Welcome to the final episode of our current Tale for Our Time - a fantastical novella about untold wealth and its managerial challenges. As The Diamond as Big as the Ritz concludes, two suddenly ex-heiresses learn that nothing is forever:
Simultaneously, and with an immense concussion, the chÃ¢teau literally threw itself into the air, bursting into flaming fragments as it rose, and then tumbling back upon itself in a smoking pile that lay projecting half into the water of the lake. There was no fireâ€”what smoke there was drifted off mingling with the sunshine, and for a few minutes longer a powdery dust of marble drifted from the great featureless pile that had once been the house of jewels. There was no more sound and the three people were alone in the valley...
They sat down to finish the food which Jasmine had brought with her in a basket.
"There!" she said, as she spread the table-cloth and put the sandwiches in a neat pile upon it. "Don't they look tempting? I always think that food tastes better outdoors."
"With that remark," remarked Kismine, "Jasmine enters the middle class."
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read the conclusion of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here. As Founding Member P Gao wrote a couple of nights ago:
Quite amazed at this story - with only The Great Gatsby as reference, never guessed F.S. Fitzgerald would write something like this. Actually found this part almost gutting, this fiction nearly a 100 years old, as today we read reports about elite remote places such as Epstein's island.
Fran Lavery adds:
The scene of the men imprisoned in the great earthen hole was the last thing I saw coming, and struck me as peculiar that the creepy merciless Braddock Washington would want to be showing it off to Percy's guest, John. That he could matter of factly assert there was no such thing as cruelty when one's self-preservation was at stake struck me as being one tough pill to swallow if one was below ground in the concave well, but the plain reality from the side of the lens the old man looked through. Men who aren't actively determining their paths to self-preservation run the risk of someone else determining it for them. Guess this is why there will always be subservience of one form or another as well as wars. Quite the fascinating and dreadful tale Scott Fitzgerald has woven here! I'm feeling this in the pit of my stomach and it isn't stuff of goodness and virtue.
Thank you for those observations. We'll be back after the Thanksgiving break with the second half of our Scott Fitzgerald double-bill - a far more naturalistic tale from the latter half of the writer's career. Meanwhile, if you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking something for a fellow fan of classic fiction this holiday season, don't forget our limited-time-only Christmas Gift Membership, which includes a personally autographed book or CD set from yours truly.