Light dawned upon me.
My dear aunt's influential acquaintances were producing an unexpected effect upon that young man. I nearly burst into a laugh.
"Do you read the Company's confidential correspondence?" I asked. He hadn't a word to say. It was great fun. "When Mr. Kurtz," I continued, severely, "is General Manager, you won't have the opportunity."
He blew the candle out suddenly, and we went outside. The moon had risen. Black figures strolled about listlessly, pouring water on the glow, whence proceeded a sound of hissing; steam ascended in the moonlight, the beaten nigger groaned somewhere.
"What a row the brute makes!" said the indefatigable man with the moustaches, appearing near us. "Serve him right. Transgression -- punishment -- bang! Pitiless, pitiless. That's the only way. This will prevent all conflagrations for the future. I was just telling the manager . . ."
He noticed my companion, and became crestfallen all at once.
"Not in bed yet," he said, with a kind of servile heartiness; "it's so natural. Ha! Danger -- agitation."