Saturday, October 26, 2013


The curricle with its oddly matched pair swung out of the inn-yard as the moon rose above the poplars.  Sir Turnour was in the best Four-in-Hand Club style, head erect, shoulders squared, hands well down, elbows close to his side; but though immobile as a Buddha, his delicate fingers were testing the mouths of the cattle. Beside him Harry Belses was buried in the folds of his great-coat, and in the narrow space at his feet, his head against Sir Turnour’s apron, lay the spaniel Benjamin.

They passed through a sleeping hamlet, and debouched from the narrow parish into the broader Lynn highway.  Here Sir Turnour gathered up the ribbons and proceeded to try the quality of his horses.  In a trot their paces did not match, and the curricle swayed unpleasantly, but when he sprung them into a short gallop, they went better together.

‘John was right,’ said Sir Turnour.  ‘There’s blood in both of them, and willing blood.  No need for fanning or towelling or chopping ‘em.  But they’re not a sweet pair to drive, and I don’t know how the chestnut will last the course.  He has come down too often over the sticks, I’ll swear, and his off fore-leg may give out before we’re done with him.  The bat-eyed bay is right enough.  As they say on the road, he’ll go through to hell or Hackney.’

Note:  “The Free Fishers,” one of John Buchan’s late novels, is another peculiar, particular example of what made this polymath genius's works exceptional and unique. 

We once had a good friend from Hackney.  (Sounds like the beginning of a limerick, but it isn't.)  

He spoke in the distinctive accent of that borough.  He sang like a tortured angel.

From:  John Buchan, The Free Fishers, 1934.

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