He was an inch or two under six feet tall and powerfully built. His voice was deep and loud and he was always very well dressed. He worked in the ports of the Far East. He was known as Jim, just Jim. He had another name, but he was afraid of anyone knowing it, because he wanted to hide a fact. And when the fact was known, he would suddenly leave port. He was travelling slowly but surely towards the rising sun.
Afterwards, when he finally decided to leave the ports behind him, the Malays of the jungle village he came to live in added another word to his name. They called him Tuan Jim or Lord Jim.
Jim had always wanted to be a sailor and after two years of training he went to sea, he had dreamed of the sea and the adventures it would bring all his life. So when he finally entered the regions so well known to his imagination, he found them strangely empty of excitement. However, he worked hard, was gentlemanly and had a thorough knowledge of his duties. In time, when still very young, he became chief mate of a fine ship.
On this ship, Jim had his first piece of bad luck; he was badly injured during a storm when one of the ship’s sails fell on him. His Scottish captain would say afterwards, «Man! It was a perfect miracle how he survived it!». Jim’s injuries continued and when the ship arrived at the next port, Jim was left behind. In this Eastern cityJim met many new characters, generally of two kinds. Some, very few, lived energetic lives, full of dreams, dangers, hopes and plans. However most were lazy, they hated the horror of hard work, they loved short voyages and the difference of being white. They led easy lives. At first this gossiping crowd seemed to be nothing more than shadows, but after a time Jim became fascinated with them and their lives of leisure, so he gave up the idea of going back to England, and took the job of chief mate on a ship called the Patna. The ship was to carry eight hundred pilgrims to a port in the Red Sea.
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