Rob Storrs

Act II, page 22

 

MISS PRISM.  That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman.  Maturity can always be depended on; ripeness can be trusted.  Young women are green.  I spoke horticulturally.  My metaphor was drawn from fruits.  But where is Cecily?

CHASUBLE.  Perhaps she followed us to the schools.

(Enter JACK from back of garden.  He is dressed entirely in black. MISS PRISM shakes his hand. JACK takes out his handkerchief and puts it to his eyes.)

MISS PRISM. Mr. Worthing!  And in black!

CHASUBLE. Mr. Worthing!  In deep mourning!

MISS PRISM. This is indeed a surprise. We did not look for you till Monday afternoon.

JACK.    (Shakes MISS PRISM'S hand in a tragic manner) I have returned sooner than I expected.  Doctor Chasuble, I hope you are well.

CHASUBLE. Dear Mr. Worthing, I trust this garb of woe does not betoken some terrible calamity.

JACK.    My brother!

PRISM.    More shameful debts and extravagancies?

CHASUBLE. Still leading his life of pleasure?

JACK.    (Shaking his head) Dead! (Putting handkerchief to his eyes.)

CHASUBLE.  Your brother Ernest dead?

JACK.    Quite dead.

MISS PRISM. What a lesson for him. I trust he will profit by it.

CHASUBLE.  Mr. Worthing, I offer you my sincere condolences. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers.

JACK.    (Handkerchief business) Poor Ernest. He had many faults, but it is a sad blow.

CHASUBLE.  Very sad indeed. Were you with him at the end?

JACK.    No, he died abroad in Paris. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel.

CHASUBLE.  Was the cause of his death mentioned?

JACK.    A severe chill, it seems.

MISS PRISM.  As a man sows, so shall he reap.

CHASUBLE. (Raising his hand)  Oh, charity.  Dear Miss Prism, charity.  None of us are perfect. I myself am particularly susceptible to draughts. Will the interment take place here?

JACK.    No. He seems to have expressed the desire to be buried in Paris.

CHASUBLE. In Paris. (Shakes his head) I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. You would no doubt wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction next Sunday. (JACK presses his hand convulsively.)  My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the Wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion, joyful or, as in the present case, distressing.  Long I have preached it at harvest celebrations, christenings, confirmations, on days of humiliation and festal days. The last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral, as a charity sermon on behalf the Society for the Prevention of Discontent Among the Upper Classes. The Bishop, who was present, was much struck by some of the analogies I drew.