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John Buchan

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I saw Lombard as I had last seen him, dressed a little differently from today, a little fuller in the face than we lean kine who have survived the War, with eyes not blurred from motoring, and voice not high-pitched like ours to override the din of our environment. I saw his smile, the odd quick lift of his chin — and I realized that I was growing old and had left some wonderful things behind me. The compartment filled up with City men going home to their comfortable southern suburbs.

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They all had evening papers, and some had morning papers to finish. Most of them appeared to make this journey regularly, for they knew each other, and exchanged market gossip or commented on public affairs. Lombard had come out to East Africa as secretary to a Government Commission, a Commission which he very soon manipulated as he pleased.

I met him there when I was sent up on a prospecting job. He was very young then, not more than twenty-five, and he was in his first years at the Bar.


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He had been at one of the lesser public schools and at Cambridge, had been a good scholar, and was as full as he could hold of books. I remembered our first meeting in a cold camp on the Uasin Gishu plateau, when he quoted and translated a Greek line about the bitter little wind before dawn.

But he never paraded his learning, for his desire was to be in complete harmony with his surroundings, and to look very much the pioneer.

The Island of Sheep

He was full of the heroes of the past, like Roddy Owen and Vandeleur and the Portals, and, except that he was a poor horseman, he had something in common with them. With his light figure and bleached fair hair and brown skin he looked the very model of the adventurous Englishman. I thought that there might be a touch of the Jew in his ancestry — something high-coloured and foreign at any rate, for he was more expansive and quickly fired than the rest of us.

But on the whole he was as English as a Hampshire water-meadow. The compartment was blue with pipe-smoke. My companions were talking about rock-gardens. The man in the corner opposite me was apparently an authority on the subject, and he had much to say about different firms of nursery gardeners.

Author:John Buchan

He was blond, plump, and baldish, and had a pleasant voice whose tones woke a recollection which I could not fix. I thought that I had probably seen him at some company meeting.

My mind went back to Lombard. I remembered how we had sat on a rock one evening looking over the trough of Equatoria, and, as the sun crimsoned the distant olive-green forests, he had told me his ambitions. He visits Newhover again, and learns that he plans to head to Norway. At last, visiting Medina, he is taken to the library where he was first hypnotised, and introduced to Medina's mother, a striking, frightening, blind old woman.

He is again hypnotised, and made to do demeaning tasks, until they are sure he is under their control. He hears of Medina's plans to meet with one Kharama, and learns the gang plans to break up by midsummer , before he faints from exhaustion. Hannay arranges with his friend Archie Roylance to be flown home from Norway when the time comes, and is taken to meet Kharama, an impressive but sinister Indian who discusses hypnotism with Medina.

Later, he gets a note from Sandy, arranging a meeting. Telling Medina he is ill and needs a week's rest, he fixes a rendezvous with Roylance and heads home to Fosse, where he sets up a pretence of being in his sickbed. He meets Sandy and they share what they have found, and then slips onto the boat taking Dr Newhover to Norway. Arriving there, he sees Newhover head off by boat, and follows at a discreet distance.

Knowing Newhover's heading, he leaves his boat at the village before, bidding the pilot to await his return, and heads overland to Merdal. There, not wishing to be seen at the inn by Newhover, he approaches some locals to find lodging, and is amazed to meet Herr Gaudian, a German engineer he met during the events of Greenmantle. Gaudian reveals he knows Newhover, in truth a former German agent, and agrees to help Hannay.

The man falls into a stream, and Hannay rescues him, and recognises Lord Mercot, one of the hostages. They feed and bathe him, and hear his broken story of hypnotised abduction, but then must persuade him to return to his captors, until such time as the other hostages can be found, promising Gaudian will be keeping an eye. The brave boy heads back to his prison, and Hannay heads for his rendezvous with Archie Roylance.

