The Importance of Being Earnest
SCENE: ALGY’S rooms in Half Moon Street; Door; fireplace. The room is luxuriously furnished and artistically. Cigarettes, bread and butter, cucumber sandwiches on writing-table. Piano heard off. The curtain then rises. LANE is arranging afternoon tea on table, and after piano has ceased ALGY enters.
Act I, page 3
Sunday, December 24, 2006
ALGY. Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?
LANE. I didn't think it polite to listen, sir.
ALGY. I'm sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately. Anyone can play accurately. But I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forté; I keep science for life.
LANE. Yes, sir.
ALGY. And speaking of the science of life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell?
LANE. (Goes up for sandwiches and brings them down) Yes, sir. (Hands them.)
ALGY. (Takes one or two off Plate and sits on sofa) Oh, by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreham and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.
LANE. (Arranging tea table) Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint.
ALGY. Why is it that at a bachelor's establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information.
LANE. I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households, the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand.
ALGY. Good Heavens! Is married life so demoralizing as that?
LANE. (Gravely) I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. (Goes up for bread and butter) I have had very little experience of it myself, up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and the young person.
ALGY. (Crosses to table) I don't know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.
LANE. No, sir- it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.
ALGY. Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.
LANE. Thank you, sir. (Exit.)
ALGY. Lane's views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of their moral responsibility.
LANE. (Enters. Announcing) Mr. Ernest Worthing.