Joseph conrad: the secret sharer

Joseph Conrad: The Secret Sharer

On my right hand there were lines of fishing stakes
Resembling a mysterious system of half-submerged
Bamboo fences, incomprehensible in its division of
The domain of tropical fishes, and crazy of aspect as if
Abandoned for ever by some nomad tribe of fishermen
Now gone to the other end of the ocean; for there was
No sign of human habitation as far as the eye could
Reach. To the left a group of barren islets, suggesting
Ruins of stone walls, towers, and blockhouses, had its
Foundations set in a blue sea that itself looked solid,
So still and stable did it lie below my feet; even the
Track of light from the westering, sun shone smoothly,
Without that animated glitter which tells of an imper-
Ceptible ripple. And when I turned my head to take
A parting glance at the tug which had just left us
Anchored outside the bar, I saw the straight line of the
Flat

shore joined to the stable sea, edge to edge, with
A perfect and unmarked closeness, in one leveled floor
Half brown, half blue under the enormous dome of
The sky. Corresponding in their insignificance to the
Islets of the sea, two sma]l clumps of trees, one on
Each side of the only fault in the impeccable joint,
Marked the mouth of the river Meinam we had just
Left on the first preparatory stage of our homeward
Journey; and, far back on the inland level, a larger
And loftier mass, the grove surrounding the great
Paknam pagoda, was the only thing on which the eye
Could rest from the vain task of exploring the monoto-
Nous sweep of the horizon. Here and there gleams as
Of a few scattered pieces of silver marked the windings
Of the great river; and on the nearest of them, just
Within the bar, the tug steaming right into the land be-
Came lost to my sight, hull and funnel and masts, as
Though the impassive earth had swallowed her up
Without an effort, without a tremor. My eye followed
The light cloud of her smoke, now here, now there,
Above the plain, according to the devious curves of the
Stream, but always fainter and farther away, till I
Lost it at last behind the miter-shaped hill of the great
Pagodas. And then I was left alone. with my ship,
Anchored at the head of the Gulf of Siam.
She floated at the starting point of a long journey,
Very still in an immense stillness, the shadows of her
Spars flung far to the eastward by the setting sun. At
That moment I was alone on her decks. There was not
A sound in her – and around us nothing moved, noth-
Ing lived, not a canoe on the water, not a bird in the
Air, not a cloud in the sky. In this breathless pause at
The threshold of a long passage we seemed to be
Measuring our fitness for a long and arduous enter-
Prise, the appointed task of both our existences to be
Carried out, far from all human eyes, with only sky
And sea for spectators and for judges.
There must have been some glare in the air to inter-
Fere with one’s sight, because it was only just before
The sun left us that my roaming eyes made out beyond
The highest ridges of the principal islet of the group
Something which did away with the solemnity of
Perfect solitude. The tide of darkness flowed on
Swiftly; and with tropical suddenness a swarm of
Stars came out above the shadowy earth, while I lin-
Gered yet, my hand resting lightly on my ship’s rail
As if on the shoulder of a trusted friend. But, with all
That multitude of celestial bodies staring down at one,
The comfort of quiet communion with her was gone
For good. And there were also disturbing sounds by



Joseph conrad: the secret sharer