Princess Ida


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Dialogue following No. 14

Lady Psyche enters, and regards them with amazement.

Hilarion. I'faith, the plunge is taken, gentlemen!
For, willy-nilly, we are maidens now,
And maids against our will we must remain. (All laugh heartily.)
Psyche. (aside) These ladies are unseemly in their mirth.

The gentlemen see her, and, in confusion, resume their modest demeanour.

Florian. (aside) Here's a catastrophe, Hilarion!
This is my sister! She'll remember me,
Though years have passed since she and I have met!
Hilarion. (aside to Florian) Then make a virtue of necessity,
And trust our secret to her gentle care.
Florian. (to Psyche, who has watched Cyril in amazement)
Psyche! Why, don't you know me? Florian!
Psyche. (amazed) Why, Florian!
Florian.   My sister! (Embraces her.)
Psyche.     Oh, my dear!
  What are you doing here – and who are these?
Hilarion. I am that Prince Hilarion to whom
Your Princess is betrothed. I come to claim
Her plighted love. Your brother Florian
And Cyril came to see me safely through.
Psyche. The Prince Hilarion? Cyril too? How strange!
My earliest playfellows!
Hilarion.   Why, let me look!
  Are you that learned little Psyche who
At school alarmed her mates because she called
A buttercup "ranunculus bulbosus"?
Cyril. Are you indeed that Lady Psyche, who
At children's parties, drove the conjuror wild,
Explaining all his tricks before he did them?
Hilarion. Are you that learned little Psyche, who
At dinner parties, brought in to dessert,
Would tackle visitors with "You don't know
Who first determined longitude – I do –
Hipparchus 'twas – B. C. one sixty-three!"
Are you indeed that small phenomenon?
Psyche. That small phenomenon indeed am I!
But gentlemen, 'tis death to enter here:
We have all promised to renounce mankind!
Florian. Renounce mankind? On what ground do you base
This senseless resolution?
Psyche.   Senseless? No.
  We are all taught, and, being taught, believe
That Man, sprung from an Ape, is Ape at heart.
Cyril. That's rather strong.
Psyche.   The truth is always strong!

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