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Dialogue following No. 11
Aline. Oh, Alexis, those are noble principles!
Yes, Aline, and I am going to take a desperate step in support of them. Have you ever heard of the firm of J. W. Wells & Co., the old-established Family Sorcerers in St. Mary Axe?
Aline. I have seen their advertisement.
Alexis. They have invented a philtre, which, if report may be believed, is simply infallible. I intend to distribute it through the village, and within twelve hours of my doing so there will not be an adult in the place who will not have learnt the secret of pure and lasting happiness. What do you say to that?
Aline. Well, dear, of course a filter is a very useful thing in a house; but still I don't quite see that it is the sort of thing that places its possessor on the very pinnacle of earthly joy.
Alexis. Aline, you misunderstand me. I didn't say a filter – I said a philtre.
Aline. (alarmed) You don't mean a love-potion?
Alexis. On the contrary – I do mean a love potion.
Aline. Oh, Alexis! I don't think it would be right. I don't indeed. And then – a real magician! Oh, it would be downright wicked.
Alexis. Aline, is it, or is it not, a laudable object to steep the whole village up to its lips in love, and to couple them in matrimony without distinction of age, rank, or fortune?
Aline. Unquestionably, but –
Alexis. Then unpleasant as it must be to have recourse to supernatural aid, I must nevertheless pocket my aversion, in deference to the great and good end I have in view. (calling) Hercules.
Enter a Page from tent.
Page. Yes, sir.
Alexis. Is Mr. Wells there?
Page. He's in the tent, sir – refreshing.
Alexis. Ask him to be so good as to step this way.
Page. Yes, sir. (Exit Page.)
Aline. Oh, but, Alexis! A real Sorcerer! Oh, I shall be frightened to death!
Alexis. I trust my Aline will not yield to fear while the strong right arm of her Alexis is here to protect her.
Aline. It's nonsense, dear, to talk of your protecting me with your strong right arm, in face of the fact that this Family Sorcerer could change me into a guinea-pig before you could turn round.
Alexis. He could change you into a guinea-pig, no doubt, but it is most unlikely that he would take such a liberty. It's a most respectable firm, and I am sure he would never be guilty of so untradesmanlike an act.
Enter Mr. Wells from tent.
Mr. Wells. Good day, sir. (Aline much terrified.)
Alexis. Good day – I believe you are a Sorcerer.
Mr. Wells. Yes, sir, we practice Necromancy in all its branches. We've a choice assortment of wishing-caps, divining-rods, amulets, charms, and counter-charms. We can cast you a nativity at a low figure, and we have a horoscope at three-and-six that we can guarantee. Our Abudah chests, each containing a patent Hag who comes out and prophesies disasters, with spring complete, are strongly recommended. Our Aladdin lamps are very chaste, and our Prophetic Tablets, foretelling everything – from a change of Ministry down to a rise in Unified – are much enquired for. Our penny Curse – one of the cheapest things in the trade –is considered infallible. We have some very superior Blessings, too, but they're very little asked for. We've only sold one since Christmas – to a gentleman who bought it to send to his mother-in-law – but it turned out that he was afflicted in the head, and it's been returned on our hands. But our sale of penny Curses, especially on Saturday nights, is tremendous. We can't turn 'em out fast enough.
Page Created 16 May, 2005