see you again, Mrs. Erlynne?
MRS. ERLYNNE. I am afraid not. Our lives lie too far apart. But there is a little thing I would like you to do for me. I want a photograph of you, Lady Windermere - would you give me one? You don’t know how gratified I should be.
LADY WINDERMERE. Oh, with pleasure. There is one on that table. I’ll show it to you. [Goes across to the table.]
LORD WINDERMERE. [Coming up to MRS. ERLYNNE and speaking in a low voice.] It is monstrous your intruding yourself here after your conduct last night.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [With an amused smile.] My dear Windermere, manners before morals!
LADY WINDERMERE. [Returning.] I’m afraid it is very flattering - I am not so pretty as that. [Showing photograph.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. You are much prettier. But haven’t you got one of yourself with your little boy?
LADY WINDERMERE. I have. Would you prefer one of those?
MRS. ERLYNNE. Yes.
LADY WINDERMERE. I’ll go and get it for you, if you’ll excuse me for a moment. I have one upstairs.
MRS. ERLYNNE. So sorry, Lady Windermere, to give you so much trouble.
LADY WINDERMERE. [Moves to door R.] No trouble at all, Mrs. Erlynne.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Thanks so much.
[Exit LADY WINDERMERE R.] You seem rather out of temper this morning, Windermere. Why should you be? Margaret and I get on charmingly together.
LORD WINDERMERE. I can’t bear to see you with her. Besides, you have not told me the truth, Mrs. Erlynne.
MRS. ERLYNNE. I have not told her the truth, you mean.
LORD WINDERMERE. [Standing C.] I sometimes wish you had. I should have been spared then the misery, the anxiety, the annoyance of the last six months. But rather than my wife should know - that the mother whom she was taught to consider as dead, the mother whom she has mourned as dead, is living - a divorced woman, going about under an assumed name, a bad woman preying upon life, as I know you now to be - rather than that, I was ready to supply you with money to pay bill after bill, extravagance after extravagance, to risk what occurred yesterday, the first quarrel I have ever had with my wife. You don’t understand what that means to me. How could you? But I tell you that the only bitter words that ever came from those sweet lips of hers were on your account, and I hate to see you next her. You sully the innocence that is in her. [Moves L.C.] And then I used to think that with all your faults you were frank and honest. You are not.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Why do you say that?
LORD WINDERMERE. You made me get you an invitation to my wife’s ball.
MRS. ERLYNNE. For my daughter’s ball - yes.
LORD WINDERMERE. You came, and within an hour of your leaving the house you are found in a man’s rooms - you are disgraced before every one. [Goes up stage C.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. Yes.
LORD WINDERMERE. [Turning round on her.] Therefore I have a right to look upon you as what you are - a worthless, vicious woman. I have the right to tell you never to enter this house, never to attempt to come near my wife -
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Coldly.] My daughter, you mean.
LORD WINDERMERE. You have no right to claim her as your daughter. You left her, abandoned her when she was but a child in the cradle, abandoned her for your lover, who abandoned you in turn.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Rising.] Do you count that to his credit, Lord Windermere - or to mine?
LORD WINDERMERE. To his, now that I know you.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Take care - you had better be careful.
LORD WINDERMERE. Oh, I am not going to mince words for you. I know you thoroughly.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Looks steadily at him.] I question that.
LORD WINDERMERE. I do know you. For twenty years of your life you lived without your child, without a thought of your child. One day you read in the papers that she had married a rich man. You saw your hideous chance. You knew that to spare her the ignominy of learning that a woman like you was her mother, I would endure anything. You began your blackmailing,
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Shrugging her shoulders.] Don’t use ugly words, Windermere. They are vulgar. I saw my chance, it is true, and took it.
LORD WINDERMERE. Yes, you took it - and spoiled it all last night by being found out.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [With a strange smile.] You are quite right, I spoiled it all last night.
LORD WINDERMERE. And as for your blunder in taking my wife’s fan from here and then leaving it about in Darlington’s rooms, it is unpardonable. I can’t bear the sight of it now. I shall never let my wife use it again. The thing is soiled for me. You should have kept it and not brought it back.
MRS. ERLYNNE. I think I shall keep it. [Goes up.] It’s extremely pretty. [Takes up fan.] I shall ask Margaret to give it to me.
LORD WINDERMERE. I hope my wife will give it you.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Oh, I’m sure she will have no objection.
LORD WINDERMERE. I wish that at the same time she would give you a miniature she kisses every night before she prays - It’s the miniature of a young innocent-looking girl with beautiful dark hair.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Ah, yes, I remember. How long ago that seems! [Goes to sofa and sits down.] It was done before I was married. Dark hair