Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 4



Certain persons go to Captain Davidson of the Sissie to learn more of his contact with Heyst. He tells them that Heyst looks exactly as always, with a book in his hand, very neat. Heyst has explained to Davidson that he always had a taste for solitude. Davidson, himself a fellow of fine feeling, is one whom Heyst's finished courtesy of manner most strongly disconcerts, yet his fineness is real enough so that he makes a practice of taking the passage along the north shore of Samburan, within a mile of the wharf.

Few people are interested enough to ask about the lonely white man on Samburan, but Davidson's Chinese owner-employer always asks and so does Schomberg. And Schomberg regales his patrons with stories of Heyst's villainy, declaring that the Swede has turned hermit from shame. So Heyst acquires another nickname, "The Hermit."

Now Heyst comes out of retirement. Davidson gives him a lift on the Sissie; and Davidson finds out some of Heyst's background. He is the son of a philosopher who wrote books. He has been on his own, knocking about the world since his father's death. Davidson pronounces Heyst a "genuine gentleman."

After eighteen months of absence, Heyst lands in Sourabaya to conduct some legal business with the House of Tesman, but he stays at Schomberg's hotel. Davidson confides to the person narrating the story that he intends to pick Heyst up on his return trip and will take him back to Samburan in twenty days' time.


Note that Davidson is a little in awe of Heyst. The Swedish baron's polished politeness disconcerts him. The reader will remember this feeling of Davidson's at the climax of the story.

In this chapter, we get the first glimpse of Heyst's background, of his aristocratic upbringing and education, his philosopher-author father and his devotion to books.