It's a double-play Wednesday night for me tonight. In an hour or so I'll be guest-hosting for Tucker Carlson - live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific for a full hour. Hope you'll consider tuning in.
But first, ahead of all that, here's the 13th episode of our current Tale for Our Time, Baroness Orczy's stirring story of an English fop, his French wife, and the terrors of revolution - The Scarlet Pimpernel. In tonight's episode the strains of deception are beginning to tell:
Instinctively, with sudden overmastering passion at the sight of her helplessness and of her grief, he stretched out his arms, and the next, would have seized her and held her to him, protected from every evil with his very life, his very heart's blood. . . . But pride had the better of it in this struggle once again; he restrained himself with a tremendous effort of will, and said coldly, though still very gently—
"Will you not turn to me, Madame, and tell me in what way I may have the honour to serve you?"
She made a violent effort to control herself, and turning her tear-stained face to him, she once more held out her hand, which he kissed with the same punctilious gallantry; but Marguerite's fingers, this time, lingered in his hand for a second or two longer than was absolutely necessary, and this was because she had felt that his hand trembled perceptibly and was burning hot, whilst his lips felt as cold as marble.
Thanks, as always, for your kind comments. Josh, a first-weekend Founding Member from Massachusetts, writes:
Unless I've missed it, let me be the first to ask the obligatory question: what music did you choose for this tale? I'm especially curious about the recorder music entr'acte. I must add that you and the Baroness have outdone yourselves in cliffhangers. We must feel a bit of what Dickens's readers felt at coming to the end of in installment of Great Expectations. My knuckles are raw from biting!
Well, let me save your knuckles at least with respect to our theme music. Both our intro and the entr'acte come from La Rosière républicaine, ou la fête de la Vertu by André Grétry, Belgian born but a popular composer in France during the years before and after the revolution. La fête de la Vertu means "the feast of Virtue", and une rosière is a young woman who's been given a crown of roses because of her reputation for such - so it's something of an archaism in modern France, both as a word and as a concept. The composer was not much of a republican, but La Rosière républicaine, premiered two years after the setting of our tale, was an attempt to tap into the mood of the times and retained its popularity in the ensuing decades. It's pertinent here, I think, because of course Marguerite was originally a républicaine but one whose virtue prevented her from following the cause into the Reign of Terror.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership. I'll be hosting Part 14 of The Scarlet Pimpernel as usual on Thanksgiving, if you fancy a break from the turkey and pumpkin pie - and do join me on the telly with Tucker in an hour or so.