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This excerpt is my favourite part of the whole story.
Youth: A Narrative by Joseph Conrad
This is part of a short story told by an older man reminiscing about his first command of a ship as first mate that caught fire and sank. He and the crew rowed for days in an open row boat finally reaching a wharf in the Far East at midnight and they slept in the bottom of the boat. When they woke up, the people of the village were standing on the wharf looking at them.
When I awoke, I first saw the people of the East – and they were looking at me.
I have known its fascination since. I have seen the mysterious shores, the still water, the lands of nations where a stealthy nemesis lies in wait – pursues – overtakes so many of the conquering race who are so proud of their wisdom, their knowledge, their strength.
But for me, all the East is contained in that vision of my youth. It is all in that moment when I opened my young eyes on it. I came upon it from a tussle with the sea. – I was young – and I saw it looking at me. This all that is left of it.
Only a moment – a moment of strength, of romance, of glamour – of youth. A flick of sunshine upon a strange shore, the time to remember, the time for a sigh – and – goodbye – night – good-bye.