Revolt

revolt

(marcovdz [CC / Flickr])

“My dear Senator, you look most red in the face. Have you come far?”

“From the city, Speaker.”

“At some speed, I see. Pray take a moment to catch your breath and then tell me why. I hope you were not struck by a desire for exercise for its own sake. That went out of fashion five years ago, and good riddance.”

“We don’t have a moment, Speaker. We must stop the performance at once. Disperse the audience. There is no time to lose.”

“On the contrary, Senator, I’ve always found that it’s when matters appear at their most urgent that there is invariably more time to lose than one might think.”

“What? Oh spare me the sophistry, Speaker, please. We must cancel the performance and turn out the militia. At once!”

“I shall do no such thing. At least, not until you deign to tell me why.”

“Very well, very well. There are red flags flying in the city. I have seen them with my own eyes. The people are gathering around them. They will be marching on the Capitol within the hour if they’re not already on the move.”

“Oh dear. The plebians are revolting are they? And you, my poor Senator, have been among them. No wonder you look ill.”

“Yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. And the performance will put twenty thousand of them on the doorstep of the Capitol.

“My dear Senator, I have never met a pleb who is not revolting. I have never found it sufficient reason to cancel a performance. Think of the poor players. They have been rehearsing for months. Would you wish their efforts in vain when they are poised to take the stage?”

“Speaker, I beg you, save your witticisims for another time. This is no time for levity, but for swift and decisive action.”

“Hm. Action by the militia, no doubt?”

“Yes, Speaker, by the militia. Who else can break up these riotous assemblies before the Capitol runs red with our blood?”

“I wouldn’t concern yourself with the aesthetics. It’s our blood they’re after, which I should hope will run with a most pleasing shade of blue. Well, maybe not if the colour of your face is any guide. Really Senator, a little more sang-froid if you please.”

“Have you listened to a word I’ve said to you?”

“I have listened very carefully to every word, and to the tone you employed to deliver them. That is why I am certain that the performance must go ahead. We shall have twenty thousand honest citizens watching and laughing as caricatures of us are mocked and occasionally murdered for their delectation. After two hours of that, they will be in far too good a spirit to join anything as tiresome as a riot.”

“Surely you cannot mean it, Speaker. Watching us made absurd and vulnerable on stage will only encourage them to take their blades to us as soon as they leave the theatre.”

“Senator, Senator, Senator, you misunderstand the principal of bread and circuses. Now you have brought me your warning and in spite of the thoughts you expose most indiscreetly on your face, I have heeded it. Now you have said all you have to say about the events in the city – you have said it all, have you not? – good. Now I am fully informed, I will act on your information and I advise you to be informed by what you are about to observe. I flatter myself that you will find it of great value should you ever rise to the lofty post of Speaker.”

“Rise to…what I…Speaker, what are you going to do?”

“I am going to turn out the militia as you advised, and to send them to the city to deal with those red flags away from the Capitol. Meanwhile, I will lay on a generous supply of food to be distributed around the audience and a less generous supply of wine. Enough to put them in a spirit to appreciate our gifts to them and to ensure that they laugh at any jokes the players manage not to massacre, but not enough that there will be any risk of them getting carried away. But first, I will ensure that the performance itself is defanged of any political resonance.”

“Resonance? What? How?”

“Simple, my dear Senator. I shall request the players to perform nude.”

“Nude? Well, I…what if they refuse?”

“What a fellow you are, Senator! Refuse a request from a Speaker with the authority to turn out the militia? Who ever heard of such a thing? No, Senator, you are about to watch twenty thousand of the least revolting proletarians you ever beheld. Assuming, of course, that you can lift your gaze from the stage occasionally. If only it were so easy to persuade them to take a bath now and again.”

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

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