Lost Horizon. James Hilton. This web edition published by [email protected] Last updated Wednesday, December 17, at To the best of our. James Hilton, Portrait. Biographical note. English novelist, and author of several best-sellers including Lost Horizon (which popularised the mythical. Title: Lost Horizon Author: James Hilton * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: lycgodoomcari.ga Language: English Date first posted: Oct
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Read "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton available from Rakuten Kobo. Lost Horizon is a novel by English writer James Hilton. It is best remembered as the. JAMES HILTON (), BIBLIOGRAPHY · BIOGRAPHY. FICTION - BOOKS . And Now Good-bye, , HTML1 · HTML2 · EPUB. Contango (Ill Wind), James Hilton (–) was a bestselling English novelist and Academy Award–winning screenwriter. After attending Cambridge University, Hilton worked.
Rutherford was still interested. The Indian Survey people had been using it for high-altitude flights in Kashmir. That was the queer part about it. Of course, if the fellow was a tribesman he might have made for the hills, thinking to hold the passengers for ransom. I suppose they all got killed, somehow. There are heaps of places on the frontier where you might crash and not be heard of afterwards.
Sanders looked surprised. Rutherford nodded. Then he said: How was that? Sanders looked suddenly rather uncomfortable, and even, I imagined, was on the point of blushing. Or perhaps it doesn't matter now—it must be stale news in every mess, let alone in the bazaars. It was hushed up, you see—I mean, about the way the thing happened. Wouldn't have sounded well. The government people merely gave out that one of their machines was missing, and mentioned the names.
Sort of thing that didn't attract an awful lot of attention among outsiders. At this point Wyland rejoined us, and Sanders turned to him half-apologetically. I'm afraid I spilled the Baskul yarn—I hope you don't think it matters? Wyland was severely silent for a moment. It was plain that he was reconciling the claims of compatriot courtesy and official rectitude.
I always thought you air fellows were put on your honor not to tell tales out of school. I was at Peshawar at the time, and I can assure you of that. Did you know Conway well—since school days, I mean? Rutherford smiled. He had a most exciting university career—until war broke out. Rowing Blue and a leading light at the Union and prizeman for this, that, and the other—also I reckon him the best amateur pianist I ever heard.
Amazingly many-sided fellow, the kind, one feels, that Jowett would have tipped for a future premier. Yet, in point of fact, one never heard much about him after those Oxford days. Of course the war cut into his career. He was very young and I gather he went through most of it. Didn't do at all badly, got a D. Then I believe he went back to Oxford for a spell as a sort of don. I know he went east in 'twenty-one. His Oriental languages got him the job without any of the usual preliminaries.
He had several posts. Rutherford smiled more broadly. History will never disclose the amount of sheer brilliance wasted in the routine decoding F. It was evident that he did not care for the chaff, and he made no protest when, after a little more badinage of a similar kind, Rutherford rose to go.
In any case it was getting late, and I said I would go, too. Wyland's attitude as we made our farewells was still one of official propriety suffering in silence, but Sanders was very cordial and he said he hoped to meet us again sometime.
I was catching a transcontinental train at a very dismal hour of the early morning, and, as we waited for a taxi, Rutherford asked me if I would care to spend the interval at his hotel. He had a sitting room, he said, and we could talk. I said it would suit me excellently, and he answered: We can talk about Conway, if you like, unless you're completely bored with his affairs.
I said that I wasn't at all, though I had scarcely known him. But he was extraordinarily kind to me on one occasion. I was a new boy and there was no earthly reason why he should have done what he did.
It was only a trivial thing, but I've always remembered it. Rutherford assented. And then there was a somewhat odd silence, during which it was evident that we were both thinking of someone who had mattered to us far more than might have been judged from such casual contacts. I have often found since then that others who met Conway, even quite formally and for a moment, remembered him afterwards with great vividness.
He was certainly remarkable as a youth, and to me, who had known him at the hero-worshipping age, his memory is still quite romantically distinct. He was tall and extremely good-looking, and not only excelled at games but walked off with every conceivable kind of school prize.
A rather sentimental headmaster once referred to his exploits as "glorious," and from that arose his nickname. Perhaps only he could have survived it. He gave a Speech Day oration in Greek, I recollect, and was outstandingly first-rate in school theatricals. There was something rather Elizabethan about him—his casual versatility, his good looks, that effervescent combination of mental with physical activities. Something a bit Philip-Sidney-ish.
Our civilization doesn't often breed people like that nowadays. I made a remark of this kind to Rutherford, and he replied: I suppose some people must have called Conway that, people like Wyland, for instance. I don't much care for Wyland. I can't stand his type—all that primness and mountainous self-importance. And the complete head-prefectorial mind, did you notice it? Little phrases about 'putting people on their honor' and 'telling tales out of school'—as though the bally Empire were the fifth form at St.
But, then, I always fall foul of these sahib diplomats.
