Welcome to the penultimate episode of our current Tale for Our Time - John Buchan's 1913 "shocker" of a fragile civilization and those who prey upon it. Fran Lavery, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from New Mexico, writes:
Oh, my, this is absolutely a thumbs upper audio Tale For Our Time. No doubt about it. This one is keeping me right at the edge of the cliff with each episode's closing lines. This is also the first time that if I save it for the bedtime listen and fall asleep, I rewind to the start regardless of whether I wake again at two am or four am. My sleep schedule is way off but well worth it. You're doing a great job with the voices of the characters, too. I never thought you could outdo yourself after the graveyard custodian character in Three Men in a Boat but actually you have. John Buchan is a great story teller. I appreciate him more than ever before if you can believe that!
Thank you, Fran. As we rattle toward the conclusion of our tale, tonight's installment of The Power-House illustrates the importance, even for the hoity-toitiest among us, of being able to recognize one's servants:
I gave Stagg his instructions, and lay back in the closed car with a curious fluttering sense of anticipation... Now that I was ensconced in my car I felt a trifle safer, and my tense nerves relaxed. I grew drowsy and allowed myself to sink into a half doze. The stolid back of Stagg filled my gaze, as it had filled it a fortnight ago on the western road, and I admired lazily the brick-red of his neck. He had been in the Guards, and a Boer bullet at Modder River had left a long scar at the nape of his neck, which gave to his hair the appearance of being badly cut. He had told me the story on Exmoor.
Suddenly I rubbed my eyes. There was no scar there; the hair of the chauffeur grew regularly down to his coat-collar. The resemblance had been perfect, the voice was Stagg's, but clearly it was not Stagg who now drove my car.
Earlier episodes can be found here. And, if you're wondering about the origin of that missing scar, Modder River is in the Northern Cape, and the scene of a bloody battle in 1899 as Lord Methuen led the Grenadier Guards and Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders against General CronjÃ©'s Boers in an attempt to relieve Kimberley.
If you'd like to join Fran in The Mark Steyn Club, you'll find more details here - and don't forget we always do a special live Tale for Our Time on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise. We'd love to see you aboard.
Please join me tomorrow evening for the conclusion of The Power-House.