The Moon Endureth
‘The Company of the Marjolaine’ (1909); ‘A Lucid Interval / God’s Providence’ (1910); ‘The Lemnian’ (1911); ‘Space’ (1911); ‘Streams of Water in the South’ (1899); ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth’ (1910); ‘The Riding of Ninemileburn’ (1912); ‘The Kings of Orion’ (1906); ‘The Green Glen’ (1912); ‘The Rime of True Thomas’ (1897, as ‘The Song of the Moor’)
This short story was an early result of a cruise from Istanbul around the Aegean in 1910. During it Buchan landed at Thermopylae, where in 480BC 300 Spartans had held back Xerxes’ army until attacked in the rear, according to Herodotus. The story describes how an islander from Lemnos blundered into the Spartan camp and felt obliged to fight with them against the Persians, although the Greeks were his ancestral enemies. Buchan described in a letter to Gilbert Murray how he had got ‘lost in the hills’ (Adam Smith, 1965, p.177) and refers to Murray’s book The Rise of the Greek Epic (1907), which describes the Ionian migrations and how an island tribe such as the Lemnians might have moved from island to island to escape the invaders.
Michael & Isobel Haslett, 2001
‘The Kings of Orion’
In a comfortable and remote Scottish inn, after a cold and luckless day’s fishing, the narrator of this short story encounters an old school friend and they both settle down to smoke their pipes by the glowing peats in the hearth.
The account is given of one Tommy Lascelles, a curiously incompetent man who, disconsolate after the loss of his wife, was offered the post of the governor of an African colony. He managed an uprising with amazing skills and at the close of the narrative rides among the natives with an authority that, ordinarily speaking, he did not possess. His achievement was due to the fact that, in his imagination, he believed himself to be the Master of Central Asia, giving weight to the legend that when the kings of Orion were driven out of their constellation, they were sent down to earth to live in a human soul, making that person greater than he would normally be.
The two settings of the moorland inn and Africa, with its hint of Prester John, combine to make this a tale in the cracking good style that is so typical of John Buchan.
Diana Durden, 2001
Available to read at https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/715/pg715-images.html