We drove a few blocks in silence, and then he continued: It was a peculiar experience for me, hearing Sanders tell that story about the affair at Baskul. You see, I'd heard it before, and hadn't properly believed it. It was part of a much more fantastic story, which I saw no reason to believe at all, or well, only one very slight reason, anyway. I daresay you can guess that I'm not a particularly gullible person. I've spent a good deal of my life traveling about, and I know there are queer things in the world—if you see them yourself, that is, but not so often if you hear of them secondhand.
And yet He seemed suddenly to realize that what he was saying could not mean very much to me, and broke off with a laugh. It would be like trying to sell an epic poem to Tit-Bits. I'd rather try my luck with you. I had not mentioned my authorship of that rather technical work after all, a neurologist's is not everybody's "shop" , and I was agreeably surprised that Rutherford had even heard of it. I said as much, and he answered: We had reached the hotel and he had to get his key at the bureau.
As we went up to the fifth floor he said: The fact is, Conway isn't dead. At least he wasn't a few months ago. This seemed beyond comment in the narrow space and time of an elevator ascent. In the corridor a few seconds later I responded: How do you know?
And he answered, unlocking his door: I'm always wandering about. I hadn't seen Conway for years. We never corresponded, and I can't say he was often in my thoughts, though his was one of the few faces that have always come to me quite effortlessly if I tried to picture it. I had been visiting a friend in Hankow and was returning by the Pekin express. On the train I chanced to get into conversation with a very charming Mother Superior of some French sisters of charity.
She was traveling to Chung-Kiang, where her convent was, and, because I knew a little French, she seemed to enjoy chattering to me about her work and affairs in general. As a matter of fact, I haven't much sympathy with ordinary missionary enterprise, but I'm prepared to admit, as many people are nowadays, that the Romans stand in a class by themselves, since at least they work hard and don't pose as commissioned officers in a world full of other ranks.
Still, that's by the by. The point is that this lady, talking to me about the mission hospital at Chung-Kiang, mentioned a fever case that had been brought in some weeks back, a man who they thought must be a European, though he could give no account of himself and had no papers. His clothes were native, and of the poorest kind, and when taken in by the nuns he had been very ill indeed.
He spoke fluent Chinese, as well as pretty good French, and my train companion assured me that before he realized the nationality of the nuns, he had also addressed them in English with a refined accent. I said I couldn't imagine such a phenomenon, and chaffed her gently about being able to detect a refined accent in a language she didn't know.
We joked about these and other matters, and it ended by her inviting me to visit the mission if ever I happened to be thereabouts. This, of course, seemed then as unlikely as that I should climb Everest, and when the train reached Chung-Kiang I shook hands with genuine regret that our chance contact had come to an end. As it happened, though, I was back in Chung-Kiang within a few hours. The train broke down a mile or two further on, and with much difficulty pushed us back to the station, where we learned that a relief engine could not possibly arrive for twelve hours.
That's the sort of thing that often happens on Chinese railways. So there was half a day to be lived through in Chung-Kiang—which made me decide to take the good lady at her word and call at the mission. I suppose one of the hardest things for a non-Catholic to realize is how easily a Catholic can combine official rigidity with non-official broad-mindedness. Is that too complicated? Anyhow, never mind, those mission people made quite delightful company.
Before I'd been there an hour I found that a meal had been prepared, and a young Chinese Christian doctor sat down with me to it and kept up a conversation in a jolly mixture of French and English. Afterwards, he and the Mother Superior took me to see the hospital, of which they were very proud. I had told them I was a writer, and they were simpleminded enough to be aflutter at the thought that I might put them all into a book.
We walked past the beds while the doctor explained the cases. The place was spotlessly clean and looked to be very competently run. I had forgotten all about the mysterious patient with the refined English accent till the Mother Superior reminded me that we were just coming to him. All I could see was the back of the man's head; he was apparently asleep.
It was suggested that I should address him in English, so I said 'Good afternoon,' which was the first and not very original thing I could think of. The man looked up suddenly and said 'Good afternoon' in answer.
It was true; his accent was educated. But I hadn't time to be surprised at that, for I had already recognized him, despite his beard and altogether changed appearance and the fact that we hadn't met for so long.
He was Conway. I was certain he was, and yet, if I'd paused to think about it, I might well have come to the conclusion that he couldn't possibly be. Fortunately I acted on the impulse of the moment. I called out his name and my own, and though he looked at me without any definite sign of recognition, I was positive I hadn't made any mistake. There was an odd little twitching of the facial muscles that I had noticed in him before, and he had the same eyes that at Balliol we used to say were so much more of a Cambridge blue than an Oxford.
But besides all that, he was a man one simply didn't make mistakes about—to see him once was to know him always. Of course the doctor and the Mother Superior were greatly excited. I told them that I knew the man, that he was English, and a friend of mine, and that if he didn't recognize me, it could only be because he had completely lost his memory.
They agreed, in a rather amazed way, and we had a long consultation about the case. They weren't able to make any suggestions as to how Conway could possibly have arrived at Chung-Kiang in his condition.
I didn't succeed, but he regained his physical health, and we talked a good deal. When I told him quite frankly who I was and who he was, he was docile enough not to argue about it. He was quite cheerful, even, in a vague sort of way, and seemed glad enough to have my company. To my suggestion that I should take him home, he simply said that he didn't mind.
