Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Summons Comes For Mr Standfast


     They took Peter from the wreckage with scarcely a scar except his twisted leg.  Death had smoothed out some of the age in him, and had left his face much as I remembered it long ago in the Mashonaland hills.  In his pocket was his old battered Pilgrim’s Progress.  It lies before me as I write, as beside it, for I was his only legatee – the little case which came to him weeks later, containing the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a soldier of Britain.



        It was from the Pilgrim’s Progress that I read next morning, when in the lee of an apple orchard Mary and Blenkiron and I stood in the soft spring rain beside his grave.  And what I read was the tale of the end, not of Mr Standfast who he had singled out for his counterpart, but of Mr Valiant-for-Truth whom he had not hoped to emulate.  I set down the words as a salute and a farewell:


         “Then said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it.  My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder.’


        “So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.” 

John Buchan, Mr Standfast (Chapter 54).  London, Hodder & Stoughton (1919) 

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