The Wreck of a Theory

Welcome to Part Twenty-Two of The Riddle of the Sands, The Mark Steyn Club‘s latest Tale for Our Time and a classic story by a sometime English, sometime Irish, sometime British, sometime Anglo-Irish writer, Erskine Childers. In tonight’s episode, Carruthers has set foot on the remote barely-island of Memmert to find out what the Kaiser’s chaps are up to. To his considerable dismay, his theory of German plans for a surprise attack on England seems less persuasive than one of simple greed for buried treasure:

Relics of the wrecked frigate abounded… Nor was it the mere sight of this lumber that dumbfounded me. It was the fact that a fragment of it, a balk of curved timber garnished with some massive bolts, lay on the table, and was evidently an object of earnest interest. The diver had turned and was arguing with gestures over it; von Brüning and Grimm were pressing another view. The diver shook his head frequently, finally shrugged his shoulders, made a salutation, and left the room. Their movements had kept me ducking my head pretty frequently, but I now grew almost reckless as to whether I was seen or not.

All the weaknesses of my theory crowded on me—the arguments Davies had used at Bensersiel; Fräulein Dollmann’s thoughtless talk; the ease (comparatively) with which I had reached this spot, not a barrier to cross or a lock to force; the publicity of their passage to Memmert by Dollmann, his friend, and Grimm; and now this glimpse of business-like routine. In a few moments I sank from depth to depth of scepticism. Where were my mines, torpedoes, and submarine boats, and where my imperial conspirators? Was gold after all at the bottom of this sordid mystery? Dollmann after all a commonplace criminal? The ladder of proof I had mounted tottered and shook beneath me. ‘Don’t be a fool,’ said the faint voice of reason. ‘There are your four men. Wait.’

To listen to the twenty-second episode of The Riddle of the Sands, please click here and log-in. If you’re late getting started on this current Tale, you’ll find the story so far here.

We don’t really need a nautical chart for this episode, so here’s Carruthers’ sketch of what he finds at Memmert:

~I have been so touched by all your kind comments about my latest pair of legal victories over Cary Katz’s faux-conservative “network” Blaze/CRTV. First there were the five judges from the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court:

Appellate Court Awards Conservative Commentator Mark Steyn $1 Million in Attorney Fees

Why, yes, they did – although Mr Katz’s check appears to have been delayed by yesterday’s federal holiday.

Next came our total victory in Blaze/CRTV’s second ten-million-dollar arbitration suit against me and Mark Steyn Enterprises. As with the first arbitration, Blaze TV lost on every single one of its claims – of which this time there were nearly one hundred. Because Katz & Co refused to accept that they had flopped out on the first suit, we asked the Arbitrator on this second suit for a blow-by-blow scorecard of every one of those ninetysomething “statements at issue”. I’m impressed that Brian, a First Day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from the Pacific North-West, made his way all the way through the decision to the judicial determination of Statement Ninety-Two:

I especially enjoyed this nugget from Page 44: ‘That reduces the final defamation claim to “cockwombles” – which suggests foolishness on the part of the believers as the article itself makes clear with its express etymological analysis. Perhaps the operative foolishness here is in CRTV believing that provides an actionable basis for a defamation claim under New York law.’

That last sentence could have been written by you, Mark, and attests the plaintiff is indeed a cockwomble. It’s as if the arbitrator finally let loose his own inner Steyn in finale before signing off.

I enjoyed that paragraph, too, Brian: You would have thought that some of the famous “constitutional conservatives” in Katz’s employ might have pointed out to him that “cockwomble” isn’t actionable. However, I also enjoyed this analysis of Statement Sixty-Eight:

The balance of the remarks challenged pertain to the ‘cat tree’ from the show, which was prominently on display through the evidentiary hearings in this proceeding.

That’s true. We installed the extremely large cat tree in the courtroom for the week-long trial, just in case we needed to introduce it in evidence.

So Katz/Blaze/CRTV lose yet again. I believe our next stop is federal court in Nevada. It is a far duller though much longer saga than any in Tales for Our Time – although I don’t rule out turning it into a play or satirical novel.

Tales for Our Time is 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 is now in its third season. 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. And do join me tomorrow evening for Part Twenty-Three of The Riddle of the Sands.