Westminster Gong

Blitzen: Your Potency will excuse me but I hear the Westminster gong sounding. I am really afraid your Potency will be late for Parliament. Shall I weigh Mongolfior’s anchor?

Lady: Pray do. And how is the dear creature this morning, Blitzino?

Blitzen: Puffing, and blowing, and snorting, your Potency; and chained legs, tail, antennae, paw, and claw, to the steeple of St Giles.

Lady: Lead on, Blitzino, We follow. (Blitzen goes out with tremendous effect imparting much electricity to the mummies). Farewell, may we meet again. (exit).

Uncle: May heaven forbid!

Sam: Oh! my dear uncle. may we never behold the like again.

Uncle: (Groaning) But is she really gone! (mutual groans—both mummies fall upon their mummy cases exhausted—a pause—re-enter Lady).

Uncle: (in despair) Oh dear. You haven’t come back again.

Lady: (smiling) I have returned for a moment. A thought has occurred to me, and Mongolfior was so fresh that I have sent him for a little turn with Blitzen. He is probably on the coast of Labrador by this time.

Sam: (groaning) Oh! may all the powers of ice and darkness keep him there.

Lady: Fear nothing. He will not return immediately. It occurred to me that perhaps you could give me one little piece of information in return for all the knowledge I have imparted to you. (producing coin) Perhaps you knew my predecessor Gladstone. He flourished about your time.

Uncle: I knew him well. He was a personal friend of mine.

Lady: Would you then kindly tell me if you consider this a good likeness? (shows coin to Uncle who bursts into a loud laugh.)

Uncle: Excuse me, madam, but would you have the kindness to show it to my nephew? (Lady shows him coin) Samuel, whose head it that?

Sam: It’s the head of Blondin, the rope dancer.

Lady: Blondin, the rope dancer! Why, it’s the accepted portrait of Gladstone as he appeared when writing the Vatican decrees. All the antiquarians are agreed upon that head.

Sam: Then they are all agreed upon the wrong head.

Uncle: (still laughing) I remember well when it was coined. It was upon the occasion of Blondin’s performing at the Crystal Palace, when he wheeled his wife, and family and all his neighbors, over a rope stretched across the Thames.

Lady: And what was there remarkable in that?

Uncle: It was thought very remarkable; so remarkable that this coin was struck in his honor.

Lady: But he had a rope.

Uncle: Only a rope.

Lady: (contemptuously) Only a rope! But nowadays our acrobats perform the same feat without stretching a rope. We stretch our imaginations, and that does as well.

Uncle: Oh Samuel!

Sam: Oh Uncle!