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The Peace Offering
by [?]

“I want you to help me in getting up a dramatic entertainment of some sort,” said the Baroness to Clovis. “You see, there’s 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, doesn’t it?”

“It wasn’t 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?”

“That’s a different story and a different century,” said Clovis; “the dramatic unities forbid one to lay a scene in more than one century at a time. The killing in this case has to be done by Clytemnestra.”

“Rather a pretty name. I’ll 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 don’t 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 won’t stand anything very Greek.”

“You can get over any objection by calling it Hygiene, or limb- culture, or something of that sort. After all, every one exposes their insides to the public gaze and sympathy nowadays, so why not one’s 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 doesn’t do to let the dramatic instinct carry one too far; one must consider one’s environment. When one lives among greyhounds one should avoid giving life-like imitations of a rabbit, unless one want’s one’s head snapped off. Remember, I’ve 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. She’s a dear good thing, and will do anything she’s 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?”

“She was a sort of advance-agent for calamities. To know her was to know the worst. Fortunately for the gaiety of the age she lived in, no one took her very seriously. Still, it must have been fairly galling to have her turning up after every catastrophe with a conscious air of ‘perhaps another time you’ll believe what I say.'”

“I should have wanted to kill her.”

“As Clytemnestra I believe you gratify that very natural wish.”

“Then it has a happy ending, in spite of it being a tragedy?”

“Well, hardly,” said Clovis; “you see, the satisfaction of putting a violent end to Cassandra must have been considerably damped by the fact that she had foretold what was going to happen to her. She probably dies with an intensely irritating ‘what-did-I-tell- you’ smile on her lips. By the way, of course all the killing will be done in the Sumurun manner.”