Welcome to the latest of The Mark Steyn Club's Tales for Our Time, in which we serialize some classic fiction I've mentioned in my books and columns over the years. This new audio adventure is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, written by F Scott Fitzgerald and first published in 1922. If you missed the first episode, you can find it here. So far Founding Member P Gao is enjoying, er, the announcer's introductory announcement:
Oh, an appreciation of the lovely lady's voice that introduces your series. The American uptick? is so annoying? - wonderful to hear at last a charming, disciplined, well-moderated and engaging voice. Nice!
If you can get past the uptick-free opening, in this second episode young John arrives at his friend's house:
They had now reached and were entering the break between the two mountains and almost immediately the way became much rougher.
'If the moon shone down here, you'd see that we're in a big gulch,' said Percy, trying to peer out of the window. He spoke a few words into the mouthpiece and immediately the footman turned on a searchlight and swept the hillsides with an immense beam.
'Rocky, you see. An ordinary car would be knocked to pieces in half an hour. In fact, it'd take a tank to navigate it unless you knew the way. You notice we're going uphill now.'
They were obviously ascending, and within a few minutes the car was crossing a high rise, where they caught a glimpse of a pale moon newly risen in the distance. The car stopped suddenly and several figures took shape out of the dark beside itâ€”these were negroes also. Again the two young men were saluted in the same dimly recognisable dialect; then the negroes set to work and four immense cables dangling from overhead were attached with hooks to the hubs of the great jewelled wheels. At a resounding 'Hey-yah!' John felt the car being lifted slowly from the groundâ€”up and upâ€”clear of the tallest rocks on both sidesâ€”then higher, until he could see a wavy, moonlit valley stretched out before him in sharp contrast to the quagmire of rocks that they had just left. Only on one side was there still rockâ€”and then suddenly there was no rock beside them or anywhere around.
It was apparent that they had surmounted some immense knife-blade of stone, projecting perpendicularly into the air. In a moment they were going down again, and finally with a soft bump they were landed upon the smooth earth.
'The worst is over,' said Percy, squinting out the window. 'It's only five miles from here, and our own roadâ€”tapestry brickâ€”all the way. This belongs to us. This is where the United States ends, father says.'
'Are we in Canada?'
Er, no. They are in a land even more fantastical than Canada. To listen to the second episode of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, please click here.
Tales for Our Time is an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus 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 earlier this summer, 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. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, all our movie features and songs of the week. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and being heard and being viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way. So I thank those longtime readers, listeners and viewers who've volunteered to be part of that. Aside from Tales for Our Time, membership does come with a few other benefits:
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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - or sign up a pal for that limited-time seasonal-offer gift membership. And do join us for Part Three of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz tomorrow.