The Importance of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde Act II: Part 1

JACK.
Well, this is the last time I shall ever do it. [Shakes with Algernon and glares.]

CHASUBLE.
It's pleasant, is it not, to see so perfect a reconciliation? I think we might leave the two brothers together.

MISS PRISM.
Cecily, you will come with us.

CECILY.
Certainly, Miss Prism. My little task of reconciliation is over.

CHASUBLE.
You have done a beautiful action to-day, dear child.

MISS PRISM.
We must not be premature in our judgments.

CECILY.
I feel very happy. [They all go off except Jack and Algernon.]

JACK.
You young scoundrel, Algy, you must get out of this place as soon as possible. I don't allow any Bunburying here.

[Enter Merriman.]

MERRIMAN.
I have put Mr. Ernest's things in the room next to yours, sir. I suppose that is all right?

JACK.
What?

MERRIMAN.
Mr. Ernest's luggage, sir. I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own.

JACK.
His luggage?

MERRIMAN.
Yes, sir. Three portmanteaus, a dressing-case, two hat-boxes, and a large luncheon-basket.

ALGERNON.
I am afraid I can't stay more than a week this time.

JACK.
Merriman, order the dog-cart at once. Mr. Ernest has been suddenly called back to town.

MERRIMAN.
Yes, sir. [Goes back into the house.]

ALGERNON.
What a fearful liar you are, Jack. I have not been called back to town at all.

JACK.
Yes, you have.

ALGERNON.
I haven't heard any one call me.

JACK.
Your duty as a gentleman calls you back.

ALGERNON.
My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree.

JACK.
I can quite understand that.

ALGERNON.
Well, Cecily is a darling.

JACK.
You are not to talk of Miss Cardew like that. I don't like it.

ALGERNON.
Well, I don't like your clothes. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. Why on earth don't you go up and change? It is perfectly childish to be in deep mourning for a man who is actually staying for a whole week with you in your house as a guest. I call it grotesque.

JACK.
You are certainly not staying with me for a whole week as a guest or anything else. You have got to leave . . . by the four-five train.

ALGERNON.
I certainly won't leave you so long as you are in mourning. It would be most unfriendly. If I were in mourning you would stay with me, I suppose. I should think it very unkind if you didn't.

JACK.
Well, will you go if I change my clothes?

ALGERNON.
Yes, if you are not too long. I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.

JACK.
Well, at any rate, that is better than being always over-dressed as you are.

ALGERNON.
If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.

JACK.
Your vanity is ridiculous, your conduct an outrage, and your presence in my garden utterly absurd. However, you have got to catch the four-five, and I hope you will have a pleasant journey back to town. This Bunburying, as you call it, has not been a great success for you.

[Goes into the house.]

ALGERNON.
I think it has been a great success. I'm in love with Cecily, and that is everything.

[Enter Cecily at the back of the garden. She picks up the can and begins to water the flowers.] But I must see her before I go, and make arrangements for another Bunbury. Ah, there she is.

CECILY.
Oh, I merely came back to water the roses. I thought you were with Uncle Jack.

ALGERNON.
He's gone to order the dog-cart for me.

CECILY.
Oh, is he going to take you for a nice drive?

ALGERNON.
He's going to send me away.

CECILY.
Then have we got to part?

ALGERNON.
I am afraid so. It's a very painful parting.

CECILY.
It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable.

ALGERNON.
Thank you.

[Enter Merriman.]

MERRIMAN.
The dog-cart is at the door, sir. [Algernon looks appealingly at Cecily.]

CECILY.
It can wait, Merriman for . . . five minutes.

MERRIMAN.
Yes, Miss. [Exit Merriman.]

ALGERNON.
I hope, Cecily, I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection.

CECILY.
I think your frankness does you great credit, Ernest. If you will allow me, I will copy your remarks into my diary. [Goes over to table and begins writing in diary.]

ALGERNON.
Do you really keep a diary? I'd give anything to look at it. May I?

CECILY.
Oh no. [Puts her hand over it.] You see, it is simply a very young girl's record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication. When it appears in volume form I hope you will order a copy. But pray, Ernest, don't stop. I delight in taking down from dictation. I have reached 'absolute perfection'. You can go on. I am quite ready for more.

ALGERNON.
[Somewhat taken aback.] Ahem! Ahem!

CECILY.
Oh, don't cough, Ernest. When one is dictating one should speak fluently and not cough. Besides, I don't know how to spell a cough. [Writes as Algernon speaks.]

ALGERNON.
[Speaking very rapidly.] Cecily, ever since I first looked upon your wonderful and incomparable beauty, I have dared to love you wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly.

CECILY.
I don't think that you should tell me that you love me wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly. Hopelessly doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?

ALGERNON.
Cecily!

[Enter Merriman.]

MERRIMAN.
The dog-cart is waiting, sir.

ALGERNON.
Tell it to come round next week, at the same hour.

MERRIMAN.
[Looks at Cecily, who makes no sign.] Yes, sir.

[Merriman retires.]

CECILY.
Uncle Jack would be very much annoyed if he knew you were staying on till next week, at the same hour.

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