"he ordered an immense round table to be made"
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Public DomainKing Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A reference to the Round Table of Arthurian legend, around which King Arthur and his Knights congregated. As its name suggests, it has no head, implying all who sit at it have equal status.

Conrad subverts the traditional chivalric interpretation by suggesting the manager believed: 'Where he sat was the first place - the rest were nowhere.'