CORRECTION! We apologize for posting the wrong episode earlier tonight. Here is the correct Part Seven of The Thirty-Nine Steps.
I very much regret that I did something today that I've never done before: I posted the wrong episode of our nightly radio serial. In mitigation, let me plead distraction by some developments in one of my long-running legal capers that I hope to share with you shortly. Meanwhile, it's time for Part Seven of my serialization of The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. Tonight's episode resumes where last night's ended - with Richard Hannay the prisoner of the Germans, and anxious to escape:
Away at the back of the shelf I found a stout brown cardboard box, and inside it a wooden case. I managed to wrench it open, and within lay half a dozen little grey bricks, each a couple of inches square.
I took up one, and found that it crumbled easily in my hand. Then I smelt it and put my tongue to it. After that I sat down to think. I hadn't been a mining engineer for nothing, and I knew lentonite when I saw it.
With one of these bricks I could blow the house to smithereens. I had used the stuff in Rhodesia and knew its power. But the trouble was that my knowledge wasn't exact.
Are you familiar with "lentonite"? This is, after all, the Lenten season. You may know it as lintonite: it was named after the University of Minnesota chemistry student who first analyzed it - Laura Linton. Miss Linton eventually abandoned chemistry for medicine, and died just a couple of months before the publication of The Thirty-Nine Steps - in which lentonite made a decisive literary debut.
As for my earlier musings on "Annie Laurie" and "Oh! Mr Porter", we'll save those for tomorrow night's Episode Eight, where they belong. Earlier installments of The Thirty-Nine Steps can be found here - and thank you for all your comments. Kate Smyth, a Steyn Club member from Down Under (where I hope to be later this year), writes:
I'm catching up on both your poetry and prose, Mark; the Sunday Poems, as well as Tales for Our Time, are a truly unique style of presentation, with the fascinating context you provide enhancing the wonderful readings. You have a real talent for bringing life to the subject in each instalment, and it's a brilliant initiative to 'keep some of this stuff in circulation'.
Like several other club members, I'd also love to hear Keats! I just recently re-watched, Jane Campion's dazzlingly beautiful Bright Star, one of my favourite films.
Kate's reference to Keats is an allusion to my own sly quotation from him at the end of our latest round-the-planet Q&A. We'll try to get to him before too long.
If you missed tonight's telly appearance with Tucker, you can find that here. I sincerely apologize for the earlier error, and we will see you back here tomorrow for the correct Part Eight (I promise) of The Thirty-Nine Steps.