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Almayer's Folly by Conrad, Joseph - Chapter 1

ALMAYER'S FOLLY: A STORY OF AN EASTERN RIVER

by Joseph Conrad




CHAPTER I.


"Kaspar! Makan!"

The well-known shrill voice startled Almayer from his dream of
splendid future into the unpleasant realities of the present
hour. An unpleasant voice too. He had heard it for many years,
and with every year he liked it less. No matter; there would be
an end to all this soon.

He shuffled uneasily, but took no further notice of the call.
Leaning with both his elbows on the balustrade of the verandah,
he went on looking fixedly at the great river that flowed--
indifferent and hurried--before his eyes. He liked to look at it
about the time of sunset; perhaps because at that time the
sinking sun would spread a glowing gold tinge on the waters of
the Pantai, and Almayer's thoughts were often busy with gold;
gold he had failed to secure; gold the others had secured--
dishonestly, of course--or gold he meant to secure yet, through
his own honest exertions, for himself and Nina. He absorbed
himself in his dream of wealth and power away from this coast
where he had dwelt for so many years, forgetting the bitterness
of toil and strife in the vision of a great and splendid reward.
They would live in Europe, he and his daughter. They would be
rich and respected. Nobody would think of her mixed blood in the
presence of her great beauty and of his immense wealth.
Witnessing her triumphs he would grow young again, he would
forget the twenty-five years of heart-breaking struggle on this
coast where he felt like a prisoner. All this was nearly within
his reach. Let only Dain return! And return soon he must--in
his own interest, for his own share. He was now more than a
week late! Perhaps he would return to-night. Such were Almayer's
thoughts as, standing on the verandah of his new but already
decaying house--that last failure of his life-- he looked on the
broad river. There was no tinge of gold on it this evening, for
it had been swollen by the rains, and rolled an angry and muddy
flood under his inattentive eyes, carrying small drift-wood and
big dead logs, and whole uprooted trees with branches and
foliage, amongst which the water swirled and roared angrily.

One of those drifting trees grounded on the shelving shore, just
by the house, and Almayer, neglecting his dream, watched it with
languid interest. The tree swung slowly round, amid the hiss and
foam of the water, and soon getting free of the obstruction began
to move down stream again, rolling slowly over, raising upwards a
long, denuded branch, like a hand lifted in mute appeal to heaven
against the river's brutal and unnecessary violence. Almayer's
interest in the fate of that tree increased rapidly. He leaned
over to see if it would clear the low point below. It did; then
he drew back, thinking that now its course was free down to the
sea, and he envied the lot of that inanimate thing now growing
small and indistinct in the deepening darkness. As he lost sight
of it altogether he began to wonder how far out to sea it would
drift. Would the current carry it north or south? South,
probably, till it drifted in sight of Celebes, as far as
Macassar, perhaps!

Macassar! Almayer's quickened fancy distanced the tree on its
imaginary voyage, but his memory lagging behind some twenty years
or more in point of time saw a young and slim Almayer, clad all
in white and modest-looking, landing from the Dutch mail-boat on
the dusty jetty of Macassar, coming to woo fortune in the godowns
of old Hudig. It was an important epoch in his life, the
beginning of a new existence for him. His father, a subordinate
official employed in the Botanical Gardens of Buitenzorg, was no
doubt delighted to place his son in such a firm. The young man
himself too was nothing loth to leave the poisonous shores of
Java, and the meagre comforts of the parental bungalow, where the
father grumbled all day at the stupidity of native gardeners, and
the mother from the depths of her long easy-chair bewailed the
lost glories of Amsterdam, where she had been brought up, and of
her position as the daughter of a cigar dealer there.

Almayer had left his home with a light heart and a lighter
pocket, speaking English well, and strong in arithmetic; ready to
conquer the world, never doubting that he would.

After those twenty years, standing in the close and stifling heat
of a Bornean evening, he recalled with pleasurable regret the
image of Hudig's lofty and cool warehouses with their long and
straight avenues of gin cases and bales of Manchester goods; the
big door swinging noiselessly; the dim light of the place, so
delightful after the glare of the streets; the little railed-off
spaces amongst piles of merchandise where the Chinese clerks,
neat, cool, and sad-eyed, wrote rapidly and in silence amidst the
din of the working gangs rolling casks or shifting cases to a
muttered song, ending with a desperate yell. At the upper end,
facing the great door, there was a larger space railed off, well
lighted; there the noise was subdued by distance, and above it
rose the soft and continuous clink of silver guilders which other
discreet Chinamen were counting and piling up under the
supervision of Mr. Vinck, the cashier, the genius presiding in
the place--the right hand of the Master.

