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Dialogue following No. 9


Enter Hassan

Hassan. I have just arranged with a party of singing and dancing girls who are in the
house to give us a refined entertainment. (All Cripples applaud with crutches, calling out "Song and Dance!" "Song and Dance!") But first, O Story-Teller, will you tell us a tale?

Chorus. A tale! A tale!

Yussuf. With joy and alacrity! (Takes centre of stage.)

I'll tell you tales of long ago — old gems of legend lore;
or stories, if you bid me so, you never heard before.
Terrific tales to make you start and quake with horrid fears;
or tender tales to touch your heart, and ask you for your tears.

Hassan. Dear me! Do you always talk in rhymed verse?

Yussuf. Frequently.

Hassan. I do a little that way myself, sometimes.

Yussuf. It is a usual accomplishment of a professional Story-Teller. (While he continues his speech, the Men and Girls become worked up by his eloquence.)

I've a terrible tale of the "Jinns" — unearthly and gruesome and gory!
And the fall of proverbial pins can be heard when I'm telling that story!
And people who hear that dreadful tale
Grow faint with fear and quake and quail
And wake in the night from a dreadful dream
And turn up the light and — (All the Girls scream.)

Hassan. I don't think the ladies would like that story.

Yussuf.

I've love tales of kisses and quarrels — queer mixture of honey and gall —
And some of those stories have morals, and others no morals at all —
(Blush-of-Morning rises and leaves as if shocked.)

Hassan. Please remember the ladies.

Yussuf.

I have drawing-room tales — you will greet them
As fit for your sister or aunt —

Hassan. That's better!

Yussuf.

I have stories so short you'll repeat them;
And others so broad that you can't!
(All Girls rise as if to go.)

Hassan. Do you know I really think we'll postpone your story- telling until the girls
have gone to bed.

Yussuf. With joy and good will. (Girls all sit down again.) Why not summon the dancers at once?

Hassan. I will. (Claps his hands.) You don't mind, do you?

Enter Heart's Desire.

Yussuf. Mind! (Looks in admiration at Heart's Desire.)

Desire. Sir, one of our number will dance for you, by your leave — and then by your
leave we will take our own, and bid you farewell.

Yussuf.

Oh, how shall I paint in metaphor quaint or simile daring,
The beauty and grace of form and face at which I am staring?

Hassan. My position as host allows me to boast — that feeling's de rigueur —
(Hesitating as if thinking of his rhyme.)

Yussuf. But could language reach any figure of speech to speak of her figure?

Hassan. (rather annoyed). Precisely. I was about to make that remark. I see you are a thought-reader as well!


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