First Published in March 1938 – 254 pages
Republished in paperback by Norman Wright in 2001 - 220 pages
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The reprint of this adventure is in a book entitled 'Desert Adventures'. This contains reprints of not only 'Desert Night' but also the story
'The Raid' from the book of that title. 'Desert Night' runs from page 15 to page 144 and 'The Raid' from page 147 to 220.
Haydn Marlow, an expert on Arab culture and a fluent speaker of Arabic, is asked by his old friend, Sheikh Ali Mustapha Ben-Salim, to impersonate his long lost brother, Abdullah. This is because the Sheikh must leave his Egyptian Sheikhdom at Sadka-el-Ammon to travel to England for a life saving operation and he needs someone he can trust to leave in charge to avoid hostile foreign powers arranging for his overthrow. Haydn finds the request difficult to refuse as the Sheikh once saved his life and he has promised to repay the debt. With his heavily sun-tanned features and fluent Arabic, Marlow can easily pass for an Arab, so he agrees to the deception. Sheikh Ali then leaves on a pilgrimage to Mecca to give thanks for the return of his long lost brother, planning to go to London after the pilgrimage to have the life saving operation. With Sheikh Ali's blessing, the British forces in Egypt plan to complete a road that will help to bring water and medical supplies to the Sheikhdom. The road must be completed before hostile foreign agents can stir up the Arabs in revolt. Marlow poses as Sheikh Abdullah, Sheikh Ali's long lost brother, and finds himself in charge at the oasis of Sadka-el-Ammon of not only the palace but also the hareem. Whilst out riding in the desert, Marlow is returning to avoid a sand storm when he comes upon a man and a woman walking in the desert. The woman is Maureen O'Dell and the man, her fiancé, Prince Paul Velonsky, a Russian. Marlow, without revealing his true identity saves them from the storm and gives them hospitality. He soon learns that Velonsky's appearance is not co-incidental and he is offered the Sheikhdom permanently and also the woman, if he agrees to an attack on the road being built by the British. In order to buy time, Marlow agrees that if a contract is brought to him, together with the girl, Maureen, then he will sign the document. Both Velonsky and Maureen are then returned to civilisation but by a clever ruse, Marlow kidnaps Maureen and holds her at Sadka-el-Ammon where she is a fairly willing captive. Marlow then receives dreadful news. Sheikh Ali has been murdered on the road to Mecca! It is soon clear that Marlow and Maureen are falling in love, but this presents certain problems. Maureen feels she could never marry an Arab Sheikh and Marlow cannot reveal his true identity and motives without losing grip of the difficult situation at Sadka-el-Ammon. Soon local gossip is rumouring that Sheikh Abdullah (Marlow) is behind Sheikh Ali's murder and this is not helping things. After Marlow purchases a beautiful young girl for the hareem and is seen by Maureen visiting the hareem at night, Maureen decides to try to escape. She is soon lost in the desert but is found and saved by Arab raiders. Meanwhile, Velonsky has returned with the vital contract to be signed, but Sheikh Abdullah won't sign as Velonsky hasn't brought the woman, Maureen. Velonsky hasn't been able to find Maureen because Abdullah has been secretly holding her. Things change when the Arab raiders take Maureen to Velonsky and she soon realises that he is not the man she thought he was when she agreed to marry him. Producing Maureen to Abdullah, Velonsky gets Marlow to sign the contract but then Maureen burns it. Things turn nasty and Marlow then hears that guns and ammunition have arrived in the village to be used against the British. Marlow manages to have these destroyed and tries to send Maureen to safety with a British officer called Collingbrook. She insists on returning after Collingbrook reveals Abdullah's true identity to her. Velonsky decides to attack the palace with hostile Arab raiders but is killed by a loyal servant. Sheikh Ali returns, having had his vital operation. Another had taken his place on the pilgrimage and it was that person who had been murdered. The British manage to complete the road and Sheikh Ali is able to calm things down with his people to prevent any attack. The hostile Arabs are sent on their way and at last Marlow and Maureen are left to declare their love for each other.
Subtitle - A Romance
Publication Details - originally published by John Hamilton
Boards and title page of the original first edition book
2001 Limited Edition reprint by Norman Wright