Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers, listeners and viewers. We have a Thanksgiving sampler, complete with mild disagreement between fellow immigrant Stuart Varney and me. But, Thanksgiving or not, the Reign of Terror continues in our latest Tale for Our Time - The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, a tale of love and duty set against the blood-drenched France of 1792. Holly Henry, a first-day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from North Carolina, writes:
I've been enjoying this tale very much so far, Mark. With so many characters, you've had to be very creative to give them all a voice. I'm curious as to how you chose that very distinct voice for the Prince of Wales. Is there some historical significance to the sound and accent you're using? All I know is each episode comes to an end way too quickly. I could save up two or three and listen to them all at once, but I just can't wait to play them as soon as possible every day. Thank you so much for that.
Actually, that regal voice derives from an encounter with a more recent member of the Royal Family a few years back. As you say, Holly, with so many characters, you have to pre-parcel out the available accents with a bit more care than usual. I miss my last courtly foray, with Jessica Martin on "The King's New Clothes", when we could just improvise it all in the studio. On that occasion, I was the King, and Jessica was pretty much everyone else, and I remember the moment, round about the third take, getting to the introduction of the duchess, when she suddenly said, "How about if I do her as Fergie?" So she did. (The hearty Duchess of York, that is, not the Fergulous poptette.)
In tonight's episode, puzzled by his sudden departure from their home, Lady Blakeney has a sudden curiosity to see her husband's study:
Marguerite had often, with that good-natured contempt which she had recently adopted towards her husband, chaffed him about this secrecy which surrounded his private study. Laughingly she had always declared that he strictly excluded all prying eyes from his sanctum for fear they should detect how very little "study" went on within its four walls: a comfortable arm-chair for Sir Percy's sweet slumbers was, no doubt, its most conspicuous piece of furniture.
Marguerite thought of all this on this bright October morning as she glanced along the corridor... A sudden burning, childish curiosity seized her to have a peep at Sir Percy's sanctum... Gently, on tip-toe, she crossed the landing and, like Blue Beard's wife, trembling half with excitement and wonder, she paused a moment on the threshold, strangely perturbed and irresolute.
The door was ajar, and she could not see anything within. She pushed it open tentatively: there was no sound ...and she walked boldly in.
At once she was struck by the severe simplicity of everything around her: the dark and heavy hangings, the massive oak furniture, the one or two maps on the wall, in no way recalled to her mind the lazy man about town, the lover of race-courses, the dandified leader of fashion, that was the outward representation of Sir Percy Blakeney.
Hmm. Could it be that the foppish Sir Percy is not entirely what he seems?
If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Fourteen of our serialization of The Scarlet Pimpernel 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.
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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership. Please join me tomorrow for Part Fifteen of The Scarlet Pimpernel - and before that behind the Golden EIB Microphone for Open Line Black Friday on America's Number One radio show.