Act III, page 45

 

LADY BRACKNELL.  At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious!  (To ALGY)  Algernon, I forbid you to be baptized.  I will not hear of such excesses.  Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money.

CHASUBLE.  Am I to understand, then, that there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon?

JACK.    I don't think that, as things now stand, it would be of any practical value to either of us, Doctor Chasuble!

CHASUBLE.  I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you, Mr. Worthing.  They savor of the heretical views of the Anabaptists [2], views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons.   However, as your present mood seems to be one purely secular, I will return to the church.  Indeed, I have just been informed by the pew-opener that for the last hour and a half Miss Prism has been waiting for me in the vestry.

LADY BRACKNELL.  (Starting) Miss Prism! Did I hear you mention a Miss Prism?

CHASUBLE.  Yes, Lady Bracknell, I am on my way to join her.  She desired the regeneration afforded through baptism and my laying on of hands.

ALGY.    I dare say, to be born again would be of considerable advantage to her.

LADY BRACKNELL.  (Anxiously) Pray allow me to detain you for a moment.  This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself.  Is this Miss Prism a female of repellant aspect, remotely connected with education?

CHASUBLE.  (Somewhat indignantly) She is the most cultivated of ladies, and the very picture of respectability.

LADY BRACKNELL.  (Thoughtfully) It is obviously the same person.  May I ask what position she holds in your household?

CHASUBLE.  (Severely) I am a celibate, madam!

JACK.    (interposing) Miss Prism has been for the last three years Miss Cardew's esteemed governess and valued companion.

LADY BRACKNELL.  In spite of what I hear of her, I must see this Miss Prism at once.  Let her be sent for.

CHASUBLE.  (Looking off) She approaches- she is nigh.

MISS PRISM.  (Enters hurriedly) I was told you expected me in the vestry, dear Canon. I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three quarters.  (Catches sight of LADY BRACKNELL, who has fixed her with a stony stare. MISS PRISM grows pale and quails, looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape.)

LADY BRACKNELL.  (in a severe judicial voice)  Prism!

MISS PRISM.  (Bowing her head in shame) Lady Bracknell !

LADY BRACKNELL. Come here, Miss Prism! (MISS PRISM approaches in humble manner.) Prism!  Where is that baby?  (General consternation.  CHASUBLE starts back in horror.  ALGY and JACK pretend to be anxious to shield CECILY and GWENDOLINE from hearing a terrible scandal.  MISS PRISM makes no answer.) Thirty-four years ago, Prism, you left Lord Bracknell's house, number 104, Grosvenor Street, in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex.  You never returned.  A few weeks later, through the elaborate investigation of the Metropolitan Police, the perambulator

Rob Storrs