Click here to Download The Shadow Line PDF Book by Joseph Conrad English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 60.
Only the young have such moments. I don’t mean the very young. No. The very young have, properly speaking, no moments. It is the privilege of early youth to live in advance of its days in all the beautiful continuity of hope which knows no pauses and no introspection. One closes behind one the little gate of mere boyishness—and enters an enchanted garden.
The Shadow Line PDF Book by Joseph Conrad
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Its very shades glow with promise. Every turn of the path has its seduction. And it isn’t because it is an undiscovered country. One knows well enough that all mankind had streamed that way. It is the charm of universal experience from which one expects an uncommon or personal sensation—a bit of one’s own.
One goes on recognizing the landmarks of the predecessors, excited, amused, taking the hard luck and the good luck together—the kicks and the half-pence, as the saying is—the picturesque common lot that holds so many possibilities for the deserving or perhaps for the lucky. Yes. One goes on.
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And the time, too, goes on—till one perceives ahead a shadow-line warning one that the region of early youth, too, must be left behind. This is the period of life in which such moments of which I have spoken are likely to come. What moments? Why, the moments of boredom, of weariness, of dissatisfaction.
Rash moments. I mean moments when the still young are inclined to commit rash actions, such as getting married suddenly or else throwing up a job for no reason. This is not a marriage story. It wasn’t so bad as that with me. My action, rash as it was, had more the character of divorce—almost of desertion.
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For no reason on which a sensible person could put a finger I threw up my job—chucked my berth—left the ship of which the worst that could be said was that she was a steamship and therefore, perhaps, not entitled to that blind loyalty which. . . . However, it’s no use trying to put a gloss on what even at the time I myself half suspected to be a caprice.
It was in an Eastern port. She was an Eastern ship, inasmuch as then she belonged to that port. She traded among dark islands on a blue reef-scarred sea, with the Red Ensign over the taffrail and at her masthead a house-flag, also red, but with a green border and with a white crescent in it. For an Arab owned her, and a Syed at that. Hence the green border on the flag.
He was the head of a great House of Straits Arabs, but as loyal a subject of the complex British Empire as you could find east of the Suez Canal. World politics did not trouble him at all, but he had a great occult power amongst his own people. It was all one to us who owned the ship. The Shadow Line PDF Book
He had to employ white men in the shipping part of his business, and many of those he so employed had never set eyes on him from the first to the last day. I myself saw him but once, quite accidentally on a wharf—an old, dark little man blind in one eye, in a snowy robe and yellow slippers.
He was having his hand severely kissed by a crowd of Malay pilgrims to whom he had done some favour, in the way of food and money. His alms-giving, I have heard, was most extensive, covering almost the whole Archipelago. For isn’t it said that “The charitable man is the friend of Allah”?
Excellent (and picturesque) Arab owner, about whom one needed not to trouble one’s head, a most excellent Scottish ship—for she was that from the keep up—excellent sea-boat, easy to keep clean, most handy in every way, and if it had not been for her internal propulsion, worthy of any man’s love, I cherish to this day a profound respect for her memory. The Shadow Line PDF Book
As to the kind of trade she was engaged in and the character of my shipmates, I could not have been happier if I had had the life and the men made to my order by a benevolent Enchanter. And suddenly I left all this. I left it in that, to us, inconsequential manner in which a bird flies away from a comfortable branch.
It was as though all unknowing I had heard a whisper or seen something. Well—perhaps! One day I was perfectly right and the next everything was gone—glamour, flavour, interest, contentment—everything. It was one of these moments, you know. The green sickness of late youth descended on me and carried me off.
Carried me off that ship, I mean. We were only four white men on board, with a large crew of Kalashes and two Malay petty officers. The Captain stared hard as if wondering what ailed me. But he was a sailor, and he, too, had been young at one time. Presently a smile came to lurk under his thick iron-gray moustache, and he observed that, of course, if I felt I must go he couldn’t keep me by main force. The Shadow Line PDF Book
And it was arranged that I should be paid off the next morning. As I was going out of his cabin he added suddenly, in a peculiar wistful tone, that he hoped I would find what I was so anxious to go and look for. A soft, cryptic utterance which seemed to reach deeper than any diamond-hard tool could have done.
I do believe he understood my case. But the second engineer attacked me differently. He was a sturdy young Scot, with a smooth face and light eyes. His honest red countenance emerged out of the engine-room companion and then the whole robust man, with shirt sleeves turned up, wiping slowly the massive fore-arms with a lump of cotton waste.
And his light eyes expressed bitter distaste, as though our friendship had turned to ashes. He said weightily: “Oh! Aye! I’ve been thinking it was about time for you to run away home and get married to some silly girl.” Jocularly I suggested the beastly heat as the first cause. But Captain Giles disclosed himself possessed of a deeper philosophy. The Shadow Line PDF Book
Things out East were made easy for white men. That was all right. The difficulty was to go on keeping white, and some of these nice boys did not know how. He gave me a searching look, and in a benevolent, heavy-uncle manner asked point blank: “Why did you throw up your berth?” I became angry all of a sudden; for you can understand how exasperating such a question was to a man who didn’t know.
I said to myself that I ought to shut up that moralist; and to him aloud I said with challenging politeness: “Why . . . ? Do you disapprove?” He was too disconcerted to do more than mutter confusedly: “I! . . . In a general way. . .” and then gave me up. But he retired in good order, under the cover of a heavily humorous remark that he, too, was getting soft.
