I'll be swinging by "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in a little while, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. While I'm on the makeup slab and having my hairpiece vacuumed, here's the eleventh episode of our current Tale for Our Time - Baroness Orczy's classic tale from France's Reign of Terror, The Scarlet Pimpernel. This one is proving especially popular with Mark Steyn Club members. John Wilson, a first-week Founding Member from Colorado, writes:
Mark, this is an awesome tale. And moreover, it's masterfully read by you. With each book, you just get better and better. To be honest, I'm glad you're hidden behind the paywall here - otherwise, some talent scout from Audible might swoop in and take you away from us.
Speaking of Lord Grenville, what are the chances of reading something from another "Lord (of literature)" Grenville - Pelham Grenville Wodehouse? I'd love to hear you acting out Bertram J. Wooster and get your take on Jeeves. Or maybe one of P.G.'s lesser known novels?
Thank you, John. Not sure I have much to add to Bertie and Jeeves, but I have always fancied taking a crack at Plum and Guy Bolton's theatrical memoirs, Bring On the Girls. So maybe we'll put that on the list. In tonight's episode, the clock is ticking down at Lord Grenville's ball, and the trap laid by Chauvelin is closing in on Marguerite Blakeney:
One o'clock precisely! It was now close upon eleven, the last minuet was being danced, with Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and beautiful Lady Blakeney leading the couples, through its delicate and intricate figures.
Close upon eleven! the hands of the handsome Louis XV clock upon its ormolu bracket seemed to move along with maddening rapidity. Two hours more, and her fate and that of Armand would be sealed. In two hours she must make up her mind whether she will keep the knowledge so cunningly gained to herself, and leave her brother to his fate, or whether she will wilfully betray a brave man, whose life was devoted to his fellow men, who was noble, generous, and above all, unsuspecting. It seemed a horrible thing to do. But then, there was Armand! Armand, too, was noble and brave, Armand, too, was unsuspecting. And Armand loved her, would have willingly trusted his life in her hands, and now, when she could save him from death, she hesitated. Oh! it was monstrous; her brother's kind, gentle face, so full of love for her, seemed to be looking reproachfully at her. 'You might have saved me, Margot!' he seemed to say to her, 'and you chose the life of a stranger, a man you do not know, whom you have never seen, and preferred that he should be safe, whilst you sent me to the guillotine!'
"Ormolu" is one of those things I wish I had cause to say more often. It's an English word derived from two French ones - "or" (gold) "moulu" (ground). As in finely ground, high-carat gold. In revolutionary France, a lot more than gold is being ground ...into dirt.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Eleven of The Scarlet Pimpernel simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club and enjoy our nightly audio adventures every evening twenty minutes before lowering your lamp - or hoard the episodes and binge-listen at the weekend or on a long car journey. For more details on that and other benefits to Steyn Club membership, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Please join me on the telly with Tucker in an hour or so, and Tuesday morning at 8am Eastern back on the curvy couch with "Fox & Friends" - and, of course, right here tomorrow evening for another episode of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
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