In that clear space Almayer worked at his table not far from a
little green painted door, by which always stood a Malay in a red
sash and turban, and whose hand, holding a small string dangling
from above, moved up and down with the regularity of a machine.
The string worked a punkah on the other side of the green door,
where the so-called private office was, and where old Hudig--the
Master--sat enthroned, holding noisy receptions. Sometimes the
little door would fly open disclosing to the outer world, through
the bluish haze of tobacco smoke, a long table loaded with
bottles of various shapes and tall water-pitchers, rattan
easy-chairs occupied by noisy men in sprawling attitudes, while
the Master would put his head through and, holding by the handle,
would grunt confidentially to Vinck; perhaps send an order
thundering down the warehouse, or spy a hesitating stranger and
greet him with a friendly roar, "Welgome, Gapitan! ver' you gome
vrom? Bali, eh? Got bonies? I vant bonies! Vant all you got;
ha! ha! ha! Gome in!" Then the stranger was dragged in, in a
tempest of yells, the door was shut, and the usual noises
refilled the place; the song of the workmen, the rumble of
barrels, the scratch of rapid pens; while above all rose the
musical chink of broad silver pieces streaming ceaselessly
through the yellow fingers of the attentive Chinamen.

At that time Macassar was teeming with life and commerce. It was
the point in the islands where tended all those bold spirits who,
fitting out schooners on the Australian coast, invaded the Malay
Archipelago in search of money and adventure. Bold, reckless,
keen in business, not disinclined for a brush with the pirates
that were to be found on many a coast as yet, making money fast,
they used to have a general "rendezvous" in the bay for purposes
of trade and dissipation. The Dutch merchants called those men
English pedlars; some of them were undoubtedly gentlemen for whom
that kind of life had a charm; most were seamen; the acknowledged
king of them all was Tom Lingard, he whom the Malays, honest or
dishonest, quiet fishermen or desperate cut-throats, recognised
as "the Rajah-Laut"--the King of the Sea.

Almayer had heard of him before he had been three days in
Macassar, had heard the stories of his smart business
transactions, his loves, and also of his desperate fights with
the Sulu pirates, together with the romantic tale of some child--
a girl--found in a piratical prau by the victorious Lingard,
when, after a long contest, he boarded the craft, driving the
crew overboard. This girl, it was generally known, Lingard had
adopted, was having her educated in some convent in Java, and
spoke of her as "my daughter." He had sworn a mighty oath to
marry her to a white man before he went home and to leave her all
his money. "And Captain Lingard has lots of money," would say
Mr. Vinck solemnly, with his head on one side, "lots of money;
more than Hudig!" And after a pause--just to let his hearers
recover from their astonishment at such an incredible assertion--
he would add in an explanatory whisper, "You know, he has
discovered a river."

That was it! He had discovered a river! That was the fact
placing old Lingard so much above the common crowd of sea-going
adventurers who traded with Hudig in the daytime and drank
champagne, gambled, sang noisy songs, and made love to half-caste
girls under the broad verandah of the Sunda Hotel at night. Into
that river, whose entrances himself only knew, Lingard used to
take his assorted cargo of Manchester goods, brass gongs, rifles
and gunpowder. His brig Flash, which he commanded himself, would
on those occasions disappear quietly during the night from the
roadstead while his companions were sleeping off the effects of
the midnight carouse, Lingard seeing them drunk under the table
before going on board, himself unaffected by any amount of
liquor. Many tried to follow him and find that land of plenty
for gutta-percha and rattans, pearl shells and birds' nests, wax
and gum-dammar, but the little Flash could outsail every craft in
those seas. A few of them came to grief on hidden sandbanks and
coral reefs, losing their all and barely escaping with life from
the cruel grip of this sunny and smiling sea; others got
discouraged; and for many years the green and peaceful-looking
islands guarding the entrances to the promised land kept their
secret with all the merciless serenity of tropical nature. And
so Lingard came and went on his secret or open expeditions,
becoming a hero in Almayer's eyes by the boldness and enormous
profits of his ventures, seeming to Almayer a very great man
indeed as he saw him marching up the warehouse, grunting a "how
are you?" to Vinck, or greeting Hudig, the Master, with a
boisterous "Hallo, old pirate! Alive yet?" as a preliminary to
transacting business behind the little green door. Often of an
evening, in the silence of the then deserted warehouse, Almayer
putting away his papers before driving home with Mr. Vinck, in
whose household he lived, would pause listening to the noise of a
hot discussion in the private office, would hear the deep and
monotonous growl of the Master, and the roared-out interruptions
of Lingard--two mastiffs fighting over a marrowy bone. But to
Almayer's ears it sounded like a quarrel of Titans--a battle of
the gods.