It was a little unnerving, that apparent lack of any personal desire. As soon as I could I arranged for our departure. I made a confidant of an acquaintance in the consular office at Hankow, and thus the necessary passport and so on were made out without the fuss there might otherwise have been.
Indeed, it seemed to me that for Conway's sake the whole business had better be kept free from publicity and newspaper headlines, and I'm glad to say I succeeded in that. It could have been jam, of course, for the press. We sailed down the Yangtze to Nanking, and then took a train for Shanghai.
There was a Jap liner leaving for 'Frisco that same night, so we made a great rush and got on board. Rutherford did not deny it. He was just brilliant—there's no other word.
After the war people said he was different. I, myself, think he was. But I can't help feeling that with all his gifts he ought to have been doing bigger work. All that Britannic Majesty stuff isn't my idea of a great man's career. You and I have both known him, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it's an experience we shan't ever forget. And even when he and I met in the middle of China, with his mind a blank and his past a mystery, there was still that queer core of attractiveness in him.
Rutherford paused reminiscently and then continued: I told him as much as I knew about himself, and he listened with an attention that might almost have seemed a little absurd. He remembered everything quite clearly since his arrival at Chung-Kiang, and another point that may interest you is that he hadn't forgotten languages.
He told me, for instance, that he knew he must have had something to do with India, because he could speak Hindostani. He was at our dining table and sometimes talked with Conway in German.
That will show you how outwardly normal Conway was. Apart from his loss of memory, which didn't show in ordinary intercourse, there couldn't have seemed much wrong with him. He played well, of course, some Brahms and Scarlatti, and a lot of Chopin. Once or twice I glanced at Conway and judged that he was enjoying it all, which appeared very natural, in view of his own musical past.
At the end of the program the show lengthened out into an informal series of encores which Sieveking bestowed, very amiably, I thought, upon a few enthusiasts grouped round the piano. Again he played mostly Chopin; he rather specializes in it, you know. At last he left the piano and moved towards the door, still followed by admirers, but evidently feeling that he had done enough for them. In the meantime a rather odd thing was beginning to happen. Conway had sat down at the keyboard and was playing some rapid, lively piece that I didn't recognize, but which drew Sieveking back in great excitement to ask what it was.
Conway, after a long and rather strange silence, could only reply that he didn't know. Sieveking exclaimed that it was incredible, and grew more excited still. Conway then made what appeared to be a tremendous physical and mental effort to remember, and said at last that the thing was a Chopin study.
I didn't think myself it could be, and I wasn't surprised when Sieveking denied it absolutely. Conway, however, grew suddenly quite indignant about the matter—which startled me, because up to then he had shown so little emotion about anything. He might well have done so, because it's utterly his style, but he just didn't. I challenge you to show me the score in any of the editions.
I only know it myself from meeting a man who used to be one of Chopin's pupils Here's another unpublished thing I learned from him. Rutherford studied me with his eyes as he went on: To me, of course, it was a sudden and quite mystifying glimpse into his past, the first clue of any kind that had escaped. Sieveking was naturally engrossed in the musical problem, which was perplexing enough, as you'll realize when I remind you that Chopin died in Of course, it was easy to say that Conway's explanation was chronologically impossible, or almost so; but there was still the music itself to be explained.
If it wasn't what Conway said it was, then what WAS it? Sieveking assured me that if those two pieces were published, they would be in every virtuoso's repertoire within six months.
Even if this is an exaggeration, it shows Sieveking's opinion of them. After much argument at the time, we weren't able to settle anything, for Conway stuck to his story, and as he was beginning to look fatigued, I was anxious to get him away from the crowd and off to bed.
The last episode was about making some phonograph records. Sieveking said he would fix up all arrangements as soon as he reached America, and Conway gave his promise to play before the microphone. I often feel it was a great pity, from every point of view, that he wasn't able to keep his word. Rutherford glanced at his watch and impressed on me that I should have plenty of time to catch my train, since his story was practically finished.
We had both gone to bed and I was lying awake, when he came into my cabin and told me. His face had stiffened into what I can only describe as an expression of overwhelming sadness—a sort of universal sadness, if you know what I mean—something remote or impersonal, a Wehmut or Weltschmerz, or whatever the Germans call it.
He said he could call to mind everything, that it had begun to come back to him during Sieveking's playing, though only in patches at first. He sat for a long while on the edge of my bed, and I let him take his own time and make his own method of telling me.
I said that I was glad his memory had returned, but sorry if he already wished that it hadn't. He looked up then and paid me what I shall always regard as a marvelously high compliment. It was a calm night, starry and very warm, and the sea had a pale, sticky look, like condensed milk. Except for the vibration of the engines, we might have been pacing an esplanade. I let Conway go on in his own way, without questions at first.
Somewhere about dawn he began to talk consecutively, and it was breakfast-time and hot sunshine when he had finished. When I say 'finished' I don't mean that there was nothing more to tell me after that first confession.
He filled in a good many important gaps during the next twenty-four hours. He was very unhappy, and couldn't have slept, so we talked almost constantly.
