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VICTORY



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Almayer's Folly

An Outcast of the Islands

The Nigger of the "Narcissus"

Tales of Unrest

Lord Jim

Youth : A Narrative

Typhoon

NosTROMO: A Tale of the Seaboard

The Mirror of the Sea

The Secret Agent

A Set of Six

Under Western Eyes

Some Reminiscences

'TwiXT Land and Sea

Chance

Within the Tides

WITH FORD M. HUEFFER

Romance : A Novel

The Inheritors : An Extravagant Story



VICTORY



AN ISLAND TALE



BY

JOSEPH CONRAD



Calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire
And airy tongues that syllable mens names
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.

COMUS



NEW AND CHEAPER ISSUE



METHUEN & CO. LTD.

36 ESSEX STREET W.a

LONDON



First Published September 24th igrj

Second, Thirds and Fourth Editions . September igiS

Fifth Edition .... . October jgiS

New and Cheaper Issue . . - igi7



TO

PERCEVAL

AND

MAISIE GIBBON



AUTHOR'S NOTE

'V ^HE last word of this novel was written on the 2gth
J- of May 1914. And that last word was the single
word of the title.

Those were the times of peace. Now that the moment
of publication approaches I have been considering the
discretion of altering the title-page. The word Victory,
the shining and tragic goal of noble effort, appeared too
great, too august, to stand at the head of a mere novel.
There was also the possibility of falling under the sus-
picion of commercial asttcteness deceiving the public into
the belief that the book had something to do with war.

Of that, however, I was not afraid very much. What
influenced my decision most were the obscure promptings
of that pagan residuum of awe and wonder which lurks
still at the bottom of our old humanity. Victory was the
last word I had written in peace time. It was the last
literary thought which had occurred to me before the
doors of the Temple of Janus flying open with a crash
shook the minds, the hearts, the consciences of men all
over the world. Such coincidence could not be treated
lightly. And I made up my mind to let the word stand,
in the same hopeful spirit in which some simple citizen
of Old Rome would have " accepted the Omen."



Vll



viii VICTORY

The second point on which I wish to offer a remark is
the existence {in the novel) of a person named Schomherg.

That I believe him to he true goes without saying. I
am not likely to offer pinchbeck wares to my public
consciously. S chamber g is an old member of my company.
A very subordinate personage in Lord Jim as far back
as the year 1899, he became notably active in a certain
short story of mine published in 1902. Here he appears
in a still larger part, true to life {I hope), but also true to
himself. Only, in this instance, his deeper passions
come into play, and thus his grotesque psychology is
completed at last.

I don't pretend to say that this is the entire Teutonic
psychology ; but it is indubitably the psychology of a
Teuton. My object in mentioning him here is to bring
out the fact that, far from being the incarnation of recent
animosities, he is the creature of my old, deep-seated and,
as it were, impartial conviction.

]. C.



PART 1



THERE is, as every schoolboy knows in this scientific
age, a very close chemical relation between coal and
diamonds. It is the reason, I believe, why some people
allude to coal as " black diamonds." Both these commo-
dities represent wealth ; but coal is a much less portable
form of property. There is, from that point of view, a de-
plorable lack of concentration in coal. Now, if a coal-mine
could be put into one's waistcoat pocket — but it can't !
At the same time, there is a fascination in coal, the supreme
commodity of the age in which we are camped like be-
wildered travellers in a garish, unrestful hotel. And I
suppose those two considerations, the practical and the
mystical, prevented Heyst — Axel Heyst — from going away.
The Tropical Belt Coal Company went into liquidation.
The world of finance is a mysterious world in which, in-
credible as the fact may appear, evaporation precedes
liquidation. First the capital evaporates, and then the
company goes into liquidation. These are very unnatural
physics, but they account for the persistent inertia of
Heyst, at which we " out there " used to laugh among our-
selves — but not inimically. An inert body can do no harm
to any one, provokes no hostility, is scarcely worth derision.
It may, indeed, be in the way sometimes ; but this could
not be said of Axel Heyst. He was out of everybody's way,
as if he were perched on the highest peak of the Himalayas,
and in a sense as conspicuous. Every one in that part of



