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Mr Standfast von Buchan, John (eBook)

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Mr Standfast

According to Wikipedia, 'Mr Standfast is the third of five Richard Hannay novels by John Buchan, first published in 1919. It is one of two Hannay novels set during the First World War, the other being Greenmantle (1916); Hannay's first and best-known adventure, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), is set in the period immediately before the war started. The title refers to a character in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, to which there are many other references in the novel; Hannay uses a copy of Pilgrim's Progress to decipher coded messages from his contacts, and letters from his friend Peter Pienaar. John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (26 August 1875 - 11 February 1940) was a Scottish novelist and Unionist politician who served as Governor General of Canada. Buchan's 100 works include nearly thirty novels, seven collections of short stories and biographies of Sir Walter Scott, Caesar Augustus, and Oliver Cromwell. Buchan's most famous of his books were the spy thrillers (including) The 39 Steps (which was converted to a play as well as an Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Robert Donat as Richard Hannay, though with Buchan's story much altered.) The 'last Buchan' (as Graham Greene entitled his appreciative review) was the 1941 novel Sick Heart River (American title: Mountain Meadow), in which a dying protagonist confronts in the Canadian wilderness the questions of the meaning of life. The insightful quotation 'It's a great life, if you don't weaken' is famously attributed to Buchan, as is 'No great cause is ever lost or won, The battle must always be renewed, And the creed must always be restated.'


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 715
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781455401796
    Verlag: Seltzer Books
    Größe: 715 kBytes
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Mr Standfast

CHAPTER SEVEN I Hear of the Wild Birds

I saw an old green felt hat, and below it lean tweed-clad shoulders. Then I saw a knapsack with a stick slung through it, as the owner wriggled his way on to a shelf. Presently he turned his face upward to judge the remaining distance. It was the face of a young man, a face sallow and angular, but now a little flushed with the day's sun and the work of climbing. It was a face that I had first seen at Fosse Manor.

I felt suddenly sick and heartsore. I don't know why, but I had never really associated the intellectuals of Biggleswick with a business like this. None of them but Ivery, and he was different. They had been silly and priggish, but no more--I would have taken my oath on it. Yet here was one of them engaged in black treason against his native land. Something began to beat in my temples when I remembered that Mary and this man had been friends, that he had held her hand, and called her by her Christian name. My first impulse was to wait till he got up and then pitch him down among the boulders and let his German accomplices puzzle over his broken neck.

With difficulty I kept down that tide of fury. I had my duty to do, and to keep on terms with this man was part of it. I had to convince him that I was an accomplice, and that might not be easy. I leaned over the edge, and, as he got to his feet on the ledge above the boiler-plates, I whistled so that he turned his face to me.

'Hullo, Wake,'I said.

He started, stared for a second, and recognized me. He did not seem over-pleased to see me.

'Brand!' he cried. 'How did you get here?'

He swung himself up beside me, straightened his back and unbuckled his knapsack. 'I thought this was my own private sanctuary, and that nobody knew it but me. Have you spotted the cave? It's the best bedroom in Skye.' His tone was, as usual, rather acid.

That little hammer was beating in my head. I longed to get my hands on his throat and choke the smug treason in him. But I kept my mind fixed on one purpose--to persuade him that I shared his secret and was on his side. His off-hand self-possession seemed only the clever screen of the surprised conspirator who was hunting for a plan.

We entered the cave, and he flung his pack into a corner. 'Last time I was here,' he said, 'I covered the floor with heather. We must get some more if we would sleep soft.' In the twilight he was a dim figure, but he seemed a new man from the one I had last seen in the Moot Hall at Biggleswick. There was a wiry vigour in his body and a purpose in his face. What a fool I had been to set him down as no more than a conceited fidneur!

He went out to the shelf again and sniffed the fresh evening. There was a wonderful red sky in the west, but in the crevice the shades had fallen, and only the bright patches at either end told of the sunset.

'Wake,' I said, 'you and I have to understand each other. I'm a friend of Ivery and I know the meaning of this place. I discovered it by accident, but I want you to know that I'm heart and soul with you. You may trust me in tonight's job as if I were Ivery himself.'

He swung round and looked at me sharply. His eyes were hot again, as I remembered them at our first meeting.

'What do you mean? How much do you know?'

The hammer was going hard in my forehead, and I had to pull myself together to answer.

'I know that at the end of this crack a message was left last night, and that someone came out of the sea and picked it up. That someone is coming again when darkness falls, and there will be another message.'

He had turned his head away. 'You are talking nonsense. No submarine could land on this coas

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