I'll be keeping my midweek date with Tucker Carlson on Fox News a little later this evening - live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Meanwhile, here's the 13th episode of our current Tale for Our Time - Joseph Conrad's story of terrorists walking the streets of London just over a century ago. On this 16th anniversary of 9/11, it's worth noting that Conrad's story was one of the most quoted books on the planet in the immediate aftermath of Osama bin Laden's attacks.
In tonight's episode, the British state's net begins to close in on Mr Verloc, in the respective persons of Chief Inspector Heat and the Assistant Commissioner - and his wife Winnie begins to discern the fate of her beloved brother:
'I was making for Chesterfield Walk,' Mrs Verloc heard her husband's voice, 'when I heard the bang. I started running then. Fog. I saw no one till I was past the end of George Street. Don't think I met anyone till then.'
'So easy as that!' marvelled the voice of Chief Inspector Heat. 'The bang startled you, eh?'
'Yes; it came too soon,' confessed the gloomy, husky voice of Mr Verloc.
Mrs Verloc pressed her ear to the keyhole; her lips were blue, her hands cold as ice, and her pale face, in which the two eyes seemed like two black holes, felt to her as if it were enveloped in flames.
On the other side of the door the voices sank very low. She caught words now and then, sometimes in her husband's voice, sometimes in the smooth tones of the Chief Inspector. She heard this last say:
'We believe he stumbled against the root of a tree?'
There was a husky, voluble murmur, which lasted for some time, and then the Chief Inspector, as if answering some inquiry, spoke emphatically.
'Of course. Blown to small bits: limbs, gravel, clothing, bones, splintersâ€”all mixed up together. I tell you they had to fetch a shovel to gather him up with.'Mrs Verloc sprang up suddenly from her crouching position, and stopping her ears, reeled to and fro between the counter and the shelves on the wall towards the chair. Her crazed eyes noted the sporting sheet left by the Chief Inspector, and as she knocked herself against the counter she snatched it up, fell into the chair, tore the optimistic, rosy sheet right across in trying to open it, then flung it on the floor.
As we've noted, today the explanation of almost all Islamic terrorism in the west is that the perpetrator had "mental health issues", as if these two things - Islamic supremacism and mental illness - are somehow mutually incompatible. So too for the link between terrorist outrages and the susceptibility of the simple-mindied n Conrad's day. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part 13 of The Secret Agent simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership. Please join me tomorrow evening for Part 14 - and I'll see you on the telly in a little while.