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Dialogue following No. 16


John Reed, Leonard Osborn and Donald Adams (1950s)
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Colonel. (attitude) Yes, it's quite clear that our only chance of making a lasting impression on these young ladies is to become as aesthetic as they are.

Major. (attitude) No doubt. The only question is how far we've succeeded in doing so. I don't know why, but I've an idea that this is not quite right.

Duke. (attitude) I don't like it. I never did. I don't see what it means. I do it, but I don't like it.

Colonel. My good friend, the question is not whether we like it, but whether they do. They understand these things — we don't. Now I shouldn't be surprised if this is effective enough — at a distance.

Major. I can't help thinking we're a little stiff at it. It would be extremely awkward if we were to be "struck" so!

Colonel. I don't think we shall be struck so. Perhaps we're a little awkward at first — but everything must have a beginning. Oh, here they come! 'Tention!

They strike fresh attitudes, as Angela. and Saphir. enter.

Angela. (seeing them) Oh, Saphir — see — see! The immortal fire has descended on them, and they are of the Inner Brotherhood — perceptively intense and consummately utter.

The Officers have some difficulty in maintaining their constrained attitudes.

Saphir. (in admiration) How Botticelian! How Fra Angelican! Oh, Art, we thank thee for this boon!

Colonel. (apologetically) I'm afraid we're not quite right.

Angela. Not supremely, perhaps, but oh, so all — but! (to Saphir) Oh, Saphir, are they not quite too all — but?

Saphir. They are indeed jolly utter!

Major. (in agony) I wonder what the Inner Brotherhood usually recommend for cramp?

Colonel. Ladies, we will not deceive you. We are doing this at some personal inconvenience with a view of expressing the extremity of our devotion to you. We trust that it is not without its effect.

Angela. We will not deny that we are much moved by this proof of your attachment.

Saphir. Yes, your conversion to the principles of Aesthetic Art in its highest development has touched us deeply.

Angela. And if Mr. Grosvenor should remain obdurate —

Saphir. Which we have every reason to believe he will —

Major. (aside, in agony) I wish they'd make haste!

Angela. We are not prepared to say that our yearning hearts will not go out to you.

Colonel. (as giving a word of command) By sections of threes — Rapture! (All strike a fresh attitude, expressive of aesthetic rapture.)

Saphir. Oh, it's extremely good — for beginners it's admirable.

Major. The only question is, who will take who?

Colonel. Oh, the Duke chooses first, as a matter of course.

Duke. Oh, I couldn't thank of it — you are really too good!

Colonel. Nothing of the kind. You are a great matrimonial fish, and it's only fair that each of these ladies should have a chance of hooking you.

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