Sunday, December 24, 2006
Act I, page 5
JACK. (Rises and takes bread and butter away) And very good bread and butter it is, too.
ALGY. Well, my dear fellow, you need not eat it as if you were going to eat it all. You behave as if you were married to her already. You are not married to her already, and I don't think you ever will be.
JACK. Why on earth do you say that?
ALGY. Well, in the first place, girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don't think it right.
JACK. Oh, that is nonsense.
ALGY. It isn't. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over town. In the second place, I don't give my consent.
JACK. Your consent!
ALGY. My dear fellow, Gwendoline is my first cousin; and before I allow you to marry her, you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. (Rings bell.)
JACK. Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean, Algy, by Cecily? I don't know anyone of the name of Cecily.
ALGY. Lane, bring me that cigarette case Mr. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here.
LANE. Yes, sir. (Exit.)
JACK. Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all this time? l wish to goodness you had let me know. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it. I was very nearly offering a large reward.
ALGY. Well, I wish you would offer one. I happen to be more than usually hard up.
JACK. There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found. (LANE with cigarette case on salver. JACK is about to take it. ALGY takes it.)
ALGY. I think it rather mean of you, Ernest, I must say. (Opens case and examines it) However, it makes no matter, for now that I look at the inscription inside, I find the thing isn't yours after all. (Turning away.)
JACK. Of course it is mine. You have seen me with it a hundred times, and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case.
ALGY. (Turning to JACK.) It is absurd to make a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.
JACK. I’m quite aware of the fact. And I don’t propose to discuss modern culture. It isn’t the sort of thing one should talk of in private. I simply want my cigarette case back.
ALGY. Yes, but this is not your cigarette case. ThIs cigarette case is a present from someone of the name of Cecily, and you said you didn't know anyone of that name.