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Dialogue following No. 17


Enter Dr. Daly.

Dr. Daly. (musing) It is singular – it is very singular. It has overthrown all my calculations. It is distinctly opposed to the doctrine of averages. I cannot understand it.

Aline. Dear Dr. Daly, what has puzzled you?

Dr. Daly. My dear, this village has not hitherto been addicted to marrying and giving in marriage. Hitherto the youths of this village have not been enterprising, and the maidens have been distinctly coy. Judge then of my surprise when I tell you that the whole village came to me in a body just now, and implored me to join them in matrimony with as little delay as possible. Even your excellent father has hinted to me that before very long it is not unlikely that he may also change his condition.

Aline. Oh, Alexis – do you hear that? Are you not delighted?

Alexis. Yes, I confess that a union between your mother and my father would be a happy circumstance indeed. (Crossing to Dr. Daly) My dear sir – the news that you bring us is very gratifying.

Dr. Daly. Yes – still, in my eyes, it has its melancholy side. This universal marrying recalls the happy days – now, alas, gone forever – when I myself might have – but tush! I am puling. I am too old to marry – and yet, within the last half-hour, I have greatly yearned for companionship. I never remarked it before, but the young maidens of this village are very comely. So likewise are the middle-aged. Also the elderly. All are comely – and (with a deep sigh) all are engaged!

Aline. Here comes your father.

Enter Sir Marmaduke with Mrs. Partlet , arm-in-arm.

Aline and Alexis. (aside) Mrs. Partlet!

Sir Marmaduke. Dr. Daly, give me joy. Alexis, my dear boy, you will, I am sure, be pleased to hear that my declining days are not unlikely to be solaced by the companionship of this good, virtuous, and amiable woman.

Alexis. (rather taken aback) My dear father, this is not altogether what I expected. I am certainly taken somewhat by surprise. Still it can hardly be necessary to assure you that any wife of yours is a mother of mine. (Aside to Aline.) It is not quite what I could have wished.

Mrs. Partlet. (crossing to Alexis) Oh, sir, I entreat your forgiveness. I am aware that socially I am not heverythink that could be desired, nor am I blessed with an abundance of worldly goods, but I can at least confer on your estimable father the great and priceless dowry of a true, tender, and lovin' 'art!

Alexis. (coldly). I do not question it. After all, a faithful love is the true source of every earthly joy.

Sir Marmaduke. I knew that my boy would not blame his poor father for acting on the impulse of a heart that has never yet misled him. Zorah is not perhaps what the world calls beautiful –

Dr. Daly. Still she is comely – distinctly comely. (Sighs)

Aline. Zorah is very good, and very clean, and honest, and quite, quite sober in her habits: and that is worth far more than beauty, dear Sir Marmaduke.

Dr. Daly. Yes; beauty will fade and perish, but personal cleanliness is practically undying, for it can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay. My dear Sir Marmaduke, I heartily congratulate you. (Sighs)

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