Act I, page 8
husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public. Besides, now that I know you are a confirmed Bunburyist, I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. I want to tell you the rules.
JACK. I'm not a Bunburyist at all. If Gwendoline accepts me, I am going to kill my brother; indeed, I think I'll kill him in any case. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. It is rather a bore. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr.- …with your invalid friend who has the absurd name.
ALGY. Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to be extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.
JACK. That is nonsense. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendoline, and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry, I certainly don't want to know Bunbury.
ALGY. Then your wife will. You don't seem to realize, my dear fellow, that in married life three is company, and two is none.
Ah, it must be Aunt Augusta. Only relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. Now, if I get her out of the way for ten minutes, so that you can have an opportunity of proposing to Gwendoline, may I dine with you at Willis’s tonight?
JACK. I suppose so, if you want to.
ALGY. Yes, but you must be serious about it. I hate people who are not serious about meals; it is so shallow of them.
LANE. (Enters.) Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax.
(Enter LADY BRACKNELL and GWENDOLINE. LANE exits.)
LADY BRACKNELL. Good afternoon, Algernon. I hope you are behaving very well.
ALGY. I'm feeling very well, Aunt Augusta.
LADY BRACKNELL. That's not quite the same thing; in fact, the two rarely go together.
ALGY. (To GWENDOLINE) Dear me, you are smart!
GWENDOLINE. I am always smart. Am I not, Mr. Worthing?
JACK. You are quite perfect, Miss Fairfax.
GWENDOLINE. I hope I’m not that. It would leave me no room for developments, and I intend to develop in many directions.
LADY BRACKNELL. I'm sorry if we are a little late, Algernon, but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury.
(Enter LANE, carrying teapot, which he puts on table.)
I hadn't been there since her poor husband's death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger. I'll have a cup of tea and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me.
ALGY. Certainly, Aunt Augusta.
LADY BRACKNELL. Won't you come and sit here, Gwendoline?