After finishing Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley last month, I was on the look-out for some lighter but still engaging reading. After listening to this CiRCE podcast (featuring our own Wednesday with Words host Cindy Rollins!), I decided to give John Buchan’s series The Adventures of Richard Hannay a go. I have been really enjoying these exciting spy adventures set in World War I.
This quote comes from the second book in the series, Greenmantle, towards the end when our group of heroes is trapped and presume there is no way of escape. These are the thoughts of Mr Hannay as he considers his impending doom:
“I fancy it isn’t the men who get the most out of the world and are always buoyant and cheerful that most fear to die. Rather it is the weak-engined souls who go about with dull eyes, that cling most fiercely to life. They have not the joy of being alive which is a kind of earnest of immortality…I know that my thoughts were chiefly about the jolly things that I had seen and done; not regret, but gratitude. The panorama of blue moons on the veld unrolled itself before me, and hunter’s nights in the busy, the taste of food and sleep, the bitter stimulus of dawn, the joy of wild adventure, the voices of old staunch friends. Hitherto the war had seemed to make a break with all that had gone before, but now the war was only part of the picture. I thought of my battalion, and of the good fellows there, many of whom had fallen on the Loos parapets. I had never looked to come out of that myself. But I had been spared, and given the chance of greater business, and I had succeeded. That was the tremendous fact, and my mood was humble gratitude to God and exultant pride. Death was a small price to pay for it. As Blenkiron would have said, I had got good value in the deal.”
~Richard Hannay in Greenmantle by John Buchan
I only hope that when I come to the end of my life I can look back with joy and gratitude on the experiences I have had the privilege to have and the way God has worked in my life rather than with regrets of things left undone and opportunities missed.
(Oh, and what happens to our heroes? That I cannot tell you. You’ll just have to go check it out for yourself. J)