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Dialogue following No. 8
Enter, at back, Scaphio and Phantis, who watch Zara as she goes off. Scaphio is seated, shaking violently, and obviously under the influence of some strong emotion.
Phantis: There — tell me, Scaphio, is she not beautiful? Can you wonder that I love her so passionately?
Scaphio: No. She is extraordinarily — miraculously lovely! Good heavens, what a singularly beautiful girl!
Phantis: I knew you would say so!
Scaphio: What exquisite charm of manner! What surprising delicacy of gesture! Why, she's a goddess! a very goddess!
Phantis: (rather taken aback) Yes — she's — she's an attractive girl.
Scaphio: Attractive? Why, you must be blind! — She's entrancing — enthralling — intoxicating! (aside) God bless my heart, what's the matter with me?
Phantis: (alarmed) Yes. You — you promised to help me to get her father's consent, you know.
Scaphio: Promised! Yes, but the convulsion has come, my good boy! It is she — my ideal! Why, what's this? (staggering) Phantis! Stop me — I'm going mad — mad with the love of her!
Phantis: Scaphio, compose yourself, I beg. The girl is perfectly opaque! Besides, remember — each of us is helpless without the other. You can't succeed without my consent, you know.
Scaphio: And you dare to threaten? Oh, ungrateful! When you came to me, palsied with love for this girl, and implored my assistance, did I not unhesitatingly promise it? And this is the return you make? Out of my sight, ingrate! (aside) Dear! dear! what is the matter with me?
Enter Captain Fitzbattleaxe and Zara.
Zara: Dear me. I'm afraid we are interrupting a tête-á-tête.
Scaphio: (breathlessly) No, no. You come very appropriately. To be brief, we — we love you — this man and I — madly — passionately!
Scaphio: And we don't know how we are to settle which of us is to marry you.
Fitzbattleaxe: Zara, this is very awkward.
Scaphio: (very much overcome) I — I am paralyzed by the singular radiance of your extraordinary loveliness. I know I am incoherent. I never was like this before — it shall not occur again. I — shall be fluent, presently.
Zara: (aside) Oh, dear, Captain Fitzbattleaxe, what is to be done?
Fitzbattleaxe: (aside) Leave it to me — I'll manage it. (aloud) It's a common situation. Why not settle it in the English fashion?
Scaphio & Phantis:The English fashion? What is that?
Fitzbattleaxe: It's very simple. In England, when two gentlemen are in love with the same lady, and until it is settled which gentleman is to blow out the brains of the other, it is provided, by the Rival Admirers' Clauses Consolidation Act, that the lady shall be entrusted to an officer of Household Cavalry as stakeholder, who is bound to hand her over to the survivor (on the Tontine principle) in a good condition of substantial and decorative repair.
Scaphio: Reasonable wear and tear and damages by fire excepted?
Phantis: Well, that seems very reasonable. (to Scaphio) What do you say — Shall we entrust her to this officer of Household Cavalry? It will give us time.
Scaphio: (trembling violently) I — I am not at present in a condition to think it out coolly — but if he is an officer of Household Cavalry, and if the Princess consents —
Zara: Alas, dear sirs, I have no alternative — under the Rival Admirers' Clauses Consolidation Act!
Fitzbattleaxe: Good — then that's settled.
Page Created 28 November, 2005