Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


ON THE day Mrs. Gould was going, in Dr. Monygham's words, to
"give a tertulia," Captain Fidanza went down the side of his
schooner lying in Sulaco harbour, calm, unbending, deliberate in
the way he sat down in his dinghy and took up his sculls. He was
later than usual. The afternoon was well advanced before he
landed on the beach of the Great Isabel, and with a steady pace
climbed the slope of the island.

From a distance he made out Giselle sitting in a chair tilted
back against the end of the house, under the window of the girl's
room. She had her embroidery in her hands, and held it well up to
her eyes. The tranquillity of that girlish figure exasperated the
feeling of perpetual struggle and strife he carried in his
breast. He became angry. It seemed to him that she ought to hear
the clanking of his fetters--his silver fetters, from afar. And
while ashore that day, he had met the doctor with the evil eye,
who had looked at him very hard.

The raising of her eyes mollified him. They smiled in their
flower-like freshness straight upon his heart. Then she frowned.
It was a warning to be cautious. He stopped some distance away,
and in a loud, indifferent tone, said--

"Good day, Giselle. Is Linda up yet?"

"Yes. She is in the big room with father."

He approached then, and, looking through the window into the
bedroom for fear of being detected by Linda returning there for
some reason, he said, moving only his lips--

"You love me?"

"More than my life." She went on with her embroidery under his
contemplating gaze and continued to speak, looking at her work,
"Or I could not live. I could not, Giovanni. For this life is
like death. Oh, Giovanni, I shall perish if you do not take me

He smiled carelessly. "I will come to the window when it's dark,"
he said.

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