The Man in the Library

Just ahead of tonight’s “Tucker” appearance, welcome to the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time, and Part Three of my serialization of The Power-House by John Buchan. We’re always happy to hear from Mark Steyn Club members who enjoy our thrilling radio serials, and this pre-war yarn from the twilight of Edwardian London seems to be proving popular. John Wilson, a First Week Founding Member from Colorado, cheers:

Thank you for bringing us more Buchan!

Also,I love the choice of Holst, The Planets: Mars as theme music. So many great themes in The Planets. I keep expecting to hear Jupiter appear in one of your tales. One of the greatest pieces by an English composer, IMHO.

Indeed, John. Usually I leave it a little bit longer to identify our theme music, but this one is too well known. John Buchan wrote The Power-House for Blackwood’s Magazine in 1913 and published it in hardcover in 1916. Between those two dates Gustav Holst was likewise busy writing his Planets suite. Buchan, at the time of publication of The Power-House, would never have heard The Planets, because it was not premiered until 1918. But it is hard to hear the low rumbling of Mars: The Bringer of War without thinking that Holst had the same things on his mind circa 1914 as Buchan did.

Incidentally, if you like Gustav Holst, don’t miss Carol Welsman’s beautiful interpretation of one of his best-known tunes, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, on our most recent Mark Steyn Christmas Show. Christmas has come and gone, but the bleak midwinter is still with us (at least in my neck of the woods) and Carol’s lovely arrangement will get you through the worst of it.

In tonight’s episode of The Power-House, our protagonist has a motoring accident and meets a strange benefactor:

It was a library, the most attractive I think I have ever seen. The room was long, as libraries should be, and entirely lined with books, save over the fireplace, where hung a fine picture, which I took to be a Raeburn. The books were in glass cases, which showed the beautiful shallow mouldings of a more artistic age. A table was laid for dinner in a corner, for the room was immense, and the shaded candlesticks on it, along with the late June dusk, gave such light as there was. At first I thought the place was empty, but as I crossed the floor a figure rose from a deep chair by the hearth.

“Good evening, Mr. Leithen,” a voice said. “It is a kindly mischance which gives a lonely old man the pleasure of your company.”

Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here.

I take it the “fine picture” by Raeburn is a reference to Sir Henry of that ilk, portrait painter to George IV in Scotland. So I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing one of my own favorite Raeburns above, although whether it approximates to the one hanging in the library of Edward Leithen’s benefactor I cannot say. Nevertheless, like the Reverend Mr Walker, Mr Leithen, as he is beginning to discern, is skating on very thin ice.

If you have friends who might appreciate The Power-House and our other Tales for Our Time, we have a special Steyn Club Gift Membership that lets them in on that and all the other fun in The Mark Steyn Club.

If you’ve only joined the Steyn Club in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle’s The Tragedy of the Korosko, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Kafka, Dickens, Gogol, Louisa May Alcott, Jack London, H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald and more), you can find them all on our easy-to-access Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. Indeed, it’s so easy to access that we’ve just introduced a similar format for The Mark Steyn Show, where you can enjoy my in-depth interviews with Lionel Shriver, Jordan Peterson, Amity Shlaes and many more.

The Mark Steyn Club is now in its third year, and helps support all our content – whether in print, audio or video – and keep it out there in the world for everyone. In return, membership confers, aside from Tales for Our Time, a few other benefits:

~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here – and please join me tomorrow for Part Four of The Power-House.

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