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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Thomas William Robertson (1829–1871)

A Prospective Misalliance

From “Caste”


D’Alroy.I told you so. The key was under the mat, in case I should come. The girls are not yet back from rehearsal. Confound rehearsals!

Hautree.Aah! So this is the fairy’s bowaw?

D’Alroy.Yes. And this is the fairy’s fireplace! The fire is laid, and I’ll light it!

Hautree.And this is the abode rendered sacred by her presence? This is where she lives, walks, and talks—cats and drinks? Does she-ah! eat and drink?

D’Alroy.Yes—and heartily! I’ve seen her—many a time!

Hautree.Yaas! So you are really spooney? Case of true love? Hit dead?

D’Alroy.Right through!


D’Alroy.True! Ah! I can’t live away from her!

Hautree.Poor old D’Al! So you’ve brought me over the water to——


Hautree.Stangate—to see her. For the same sort of a reason, when a patient is in a dangerous state, one doctor calls in another—doctor, to hold a consul-tation——

D’Alroy.And then—the patient dies!

Hautree.Tell us all about it. You know I’ve been away.

D’Alroy.Well, eighteen months ago——

Hautree.Oh, cut that! You told me all that! How you went to the theatre, and saw a girl in the ballet——

D’Alroy.I found her to be an amiable, good girl——

Hautree.Of cawse! Cut that! Credit her with all the virtues.

D’Alroy.She works hard to support a drunken father.

Hautree.Oh! father drunken? So—the—ah—father does not inherit the daughter’s virtue?

D’Alroy.No! I hate him!

Hautree.Quite right.

D’Alroy.She—that is, Esther—is also very good to a younger sister.

Hautree.Younger sister also angelic, amiable, and accomplished?

D’Alroy.Nein! Good enough! Got a temper! Large temper! Well, after some difficulty, I managed to get to speak with her, Esther, to see her to her door——

Hautree.I know. Pastry-cooks, Richmond dinner, and—all that sawt of thing!

D’Alroy.You’re too fast, Hautree. Pastry-cooks, yes! Richmond dinners, no! The fact is, your knowledge of the world fifty yards around barracks misleads you. I saw her every day. I fell in love, and kept on falling—falling—falling—till I thought I never would reach the bottom. Then I met you.

Hautree.Ya-as. I thought it only an amourette, when you told me. It was a fire—a conflagration. Subdue it. I saw it was a case, and I advised you to try—dissipation.

D’Alroy.I did try dissipation.

Hautree.With what success?

D’Alroy.None! It gave me an aching head and a sore heart!

Hautree.Try foreign travel. Absence makes the heart grow stronger! Get leave, and cut away!

D’Alroy.I did get leave, and cut away. While I was away, I was miserable. I found I was a goner coon than ever.

Hautree.Then what is to be done?

D’Alroy.I don’t know. I ask you to come and see her.

Hautree.Now, look here, D’Alroy! Of course you are not so soft as to think of marriage? You know what your mother is—and what she would think of it. You will behave properly—with a proper regard for the world and all that sort of thing—or do the other thing. The-ah girl is nice enough, no doubt, for her station, but you can’t dream of making her Mrs. D’Alroy!

D’Alroy.Why not? What’s to prevent me?

Hautree.The social laws—so good—of caste! The inexorable laws of caste!

D’Alroy.My dear Art!

Hautree.My dear D’Al! The other sort of thing—the marriages with common people is all very well in novels, and plays on the stage, where the people don’t exist. There’s no harm done, and it’s sometimes interesting. But real people, real mothers, real relations, real connections, in real life, it’s quite another matter. It’s utter social and personal annihilation!

D’Alroy.As for my mother, I never thought of her.

Hautree.Of course not! Lovers are so beastly selfish.

D’Alroy.My father died when I was three years old, and my mother married before I was six—married a Frenchman.

Hautree.A nobleman of the most ancient family—of equal blood to her own. She obeyed the laws imposed by caste.

