Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


CHARLES GOULD turned towards the town. Before him the jagged
peaks of the Sierra came out all black in the clear dawn. Here
and there a muffled lepero whisked round the corner of a
grass-grown street before the ringing hoofs of his horse. Dogs
barked behind the walls of the gardens; and with the colourless
light the chill of the snows seemed to fall from the mountains
upon the disjointed pavements and the shuttered houses with
broken cornices and the plaster peeling in patches between the
flat pilasters of the fronts. The daybreak struggled with the
gloom under the arcades on the Plaza, with no signs of country
people disposing their goods for the day's market, piles of
fruit, bundles of vegetables ornamented with flowers, on low
benches under enormous mat umbrellas; with no cheery early
morning bustle of villagers, women, children, and loaded donkeys.
Only a few scattered knots of revolutionists stood in the vast
space, all looking one way from under their slouched hats for
some sign of news from Rincon. The largest of those groups
turned about like one man as Charles Gould passed, and shouted,
"Viva la libertad!" after him in a menacing tone.

Charles Gould rode on, and turned into the archway of his house.
In the patio littered with straw, a practicante, one of Dr.
Monygham's native assistants, sat on the ground with his back
against the rim of the fountain, fingering a guitar discreetly,
while two girls of the lower class, standing up before him,
shuffled their feet a little and waved their arms, humming a
popular dance tune.

Most of the wounded during the two days of rioting had been taken
away already by their friends and relations, but several figures
could be seen sitting up balancing their bandaged heads in time
to the music. Charles Gould dismounted. A sleepy mozo coming out
of the bakery door took hold of the horse's bridle; the
practicante endeavoured to conceal his guitar hastily; the girls,
unabashed, stepped back smiling; and Charles Gould, on his way to
the staircase, glanced into a dark corner of the patio at another
group, a mortally wounded Cargador with a woman kneeling by his
side; she mumbled prayers rapidly, trying at the same time to
force a piece of orange between the stiffening lips of the dying

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