Act III, page 46

 

           was discovered at midnight, standing by itself in a remote corner of Hyde Park, Bayswater.  It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality.  (MISS PRISM starts in involuntary indignation.)  But the baby was not there. Prism!  Where is that baby?  (Everyone looks at MISS PRISM.)

MISS PRISM.  Lady Bracknell, I admit with shame that I do not know.  I only wish I did.  The plain facts of the case are these.  On the morning of the day you mention, a day that is forever branded on my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in the perambulator.  I had also with me a somewhat old but capacious handbag in which I intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours.  In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I can never forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the bassinette, and placed the baby in the handbag.

JACK.    (Has been listening attentively)  But where did you deposit the handbag?

MISS PRISM.  Do not ask me, Mr. Worthing.

JACK.    Miss Prism, this is a matter of no small importance to me.  I insist on knowing where you deposited the handbag that contained the infant.

MISS PRISM.  I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London.

JACK.    What railway station?

MISS PRISM.  Victoria- the Brighton line. (Quite crushed)

JACK.    I must retire to my room for a moment.  Gwendoline, wait here for me.

GWENDOLINE.  If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.  (Exit JACK.)

CHASUBLE.  What do you think this means, Lady Bracknell?

LADY BRACKNELL. I dare not even suspect, Dr. Chasuble.  I need hardly tell you, that in families of high positions, strange coincidences are not supposed to occur.  They are hardly considered the thing. (Noise heard overhead as if someone is throwing trunks about.  Everyone looks up.)

CECILY.    (Looking up) Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated.

CHASUBLE.  Your guardian has a very emotional nature.

LADY BRACKNELL. This noise is extremely unpleasant.  (Noises heard overhead.)  It sounds as if he was having an argument.  I dislike arguments of any kind: they are always vulgar, and often convincing.

CHASUBLE.  (Looking up) It has stopped now.

LADY BRACKNELL.  (More noises heard overhead.)  I wish he would arrive at some conclusion.

GWENDOLINE. This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

JACK.    (Enters with black leather handbag in his hand.  Rushing over to MISS PRISM, who is still seated)  Is this the handbag, Miss Prism?  (Hands it to her)  Examine it carefully before you speak. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer.

MISS PRISM.  It seems to be mine. (Rises)  Yes, here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus [2] in younger and happier days.  (Opens bag. In a more confidential and more joyful voice)  Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage- an incident that occurred at Linnington.  And here, on the lock, are my initials.  I had forgotten, in an extravagant mood I had

Rob Storrs