Following my Thursday appearance with Tucker, here we go with Episode Nineteen of our current Tale for Our Time - the biggest-selling book of Jack London's lifetime, latterly obscured by White Fang and Call of the Wild. Despite its comparative obscurity, Sal Tessio, a New Jersey member of The Mark Steyn Club, is quite enjoying Burning Daylight, but found last night's downturn in our hero's fortunes a bit of a shocker:
Burning Daylight swindled in the stock market! I have a feeling he's not the type of man to take something like that lying down.
The serialization of this Jack London story continues to be quite enjoyable. I appreciate the effort put in to bring these stories to Club members and look forward to future installments. Cheers!
Well, it's one of our most popular features, Sal, so it's not going anywhere. And, in tonight's episode, as you foresaw, Daylight is disinclined to take his ruination at the hands of city slickers lying down, and decides to beard them in their lair:
"Howdy, gentlemen, howdy," he remarked, ignoring the unnatural calm with which they greeted his entrance... The geniality in his lazy Western drawl reassured them. He was not so formidable, after all. Despite the act that he had effected an entrance in the face of Letton's instructions to the outer office, he showed no indication of making a scene or playing rough.
"Well," Daylight demanded good-humoredly, "ain't you-all got a good word for your pardner? Or has his sure enough brilliance plumb dazzled you-all?"
Letton made a dry sound in his throat. Dowsett sat quietly and waited, while Leon Guggenhammer struggled into articulation...
"And didn't we fool'em! I was totally surprised. I never dreamed they would be that easy.
"And now," he went on, not permitting the pause to grow awkward, "we-all might as well have an accounting. I'm pullin' West this afternoon on that blamed Twentieth Century." He tugged at his grip, got it open, and dipped into it with both his hands. "But don't forget, boys, when you-all want me to hornswoggle Wall Street another flutter, all you-all have to do is whisper the word. I'll sure be right there with the goods."
These are Wall Street types, and not altogether comfortable around chaps who use words like "hornswoggle". That's one of those quintessential Americanisms you always hope there'll be a great story behind, but, if there is one, it's lost in the mists of time. The first recorded citation, in the Virginia literary magazine at top right, refers to it merely as an example of the American vernacular, origin unknown. On balance, I prefer it to "bamboozle" - although I always get a chuckle out of Kander & Ebb's deployment in Chicago:
Though you are older than Methuselah
Ev'ryone loves a big bamboozler...
We're now in our fifth season of Tales for Our Time and have built up quite an archive. So, if you've a chum who's a fan of classic fiction in audio form, don't forget our Mark Steyn Club gift membership. Oh, and please join me tomorrow for Part Twenty of Burning Daylight.