Page images

2ND VOIcE (more than ever well-bred). Good heavens! Good heavens! . . . You must have been misinformed.

The gramophone wheezes ; SATAN changes the disc. The cinema shows a bourgeois house in the French provinces. A table covered with oilcloth ; a father and son having lunch, napkins in their buttonholes ; also mother.

SoN. But, mon pere, if you are so sure that the Alsatians are dying to be reunited to us, it is surely your duty to fight for their liberation I’

FATHER. Fight! Parlez-en a votre aise, mon petit. You weren’t there in 187o ; I was.

SoN. Yes, and you fought to defend Paris against the Reactionaries—you were a Communard, thank heaven!

MOTHER. There’s no need to rake up that. That’s what

comes of your frequenting those horrible Socialists—all atheists, as M. l’Abbé tells me.

FATHER. _The Commune ? One fights for liberty when one is a boy, and for order and property when one’s a father.

SoN. And one arranges to fight for order and property against the Russian people, I suppose, when they implore one not to side with their tyrants and lend them money.

FATHER. What tyrants ? The Tsar is our ally. And if we ever get back Alsace, sacre bleu! it’ll be thanks to him.

SON. I thought you just now said you wouldn’t fight to liberate Alsace ?

FATHER. No more I would. But if someone else were to fight those dirty Germans, we should get it back.

SON. And for that you are lending money to the Tsar, who treats his own subjects, let alone Poles and Finns, a thousand times worse than the dirty Germans treat Alsace.

FATHER. My son, my money is mine, and I am the sole judge how to invest it. And when you come to my age you will thank me for being a reasonable and peace-loving man, not a cervelle brulée thinking of Russians and Poles, and Alsatians with their ridiculous accent.


SoN. Then why not bury the hatchet and leave the Alsatians to settle with Germany ?

FATHER. My son, I am ashamed of you! But I know that is only the pacifist rubbish you learn at Socialist meetings, and in the absurd rags of fellows like Jaurés and Sembat. Sapristi ! Is one or is one not French, I wonder ? So never let me hear a word against Russians or the Russian loan, which is guaranteed, practically, by our Government.

The gramophone wheezes and the screen becomes blank.

SATAN changes the disc. The cinema shows the committee- _

room of an International Armament Trust; directors, some of them visibly ex-military and ex-naval officers, speaking with various foreign accents.

CHAIRMAN. I regret extremely having to tell you, my dear Rear-Admiral, that this Board has not re-elected you for the coming year. The fact is that ever since your last daughter made such a very good marriage, it has seemed to us that you no longer display the usual energy in dealing with your former naval colleagues.

EX-REAR-ADMIRAL (stiffening himself). Sir, allow me to tell this Committee quite plainly that what you refer to has no sort of connection with my daughter’s marriage. What you asked of me about obtaining that those ships, built only five years ago, should be scrapped, is a thing I could not honourably undertake. There is a limit to what an honest man can do. Those ships were perfectly up-to-date, in my opinion.

A DIRECTOR (German accent). You forget that unless they were scrapped and new ones ordered it became extremely diflicult for me to insist on my ex-naval colleagues in Ogreland ordering new ships. There was nothing on which to base an agitation in my country.


CHAIRMAN. Let me assure you, my dear Admiral, that our Committee is most grateful for your past services; and, of course, now all your daughters are so well married and you are yourself a widower, you must evidently please yourself in such matters.

EX-REAR-ADMIRAL. Oh, but . . . the fact is . . . I’m going to marry again.

CHAIRMAN. In that case I have no doubt this Committee

‘ will be delighted to re-elect so valuable a member a couple of

years hence.

CHAIRMAN. And now we had better take this opportunity

v of examining the expenses of the last mission to Great Bearland

and the Far East. General, I regret to express this Board’s surprise at the magnitude of the sums which you have spent in this work.

EX-GENERAL (Russian accent). What, you insinuate . . .

CHAIRMAN. We insinuate nothing. We merely point to the bill presented for your working expenses.

Ex-GENERAL. Gentlemen, I can assure you—7'e vous jure parole d’honneur—that I am seriously out of pocket on that transaction. The Prime Minister suddenly doubled his claims when he understood how much we required the concession for those new steelworks in my country. He went so far as to threaten to hint to the Government of Ogreland that it was all bluff, and that they needn’t set up similar additional works in reply. He had the knife at our throats. Hardly had I settled with him—and most satisfactorily, you will agree—when up came two Grand Dukes wanting loans, and the Archimandrite Simeon, who has the Monarch’s ear, and was horribly insistent. Indeed, I still have to deliver a diamond riviere I had to promise to a lady very influential in all armament matters. Parole d’honneur, I am a ruined man if you dismiss me, and a ruined man may become a desperate one.


CHAIRMAN. We will look once more into your business, be assured, General. Let us pass on.

LEvANTINE DIRECTOR. Have you remarked, gentlemen, that those Socialist ruffians have again proposed at their International Congress to bring pressure on the various Governments to nationalize all armament industries?

FRENCH DIRECTOR. The chief Socialist leaders shall be given subordinate seats in their respective Ministries. We know how to deal with Socialists and turn them into first-class patriots, don’t we ?

GERMAN DIRECTOR. Perhaps in your country. In my view, we want a good European war to break up these ‘precious pacifists, and put the rest of them in prison.

ENGLIsH DIRECTOR. All very fine, but I’m not convinced that actual war is really to our advantage ; it would, of course, represent a rapid momentary turnover of capital. But if it lasted too long it might result in universal bankruptcy and disarmament.

FRENCH DIRECTOR. Bah! The victor would always have to arm against the vanquished, and a nation is never too bankrupt for that.

AMERICAN DIRECTOR. I agree that, on the whole, and so long as we keep on changing the fashion sufficiently often and making these nations compete sufliciently, armed peace is really more to our advantage.

CHAIRMAN. Besides, it will, of course, lead to war in a natural and thoroughgoing way. Solam for armed peace . . .

The gramophone wheezes. SATAN inserts a disc. The cinema shows breakfast at a vicarage.

VICAR’s MOTHER. My dear boy, don’t ask me to invest in the “ Small Arms and High Explosives Ltd.” instead of the “ Canadian Apple Growers.” You see, I love apples, and I can’t bear war. ‘a

[graphic][merged small]

MOTHER. Still, you can’t say all those bayonets and shells aren’t meant to kill men.

VICAR. I am a priest ; nobody can kill me.

MOTHER. NO, thank God! But all men aren’t priests, and all men are mothers’ sons, and they may be killed if we keep paying people to make these horrid things.

VICAR. Well, mother dear, do you suppose the Bishop hasn’t thought all that out ? He’s got ever so many shares. And, then, there is the Archdeacon.

MOTHER. The Archdeacon—that saint! Are you sure?

VICAR. It’s he who sent me the prospectus. He’s got all his money in it.

MOTHER. Well, dear boy, I suppose—if it’s good enough for the Archdeacon. (She sighs.) One mustn’t be self

righteous, I suppose. Of course, I should have preferred the apples . . .

VICAR. You shall buy tons of Canadian apples out of your High Explosives dividends, mother!

The gramophone wheezes and the screen becomes blank.
SATAN changes the disc. The cinema now represents an
absurdly furnished drawing-room in a modern hotel.
Two elderly gentlemen smoking cigars on a divan.

IsT VoICE. There is nothing in the world my country and Government would like better than European peace based upon our friendship.

2ND VoICE. A friendship between us and European peace based upon it' is the greatest desideratum of my Government and country.

1sT VoICE. But, then, you have allies . . . 2ND VoICE. But, then, you have an entente . . .

« PreviousContinue »