L'Angleterre dans les années 20. Lottie Crump, dernière représentante de l'esprit edwardien, tient salon. Le roi déchu et ruiné de Ruritanie est présent.
'Liberals? Yes. We, too, had Liberals. Il tell you something now, I had a gold fountain-pen. My godfather, the good Archduke of Austria, give me one gold fountain-pen with eagles on him. I loved my gold fountain-pen.' (Tears stood in the King's eyes. Champagne was a rare luxury to him now.) 'I loved very well my pen with the little eagles. And one day there was a Liberal Minister. A Count Tampen, one man, Mrs Crump, of exceedingly evilness. He come to talk to me and he stood at my little escritoire and he thump and talk too much about somethings I not understand, and when he go — where was my gold fountain-pen with eagles — gone too.'
'Poor old king', said Lottie. 'I tell you what. You have another drink.'

Evelyn Waugh, Viles bodies, chap 3