Welcome to Part Two of The Riddle of the Sands, our latest audio adventure in Tales for Our Time. I thank you for all your kind words about this twenty-eighth of our monthly yarns, and about my sketch in yesterday's introduction of the turbulent life of its author Erskine Childers, ending with his final words to an Irish firing squad:
Take a step or two forward, lads, it will be easier that way.
Nigel Sherratt, one of our Mark Steyn Club members from the UK, is enjoying Childers' tale so far:
Great choice, his final words to the firing squad were impressive. Agree with comments on Jenny Agutter in her tweed skirt expertly handling her little dinghy. Lots of great detail in the book, No. 3 Rippingille stove perhaps the highlight.
Everything goes better with Jenny Agutter, Nigel. I owe a huge debt of thanks to Jenny's dad Derek (who died last year aged ninety) for helping me out on a somewhat obscure project many years ago. And, if you like the old No 3 Rippingille, read on.
The Riddle of the Sands is one of the most influential spy novels ever written, published in 1903 but looking ahead to the war that its author knew would come sooner or later. Erskine Childers was a minor civil servant in His Majesty's Government, and so too is his protagonist. Carruthers is bored by long days at the Foreign Office with nothing to fill them, and is delighted by his old friend Davies' offer to join him on a yachting holiday in the Baltic. But Davies has given him a long shopping list of items to bring with him, and in tonight's episode something about them gives Carruthers a premonition that this will not be yachting as he has hitherto experienced it:
At Lancaster's I inquired for his gun, was received coolly, and had to pay a heavy bill, which it seemed to have incurred, before it was handed over. Having ordered the gun and No. 4's to be sent to my chambers, I bought the Raven mixture with that peculiar sense of injury which the prospect of smuggling in another's behalf always entails; and wondered where in the world Carey and Neilson's was, a firm which Davies spoke of as though it were as well known as the Bank of England or the Stores, instead of specializing in 'rigging-screws', whatever they might be. They sounded important, though, and it would be only polite to unearth them. I connected them with the 'few repairs,' and awoke new misgivings. At the Stores I asked for a No 3 Rippingille stove, and was confronted with a formidable and hideous piece of ironmongery, which burned petroleum in two capacious tanks, horribly prophetic of a smell of warm oil. I paid for this miserably, convinced of its grim efficiency, but speculating as to the domestic conditions which caused it to be sent for as an afterthought by telegram. I also asked about rigging-screws in the yachting department, but learnt that they were not kept in stock; that Carey and Neilson's would certainly have them, and that their shop was in the Minories, in the far east, meaning a journey nearly as long as to Flensburg, and twice as tiresome. They would be shut by the time I got there, so after this exhausting round of duty I went home in a cab, omitted dressing for dinner (an epoch in itself), ordered a chop up from the basement kitchen, and spent the rest of the evening packing and writing, with the methodical gloom of a man setting his affairs in order for the last time.
To listen to me read the second episode of The Riddle of the Sands, please click here and log-in. If you missed part one, you'll find that here.
Tales for Our Time started as an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proved very popular, and and we now have quite an archive. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club almost two years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who signed up to be a part of it and then enthusiastically re-subscribed for a second year - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. We hope you'll want to join us for a third year, and, if you've enjoyed our monthly Steyn Club audio adventures and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. That said, aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly (such as last Wednesday's);
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Priority booking for the next Mark Steyn Club Cruise (the second is sold out, but our third has just been announced);
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, such as my recent tour with Dennis Miller;
~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 planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to The Riddle of the Sands but to all our other audio adventures.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, whether you like my reading of this twenty-eighth Tale for Our Time or are minded to throw it overboard, then feel free to comment away below. And do join us tomorrow for Part Three of The Riddle of the Sands.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: