Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 6



Outraged by Wang's untimely intrusion, Heyst looks about the room. Then Wang announces, "Boat out there." The boat has three white men in it. Heyst is startled. He calls out to Lena, who says she is bathing her eyes, and tells her to stay inside the house. Overwhelmed by the impossible news, Heyst goes with Wang to the wharf, where they discover a boat under the jetty. The three men in it are indeed white and dying from thirst. Heyst sends Wang for a crowbar to open the water tap on the jetty. A stream of fresh water gushes into the boat. The reader recognizes the three villains from Sourabaya. Ricardo drinks first. Pedro rushes forward and knocks him away, fastens his own mouth to the water tap. Ricardo bludgeons the man so savagely that Heyst fears for his life. Now Ricardo assists plain Mr. Jones to the water and explains to Heyst that they have been tugging at the oars for more than forty hours without water. He makes no further explanation for their presence in this remote spot.


Conrad conveys the sense of violent impact the three strangers make on Heyst with great skill. He shows their instinctive savagery best of all by Ricardo's brutal attack on Pedro for the very same discourtesy he has himself perpetrated not one minute before.

Ricardo's fear of the crowbar suggests that his guilty conscience knows Heyst should use the crowbar to brain them all — instead Heyst uses it to open the water tap.