John Buchan opens the door to the world one’s being seeks—a world of thickets refreshed by rain showers, of streams tinkling over boulders smoothed by uncountable winter floods, of the sharp cry of an unseen bird in a bush, of peat smoke rising lazily from a cottage chimney in the calm evening air, a world of nature utterly at peace and yet—here is the key Buchan ingredient—tinged with the menace of man the enemy.

Buchan knew the landscapes he describes so evocatively—they are usually Scottish, not English—because he took his greatest pleasure, all his life, in walking the country ways and scrambling in high places. He fished; he watched birds; he learnt the names of the wild plants, and, as he grew older, he read the history and legends of lowland and highland, feeding his vivid imagination on stories of border raids, clan feuds, and Jacobite adventure. The longer the walk, the harder the climb, the...

 

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