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[At the Central Station]: "One of them, a stout, excitable chap […] informed me […] that my steamer was at the bottom of the river. I was thunderstruck. What, how, why? Oh, it was "all right." The "manager himself" was there. All quite correct […]
I did not see the real significance of that wreck at once. I fancy I see it now, but I am not sure – not at all. Certainly the affair was too stupid – when I think of it – to be altogether natural. Still…but at the moment it presented itself simply as a confounded nuisance. The steamer was sunk. They had started two days before in a sudden hurry up the river with the manager on board, in charge of some volunteer skipper, and before they had been out three hours they tore the bottom out of her on stones, and she sank near the south bank….the repairs when I brought the pieces to the station, took some months." (1.50-51)
What seems at first an accident, Marlow later suspects to have been a planned attempt at sabotage.
"I heard the name of Kurtz pronounced, then the words, 'take advantage of this unfortunate accident.'" (1.56)
The fact that the manager wants to take advantage of this so-called "unfortunate accident" brings into question whether it was a bad turn of luck or someone’s willful attempt to sabotage (indirectly) Kurtz.
[The manager’s uncle]: "Ah! my boy, trust to this – I say, trust to this." I saw him extend his short flipper of an arm for a gesture that took in the forest, the creek the mud, the river – seemed to beckon with a dishonouring flourish before the sunlit face of the land a treacherous appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart. It was so startling that I leaped to my feet and looked back at the edge of the forest, as though I had expected an answer of some sort to that black display of confidence […] (2.2)
The jungle is so ominous that Marlow expects whatever dark force resides there to emerge from the darkness and strike down the manager’s uncle for daring to believe it would ever bow to his will. His journey to the interior now seems more ill-starred than ever.