Victory By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 11

Summary

Mr. Jones, in an old but gorgeous blue silk dressing gown, waits for his guest. He leans like a painted pole against the desk. Between flashes of lightning, Ricardo melts away and Mr. Jones immediately places himself between Heyst and the door. He remarks that it is "awfully close."

Heyst is not to be put off. "We haven't met to talk about the weather," he says. Mr. Jones assumes a menacing attitude and tells Heyst he has him covered with a gun in his pocket. Heyst deliberately sits down on one of the beds and leans his chin in his hand. Jones provokes Heyst by referring to Schomberg's gossip. The conversation is punctuated by peals of thunder. Jones says: "I am the world itself, come to pay you a visit . . . a sort of fate — the retribution that waits its time."

Now he tells Heyst plainly that they are after his money. Heyst assures him that there is little money here, but they are welcome to what he has. Sprinkled through the conversation, Jones makes repeated threats:

"Don't provoke me . . . to smash your knee."

"I don't know if it wouldn't be better to do it at once."

"If you were to make a clean spring at me, you would receive in midair . . . something that would make you harmless."

"We are — er — adequate bandits."

"I have a good mind to shoot you."

Throughout this menacing conversation, Heyst maintains his slightly disdainful and playful manner. Finally he decides to reveal the real reason for Schomberg's "ugly lies." He tells Jones about Lena.

The effect is electric. Jones appears horror-stricken. All his defenses crumble. He seems to have lost his reason. Heyst sees that he could, at this moment, overpower Jones, but his life-long habit of passivity prevents, and he feels nearer death this moment than at any time since he entered the room.

Jones curses himself for a fool: "He knew. He knew before!" The maddened ghoul mourns, "He knew from the first!"

He insists that Heyst go with him over to Heyst's bungalow to see what Ricardo is doing. The bungalow is ablaze with light. Jones asks Heyst if he minds Ricardo ransacking his house, and Heyst says he doesn't.

"And that fascinating creature?" Jones asks.

"I have placed her in safety," Heyst answers.

"Is that what you mean?" Jones points.

Then, in the brilliant square of the lighted door, Heyst sees Lena sitting in a chair "seemingly without strength, yet without fear, tenderly stooping."

Now Heyst feels the pressure of a revolver barrel between his shoulders. Jones marches him up the steps of his own house while a horrible doubt spreads through him, and he stops suddenly with the thought that he who experiences such a feeling has no business to go on living.

Heyst makes out the crouched form of Ricardo on the floor, his face turned up in rapture. A great "shame of guilt, absurd and maddening," descends on him. "If you had not happened to mention the creature, we would both have been dead before morning," Jones tells Heyst. Both men draw nearer and see Ricardo caressing Lena's extended foot.

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