Just ahead of the latest episode of our monthly audio adventure for members of The Mark Steyn Club, let me remind those either still in Covid lockdown or barricaded in the basement because of prowling looters that there are worse ways of distracting yourself from the hell of the present than by exploring the delights of our Tales for Our Time home page. It's configured in Netflix tile style, with the stories organized by category - thrillers, fantasy, romance, etc - which we hope will make it easy for you to find a favorite diversion of an evening. If it doesn't, please let us know. James Jensen, a North Carolina member of The Mark Steyn Club, has been dipping his toe:
As a long time reader of your work and recent Club member it suddenly dawned on me that you must drink Dos Equis. Being the 'Most Interesting Man in the World' has allowed me to better able connect with the characters in your reading as storytelling as I've started with The Man Who Was Thursday and Jack London's To Build a Fire. Now if I only figure why my favorite Sinatra tune, 'Summer Wind', couldn't crack your top 100.
Sorry about that, James. Maybe we'll have to do a Top 200 - or Top Thousand. But you can do no better than "To Build a Fire", one of the greatest and most primal short stories ever written. Perhaps I should merge them into a nightmare where a chap starts out strolling the golden sand warbling "Summer Wind" and it turns into a chilly Yukon trail...
If, like James, you're new to the Club, you can access three dozen of our cracking yarns here - and all previous episodes of our current adventure, The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton, here. And with that welcome to Part Eleven of Chesterton's tale. In tonight's instalment, on the outskirts of Calais an Englishman and a Frenchman prepare to fight a duel:
The principals saluted. The Colonel said quietly, "Engage!" and the two blades touched and tingled.
When the jar of the joined iron ran up Syme's arm, all the fantastic fears that have been the subject of this story fell from him like dreams from a man waking up in bed. He remembered them clearly and in order as mere delusions of the nervesâ€”how the fear of the Professor had been the fear of the tyrannic accidents of nightmare, and how the fear of the Doctor had been the fear of the airless vacuum of science. The first was the old fear that any miracle might happen, the second the more hopeless modern fear that no miracle can ever happen. But he saw that these fears were fancies, for he found himself in the presence of the great fact of the fear of death, with its coarse and pitiless common sense. He felt like a man who had dreamed all night of falling over precipices, and had woke up on the morning when he was to be hanged. For as soon as he had seen the sunlight run down the channel of his foe's foreshortened blade, and as soon as he had felt the two tongues of steel touch, vibrating like two living things, he knew that his enemy was a terrible fighter, and that probably his last hour had come.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club and enjoy our nightly audio adventures every evening twenty minutes before lowering your lamp - or hoard the episodes and binge-listen at the weekend or on a long car journey, if the government ever again permits you to take one. For more details on that and other benefits to Steyn Club membership, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Please join me right here tomorrow evening for another episode of The Man Who Was Thursday.