After a year or so Lingard, having been brought often in contact
with Almayer in the course of business, took a sudden and, to the
onlookers, a rather inexplicable fancy to the young man. He sang
his praises, late at night, over a convivial glass to his cronies
in the Sunda Hotel, and one fine morning electrified Vinck by
declaring that he must have "that young fellow for a supercargo.
Kind of captain's clerk. Do all my quill-driving for me." Hudig
consented. Almayer, with youth's natural craving for change, was
nothing loth, and packing his few belongings, started in the
Flash on one of those long cruises when the old seaman was wont
to visit almost every island in the archipelago. Months slipped
by, and Lingard's friendship seemed to increase. Often pacing
the deck with Almayer, when the faint night breeze, heavy with
aromatic exhalations of the islands, shoved the brig gently along
under the peaceful and sparkling sky, did the old seaman open his
heart to his entranced listener. He spoke of his past life, of
escaped dangers, of big profits in his trade, of new combinations
that were in the future to bring profits bigger still. Often he
had mentioned his daughter, the girl found in the pirate prau,
speaking of her with a strange assumption of fatherly tenderness.
"She must be a big girl now," he used to say. "It's nigh unto
four years since I have seen her! Damme, Almayer, if I don't
think we will run into Sourabaya this trip." And after such a
declaration he always dived into his cabin muttering to himself,
"Something must be done--must be done." More than once he would
astonish Almayer by walking up to him rapidly, clearing his
throat with a powerful "Hem!" as if he was going to say
something, and then turning abruptly away to lean over the
bulwarks in silence, and watch, motionless, for hours, the gleam
and sparkle of the phosphorescent sea along the ship's side. It
was the night before arriving in Sourabaya when one of those
attempts at confidential communication succeeded. After clearing
his throat he spoke. He spoke to some purpose. He wanted
Almayer to marry his adopted daughter. "And don't you kick
because you're white!" he shouted, suddenly, not giving the
surprised young man the time to say a word. "None of that with
me! Nobody will see the colour of your wife's skin. The dollars
are too thick for that, I tell you! And mind you, they will be
thicker yet before I die. There will be millions, Kaspar!
Millions I say! And all for her--and for you, if you do what you
are told."

Startled by the unexpected proposal, Almayer hesitated, and
remained silent for a minute. He was gifted with a strong and
active imagination, and in that short space of time he saw, as in
a flash of dazzling light, great piles of shining guilders, and
realised all the possibilities of an opulent existence. The
consideration, the indolent ease of life--for which he felt
himself so well fitted--his ships, his warehouses, his
merchandise (old Lingard would not live for ever), and, crowning
all, in the far future gleamed like a fairy palace the big
mansion in Amsterdam, that earthly paradise of his dreams, where,
made king amongst men by old Lingard's money, he would pass the
evening of his days in inexpressible splendour. As to the other
side of the picture--the companionship for life of a Malay girl,
that legacy of a boatful of pirates--there was only within him a
confused consciousness of shame that he a white man-- Still, a
convent education of four years!--and then she may mercifully
die. He was always lucky, and money is powerful! Go through it.
Why not? He had a vague idea of shutting her up somewhere,
anywhere, out of his gorgeous future. Easy enough to dispose of
a Malay woman, a slave, after all, to his Eastern mind, convent
or no convent, ceremony or no ceremony.

He lifted his head and confronted the anxious yet irate seaman.

"I--of course--anything you wish, Captain Lingard."

"Call me father, my boy. She does," said the mollified old
adventurer. "Damme, though, if I didn't think you were going to
refuse. Mind you, Kaspar, I always get my way, so it would have
been no use. But you are no fool."

