Maj.: (anxiously): Is that too many?

Em.: It’s rather a number. The worst of it is, I’ve some myself.

Maj.: Many?

Em.: Eight.

Maj.: Eight in six years! Oh, Emily!

Em.: Only four were my own. The other four were by my husband’s first marriage. Still, that practically makes eight.

Maj.: And eight and five make thirteen. We can’t start our married life with thirteen children; it would be most unlucky. (Walks up and down in agitation.) Some way must be found out of this. If we could only bring them down to twelve. Thirteen is so horribly unlucky.

Em.: Isn’t there some way by which we could part with one or two? Don’t the French want more children? I’ve often seen articles about it in the Figaro.

Maj.: I fancy they want French children. Mine don’t even speak French.

Em.: There’s always a chance that one of them might turn out depraved and vicious, and then you could disown him. I’ve heard of that being done.

Maj.: But, good gracious, you’ve got to educate him first. You can’t expect a boy to be vicious till he’s been to a good school.

Em.: Why couldn’t he be naturally depraved? Lots of boys are.

Maj.: Only when they inherit it from depraved parents. You don’t suppose there’s any depravity in me, do you?

Em.: It sometimes skips a generation, you know. Weren’t any of your family bad?

Maj.: There was an aunt who was never spoken of.

Em.: There you are!

Maj.: But one can’t build too much on that. In mid-Victorian days they labelled all sorts of things as unspeakable that we should speak about quite tolerantly. I daresay this particular aunt had only married a Unitarian, or rode to hounds on both sides of her horse, or something of that sort. Anyhow, we can’t wait indefinitely for one of the children to take after a doubtfully depraved great aunt. Something else must be thought of.

Em.: Don’t people ever adopt children from other families?

Maj.: I’ve heard of it being done by childless couples, and those sort of people—

Em.: Hush! Some one’s coming. Who is it?

Maj.: Mrs Paly-Paget.

Em.: The very person!

Maj.: What, to adopt a child? Hasn’t she got any?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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