The Importance of Being Earnest: Second Act, Part 2
Gwendolen and Cecily are angry with Jack and Algernon now they know their real names Was it so you could come to London to see me?. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. MR. ALONSO SMITH: responsible & respectable man who leads a double life, is courting Gwendolen, is uncle/guardian to Cecily. Cecily. [Advancing to meet her.] Pray let me introduce myself to you. My name the arduous task of looking after me. Gwendolen. Your guardian? Cecily. Yes, I am Street, in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex.
As a matter of form, Mr.
Worthing, I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? So pleased to have seen you. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time.
I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her. And after six months nobody knew her. Then bends, with a practised smile, to Cecily. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile.
The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present. There are distinct social possibilities in Miss Cardew's profile. Cecily is the sweetest, dearest, prettiest girl in the whole world. And I don't care twopence about social possibilities.
Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can't get into it do that. But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way. Well, I suppose I must give my consent. Thank you, Aunt Augusta. Cecily, you may kiss me! You may also address me as Aunt Augusta for the future. The marriage, I think, had better take place quite soon. To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements.
They give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which I think is never advisable. I beg your pardon for interrupting you, Lady Bracknell, but this engagement is quite out of the question. I am Miss Cardew's guardian, and she cannot marry without my consent until she comes of age. That consent I absolutely decline to give. Upon what grounds may I ask? Algernon is an extremely, I may almost say an ostentatiously, eligible young man.
He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire? It pains me very much to have to speak frankly to you, Lady Bracknell, about your nephew, but the fact is that I do not approve at all of his moral character. I suspect him of being untruthful.
He is an Oxonian. I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance, he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. Under an assumed name he drank, I've just been informed by my butler, an entire pint bottle of my Perrier-Jouet, Brut, '89; wine I was specially reserving for myself. Continuing his disgraceful deception, he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward.
The Importance of Being Earnest: Second Act, Part 2
He subsequently stayed to tea, and devoured every single muffin. And what makes his conduct all the more heartless is, that he was perfectly well aware from the first that I have no brother, that I never had a brother, and that I don't intend to have a brother, not even of any kind. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday afternoon. Worthing, after careful consideration I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew's conduct to you.
That is very generous of you, Lady Bracknell. My own decision, however, is unalterable. I decline to give my consent. Well, I am really only eighteen, but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening parties. You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration.
Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age.MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS ('44): "The Trolley Song"
It looks so calculating. Well, it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage. So I don't think your guardian's consent is, after all, a matter of any importance. Pray excuse me, Lady Bracknell, for interrupting you again, but it is only fair to tell you that according to the terms of her grandfather's will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five.
That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present.
There will be a large accumulation of property. Algy, could you wait for me till I was thirty-five? Of course I could, Cecily. You know I could. Yes, I felt it instinctively, but I couldn't wait all that time. I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody. It always makes me rather cross. I am not punctual myself, I know, but I do like punctuality in others, and waiting, even to be married, is quite out of the question. Then what is to be done, Cecily? I don't know, Mr. Worthing, as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five--a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature--I would beg of you to reconsider your decision.
But my dear Lady Bracknell, the matter is entirely in your own hands. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendolen, I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward. Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to. That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen. Algernon, of course, can choose for himself. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.
Everything is quite ready for the christenings. Is not that somewhat premature? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon, I forbid you to be baptized. I will not hear of such excesses. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money.
Am I to understand then that there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon? I don't think that, as things are now, it would be of much practical value to either of us, Dr.
I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you, Mr. They savour of the heretical views of the Anabaptists, views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons. However, as your present mood seems to be one peculiarly secular, I will return to the church at once. Indeed, I have just been informed by the pew-opener that for the last hour and a half Miss Prism has been waiting for me in the vestry.
Did I bear you mention a Miss Prism? I am on my way to join her. Pray allow me to detain you for a moment. This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself. Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect, remotely connected with education? It is obviously the same person. May I ask what position she holds in your household?
In spite of what I hear of her, I must see her at once. Let her be sent for. I was told you expected me in the vestry, dear Canon.
I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three-quarters. Miss Prism grows pale and quails. She looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape. Where is that baby? The Canon starts back in horror. Algernon and Jack pretend to be anxious to shield Cecily and Gwendolen from hearing the details of a terrible public scandal. A few weeks later, through the elaborate investigations of the Metropolitan police, the perambulator was discovered at midnight, standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater.
It contained the manuscript of a three- volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality. Lady Bracknell, I admit with shame that I do not know. I only wish I did. The plain facts of the case are these. On the morning of the day you mention, a day that is for ever branded on my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. I had also with me a somewhat old, but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours.
In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette, and placed the baby in the hand-bag. Do not ask me, Mr. Miss Prism, this is a matter of no small importance to me. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant. I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London. I must retire to my room for a moment. Gwendolen, wait here for me. If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.
What do you think this means, Lady Bracknell? I dare not even suspect, Dr. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. They are hardly considered the thing. Every one looks up. Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated. Your guardian has a very emotional nature. This noise is extremely unpleasant.
It sounds as if he was having an argument. I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing. I wish he would arrive at some conclusion. This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last. Examine it carefully before you speak. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer. Yes, here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage, an incident that occurred at Leamington.
And here, on the lock, are my initials. I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them placed there. The bag is undoubtedly mine. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me.
It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years. I was the baby you placed in it.
Meet Me in St. Gallen - Wikipedia
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- The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
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