Two days before the case was down for hearing the advance reporter of an important syndicate obtained an interview with the Duke for the purpose of gleaning some final grains of information concerning his Grace's personal arrangements during the trial. "I suppose I may say this will be one of the biggest affairs of its kind during the lifetime of a generation," began the reporter as an excuse for the unsparing minuteness of detail that he was about to make quest for. "I suppose so — if it comes off," said the Duke lazily. "If?" queried the reporter, in a voice that was something between a gasp and a scream. "The Duchess and I are both thinking of going on strike," said the Duke. "Strike!" The baleful word flashed out in all its old hideous familiarity. Was there to be no end to its recurrence? "Do you mean," faltered the reporter, "that you are contemplating a mutual withdrawal of the charges?" "Precisely," said the Duke. "But think of the arrangements that have been made, the special reporting, the cinematographs, the catering for the distinguished foreign witnesses, the prepared music-hall allusions; think of all the money that has been sunk — "

from The Unkindest Blow, a short story by Saki

What would they do in the music-hall?


The speaker is implying that references to the trial have already been written into songs that are going to be played at music halls. These were places that people would go for light entertainment at the time, and the music often included mentions of topical subjects,. Imagine if a comedy TV show like Saturday Night Live prepared a skit about a trial, but then the trial was called off - the skit would have to be rewritten.

  • Great analogy! (with S.N. L.) – Lorel C. Dec 28 '18 at 17:29

An allusion

is a reference to something. But from your excerpt, we do not know what references are made to music-halls. It's not that something is literally taking place in a music-hall, rather some scenery or a backdrop depicting a music-hall might be used.

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