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Death fusses for a moment in and out, hurrying the performers into their places. Clio snatches the opportunity of coming close to Satan and saying in a coquettishly imploring whisper:
The Muse. Dearest Lord Satan, in recognition of our ancient friendship, and of the tiny share of collaboration with which you honour me, forgive me if I venture to implore you on my own behalf and that of my friends, the so appreciative Ages-to-Come . . .
Satan. Any request of yours is granted beforehand, Clio. Except the one you are about to make. You want me to abolish the regulation, old as Time and Change, by which none but the Dancing Nations and myself can hear the music of the Orchestra of Passions. Is that it?
The Muse. It is indeed. And dear, dearest Lord Satan, forgive my importunity if I venture to say that ever since always it has been too frightfully tantalizing to look on at the dancing without hearing a sound.
Satan. I have allowed you to hear Heroism's triumphant voice. Let that be sufficient; his music is worth hearing.
The Muse. Don't think me ungrateful or unappreciative. Of course Heroism's singing is quite exceptionally good, but it's always the same, connu, archi-connu, as the critics say. Besides it isn't he who really makes the music which is being danced to; and it is very hard upon the Muse of History to have to provide little musical motifs, always elevating, of course, but rather tame, and palm them off as the real thing to the Ages-to-Come. The presence of Science and Organization led me to hope that some modern contrivance might at last——
Svtan. No, Clio. And you may thank your stars this Law of Mind and Matter admits of no infraction. Believe me; could History know the true strains which set and keep the Nations dancing, the folly and the frenzy which move those limbs, there would soon be an end to your well-deserved popularity. Besides, if more than the faintest echo of my Band's playing reached any ears than those of Satan and his poor crazed Dancers, it is upon the cards that its grotesque, alluringly heart-rending horror might disincline Posterity for all such entertainments ... So let us drop the subject, my good Muse. Now, Ballet Master Death, have you any last instructions?
Death (bowing obsequiously to Satan). Just one or two, my Lord. (Turns to the performers.) Ladies and Gentlemen, Valiant Nations of my Corps du Ballet, and ever-responsive Passions of the Orchestra so justly admired under the name of Patriotism!Let me remind you that, for the satisfaction of our Stage Lessee, my Lord Satan, and the admiration (I trust) of our enlightened patrons, the Muse of History and the Ages-to-Come, you are about to take part in the vastest and most newfashioned spectacle of Slaughter and Ruin I have so far had the honour of putting on to the World's Stage, although I hope that its attractions may cause it to become only the first and only the least considerable of a long and incessant series of similar glorious exhibitions of what Mankind can do under my guidance. As regards instructions, you really require none: the Nations have of late years concentrated all their educational resources on this sole object. And the Human Passions, however selfengrossed and often at loggerheads, are always eager to accept the unique opportunity for untrammelled manifestation of their violence which is afforded by the symphonies of Patriotism. Once fairly started, the Dancing Nations can all be trusted to obey the baton of Ballet Master Death, and, as to details, the more each one departs from the regulation steps, the more intelligently will the dancers of the opposite side respond to his improvisations, my Ballet belonging essentially to the category of art called imitative. As to the music, I need scarcely impress upon each of the Passions to keep strictly to his or her own part, and never be put out by the dissonances and conflicting rhythms produced by the contradictory parts of his fellow-performers: such incoherence conduces to the volume and impressiveness of the patriotic whole, and is rendered acceptable to the most fastidious ear by the perfection of the national unisons and the constant recurrence of some favourite sentimental theme. The ground plan of our Ballet is so simple that no rehearsals have been necessary, and its variety arises out of the everincreasing number and incompatibility of the allied dancers and their characteristic manners. In obedience to the high ethical taste of modern times, the main motif of our performance is that of each disinterested and indignant nation seeking only to repel the aggression of its vis-a-vis and to uphold