Rob Storrs

Act II, page 32

 

CECILY.    How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. (Pause) Pray sit down.

GWENDOLINE. (Still standing up front of chair) I may call you Cecily, may I not?

CECILY.    With pleasure.

GWENDOLINE. And you will always call me Gwendoline, won't you?

CECILY.    If you wish.

GWENDOLINE. Then that is all settled, is it not?

CECILY.    I hope so. (Pause. They both sit together.)

GWENDOLINE. Perhaps this might be favorable for my mentioning who I am. My father is Lord Bracknell. You have never heard of papa, I suppose?

CECILY.    I don't think so.

GWENDOLINE. Outside the family circle, papa, I am glad to say, is entirely unknown. I think that is quite as it should be. The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. Once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties, he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not?  And I don’t like that.  It makes men so very attractive.  Cecily, mamma, whose views on education are remarkably strict, has brought me up to be extremely short-sighted. It's part of her system, so you do not mind my looking at you through my glasses?

CECILY.    Oh, not at all, Gwendoline. I am very fond of being looked at.

GWENDOLINE. (Long pause. After examining CECILY carefully through lorgnette ) You are here on a short visit, I suppose?

CECILY.    Oh. no! I live here.

GWENDOLINE.  (Severely) Really? Your mother, no doubt, or some female relative of advanced years, resides here also.

CECILY.    Oh, no! I have no mother, nor, in fact, any relations.

GWENDOLINE.  Indeed?

CECILY.    My dear guardian, with the assistance of Miss Prism, has the arduous task of looking after me.

GWENDOLINE.  Your guardian?

CECILY.    Yes, I am Mr. Worthing's ward.

GWENDOLINE.  Oh! It is strange he never mentioned to me that he had a ward. How secretive of him. He grows more interesting hourly. I am not sure, however, that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight.  I am very fond of you, Cecily. I have liked you ever since I met you. But I am bound to state that, now I know that you are Mr. Worthing's ward, I cannot help expressing the wish that you were- well, just a little older than you seem to be- and not quite so very alluring in appearance. In fact, if I may speak candidly-

CECILY.    Pray do! I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite candid.

GWENDOLINE. Well, to speak with perfect candor, Cecily, I wish that you were fully forty-two- and more than usually plain for your age. Ernest has a strong, upright nature. He is the very soul of truth and honor.  Disloyalty would be as impossible to him as deception.  But even men of the noblest possible moral character are extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others.  Modern, no less than