Mountain Meadow

By John Buchan
THE chief character in this posthumous romance of the Arctic and sub-Arctic North is Sir Edward Leithen — he of The Gap in the Curtain. Mr. Howard Swiggett, who supplies a long introduction to extricate the chronological relations of all Buchan’s romances and also the relations of their recurring characters to various of the author’s friends lately commemorated in Pilgrim’s Way, calls Mountain Meadow ‘the last canto of the dramatic poem in many parts.’ In it Sir Edward has faced the disclosure that he has, at the best, but a year or so to live, and the story is of what he does with that year, what he makes it yield him by way of a consummated and rounded life. As this, it is one more authentic adventure of the Greenmantle-Hunti ngto wer cycle. But it is also something apart and, conceivably, more enduring something that is not so much dramatic as lyric. What these pages say is that Tweedsmuir, incidentally to his last and greatest assignment, fell in love with a region of the earth. He fell in love with the Canadian Far North — the barrens of the Arctic shore, the mountains more cruel than the fangs of wolves, the courses of mysterious and almost mythical rivers, the flicker of the aurora at the onset of winter, the modes of winter travel and subsistence, the primitive expedients and adaptations and skills of eternally vigilant men who keep their blood coursing at sixty below, knowing every minute that their first mistake will be their last. Mountain Meadow is a great, sustained, tapestried poem of place, and its natural audience is made up of all those who warm to the inhuman beauty of what to common natures are the forbiddingly desolate places — the sea, the treeless crags, the everlasting snows. W. F.