Programming note: Tomorrow, Steyn's Seasonal Song of the Week will be presenting another Christmas classic, on Serenade Radio in the UK at 5.30pm GMT/12.30pm North American Eastern. You can listen from anywhere on the planet by clicking in the top right-hand corner here.
Ahead of that, welcome to the conclusion of The Mark Steyn Club's sixth Christmas Tale for Our Time this holiday season. We're spending a few nights with Dorothy L Sayers, famed for her gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey, who this weekend finds himself investigating a couple of Christmas capers.
First up is The Queen's Square, a tale of murder most foul during a Yuletide ball - and, more specifically, during the popular dance, the Sir Roger de Coverley. In tonight's concluding episode of this first Sayers seasonal tale, the British constabulary arrive to solve the crime (that's how you know it's a rather old story):
Superintendent Johnson sat in the library, taking down the evidence of the haggard revellers, who were ushered in upon him one by one. First, Tony Lee, his haunted eyes like dark hollows in a mask of grey paper.
'Miss Grayle had promised to dance with me the last dance before Sir Roger; it was a fox-trot. I waited for her in the passage under the musicians' gallery. She never came. I did not search for her. I did not see her dancing with anyone else. When the dance was nearly over, I went out into the garden, by way of the service door under the musicians' stair. I stayed in the garden till Sir Roger de Coverley was over—'
'Was anybody with you, sir?'
'You stayed alone in the garden from—yes, from 1.20 to past 2 o'clock. Rather disagreeable, was it not, sir, with the snow on the ground?' The Superintendent glanced keenly from Tony's stained and sodden white shoes to his stained face.
'I didn't notice. The room was hot—I wanted air. I saw the waits arrive at about 1.40—I daresay they saw me. I came in a little after 2 o'clock—'
'By the service door again, sir?'
'No; by the garden door on the other side of the house, at the end of the passage which runs along beside the tapestry room. I heard singing going on in the ballroom and saw two men sitting in the little recess at the foot of the staircase on the left-hand side of the passage. I think one of them was the gardener. I went into the Tapestry Room—'
'With any particular purpose in mind, sir?'
'No—except that I wasn't keen on rejoining the party. I wanted to be quiet.' He paused; the Superintendent said nothing. 'Then I went into the tapestry room. The light was out. I switched it on and saw—Miss Grayle. She was lying close against the radiator. I thought she had fainted. I went over to her and found she was—dead...'
If all that geography - the garden door, the musicians' gallery, the tapestry room - is making your head spin, see the handy map at top.
To hear the conclusion of The Queen's Square, please click here and log-in. The opening episode can be found here - and you can check out all our Tales for Our Time in easy-to-access Netflix-style tile format here, including Christmas with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.
One reason why we read stories from the past here at SteynOnline is because, as we should surely have learned these last two years, there won't be any past left by the time the vandals are through. And a society with no past has no future: It's not that difficult to grasp.
Tales for Our Time started as an experimental feature for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proving very popular, and looks like it'll be around a while. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo view of it, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over four-and-a-half years ago, and I'm immensely heartened by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. If you've enjoyed our monthly Steyn Club radio serials and you're looking for a Yuletide present for someone special, I hope you'll consider our Christmas Gift Membership. And, aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products - including our Santa Steyn Christmas specials;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as last Wednesday's;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~Our video series of classic poetry;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, assuming such things are ever again legally permitted;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the chance to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.