Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


THE Gould carriage was the first to return from the harbour to
the empty town. On the ancient pavement, laid out in patterns,
sunk into ruts and holes, the portly Ignacio, mindful of the
springs of the Parisian-built landau, had pulled up to a walk,
and Decoud in his corner contemplated moodily the inner aspect of
the gate. The squat turreted sides held up between them a mass of
masonry with bunches of grass growing at the top, and a grey,
heavily scrolled, armorial shield of stone above the apex of the
arch with the arms of Spain nearly smoothed out as if in
readiness for some new device typical of the impending progress.

The explosive noise of the railway trucks seemed to augment
Decoud's irritation. He muttered something to himself, then began
to talk aloud in curt, angry phrases thrown at the silence of the
two women. They did not look at him at all; while Don Jose, with
his semi-translucent, waxy complexion, overshadowed by the soft
grey hat, swayed a little to the jolts of the carriage by the
side of Mrs. Gould.

"This sound puts a new edge on a very old truth."

Decoud spoke in French, perhaps because of Ignacio on the box
above him; the old coachman, with his broad back filling a short,
silver-braided jacket, had a big pair of ears, whose thick rims
stood well away from his cropped head.

"Yes, the noise outside the city wall is new, but the principle
is old."

He ruminated his discontent for a while, then began afresh with a
sidelong glance at Antonia--

"No, but just imagine our forefathers in morions and corselets
drawn up outside this gate, and a band of adventurers just landed
from their ships in the harbour there. Thieves, of course.
Speculators, too. Their expeditions, each one, were the
speculations of grave and reverend persons in England. That is
history, as that absurd sailor Mitchell is always saying."

"Mitchell's arrangements for the embarkation of the troops were
excellent!" exclaimed Don Jose.

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