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Dialogue following No. 17
Grosvenor. It is very pleasant to be alone. It is pleasant to be able to gaze at leisure upon those features which all others may gaze upon at their good will! (Looking at his reflection in hand-mirror.) Ah, I am a very Narcissus!
Enter Bunthorne, moodily.
Bunthorne. It's no use; I can't live without admiration. Since Grosvenor came here, insipidity has been at a premium. Ah, he is there!
Grosvenor. Ah, Bunthorne! Come here — look! Very graceful, isn't it!
Bunthorne. (taking hand-mirror) Allow me; I haven't seen it. Yes, it is graceful.
Grosvenor. (re-taking hand-mirror) Oh, good gracious! not that — this —
Bunthorne. You don't mean that! Bah! I am in no mood for trifling.
Grosvenor. And what is amiss?
Bunthorne. Ever since you came here, you have entirely monopolized the attentions of the young ladies. I don't like it, sir!
Grosvenor. My dear sir, how can I help it? They are the plague of my life. My dear Mr. Bunthorne, with your personal disadvantages, you can have no idea of the inconvenience of being madly loved, at first sight, by every woman you meet.
Bunthorne. Sir, until you came here I was adored!
Grosvenor. Exactly — until I came here. That's my grievance. I cut everybody out! I assure you, if you could only suggest some means whereby, consistently with my duty to society, I could escape these inconvenient attentions, you would earn my everlasting gratitude.
Bunthorne. I will do so at once. However popular it may be with the world at large, your personal appearance is highly objectionable to me.
Grosvenor. It is? (shaking his hand) Oh, thank you! thank you! How can I express my gratitude?
Bunthorne. By making a complete change at once. Your conversation must henceforth be perfectly matter-of-fact. You must cut your hair, and have a back parting. In appearance and costume you must be absolutely commonplace.
Grosvenor. (decidedly) No. Pardon me, that's impossible.
Bunthorne. Take care! When I am thwarted I am very terrible.
Grosvenor. I can't help that. I am a man with a mission. And that mission must be fulfilled.
Bunthorne. I don't think you quite appreciate the consequences of thwarting me.
Grosvenor. I don't care what they are.
Bunthorne. Suppose — I won't go so far as to say that I will do it — but suppose for one moment I were to curse you? (Grosvenor quails.) Ah! Very well. Take care.
Grosvenor. But surely you would never do that? (In great alarm.)
Bunthorne. I don't know. It would be an extreme measure, no doubt. Still--
Grosvenor. (wildly) But you would not do it — I am sure you would not. (Throwing himself at Bunthorne's knees, and clinging to him.) Oh, reflect, reflect! You had a mother once.
Grosvenor. Then you had an aunt! (Bunthorne affected.) Ah! I see you had! By the memory of that aunt, I implore you to pause ere you resort to this last fearful expedient. Oh, Mr. Bunthorne, reflect, reflect! (weeping)
Bunthorne. (aside, after a struggle with himself) I must not allow myself to be unmanned! (aloud) It is useless. Consent at once, or may a nephew's curse —
Grosvenor. Hold! Are you absolutely resolved?
Grosvenor. Will nothing shake you?
Bunthorne. Nothing. I am adamant.
Grosvenor. Very good. (rising) Then I yield.
Bunthorne. Ha! You swear it?
Grosvenor. I do, cheerfully. I have long wished for a reasonable pretext for such a change as you suggest. It has come at last. I do it on compulsion!
Bunthorne. Victory! I triumph!
Date Created May 10, 2005