Des Mathematiqes dans le boudoir

For my poor mathematicians, who are so seldom pandered to


JUSTINE, her hands busy with Meredith’s belt — How kind you have both been to me, these few weeks of summer! I feel myself a veritable prodigy.

AGATHA — Listen to her, Mr. Laupin, how bold she is now. It warms my heart to see it. And all thanks to you, I think, and your tutelage.

MEREDITH, guiding Justine’s hand to his member, already swollen — You do yourself a disservice, my dear. Between the two of us I believe we have wrought well; remember how she quailed when her father left her in our care! Ah! with what downcast eye she stole glances at our feet, and dared look no higher, lest our eye catch hers and some fatal bolt shoot home! How enchanting you were!

JUSTINE — Those days seems strange and far off to me now.

AGATHA — You’ve been a most apt pupil. None has worked harder, struggled more with our theorems and our proofs.

JUSTINE, kissing her, in raptures — Oh, you make my head spin with your compliments! But, still, there is one thing that troubles me… I hardly like to say it…

MEREDITH — Speak. You know we have no secrets.

JUSTINE, blushing — It is this binomial theorem of Mr. Newton’s. Always I think I could catch it, with a trifle more effort, and always it slips away from me.

MEREDITH — What! Six weeks with us and not know Newton’s binomial theorem! Well, apply yourself with a little more fervor to the task your dainty hand is engaged in — she does — Ah! Glorious! Well. You know the statement of the theorem?

JUSTINE — The sum of two unknowns raised to a positive power n is equal to the sum of the series of products produced by multiplying one unknown raised to every power between 0 and n by the other unknown raised to the complementary powers by the series of binomial coefficients.

AGATHA — She recites well.

MEREDITH — And performs well, too. I fear, though, that her knowledge is that of a parrot, or the clockwork marvels of the Austrians: all repetition and no comprehension.

JUSTINE — You have named my problem.

MEREDITH, floods her hand, and collapses — Ah! My pet, you are wond’rous, even so. No automaton could perform so neatly. But, stay, rest awhile, and I shall endeavor to explain as best I can.

AGATHA — And we shall amuse ourselves as best we can while you do; by our passions may something of knowledge be baked into this hard clay.