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“You wish me to defend my throne, then?” “Yes.” “I give the truths
of to-morrow.” “I prefer the mistakes of to-day,” she answered.
“You disarm me, Gladys,” he cried, catching the wilfulness of her
“Of your shield, Harry: not of your spear.” “I never tilt against
Beauty,” he said, with a wave of his hand.
“That is your error, Harry, believe me. You value beauty far too
much.” “How can you say that, I admit that I think that it is better
to be beautiful than to be good. But on the other hand no one is
more ready than I am to acknowledge that it is better to be good
than to be ugly?” “Ugliness is one of the seven deadly sins, then?”
cried the Duchess. “What becomes of your simile about the
orchid?” “Ugliness is one of the seven deadly virtues, Gladys. You,
as a good Tory, must not underrate them. Beer, the Bible, and the
seven deadly virtues have made our England what she is.” “You
don’t like your country, then?” she asked.
“I live in it.” “That you may censure it the better.” “Would you
have me take the verdict of Europe on it?” he enquired.
“What do they say of us?” “That Tartuffe has emigrated to England
and opened a shop.” “Is that yours, Harry?”
“I give it to you.” “I could not use it. It is too true.” “You need not
be afraid. Our countrymen never recognize a description.” “They
are practical.” “They are more cunning than practical. When they
make up their ledger, they balance stupidity by wealth, and vice by
hypocrisy.” “Still, we have done great things.” “Great things have
been thrust on us, Gladys.” “We have carried their burden.” “Only
as far as the Stock Exchange.” She shook her head. “I believe in the
race,” she cried.
“It represents the survival of the pushing.” “It has development.”
“Decay fascinates me more.” “What of Art?” she asked.
“It is a malady.” “Love?” “An illusion.”
“Religion?” “The fashionable substitute for Belief.” “You are a
sceptic.” “Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.” “What are
you?” “To define is to limit.” “Give me a clue.” “Threads snap. You
would lose your way in the labyrinth.” “You bewilder me. Let us
talk of some one else.” “Our host is a delightful topic. Years ago he
was christened Prince Charming.” “Ah! don’t remind me of that,”
cried Dorian Gray.
“Our host is rather horrid this evening,” answered the Duchess,
colouring. “I believe he thinks that Monmouth married me on
purely scientific principles as the best specimen he could find of a
modern butterfly.” “Well, I hope he won’t stick pins into you,
Duchess,” laughed Dorian.