Lord Goring (airily): The Times? Certainly not. I only read The Morning Post. All that one should know about modern life is where the Duchesses are; anything else is quite demoralizing.

Lord Caversham Do you mean to say you have not read The Times leading article on Robert Chiltern’s career?

Lord Goring Good heavens! No. What does it say?

Lord Caversham What should it say, sir? Everything complimentary, of course. Chiltern’s speech last night on this Argentine Canal scheme was one of the finest pieces of oratory ever delivered in the House since Canning.°

Lord Goring Ah! Never heard of Canning. Never wanted to. And did… did Chiltern uphold the scheme?

Lord Caversham Uphold it, sir? How little you know him! Why, he denounced it roundly, and the whole system of modern political finance. This speech is the turning-point in his career, as The Times points out. You should read this article, sir. (Opens The Times) ‘Sir Robert Chiltern… most rising of all our young statesmen… Brilliant orator… Unblemished career… Well-known integrity of character… Represents what is best in English public life… Noble contrast to the lax morality so common among foreign politicians.’ They will never say that of you, sir.

Lord Goring I sincerely hope not, father. However, I am delighted at what you tell me about Robert, thoroughly delighted. It shows he has got pluck.

Lord Caversham He has got more than pluck, sir, he has got genius.

Lord Goring Ah! I prefer pluck. It is not so common, nowadays, as genius is.

Lord Caversham I wish you would go into Parliament.

Lord Goring My dear father, only people who look dull ever get into the House of Commons, and only people who are dull ever succeed there.

Lord Caversham Why don’t you try to do something useful in life?

Lord Goring I am far too young.°

Lord Caversham (testily) I hate this affectation of youth, sir. It is a great deal too prevalent nowadays.

Lord Goring Youth isn’t an affectation. Youth is an art.

Lord Caversham Why don’t you propose to that pretty Miss Chiltern?

Lord Goring I am of a very nervous disposition, especially in the morning.

Lord Caversham I don’t suppose there is the smallest chance of her accepting you.

Lord Goring I don’t know how the betting° stands today.

Lord Caversham If she did accept you she would be the prettiest fool in England.

Lord Goring That is just what I should like to marry. A thoroughly sensible wife would reduce me to a condition of absolute idiocy in less then six months.

Lord Caversham You don’t deserve her, sir.

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