Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 1



A day elapses between the events of the last chapter in Part III and the morning with which this chapter opens. From behind a tree, opposite the Heyst bungalow, Ricardo watches, biding his time like a hunting cat. He is watching for a glimpse of the girl. He has decided that this girl can't be much. He knows her sort. Perhaps she may be intimidated or cajoled into revealing the whereabouts of Heyst's plunder. He wants to get in touch with her behind that Swede's back. He knows that, at this moment, Heyst is over at the counting house talking with Mr. Jones.

Ricardo is in such a state of excited blood-lust that he can hardly refrain from attacking Heyst out of sheer compulsion to murder, but he knows that immediate action would be immature. First he must find out the location of the treasure. His head is swimming with his "repressed desire for violence."

The girl does not show, but Wang materializes in a flower bed near the bungalow and gathers flowers — for the breakfast table, Ricardo supposes with vicious scorn. The girl's presence draws Ricardo like a magnet. Almost irresistibly his feet are compelled toward the bungalow.

He lets himself into the front room prowling like a cat in a strange place. The enormous quantity of books astonishes him. He tries the bedroom door, and it opens without a sound. A curtain confronts him, and he pauses for an instant to peek in. He sees the girl at the far end of the narrow room; she is winding her long hair around her head. With all the savagery of a wild beast, he makes his "feral spring." "Ravish or kill, it made no difference to him so long as he was able to relieve the pent up urge within him." The curtain falls silently into place behind him.


The author has given this chapter to show Ricardo's innate beastliness, blood-thirsty urges, and daring ferocity. This revelation of Ricardo makes Lena's victory more splendid by contrast.