Chance: A Tale in Two Parts

By Joseph Conrad; Martin Ray | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOUR
ANTHONY AND FLORA

MARLOW emerged out of the shadow of the book- case to get himself a cigar from a box which stood on a little table by my side. In the full light of the room I saw in his eyes that slightly mocking expression with which he habitually covers up his sympathetic impulses of mirth and pity before the unreasonable complications the idealism of mankind puts into the simple but poignant problem of conduct on this earth.

He selected and lit the cigar with affected care, then turned upon me. I had been looking at him silently.

"I suppose," he said, the mockery of his eyes giving a pellucid quality to his tone, "that you think it's high time I told you something definite. I mean something about that psychological cabin mystery of discomfort (for it's obvious that it must be psychological) which affected so profoundly Mr. Franklin the chief mate, and had even disturbed the serene innocence of Mr. Powell, the second of the ship Ferndale, commanded by Roderick Anthony--the son of the poet, you know."

"You are going to confess now that you have failed. to find it out," I said in pretended indignation.

"It would serve you right if I told you that I have. But I won't. I haven't failed. I own though that for a time I was puzzled. However, I have now seen our Powell many times under the most favourable conditions--and besides I came upon a most unexpected source of information . . . . But never mind that.

-325-

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