It's SteynOnline's sixteenth-birthday weekend, and we're celebrating with sixteen per cent off everything at the Steyn Store, including my books and CDs and our Steynamite Christmas specials and even digital downloads like the all-time greatest Christmas disco single. Prowl around, see what you dig, fill your shopping basket, and we'll apply the sixteen per cent discount at checkout. We also have fifteen per cent off tickets for the first ever Dennis Miller/Mark Steyn tour, if you enter the promo code HOLIDAYS - but, again, you have to book before midnight on Monday.
And, while we're in plug mode, if you've a pal who's a fan of classic fiction, we've added a Christmas bonus to our Mark Steyn Club gift membership. More details on that below.
We're very proud that this website now offers more free content - in print, audio and video - than at any time in our sixteen-year history. But we also provide some premium extras especially for our Mark Steyn Club members, and I'm delighted to say that of those bonus features Tales for Our Time has become one of our most popular. So welcome to Episode Sixteen of our nightly audio adventure, The Scarlet Pimpernel - written by Baroness Orczy, and a prescient work in its view of the revolutionary urge to raze all to the ground. Sol, a first-week Founding Member and a very convivial shipmate on last month's sold-out Mark Steyn Cruise, writes:
The somewhat incongruent upbeat and lively music fits with Lady Blakeney, the leading actress of the Comédie-Française, assuming she represents the civilized society from which this popular reign of terror sprang. It is forgotten, lately, that in Nazi Germany, it was ears trained for classical music who rounded up and murdered their fellow citizens who played it. It's not like the Congo, except that it is.
Orczy's reminder that it was a refined civilization that the French had to escape from makes it even more of a terror for our time. It would seem that at least in some ways, we are farther from the source of the escape from reason than 1790s France. If you picture a dining room full of the types of people who may have attended the Comédie-Française, prior to the outbreak, presumably you'd see no hint they were capable of doing what was done to, say, the Princesse de Lamballe. Much like our society today, the "civilization" masks a latent barbarity.
It doesn't have to be that way, Sol. The American colonies sought to throw off a king, not torch Common Law and Magna Carta and parliamentary procedure and all the rest. Alas, subsequent revolutions have tended to follow the French model.
In tonight's episode, Marguerite Blakeney confronts Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and attempts to enlist his aid in preventing further horrors in France:
'Lady Blakeney,' said the young man, trying to recover himself, 'I...
'Will you hear me first?' she interrupted. 'This is how the matter stands. When the agent of the French Government stole your papers that night in Dover, he found amongst them certain plans, which you or your leader meant to carry out for the rescue of the Comte de Tournay and others. The Scarlet Pimpernel—Percy, my husband—has gone on this errand himself to-day. Chauvelin knows that the Scarlet Pimpernel and Percy Blakeney are one and the same person. He will follow him to Calais, and there will lay hands on him. You know as well as I do the fate that awaits him at the hands of the Revolutionary Government of France. No interference from England—from King George himself—would save him. Robespierre and his gang would see to it that the interference came too late. But not only that, the much-trusted leader will also have been unconsciously the means of revealing the hiding-place of the Comte de Tournay and of all those who, even now, are placing their hopes in him.'
She had spoken quietly, dispassionately, and with firm, unbending resolution. Her purpose was to make that young man trust and help her, for she could do nothing without him.
Will he help her - to Dover and across the Channel to France? If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Sixteen of our serialization of The Scarlet Pimpernel simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here.
~Membership in The Mark Steyn Club is not for everyone, but, if you've a pal who enjoys classic fiction, we'd love to welcome him or her to our ranks via the Christmas present that lasts all year: A gift membership in the Steyn Club, which this holiday season comes with a special personalized Christmas card from yours truly and a handsomely-engraved gift-boxed USB stick with three of our most popular Tales for Our Time for your pal or relative to listen to in the car or perambulating through the wilderness or almost anywhere else. That would be The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time Machine and The Thirty-Nine Steps.
For more on Steyn Club gift membership, see here. And if you're thinking of joining yourself, aside from Tales for Our Time, it does come with a few other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, CDs and other items in the Steyn store;
~The opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as Tuesday's Clubland Q&A, and our video editions of Mark's Mailbox;
~Transcript and audio versions of our video content, such as SteynPosts and The Mark Steyn Show;
~Comment Club privileges;
~Our weekend series of video poetry and other specials;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, and for our upcoming second Mark Steyn Club Cruise;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the world.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and do join me tomorrow for Part Seventeen of The Scarlet Pimpernel.