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Dialogue following No. 12


Abdallah. In the morning I shall tell the Sultan. Peace be on you.

All. And on you Peace!

Exit Abdallah.

Desire. (to Rose-in-Bloom). I will see if the way be safe — then we will run to the palace. Wait here. (Exit.)

Yussuf. (looking after her). The Sultan's wife!

Hassan. I have a happy thought.

Scent. Then be sure it is the only one here. Pass it around in little pieces, a bit for each of us.

Hassan. I will. It is in this box — in little pieces of sweetmeat.

Honey. I am partial to Persian sweetmeats. But I don't think even rose-leaves fried
in sweet oil with vanilla flavouring would make me forget I may never have another breakfast!

Hassan. But this will. I am serious.

Rose. So are we all — very.

Hassan. This is a drug called "Bhang." Have you heard of it?

Girls. No.

Yussuf. I have; it is worse than opium.

Hassan. It is better than opium. In times of severe mental worry it gives dreams much
more delightful and extravagant.

Yussuf. A dream — and then comes the awakening. (Sighs.) Such is life!

Hassan. In our case there will be no awakening! Such is — ! We shall still be dreaming when — !

Girls. Don't!

Yussuf. I never heard of a single man who was happier for eating Bhang.

Hassan. My dear sir, that's just it. I am not a single man. When you have been married twenty-six times you will see the charm of this drug, believe me. If you eat enough of it you will be able to sit out the most lengthy and complicated choruses of feminine complainings, and imagine you are listening to a promenade concert. I've tried it often. Twice a day. For years.

Honey. We might taste it. (The drug is passed round — the Girls eat a little.)

Hassan. A drug that will affect your imagination as to make you enjoy a curtain lecture from Dancing Sunbeam will carry you through a paltry execution. I believe a double dose will enable me to imagine that decapitation is rather less trouble than having one's hair cut. I shall reserve a double dose, and you can have the remainder. I shan't want it.

Honey. It's not bad. Peculiar, but not bad.

Scent. Things really do seem a little brighter!

Rose. Yes. Much!

Scent. Not much. But a little.

Yussuf. Not to me! (Sighs deeply.)

Hassan. What's the matter with you? You are not going to lose your head.

Yussuf. No. But I have lost my heart — to the Sultan's wife — the Royal Rose-in-Bloom.

Rose. What impert — oh, by the way, that girl who went out is not the Sultana, you
know.

Yussuf. Not the Sultana? Not the Sultan's wife?

Hassan. Not — ! Why didn't you say so before?

Honey. I don't see that it makes any difference.

Scent. Not a bit.

Yussuf. No difference! If she is not the Sultana I can ask her to be my wife — and
perhaps she will — and I needn't commit suicide! That's the difference!

Hassan. If the Sultana has not been here, there is no reason why I should be executed. That's all. Little enough — but there it is.

Yussuf and Hassan shake hands and show every sign of mutual congratulations and delight.

Scent. She was not the Sultana — but she is. (Indicating Rose-in-Bloom.)

Rose. Yes. I am.

Hassan. You are? Then you have been here!

Rose. Yes. All the time. I am still.

Hassan. I shall have to take a treble dose of Bhang now, instead of a double one.
(Going to exit.) I don't know what the effect will be, but I mean to be off my head before they take my head off.

Exit Hassan.

Yussuf. Ha! Ha! This is delightful. Where is Heart's Desire?

Enter Heart's Desire, agitated.

Desire. I am here! Run into the house — all of you! Hide! Quick!

All. What's the matter?

Desire. The Sultan himself is coming this way!

All. The Sultan!

Desire. With the Grand Vizier, Physician-in-Chief, and Executioner.

All. (groaning). Ugh!

Desire. All disguised as Dervishes! They are coming here!

Yussuf. Into the house — quick! I will warn Hassan — if he will listen to me!

Exeunt.


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