Rob Storrs

Act II, page 30

 

           conversation between myself and Miss Prism. And, of course, a man who is much talked about is always very attractive. One feels there must be something in him after all.  I daresay it was foolish of me, but I fell in love with you, Ernest.

ALGY.    Darling! And when was the engagement actually settled?

CECILY.    On the 14th of April last. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence, I determined to end the matter one way or the other, and after a long struggle with myself,  I accepted you out here in the garden. The next day I bought this little ring in your name, and this is the little bangle with the true lover's knot [2] I promised you always to wear.

ALGY.    Did I give you this? It's very pretty, isn't it?

CECILY.    Yes, you've wonderfully good taste, Ernest. It's the excuse I've always given for your leading such a bad life.  And this is the box in which I keep all your dear letters. (Kneels at table, opens box and produces letters tied up with blue ribbon.)

ALGY.    My letters!  But my own sweet Cecily, I have never written you any letters.

CECILY.    You need hardly remind me of that, Ernest. I remember only too well that I was forced to write your letters for you. I wrote always three times a week, and sometimes oftener.

ALGY.    Oh, do let me read them, Cecily!

CECILY.    Oh, I couldn't possibly.  They would make you far too conceited!  (Replaces box.)  The three you wrote me after I’d broken off the engagement, were so beautiful, and so badly spelt, that even now I can hardly read them without crying a little.

ALGY.    Was our engagement ever broken off?

CECILY.    Of course it was.  On the 22nd of last March.  You can see the entry, if you like.  “Today I broke off my engagement with Ernest.  I feel it is better to do so.  The weather still continues charming.”

ALGY.    But why on earth did you break it off?  Cecily, what had I done?  I had done nothing at all!  Cecily, I’m very much hurt, indeed, to hear you had broke it off, particularly when the weather was so charming.

CECILY.    Well, it would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn’t been broken off at least once.  But I forgave you before the week was out.  

ALGY.    What a perfect angel you are, Cecily!

CECILY.    You dear romantic boy! (He kisses her. She puts her fingers through his hair) I hope your hair curls naturally. Does it?

ALGY.    Yes, darling, with a little help from others.

CECILY.    I am so glad!

ALGY.    You'll never break off our engagement again, Cecily?

CECILY.    I don't think I could break it off, now that I have actually met you. Besides, of course, there is the question of your name.

ALGY.    Yes, of course. (Nervously.)

CECILY.    You must not laugh at me, darling, but it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love someone whose name was Ernest.  There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Ernest.