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Dialogue following No. 19
Ernest. It’s of no use – I can’t wait any longer. At any risk I must gratify my urgent desire to know what is going on. (Looking off.) Why, what’s that? Surely I see a wedding procession winding down the hill, dressed in my Troilus and Cressida costumes! That’s Ludwig’s doing! I see how it is – he found the time hang heavy on his hands, and is amusing himself by getting married to Lisa. No – it can’t be to Lisa, for here she is!
Lisa. (not seeing him) I really cannot stand seeing my Ludwig married twice in one day to somebody else!
Ernest. Lisa! (Lisa sees him, and stands as if transfixed with horror.) Come here – don’t be a little fool – I want you. (Lisa suddenly turns and bolts off.) Why, what’s the matter with the little donkey? One would think she saw a ghost! But if he’s not marrying Lisa, whom is he marrying? (suddenly) Julia! (much overcome) I see it all! The scoundrel! He had to adopt all my responsibilities, and he’s shabbily taken advantage of the situation to marry the girl I’m engaged to! But no, it can’t be Julia, for here she is!
Julia. (not seeing him) I’ve made up my mind. I won’t stand it! I’ll send in my notice at once!
Ernest. Julia! Oh, what a relief! (Julia gazes at him as if transfixed.) Then you’ve not married Ludwig? You are still true to me? (Julia turns and bolts in grotesque horror. Ernest follows and stops her.) Don’t run away! Listen to me. Are you all crazy?
Julia. (in affected terror) What would you with me, spectre? Oh, ain’t his eyes sepulchral! And ain’t his voice hollow! What are you doing out of your tomb at this time of day – apparition?
Ernest. I do wish I could make you girls understand that I’m only technically dead, and that physically I’m as much alive as ever I was in my life!
Julia. Oh, but it’s an awful thing to be haunted by a technical bogie!
Ernest. You won’t be haunted much longer. The law must be on its last legs, and in a few hours I shall come to life again – resume all my social and civil functions, and claim my darling as my blushing bride!
Julia. Oh – then you haven’t heard?
Ernest. My love, I’ve heard nothing. How could I? There are no daily papers where I come from.
Julia. Why, Ludwig challenged Rudolph and won, and now he’s Grand Duke, and he’s revived the law for another century!
Ernest. What! But you’re not serious – you’re only joking!
Julia. My good sir, I’m a light-hearted girl, but I don’t chaff bogies.
Ernest. Well, that’s the meanest dodge I ever heard of!
Julia. Shabby trick, I call it.
Ernest. But you don’t mean to say that you’re going to cry off!
Julia. I really can’t afford to wait until your time is up. You know, I’ve always set my face against long engagements.
Ernest. Then defy the law and marry me now. We will fly to your native country, and I’ll play broken English in London as you play broken German here!
Julia. No. These legal technicalities cannot be defied. Situated as you are, you have no power to make me your wife. At best you could only make me your widow.
Ernest. Then be my widow – my little, dainty, winning, winsome widow!Julia. Now what would be the good of that? Why, you goose, I should marry again within a month!
Page Created 19 June, 2006