We hope our Canadian listeners are enjoying the long Dominion Day weekend, but here at SteynOnline, even on national holidays, the lights stay on. 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, such as these nightly adaptations of classic fiction. So here we go with the Sunday installment of our current Tale for Our Time, a prototype spy thriller by Erskine Childers set in the early 20th century's long leisurely countdown to global war. In tonight's episode, Carruthers and Davies prepare to leave the German mainland - but under the Kaiser's escort:
The tide was swirling into the harbour in whorls of chocolate froth, and as it rose all Bensersiel, dominated as before by Herr Schenkel, straggled down to the quay to watch the movements of shipping during the transient but momentous hour when the mud-hole was a seaport. The captain's steam-cutter was already afloat, and her sailors busy with sidelights and engines. When it became known that we, too, were to sail, and under such distinguished escort, the excitement intensified.
Again our friend of the Customs was spreading out papers to sign, while a throng of helpful Frisians, headed by the twin giants of the post-boat, thronged our decks and made us ready for sea in their own confused fashion. Again we were carried up to the inn and overwhelmed with advice, and warnings, and farewell toasts. Then back again to find the Dulcibella afloat, and von BrĂĽning just arrived, cursing the weather and the mud, chaffing Davies, genial and dĂ©bonnaire as ever.
'Stow that mainsail, you won't want it,' he said. 'I'll tow you right out to Spiekeroog. It's your only anchorage for the night in this windâ€”under the island, near the Blitz, and that would mean a dead beat for you in the dark.'
The other day Michael Ainslie, a First Day Founding Member from Minnesota, sent a most discombobulating question, querying not my German but my English:
Is Davies pronounced as you do - Davis - or is the long e as Davies?
Hmm. We may have changed his name for the audio version, in the way that Stevenson's Dr Jeeeeekyll became Dr Jekkkkyll in the movies, or I've got a lot of retakes to do.
In this leg of the voyage, the action is at the top of the map below. First the Dulcibella proceeds from Bensersiel, near Esens on the mainland, to the island of Spiekeroog just north, and thence to Norderney in the west:
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 birthday present that lasts all year: A gift membership in the Steyn Club, which comes with access to our entire archive of Tales for Our Time, including The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time Machine, The Thirty-Nine Steps and many more. For more details on our special Gift Membership, see here. Please join me tomorrow evening for Part Eighteen of The Riddle of the Sands.