4 VICTORY

the world knew of him, dwelling on his little island. An
island is but the top of a mountain. Axel Heyst, perched
on it immovably, was surrounded, instead of the imponder-
able stormy and transparent ocean of air merging into
infinity, by a tepid, shallow sea ; a passionless offshoot
of the great waters which embrace the continents of
this globe. His most frequent visitors were shadows, the
shadows of clouds, relieving the monotony of the inanimate,
brooding sunshine of the tropics. His nearest neighbour —
I am speaking now of things showing some sort of anima-
tion — was an indolent volcano which smoked faintly all day
with its head just above the northern horizon, and at night
levelled at him, from amongst the clear stars, a dull red
glow, expanding and collapsing spasmodically like the end
of a gigantic cigar puffed at intermittently in the dark. Axel
Heyst was also a smoker ; and when he lounged out on his
veranda with his cheroot, the last thing before going to bed,
he made in the night the same sort of glow and of the same
size as that other one so many miles away.

In a sense, the volcano was company to him in the shades
of the night — which were often too thick, one would think,
to let a breath of air through. There was seldom enough
wind to blow a feather along. On most evenings of the
year Heyst could have sat outside with a naked candle to
read one of the books left him by his late father. It was not
a mean store. But he never did that. Afraid of mos-
quitoes, very likely. Neither was he ever tempted by the
silence to address any casual remarks to the companion
glow of the volcano. He was not mad. Queer chap — yes,
that may have been said, and in fact was said ; but there is
a tremendous difference between the two, you will allow.

On the nights of full moon the silence around Samburan
— the " Round Island " of the charts — was dazzling ;
and in the flood of cold light Heyst could see his imme-



VICTORY 5

diate surroundings, which had the aspect of an abandoned
settlement invaded by the jungle : vague roofs above low
vegetation, broken shadows of bamboo fences in the sheen
of long grass, something like an overgrown bit of road
slanting among ragged thickets toward the shore only a
couple of hundred yards away, with a black jetty and a
mound of some sort, quite inky on its unlighted side. But
the most conspicuous object was a gigantic blackboard
raised on two posts and presenting to Heyst, when the
moon got over that side, the white letters " T. B. C. Co."
in a row at least two feet high. These were the initials of
the Tropical Belt Coal Company, his employers — his late
employers, to be precise.

According to the unnatural mysteries of the financial
world, the T. B. C. Company's capital having evaporated in
the course of two years, the company went into liquidation —
— forced, I believe, not voluntary. There was nothing
forcible in the process, however. It was slow ; and while
the liquidation — in London and Amsterdam — pursued its
languid course. Axel Heyst, styled in the prospectus
" manager in the tropics," remained at his post on Sam-
buran, the No. i coaling-station of the company.

And it was not merely a coaling-station. There was a
coal-mine there, with an outcrop in the hillside less than
five hundred yards from the rickety wharf and the imposing
blackboard. The company's object had been to get hold
of all the outcrops on tropical islands and exploit them
locally. And, Lord knows, there were any amount of
outcrops. It was Heyst who had located most of them in
this part of the tropical belt during his rather aimless
wanderings, and being a ready letter-writer had written
pages and pages about them to his friends in Europe. At
least, so it was said.

We doubted whether he had any visions of wealth —



6 VICTORY

for himself, at any rate. What he seemed mostly con-
cerned for was the " stride forward," as he expressed it,
in the general organisation of the universe, apparently.
He was heard by more than a hundred persons in the
islands talking of a " great stride forward for these regions."
The convinced wave of the hand which accompanied the
phrase suggested tropical distances being impelled onward.
In connection with the finished courtesy of his manner, it
was persuasive, or at any rate silencing — for a time, at
least. Nobody cared to argue with him when he talked in
this strain. His earnestness could do no harm to anybody.
There was no danger of any one taking seriously his dream
of tropical coal, so what was the use of hurting his feelings ?

Thus reasoned men in reputable business ofi&ces where
he had his entree as a person who came out East with
letters of introduction — and modest letters of credit, too —
some years before these coal-outcrops began to crop up
in his playfully courteous talk. From the first there was
some difficulty in making him out. He was not a traveller.
A traveller arrives and departs, goes on somewhere. Heyst
did not depart. I met a man once — the manager of the
branch of the Oriental Banking Corporation in Malacca —
to whom Heyst exclaimed, in no connection with anything
in particular (it was in the billiard-room of the club) :

" I am enchanted with these islands ! "

He shot it out suddenly, d propos des hottes, as the French
say, and while chalking his cue. And perhaps it was some
sort of enchantment. There are more spells than your
commonplace magicians ever dreamed of.