About the middle of the following night the ship was due to reach Honolulu. We had drinks in my cabin the evening before; he left me about ten o'clock, and I never saw him again. Rutherford laughed. He just gave me the slip. It was easy enough to get ashore, but he must have found it hard to avoid being traced when I set people searching for him, as of course I did. Afterwards I learned that he'd managed to join the crew of a banana boat going south to Fiji.
He wrote to me, three months later, from Bangkok, enclosing a draft to pay the expenses I'd been put to on his account. He thanked me and said he was very fit. He also said he was about to set out on a long journey—to the northwest. That was all. A good many places lie to the northwest of Bangkok. Even Berlin does, for that matter. Rutherford paused and filled up my glass and his own. It had been a queer story—or else he had made it seem so; I hardly knew which. The music part of it, though puzzling, did not interest me so much as the mystery of Conway's arrival at that Chinese mission hospital; and I made this comment.
Rutherford answered that in point of fact they were both parts of the same problem. Only, to begin with, it's a longish sort of tale, and there wouldn't be time even to outline it before you'd have to be off for your train. And besides, as it happens, there's a more convenient way. I'm a little diffident about revealing the tricks of my dishonorable calling, but the truth is, Conway's story, as I pondered over it afterwards, appealed to me enormously.
I had begun by making simple notes after our various conversations on the ship, so that I shouldn't forget details; later, as certain aspects of the thing began to grip me, I had the urge to do more, to fashion the written and recollected fragments into a single narrative.
By that I don't mean that I invented or altered anything. There was quite enough material in what he told me: Also, I suppose, I felt I was beginning to understand the man himself. But mind, if you DO believe, it will be for Tertullian's famous reason—you remember? Not a bad argument, maybe. Let me know what you think, at all events. I took the manuscript away with me and read most of it on the Ostend express.
I intended returning it with a long letter when I reached England, but there were delays, and before I could post it I got a short note from Rutherford to say that he was off on his wanderings again and would have no settled address for some months. He was going to Kashmir, he wrote, and thence "east. During that third week of May the situation in Baskul had become much worse and, on the 20th, air force machines arrived by arrangement from Peshawar to evacuate the white residents.
These numbered about eighty, and most were safely transported across the mountains in troop carriers. A few miscellaneous aircraft were also employed, among them being a cabin machine lent by the maharajah of Chandrapur. In this, about 10 a. Barnard, an American; Hugh Conway, H. Consul; and Captain Charles Mallinson, H. Vice Consul. Conway was thirty-seven. He had been at Baskul for two years, in a job which now, in the light of events, could be regarded as a persistent backing of the wrong horse.
A stage of his life was finished; in a few weeks' time, or perhaps after a few months' leave in England, he would be sent somewhere else. Tokyo or Teheran, Manila or Muscat; people in his profession never knew what was coming. He had been ten years in the Consular Service, long enough to assess his own chances as shrewdly as he was apt to do those of others. He knew that the plums were not for him; but it was genuinely consoling, and not merely sour grapes, to reflect that he had no taste for plums.
He preferred the less formal and more picturesque jobs that were on offer, and as these were often not good ones, it had doubtless seemed to others that he was playing his cards rather badly.
Actually, he felt he had played them rather well; he had had a varied and moderately enjoyable decade. He was tall, deeply bronzed, with brown short-cropped hair and slate-blue eyes. He was inclined to look severe and brooding until he laughed, and then but it happened not so very often he looked boyish. There was a slight nervous twitch near the left eye which was usually noticeable when he worked too hard or drank too much, and as he had been packing and destroying documents throughout the whole of the day and night preceding the evacuation, the twitch was very conspicuous when he climbed into the aeroplane.
He was tired out, and overwhelmingly glad that he had contrived to be sent in the maharajah's luxurious airliner instead of in one of the crowded troop carriers. He spread himself indulgently in the basket seat as the plane soared aloft.
He was the sort of man who, being used to major hardships, expected minor comforts by way of compensation. Cheerfully he might endure the rigors of the road to Samarkand, but from London to Paris he would spend his last tenner on the Golden Arrow. It was after the flight had lasted more than an hour that Mallinson said he thought the pilot wasn't keeping a straight course.
Mallinson sat immediately in front. He was a youngster in his middle twenties, pink-cheeked, intelligent without being intellectual, beset with public school limitations, but also with their excellences. Failure to pass an examination was the chief cause of his being sent to Baskul, where Conway had had six months of his company and had grown to like him. But Conway did not want to make the effort that an aeroplane conversation demands. He opened his eyes drowsily and replied that whatever the course taken, the pilot presumably knew best.
Half an hour later, when weariness and the drone of the engine had lulled him nearly to sleep, Mallinson disturbed him again. You don't suppose I've memorized the face of every flight lieutenant in the air force, do you?
The man's right off his course. And I'm not surprised, either—flying so damned high he can't see where he is. Conway was not bothering. He was used to air travel, and took things for granted.
