Direct from the St Lawrence River on the first night of the inaugural Mark Steyn Club Cruise, welcome to Episode Sixteen of our nightly audio adventure, Greenmantle - written by John Buchan in 1916, and a prescient work in its view of the Muslim world and its thirst for periodic cleansing and simplifying. Donald Weatherwax, a first-week Founding Member from California, writes:
I have been greatly enjoying your latest Tale for Our Time. Mr. Steyn is doing a bang-up job raking over the spoiled coals of that caper to bring out the ree-zid-yoo-al heat still banked there. There are no flies on that big man, and he seems to be upping his game with each Tale he tells. Bravo, I say, or I would if my noo doctor hadn't given me pills to prevent any excitement.
I think Mr Weatherwax, as a fellow American, is having some sport with Buchan's rendering of the vocal cadences of John S Blenkiron, Richard Hannay's Bostonian sidekick on this caper. As it happens, in tonight's episode, our brave band are en route from Constantinople to Ankara, and poor Blenkiron has more than his accent to worry about:
The coming of Hilda von Einem into the business had put a very ugly complexion on it for him... She fairly struck Blenkiron dumb. He said himself it was just like a rattlesnake and a bird.
I made him talk about her, for if he sat and brooded he would get worse. It was a strange thing that this man, the most imperturbable and, I think, about the most courageous I have ever met, should be paralysed by a slim woman. There was no doubt about it. The thought of her made the future to him as black as a thunder cloud. It took the power out of his joints, and if she was going to be much around, it looked as if Blenkiron might be counted out.
I suggested that he was in love with her, but this he vehemently denied.
'No, Sir; I haven't got no sort of affection for the lady. My trouble is that she puts me out of countenance, and I can't fit her in as an antagonist. I guess we Americans haven't got the right poise for dealing with that kind of female. We've exalted our womenfolk into little tin gods, and at the same time left them out of the real business of life. Consequently, when we strike one playing the biggest kind of man's game we can't place her. We aren't used to regarding them as anything except angels and children. I wish I had had you boys' upbringing.'
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