Roughly speaking, a circle with a radius of eight hundred
miles drawn round a point in North Borneo was in Heyst's
case a magic circle. It just touched Manila, and he had
been seen there. It just touched Saigon, and he was Hke-
wise seen there once. Perhaps these were his attempts to



VICTORY 7

break out. If so, they were failures. The enchantment
must have been an unbreakable one. The manager — the
man who heard the exclamation — had been so impressed
by the tone, fervour, rapture, what you will, or perhaps by
the incongruity of it that he had related the experience to
more than one person.

" Queer chap, that Swede," was his only comment ;
but this is the origin of the name " Enchanted Heyst "
which some fellows fastened on our man.

He also had other names. In his early years, long
before he got so becomingly bald on the top, he went to
present a letter of introduction to Mr. Tesman of Tesman
Brothers, a Sourabaya firm — tip- top house. Well, Mr.
Tesman was a kindly, benevolent old gentleman. He did
not know what to make of that caller. After telling him
that they wished to render his stay among the islands as
pleasant as possible, and that they were ready to assist
him in his plans, and so on, and after receiving Heyst's
thanks — you know the usual kind of conversation — he
proceeded to query in a slow, paternal tone :

" And you are interested in — ? "

" Facts," broke in Heyst in his courtly voice. " There's
nothing worth knowing but facts. Hard facts ! Facts
alone, Mr. Tesman."

I don't know if old Tesman agreed with him or not, but
he must have spoken about it, because, for a time, our
man got the name of " Hard Facts." He had the singular
good fortune that his sayings stuck to him and became part
of his name. Thereafter he mooned about the Java Sea in
some of the Tesmans' trading schooners, and then vanished,
on board an Arab ship, in the direction of New Guinea.
He remained so long in that outlying part of his enchanted
circle that he was nearly forgotten before he swam into
view again in a native proa full of Goram vagabonds,



8 VICTORY

burnt black by the sun, very lean, his hair much thinned,
and a portfolio of sketches under his arm. He showed
these willingly, but was very reserved as to anything else.
He had had an " amusing time," he said. A man who will
go to New Guinea for fun — well !

Later, years afterward, when the last vestiges of youth
had gone off his face and all the hair off the top of his
head, and his red-gold pair of horizontal moustaches had
grown to really noble proportions, a certain disreputable
white man fastened upon him an epithet. Putting down
with a shaking hand a long glass emptied of its contents —
paid for by Heyst — he said, with that deliberate sagacity
which no mere water-drinker ever attained :

" Heyst's a puffect g'n'lman. Puffect ! But he's a
ut-uto-utopist."

Heyst had just gone out of the place of public refresh-
ment where this pronouncement was voiced. Utopist, eh ?
Upon my word, the only thing I heard him say which
might have had a bearing on the point was his invitation
to old McNab himself. Turning with that finished courtesy
of attitude, movement, voice, which was his obvious char-
acteristic, he had said with delicate playfulness :

" Come along and quench your thirst with us, Mr.
McNab ! "

Perhaps that was it. A man who could propose, even
playfully, to quench old McNab's thirst must have been an
utopist, a pursuer of chimaeras ; for of downright irony Heyst
was not prodigal. And, may be, this was the reason why
he was generally liked. At that epoch in his life, in the
fulness of his physical development, of a broad, martial
presence, with his bald head and long moustaches, he
resembled the portraits of Charles XH, of adventurous
memory. However, there was no reason to think that
Heyst was in any way a fighting man.