And that this was his time for taking his little siesta—when he was on shore. “Very bad habit. Very bad habit.” There was a simplicity in the man which would have disarmed a touchiness even more youthful than mine. So when next day at tiffin he bent his head toward me and said that he had met my late Captain last evening, adding in an undertone. The Shadow Line PDF Book
“He’s very sorry you left. He had never had a mate that suited him so well,” I answered him earnestly, without any affectation, that I certainly hadn’t been so comfortable in any ship or with any commander in all my sea-going days. “Well—then,” he murmured. “Haven’t you heard, Captain Giles, that I intend to go home?”
“Yes,” he said benevolently. “I have heard that sort of thing so often before.” “What of that?” I cried. I thought he was the most dull, unimaginative man I had ever met. I don’t know what more I would have said, but the much-belated Hamilton came in just then and took his usual seat.
So I dropped into a mumble. “Anyhow, you shall see it done this time.” Hamilton, beautifully shaved, gave Captain Giles a curt nod, but didn’t even condescend to raise his eyebrows at me; and when he spoke it was only to tell the Chief Steward that the food on his plate wasn’t fit to be set before a gentleman. The Shadow Line PDF Book Download
The individual addressed seemed much too unhappy to groan. He cast his eyes up to the punkah and that was all. Captain Giles and I got up from the table, and the stranger next to Hamilton followed our example, manoeuvring himself to his feet with difficulty. He, poor fellow, not because he was hungry but I verily believe only to recover his self-respect, had tried to put some of that unworthy food into his mouth.
But after dropping his fork twice and generally making a failure of it, he had sat still with an air of intense mortification combined with a ghastly glazed stare. Both Giles and I had avoided looking his way at table. On the verandah he stopped short on purpose to address to us anxiously a long remark which I failed to understand completely.
It sounded like some horrible unknown language. But when Captain Giles, after only an instant for reflection, assured him with homely friendliness, “Aye, to be sure. You are right there,” he appeared very much gratified indeed, and went away (pretty straight, too) to seek a distant long chair. The Shadow Line PDF Book Download
This emphatic He was the supreme authority, the Marine Superintendent, the Harbour-Master—a very great person in the eyes of every single quill-driver in the room. But that was nothing to the opinion he had of his own greatness. Captain Ellis looked upon himself as a sort of divine (pagan) emanation, the deputy-Neptune for the circumambient seas.
If he did not actually rule the waves, he pretended to rule the fate of the mortals whose lives were cast upon the waters. This uplifting illusion made him inquisitorial and peremptory. And as his temperament was choleric there were fellows who were actually afraid of him. He was redoubtable, not in virtue of his office, but because of his unwarrantable assumptions.
I had never had anything to do with him before. I said: “Oh! He has asked for me twice. Then perhaps I had better go in.” “You must! You must!” The Shipping-Master led the way with a mincing gait around the whole system of desks to a tall and important-looking door, which he opened with a deferential action of the arm. The Shadow Line PDF Book Download
He stepped right in (but without letting go of the handle) and, after gazing reverently down the room for a while, beckoned me in by a silent jerk of the head. Then he slipped out at once and shut the door after me most delicately. Three lofty windows gave on the harbour. There was nothing in them but the dark-blue sparkling sea and the paler luminous blue of the sky.
My eye caught in the depths and distances of these blue tones the white speck of some big ship just arrived and about to anchor in the outer roadstead. A ship from home—after perhaps ninety days at sea. There is something touching about a ship coming in from sea and folding her white wings for a rest.
The next thing I saw was the top-knot of silver hair surmounting Captain Ellis’ smooth red face, which would have been apoplectic if it hadn’t had such a fresh appearance. Our deputy-Neptune had no beard on his chin, and there was no trident to be seen standing in a corner anywhere, like an umbrella. The Shadow Line PDF Book Download
But his hand was holding a pen—the official pen, far mightier than the sword in making or marring the fortune of simple toiling men. He was looking over his shoulder at my advance. “Don’t exaggerate like this!” I protested, laughing irritably. “But I wonder what this part of the world would do if you were to leave off looking after it, Captain Giles?
Here you have got me a command and saved the Steward’s life in one afternoon. Though why you should have taken all that interest in either of us is more than I can understand.” Captain Giles remained silent for a minute. Then gravely: “He’s not a bad steward really. He can find a good cook, at any rate.
And, what’s more, he can keep him when found. I remember the cooks we had here before his time! . . .” I must have made a movement of impatience, because he interrupted himself with an apology for keeping me yarning there, while no doubt I needed all my time to get ready. What I really needed was to be alone for a bit. The Shadow Line PDF Book Free
I seized this opening hastily. My bedroom was a quiet refuge in an apparently uninhabited wing of the building. Having absolutely nothing to do (for I had not unpacked my things), I sat down on the bed and abandoned myself to the influences of the hour. To the unexpected influences. . . . And first I wondered at my state of mind.
Why was I not more surprised? Why? Here I was, invested with a command in the twinkling of an eye, not in the common course of human affairs, but more as if by enchantment. I ought to have been lost in astonishment. But I wasn’t. I was very much like people in fairy tales. Nothing ever astonishes them.
When a fully appointed gala coach is produced out of a pumpkin to take her to a ball, Cinderella does not exclaim. She gets in quietly and drives away to her high fortune. Captain Ellis (a fierce sort of fairy) had produced a command out of a drawer almost as unexpectedly as in a fairy tale. But a command is an abstract idea, and it seemed a sort of “lesser marvel” till it flashed upon me that it involved the concrete existence of a ship. The Shadow Line PDF Book Free