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Dialogue following No. 18

Phyllis. (half crying). I can’t think why I’m not in better spirits. I’m engaged to two noblemen at once. That ought to be enough to make any girl happy. But I’m miserable! Don’t suppose it’s because I care for Strephon, for I hate him! No girl could care for a man who goes about with a mother considerably younger than himself!

Enter Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller.

Lord Mountararat. Phyllis! My darling!

Lord Tolloller. Phyllis! My own!

Phyllis. Don’t! How dare you? Oh, but perhaps you’re the two noblemen I’m engaged to?

Lord Mountararat. I am one of them.

Lord Tolloller. I am the other.

Phyllis. Oh, then, my darling! (to Lord Mountararat). My own! (to Lord Tolloller). Well, have you settled which it’s to be?

Lord Tolloller. Not altogether. It’s a difficult position. It would be hardly delicate to toss up. On the whole we would rather leave it to you.

Phyllis. How can it possibly concern me? You are both Earls, and you are both rich, and you are both plain.

Lord Mountararat. So we are. At least I am.

Lord Tolloller. So am I.

Lord Mountararat. No, no!

Lord Tolloller. I am indeed. Very plain.

Lord Mountararat. Well, well – perhaps you are.

Phyllis. There’s really nothing to choose between you. If one of you would forgo his title, and distribute his estates among his Irish tenantry, why, then, I should then see a reason for accepting the other.

Lord Mountararat. Tolloller, are you prepared to make this sacrifice?


Ralph Mason as Lord Tolloller, 1967
Click on picture to enlarge

Lord Tolloller. No!

Lord Mountararat. Not even to oblige a lady?

Lord Tolloller. No! Not even to oblige a lady.

Lord Mountararat. Then, the 23 November, 2007aps, on the whole, she would be happier with me. I don’t know. I may be wrong.

Lord Tolloller. No. I don’t know that you are. I really believe she would. But the awkward part of the thing is that if you rob me of the girl of my heart, we must fight, and one of us must die. It’s a family tradition that I have sworn to respect. It’s a painful position, for I have a very strong regard for you, George.

Lord Mountararat. (much affected). My dear Thomas!

Lord Tolloller. You are very dear to me, George. We were boys together – at least I was. If I were to survive you, my existence would be hopelessly embittered.

Lord Mountararat. Then, my dear Thomas, you must not do it. I say it again and again – if it will have this effect upon you, you must not do it. No, no. If one of us is to destroy the other, let it be me!

Lord Tolloller. No, no!

Lord Mountararat. Ah, yes! – by our boyish friendship I implore you!

Lord Tolloller. (much moved) Well, well, be it so. But, no – no! – I cannot consent to an act which would crush you with unavailing remorse.

John Ayldon as Lord Mountararat, c. 1970
Click on picture to enlarge

Lord Mountararat. But it would not do so. I should be very sad at first – oh, who would not be? – but it would wear off. I like you very much – but not, perhaps, as much as you like me.

Lord Tolloller. George, you’re a noble fellow, but that tell‑tale tear betrays you. No, George; you are very fond of me, and I cannot consent to give you a week’s uneasiness on my account.

Lord Mountararat. But, dear Thomas, it would not last a week! Remember, you lead the House of Lords! On your demise I shall take your place! Oh, Thomas, it would not last a day!

Phyllis. (coming down) Now, I do hope you’re not going to fight about me, because it’s really not worth while.

Lord Tolloller. (looking at her) Well, I don’t believe it is!

Lord Mountararat. Nor I. The sacred ties of Friendship are paramount.

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