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WEB OPERA


GEN D. – I have lost her through being so mercenary! Farewell! (Going).

MRS. W. – Stay! (rises from keys). If you had only been mercenary, Edwin, I could have forgiven you. We are all rather mercenary at times. But it is clear you loved my china better than you loved me (falls on keys as before. GENERAL DEELAH starts at the discordant noise).

GEN D. (Candidly and excitedly). Never! Never! I hate old china! But society has forced me with the alternative of being thought vulgar, or pretend an affection for its inartistic, ugly beauties at which my true soul actually revolts!

MRS. W.(Rising from keys). And yet you manufacture new china and sell it as old. Oh! modern sham uncle of Aladdin (falls on keys).

GEN D. (Starts and says, aside). I wish she would weep in tune. (Aloud.) Oh, how you wrong me. Let me explain. A set of vagabonds who infest England have bought up every bit of Oriental ware, are doctoring it up, making it look dirty, cracking it, and then palming it off on would be fashionable folks as real oriental ware. One little town in Japan had been completely cleaned out of every cup and saucer, and the poor Japanese (affected) were compelled to drink their tea out of the bottles and blacking pots. I could not bear to see this. So I started a firm for the manufacture of English china to supply to wants of the natives, and I flatter myself I am doing very well.

MRS. W.(Rising to her feet.) A very charitable and estimable thought Edwin, but is it now rather vulgar?

GEN D. – Oh dear, no. When I am away society is always under the impression that I am abroad on foreign service. There’s always a war in the East somewhere or other. Besides, if the aristocracy make iron and sell tea why not make “cups and saucers!” They are my excuses, presuming I am found out!

MRS. W.(Shyly). Then what do you propose to do?

GEN D. – Again propose to you! And if your little income – (anxiously) – you have a little income, have you not?

MRS. W. – It is useless disguising the fact; I have, and you have a half-pay?

GEN D. – I have, and if they manage to keep us separately, why not together for ever!

MRS. W.(taking his hand.) Agreed! (Going to door R.). Jane! Jane!

GEN D. – Here, don’t call Jane!

MRS. W. – I am not going to. (Calling.) Jane hurry the dinner. General Deelah will stay. You will stay, Edwin, wont you?

GEN D. – Most certainly! and for many a dinner to come, I hope.

MRS. W. – And our future fate is –

GEN D. – To give up old china and live in Japan.

MRS. W. – And make cups and saucers?

GEN D. – As fast as we can.

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