Morrison is a busy kind-hearted trader who allows himself to be cheated by his customers. His financial troubles draw Heyst into his first interference in human affairs. Morrison's gratitude is both comical and pitiful. Heyst's description of him is one of the finest bits of characterization in all Conrad's writings:
His mind was like a white-walled, pure chamber furnished with, say, six straw-bottomed chairs, and he was always placing and displacing them in various combinations. But they were always the same chairs. He was extremely easy to live with; but then he got hold of this coal idea — or rather the idea got hold of him. It entered into that scantily furnished chamber of which I have just spoken, and sat on all the chairs.
Morrison is tall and lantern-jawed, clean-shaven and "looked like a barrister who had thrown his wig to the dogs." He is master of the brig Capricorn. The impounding of his vessel creates the situation which calls forth Heyst's pity and his subsequent succor.
At Morrison's insistence, Heyst becomes manager of the Tropical Belt Coal Company. On a trip to England to further the new company's interests, Morrison contracts a chill and dies, leaving Heyst with feelings of remorse and guilt.