In Greenmantle, by John Buchan, an American government official was on a secret mission in Turkey during First World War, and he discovered the Muslims are waiting for a new prophet, called Greenmantle, who should be aided by one woman called Hilda von Einem. Now his British friend is asking him whether he knew anything about Greenmantle:

“Why, no, but I have reached one conclusion. I opine that the hapless prophet has no sort of time with that lady. I opine that he will soon wish himself in Paradise. For if Almighty God ever created a female devil it’s Madame von Einem.”

What does this mean?

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    As a native English speaker from the UK, I don't recognise the phrase at all. A Google search finds no instances of "have/has no sort of time with" other than this one. (The nearest phrase I'm familiar with is "to have no time for someone" which means to find someone annoying or tiresome, to disapprove of them. But from context, that is clearly not the meaning here.) May 26, 2023 at 15:45
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    @JamesMartin: The prophet has no time for her (wouldn't "waste" even a moment of his time interacting with her) looks like exactly the intended sense. Reading the text as a current idiomatic usage would have us understand it as he didn't have any "kind of time" with her - (and he certainly didn't have a good time with her). But that doesn't really work, semantically. May 26, 2023 at 15:51
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    Presumably he means that the prophet's association with Hilda von Einem will not be at all pleasant. May 26, 2023 at 15:51
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    And don't say "I opine" either, which sounds formal and dated. In my opinion, the unfortunate prophet should not spend any time with that lady. May 26, 2023 at 16:24
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    @JamesMartin - I remember the philosopher Bertrand Russell (famously atheist) wrote that he had once asked a nun what she supposed would happen to her after she died. She replied (he wrote) 'I believe I shall have eternal bliss, but please don't talk about such unpleasant things'. May 27, 2023 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


This is not a common phrase. FF notes in a comment:

Google Books reports several dozen matches for the sequence no sort of time with. But upon examination, it turns out every single one of them is for this exact source.

It is possible that instead of "time" the author meant "truck" (from M-W):

: close association or connection
| will have no truck with crooks

Greenmantle is a prophet (presumably of God), while von Einem is described as "a female devil", so it would make sense that he'd have no truck with her.

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