The story begins when Marlow and crew wait for the tide to settle, which leads Marlow to tell of his days in the Congo.
Marlow talks of how he got the job at a Belgian trading company, and of the Frenchmen he met, a pseudo psychologist.
When arriving to his destination, he noticed many of the natives sick and be treated like slaves, one of his many problems with imperialism, and how the general public doesn't know and don't care.
Marlow travels further inward to the second station, and meets a plain man, the director, told him that his steamer has been wrecked, and will be stuck here for three months. The director is worried about Kurtz, a supposedly spectacular agent.
While stuck at the second station, Marlow meets and takes a liking to the brick maker, who doesn't have a brick to speak of. He figures they don't get anything from Europe concerning bricks, but he's a relatively good person. They also talk of Kurtz here.
When Marlow finally arrives at the third station, he notices Kurtz is nowhere to be found, the fabled merchant of the trade he would never be able to meent, or even shake hands with, he feels let down horribley.