Happy Presidents Day to all our American listeners. We have Part One of a Song of the Week presidential cavalcade for you - from Washington to Cleveland - followed tomorrow by Part Two, from Benjamin Harrison to Donald J Trump. After the holiday, on Tuesday, I'll be hosting another Clubland Q&A live around the planet at 4pm US Eastern Time - that's 9pm Greenwich Mean Time. We hope wherever you are you'll tune in, and I look forward to your company.
Meanwhile, welcome to Part Three of my serialization of The Thirty-Nine Steps, the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time. John Buchan's "shocker" was first published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1915, and in the century since has never been out of print. It's been staged, broadcast and filmed multiple times, and with many interesting variations. The latest (unproduced) wrinkle, as far as I'm aware, is by Robert Towne (screenwriter of Chinatown and Mission: Impossible), who has a script he wrote a couple of years back in which Richard Hannay, old South Africa hand, is now Rick Hannay, a Mel Gibson-like movie star visiting Australia to promote his latest movie, and finding it's hard to be a man on the run when posters for your latest blockbuster are plastered all over the country.
We're squaresville types at Steyn HQ, however. So we're sticking with the original. In tonight's episode Richard Hannay, having fled to Scotland, finds himself the subject of a nationwide manhunt:
There were two columns about the Portland Place Murder, as it was called. My man Paddock had given the alarm and had the milkman arrested. Poor devil, it looked as if the latter had earned his sovereign hardly; but for me he had been cheap at the price, for he seemed to have occupied the police for the better part of the day. In the latest news I found a further instalment of the story. The milkman had been released, I read, and the true criminal, about whose identity the police were reticent, was believed to have got away from London by one of the northern lines. There was a short note about me as the owner of the flat. I guessed the police had stuck that in, as a clumsy contrivance to persuade me that I was unsuspected.
There was nothing else in the paper, nothing about foreign politics or Karolides, or the things that had interested Scudder. I laid it down, and found that we were approaching the station at which I had got out yesterday. The potato-digging station-master had been gingered up into some activity, for the west-going train was waiting to let us pass, and from it had descended three men who were asking him questions. I supposed that they were the local police, who had been stirred up by Scotland Yard, and had traced me as far as this one-horse siding. Sitting well back in the shadow I watched them carefully. One of them had a book, and took down notes. The old potato-digger seemed to have turned peevish, but the child who had collected my ticket was talking volubly. All the party looked out across the moor where the white road departed. I hoped they were going to take up my tracks there.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here - and if you've only joined in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle's The Tragedy of the Korosko, H G Wells' The Time Machine, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Dickens, Gogol, Jack London and Scott Fitzgerald), you can find them all here. Elizabeth, a first-fortnight Founding Member from New York State, writes:
This is delightful. My husband and I can hardly wait for 8:30 tonight, to hear Part 3. Thank you so much.
I have neglected to thank you in turn for your last several Tales. "To Build a Fire" was very well done, and your own "Plum Duff" is a little masterpiece. But Mark, I saw no satire in it - your heroine is to be found in every household in America. We have all been taught to love our neighbors - and can't see danger when it stares us in the face.
We appreciated your last SteynPost. Keep holding your own, against the DC Superior Court.
I've bought four SteynClub memberships (3 gifts) since last spring, and can't wait to renew mine, come May.
That's very generous of you, Elizabeth, and I hope your friends are enjoying their memberships. As for The Thirty-Nine Steps, I'm glad you're finding this audio adventure "delightful" to listen to. It's certainly a delight to read. If you're a Club member who's yet to settle down with this latest radio serialization, you can find my Thirty-Nine Steps intro, along with the first episode, here.
If you're thinking that your pals, like Elizabeth's, might appreciate Tales for Our Time, we have a special limited-time Steyn Club Gift Membership that includes your choice of a book or CD personally autographed by yours truly. We have fun in The Mark Steyn Club, and in return the Club helps support all our content - whether in print, audio or video - and keep it out there in the world for everyone. In return, membership confers, aside from Tales for Our Time and the autographed book or CDs, a few other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books and other items;
~The opportunity to take part in our Clubland Q&A sessions (such as Tuesday's, as referenced above);
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show and our other video content;
~My quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn;
~Our new series of video poetry;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the globe.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and, for a friend or family member, don't forget that new Gift Membership. And please join me tomorrow for Part Two of our Song of the Week Presidents Day special and later in the evening for Part Four of The Thirty-Nine Steps.
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