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SCENE : No Place, Nowhere. The Theatre, the light full on the inscription of the architrave, “ The World, a Theatre of Varieties; Lessee and Manager, SATAN,” is seen from its topmost steps, completely open, so that the stage, stalls, and orchestra are visible, somewhat foreshortened. The drop curtain is down ; and in front of it HEROIsM is lying on the ground asleep, with BALLET MAsTER DEATH lying across him, dead drunk, his skull propped up on HERoIsM’s chest. WInow FEAR and her children SUsPICioN and PANIC are cautiously treading on tiptoe, consulting in whispers, startled as if by ghosts in corners, hesitating whether and how to go away; The last of the other PAssIONs are collecting their instruments in the Orchestra. PITY, INDIGNATION, IDEALIsM, and ADVENTURE have vanished. The SLEEPY VIRTUEs in the stalls wake up and rub their eyes preliminary to departing, PRUDENCE, TEMPERANcE, FAIRNEss, and TRUTHFULNEss exchanging horrified remarks.
IST SLEEPY VIRTUE. What a hideous dream!
6TH SLEEPY VIRTUE. Or else all that poetry and eloquence fuddled us. ALL. Well, thank heaven, we’re broad awake now, and can
get out of this odious low-class booth.
The SLEEPY VIRTUEs begin groping their way out of the half-darkness. SATAN steps forward, unfolds his wings, revealing himself in the black effulgence of his archangelic armour to the MUsE oF HIsTORY and the AGEs-TO-COME, who remain alone with him in the Orchestra. SATAN begins to switch off the last lights.
SATAN. Alas! even the longest performance must come to an end!
THE MUsE. The longest and the most reussi, my dear Lord Satan! But before we disperse, allow me to express the deepest appreciation and gratitude on the part of the Ages-toCome and my unworthy self. The remembrance of your matchless Ballet of the Nations will be a frequent solace, I feel certain, in our usual humdrum existence.
CHORUs oF AGEs-TO-COME. Yes, indeed. (2) That it will. (3) One does need something great and heroic in order to pull through the dreary days of peace and remind one of Man’s higher possibilities. (T utti.) Our heartfelt thanks to your Lordship.
The AoEs-To-CoME go up to SATAN, curtsy and bob, and are revealed to be, not the classic veiled figures they had previously appeared, but old ladies with long eyeglasses, and old gentlemen, dignitaries in lank black coats and spats and half-pay colonels with white moustaches, all carrying lending-library volumes of memoirs under their arms, alongside of their tucked-up Grecian draperies.
SATAN (with his hand, now seen to be slightly clawed, on the last electric switch). Pas de guoi, dear friends! The pleasure has all been on my side, and I must thank you for so much intelligent indulgence. A u revoir, ladies and gentlemen. And to our next merry meeting, dear old Muse of History. As I have often said: What should you and I do without one another, I wonder? But I was forgetting; I must close up the green room.
THE MUsE (more than ever like a huge pouter-pigeon prima donna in her tightly drawn draperies with large key pattern, rolls out in her usual luscious contralto, but with ill-concealed inquisitiveness). Your green room? I never thought of that. Of course! Every theatre must have a green room. How deeply interesting! How . . .
SATAN (looks the MUsE long in the face and laughs). Well, what would you give your old playmate Satan if he were to admit you to an additional little spectacle .P To show you a mystery 5
THE MUsE. O Satan dearest!
CHORUs oF AGEs-TO-COME. A mystery, my Lord? Oh,
we do so love mysteries. Is it Eleusinian? or like the Iron Mask ? or the Chevalier d’Eon ?
THE MUsE. Is it . . . well, how shall I put it ? Is it very scabreux?
SATAN (laughing). Oh, not in the least. I fear you will be horribly disappointed. It is to the last degree respectable. However, as you have been so very kind to my poor Ballet, it may interest you to see what was passing behind the stage. I must explain that, in view of future dramatic possibilities, I never omit to have everything that comes in my way adequately cinematographed and gramophoned. Besides, these records help to amuse my solitary leisure.
SATAN presses a button with a long clanging ring. The curtain rises. SATAN helps the MUsE 0F HIsTORY on to the empty stage, where, as already described, HEROIsM is lying nearest the footlights, motionless, with BALLET MAsTER DEATH asleep propped up on him, snoring. The end of the stage is closed by a brilliantly lit magic-lantern screen, blank. On the table is the cinematograph apparatus. On another a large gramophone of the sort marked “ His Master’s Voice.”
THE MUsE (bursting with delighted expectancy). How mar