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Romance   By: (1873-1939)

Book cover

First Page:

ROMANCE

By Joseph Conrad

and

F.M. Hueffer

COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

TO

ELSIE AND JESSIE

"C'est toi qui dors dans Vombre, O sacré Souvenir." If we could have remembrance now And see, as in the days to come We shall, what's venturous in these hours: The swift, intangible romance of fields at home, The gleams of sun, the showers, Our workaday contentments, or our powers To fare still forward through the uncharted haze Of present days. . . . For, looking back when years shall flow Upon this olden day that's now, We'll see, romantic in dimm'd hours, These memories of ours.

CONTENTS

PART FIRST The Quarry and the Beach

PART SECOND The Girl with the Lizard

PART THIRD Casa Riego

PART FOURTH Blade and Guitar

PART FIFTH The Lot of Man

PART FIRST THE QUARRY AND THE BEACH

ROMANCE

CHAPTER ONE

To yesterday and to to day I say my polite "vaya usted con Dios." What are these days to me? But that far off day of my romance, when from between the blue and white bales in Don Ramon's darkened storeroom, at Kingston, I saw the door open before the figure of an old man with the tired, long, white face, that day I am not likely to forget. I remember the chilly smell of the typical West Indian store, the indescribable smell of damp gloom, of locos, of pimento, of olive oil, of new sugar, of new rum; the glassy double sheen of Ramon's great spectacles, the piercing eyes in the mahogany face, while the tap, tap, tap of a cane on the flags went on behind the inner door; the click of the latch; the stream of light. The door, petulantly thrust inwards, struck against some barrels. I remember the rattling of the bolts on that door, and the tall figure that appeared there, snuffbox in hand. In that land of white clothes, that precise, ancient, Castilian in black was something to remember. The black cane that had made the tap, tap, tap dangled by a silken cord from the hand whose delicate blue veined, wrinkled wrist ran back into a foam of lawn ruffles. The other hand paused in the act of conveying a pinch of snuff to the nostrils of the hooked nose that had, on the skin stretched tight over the bridge, the polish of old ivory; the elbow pressing the black cocked hat against the side; the legs, one bent, the other bowing a little back this was the attitude of Seraphina's father.

Having imperiously thrust the door of the inner room open, he remained immovable, with no intention of entering, and called in a harsh, aged voice: "Señor Ramon! Señor Ramon!" and then twice: "Sera phina Seraphina!" turning his head back.

Then for the first time I saw Seraphina, looking over her father's shoulder. I remember her face on that day; her eyes were gray the gray of black, not of blue. For a moment they looked me straight in the face, reflectively, unconcerned, and then travelled to the spectacles of old Ramon.

This glance remember I was young on that day had been enough to set me wondering what they were thinking of me; what they could have seen of me.

"But there he is your Señor Ramon," she said to her father, as if she were chiding him for a petulance in calling; "your sight is not very good, my poor little father there he is, your Ramon."

The warm reflection of the light behind her, gilding the curve of her face from ear to chin, lost itself in the shadows of black lace falling from dark hair that was not quite black. She spoke as if the words clung to her lips; as if she had to put them forth delicately for fear of damaging the frail things. She raised her long hand to a white flower that clung above her ear like the pen of a clerk, and disappeared. Ramon hurried with a stiffness of immense respect towards the ancient grandee... Continue reading book >>




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