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Dialogue following No. 12


Grosvenor sits, the Maidens group around him.

Grosvenor. (aside) The old, old tale. How rapturously these maidens love me, and how hopelessly! Oh, Patience, Patience, with the love of thee in my heart, what have I for these poor mad maidens but an unvalued pity? Alas, they will die of hopeless love for me, as I shall die of hopeless love for thee!

Angela. Sir, will it please you read to us?

Grosvenor. (sighing) Yes, child, if you will. What shall I read?

Angela. One of your own poems.

Grosvenor. One of my own poems? Better not, my child. They will not cure thee of thy love.

Ella. Mr. Bunthorne used to read us a poem of his own every day.

Saphir. And, to do him justice, he read them extremely well.

Grosvenor. Oh, did he so? Well, who am I that I should take upon myself to withhold my gifts from you? What am I but a trustee? Here is a decalet — a pure and simple thing, a very daisy — a babe might understand it. To appreciate it, it is not necessary to think of anything at all.

Angela. Let us think of nothing at all!

Grosvenor. (reciting)
Gentle Jane was as good as gold,
She always did as she was told;
She never spoke when her mouth was full,
Or caught bluebottles their legs to pull,
Or spilt plum jam on her nice new frock,
Or put white mice in the eight-day clock,
Or vivisected her last new doll,
Or fostered a passion for alcohol.
And when she grew up she was given in marriage
To a first-class earl who keeps his carriage!

Grosvenor. I believe I am right in saying that there is not one word in that decalet which is calculated to bring the blush of shame to the cheek of modesty.

Angela. Not one; it is purity itself.

Grosvenor. Here's another.

Teasing Tom was a very bad boy,
A great big squirt was his favourite toy
He put live shrimps in his father's boots,
And sewed up the sleeves of his Sunday suits;
He punched his poor little sisters' heads,
And cayenne-peppered their four-post beds;
He plastered their hair with cobbler's wax,
And dropped hot halfpennies down their backs.
The consequence was he was lost totally,
And married a girl in the corps de bally!

Angela. Marked you how grandly —how relentlessly — the damning catalogue of crime strode on, till Retribution, like a poisèd hawk, came swooping down upon the Wrong-Doer? Oh, it was terrible!

Ella. Oh, sir, you are indeed a true poet, for you touch our hearts, and they go out to you!

Grosvenor. (aside) This is simply cloying. (aloud) Ladies, I am sorry to appear ungallant, but this is Saturday, and you have been following me about ever since Monday. I should like the usual half-holiday. I shall take it as a personal favour if you will kindly allow me to close early to-day.

Saphir. Oh, sir, do not send us from you!

Grosvenor. Poor, poor girls! It is best to speak plainly. I know that I am loved by you, but I never can love you in return, for my heart is fixed elsewhere! Remember the fable of the Magnet and the Churn.

Angela. (wildly) But we don't know the fable of the Magnet and the Churn!

Grosvenor. Don't you? Then I will sing it to you.

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