Just ahead of my appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight", here's the fourth episode of our Mark Steyn Club first-birthday Tale for Our Time - Rudyard Kipling's whimsical account of nation-building in Kafiristan, The Man Who Would Be King. In tonight's episode, King Dan and King Peachey set about ruling their new kingdom according to Masonic rituals imported from England:
'It's against all the law,' I says, 'holding a Lodge without warrant from any one; and we never held office in any Lodge.'
'It's a master-stroke of policy,' says Dravot. 'It means running the country as easy as a four-wheeled bogy on a down grade. We can't stop to inquire now, or they'll turn against us. I've forty Chiefs at my heel, and passed and raised according to their merit they shall be. Billet these men on the villages and see that we run up a Lodge of some kind. The temple of Imbra will do for the Lodge-room. The women must make aprons as you show them. I'll hold a levee of Chiefs tonight and Lodge to-morrow.'
I was fair rim off my legs, but I wasn't such a fool as not to see what a pull this Craft business gave us. I showed the priests' families how to make aprons of the degrees, but for Dravot's apron the blue border and marks was made of turquoise lumps on white hide, not cloth. We took a great square stone in the temple for the Master's chair, and little stones for the officers' chairs, and painted the black pavement with white squares, and did what we could to make things regular.
At the levee which was held that night on the hillside with big bonfires, Dravot gives out that him and me were gods and sons of Alexander, and Past Grand-Masters in the Craft, and was come to make Kafiristan a country where every man should eat in peace and drink in quiet, and specially obey us. Then the Chiefs come round to shake hands, and they was so hairy and white and fair it was just shaking hands with old friends. We gave them names according as they was like men we had known in India — Billy Fish, Holly Dilworth, Pikky Kergan that was Bazar-master when I was at Mhow, and so on, and so on.
Thank you for all your kind comments on this first-anniversary selection for our monthly audio adventures. Marc Swerdloff, a Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club on that very first day one year ago, writes:
You must be in a jolly mood since you won your court case because this Kipling read makes me want to giggle.
Well, I am in a jolly mood, Marc, and always good for a giggle. But there's also something profound in Kipling's tale, and I hope that comes through, too, particularly in this phase of the story.
We always get queries about the music we use, so I should say that for The Man Who Would Be King we turned to the composer of our Tales for Our Time introductory theme - Edward Elgar. In this case, I picked Sir Edward's delightfully over-ripe "March of the Mogul Emperors" from his "imperial masque" The Crown of India, first performed in 1912. I've loved the Mogul march ever since I first heard it, as a child, as the entry music for circus clowns.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time from this rollicking first year of the series, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership. Please join me tomorrow evening for the concluding episode of The Man Who Would Be King - and see you on TV in an hour or two with Tucker Carlson, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.