II



IT was about this time that Heyst became associ-
ated with Morrison on terms about which people
were in doubt. Some said he was a partner, others said
he was a sort of paying guest, but the real truth of
the matter was more complex. One day Heyst turned
up in Timor. Why in Timor, of all places in the world,
no one knows. Well, he was mooning about Delli, that
highly pestilential place, possibly in search of some un-
discovered facts, when he came in the street upon Morrison,
who, in his way, was also an " enchanted " man. When
you spoke to Morrison of going home — he was from Dorset-
shire — he shuddered. He said it was dark and wet there ;
that it was like living with your head and shoulders in
a moist gunny-bag. That was only his exaggerated style
of talking. Morrison was " one of us." He was owner
and master of the Capricorn, trading brig, and was under-
stood to be doing well with her, except for the drawback
of too much altruism. He was the dearly beloved friend
of a quantity of God-forsaken villages up dark creeks and
obscure bays, where he traded for " produce." He would
often sail through awfully dangerous channels up to some
miserable settlement, only to find a very hungry popula-
tion clamorous for rice, and without so much " produce "
between them as would have filled Morrison's suit-case.
Amid general rejoicings, he would land the rice all the same,
explain to the people that it was an advance, that they



10 VICTORY

were in debt to him now ; would preach to them energy
and industry, and make an elaborate note in a pocket-diary
which he always carried ; and this would be the end of
that transaction. I don't know if Morrison thought so,
but the villagers had no doubt whatever about it. When-
ever a coast village sighted the brig it would begin to beat
all its gongs and hoist all its streamers, and all its girls
would put flowers in their hair, and the crowd would line
the river bank, and Morrison would beam and glitter at
all this excitement through his single eyeglass with an
air of intense gratification. He was tall and lantern-
jawed, and clean-shaven, and looked like a barrister
who had thrown his wig to the dogs.

We used to remonstrate with him :

" You will never see any of your advances if you go on
like this, Morrison. *'

He would put on a knowing air.

" I shall squeeze them yet some day — never you fear.
And that reminds me " — pulling out his inseparable pocket-
book — " there's that So-and-So village. They are pretty
well off again ; I may just as well squeeze them to begin
with."

He would make a ferocious entry in the pocketbook :

Memo : — Squeeze the So-and-So village at the first time
of calling.

Then he would stick the pencil back and snap the elastic
on with inflexible finality ; but he never began the squeez-
ing. Some men grumbled at him. He was spoiling the
trade. Well, perhaps to a certain extent ; not much.
Most of the places he traded with were unknown not only
to geography but also to the traders' special lore which
is transmitted by word of mouth, without ostentation,
and forms the stock of mysterious local knowledge. It
was hinted also that Morrison had a wife in each and



VICTORY II

every one of them, but the majority of us repulsed these
innuendoes with indignation. He was a true humanitarian
and rather ascetic than otherwise.

When Heyst met him in Belli, Morrison was walking
along the street, his eyeglass tossed over his shoulder, his
head down, with the hopeless aspect of those hardened
tramps one sees on our roads trudging from workhouse to
workhouse. Being hailed across the street, he looked up
with a wild, worried expression. He was really in trouble.
He had come the week before into Delli, and the Portu-
guese authorities, on some pretence of irregularity in his
papers, had inflicted a fine upon him and had arrested
his brig.

Morrison never had any spare cash in hand. With
his system of trading it would have been strange if he
had ; and all these debts entered in the pocketbook
weren't good enough to raise a millrei on — let alone a
shilling. The Portuguese officials begged him not to
distress himself. They gave him a week's grace, and
then proposed to sell the brig at auction. This meant
ruin for Morrison ; and when Heyst hailed him across the
street in his usual courtly tone, the week was nearly
out.

Heyst crossed over, and said with a slight bow, and in
the manner of a prince addressing another prince on a
private occasion :

" What an unexpected pleasure. Would you have any
objection to drink something with me in that infamous
wine-shop over there ? The sun is really too strong to
talk in the street."

The haggard Morrison followed obediently into a sombre,
cool hovel which he would have disdained to enter at any
other time. He was distracted. He did not know what
he was doing. You could have led him over the edge of a



12 VICTORY

precipice just as easily as into that wine-shop. He sat
down like an automaton. He was speechless, but he saw
a glass full of rough red wine before him, and emptied it.
Heyst meantime, politely watchful, had taken a seat
opposite.

" You are in for a bout of fever, I fear," he said sym-
pathetically.

Poor Morrison's tongue was loosened at last.

" Fever ! " he cried. " Give me fever. Give me
plague. They are diseases. One gets over them. But I
am being murdered. I am being murdered by the Portu-
guese. The gang here downed me at last among them.
I am to have my throat cut the day after to-morrow."

