Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 6



Three months pass and Captain Davidson reports again. In answer to Heyst's signals from Samburan wharf, he puts in to speak with him and finds him unchanged. Nothing betrays the presence of the girl. Heyst's little speech to Davidson shows that he is still strong in his belief that action, participation in any activity of humankind, is evil and will do harm:

I suppose I have done a certain amount of harm, since I allowed myself to be tempted into action. It seemed innocent enough, but all action is bound to be harmful. It is devilish. That is why this world is evil. . . . But I have done with it. I shall never lift a little finger again.

Davidson thinks at first that Heyst must be mad. Then he reflects that the girl's presence here on the island probably accounts for Heyst's unusual talk.

Heyst now tells Davidson that he has called him in order to return Mrs. Schomberg's shawl. Davidson points out that the shawl is of little value, but Heyst says that Schomberg is such an unconscionable ruffian that he may ask his wife about the shawl and find an excuse to further mistreat her. Heyst explains Mrs. Schomberg's strange action in aiding him and Lena to escape, as "defending her own position in life — a very respectable task."

Davidson then tells Heyst of the violence which followed his abduction of Lena. Before the tale is ended, Heyst's polite attention deepens into somber contemplation. Then, without comment, he hands down the shawl and Davidson shoves off contemplating Heyst's final remark: "The world is a bad dog. It will bite you if you give it a chance; but I think that here we can safely defy the fates."

Davidson remarks, on recounting the experience, that Heyst has a strange notion of "defying the fates" by taking a woman in tow.


Again Heyst's polite courtesy is emphasized in this chapter, also Davidson's innate delicacy which will not allow him to intrude on Heyst's privacy. While Davidson feels respect for Heyst and enough interest to pass close by his island every twenty-three days, he doesn't understand the Swedish baron.

From Heyst's remarks to Davidson, he feels secure on Samburan. He feels "no uneasiness" for himself or Lena. He says, "I don't care what people may say, and of course no one can hurt me." When Davidson asks if he has run out of stores, Heyst indicates that they are well supplied with all necessities: "We are fairly well off here."