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Dialogue following No. 18.


NITA. Well?

BARTOLO. This is a very uncomfortable state of things.

NITA. Very. How do you find your clockwork this evening.

BARTOLO. Ticking, ticking, thank you. And you?

NITA. I fancy I want regulating.


NITA. I think I'm rather fast.

BARTOLO. Nita, you surprise and shock me.

NITA. Mechanically speaking, I mean.

BARTOLO. Oh, I take you. This condition of existence is rather degrading. We are common clockwork, I believe?

NITA. Mere Geneva. The cheapest thing in the trade.

BARTOLO. So I was given to understand.

NITA. It might have been worse. We might have been Waterbury, with interchangeable insides.

BARTOLO. That's true. But when I remember the delicately-beautiful apparatus with which I was filled from head to foot — and which never, never ticked — when I contemplate the exquisite adjustment of means to end — which never, never wanted oiling — I am shocked to think that I am reduced to a mere mechanical complication of arbors, pallets, wheels, mainsprings, and escapements!

NITA. Still you were always complaining. You never were quite well.

BARTOLO. Because I eat too much.

NITA. That's true.

BARTOLO. Never weary of putting into operation the exquisitely-beautiful apparatus of digestion, I over-taxed its powers. I was a scientific enthusiast and I over-did it. Still, it is something to have an apparatus that never, never aches. I — I — hallo!

NITA. What's the matter?

BARTOLO (very slowly). I — beg your pardon. I — think — I — must be running down. May — I — trouble you? They've thoughtlessly — put the key-hole — in — the — small of my back — and — I — can't get at it. (NITA winds him up.) Thank you. That's very nice, indeed. Now I can go on again. Hallo! c'ck! c'ck! c'ck!

NITA. What's wrong now?

BARTOLO. I — c'ck — c'ck — I am not conversant with clockwork; but do you feel, from time to time, a kind of jerkiness that catches you just here?

NITA. No; I work as smooth as butter. The continued ticking is tiresome; but it's only for an hour.

BARTOLO. The ticking is simply maddening. C'ck! C'ck! There it is again!

NITA. Something wrong with your works, I'm afraid. Stop a bit — I'll see. (Opens door in chest, revealing a quantity of clockwork.) No; all right there. Turn round. (He does so; she opens door in the back of his head.) No; the head appears to be empty. (Opens door in his side.) I see what it is; a halfpenny has got into your escapement. Stop a bit. (Takes out halfpenny.)

BARTOLO. Bless my heart, how dangerous! What a relief! Thank you very much. You may keep it for your trouble; but do not — oh, do not spend it on foolishness.

NITA. While I'm about it, I'll just oil you, and then — (Proceeds to oil his works with a feather.)

BARTOLO (squirming). Don't! You tickle!

Enter PIETRO, looking very ill.

PIETRO (not seeing them). The Duke and Duchess will be here in half an hour — their escort is already in sight. Dying by slow poison is a very painful process, and I couldn't have held out much longer. (Sees them.) Nita! what are you doing?

NITA. I'm oiling Bartolo.

BARTOLO. I am being oiled by Nita, and she does tickle! I don't like it. At least I do like it, but it's wrong.

PIETRO. How dare you take such a liberty? Shut the gentleman up at once. Nice occupation for a young lady!

NITA. But there's something wrong with his works.

PIETRO. That's no affair of yours. If Bartolo's works are out of order, that is a matter for Bartolo's medical attendant — I mean his clockmaker. Don't let me catch you oiling him again.

NITA. Ha! Ha! Ha!

PIETRO. If this occurs again, I'll take both your keys away — upon my word I will!

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