3, March 18--
To Whom It May Concern:
Note: I am not using specific names of people or places to be safe in the case that this letter leaves the hand of the messenger that I give it to and another party other than the intended reads this.
I am writing to the Company on account of its barbarous and barbaric actions here in the dark continent, centered around the Central Station. I have heard no reports of misbehavior nor any of resistance, but I fear that the company is being operated in a very inefficient manner. I have traveled to various places around the world and I believed that this trip under the employment of the Company would be productive. However, I fear that I have been sorely mistaken. There is a very noticeable lack of organization in the company as a whole. Disorder in one single area may be permissible, but the lack of order found both in the Outer Station as well as the Central Station confirm that the Company must reorganize before it can continue in its quest. There is one individual that I have met that exemplifies the meaning of order, but he is a man who survives and thrives on order alone, leaving him out of place and darn near useless in a place such as the Outer Station. There was nothing there to show that order existed. In places it looked as though someone tried to instill order, but only succeeded in creating meaningless projects, holes in the ground, meaningless blasting and the like. The native savages of the Outer and Central stations have been subjected to brutality and servitude above and beyond the necessary. Also due to the lack of order and due process my command is sunken in the river and has been for two days. Based on the evidence that I have and will present later in this letter, I tender my resignation from the Company, effective upon my return from my current trip. If this happens to be my last trip, then I expect that full compensation will be paid to my aunt in England.
Upon my arrival to the Outer Station, I was appalled at the state of things. There was a broken railway-truck lying on its back next to a useless boiler "wallowing in the grass" (32). Other than the dead and wasted machinery and a small drab grove of trees, the landscape was dull and boring. To one side of the path, there was a large hole. I could find no reason for the hole, except to keep the criminals busy with work. For what reason the natives are called criminals I cannot understand. Why, even, must they be put to useless work? The blasting in the cliffs served no purpose other than to waste the dynamite and put lives in danger. That doesn’t seem to cause any hesitation here in the jungle. Indeed, I had walked along the path to the tress so I could stand in shade, but instead I was met with shapes as dead as any, but still showing the symptoms of life. The black shapes that laid around the grove in various positions of death seemed to cling to the ground even though they "were nothing earthly now" (35). On what right or need does the Company find it necessary to treat these humans in such a way that they are brought down to creatures? I can still remember the horror I felt when I looked into the sunken eyes that were "enormous and vacant, [with] a kind of blind, white flicker in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly" (35). The rest of the Outer Station was in disorder except for one fine specimen of a man who made up for all the chaos outside of his office.
The fellow who I refer to is the Company’s chief accountant. He was a man with backbone, he showed absolute refusal to give up to the wild outside his door. The fellow kept all of his books in apple-pie order, and matched with starched collars, white cuffs and silk neckties. In short, this chap was outright amazing, especially considering that he had been stationed here for almost three years. His appearance appeared so out of place in that junkyard heap of a Company station and even more spectacular and unsuited to the walls of rushes and enormous trees bounding the central Station from where I now write. That fellow was faultless in his appearance and of good temper. I only pitied the man half the time I spent in his company for the lack of adventure in his job; the good accountant only kept on writing "correct entries of perfectly correct transactions" (38) while souls died and left their shells of bodies in sight of his doorstep. There was one advantage to meeting this uncompassionate soul. He was the first person to introduce the name Kurtz to me. From the outset I wanted to know more about this "first-class agent" (37). Only by prying and pestering did I elicit more information about Mr. Kurtz from the Accountant. It is funny that I never did learn his name in the ten days that I spent in his company. He is too caught up in his numbers to care about the world outside his shanty. But his meager responses to my questions only whetted my now burning desire to meet this Kurtz.
I now jump to my present location 200 miles inland from the Outer Station. The hike to this station was dreary; walking the road in the blistering heat with only landmark events like finding a murdered native in the road. The trek could be withstood except that the Company chose to send incompetent fellows the entire trip from Belgium to the Outer Station only to have the collapse on the trek form the Outer to the Central Station. Dreary silence marked the entire fifteen days, even as we came in sight of the stinking mud banks and towering rushes that marked the Inner Station. The first thing that I had knowledge of when I entered the gap in the rushes was that my steamer had sunk. By the impatience and lack of discipline of the manager, the impromptu trip that he tried to undertake scraped the bottom of my steamer. This irked me very much because not only was my first freshwater command sitting at the bottom of a river, but also I would be further delayed from visiting the now infamous Mr. Kurtz. He is infamous not to others, but only to myself because he has become my sole fascination in the wilderness and is the only reason that I will continue this trip. I have heard from another man whom I will call the brick-maker that has told me much about Kurtz. By now he has become not a person, but an object, a goal for me. I go not to meet the physical body of Kurtz, but to obtain my goal of knowing who Kurtz is and making my own opinion of him. The disorganization of the Company is also responsible for the time that it will take me to set the steamer afloat. Each day could be spent working but instead I sit here with nothing to do while the materials that I need, rivets, are lounging in great numbers at the Outer Station. Rivets in great numbers are rusting away, while here I scrounge to find a single one. Instead of working on my steamer and working towards my goal of meeting Kurtz, I am forced to contemplate the great green trees festooned with vines that are my jail-bars.
Due to the incompetence of the Company in the departments of organization and common sense I hereby resign from the company. In the event that I do not live to return, please convey my body to Mr. Kurtz, the chief of the Inner Station.