Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


DIRECTLY they were alone, the colonel's severe official manner
changed. He rose and approached the doctor. His eyes shone with
rapacity and hope; he became confidential. "The silver might
have been indeed put on board the lighter, but it was not
conceivable that it should have been taken out to sea." The
doctor, watching every word, nodded slightly, smoking with
apparent relish the cigar which Sotillo had offered him as a sign
of his friendly intentions. The doctor's manner of cold
detachment from the rest of the Europeans led Sotillo on, till,
from conjecture to conjecture, he arrived at hinting that in his
opinion this was a putup job on the part of Charles Gould, in
order to get hold of that immense treasure all to himself. The
doctor, observant and self-possessed, muttered, "He is very
capable of that."

Here Captain Mitchell exclaimed with amazement, amusement, and
indignation, "You said that of Charles Gould!" Disgust, and even
some suspicion, crept into his tone, for to him, too, as to other
Europeans, there appeared to be something dubious about the
doctor's personality.

"What on earth made you say that to this watch-stealing
scoundrel?" he asked. "What's the object of an infernal lie of
that sort? That confounded pick-pocket was quite capable of
believing you."

He snorted. For a time the doctor remained silent in the dark.

"Yes, that is exactly what I did say," he uttered at last, in a
tone which would have made it clear enough to a third party that
the pause was not of a reluctant but of a reflective character.
Captain Mitchell thought that he had never heard anything so
brazenly impudent in his life.

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