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Gwendolen Lines - The Importance of Being Ernest Act 2, scene 2
Terms in this set (30)
Pray let me introduce myself to you. My name is Cecily Cardew.
Cecily Cardew? What a very sweet name! Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I like you already more than I can say. My first impressions of people are never wrong.
How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. Pray sit down.
I may call you Cecily, may I not?
And you will always call me Gwendolen, won't you?
If you wish.
Then that is all quite settled, is it not?
I hope so.
Perhaps this might be a favorable opportunity for my mentioning who I am. My father is Lord Bracknell. You have never heard of papa, I suppose?
I don't think so.
Outside the family circle, papa, I am glad to say, is entirely unknown. I think that is quite as it should be. The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not? And I don't like that. It makes men so very attractive. Cecily, mamma, whose views on education are remarkably strict, has brought me up to be extremely short sighted; it is part of her system; so do you mind my looking at you through my glasses?
Oh! Not at all Gwendolen. I am very fond of being looked at.
You are here on a short visit, I suppose.
Oh no! I live here.
Really? Your mother, no doubt, or some female relative of advanced years, resides here also?
Oh no! I have no mother, nor, in fact, any relations.
My dear guardian, with the assistance of Miss Prism, has the arduous task of looking after me.
Yes, I am Mr. Worthing's ward.
Oh! It is strange he never mentioned to me that he had a ward. How secretive of him! He grows more interesting hourly. I am not sure, however, that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight. I am very fond of you Cecily; I have liked you ever since I met you! But I am bound to state that now that I know that you are Mr. Worthing's ward, I cannot help expressing a wish you were—well, just a little older than you seem to be—and not quite so very alluring in appearance. In fact, if I may speak candidly -
Pray do! I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite candid.
Well to speak with perfect candour Cecily, I wish that you were fully forty-two, and more than usually plain for your age. Ernest has a strong upright nature. He is the very soul of truth and honor. Disloyalty would be as impossible to him as deception. But even men of the noblest possible moral character are extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others. Modern, no less than ancient history, supplies us with many most painful examples of what I refer to. If it were not so, indeed, history would be quite unreadable.
I beg your pardon, Gwendolen, did you say Ernest?
Oh, but it is not Mr. Ernest Worthing who is my guardian. It is his brother—his elder brother.
Ernest never mentioned to me that he had a brother.
I am sorry to say that they have not been on good terms for a long time.
Ah! That accounts for it. And now that I think of it I have never heard any man mention his brother. The subject seems distasteful to most men. Cecily, you have lifted a load from my mind. I was growing almost anxious. It would have been terrible if any cloud had come across a friendship like ours, would it not? Of course you are quite, quite sure that it is not Mr. Ernest Worthing who is your guardian?
Quite sure. In fact, I am going to be his.
I beg your pardon?
Dearest Gwendolen, there is no reason why I should make a secret of it to you. Our little county newspaper is sure to chronicle the fact next week. Mr. Ernest Worthing and I are engaged to be married.
My darling Cecily, I think there must be some slight error. Mr. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me. The announcement will appear in the Morning Post on Saturday at the latest.
I am afraid you must be under some misconception. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago.
It is certainly very curious, for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5:30. If you would care to verify the incident, pray do so. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train. I am so sorry, dear Cecily, if it is any disappointment to you, but I am afraid I have the prior claim.
It would distress me more than I can tell you, Dear Gwendolen, if it caused you any mental or physical anguish, but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you he clearly has changed his mind.
If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once, and with a firm hand.
Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got into, I will never reproach him with it until after we are married.
Do allude to me, Miss Cardew, as an entanglement? You are presumptuous. On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind. It becomes a pleasure.
Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade.
I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different. Are there many interesting walks in the vicinity, Miss Cardew?
Oh! Yes! A great many. From the top of one of the hills quite close one can see five countries.
Five countries! I don't think I should like that; I hate crowds.
I suppose that is why you live in town?
Quite a well-kept garden this is, Miss Cardew.
So glad you like it, Miss Fairfax.
I had no idea there were any flowers in the country.
Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London.
Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country, if anybody who is anybody does. The country always bores me to death.
Ah! This is what the newspapers call agricultural depression, is it not? I believe the aristocracy are suffering very much from it just at present. It is almost an epidemic amongst them, I have been told. May I offer you some tea, Miss Fairfax?
Thank you. Detestable girl! But I require tea.
No, thank you. Sugar is not fashionable any more.
Cake or bread and butter?
Bread and butter, please. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.
Here, Miss Fairfax.
You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you Miss Cardew, you may go too far.
To save my poor, innocent, trusting boy from the machinations of any other girl there are no lengths to which I would not go.
From the moment I saw you I distrusted you. I felt that you were false and deceitful. I am never deceived in such manners. My first impressions of people are invariably right.
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