The Grand Duke

   

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Dialogue following No. 27


Ludwig. Capital game – Haven’t a penny left!

Prince. Pretty toy, isn’t it? Have another turn?

Ludwig. Thanks, no. I should only be robbing you.

Princess. (affectionately) Do dearest – it’s such fun! (Embracing him.)

Baroness. Why, you forward little hussy, how dare you? (Takes her away from Ludwig.)

Ludwig. You mustn’t do that, my dear – never in the presence of the Grand Duchess, I beg!

Princess. (weeping) Oh, papa, he’s got a Grand Duchess!

Ludwig. A Grand Duchess! My good girl, I’ve got three Grand Duchesses!

Princess. Well, I’m sure! Papa, let’s go away – ­this is not a respectable Court.

Prince. All these Grand Dukes have their little fancies, my love. This potentate appears to be collecting wives. It’s a pretty hobby – I should like to collect a few myself. This (admiring Baroness) is a charming specimen – an antique, I should say – of the early Mero­vingian period, if I’m not mistaken; and here’s another – a Scotch lady, I think (alluding to Julia), and (alluding to Lisa) a little one thrown in. Two half-quarterns and a makeweight! (To Ludwig.) Have you such a thing as a catalogue of the Museum?

Princess. But I cannot permit Rudolph to keep a museum –

Ludwig. Rudolph? Get along with you, I’m not Rudolph! Rudolph died yesterday.

Prince and Princess. What!

Ludwig. Quite suddenly – of – of – a cardiac affection.

Prince and Princess. Of a cardiac affection!

Ludwig. Yes, a pack-of-cardiac affection. He fought a Statutory Duel with me and lost, and I took over all his engagements – including this imperfectly preserved old lady, to whom he has been engaged for the last three weeks.

Princess. Three weeks! But I’ve been engaged to him for the last twenty years!

Baroness, Lisa and Julia. Twenty years!

Prince. (aside) It’s all right, my love – they can’t get over that. (aloud) He’s yours – take him, and hold him as tight as you can!

Princess. My own! (Embracing Ludwig.)

Ludwig. Here’s another! – the fourth in four‑and‑twenty hours! Would anybody else like to marry me? You, ma’am – or you – anybody! I’m getting used to it!

Baroness. But let me tell you, ma’am –

Julia. Why, you impudent little hussy –

Lisa. Oh, here’s another – here’s another! (Weeping.)

Princess. Poor ladies, I’m very sorry for you all; but, you see, I’ve a prior claim. Come, away we go – there’s not a moment to be lost!

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