Welcome to Part Twenty-Eight of our current audio adventure: a summer diversion from Jack London, Burning Daylight.
One thing I especially enjoy about this book is its shifts of focus, from hunting squirrel on the Yukon River when you're near dead from starvation to putting one over on sharp operators in the heart of Wall Street. Just now, at the very moment when you thought the romance was about to get going, Jack London detours from the fetching filly into a couple of chapters of horse-breaking, albeit, as Marc from Florida puts it, "some of the most exciting prose re horse breaking I have ever enjoyed".
So grab a quart and a quirt, and enjoy tonight's episode:
Bob's trick of whirling was of especial moment to him. How to overcome it,—that was the thing. Suppose he did meet with Dede out in the hills; and suppose, by some lucky stroke of fate, he should manage to be riding alongside of her; then that whirl of Bob's would be most disconcerting and embarrassing. He was not particularly anxious for her to see him thrown forward on Bob's neck. On the other hand, suddenly to leave her and go dashing down the back-track, plying quirt and spurs, wouldn't do, either.
What was wanted was a method wherewith to prevent that lightning whirl. He must stop the animal before it got around. The reins would not do this. Neither would the spurs. Remained the quirt...
A quirt was quite common in the American west, although it's more use with adjacent livestock than with your mount, being insufficiently quick. But, as far as I know, the only chaps with chaps who still use quirts are the Mongolians (see above). When the powder keg goes up and you see an unspecified horde riding into town, if they're wielding quirts that's a reliable sign they're a Mongol horde.
If you'd like to know more about The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget our special gift membership. Do join me tomorrow evening, Sunday, for Part Twenty-Nine of Burning Daylight - and, earlier in the day, our Song of the Week, a Last Call special, and, ahead of all those, the latest audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week, on Serenade Radio at 5.30pm London time/12.30pm New York.