Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


AT THAT time Nostromo had been already long enough in the country
to raise to the highest pitch Captain Mitchell's opinion of the
extraordinary value of his discovery. Clearly he was one of those
invaluable subordinates whom to possess is a legitimate cause of
boasting. Captain Mitchell plumed himself upon his eye for
men--but he was not selfish--and in the innocence of his pride
was already developing that mania for "lending you my Capataz de
Cargadores" which was to bring Nostromo into personal contact,
sooner or later, with every European in Sulaco, as a sort of
universal factotum--a prodigy of efficiency in his own sphere of

"The fellow is devoted to me, body and soul!" Captain Mitchell
was given to affirm; and though nobody, perhaps, could have
explained why it should be so, it was impossible on a survey of
their relation to throw doubt on that statement, unless, indeed,
one were a bitter, eccentric character like Dr. Monygham--for
instance--whose short, hopeless laugh expressed somehow an
immense mistrust of mankind. Not that Dr. Monygham was a prodigal
either of laughter or of words. He was bitterly taciturn when at
his best. At his worst people feared the open scornfulness of his
tongue. Only Mrs. Gould could keep his unbelief in men's motives
within due bounds; but even to her (on an occasion not connected
with Nostromo, and in a tone which for him was gentle), even to
her, he had said once, "Really, it is most unreasonable to demand
that a man should think of other people so much better than he is
able to think of himself."

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