The Lagoon and Other Stories

By Joseph Conrad; William Atkinson | Go to book overview

THE TALE

OUTSIDE the large single window the crepuscular light was dying out slowly in a great square gleam without colour, framed rigidly in the gathering shades of the room.

It was a long room. The irresistible tide of the night ran into the most distant part of it, where the whispering of a man's voice, passionately interrupted and passionately renewed, seemed to plead against the answering murmurs of infinite sadness.

At last no answering murmur came. His movement when he rose slowly from his knees by the side of the deep, shadowy couch holding the shadowy suggestion of a reclining woman revealed him tall under the low ceiling, and sombre all over except for the crude discord of the white collar under the shape of his head and the faint, minute spark of a brass button here and there on his uniform.

He stood over her a moment masculine and mysterious in his immobility before he sat down on a chair near by. He could see only the faint oval of her upturned face and, extended on her black dress, her pale hands, a moment before abandoned to his kisses and now as if too weary to move.

The silence was profound. The wave of passion had broken against a murmured sadness, thin air, passing mood--by its own accumulated momentum of desire; by its own towering strength sinking into the level repose that seems the end of all things under heaven, but only marks the rhythm of the swelling heart-waves running the circuit of the habitable globe.

He dared not make a sound, shrinking as a man would do from the prosaic necessities of existence. As usual, it was the woman who had the courage. Her voice was heard first --almost conventional while her being vibrated yet with conflicting emotions.

'Tell me something,' she said.

The darkness hid his surprise and then his smile. Had he not just said to her everything worth telling in the world-- and that not for the first time!

-252-

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The Lagoon and Other Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi
  • Introduction vii
  • NOTE ON THE TEXTS xxiv
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY xxix
  • A CHRONOLOGY OF JOSEPH CONRAD xxxii
  • The Idiots 3
  • The Lagoon 27
  • To-Morrow 41
  • An Anarchist 69
  • The Informer 91
  • Il Conde 137
  • Prince Roman 154
  • The Inn of the Two Witches A Find 176
  • Laughing Anne 203
  • The Warrior's Soul 231
  • The Tale 252
  • EXPLANATORY NOTES 270
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