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ACT II

SCENE. — A handsomely furnished front and back drawing-room in Carlton Gardens. The two rooms separated by handsome double curtains which are closed during the early part of the Act. A sumptuous luncheon is laid on the table in the back-room, but concealed from the audience by the curtains. Doors R. L. Window up stage L. Small table R. with vase and bouquet. Grand piano L.C.

Enter BARNS, an old family retainer.

Barns. (announcing). The Duke of Turniptopshire!

Enter DUKE. Exit BARNS.

Duke. Admirable! Magnificent! What gorgeous decorations! What refined taste! What
have we here? (Looks through curtains.) A most luxurious cold collation! Seven-and-sixpence a head, if it cost a penny! I wonder if (looking around him) there's no one coming — I wonder if I might venture to take just one tartlet! I will — (Takes a tartlet from table and eats it.)

Enter the MARCHIONESS OF MARKET HARBOROUGH.

Marchioness. Well Duke.

Duke. Marchioness (embarrassed, with his mouthful) — I — I — delighted to see you.

Marchioness. (more in sorrow than in anger.) Ah, Duke, Duke — you've been picking the luncheon again! Now that's too bad!

Duke. I'm sorry — very, very sorry. Forgive me, it was thoughtless — criminal if you will,
but I was ever a wayward child, accustomed to have his every whim gratified, and now, in middle age, I find it difficult to shake off the shackles that custom and education have rivetted on me. (in tears.)

Marchioness. (in tears.) You were my late husband's early friend!

Duke. (with an effort). And now, my dear Marchioness, whom do you expect at your concert this morning? Tell me all — do not fear — you can trust me implicitly!

Marchioness. I feel I can! Well, then, there's Lord and Lady Popton, the Duke and Duchess of Deal, Colonel Coketown, the Dowager Duchess of Worthing, Lord and Lady
Pentwhistle, and the Archbishop of Bayswater.

Duke. (aside). All dem snobs! (Aloud). And who sings?

Marchioness. The most delightful creature in the world — no other than the distinguished falsetto, Nisnardi, who arrived only a week ago from Bologna, and who has already turned
all the crowned heads of Europe. He can go up to G!

Duke. Gad bless me, what a gift!

Marchioness. You have no idea how deliciously eccentric he is.

Duke. Well, you know, a man who can touch an upper G is not like us common fellers:
he's a genius — a genius.

Marchioness. Exactly. I asked him to sing two songs this afternoon, and sent him a cheque for 3,000 guineas; here is his reply: (Reads.) "Madam, you ask me to sing two songs. I
will sing three; you offer me 3,000 guineas — it is not enough — "

Duke. Dem foreigner!

Marchioness. "It is not enough; my terms are — a flower from your bouquet!"

Duke. A what?

Marchioness. "A flower from your bouquet!" Is it not romantic?

Duke. It's a poem — a "ballade!" Pardon this weakness! (Wiping his eyes.)

Marchioness. Dear, dear Duke! (Wiping her eyes.) You know the Princess Polpetti — with the pretty feet?

Duke. I know her pretty feet.

Marchioness. What do you think were his terms for singing at her concert?

Duke. I don't know. He seems fond of flowers - perhaps a pot of mignonette?

Marchioness. Nothing of the kind — one of her old slippers!

Duke. (in tears). Don't — demme, I can't stand it — I can't, indeed.

Marchioness. What tenderness — what sympathy! (Pressing his hand.) You were my late husband's early friend! (Noise and carriage heard.) Here are my guests, and I've been crying! I mustn't be seen in this state! Duke, oblige me by receiving them — I'll be down in one minute! (Exit MARCHIONESS.)

Duke. (takes out snuff-box, opens it and is about to take snuff, produces a powder-puff, and powders his face to remove traces of tears). Why am I cursed with this tremulous
sensitiveness? Why are my heartstrings the sport and toy of every wave of sympathetic second-hand sentiment? Ah! ye small tradesmen and other Members of Parliament, who think rump steak and talk bottled beer, I would give ten years of my life to experience, for one brief day, the joy of being a commonplace man!

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