Besides, there was nothing particular he was eager to do when he got to Peshawar, and no one particular he was eager to see; so it was a matter of complete indifference to him whether the journey took four hours or six. He was unmarried; there would be no tender greetings on arrival. He had friends, and a few of them would probably take him to the club and stand him drinks; it was a pleasant prospect, but not one to sigh for in anticipation. Nor did he sigh retrospectively, when he viewed the equally pleasant, but not wholly satisfying vista of the past decade.
Changeable, fair intervals, becoming rather unsettled; it had been his own meteorological summary during that time, as well as the world's. He thought of Baskul, Pekin, Macao, and other places—he had moved about pretty often. Remotest of all was Oxford, where he had had a couple of years of donhood after the war, lecturing on Oriental history, breathing dust in sunny libraries, cruising down the High on a push bicycle.
The vision attracted, but did not stir him; there was a sense in which he felt that he was still a part of all that he might have been. A familiar gastric lurch informed him that the plane was beginning to descend. He felt tempted to rag Mallinson about his fidgets, and would perhaps have done so had not the youth risen abruptly, bumping his head against the roof and waking Barnard, the American, who had been dozing in his seat at the other side of the narrow gangway.
Conway looked. The view was certainly not what he had expected, if, indeed, he had expected anything. Instead of the trim, geometrically laid-out cantonments and the larger oblongs of the hangars, nothing was visible but an opaque mist veiling an immense, sun-brown desolation. The plane, though descending rapidly, was still at a height unusual for ordinary flying.
Long, corrugated mountain ridges could be picked out, perhaps a mile or so closer than the cloudier smudge of the valleys. It was typical frontier scenery, though Conway had never viewed it before from such an altitude. It was also, which struck him as odd, nowhere that he could imagine near Peshawar. Then, more privately, for he did not wish to alarm the others, he added into Mallinson's ear: The man's lost his way.
The plane was swooping down at a tremendous speed, and as it did so, the air grew hotter; the scorched earth below was like an oven with the door suddenly opened. One mountaintop after another lifted itself above the horizon in craggy silhouette; now the flight was along a curving valley, the base of which was strewn with rocks and the debris of dried-up watercourses.
It looked like a floor littered with nutshells. The plane bumped and tossed in air pockets as uncomfortably as a rowboat in a swell. All four passengers had to hold onto their seats. He'll crash and then—". But the pilot did land. A small cleared space opened by the side of a gully, and with considerable skill the machine was jolted and heaved to a standstill. What happened after that, however, was more puzzling and less reassuring.
A swarm of bearded and turbaned tribesmen came forward from all directions, surrounding the machine and effectively preventing anyone from getting out of it except the pilot. The latter clambered to earth and held excited colloquy with them, during which proceeding it became clear that, so far from being Fenner, he was not an Englishman at all, and possibly not even a European. Meanwhile cans of gasoline were fetched from a dump close by, and emptied into the exceptionally capacious tanks.
Grins and disregarding silence met the shouts of the four imprisoned passengers, while the slightest attempt to alight provoked a menacing movement from a score of rifles. Conway, who knew a little Pushtu, harangued the tribesmen as well as he could in that language, but without effect; while the pilot's sole retort to any remarks addressed to him in any language was a significant flourish of his revolver.
Midday sunlight, blazing on the roof of the cabin, grilled the air inside till the occupants were almost fainting with the heat and with the exertion of their protests.
They were quite powerless; it had been a condition of the evacuation that they should carry no arms. When the tanks were at last screwed up, a gasoline can filled with tepid water was handed through one of the cabin windows. No questions were answered, though it did not appear that the men were personally hostile. After a further parley the pilot climbed back into the cockpit, a Pathan clumsily swung the propeller, and the flight was resumed.
The takeoff, in that confined space and with the extra gasoline load, was even more skillful than the landing. The plane rose high into the hazy vapors; then turned east, as if setting a course. It was mid-afternoon. A most extraordinary and bewildering business! As the cooler air refreshed them, the passengers could hardly believe that it had really happened; it was an outrage to which none could recall any parallel, or suggest any precedent, in all the turbulent records of the frontier.
It would have been incredible, indeed, had they not been victims of it themselves. It was quite natural that high indignation should follow incredulity, and anxious speculation only when indignation had worn itself out. Mallinson then developed the theory which, in the absence of any other, they found easiest to accept. They were being kidnaped for ransom. The trick was by no means new in itself, though this particular technique must be regarded as original.
It was a little more comforting to feel that they were not making entirely virgin history; after all, there had been kidnapings before, and a good many of them had ended up all right.
The tribesmen kept you in some lair in the mountains till the government paid up and you were released. You were treated quite decently, and as the money that had to be paid wasn't your own, the whole business was only unpleasant while it lasted. Afterwards, of course, the Air people sent a bombing squadron, and you were left with one good story to tell for the rest of your life.
Mallinson enunciated the proposition a shade nervously; but Barnard, the American, chose to be heavily facetious.
You Britishers make jokes about the holdups in Chicago and all that, but I don't recollect any instance of a gunman running off with one of Uncle Sam's aeroplanes. And I should like to know, by the way, what this fellow did with the real pilot. Sandbagged him, I bet. He was a large, fleshy man, with a hard-bitten face in which good-humored wrinkles were not quite offset by pessimistic pouches.
