For a quarter or so of a century, Death's celebrated Dances had gone rather out of fashion.
Then, with the end of the proverbially bourgeois Victorian age, there set in a revival of taste, and therefore of this higher form of tragic art, combining, as it does, the truest classical tradition with the romantic attractions of the best Middle Ages. In South Africa and the Far East, and then in the Near East quite recently, the well-known Ballet-Master Death had staged some of his vastest and most successful productions.
"It is time," said Satan, the Lessee of the World, to "re-open the Theatre of the West. The Politicians and Armament Shareholders have long got all the stage-property in readiness, and the Scene-Shifters of the Press are only waiting for the signal."
"Your orders shall have my very best attention," answered Ballet-Master Death, "for, to tell you the truth, my dear Lord Satan, this West, with its Doctors and Economists and Trade Unions, is fast losing the habit of those sublimer forms of Art of which Aristotle pithily remarks, that they purge the world of its inhabitants by terror and pity.