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Six months later Marlow receives a letter from his friend, Mr. Denver, who has hired Jim to work at his rice mill. He praises Jim for his good temper, his good manners, his generosity, his wit, and his cleverness. Marlow is very happy to hear that Jim is doing well, for he has known all along that the young man is "one of us." Before long, Marlow goes on a trip; when he returns, another letter is waiting for him from Mr. Denver. The letter states that Jim wrote a letter of apology, left it behind on the breakfast table, and disappeared; Denver is furious about the loss.
Marlow continues through his mail and soon comes to a letter from Jim. The letter explains that the second engineer from the Patna was hired for a temporary job at the mill and made insinuations and threats to Jim. As a result, he felt he had to leave the mill. He has taken a temporary job as a water-clerk with Egstrom & Blake and needs a reference from Marlow. Although unhappy about Jim's new position, which Marlow thinks is beneath him, he sends the letter of reference.
Marlow soon has the chance of seeing Jim at Egstrom & Blake. He seems happy and popular, and Marlow feels encouraged about the young man's future. Marlow asks him bluntly what the second engineer had said, whether he had told everyone about the Patna. Jim denies his having done anything like that; however, the man behaved very mysteriously whenever they met and tried to become close to Jim. One day when they were alone, the man threatened Jim about revealing the Patna affair. Jim decided to quit. He did not want to be reminded of his past.
Jim's work at the shop of Egstrom & Blake is tolerable, even though the two owners do not work well together. Every day, from the time the shop opens until it closes, Blake, a little man with sleek, jetty hair and small, unhappy eyes, loudly scolds Egstrom, a heavy man who is always busy directing people and checking parcels. Jim thinks Egstrom is a good man.
Egstrom asks what Jim is running away from? Marlow tells him that Jim was a mate of the Patna. Egstrom does not seem to be bothered by the information and says, "who the devil cares." Obviously, the sensitive Jim is much harder on himself than others are hard on him. Egstrom does, however, say that Jim will never be able to run away from his past.