs officers got off, and then we sailed away.

‘Once we passed a French warship anchored near the coast. She was firing all her guns into the jungle. Imagine firing a gun into that mass of jungle. Someone said they were firing at their enemies, hidden out of sight somewhere. Nothing happened at all. There was something mad about it, something strange and useless.

‘At last we came to the mouth of the great river. My boat was waiting for me two hundred miles up the river.

‘The first company trading post that I saw was a depressing place. There were pieces of ruined machines lying on the ground. There was a group of African prisoners working there. They were tied together with chains, and they looked weak and ill. I walked around until I came to a large hole in the ground. There was more broken machinery lying here. I looked at it, and listened to the river that was nearby. Then I heard an explosion. The company was excavating near the river. Every few minutes there was another explosion.

‘I walked on. There were black bodies lying on the ground all around me. They were company workers - the ones who had fallen ill and were going to die. They lay on the ground waiting for the end to come. No one helped them. It was horrible.

I walked back to the company trading post as quickly as I could. The first white man I saw was very smartly dressed. He wore white trousers, and his white shirt was ironed and starched. He looked as if he worked in a big city somewhere, not in this terrible place. He was the company accountant, he told me. I admired him for the effort he made. His work was good, too. His accounts were in proper order, just like his appearance.

‘It was the accountant who first mentioned Kurtz.

“‘You’ll meet him when you go into the interior,” he told me. “Mr Kurtz is a remarkable person,” he added. “He’ll go far with the company. The Council in Europe know all about him. They want him to succeed.”

‘I left the trading post the next day. We travelled on foot for the next two hundred miles. It was a hard journey. We walked along the jungle paths without seeing anyone else. Sometimes we came to a native village, but it was always empty. The villages were abandoned. Some of the carriers with us died on the journey. There was a white man travelling with me. He was a heavy man, and he fell ill. The natives had to carry him most of the way. One day they dropped him. He was furious, and he wanted me to punish the natives. I remembered the words of the old doctor back in Brussels: “Anger is more dangerous than the sun out there.” I felt the old doctor would be interested in the mental changes that were taking place inside me!

‘We reached the central station after fifteen days. The station was near the river, and I saw at once that there was disorder and confusion here as well. There was a big gap in the fence around the station. A man approached me and asked who I was. Then he told me the steamer I had to command was at the bottom of the river. I was astonished and asked what had happened. The man tried to reassure me.

‘“Everything’s all right,” he told me. “Everyone behaved splendidly. You must go and speak to the manager - he’s waiting to see you.”

‘I assumed the steamer had sunk as the result of some accident. I did not think there might be other, more sinister reasons for what had happened. I’m not even sure now, so many years later, what the truth of it was.

‘The manager did not make a good impression on me. He was quite a stupid man, and obviously no good at running the station which I could see from the condition of the place. He was successful in his job because he never fell ill. Other men could not survive the heat and the poor diet - but that had no effect on him at all. When they left Africa, or when they died, the manager simply took over their jobs.

‘He told me that he was in a hurry to make the journey up-river.

“‘Things are bad up there,” he explained. “We don’t really know what’s happening to the other stations up there. We don’t know who’s alive and who’s dead.”

‘Then he went on to tell me about an important station that was run by Mr Kurtz. He said he was “very uneasy” about Mr Kurtz. Then he asked me how long it would take to repair the steamer.

‘I was tired after the fifteen-day journey into this place, and I was annoyed with the manager and his talk.

‘“How can I tell how long the work on the steamer will take?” I demanded irritably. “I haven’t even seen her yet!” Then I made a quick calculation. “It’s bound to be a couple of months at least,” I told him.

‘The manager was silent for a moment.

‘“A couple of months,” he said. “Let’s say three months before we can go up-river, to be sure.’”

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