This edited article about The Thirty-Nine Steps originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 737 published on 28 February 1976.
Richard Hannay awoke, cold and stiff on a bare Scottish hillside shortly after dawn. Below his hiding place, police were beating the heather for him.
Above, was a circling aircraft, manned by unknown enemies out to kill him.
In Hannay’s pocket was a black book containing details of a German plot to destroy the British Fleet. The book had been given to him by an American newspaperman who was later found murdered in Hannay’s London flat.
Alone and friendless, Hannay was being hunted by the police for the murder he hadn’t committed. The members of a secret spy ring, known as the Black Stone, were also after him because of his knowledge of their plan to immobilize the Fleet.
Hannay had decided to escape to Scotland and hide out on the lonely moors until he could reveal his knowledge to the British Government.
But the chase had hotted up. Hannay sought cover in a lonely farmhouse, only to find himself in the Black Stone stronghold! By a stroke of luck he was able to use his enemies’ store of high explosives to blast his way to freedom.
Evading his searchers, Hannay finally reached Sir Walter Bullivant, high up in the British Government, with his vital news.
Now the chase was reversed. The only clue to the spy ring’s escape route was an entry in the book . . . ‘Thirty-nine steps – I counted them – High Tide, 10.17 p.m. . . .’
Inquiries revealed that the description applied to a certain staircase on the Kentish coast.
Hannay and the police arrived as the ringleaders of Black Stone prepared to leave the country. And, after a struggle, the spies were captured.
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