Free Study Guide for Lost Horizon by James Hilton

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The manuscript begins by explaining that the situation begins during the third week in May (probably in 1930) in Baskul, Afghanistan, when events become so precarious that British Air Force machines arrive to evacuate the white residents. A miscellaneous aircraft is also employed, one owned by the Maharajah of Chandapore, to evacuate four passengers: Miss Roberta Brinklow of the Eastern Mission; Henry D. Barnard, an American; Hugh Conway, H. M. Consul; and Captain Charles Mallinson, H.
M. Vice-Consul.

At the time, Conway is thirty-seven years old and has been at Baskul for two years. He has no idea where he will be sent next which is a precarious characteristic of his profession as a foreign diplomat. He has been working this profession for ten years. He is so tired at the time of the flight from destroying and packing documents that he stretches out in the plane to sleep.

About an hour after the flight began, Mallinson notices that the pilot isnít keeping a straight course. He also notices that the pilot isnít Fenner, the man they thought would be flying them out. Conway isnít upset by this possible development, because he isnít all that eager to go to Peshawar. Then, the plane begins to descend, and when the two men look out the window of the plane, they see an opaque mist veiling an immense sun-brown desolation with long, corrugated mountain ridges and frontier scenery. There looks to be no place to land, but the pilot does so into a small space opened by the side of a gully. That is followed by a swarm of bearded, turbaned tribesmen surrounding the machine and preventing anyone from getting out of it except the pilot. The plane is re-fueled, and then the flight commences again. To the four passengers, it is totally extraordinary and bewildering.

Mallinson comes to the conclusion that they are being kidnapped for ransom which in light of the mysterious events seems the most believable of any theories. Conway begins to gather all the scraps of paper he can find to compose a message in as many of the various native languages as he can and then drop them from the plane along the way. It is a slender chance, but one worth taking. Miss Brinklow just sits tight-lipped and straight-backed, while Conway and Barnard determine how easy it would have been to hijack the plane. They all agree that if anyone can get them out of this situation it will be Conway.

Conway lies half asleep, turning over in his mind whether he is a brave as his companions have judged him. He has, since WWI, been reluctant to face danger unless it promises extravagant dividends in thrills. He just feels an enormous distaste for whatever trouble might be in store for them.

The flight continues all afternoon, steadily eastward, but Conway cannot judge where they are headed with any accuracy. Mallinson is eager to smash the panel and demand answers from the pilot, but Conway reminds him that the pilot is armed, and that none of them will know how to bring down the plane if they hurt him. There is nothing for them to do but sleep, which they all manage to find a way to do. Soon, Conway begins to feel the same sensations of shortness of breath that he had experienced once when he had flown in the Swiss Alps. He looks out the window and sees they are flying amidst range upon range of snow-peaks and glaciers.


This is the first part of the manuscript Rutherford had written. It reveals that the rumors about the plane being hijacked were true, and that there were three men and one woman on board, one of whom was Conway. The chapter prepares the reader for a mysterious destination somewhere in the mountains to the northeast. It also shows the reader how Conway becomes the character looked to for help and advice as well as bravery, should it be needed. He is the voice of calm and comfort for the other three passengers. Meanwhile, the pilot remains an unknown element of this equation in which theyíve found themselves.


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Lost Horizon by James Hilton Free BookNotes

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