the eternal rules of justice and humanity. There are subsidiary themes of outstanding dancers flying to the rescue of the presumable victors, not without some delicate hesitation as to which to join; likewise of main groups overcoming the coyness of unwilling dancers and inveigling them into their terrific mazes. And as the performance proceeds there may be some graceful furtive attempts at pas de deux between dancers of opposite sides, and some very entertaining figures of the sort we dancing-masters call chassez-croisez. One last recommendation, but all important! Let me remind the Passions about to take their seats in the Orchestra of Patriotism that the duration of our performance depends entirely on their activity. Not all the training of the best trained Nations; not all the good will of poor Ballet Master Death; nay, not the sovereign command of Satan in person, could keep our Ballet going if the music of the Passions were to stop. The members of the Orchestra of Patriotism are therefore urgently requested to replenish their energies by unstinting use of the appropriate refreshments, carefully warmed up commonplaces and fiery drams of eloquence, which will be handed round unceasingly by Lord Satan's lackeys of the Press and Pulpit. And now we may all take our appointed places in the Theatre of the World. The Passions, grasping or trundling their instruments, go up the theatre steps and enter it by a small side door marked "To the Orchestra." The Dancing Nations ascend the same steps but remain standing on the topmost, deployed, waiting for orders. Ballet Master Death collects his notes and his baton and is going to follow them when he is stopped by Satan. Satan. Good gracious! We seem all to have forgotten Heroism; he isn't even on the list. Shall we ask the Muse to rout him out? He is accustomed to her. Death. Heroism? Oh, I always leave him to himself; he comes as soon as he hears the music, and he can always be squeezed in anywhere. That's the advantage of his being blind; it makes him the most obliging and least troublesome of all my Orchestra; quite a different pair of boots from stuckup creatures like Idealism and Chivalry and so forth, who are afraid of rubbing shoulders with the Lower Passions. Heroism, bless him, won't mind sitting cheek by jowl even with Fear, that filthy slut, or surrounded by the cannibal rout of Sin. But here he comes!
The Muse (writing). At that moment there entered Heroism, with limbs like a giant's, blushes like a girl's and eyes like a merry child's, but which saw not. Satan. Welcome, Heroism! Our prince of Tenors! (Goes out to meet Heroism and offers to lead him, but Heroism waves him off. Satan pretends not to notice the snub, and with sham cordiality:) We were just saying, my accomplished young friend, that you are the most modest and reliable of our Orchestra, ready for everything! Why, I remember my French Revolution Ballet, when Heroism and Panic played not only a duet, but at the same instrument, four hands!
The Muse (not writing, but joining enthusiastically in the conversation). What a Ballet that was! Ballet Master Death's masterpiece, and yours, my Lord Satan, certainly! The splendid tragic irony of the Marat-Robespierre-guillotining-theme combined with that of Valmy and Liberty!
Satan. Yes, dear Muse of History. I don't deny that was our greatest hit in modern times. But, with goodwill, this new Dance of our Ballet Master Death shall be as full of all manner of terror and irony, and of far vaster dimensions : the whole stage of Europe, not one paltry corner only!
Death (affectionately to Heroism). Come here, my boy; you have always been dutiful and loving to poor old Daddy Death, and cared more for him than for any other of the Immortals.
The Muse (writing). So saying, the skeleton scarecrow tapped the budding cheeks of Heroism, that star-like youth, with eyes which laughed but saw not, for even as his cousin Love, he is blind ever since the cradle. And Heroism, at the sound of Death's well-known voice, kissed his bony fingers with rapture; and grasping the drum with which he accompanies himself, modestly took his stand between Fear and Hatred, unconscious of their foulness. A bell rings from inside the theatre. Death takes the arm of Heroism, who thrills and blushes with joy at the honour; and turning to Satan,
Death. It would be well, my Lord, if you would say a few words of encouragement to my Corps de Ballet.
Satan (nods gravely). I will. (He solemnly takes up his position opposite the deployed Dancing Nations. He folds his great bodiless wings about him so as to form a dalmatic of black radiance, and stands a second or two in majestic and awful