Despite the weather, he makes it safe back to England, and returns to London and Medina. Richard Hannay spends some days with Medina, including another meeting with Kharama, to little avail, but on hearing the hymn mentioned by Greenslade at the start of his quest he is inspired to investigate London for a place suggesting the "Fields of Eden", calling in his old boss Bullivant, an expert on old London, to help. They find mention of a pleasure-resort of that name, and Hannay travels to where it stood and finds an antique shop, clearly a front. He arranges a housebreaking expert to let him in by night, and explores, finding the shop backs on to a larger and newer house; he sees a man there he recognises from his time under hypnosis at Medina's, and following the sound of music finds himself in a room overlooking the dance club where he saw Odell, Medina's butler.

To his shock, he sees his old friend Turpin there, dancing with his own wife Mary. He meets Mary later at her aunts' house, and learns she has been working for Sandy, who also knows about the Fields of Eden; they have found the missing girl, Adela Victor, disguised as one of the dancers at the club, but are no closer to finding the little boy. Hannay is invited to stay at Medina's house, but before he moves there he hears from Mary that Archie Roylance has been to the club, been upset by Odell's treatment of the girl and revealed Turpin's identity.

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Hannay visits Roylance in hospital, where he was recovering from having been beaten by Odell, but Turpin has disappeared — Hannay later learns he was taken, part-hypnotised by Kharama, to a strange house; there Turpin shakes off his paralysis, sees his girl in the house, and plays quiet for a time.

Hannay moves in with Medina, whose cool facade has weakened somewhat, and hears that Sandy has been spotted in London. For a week he stays at the house, under close scrutiny, but learns little until he gets a telegram from Gaudian, saying Mercot and his captors have fought and Gaudian has had to lock them all up, bringing Mercot home himself. Hannay discovers that Medina's plans to liquidate his gang have been brought forward, and manages to warn Mary. We learn in an aside of a dowdy but somehow elegant district visitor coming to the house of Madame Breda in Palmyra Square, befriending the maid but being warned off by her mistress.

Hannay continues to cling to Medina, until at last Greenslade visits again, and instructs Hannay to come to the dance club the following night, leaving a door to Medina's unlocked, while Mercot travels home by train and Turpin, having awakened Adela from her trance, is held in the mysterious house while she sets off once more for the club, and around Britain, Europe and the world the police close in on a variety of people and places.

Sandy briefly drops in on Hannay and Medina at a dinner of the Thursday Club, from where Hannay goes to the dance club and sees the staff rounded up and Turpin soundly beat Odell; Mary visits Madame Breda once more, leaving with a bundle in her arms and police swarming the house behind her; Hannay returns to Medina's house, and reveals he knows all, pleading with Medina to hand over the boy. Despite the upset to his plans, Medina is cool, but shaken somewhat when Kharama enters and reveals himself as none other than Sandy Arbuthnot, who has looked after Turpin and Adela at Medina's request, and now threatens to expose him if he refuses to heal the child.

Lavater, an old friend of Sandy long lost to Medina, is discovered to be Medina's private secretary, and to hold many secrets, but still Medina holds out. Mary enters with the strange little girl from Madame Breda's house; she has become a powerful figure of wrath, and threatens to disfigure vain Medina if he does not cure the child; he gives in, restores the boy's mind, and they return him to his joyous father.

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After a restful spell in the country, Sandy warns Hannay that Medina, never accused of any crimes, may be out for revenge, and advises him to head to Scotland for a spell. Soon he, Mary, their son and Doctor Greenslade are in the Scottish Highlands for the deerstalking season. Soon Archie arrives with news that Medina is at a neighbouring lodge, and Hannay prepares for a showdown. After a long and complex stalk through the crags , Hannay, with no bullets, climbs a dangerous chimney, only to have his hand shot by Medina; he struggles to the top, and Medina follows, but takes a bad turn and gets stuck.

He loses his gun, and Hannay lowers a rope to him, but the exhausted Medina is too much for one-handed Hannay to raise up, and lowering him wears through the rope until it breaks, dropping Medina to his death. Hannay falls back exhausted, but is found alive and safe next day.

The Island of Sheep by John Buchan (1936)