Here we go with Part Four of our brand new Tale for Our Time, my contemporary inversion of Anthony Hope's classic The Prisoner of Zenda - The Prisoner of Windsor. In tonight's episode, a penniless dispossessed Ruritanian king and a cunning unprincipled British prime minister come face to face:
And then he was in the room. I knew who he was â€“ the star of last night's telly address to the nation: The Rt Hon Robert Rassendyll, formerly the 16th Earl of Burlesdon, Privy Counsellor, Member of Parliament for South Burlesdon and the Clewes, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.
He had no idea who I was. And, seeing me sitting across from Severn, he drew back, like a vampire recoiling from a mirror â€“ or, in this case, a startled vampire glimpsing for the first time his reflection. Save the hair on my face and a manner of conscious dignity which many years of climbing in and out of ministerial limousines had given him, save also that he lacked perhaps a centimeter of my height - no, less than that, but still something - Robert Rassendyll might have been Rudolf Elphberg, and I Mr Rassendyll.
I rose, and for an instant we stood motionless, looking at one another. "What is this, Roger?" the Prime Minister said quietly. "What's going on?"
Along the way there are ha-has, dry moats, organic wines, spotted dick, and a little Browning. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Four of our tale simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
Thank you for your kind comments about this year's summer entertainment .Philip Mason, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes from Texas:
You've shown time and time again a magnificent gift for prose, and this is no different. It's a wonderful start to what I'll wager will be a terrifically entertaining yarn.
Thank you, Philip. In yesterday's episode, a plumber played a "real tennis" match, and I fretted that I'd gotten correct all its technical arcana - piquet, caterpillar, chase the door, etc. The jury's still out on that, but Colorado Steyn Club member Paul Cathey is impressed I got the plumbing right:
Mark, I know nothing about 'real tennis,' or its vocabulary, but your plumbing vocabulary is expert. It would appear you've done a bit of wrenching in your rural redoubt.
This is so much fun! I'm having a wonderful time listening to this tale. More, please!
Thank you, Paul. I don't think it's possible to survive in northern New Hampshire without doing a bit of elementary plumbing every now and again.
Tales for Our Time is now three years old. So, if you've a friend who might be partial to our classic fiction outings, we have a special Gift Membership that, aside from audio yarns, also includes video poetry, live music and more. And I'll be doing a live-performance Tale for Our Time at sea on the next Mark Steyn Cruise - assuming that we're ever again permitted to sail.
Please join me tomorrow evening for Part Five of The Prisoner of Windsor.