The Peace Offering
I want you to help me in getting up a dramatic entertainment of some sort, said the Baroness to Clovis. You see, theres been an election petition down here, and a member unseated and no end of bitterness and ill-feeling, and the County is socially divided against itself. I thought a play of some kind would be an excellent opportunity for bringing people together again, and giving them something to think of besides tiresome political squabbles.
The Baroness was evidently ambitious of reproducing beneath her own roof the pacifying effects traditionally ascribed to the celebrated Reel of Tullochgorum.
We might do something on the lines of Greek tragedy, said Clovis, after due reflection; the Return of Agamemnon, for instance.
The Baroness frowned.
It sounds rather reminiscent of an election result, doesnt it?
It wasnt that sort of return, explained Clovis; it was a home coming.
I thought you said it was a tragedy.
Well, it was. He was killed in his bathroom, you know.
Oh, now I know the story, of course. Do you want me to take the part of Charlotte Corday?
Thats a different story and a different century, said Clovis; the dramatic unities forbid one to lay a scene in more one century at a time. The killing in this case has to be done by Clytemnestra.
Rather a pretty name. Ill do that part. I suppose you want to be Aga-whatever his name is?
Dear no. Agamemnon was the father of grown-up children, and probably wore a beard and looked prematurely aged. I shall be his charioteer or bath-attendant, or something decorative of that kind. We must do everything in the Sumurun manner, you know.
I dont know, said the Baroness; at least, I should know better if you would explain exactly what you mean by the Sumurun manner.
Clovis obliged: Weird music, and exotic skippings and flying leaps, and lots of drapery and undrapery. Particularly undrapery.
I think I told you the County are coming. The County wont stand anything very Greek.
You can get over any objection by calling it Hygiene, or limbculture, or something of that sort. After all, every one exposes their insides to the public gaze and sympathy nowadays, so why not ones outside?
My dear boy, I can ask the County to a Greek play, or to a costume play, but to a Greek-costume play, never. It doesnt do to let the dramatic instinct carry one too far; one must consider ones environment. When one lives among greyhounds one should avoid giving life-like imitations of a rabbit, unless one wants ones head snapped off. Remember, Ive got this place on a seven years lease. And then, continued the Baroness, as to skippings and flying leaps; I must ask Emily Dushford to take a part. Shes a dear good thing, and will do anything shes told, or try to; but can you imagine her doing a flying leap under any circumstances?
She can be Cassandra, and she need only take flying leaps into the future, in a metaphorical sense.
Cassandra; rather a pretty name. What kind of character is she?
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