Nobody in Baskul had known much about him except that he had arrived from Persia, where it was presumed he had something to do with oil. Conway meanwhile was busying himself with a very practical task. He had collected every scrap of paper that they all had, and was composing messages in various native languages to be dropped to earth at intervals.
It was a slender chance, in such sparsely populated country, but worth taking. The fourth occupant, Miss Brinklow, sat tight-lipped and straight-backed, with few comments and no complaints. She was a small, rather leathery woman, with an air of having been compelled to attend a party at which there were goings-on that she could not wholly approve.
Conway had talked less than the two other men, for translating SOS messages into dialects was a mental exercise requiring concentration. He had, however, answered questions when asked, and had agreed, tentatively, with Mallinson's kidnaping theory.
He had also agreed, to some extent, with Barnard's strictures on the air force. With the place in commotion as it was, one man in flying kit would look very much like another. No one would think of doubting the bona fides of any man in the proper clothes who looked as if he knew his job. And this fellow MUST have known it—the signals, and so forth.
Pretty obvious, too, that he knows how to fly And somebody will, you may be sure, though I suspect he won't deserve it. It's the right spirit to have, no doubt, even when you're being taken for a ride. Americans, Conway reflected, had the knack of being able to say patronizing things without being offensive. He smiled tolerantly, but did not continue the conversation.
His tiredness was of a kind that no amount of possible peril could stave off. Towards late afternoon, when Barnard and Mallinson, who had been arguing, appealed to him on some point, it appeared that he had fallen asleep.
I happen to know that he hasn't been in bed for the last four nights. As a matter of fact, we're damned lucky in having him with us in a tight corner like this. Apart from knowing the languages, he's got a sort of way with him in dealing with people. If anyone can get us out of the mess, he'll do it.
He's pretty cool about most things. Miss Brinklow made one of her rare remarks. Conway was far less certain that he WAS a very brave man. He had closed his eyes in sheer physical fatigue, but without actually sleeping.
He could hear and feel every movement of the plane, and he heard also, with mixed feelings, Mallinson's eulogy of himself. It was then that he had his doubts, recognizing a tight sensation in his stomach which was his own bodily reaction to a disquieting mental survey. He was not, as he knew well from experience, one of those persons who love danger for its own sake.
There was an aspect of it which he sometimes enjoyed, an excitement, a purgative effect upon sluggish emotions, but he was far from fond of risking his life. Twelve years earlier he had grown to hate the perils of trench warfare in France, and had several times avoided death by declining to attempt valorous impossibilities. Even his D. And since the war, whenever there had been danger ahead, he had faced it with increasing lack of relish unless it promised extravagant dividends in thrills.
He still kept his eyes closed. He was touched, and a little dismayed, by what he had heard Mallinson say. It was his fate in life to have his equanimity always mistaken for pluck, whereas it was actually something much more dispassionate and much less virile. They were all in a damnably awkward situation, it seemed to him, and so far from being full of bravery about it, he felt chiefly an enormous distaste for whatever trouble might be in store.
There was Miss Brinklow, for instance. He foresaw that in certain circumstances he would have to act on the supposition that because she was a woman she mattered far more than the rest of them put together, and he shrank from a situation in which such disproportionate behavior might be unavoidable.
Nevertheless, when he showed signs of wakefulness, it was to Miss Brinklow that he spoke first. He realized that she was neither young nor pretty —negative virtues, but immensely helpful ones in such difficulties as those in which they might soon find themselves.
He was also rather sorry for her, because he suspected that neither Mallinson nor the American liked missionaries, especially female ones. He himself was unprejudiced, but he was afraid she would find his open mind a less familiar and therefore an even more disconcerting phenomenon.
I don't really think anything dreadful is going to happen to us. Barnard caught the word. We're just enjoying the trip. Pity we haven't a pack of cards—we could play a rubber of bridge. Conway welcomed the spirit of the remark, though he disliked bridge. But the missionary turned round briskly to retort: There's nothing against them in the Bible. They all laughed, and seemed obliged to her for providing an excuse. At any rate, Conway thought, she wasn't hysterical.
All afternoon the plane had soared through the thin mists of the upper atmosphere, far too high to give clear sight of what lay beneath.
Sometimes, at longish intervals, the veil was torn for a moment, to display the jagged outline of a peak, or the glint of some unknown stream. The direction could be determined roughly from the sun; it was still east, with occasional twists to the north; but where it had led depended on the speed of travel, which Conway could not judge with any accuracy. It seemed likely, though, that the flight must already have exhausted a good deal of the gasoline; though that again depended on uncertain factors.
Conway had no technical knowledge of aircraft, but he was sure that the pilot, whoever he might be, was altogether an expert. That halt in the rock-strewn valley had demonstrated it, and also other incidents since. And Conway could not repress a feeling that was always his in the presence of any superb and indisputable competence. He was so used to being appealed to for help that mere awareness of someone who would neither ask nor need it was slightly tranquilizing, even amidst the greater perplexities of the future.
