If you missed my one-hour special with Tucker Carlson last night, several aspects of relations between the sexes and the present state of manhood cropped up in the conversation. Greenmantle was written by John Buchan in 1916, and does not want for the manly virtues. But in tonight's episode Richard Hannay comes face to face with ...a woman! In a black mantilla! This is the mysterious Teuton temptress Hilda von Einem, and he finds her ...unsettling:
Women had never come much my way, and I knew about as much of their ways as I knew about the Chinese language. All my life I had lived with men only, and rather a rough crowd at that. When I made my pile and came home I looked to see a little society, but I had first the business of the Black Stone on my hands, and then the war, so my education languished. I had never been in a motor-car with a lady before, and I felt like a fish on a dry sandbank. The soft cushions and the subtle scents filled me with acute uneasiness. I wasn't thinking now about Sandy's grave words, or about Blenkiron's warning, or about my job and the part this woman must play in it. I was thinking only that I felt mortally shy. The darkness made it worse. I was sure that my companion was looking at me all the time and laughing at me for a clown.
The car stopped and a tall servant opened the door...
I see I have written that I knew nothing about women. But every man has in his bones a consciousness of sex. I was shy and perturbed, but horribly fascinated. This slim woman, poised exquisitely like some statue between the pillared lights, with her fair cloud of hair, her long delicate face, and her pale bright eyes, had the glamour of a wild dream. I hated her instinctively, hated her intensely, but I longed to arouse her interest. To be valued coldly by those eyes was an offence to my manhood, and I felt antagonism rising within me. I am a strong fellow, well set up, and rather above the average height, and my irritation stiffened me from heel to crown. I flung my head back and gave her cool glance for cool glance, pride against pride.
We'll see how that works out. If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Fourteen of our serialization of Greenmantle simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here - so you can choose whether to listen each night twenty minutes before you lower your lamp, or save them up for a weekend binge-listen.
Many listeners were struck by this line a couple of nights back:
I had heard of the East as a good place for people to disappear in; there were no inquisitive newspapers or incorruptible police.
John Downes, a UK member of the Steyn Club, writes:
That's a tale for our time all right. Turkey hasn't changed a bit! And any newspaper reporters who DO get inquisitive (especially about President Erdogan and his family) find themselves disappeared very quickly.
Ah, but John's country is trending very Turkish in that respect. Another of our English members, Nigel Sherratt, writes:
'No inquisitive newspapers or incorruptible police.' O tempora o mores! I shall be reading 'A Book of Escapes (and Hurried Journeys)' on my way to the Old Bailey on Thursday. I hope to see that another of our judges understands contempt of court. The Lord Chief Justice does, as well as the basic requirements for a fair hearing, and justice was done at the Court of Appeal in July. I'm less confident about Thursday's outcome for (aka) Tommy Robinson.
In the event, the Recorder of London adjourned today's hearing pending written submissions. England is much changed since Richard Hannay's time.
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