He remembered well that time--the look, the accent, the words,
the effect they produced on him, his very surroundings. He
remembered the narrow slanting deck of the brig, the silent
sleeping coast, the smooth black surface of the sea with a great
bar of gold laid on it by the rising moon. He remembered it all,
and he remembered his feelings of mad exultation at the thought
of that fortune thrown into his hands. He was no fool then, and
he was no fool now. Circumstances had been against him; the
fortune was gone, but hope remained.

He shivered in the night air, and suddenly became aware of the
intense darkness which, on the sun's departure, had closed in
upon the river, blotting out the outlines of the opposite shore.
Only the fire of dry branches lit outside the stockade of the
Rajah's compound called fitfully into view the ragged trunks of
the surrounding trees, putting a stain of glowing red half-way
across the river where the drifting logs were hurrying towards
the sea through the impenetrable gloom. He had a hazy
recollection of having been called some time during the evening
by his wife. To his dinner probably. But a man busy
contemplating the wreckage of his past in the dawn of new hopes
cannot be hungry whenever his rice is ready. Time he went home,
though; it was getting late.

He stepped cautiously on the loose planks towards the ladder. A
lizard, disturbed by the noise, emitted a plaintive note and
scurried through the long grass growing on the bank. Almayer
descended the ladder carefully, now thoroughly recalled to the
realities of life by the care necessary to prevent a fall on the
uneven ground where the stones, decaying planks, and half-sawn
beams were piled up in inextricable confusion. As he turned
towards the house where he lived--"my old house" he called it--
his ear detected the splash of paddles away in the darkness of
the river. He stood still in the path, attentive and surprised
at anybody being on the river at this late hour during such a
heavy freshet. Now he could hear the paddles distinctly, and
even a rapidly exchanged word in low tones, the heavy breathing
of men fighting with the current, and hugging the bank on which
he stood. Quite close, too, but it was too dark to distinguish
anything under the overhanging bushes.

"Arabs, no doubt," muttered Almayer to himself, peering into the
solid blackness. "What are they up to now? Some of Abdulla's
business; curse him!"

The boat was very close now.

"Oh, ya! Man!" hailed Almayer.

The sound of voices ceased, but the paddles worked as furiously
as before. Then the bush in front of Almayer shook, and the
sharp sound of the paddles falling into the canoe rang in the
quiet night. They were holding on to the bush now; but Almayer
could hardly make out an indistinct dark shape of a man's head
and shoulders above the bank.

"You Abdulla?" said Almayer, doubtfully.

A grave voice answered--

"Tuan Almayer is speaking to a friend. There is no Arab here."

Almayer's heart gave a great leap.

"Dain!" he exclaimed. "At last! at last! I have been waiting
for you every day and every night. I had nearly given you up."

"Nothing could have stopped me from coming back here," said the
other, almost violently. "Not even death," he whispered to
himself.

"This is a friend's talk, and is very good," said Almayer,
heartily. "But you are too far here. Drop down to the jetty and
let your men cook their rice in my campong while we talk in the
house."

There was no answer to that invitation.

"What is it?" asked Almayer, uneasily. "There is nothing wrong
with the brig, I hope?"

"The brig is where no Orang Blanda can lay his hands on her,"
said Dain, with a gloomy tone in his voice, which Almayer, in his
elation, failed to notice.

"Right," he said. "But where are all your men? There are only
two with you."

"Listen, Tuan Almayer," said Dain. "To-morrow's sun shall see me
in your house, and then we will talk. Now I must go to the
Rajah."

"To the Rajah! Why? What do you want with Lakamba?"

"Tuan, to-morrow we talk like friends. I must see Lakamba
to-night."

"Dain, you are not going to abandon me now, when all is ready?"
asked Almayer, in a pleading voice.

"Have I not returned? But I must see Lakamba first for your good
and mine."

The shadowy head disappeared abruptly. The bush, released from
the grasp of the bowman, sprung back with a swish, scattering a
shower of muddy water over Almayer, as he bent forward, trying to
see.

In a little while the canoe shot into the streak of light that
streamed on the river from the big fire on the opposite shore,
disclosing the outline of two men bending to their work, and a
third figure in the stern flourishing the steering paddle, his
head covered with an enormous round hat, like a fantastically
exaggerated mushroom.

Almayer watched the canoe till it passed out of the line of
light. Shortly after the murmur of many voices reached him
across the water. He could see the torches being snatched out of
the burning pile, and rendering visible for a moment the gate in
the stockade round which they crowded. Then they went in
apparently. The torches disappeared, and the scattered fire sent
out only a dim and fitful glare.