But he did not expect his companions to share such a tenuous emotion. He recognized that they were likely to have far more personal reasons for anxiety than he had himself. Mallinson, for instance, was engaged to a girl in England; Barnard might be married; Miss Brinklow had her work, vocation, or however she might regard it. Mallinson, incidentally, was by far the least composed; as the hours passed he showed himself increasingly excitable—apt, also, to resent to Conway's face the very coolness which he had praised behind his back.
Once, above the roar of the engine, a sharp storm of argument arose. What's to prevent us from smashing that panel and having it out with him? Can't we MAKE the fellow come down? Mallinson was becoming more and more agitated.
About six feet away from us, and we're three men to one! Have we got to stare at his damned back all the time? At least we might force him to tell us what the game is.
There was a pane of glass, about six inches square and made to slide open, through which the pilot, by turning his head and stooping slightly, could communicate with his passengers. Conway tapped on this with his knuckles. The response was almost comically as he had expected. The glass panel slid sideways and the barrel of a revolver obtruded. Not a word; just that.
Conway retreated without arguing the point, and the panel slid back again. Mallinson, who had watched the incident, was only partly satisfied. Conway was sympathetic. He recognized the convention, with all its associations of red-coated soldiers and school history books, that Englishmen fear nothing, never surrender, and are never defeated. He said: For my part I'm going to enjoy life while it lasts and have a cigar.
I hope you don't think a little bit of extra danger matters to us? Conway felt that of all the women who could possibly have made such a remark, she was easily the most typical.
Anyhow, Mallinson's excitement had calmed a little, and to show friendliness he offered him a cigarette, though he did not light one himself.
For he was still immensely fatigued. There was also in his nature a trait which some people might have called laziness, though it was not quite that.
No one was capable of harder work, when it had to be done, and few could better shoulder responsibility; but the facts remained that he was not passionately fond of activity, and did not enjoy responsibility at all.
Both were included in his job, and he made the best of them, but he was always ready to give way to anyone else who could function as well or better. It was partly this, no doubt, that had made his success in the Service less striking than it might have been. He was not ambitious enough to shove his way past others, or to make an important parade of doing nothing when there was really nothing doing. His dispatches were sometimes laconic to the point of curtness, and his calm in emergencies, though admired, was often suspected of being too sincere.
Authority likes to feel that a man is imposing some effort on himself, and that his apparent nonchalance is only a cloak to disguise an outfit of well-bred emotions. With Conway the dark suspicion had sometimes been current that he really was as unruffled as he looked, and that whatever happened, he did not give a damn. But this, too, like the laziness, was an imperfect interpretation. What most observers failed to perceive in him was something quite bafflingly simple—a love of quietness, contemplation, and being alone.
Now, since he was so inclined and there was nothing else to do, he leaned back in the basket chair and went definitely to sleep. When he woke he noticed that the others, despite their various anxieties, had likewise succumbed.
Miss Brinklow was sitting bolt upright with her eyes closed, like some rather dingy and outmoded idol; Mallinson had lolled forward in his place with his chin in the palm of a hand. The American was even snoring. Very sensible of them all, Conway thought; there was no point in wearying themselves with shouting. But immediately he was aware of certain physical sensations in himself, slight dizziness and heart-thumping and a tendency to inhale sharply and with effort.
He remembered similar symptoms once before —in the Swiss Alps. Then he turned to the window and gazed out. The surrounding sky had cleared completely, and in the light of late afternoon there came to him a vision which, for the instant, snatched the remaining breath out of his lungs. Far away, at the very limit of distance, lay range upon range of snow peaks, festooned with glaciers, and floating, in appearance, upon vast levels of cloud.
They compassed the whole arc of the circle, merging towards the west in a horizon that was fierce, almost garish in coloring, like an impressionist backdrop done by some half-mad genius. And meanwhile, the plane, on that stupendous stage, was droning over an abyss in the face of a sheer white wall that seemed part of the sky itself until the sun caught it. Conway was not apt to be easily impressed, and as a rule he did not care for "views," especially the more famous ones for which thoughtful municipalities provide garden seats.
Once, on being taken to Tiger Hill, near Darjeeling, to watch the sunrise upon Everest, he had found the highest mountain in the world a definite disappointment. But this fearsome spectacle beyond the window-pane was of different caliber; it had no air of posing to be admired. There was something raw and monstrous about those uncompromising ice cliffs, and a certain sublime impertinence in approaching them thus.
He pondered, envisioning maps, calculating distances, estimating times and speeds. Then he became aware that Mallinson had wakened also. He touched the youth on the arm. It was typical of Conway that he let the others waken for themselves, and made small response to their exclamations of astonishment; yet later, when Barnard sought his opinion, gave it with something of the detached fluency of a university professor elucidating a problem. He thought it likely, he said, that they were still in India; they had been flying east for several hours, too high to see much, but probably the course had been along some river valley, one stretching roughly east and west.
That would have brought us by now to a very spectacular part of the world, and, as you see, so it has. In structure and general layout it seems in accord with all I've heard about it. Mallinson intervened peevishly: I wish to God somebody could tell us. You'll excuse me calling you that, but if we're all going to have a little adventure together, it's a pity to stand on ceremony.
