The Gondoliers


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Dialogue following No. 15

Don Alhambra. Good evening. Fancy ball?

Giuseppe. No, not exactly. A little friendly dance. That's all. Sorry you're late.

Don Alhambra. But I saw a groom dancing, and a footman!

Marco. Yes. That's the Lord High Footman.

Don Alhambra. And, dear me, a common little drummer boy!

Giuseppe. Oh no! That's the Lord High Drummer Boy.

Don Alhambra. But surely, surely the servants'-hall is the place for these gentry?

Giuseppe. Oh dear no! We have appropriated the servants'-hall. It's the Royal Apartment, and accessible only by tickets obtainable at the Lord Chamberlain's office.

Marco. We really must have some place that we can call our own.

Don Alhambra. (puzzled) I'm afraid I'm not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation.

Giuseppe. You see, the Monarchy has been re-modelled on Republican principles.

Don Alhambra. What!

Giuseppe. All departments rank equally, and everybody is at the head of his department.

Don Alhambra. I see.

Marco. I'm afraid you're annoyed.

Don Alhambra. No. I won't say that. It's not quite what I expected.

Giuseppe. I'm awfully sorry.

Marco. So am I.

Giuseppe. By the by, can I offer you anything after your voyage? A plate of macaroni and a rusk?

Don Alhambra. (preoccupied). No, no — nothing — nothing.

Giuseppe. Obliged to be careful?

Don Alhambra. Yes — gout. You see, in every Court there are distinctions that must be observed.

Giuseppe. (puzzled). There are, are there?

Don Alhambra. Why, of course. For instance, you wouldn't have a Lord High Chancellor play leapfrog with his own cook.

Marco. Why not?

Don Alhambra. Why not! Because a Lord High Chancellor is a personage of great dignity, who should never, under any circumstances, place himself in the position of being told to tuck in his tuppenny, except by noblemen of his own rank. A Lord High Archbishop, for instance, might tell a Lord High Chancellor to tuck in his tuppenny, but certainly not a cook, gentlemen, certainly not a cook.

Giuseppe. Not even a Lord High Cook?

Don Alhambra. My good friend, that is a rank that is not recognized at the Lord Chamberlain's office. No, no, it won't do. I'll give you an instance in which the experiment was tried.

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