Welcome to Part Two of The Mark Steyn Club's latest Tale for Our Time - an acknowledged classic by John Buchan, first published in 1915 and adapted multiple times in almost every medium in the century since: The Thirty-Nine Steps. One of those adaptations - Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film version - is my Saturday movie date this week.
So far Buchan's original is proving popular with listeners. Steyn Club member Paula Swatman writes:
I'm a huge John Buchan fan and have read 'The 39 Steps' more times than I can count - thank you so much for reading this wonderful and exciting tale, Mark!
I'm delighted to hear that, Paula. I could easily do a monthly Buchan reading - fiction and non-fiction - and lead a rewarding life.
Tonight's episode picks up where yesterday's left off - with Richard Hannay returning home to find a dead American spy on his carpet:
The poor staring white face on the floor was more than I could bear, and I managed to get a table-cloth and cover it. Then I staggered to a cupboard, found the brandy and swallowed several mouthfuls. I had seen men die violently before; indeed I had killed a few myself in the Matabele War; but this cold-blooded indoor business was different. Still I managed to pull myself together. I looked at my watch, and saw that it was half-past ten.
An idea seized me, and I went over the flat with a small-tooth comb. There was nobody there, nor any trace of anybody, but I shuttered and bolted all the windows and put the chain on the door. By this time my wits were coming back to me, and I could think again. It took me about an hour to figure the thing out, and I did not hurry, for, unless the murderer came back, I had till about six o'clock in the morning for my cogitations.
I was in the soup—that was pretty clear.
How he extricates himself from the soup involves a milkman, and a map of Scotland. To listen to the second episode of The Thirty-Nine Steps, please click here and log-in. If you missed part one, you'll find that 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 side of things, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
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