From The Mark Steyn Club Cruise currently sailing down the Eastern Seaboard from Bar Harbor, Maine, welcome to the final episode of our current Tale for Our Time - John Buchan's prescient thriller set in the hell of the Great War. Greenmantle was one of our most ambitious audio adventures (at least from your humble narrator's point of view), but we're also delighted to say it's proved one of our most popular. One of our newer Club members, Jack Herlong, took a while to catch on to this yarn, but is rapt for the final stretch:
I must say I was skeptical at first, but am now totally hooked on the latest (my first) Tales for Our Time. It took a bit of binge listening, but I have finally caught up to the latest episode. Wonderful stuff. I am also getting a great history lesson in the bargain, about a period I previously knew little about.
I also always enjoy your comments on Tucker; you are my favorite contributor on Fox News. Have fun on your voyage. I do hope Ms. Bachmann is none the worse for wear after you gave her stateroom to one of your shills and spirited her off to a filthy bunk in the engine room! Send her my best wishes.
Actually, Michele Bachmann has been terrific company for our Steyn Club cruisers. She joined her near namesake Tal Bachman, son of Randy of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, for an informal medley of rock classics the other evening - sort of Bachman-Bachmann Overdrive, for one night only. So don't miss out next time, Jack, and make sure you join us for next year's second Mark Steyn Club Cruise.
It's no cruise for our heroes as Greenmantle concludes with the Battle of Erzerum. Richard Hannay and his chums are in a tight spot, but waxing philosophical:
'We're lucky fellows,' said Sandy; 'we've all had our whack. When I remember the good times I've had I could sing a hymn of praise. We've lived long enough to know ourselves, and to shape ourselves into some kind of decency. But think of those boys who have given their lives freely when they scarcely knew what life meant. They were just at the beginning of the road, and they didn't know what dreary bits lay before them. It was all sunshiny and bright-coloured, and yet they gave it up without a moment's doubt. And think of the men with wives and children and homes that were the biggest things in life to them. For fellows like us to shirk would be black cowardice. It's small credit for us to stick it out. But when those others shut their teeth and went forward, they were blessed heroes....'
After that we fell silent. A man's thoughts at a time like that seem to be double-powered, and the memory becomes very sharp and clear. I don't know what was in the others' minds, but I know what filled my own...
I fancy it isn't the men who get most out of the world and are always buoyant and cheerful that most fear to die. Rather it is the weak-engined souls who go about with dull eyes, that cling most fiercely to life. They have not the joy of being alive which is a kind of earnest of immortality ... I know that my thoughts were chiefly about the jolly things that I had seen and done; not regret, but gratitude. The panorama of blue noons on the veld unrolled itself before me, and hunter's nights in the bush, the taste of food and sleep, the bitter stimulus of dawn, the joy of wild adventure, the voices of old staunch friends. Hitherto the war had seemed to make a break with all that had gone before, but now the war was only part of the picture. I thought of my battalion, and the good fellows there, many of whom had fallen on the Loos parapets. I had never looked to come out of that myself. But I had been spared, and given the chance of a greater business, and I had succeeded. That was the tremendous fact, and my mood was humble gratitude to God and exultant pride. Death was a small price to pay for it. As Blenkiron would have said, I had got good value in the deal.
We'll be back with a brand new audio adventure - our seventeenth - very soon. Meanwhile, if you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and don't forget our special gift membership.