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Gwendelon: Importance of Earnest
Terms in this set (98)
.....But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language, and indeed, I believe so. Gwendelon, you will accompany me.
Charming day it has been Miss Fairfax.
Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me so nervous.
I do mean something else
I thought so. In fact, I am never wrong.
I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell's temporary absence....
I would certainly advise you to do so. Mamma has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to her about.
Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl....I have ever met since.....I met you.
Yes, I am quite well aware of the fact. And I often wish that in public, at any rate, you had been more demonstrative. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits, I am told; and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you.
You really love me, Gwendelon?
Darling! You don't know how happy you've made me.
My own Ernest!
But you don't really mean to say you couldn't love me if my name wasn't Ernest?
But your name is Ernest.
Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn't love me then?
Ah! That is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.
Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don't much care about the name of Ernest....I don't think it suits me at all.
It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has music of its own. It produces vibrations.
Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.
Jack?...No, there is very little music in the name of Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations....I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any women who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment's solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.
Gwendolen, I must get christened at once-I mean we must get married at once. There is no time to be lost.
Married, Mr. Worthing?
Well....surely. You know that I love you, and you led me to believe, Miss Fairfax, that you were not absolutely indifferent to me.
I adore you. But you haven't proposed to me yet. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. The subject that has not even been touched on.
Well....May I propose to you now?
I think it would be an admirable opportunity. And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr. Worthing, I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before-hand that I am fully determined to accept you.
Yes, Mr. Worthing, what have you got to say to me?
You know what I have got to say to you.
Yes, but you don't say it.
Gwendolen, will you marry me?
Of course I will, darling. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose.
My own one, I have never lived any one in the world but you.
Yes, but men often propose for practice. I know my brother Gerald does. All my girl-friends tell me so. What wonderfully blue eyes you have, Ernest! They are quite, quite, blue. I hope you will always look at me just like that, especially when there are other people present.
Mr. Worthing! Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture. It is most indecorous.
Mamma! I must beg you to retire. This is no place for you. Besides, Mr. Worthing has not quite finished yet.
Finished what, may I ask?
I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma.
.....While I am making these inquiries, you, Gwendolen, will wait for me below in the carriage.
In the carriage, Gwendolen! Gwendolen the carriage!
Gwendolen, upon my word!
Algy, kindly turn your back, I have something very particular to say to Mr. Worthing.
Really, Gwendolen, I don't think I can allow this at all.
Algy, you always adopt a strictly immoral attitude towards life. You are not quite old enough to do that.
My own darling!
Ernest, we may never be married. From the expression on the mamma's face I fear we never shall. Few parents nowadays pay nay regard to what their children say to them. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. Whatever influence I ever had over mamma, I lost at the age of three. But although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife, and I may marry someone else, and marry often, nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you.
The story of your romantic origin, as related to me by mamma, with unpleasing comments, has naturally stirring the deeper fibres of my nature. Your Christian name has an irresistible fascination. The simplicity of your characters makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me. Your town address at the Albany I have. What is your address in the country?
The Manor House, Woolton, Hertfordshire.
There is a good postal service, I suppose? It may be necessary to do something desperate. That of course will require serious consideration. I will communicate with you daily.
My own one!
How long do you remain in town?
Good! Algy, you may turn round now.
Thanks, I've turned round already.
You may also ring the bell.
Pray, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Cecily Cardew.
Cecily Cardew? What a very sweet name! Something tells me 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 favourable opportunity for my mentioning of who I am. My father is Lord Bracknell. You may have never heard of papa, I suppose?
I don't think so.
Outside the family circle, papa, I am glad to say, s 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-sided; 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, and 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 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 you were fully forty-two, and more than usually plain for your age. Ernest has a strong and 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, Gwendelon, 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 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. 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 misconcenption. 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.
...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 gotten into, I will never reproach him with it after we are married.
Do you allude me Mrs. Cardew, as an entanglement? You are presumptous. On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind. It becomes a pleasure.
...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.
Yes as usual.
Are there many interesting walks in the vicinity, Miss Cardew?
Oh! Yes! a great many. From the top of one of those hills quite close one can see five counties.
Five counties! 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 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.
....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.
Hand this to 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 my 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 matters. My first impressions of people are invariably right.
....No doubt you have many other calls of a similar character to make in the neighbourhood.
Ernest! My own Ernest!
A moment! May I ask if you are engaged to be married to this young lady?
To dear little Cecily! Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head?
Thank you. You may!
....The gentleman whose arm is at present round your waist is my guardian, Mr. John Worthing.
I beg your pardon?
This is Uncle Jack.
Thank you. You may!
I felt there was some slight error, Miss Cardew. The gentleman who is now embracing you is my cousin, Mr. Algernon Moncrieff!
Is your name really John?
A gross deception has been practiced on both of us.
My poor wounded Cecily!
My sweet wronged Gwendolen!
You will call me sister, will you not?
There is just one question I would like to be allowed to ask my guardian.
An admirable idea! Mr. Worthing, there is just one question I would like to be permitted to put to you. Where is your brother Ernest? We are both engaged to be married to your brother Ernest, so it is a matter of some importance to us to know where your brother Ernest is at present.
Had you never a brother of any kind?
Never. Not even of any kind.
I am afraid it is quite clear, Cecily, that neither of us is engaged to be married to any one.
It is not a very pleasant position for a young girl suddenly to find herself in. Is it?
Let us go into the house. They will hardly venture to come after us there.
The fact that they did not follow us at once into the house, as any one else would have done, seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left.
They have been eating muffins. They looks like repentance.
They don't seem to notice us at all. Couldn't you cough?
But I haven't got a cough.
They're looking at us. What effrontery!
They're approaching. That's very forward of them.
Let us preserve a dignified silence.
Certainly. It is the only thing to do now.
This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect.
A most distasteful one.
But we will not be the first to speak.
Mr. Worthing, I have something very particular to ask you. Much depends on your reply.
That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not?
Yes, dear, if you can believe him.
I don't. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer.
True. In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. Mr. Worthing, what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a brother? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of coming up to town to see me as often as possible?
Can you doubt it, Miss Fairfax?
I have the gravest doubts upon the subject. But I intend to crush them. This is not the moment for German scepticism. Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory, especially Mr. Worthing's. That seems to me to have the stamp of truth on it.
I am more than content with what Mr. Moncrieff said. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity.
Then you think we should forgive them?
Yes. I mean no.
True! I had forgotten. There are principles at sake that one cannot surrender. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one.
Could we not both speak at the same time?
An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Will you take the time from me?
Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. That is all!
Our Christian names? Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon.
For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing?
I am (Algy)
How absurd to talk of equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, men are infinitely beyond us.
They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing.
Gwendolen! What does this mean?
Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr. Worthing, mamma.
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.
I wish he would arrive at some conclusion.
This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
Well, not till to-day, old boy, I admit. I did my best, however, though I was out of practice.
My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name, now that you have become someone else?
Good heavens!.....I had quite forgotten that point. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable, I suppose?
I never change, except in my affections.
Yes, I remember now that the General was called Ernest, I knew I had some particular reason for disliking the name.
Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the first that you could have no other name!
Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?
I can. For I feel that you are sure to change.
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