Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


THE declining sun had shifted the shadows from west to east
amongst the houses of the town. It had shifted them upon the
whole extent of the immense Campo, with the white walls of its
haciendas on the knolls dominating the green distances; with its
grass-thatched ranches crouching in the folds of ground by the
banks of streams; with the dark islands of clustered trees on a
clear sea of grass, and the precipitous range of the Cordillera,
immense and motionless, emerging from the billows of the lower
forests like the barren coast of a land of giants. The sunset
rays striking the snow-slope of Higuerota from afar gave it an
air of rosy youth, while the serrated mass of distant peaks
remained black, as if calcined in the fiery radiance. The
undulating surface of the forests seemed powdered with pale gold
dust; and away there, beyond Rincon, hidden from the town by two
wooded spurs, the rocks of the San Tome gorge, with the flat wall
of the mountain itself crowned by gigantic ferns, took on warm
tones of brown and yellow, with red rusty streaks, and the dark
green clumps of bushes rooted in crevices. From the plain the
stamp sheds and the houses of the mine appeared dark and small,
high up, like the nests of birds clustered on the ledges of a
cliff. The zigzag paths resembled faint tracings scratched on the
wall of a cyclopean blockhouse. To the two serenos of the mine
on patrol duty, strolling, carbine in hand, and watchful eyes, in
the shade of the trees lining the stream near the bridge, Don
Pepe, descending the path from the upper plateau, appeared no
bigger than a large beetle.

With his air of aimless, insect-like going to and fro upon the
face of the rock, Don Pepe's figure kept on descending steadily,
and, when near the bottom, sank at last behind the roofs of
store-houses, forges, and workshops. For a time the pair of
serenos strolled back and forth before the bridge, on which they
had stopped a horseman holding a large white envelope in his
hand. Then Don Pepe, emerging in the village street from amongst
the houses, not a stone's throw from the frontier bridge,
approached, striding in wide dark trousers tucked into boots, a
white linen jacket, sabre at his side, and revolver at his belt.
In this disturbed time nothing could find the Senor Gobernador
with his boots off, as the saying is.

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