Almayer stepped homewards with long strides and mind uneasy.
Surely Dain was not thinking of playing him false. It was
absurd. Dain and Lakamba were both too much interested in the
success of his scheme. Trusting to Malays was poor work; but
then even Malays have some sense and understand their own
interest. All would be well--must be well. At this point in his
meditation he found himself at the foot of the steps leading to
the verandah of his home. From the low point of land where he
stood he could see both branches of the river. The main branch
of the Pantai was lost in complete darkness, for the fire at the
Rajah's had gone out altogether; but up the Sambir reach his eye
could follow the long line of Malay houses crowding the bank,
with here and there a dim light twinkling through bamboo walls,
or a smoky torch burning on the platforms built out over the
river. Further away, where the island ended in a low cliff, rose
a dark mass of buildings towering above the Malay structures.
Founded solidly on a firm ground with plenty of space, starred by
many lights burning strong and white, with a suggestion of
paraffin and lamp-glasses, stood the house and the godowns of
Abdulla bin Selim, the great trader of Sambir. To Almayer the
sight was very distasteful, and he shook his fist towards the
buildings that in their evident prosperity looked to him cold and
insolent, and contemptuous of his own fallen fortunes.

He mounted the steps of his house slowly.

In the middle of the verandah there was a round table. On it a
paraffin lamp without a globe shed a hard glare on the three
inner sides. The fourth side was open, and faced the river.
Between the rough supports of the high-pitched roof hung torn
rattan screens. There was no ceiling, and the harsh brilliance
of the lamp was toned above into a soft half-light that lost
itself in the obscurity amongst the rafters. The front wall was
cut in two by the doorway of a central passage closed by a red
curtain. The women's room opened into that passage, which led to
the back courtyard and to the cooking shed. In one of the side
walls there was a doorway. Half obliterated words--"Office:
Lingard and Co."--were still legible on the dusty door, which
looked as if it had not been opened for a very long time. Close
to the other side wall stood a bent-wood rocking-chair, and by
the table and about the verandah four wooden armchairs straggled
forlornly, as if ashamed of their shabby surroundings. A heap of
common mats lay in one corner, with an old hammock slung
diagonally above. In the other corner, his head wrapped in a
piece of red calico, huddled into a shapeless heap, slept a
Malay, one of Almayer's domestic slaves--"my own people," he used
to call them. A numerous and representative assembly of moths
were holding high revels round the lamp to the spirited music of
swarming mosquitoes. Under the palm-leaf thatch lizards raced on
the beams calling softly. A monkey, chained to one of the
verandah supports--retired for the night under the eaves-- peered
and grinned at Almayer, as it swung to one of the bamboo roof
sticks and caused a shower of dust and bits of dried leaves to
settle on the shabby table. The floor was uneven, with many
withered plants and dried earth scattered about. A general air
of squalid neglect pervaded the place. Great red stains on the
floor and walls testified to frequent and indiscriminate
betel-nut chewing. The light breeze from the river swayed gently
the tattered blinds, sending from the woods opposite a faint and
sickly perfume as of decaying flowers.

Under Almayer's heavy tread the boards of the verandah creaked
loudly. The sleeper in the corner moved uneasily, muttering
indistinct words. There was a slight rustle behind the curtained
doorway, and a soft voice asked in Malay, "Is it you, father?"

"Yes, Nina. I am hungry. Is everybody asleep in this house?"

Almayer spoke jovially and dropped with a contented sigh into the
armchair nearest to the table. Nina Almayer came through the
curtained doorway followed by an old Malay woman, who busied
herself in setting upon the table a plateful of rice and fish, a
jar of water, and a bottle half full of genever. After carefully
placing before her master a cracked glass tumbler and a tin spoon
she went away noiselessly. Nina stood by the table, one hand
lightly resting on its edge, the other hanging listlessly by her
side. Her face turned towards the outer darkness, through which
her dreamy eyes seemed to see some entrancing picture, wore a
look of impatient expectancy. She was tall for a half-caste,
with the correct profile of the father, modified and strengthened
by the squareness of the lower part of the face inherited from
her maternal ancestors--the Sulu pirates. Her firm mouth, with
the lips slightly parted and disclosing a gleam of white teeth,
put a vague suggestion of ferocity into the impatient expression
of her features. And yet her dark and perfect eyes had all the
tender softness of expression common to Malay women, but with a
gleam of superior intelligence; they looked gravely, wide open
and steady, as if facing something invisible to all other eyes,
while she stood there all in white, straight, flexible, graceful,
unconscious of herself, her low but broad forehead crowned with a
shining mass of long black hair that fell in heavy tresses over
her shoulders, and made her pale olive complexion look paler
still by the contrast of its coal-black hue.

