Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
After the Tropical Belt Coal Company goes into liquidation, Axel Heyst continues to live at the No. 1 coaling station on Samburan. Strange in his manners and desires, he is a legend among the islanders; they call him a Utopist. The coal company came into existence after Heyst met an Englishman named Morrison in a Portuguese seaport, where the man was about to lose his trading ship, Capricorn, because of an unpaid debt. Heyst was sympathetic and offered him a loan. Because Heyst was anxious to keep his generosity a secret and Morrison eager to conceal his shaky finances, the two men pledged secrecy, with the understanding that Heyst would thereafter have a share of the Capricorn’s shipping business.
Schomberg, the owner of a hotel in Sourabaya, heard of the partnership and discovered that Heyst maintained some kind of hold over Morrison. Morrison established the coal company and then died in England. After that, Schomberg, who hated Heyst, constructed a mysterious kind of villainy around him and was gleeful when the coal company liquidated.
After Heyst retires from the human society of the islands, Davidson, a ship’s captain, comes upon him living alone on Samburan. Worrying over Heyst’s welfare, Davidson adopts the habit of sailing ten miles out of his way around the north side of Samburan in case Heyst is in need of aid. At one point, Davidson brings Heyst to Sourabaya, where he stays at Schomberg’s hotel. Later,...
(The entire section is 1225 words.)
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Axel Heyst, a Swedish baron, leaves home at his philosopher father’s death and travels among the islands of Indonesia for several years. On one of the islands he encounters Morrison, who is also doing business in the area. Morrison is in desperate straits, having been fined and deprived of his boat. When Heyst gives him the money to pay the fine, Morrison views him as an answer to prayer. He and Heyst go into business together and trade among the different native settlements. Morrison intends to start a coal company in Indonesia and returns to England to arrange the business matters. He dies there, but the company commences and Heyst is made the manager. Eventually the business goes bankrupt, but Heyst refuses to leave the region.
Schomberg, a German hotel owner, despises Heyst; the other Europeans in the area are simply mystified by him. Davidson, the captain of one of the many trading boats, is impressed with Heyst and regularly goes by the island of Samburan, where Heyst has made his home. He brings Heyst to Sourabaya (where Schomberg has his hotel) to conduct some business matters. Everyone is surprised that Heyst intends to remain on Samburan when there is no more coal being mined there.
When Davidson returns to pick up Heyst, he goes to Schomberg’s hotel to meet him. No one is present but Mrs. Schomberg, who seems like a wooden statue to Davidson. She informs him that Heyst has left with one of the English girls from Zangiacomo’s all-female orchestra. Davidson is shocked that Heyst, who seems to be a gentleman, should do such a thing, but he reasons that perhaps it is more of a rescue than an elopement. Still, the fact that a gentleman is on a deserted island with a young girl has serious implications. Schomberg and Zangiacomo had fallen into a furious argument but eventually they joined forces to search for Heyst and the girl.
Sometime later, Davidson passes by Samburan and Heyst flags him down. Davidson learns that Heyst is adequately supplied and wants Davidson to return Mrs. Schomberg’s shawl to her in case Mr. Schomberg should notice that it is missing. Davidson returns the shawl and is impressed with how coolly Mrs. Schomberg handles the situation. He believes that Mr. Schomberg is running an illegal gambling operation and is puzzled as to why he would risk it.
When Heyst goes to Schomberg’s hotel with...
(The entire section is 1559 words.)