Welcome to Part Two of Burning Daylight by Jack London, our summer audio adventure in Tales for Our Time. If you seek something more terrifyingly timely, you may prefer our brace of Orwellian adaptations - Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four - or even a contemporary inversion of a classic, retooled for our wretched times, by yours truly. Whatever your taste, we have plenty of other yarns in all genres over on our Tales for Our Time home page.
Still and all, London's sweeping tale, opening in the Arctic and then heading south, captures the vitality of America in the Gilded Age and the Gold Rush Age - and the complications that can follow energy and innovation. All that lies ahead. But, in Part Two of Burning Daylight, we get a premonition of what may prove the superman protagonist's weak spot:
Jack Kearns suggested poker...
"Want you to sit in," said Campbell. "How's your luck?"
"I sure got it to-night," Burning Daylight answered with enthusiasm, and at the same time felt the Virgin press his arm warningly. She wanted him for the dancing. "I sure got my luck with me, but I'd sooner dance. I ain't hankerin' to take the money away from you-all."
Nobody urged. They took his refusal as final, and the Virgin was pressing his arm to turn him away in pursuit of the supper-seekers, when he experienced a change of heart. It was not that he did not want to dance, nor that he wanted to hurt her; but that insistent pressure on his arm put his free man-nature in revolt. The thought in his mind was that he did not want any woman running him. Himself a favorite with women, nevertheless they did not bulk big with him. They were toys, playthings, part of the relaxation from the bigger game of life. He met women along with the whiskey and gambling, and from observation he had found that it was far easier to break away from the drink and the cards than from a woman once the man was properly entangled.
Can you play "the bigger game of life" without women? That will become a central question as the plot's twists move south to California.
To hear me read the second episode of Burning Daylight, please click here and log-in. If you missed Part One, you'll find that here.
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