I'm very proud that this website now offers more free content than at any time in our seventeen-year history. But we also provide some premium content especially for those who've signed up to be Mark Steyn Club members, and I'm delighted to say Tales for Our Time has become one of our most popular features over the last three years - and that this latest audio adventure is proving pertinent in a new age of anarchy. Roland Hirsch, a Steyn Club member from Maryland, writes:
The Man Who Was Thursday is a remarkable novel by a remarkable writer. I appreciate your superb reading of it!
I am re-reading the complete collection of Father Brown stories, and think some of them would make a good series.in the future.
Thank you, Roland. We've had several requests for Father Brown, so he is definitely on the list - although, as I mentioned in my introduction to this tale, G K Chesterton kept his creation firmly in short-story land and never wrote a Brown novel, alas.
As for the novel he did write, welcome to Part Fifteen of The Man Who Was Thursday. In tonight's episode Syme and his weekday comrades return from France and, on the balcony of his favorite Leicester Square restaurant, beard Sunday and demand to know the truth:
"We have no time for tomfoolery," said the Secretary, breaking in savagely. "We have come to know what all this means. Who are you? What are you? Why did you get us all here? Do you know who and what we are? Are you a half-witted man playing the conspirator, or are you a clever man playing the fool? Answer me, I tell you."
"Candidates," murmured Sunday, "are only required to answer eight out of the seventeen questions on the paper. As far as I can make out, you want me to tell you what I am, and what you are, and what this table is, and what this Council is, and what this world is for all I know. Well, I will go so far as to rend the veil of one mystery. If you want to know what you are, you are a set of highly well-intentioned young jackasses."
"And you," said Syme, leaning forward, "what are you?"
"I? What am I?" roared the President, and he rose slowly to an incredible height, like some enormous wave about to arch above them and break. "You want to know what I am, do you? Bull, you are a man of science. Grub in the roots of those trees and find out the truth about them. Syme, you are a poet. Stare at those morning clouds. But I tell you this, that you will have found out the truth of the last tree and the top-most cloud before the truth about me. You will understand the sea, and I shall be still a riddle; you shall know what the stars are, and not know what I am. Since the beginning of the world all men have hunted me like a wolfâ€”kings and sages, and poets and lawgivers, all the churches, and all the philosophies. But I have never been caught yet, and the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay. I have given them a good run for their money, and I will now."
Before one of them could move, the monstrous man had swung himself like some huge ourang-outang over the balustrade of the balcony.
If you've a friend who's a fan of classic fiction and you want to give him or her a birthday present with a difference, we hope you'll consider a one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club. The lucky recipient will enjoy full access to our back catalogue of audio adventures and video poems - Conrad and Conan Doyle, Kipling and Kafka, and all the rest - which should keep you going until both the lockdown and the looting peter out. For more details, see here.
Lockdown or looting, our nightly audio adventure goes on, so do join me back here tomorrow for The Man Who Was Thursday Part Sixteen.