Welcome to Episode Thirty of our nightly audio adventure – a summer diversion by Jack London, Burning Daylight.
As Mark says of the tentative moves by the smoldering Burning Daylight, ‘things have come to a pretty pass.’
In the current episode, Daylight uses a work conversation, in his office alone with his stenographer, as the excuse to ask about renewing non-work encounters that Daylight had contrived without the cooperation of the young lady.
Shortly before listening to Part 29, I read this headline in my local paper, The New York Post:
‘Cuomo “groping” accuser details sex misconduct claims against gov in new interview.’
Up to a point, these are similar situations, albeit 120 years apart. A powerful man has his lowly subordinate alone with him in his office, and he is attracted to her. Sadly for the NY State employee in 2021, and sadly for all of us, our civilization has taken a nose dive in those 120 years, as NY Governor Andrew Cuomo exemplifies.
I can enjoy listening to Mark’s fine rendition of the book, but I cannot escape thoughts of the contrast. Things are not at a pretty pass.
Indeed, Steve. Every society needs courtship rituals, no matter how preposterous they may seem to many. But we have abolished all ours, and so single young women endure a crude charmless boss exercising his droit du seigneur on their breasts and buttocks because the other ladies in the office ensure them he’s such a champion of “women’s rights” in general, if not theirs in particular.
In tonight’s episode, Daylight eschews the Cuomo approach and stumbles toward the confessional:
“Of course, there’s no way of telling what anybody wants from what they say.” Daylight rubbed Bob’s rebellious ear with his quirt and pondered with dissatisfaction the words he had just uttered. They did not say what he had meant them to say. “What I’m driving at is that you say flatfooted that you won’t meet me again, and you give your reasons, but how am I to know they are your real reasons? Mebbe you just don’t want to get acquainted with me, and won’t say so for fear of hurting my feelings. Don’t you see? I’m the last man in the world to shove in where I’m not wanted. And if I thought you didn’t care a whoop to see anything more of me, why, I’d clear out so blamed quick you couldn’t see me for smoke.”
Dede smiled at him in acknowledgment of his words, but rode on silently. And that smile, he thought, was the most sweetly wonderful smile he had ever seen. There was a difference in it, he assured himself, from any smile she had ever given him before.
It was the smile of one who knew him just a little bit, of one who was just the least mite acquainted with him. Of course, he checked himself up the next moment, it was unconscious on her part. It was sure to come in the intercourse of any two persons.’
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And please join me tomorrow for Part Thirty-One of Burning Daylight.