The Grand Duke


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Dialogue following No. 15

Julia. And now that everybody has gone, and we’re happily and comfortably married, I want to have a few words with my new-born husband.

Ludwig. (aside) Yes, I expect you’ll often have a few words with your new-born husband! (aloud) Well, what is it?

Julia. Why, I’ve been thinking that as you and I have to play our parts for life, it is most essential that we should come to a definite understanding as to how they shall be rendered. Now, I’ve been considering how I can make the most of the Grand Duchess.

Ludwig. Have you? Well, if you’ll take my advice, you’ll make a very fine part of it.

Julia. Why, that’s quite my idea.

Ludwig. I shouldn’t make it one of your hoity-toity vixenish viragoes.

Julia. You think not?

Ludwig. Oh, I’m quite clear about that. I should make her a tender, gentle, submissive, affectionate (but not too affectionate) child-wife – timidly anxious to coil herself into her husband’s heart, but kept in check by an awestruck reverence for his exalted intellectual qualities and his majestic personal appearance.

Julia. Oh, that is your idea of a good part?

Ludwig. Yes – a wife who regards her husband’s slightest wish as an inflexible law, and who ventures but rarely into his august presence, unless (which would happen seldom) he should summon her to appear before him. A crushed, despairing violet, whose blighted existence would culminate (all too soon) in a lonely and pathetic death-scene! A fine part, my dear.

Julia. Yes. There’s a good deal to be said for your view of it. Now there are some actresses whom it would fit like a glove.

Ludwig. (aside) I wish I’d married one of ’em!

Julia. But, you see, I must consider my temperament. For instance, my temperament would demand some strong scenes of justifiable jealousy.

Ludwig. Oh, there’s no difficulty about that. You shall have them.

Julia. With a lovely but detested rival –

Ludwig. Oh, I’ll provide the rival.

Julia. Whom I should stab – stab – stab!

Ludwig. Oh, I wouldn’t stab her. It’s been done to death. I should treat her with a silent and contemptuous disdain, and delicately withdraw from a position which, to one of your sensitive nature, would be absolutely untenable. Dear me, I can see you delicately withdrawing, up centre and off!

Julia. Can you?

Ludwig. Yes. It’s a fine situation – and in your hands, full of quiet pathos!

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