01 February 2008

Sandy Arbuthnot

"I must spare a moment to introduce Sandy to the reader, for he cannot be allowed to slip into this tale by a side-door. If you will consult the Peerage you will find that to Edward Cospatrick, fifteenth Baron Clanroyden, there was born in the year 1882, as his second son, Ludovick Gustavus Arbuthnot, commonly called the Honourable, etc. The said son was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, was a captain in the Tweeddale Yeomanry, and served for some years as honorary attache at various embassies. The Peerage will stop short at this point, but that is by no means the end of the story. For the rest you must consult very different authorities. Lean brown men from the ends of the earth may be seen on the London pavements now and then in creased clothes, walking with the light outland step, slinking into clubs as if they could not remember whether or not they belonged to them.

From them you may get news of Sandy. Better still, you will hear of him at little forgotten fishing ports where the Albanian mountains dip to the Adriatic. If you struck a Mecca pilgrimage the odds are you would meet a dozen of Sandy's friends in it. In shepherds' huts in the Caucasus you will find bits of his cast-off clothing, for he has a knack of shedding garments as he goes. In the caravanserais of Bokhara and Samarkand he is known, and there are shikaris in the Pamirs who still speak of him round their fires. If you were going to visit Petrograd or Rome or Cairo it would be no use asking him for introductions; if he gave them, they would lead you into strange haunts. But if Fate compelled you to go to Lhasa or Yarkand or Seistan he could map out your road for you and pass the word to potent friends.

We call ourselves insular, but the truth is that we are the only race on earth that can produce men capable of getting inside the skin of remote peoples. Perhaps the Scots are better than the English, but we're all a thousand per cent better than anybody else. Sandy was the wandering Scot carried to the pitch of genius. In old days he would have led a crusade or discovered a new road to the Indies. Today he merely roamed as the spirit moved him, till the war swept him up and dumped him down in my battalion.”

Greenmantle, John Buchan

4 comments:

I love laguna Beach Trad said...

Trad, have you considered having a party at your home for your legion of fans? Suits and ties only. And it wouldn't hurt to have some naked girls in attendance.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Thanks for this. On the strength of this excerpt I have ordered a 1919 edition Greenmantle and two other stories. Looking forward to a good read.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

I have indeed considered a gathering at my home in Laguna Beach. Once the weather turns, it's a definite possibility.

E&EL~ I think you will enjoy Buchan. The two books I recommened the most are the The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay (a collection consisting of the novels The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, Mr. Standfast, The Three Hostages) and The Leithen Stories (consisting of the novels The Power-House, John Macnab, the Dancing Floor, Sick Heart River). If you get hooked, you might want to check out the John Buchan Society: http://www.johnbuchansociety.co.uk/

Easy and Elegant Life said...

"Adventures of Richard Hanney" showed up yesterday and I am resisting its siren call with great difficulty as I have a report due in a week. A few pages into it and I find it difficult to put down, even to refill from the decanter of scotch....