D’Alroy.Caste again! That caused a separation between us. My brother lives abroad and I do not see him. I confess that as to my mother, I—I look upon her with a kind of superstitious awe!

Hautree.Ya-as! She is a sort of Grand Brahman priestess!

D’Alroy.Just so. Now I know I am a fool—I have a thick tongue and a lisp—which makes me appear more of a fool than I am. You are clever, Arthur, perhaps a little too clever! You are paying your devoirs—I believe that is the correct word—paying your devoirs to Florence Carberry, daughter of the countess. She is of higher rank than you. Is she to forget caste?

Hautree.Ah! that argument does not apply!

D’Alroy.“Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood!”

Hautree.Oh, cut that! If you are a-going to look at it from the point of view of poetry—going off to No-Man’s-Land, I won’t follow you!

D’Alroy.No gentleman can be ashamed of the woman he loves! Whatever her original station, he raises her to the same position he holds himself!

Hautree.Ya-as! He raises her—her! But, her connections—but, her relations! How about them?(Voice of ECCLES.)Polly! Polly! Why the(enters)devil couldn’t you——

Eccles.Mr. D’Alroy, I—I didn’t see you. Good-evening, sir! The same to you and many of them!

D’Alroy(to HAUTREE).This is the father.

Hautree(aside).The drunken father! Ah!

D’Alroy(to ECCLES).I suppose Miss Esther and her sister have not yet returned from rehearsal?

Eccles.Not yet, sir. I expec’ ’em in every minute. I ’opes you ’ave been quite well since I seed you last?

D’Alroy.Quite, thank you! By-the-bye, this is a friend of mine I took the liberty of bringing with me.

Eccles(bows).Any friend of the Honourable Mr. D’Alroy—I’m sure!

D’Alroy.And how have you been, Mr. Eccles?

Eccles.Well, sir(sighs), I haven’t been the thing at all. My ’ealth and spirits is broke. I’m not the man I used to be—I’m not accustomed to this sort of life. Ah! gentlemen, I’m a man what has seen better days—most like gone for ever! It’s a drefful thing for a man at my time of life to look back on better days gone most like for ever!

D’Alroy.I dessay.

Eccles.Once proud and prosperous, now poor and lowly! Once a ’spectable tradesman, I am forced by the pressure of succumstances over which I have no control, to seek for work and not to find it.

D’Alroy.I dessay.

Eccles.But the poor and lowly is hoften ’ardly used. What chance has a working-man?

Hautree(aside).None—when he won’t work!

Eccles.I’m sorry, gentlemen, I can’t offer you any refreshments. Ah! luxury and me has long been strangers—long been strangers!

D’Alroy.Sorry to hear your misfortunes, Mr. Eccles!

Eccles.Ah, sir! I’ve had many on ’em—many on ’em!

D’Alroy(offers ECCLES coin).Perhaps you will permit me to offer you a trifling loan?

Eccles.You’re a gentleman, Mr. D’Alroy! a real gentleman! Hanybody can tell a real gentleman with ’alf a sovereign—I mean, with ’alf an heye! A real gentleman and understands the nateral emotions of the working-man! Poverty—poverty’s a thing that should be encouraged! And pride should be put down by the—the strong hand of pecooniary necessity! Thank ’eavens, we are all equal in mind and feelings!

Hautree(aside).I should hope not.

Eccles(abruptly).I’ve a neighbour I want to speak to awaitin’ for me houtside. The gals’ll be in presently. Sorry to leave you, gentlemen—sorry to leave you!

D’Alroy.Don’t mention it!

Eccles.But business is business! Good-evening, gentlemen! Good-evening, gentlemen, good-evening!(Exit.)

Hautree(railing).So this is Papa Eccles! But “Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood.” Poor old boy! I wonder what the most noble your mother the Marquise de St. Maur would think of Papa Eccles!