Act III, page 44

 

CECILY.    Well, I am really only eighteen, but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening-parties.

LADY BRACKNELL.  You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration.  Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age; it looks so calculating.  Eighteen, but admitting to twenty at evening parties…  (In a meditative manner)  Well, it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage.  I don't think your guardian's consent, after all, a matter of importance.

JACK.    Pray excuse me, Lady Bracknell, for interrupting you again, but it is only fair to tell you that, according to the terms of her grandfather's will, Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five!

LADY BRACKNELL. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection.  Thirty-five is a very attractive age.   London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.  Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point.  To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which is many years ago now.  I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present.  There will be a large accumulation of properties.

CECILY.    Algy, could you wait for me till I was thirty-five?

ALGY.    Of course I could, Cecily. You know I could.

CECILY.    Yes, I felt it instinctively, but I couldn't wait all that time.  I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody.  It always makes me rather cross.  I’m not punctual myself, I know, but I do like punctuality in others.  And waiting, even to be married, is quite out of the question.

ALGY.    Then what is to be done, Cecily?

CECILY.    I don't know, Mr. Moncrieff.

LADY BRACKNELL.  My dear Mr. Worthing, as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five- a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature, I would beg of you to reconsider your decision.

JACK.    But my dear Lady Bracknell, the matter is entirely in your own hands. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendoline, I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward.

LADY BRACKNELL.  Mr. Worthing, you must be quite aware that which you propose is out of the question.

JACK.    Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to!

LADY BRACKNELL.  That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendoline- Algernon, of course, can choose for himself. (Pulls out her watch)  Come, dear.  (GWENDOLINE rises.) We must be going.  We have already missed five- if not six!- trains; to miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.

CHASUBLE.    (Enters.) Everything is quite ready for the christenings.

LADY BRACKNELL.  Christenings, sir? Is not that somewhat premature?

CHASUBLE. (Looking rather puzzled and pointing to JACK and ALGY) Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism. (Both bow.)

Rob Storrs