Sunday, December 24, 2006
Act I, page 6
JACK. Well, if you want to know, Cecily happens to be my aunt.
ALGY. Your aunt!
JACK. Yes. Charming old lady she is, too. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. (Moves to him) Just give it back to me, Algy! (Tries to take case.)
ALGY. (Retreating to back of sofa) But why does she call herself Little Cecily, if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? (Reading) "From Little Cecily, with her fondest love."
JACK. (Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it) My dear fellow, what on earth is there in that. Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! (reaches for cigarette case.) That’s absurd! For Heavens sake, give me back my case. (Bends across sofa.)
ALGY. Yes. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? "From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack." There is no objection, I admit, to an aunt being a small aunt, but why an aunt, no matter what her size may be, should call her own nephew her uncle, I can't quite make out. Besides, your name isn't Jack at all. It is Ernest.
JACK. It isn't Ernest; it's Jack!
ALGY. You always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to everyone as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn't Ernest. It's on your cards. Here is one of them. (Taking it from case) Mr. Ernest Worthing, B4, The Albany. I'll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendoline, or to anyone else. (Puts card in pocket.)
JACK. Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. And the cigarette case was given to me in the country.
ALGY. Yes, but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily who lives at Tunbridge Wells calls you her dear uncle. (JACK sits table. ALGY puts case behind back) Now, tell me the whole thing. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist, and I am quite sure of it now.
JACK. Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean a Bunburyist?
ALGY. I'll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country. (Moving to him.)
JACK. Well, produce my cigarette case first. (Sits on arm of settee.).
ALGY. Here it is. (Hands cigar case) Now produce your explanation. And pray, make it improbable.
JACK. (Sits. ALGY sits sofa) My dear fellow, there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. In fact, it is perfectly ordinary. Old Mr. Thomas Cardew, who adopted me when I a little boy, made me, in his will, guardian to his granddaughter, Miss Cecily Cardew. Cecily, who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that