In the face of this passion Heyst made, with his eye-
brows, a slight motion of surprise which would not have
been misplaced in a drawing-room. Morrison's despairing
reserve had broken down. He had been wandering with
a dry throat all over that miserable town of mud hovels,
silent, with no soul to turn to in his distress, and positively
maddened by his thoughts ; and suddenly he had stumbled
on a white man, figuratively and actually white — for
Morrison refused to accept the racial whiteness of the
Portuguese officials. He let himself go for the mere relief
of violent speech, his elbows planted on the table, his eyes
bloodshot, his voice nearly gone, the brim of his round
pith hat shading an unshaven, livid face. His white
clothes, which he had not taken off for three days, were
dingy. He looked already gone to the bad, past re-
demption. The sight was shocking to Heyst ; but he
let nothing of it appear in his bearing, concealing his im-
pression under that consummate good-society manner of
his. Polite attention, what's due from one gentleman
listening to another, was what he showed ; and, as usual,
it was catching ; so that Morrison pulled himself together



VICTORY 13

and finished his narrative in a conversational tone, with a
man-of-the-world air.

" It's a villainous plot. Unluckily, one is helpless.
That scoundrel Cousinho — Andreas, you know — has been
coveting the brig for years. Naturally, I would never
sell. She is not only my livelihood ; she's my life. So
he has hatched this pretty little plot with the chief of the
customs. The sale, of course, will be a farce. There's
no one here to bid. He will get the brig for a song — no,
not even that — a line of a song. You have been some
years now in the islands, Heyst. You know us all ; you
have seen how we live. Now you shall have the oppor-
tunity to see how some of us end ; for it is the end, for me.
I can't deceive myself any longer. You see it, — don't
you ? "

Morrison had pulled himself together, but one felt the
snapping strain on his recovered self-possession. Heyst
was beginning to say that he " could very well see all the
bearings of this unfortunate — " when Morrison interrupted
him jerkily.

" Upon my word, I don't know why I have been tell-
ing you all this. I suppose seeing a thoroughly white
man like you made it impossible to keep my trouble to
myself. Words can't do it justice ; but since I've told
you so much I may as well tell you more. Listen. This
morning on board, in my cabin, I went down on my knees
and prayed for help. I went down on my knees ! "

" You are a believer, Morrison ? " asked Heyst with a
distinct note of respect.

" Surely I am not an infidel."

Morrison was swiftly reproachful in his answer, and
there came a pause, Morrison perhaps interrogating his
conscience, and Heyst preserving a mien of unperturbed,
polite interest.



14 VICTORY

" I prayed like a child, of course. I believe in children
praying — well, women, too, but I rather think God expects
men to be more self-reliant. I don't hold with a man
everlastingly bothering the Almighty with his silly troubles.
It seems such cheek. Anyhow, this morning I — I have
never done any harm to any God's creature knowingly —
I prayed. A sudden impulse — I went flop on my knees ;
so you may judge — "

They were gazing earnestly into each other's eyes.
Poor Morrison added, as a discouraging afterthought :

" Only this is such a God-forsaken spot."

Heyst inquired with a delicate intonation whether
he might know the amount for which the brig was
seized.

Morrison suppressed an oath, and named curtly a sum
which was in itself so insignificant that any other person
than Heyst would have exclaimed at it. And even Heyst
could hardly keep incredulity out of his politely modu-
lated voice as he asked if it was a fact that Morrison had
not that amount in hand.

Morrison hadn't. He had only a little English gold,
a few sovereigns, on board. He had left all his spare cash
with the Tesmans, in Samarang, to meet certain bills which
would fall due while he was away on his cruise. Anyhow,
that money would not have been any more good to him
than if it had been in the innermost depths of the infernal
regions. He said all this brusquely. He looked with
sudden disfavour at that noble forehead, at those great
martial moustaches, at the tired eyes of the man sitting
opposite him. Who the devil was he ? What was he,
Morrison, doing there, talking like this ? Morrison knew
no more of Heyst than the rest of us trading in the Archi-
pelago did. Had the Swede suddenly risen and hit him
on the nose, he could not have been taken more aback



VICTORY 15

than when this stranger, this nondescript wanderer, said
with a little bow across the table :

" Oh ! If that's the case I would be very happy if
you'd allow me to be of use ! "



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