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"They [the slaves] were dying slowly – it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, - nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were then allowed to crawl away and rest. These moribund shapes were free as air – and nearly as thin. I began to distinguish the gleam of eyes under the trees. Then, glancing down, I saw a face near my hand. The black bones reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree, and slowly the eyelids rose and the sunken eyes looked up at me, enormous and vacant, a kind of blind, white flicker in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly." (1.40)
This scene shows the evil of the white colonists who remove Africans from their homes, take them to alien places, feed them unfamiliar food, and generally work them to death. Here, white does not represent purity or truth, but the last gasp of miserable life before succumbing to death.
"I found nothing else to do but to offer him one of my good Swede's ship's biscuits I had in my pocket. The fingers closed slowly on it and held - there was no other movement and no other glance." (1.40)
Marlow shows his compassion by offering the dying slave some food. However, his well-intentioned gesture is futile as the young man dies anyway. Marlow, it seems, is powerless to change the circumstances of his surroundings.
"When a truckle-bed with a sick man (some invalid agent from upcountry) was put in there, he exhibited a gentle annoyance. 'The groans of this sick person,' he said, 'distract my attention. And without that it is extremely difficult to guard against clerical errors in this climate.'" (1.45)
The accountant shows the evil of neglect by having little compassion for the sick slave in his care. The painful groans fail to move him, but rather merely irritate him.