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Dialogue following No. 24

Peers and Sentry enter. The Queen raises her spear.

The Fairy Queen (Bertha Lewis) prepares to execute Iolanthe (Catherine Ferguson) as the Lord Chancellor (Henry Lytton) tries to protect her. 1920s
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Leila. Hold! If Iolanthe must die, so must we all; for, as she has sinned, so have we!

Queen. What?

Celia. We are all fairy duchesses, marchionesses, countesses, viscountesses, and baronesses.

Lord Mountararat. It’s our fault. They couldn’t help themselves.

Queen. It seems they have helped themselves, and pretty freely, too! (After a pause.) You have all incurred death; but I can’t slaughter the whole company! And yet (unfolding a scroll) the law is clear – every fairy must die who marries a mortal!

Lord Chancellor. Allow me, as an old Equity draftsman, to make a suggestion. The subtleties of the legal mind are equal to the emergency. The thing is really quite simple – the insertion of a single word will do it. Let it stand that every fairy shall die who doesn’t marry a mortal, and there you are, out of your difficulty at once!

Queen. We like your humour. Very well! (Altering the MS. in pencil.) Private Willis!

Sentry. (coming forward). Ma’am!

Queen. To save my life, it is necessary that I marry at once. How should you like to be a fairy guardsman?

Sentry. Well, ma’am, I don’t think much of the British soldier who wouldn’t ill-convenience himself to save a female in distress.

Queen. You are a brave fellow. You’re a fairy from this moment. (Wings spring from Sentry’s shoulders.) And you, my Lords, how say you, will you join our ranks?

Fairies kneel to Peers and implore them to do so. Phyllis and Strephon enter.

Lord Mountararat. (to Lord Tolloller) Well, now that the Peers are to be recruited entirely from persons of intelligence, I really don’t see what use we are, down here, do you, Tolloller?

Lord Tolloller. None whatever.

Queen. Good! (Wings spring from shoulders of Peers.) Then away we go to Fairyland.

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