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Flourish.  Enter KING PORTICO.

King. Is there no sign of Prince Caramel?

Zapeter. None, my liege.

King. This is a bad beginning.  His marriage to our daughter was to have taken place the day before yesterday; for two days and a half everything has been in readiness, and we are getting tired of waiting; besides, the people are becoming impatient, and when we appear among them we shall be received with derisive remarks.  It’s a bad beginning.  It’s a slight.  It will serve to make us appear ridiculous in the eyes of the surrounding nations.  I will give him five minutes more, and then — Is everything ready?

Jamilek. Everything, sire.

King. The musicians are here?

Jamilek. They are here, sire.

King. I trust the cornet-players have been instructed not to puff out their cheeks when they blow; nothing is more ridiculous than to see a man expressing a tender sentiment with cheeks like dumplings. The singers - I hope they will be careful not to open their mouths too wide; it’s a very common fault with singers.

Zapeter. All this has been attended to.

King. Very good. There will be no cheering, of course. Nothing is more vulgar than enthusiasm. I shall make but one speech, and that will be received in respectful silence.

Zapeter. Your speeches, sire, are always so received.

King. I have remarked it. Well, I think we have provided against mishaps, as far as we are able to do. There is nothing left but to trust that nothing will occur to make us ridiculous in the eyes of surrounding countries.

Chorus. (Reprise)
  This is a court in which you’ll find
    The most respectable society;
  To every fault we are all blind,
    Except the fault of impropriety.

Exeunt JAMILEK and Chorus.

King. Zapeter, between ourselves, it’s a most extraordinary thing that young man doesn’t come. Three days late for his wedding. It’s inexcusable.

Zapeter. It will be deplorable if anything has occurred to change his mind.

King. Deplorable! It will be more than deplorable — it will be disastrous! It is no news to you that the unparalleled eccentricities of my daughter, Toto, have caused me the greatest uneasiness; for they have drawn down ridicule upon us, and made us absurd in the eyes of surrounding nations. It therefore became necessary, as we value our own self-respect, to get her married at once. Prince Doro, to whom she was betrothed in infancy, unfortunately died, and as Prince Caramel immediately offered to supply his place I closed with him at once. He is a highly respectable young prince, but he is certainly unpunctual. Three days late! Dear, dear, dear! I trust it won’t get about; I am most anxious about this. Great heavens! — if he should not come at all — or, worse still, if he should come ridiculously dressed. There is madness in the thought!

Zapeter. My liege, in the excess of our grief and disappointment I believe we should all go stark staring mad.

King. Do you really think you would? Then I trust you will be careful to go mad with dignity, and even in your severest paroxysms preserve your sense of self-respect.

Re-enter JAMILEK.

Jamilek. Sire, a gentleman is at the gate, and desires to speak with your Majesty alone.

King. Alone! This is a very strange request.

Jamilek. The gentleman, sire, is a stranger.

Zapeter. It may be that he brings news of Prince Caramel.

King. Very likely; but why should he not speak openly?

Zapeter. Perhaps he brings news that it would be undignified to publish.

King. Such as —

Zapeter. Such as that his Highness has the measles, or the mumps. A royal wedding postponed on account of the bridegroom’s mumps! Oh! If it should get into the papers!

King. I should die of confusion; the whole universe would be laughing at us. Admit him by all means; and if the news is such as I can listen to without loss of dignity, I will hear what he has to say.

Exeunt KING and ZAPETER. Enter PRINCE DORO.

Doro. At last, after many perils by land and sea, I have arrived at my destination, and the particular fortune in store for me will soon be revealed. What a singular one is mine! Betrothed at the immature age of one to a lovely princess of twelve months, whom, owing to a confoundedly annoying series of circumstances, I have never seen since! Who can wonder at my anxiety to know what kind of young lady she has blossomed into?

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