Almayer attacked his rice greedily, but after a few mouthfuls he
paused, spoon in hand, and looked at his daughter curiously.

"Did you hear a boat pass about half an hour ago Nina?" he asked.

The girl gave him a quick glance, and moving away from the light
stood with her back to the table.

"No," she said, slowly.

"There was a boat. At last! Dain himself; and he went on to
Lakamba. I know it, for he told me so. I spoke to him, but he
would not come here to-night. Will come to-morrow, he said."

He swallowed another spoonful, then said--

"I am almost happy to-night, Nina. I can see the end of a long
road, and it leads us away from this miserable swamp. We shall
soon get away from here, I and you, my dear little girl, and then
--"

He rose from the table and stood looking fixedly before him as if
contemplating some enchanting vision.

"And then," he went on, "we shall be happy, you and I. Live rich
and respected far from here, and forget this life, and all this
struggle, and all this misery!"

He approached his daughter and passed his hand caressingly over
her hair.

"It is bad to have to trust a Malay," he said, "but I must own
that this Dain is a perfect gentleman--a perfect gentleman," he
repeated.

"Did you ask him to come here, father?" inquired Nina, not
looking at him.

"Well, of course. We shall start on the day after to-morrow,"
said Almayer, joyously. "We must not lose any time. Are you
glad, little girl?"

She was nearly as tall as himself, but he liked to recall the
time when she was little and they were all in all to each other.

"I am glad," she said, very low.

"Of course," said Almayer, vivaciously, "you cannot imagine what
is before you. I myself have not been to Europe, but I have
heard my mother talk so often that I seem to know all about it.
We shall live a--a glorious life. You shall see."

Again he stood silent by his daughter's side looking at that
enchanting vision. After a while he shook his clenched hand
towards the sleeping settlement.

"Ah! my friend Abdulla," he cried, "we shall see who will have
the best of it after all these years!"

He looked up the river and remarked calmly:

"Another thunderstorm. Well! No thunder will keep me awake
to-night, I know! Good-night, little girl," he whispered,
tenderly kissing her cheek. "You do not seem to be very happy
to-night, but to-morrow you will show a brighter face. Eh?"

Nina had listened to her father with her face unmoved, with her
half-closed eyes still gazing into the night now made more
intense by a heavy thunder-cloud that had crept down from the
hills blotting out the stars, merging sky, forest, and river into
one mass of almost palpable blackness. The faint breeze had died
out, but the distant rumble of thunder and pale flashes of
lightning gave warning of the approaching storm. With a sigh the
girl turned towards the table.

Almayer was in his hammock now, already half asleep.

"Take the lamp, Nina," he muttered, drowsily. "This place is
full of mosquitoes. Go to sleep, daughter."

But Nina put the lamp out and turned back again towards the
balustrade of the verandah, standing with her arm round the
wooden support and looking eagerly towards the Pantai reach. And
motionless there in the oppressive calm of the tropical night she
could see at each flash of lightning the forest lining both banks
up the river, bending before the furious blast of the coming
tempest, the upper reach of the river whipped into white foam by
the wind, and the black clouds torn into fantastic shapes
trailing low over the swaying trees. Round her all was as yet
stillness and peace, but she could hear afar off the roar of the
wind, the hiss of heavy rain, the wash of the waves on the
tormented river. It came nearer and nearer, with loud
thunder-claps and long flashes of vivid lightning, followed by
short periods of appalling blackness. When the storm reached the
low point dividing the river, the house shook in the wind, and
the rain pattered loudly on the palm-leaf roof, the thunder spoke
in one prolonged roll, and the incessant lightning disclosed a
turmoil of leaping waters, driving logs, and the big trees
bending before a brutal and merciless force.

Undisturbed by the nightly event of the rainy monsoon, the father
slept quietly, oblivious alike of his hopes, his misfortunes, his
friends, and his enemies; and the daughter stood motionless, at
each flash of lightning eagerly scanning the broad river with a
steady and anxious gaze.