Act II, page 19

 

MISS PRISM. Do not speak slightingly of three-volume novels [2], Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

CECILY.    Did you really, Miss Prism?  How wonderfully clever you are!  I hope it did not end happily.  I don’t like novels that end happily.  They depress me so much.

MISS PRISM.  The good end happily and the bad unhappily; that is what fiction means.

CECILY.    I suppose so, but it seems very unfair.  Was your novel ever published?

MISS PRISM. Alas, no. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. (CECILY looks at her) I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid.  To your work, child; these speculations are profitless.

CECILY.    But I see dear Doctor Chasuble coming up through the garden.

MISS PRISM.  Doctor Chasuble! This is indeed a pleasure.

CANON CHASUBLE. (Enters through the door in garden wall) And how are we this morning (Crosses and shakes hands) Miss Prism, you are I trust, well?

CECILY.    Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache. I think it will do her so much good to have a short stroll with you in the park, Dr. Chasuble.

MISS PRISM. Cecily, I have not mentioned any thing about a headache.

CECILY.    No, dear Miss Prism, I know that, but I felt instinctively that you had a headache. Indeed, I was thinking about that, and not about my German lesson, when the dear rector came in.

CHASUBLE. I hope, Cecily, you are not inattentive.

CECILY.    Oh, I am afraid I am.

CHASUBLE. That is strange. Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism's pupil I would hang upon her lips. (MISS PRISM giggles, glares.) I spoke metaphorically -my metaphor was drawn from bees. Ahem! Mr. Worthing, I suppose, has not returned from town yet.

MISS PRISM. We do not expect him till Monday afternoon.

CHASUBLE. Ah, yes, he usually likes to spend his Sunday in London. He is not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment, as, by all accounts, that unfortunate young man, his brother, seems to be.  But I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer.

MISS PRISM.  Egeria? My name is Letitia, Doctor.

CHASUBLE. A classical allusion merely, drawn from the Pagan authors. I will see you both, no doubt, at evensong?

MISS PRISM. I think, dear Doctor, I will have a stroll with you. I find I have a headache after all, and a walk might do it good.

CHASUBLE. With pleasure, Miss Prism, with pleasure. We might go as far as the schools and back.

MISS PRISM.  That will be delightful. Cecily, you will read your "Political Economy" in my absence; the chapter on the "Fall of the Rupee" you may omit.  It is somewhat too sensational for a young girl.  These metallic problems have their melodramatic side.  (Exit with CHASUBLE.)

CECILY.    (Picks up books and throws them back on table) Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography !  Horrid, horrid German !

Rob Storrs