'Dal Benzague

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English music hall singer from the Rudyard Kipling short story "The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat," first printed in the 1917 collection A Diversity of Creatures. The protagonist and his pals are convicted on a trumped-up speeding charge by the local Justice of the Peace in the village of Huckley. They conspire with fellow convictee, music hall impresario Bat Masquerier. They invite the entire town to a banquet "The Geoplanarians' Annual Banquet and Exercises," get them good and liquored up, and convince them to vote the Earth is flat. After that hits the news, they further ridicule the village by making up the catchy song "The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat," which becomes a huge hit, even though the melody is from the nursery rhyme "Nuts in May." The song is such a catchy earworm, it's used as an example of a meme before memes were invented.

Dal (short for Vidal), is managed by Masquerier, and sings at his hall, the Trefoil. Masquerier generously assigns her all the gramophone rights of the song, and she stands to become quite wealthy. She hopes to wow audiences like real singer Nellie Farren.

Then 'Dal came on, an electric star in her dark hair, the diamonds flashing in her three-inch heels—a vision that made no sign for thirty counted seconds while the police-court scene dissolved behind her into Morgiana's Manicure Palace, and they recovered themselves. The star on her forehead went out, and a soft light bathed her as she took—slowly, slowly to the croon of adoring strings—the eighteen paces forward. We saw her first as a queen alone; next as a queen for the first time conscious of her subjects, and at the end, when her hands fluttered, as a woman delighted, awed not a little, but transfigured and illuminated with sheer, compelling affection and goodwill. I caught the broken mutter of welcome—the coo which is more than tornadoes of applause. It died and rose and died again lovingly.

'She's got it across,' Bat whispered. 'I've never seen her like this. I told her to light up the star, but I was wrong, and she knew it. She's an artist.'

'Dal, you darling!' some one spoke, not loudly but it carried through the house.

'Thank you!' 'Dal answered, and in that broken tone one heard the last fetter riveted. 'Good evening, boys! I've just come from—now—where the dooce was it I have come from?' She turned to the impassive files of the Gubby dancers, and went on: 'Ah, so good of you to remind me, you dear, bun-faced things. I've just come from the village—The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat.'

She swept into that song with the full orchestra. It devastated the habitable earth for the next six months. Imagine, then, what its rage and pulse must have been at the incandescent hour of its birth! She only gave the chorus once. At the end of the second verse, 'Are you with me, boys?' she cried, and the house tore it clean away from her—'Earth was flat—Earth was flat. Flat as my hat—Flatter than that'—drowning all but the bassoons and double-basses that marked the word.

'Wonderful,' I said to Bat. 'And it's only "Nuts in May" with variations.'

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