Utopia Limited

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Dialogue following No. 10

Enter King Paramount.

King: My daughter! At last we are alone together.

Zara: Yes, and I'm glad we are, for I want to speak to you very seriously. Do you know this paper?

King: (aside) Da--! (aloud) Oh yes — I've — I've seen it. Where in the world did you get this from?

Zara: It was given to me by Lady Sophy — my sisters' governess.

King: (aside) Lady Sophy's an angel, but I do sometimes wish she'd mind her own business! (aloud) It's —ha! ha! — it's rather humorous.

Zara: I see nothing humorous in it. I only see that you, the despotic King of this country, are made the subject of the most scandalous insinuations. Why do you permit these things?

King: Well, they appeal to my sense of humour. It's the only really comic paper in Utopia, and I wouldn't be without it for the world.

Zara: If it had any literary merit I could understand it.

King: Oh, it has literary merit. Oh, distinctly, it has literary merit.

Zara: My dear father, it's mere ungrammatical twaddle.

King: Oh, it's not ungrammatical. I can't allow that. Unpleasantly personal, perhaps, but written with an epigrammatical point that is very rare nowadays — very rare indeed.

Zara: (looking at cartoon) Why do they represent you with such a big nose?

King: (looking at cartoon) Eh? Yes, it is a big one! Why, the fact is that, in the cartoons of a comic paper, the size of your nose always varies inversely as the square of your popularity. It's the rule.

Zara: Then you must be at a tremendous discount just now! I see a notice of a new piece called "King Tuppence," in which an English tenor has the audacity to personate you on a public stage. I can only say that I am surprised that any English tenor should lend himself to such degrading personalities.

King: Oh, he's not really English. As it happens he's a Utopian, but he calls himself English.

Zara: Calls himself English?

King: Yes. Bless you, they wouldn't listen to any tenor who didn't call himself English.

Zara: And you permit this insolent buffoon to caricature you in a pointless burlesque! My dear father — if you were a free agent, you would never permit these outrages.

King: (almost in tears) Zara — I — I admit I am not altogether a free agent. I — I am controlled. I try to make the best of it, but sometimes I find it very difficult — very difficult indeed. Nominally a Despot, I am, between ourselves, the helpless tool of two unscrupulous Wise Men, who insist on my falling in with all their wishes and threaten to denounce me for immediate explosion if I remonstrate! (Breaks down completely.)

Zara: My poor father! Now listen to me. With a view to remodelling the political and social institutions of Utopia, I have brought with me six Representatives of the principal causes that have tended to make England the powerful, happy, and blameless country which the consensus of European civilization has declared it to be. Place yourself unreservedly in the hands of these gentlemen, and they will reorganize your country on a footing that will enable you to defy your persecutors. They are all now washing their hands after their journey. Shall I introduce them?

King: My dear Zara, how can I thank you? I will consent to anything that will release me from the abominable tyranny of these two men. (calling) What ho! Without there! (Enter Calynx.) Summon my Court without an instant's delay! (Exit Calynx.)

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