Welcome to Part Eight of our latest audio adventure The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. In tonight's episode, there is a grand ball at the palace in Strelsau - and a vacationing Englishman finds the part he has to play sorely straining:
'If I were not the King,' I began, 'if I were only a private gentlemanâ€”'
Before I could finish, her hand was in mine.
'If you were a convict in the prison of Strelsau, you would be my King,' she said.
And under my breath I groaned, 'God forgive me!' and, holding her hand in mine, I said again:
'If I were not the Kingâ€”'
'Hush, hush!' she whispered. 'I don't deserve itâ€”I don't deserve to be doubted. Ah, Rudolf! does a woman who marries without love look on the man as I look on you?'
And she hid her face from me.
For more than a minute we stood there together; and I, even with my arm about her, summoned up what honour and conscience her beauty and the toils that I was in had left me.
'Flavia,' I said, in a strange dry voice that seemed not my own, 'I am notâ€”'
This is a wonderful escape from the crush of bad news. Most sites offering commentary on news events do not open doors into worlds like Ruritania or take you into the good ol' days of music making. I read today about someone who survived the Vegas shooting only to lose her home to the massive fires in California wine country. She said she was running from bullets one Sunday and running from a fire the next Sunday. All of this makes me happy to escape into Ruritania or linger in Alan Livingston's world. I wouldn't know about either otherwise - many thanks, Mark.
Thank you for that, Sol. It's entirely an "escape" , or "escapism". The virtues of the stories we tell inform the lives we lead and the societies we build - which is why the music and literature and films and poetry are as big a part of this website as Mitch McConnell's latest failed vote.