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Lilith George MacDonald

A Grotesque Tragedy

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"You come so seldom to mine, that I do not know, my lord; but I may take your word for THAT!"

"I hope so!"

"--if for nothing else!"
"Hoity toity! I never told you a lie in my life!"

"You never told me anything but lies."

"Upon my honour!--Why, I never saw the woman before!"

"You knew me well enough to lie to, my lord!"

"I do seem to begin to dream I have met you before, but, upon my oath, there is nothing to know you by! Out of your clothes, who is to tell who you may not be?--One thing I MAY swear--that I never saw you so much undressed before!--By heaven, I have no recollection of you!"

"I am glad to hear it: my recollections of you are the less distasteful!--Good morning, my lord!"

She turned away, hobbled, clacking, a few paces, and stood again.

"You are just as heartless as--as--any other woman, madam!--Where in this hell of a place shall I find my valet?--What was the cursed name I used to call the fool?"

He turned his bare noddle this way and that on its creaking pivot, still holding his knee with both hands.

"I will be your valet for once, my lord," said the lady, turning once more to him. "--What can I do for you? It is not easy to tell!"

"Tie my leg on, of course, you fool! Can't you see it is all but off? Heigho, my dancing days!"

She looked about with her eyeless sockets and found a piece of fibrous grass, with which she proceeded to bind together the adjoining parts that had formed the knee. When she had done, he gave one or two carefully tentative stamps.

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"You used to stamp rather differently, my lord!" she said, as she rose from her knees.

"Eh? what!--Now I look at you again, it seems to me I used to hate you!--Eh?"

"Naturally, my lord! You hated a good many people!--your wife, of course, among the rest!"

"Ah, I begin, I be-gin---- But--I must have been a long time somewhere!--I really forget!--There! your damned, miserable bit of grass is breaking!--We used to get on PRETTY well together--eh?"

"Not that I remember, my lord. The only happy moments I had in your company were scattered over the first week of our marriage."

"Was that the way of it? Ha! ha!--Well, it's over now, thank goodness!"

"I wish I could believe it! Why were we sitting there in that carriage together? It wakes apprehension!"

"I think we were divorced, my lady!"

"Hardly enough: we are still together!"

"A sad truth, but capable of remedy: the forest seems of some extent!"

"I doubt! I doubt!"

"I am sorry I cannot think of a compliment to pay you--without lying, that is. To judge by your figure and complexion you have lived hard since I saw you last! I cannot surely be QUITE so naked as your ladyship!--I beg your pardon, madam! I trust you will take it I am but jesting in a dream! It is of no consequence, however; dreaming or waking, all's one--all merest appearance! You can't be certain of anything, and that's as good as knowing there is nothing! Life may teach any fool that!"

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