It's time for Part Seven of my serialization of The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton - the latest in our series Tales for Our Time, and a metaphysical thriller set among the ubiquitous anarchists of Europe in the years before the Great War. David Wilson, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from California, writes:
How far in advance do you choose your titles? The Plague Year and The Man Who Was Thursday are, to say the least, prescient. Did you pick these Tales before or after these two crises struck?
I picked A Journal of the Plague Year rather at the last minute, David, just as the Coronavirus was hitting our shores. The Man Who Was Thursday, on the other hand, was scheduled well in advance, although I'm obviously grateful to today's anarchists for providing such a timely promotional tie-in.
In tonight's episode our protagonist is being hunted by an unlikely pursuer - a stooped and wizened geriatric:
Syme, who was commonly a cool character, was literally gaping as a rustic gapes at a conjuring trick. He had seen no cab following; he had heard no wheels outside the shop; to all mortal appearances the man had come on foot. But the old man could only walk like a snail, and Syme had walked like the wind. He started up and snatched his stick, half crazy with the contradiction in mere arithmetic, and swung out of the swinging doors, leaving his coffee untasted. An omnibus going to the Bank went rattling by with an unusual rapidity. He had a violent run of a hundred yards to reach it; but he managed to spring, swaying upon the splash-board and, pausing for an instant to pant, he climbed on to the top. When he had been seated for about half a minute, he heard behind him a sort of heavy and asthmatic breathing.
Turning sharply, he saw rising gradually higher and higher up the omnibus steps a top hat soiled and dripping with snow, and under the shadow of its brim the short-sighted face and shaky shoulders of Professor de Worms. He let himself into a seat with characteristic care, and wrapped himself up to the chin in the mackintosh rug.
The thriller genre was still somewhat new when Chesterton wrote his tale. The protean chase caper - The Thirty-Nine Steps - was not published until six years later. So it's impressive to see Chesterton playing with the conventions before in fact they had become conventions.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can listen to me read Part Seven of our tale simply by clicking here and logging-in. And, if you've missed the beginning of The Man Who Was Thursday, you can start fresh with Part One and have a good old binge-listen here.
If you'd like to join David Wilson in The Mark Steyn Club, well, we'd love to have you along for our fourth season. So please click here for more info - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
Do join me on Saturday morning when I'll be dropping in on "Fox & Friends" and back here on Saturday evening for Part Eight of The Man Who Was Thursday.