They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence.
The pilgrims could be seen in knots gesticulating, discussing.
I became in an instant as much of a pretense as the rest of the bewitched pilgrims.
I put the helm hard a-starboard at the moment when the pilgrim in pink pyjamas, very hot and agitated, appeared in the doorway.
The red-haired pilgrim was beside himself with the thought that at least this poor Kurtz had been properly revenged.
However, they were all waiting—all the sixteen or twenty pilgrims of them—for something; and upon my word it did not seem an uncongenial occupation, from the way they took it, though the only thing that ever came to them was disease—as far as I could see.
The pilgrims used to turn out in a body and empty every rifle they could lay hands on at him.
It must have made some of the pilgrims sit up in their hovels.
I had the manager on board and three or four pilgrims with their staves—all complete.
Where the pilgrims imagined it crawled to I don’t know.
Two pilgrims were quarreling in hurried whispers as to which bank.
You should have seen the pilgrims stare!
The pilgrims had opened with their Winchesters, and were simply squirting lead into that bush.
You see I rather chummed with the few mechanics there were in that station, whom the other pilgrims naturally despised—on account of their imperfect manners, I suppose.
The simple old sailor, with his talk of chains and purchases, made me forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having come upon something unmistakably real.
What is the meaning—?’ stammered at my elbow one of the pilgrims,—a little fat man, with sandy hair and red whiskers, who wore side-spring boots, and pink pyjamas tucked into his socks.
I had been dimly aware for some time of a worrying noise, and when I lifted my eyes I saw the wood-pile was gone, and the manager, aided by all the pilgrims, was shouting at me from the river-side.
It came in sections during the next three weeks, each section headed by a donkey carrying a white man in new clothes and tan shoes, bowing from that elevation right and left to the impressed pilgrims.
All the pilgrims and the manager were then congregated on the awning-deck about the pilot-house, chattering at each other like a flock of excited magpies, and there was a scandalized murmur at my heartless promptitude.
Certainly they had brought with them some rotten hippo-meat, which couldn’t have lasted very long, anyway, even if the pilgrims hadn’t, in the midst of a shocking hullabaloo, thrown a considerable quantity of it overboard.
When the manager, escorted by the pilgrims, all of them armed to the teeth, had gone to the house, this chap came on board.
The Russian, eyed curiously by the pilgrims, was staring at the shore.
The pilgrims murmured at my back.
I saw a row of pilgrims squirting lead in the air out of Winchesters held to the hip.
The pilgrims looked upon me with disfavor.
All the pilgrims rushed out to see.
But I am of course aware that next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole.
I pulled the string of the whistle, and I did this because I saw the pilgrims on deck getting out their rifles with an air of anticipating a jolly lark.
Some of the pilgrims behind the stretcher carried his arms—two shot-guns, a heavy rifle, and a light revolver-carbine—the thunderbolts of that pitiful Jupiter.
The pilgrims were dining in the mess-room, and I took my place opposite the manager, who lifted his eyes to give me a questioning glance, which I successfully ignored.
He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch-dance in his honor; he could also fill the small souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings: he had one devoted friend at least, and he had conquered one soul in the world that was neither rudimentary nor tainted with self-seeking.
I looked at them with a swift quickening of interest—not because it occurred to me I might be eaten by them before very long, though I own to you that just then I perceived—in a new light, as it were—how unwholesome the pilgrims looked, and I hoped, yes, I positively hoped, that my aspect was not so—what shall I say?
I had to keep guessing at the channel; I had to discern, mostly by inspiration, the signs of hidden banks; I watched for sunken stones; I was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew out, when I shaved by a fluke some infernal sly old snag that would have ripped the life out of the tin-pot steamboat and drowned all the pilgrims; I had to keep a look-out for the signs of dead wood we could cut up in the night for next day’s steaming.