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Dialogue following No. 18
King: Gentlemen, gentlemen — really! This unseemly display of energy within the Royal precincts is altogether unpardonable. Pray, what do you complain of?
Scaphio: (furiously) What do we complain of? Why, through the innovations introduced by the Flowers of Progress all our harmless schemes for making a provision for our old age are ruined. Our Matrimonial Agency is at a standstill, our Cheap Sherry business is in bankruptcy, our Army Clothing contracts are paralyzed, and even our Society paper, the Palace Peeper, is practically defunct!
King: Defunct? Is that so? Dear, dear, I am truly sorry.
Scaphio: Are you aware that Sir Bailey Barre has introduced a law of libel by which all editors of scurrilous newspapers are publicly flogged — as in England? And six of our editors have resigned in succession! Now, the editor of a scurrilous paper can stand a good deal — he takes a private thrashing as a matter of course — it's considered in his salary — but no gentleman likes to be publicly flogged.
King: Naturally. I shouldn't like it myself.
Phantis: Then our Burlesque Theatre is absolutely ruined!
King: Dear me. Well, theatrical property is not what it was.
Phantis: Are you aware that the Lord Chamberlain, who has his own views as to the best means of elevating the national drama, has declined to license any play that is not in blank verse and three hundred years old — as in England?
Scaphio: And as if that wasn't enough, the County Councillor has ordered a four-foot wall to be built up right across the proscenium, in case of fire — as in England.
Phantis: It's so hard on the company — who are liable to be roasted alive — and this has to be met by enormously increased salaries — as in England.
Scaphio: You probably know that we've contracted to supply the entire nation with a complete English outfit. But perhaps you do not know that, when we send in our bills, our customers plead liability limited to a declared capital of eighteen pence, and apply to be dealt with under the Winding-up Act — as in England?
King: Really, gentlemen, this is very irregular. If you will be so good as to formulate a detailed list of your grievances in writing, addressed to the Secretary of Utopia Limited, they will be laid before the Board, in due course, at their next monthly meeting.
Scaphio: Are we to understand that we are defied?
King: That is the idea I intended to convey.
Phantis: Defied! We are defied!
Scaphio: (furiously) Take care — you know our powers. Trifle with us, and you die!
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