Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


"MRS. GOULD was too intelligently sympathetic not to share that
feeling. It made life exciting, and she was too much of a woman
not to like excitement. But it frightened her, too, a little; and
when Don Jose Avellanos, rocking in the American chair, would go
so far as to say, "Even, my dear Carlos, if you had failed; even
if some untoward event were yet to destroy your work--which God
forbid!--you would have deserved well of your country," Mrs.
Gould would look up from the tea-table profoundly at her unmoved
husband stirring the spoon in the cup as though he had not heard
a word.

Not that Don Jose anticipated anything of the sort. He could not
praise enough dear Carlos's tact and courage. His English,
rock-like quality of character was his best safeguard, Don Jose
affirmed; and, turning to Mrs. Gould, "As to you, Emilia, my
soul"--he would address her with the familiarity of his age and
old friendship--"you are as true a patriot as though you had been
born in our midst."

This might have been less or more than the truth. Mrs. Gould,
accompanying her husband all over the province in the search for
labour, had seen the land with a deeper glance than a trueborn
Costaguanera could have done. In her travel-worn riding habit,
her face powdered white like a plaster cast, with a further
protection of a small silk mask during the heat of the day, she
rode on a well-shaped, light-footed pony in the centre of a
little cavalcade. Two mozos de campo, picturesque in great hats,
with spurred bare heels, in white embroidered calzoneras, leather
jackets and striped ponchos, rode ahead with carbines across
their shoulders, swaying in unison to the pace of the horses. A
tropilla of pack mules brought up the rear in charge of a thin
brown muleteer, sitting his long-eared beast very near the tail,
legs thrust far forward, the wide brim of his hat set far back,
making a sort of halo for his head. An old Costaguana officer, a
retired senior major of humble origin, but patronized by the
first families on account of his Blanco opinions, had been
recommended by Don Jose for commissary and organizer of that
expedition. The points of his grey moustache hung far below his
chin, and, riding on Mrs. Gould's left hand, he looked about with
kindly eyes, pointing out the features of the country, telling
the names of the little pueblos and of the estates, of the
smooth-walled haciendas like long fortresses crowning the knolls
above the level of the Sulaco Valley. It unrolled itself, with
green young crops, plains, woodland, and gleams of water,
park-like, from the blue vapour of the distant sierra to an
immense quivering horizon of grass and sky, where big white
clouds seemed to fall slowly into the darkness of their own

This is page 75 of 449. [Mark this Page]
Mark any page to add this title to Your Bookshelf. (0 / 10 books on shelf)
Customize text appearance:
Color: A A A A A   Font: Aa Aa   Size: 1 2 3 4 5   Defaults
(c) 2003-2012 and Michael Moncur. All rights reserved.
For information about public domain texts appearing here, read the copyright information and disclaimer.