Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Saint George - 7. The Scheme

Brothers, let us be reasonable. Instead of making life a burden to each other, we'd better scrutinize calmly the bone of contention that is dividing our nation. On the point at issue we are of one mind, the sheer looks of our pond-squatter. Here lies no cause for drawing knives. It is not this that's driving us apart. But if not this, what then?
One faction
- and on this he turned to the right wing of the council - implicitly believes what the guards told us about the monster's appearance. In consequence, let us call them 'Believers'. The other faction - and now he turned to the left wing - refuses to accept the reports on good faith, yea, deems it not overly improbable that they don't answer to reality. Therefore, let them be baptized 'Disbelievers', or rather 'Unbelievers', and rightly so.
Now, my fellow councillors, you will agree with me, that pounding each other's skulls for the sheer image of a creature that one faction saw only in part and the other faction not at all, would be utter foolishness. And, if even possible, the more foolish, indeed, because the solution is so obvious. We should examine the truth of the matter, we should arrange for the beast to be observed. To see for yourself, indeed, compares to nothing.
So, let us consider how we can make this happen.
It will not be easy. The Believers are still terror-stricken. They're constantly living in fear. And the Unbelievers, they too, dare not venture out of town at the hour of offering. Maybe, they fear to be counted as sheep?"
he added with a mischievous smile.
"Well, brothers,"
he went on, "I have reflected on this question beforehand, and I'm here to propound to you my plan.
We should move the place where the victim is offered in the direction of our town, gradually. When we do so with care, without giving him the impression it's done on purpose, so that the beast may come to suspect us of luring him into a trap, we may succeed in bringing him under our walls close enough for us to watch him in action safely and at ease.
Forthwith, it will be clear which of both factions is in the right and thereby harmony will be restored to our people. What is more, we shall know at once how to behave toward it, whether we'll be able to rid ourselves of it, or - when its looks prove so dreadful as to deny our human powers any chance of success - whether we'd better get used to it living in our presence. In case of the latter we can remove the offering back to its present place as to spare us the weekly fright of so ghastly a spectacle.
But whatever the result of this investigation, the perilous discord from which we at present are suffering will be healed. And that, in my opinion, is the most important of all."
English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2009
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983

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