Conway thought it very natural that anyone should call him by his own name, and found Barnard's apologies for so doing a trifle needless.
There are several passes if our man intends to cross them. I reckon it's time we dropped the kidnaping theory. We're far past the frontier country by now, there aren't any tribes living around here. The only explanation I can think of is that the fellow's a raving lunatic. Would anybody except a lunatic fly into this sort of country? Conway did not offer his opinion.
The will of God or the lunacy of man —it seemed to him that you could take your choice, if you wanted a good enough reason for most things. Or, alternatively and he thought of it as he contemplated the small orderliness of the cabin against the window background of such frantic natural scenery , the will of man and the lunacy of God.
It must be satisfying to be quite certain which way to look at it. Then, while he watched and pondered, a strange transformation took place. The light turned to bluish over the whole mountain, with the lower slopes darkening to violet.
Something deeper than his usual aloofness rose in him —not quite excitement, still less fear, but a sharp intensity of expectation. And I don't see that it's any less of an outrage because the fellow happens to be a stunt flyer. Even if he is, he can be just as much a lunatic.
I once heard of a pilot going mad in midair. This fellow must have been mad from the beginning. That's my theory, Conway. Conway was silent. He found it irksome to be continually shouting above the roar of the machine, and after all, there was little point in arguing possibilities. But when Mallinson pressed for an opinion, he said: Don't forget the landing for gasoline, and also that this was the only machine that could climb to such a height.
What are we going to do when he comes to earth? If he doesn't crash and kill us all, that is. What are we going to do? Rush forward and congratulate him on his marvelous flight, I suppose.
Again Conway was loth to prolong the argument, especially since the American, with his levelheaded banter, seemed quite capable of handling it himself. Already Conway found himself reflecting that the party might have been far less fortunately constituted. Only Mallinson was inclined to be cantankerous, and that might partly be due to the altitude.
Rarefied air had different effects on people; Conway, for instance, derived from it a combination of mental clarity and physical apathy that was not unpleasant.
Indeed, he breathed the clear cold air in little spasms of content. The whole situation, no doubt, was appalling, but he had no power at the moment to resent anything that proceeded so purposefully and with such captivating interest. And there came over him, too, as he stared at that superb mountain, a glow of satisfaction that there were such places still left on earth, distant, inaccessible, as yet unhumanized.
The icy rampart of the Karakorams was now more striking than ever against the northern sky, which had become mouse-colored and sinister; the peaks had a chill gleam; utterly majestic and remote, their very namelessness had dignity. Those few thousand feet by which they fell short of the known giants might save them eternally from the climbing expedition; they offered a less tempting lure to the record-breaker.
Conway was the antithesis of such a type; he was inclined to see vulgarity in the Western ideal of superlatives, and "the utmost for the highest" seemed to him a less reasonable and perhaps more commonplace proposition than "the much for the high. While he was still contemplating the scene, twilight fell, steeping the depths in a rich, velvet gloom that spread upwards like a dye. Then the whole range, much nearer now, paled into fresh splendor; a full moon rose, touching each peak in succession like some celestial lamplighter, until the long horizon glittered against a blue-black sky.
The air grew cold and a wind sprang up, tossing the machine uncomfortably. These new distresses lowered the spirits of the passengers; it had not been reckoned that the flight could go on after dusk, and now the last hope lay in the exhaustion of gasoline.
That, however, was bound to come soon. Mallinson began to argue about it, and Conway, with some reluctance, for he really did not know, gave as his estimate that the utmost distance might be anything up to a thousand miles, of which they must already have covered most. If these are the Karakorams, Tibet lies beyond. One of the crests, by the way, must be K2, which is generally counted the second highest mountain in the world.
The Duke of Abruzzi gave it up as an absolutely impossible peak. What can be the point of it all? I don't see how you can make jokes about it. Miss Brinklow turned round as she might have done during the interval of a play. I'm sure the poor man can't be quite right in his head. The pilot, I mean, of course. There would be no excuse for him, anyhow, if he were NOT mad. My very first! Nothing would ever induce me to do it before, though a friend of mine tried her very best to persuade me to fly from London to Paris.
She went on: He said the Tibetans were very odd people. They believe we are descended from monkeys. They've had the belief for hundreds of years, it's only one of their superstitions.
Of course I'm against all of it myself, and I think Darwin was far worse than any Tibetan. I take my stand on the Bible. But Miss Brinklow did not appear to understand the term. Conway continued to feel that this was a rather comic remark long after it had occurred to him that the initials were those of the London Missionary Society. Still picturing the inconveniences of holding a theological argument at Euston Station, he began to think that there was something slightly fascinating about Miss Brinklow.
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We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them. Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for download. Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Remove FREE. Unavailable for download. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Lost Horizon by James Hilton. download the eBook Price: You are in the Greece store Not in Greece?
Choose Store. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet.
Lost Horizon subsequently became a huge success and in was published in paperback form, as Pocket Book 1. Because of its number-one position in what became a very long list of pocket editions, Lost Horizon is often mistakenly called the first American paperback book. Expertly formatted with a linked table of contents. Look for more classic books from Green Light.