Lady Windermere's Fan - Page 6

von Oscar Wilde
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Arthur [going to him C.], you fancy because I have no father or mother that I am alone in the world, and that you can treat me as you choose. You are wrong, I have friends, many friends.

LORD WINDERMERE. [L.C.] Margaret, you are talking foolishly, recklessly. I won’t argue with you, but I insist upon your asking Mrs. Erlynne to-night.

LADY WINDERMERE. [R.C.] I shall do nothing of the kind. [Crossing L. C.]

LORD WINDERMERE. You refuse? [C.]

LADY WINDERMERE. Absolutely!

LORD WINDERMERE. Ah, Margaret, do this for my sake; it is her last chance.

LADY WINDERMERE. What has that to do with me?

LORD WINDERMERE. How hard good women are!

LADY WINDERMERE. How weak bad men are!

LORD WINDERMERE. Margaret, none of us men may be good enough for the women we marry - that is quite true - but you don’t imagine I would ever - oh, the suggestion is monstrous!

LADY WINDERMERE. Why should you be different from other men? I am told that there is hardly a husband in London who does not waste his life over some shameful passion.

LORD WINDERMERE. I am not one of them.

LADY WINDERMERE. I am not sure of that!

LORD WINDERMERE. You are sure in your heart. But don’t make chasm after chasm between us. God knows the last few minutes have thrust us wide enough apart. Sit down and write the card.

LADY WINDERMERE. Nothing in the whole world would induce me.

LORD WINDERMERE. [Crossing to bureau.] Then I will! [Rings electric bell, sits and writes card.]

LADY WINDERMERE. You are going to invite this woman? [Crossing to him.]

LORD WINDERMERE. Yes. [Pause. Enter PARKER.] Parker!

PARKER. Yes, my lord. [Comes down L.C.]

LORD WINDERMERE. Have this note sent to Mrs. Erlynne at No. 84A Curzon Street. [Crossing to L.C. and giving note to PARKER.] There is no answer!

[Exit PARKER C.]

LADY WINDERMERE. Arthur, if that woman comes here, I shall insult her.

LORD WINDERMERE. Margaret, don’t say that.

LADY WINDERMERE. I mean it.

LORD WINDERMERE. Child, if you did such a thing, there’s not a woman in London who wouldn’t pity you.

LADY WINDERMERE. There is not a good woman in London who would not applaud me. We have been too lax. We must make an example. I propose to begin to-night. [Picking up fan.] Yes, you gave me this fan to-day; it was your birthday present. If that woman crosses my threshold, I shall strike her across the face with it.

LORD WINDERMERE. Margaret, you couldn’t do such a thing.

LADY WINDERMERE. You don’t know me! [Moves R.]

[Enter PARKER.]

Parker!

PARKER. Yes, my lady.

LADY WINDERMERE. I shall dine in my own room. I don’t want dinner, in fact. See that everything is ready by half-past ten. And, Parker, be sure you pronounce the names of the guests very distinctly to-night. Sometimes you speak so fast that I miss them. I am particularly anxious to hear the names quite clearly, so as to make no mistake. You understand, Parker?

PARKER. Yes, my lady.

LADY WINDERMERE. That will do!

[Exit PARKER C.]

[Speaking to LORD WINDERMERE] Arthur, if that woman comes here - I warn you -

LORD WINDERMERE. Margaret, you’ll ruin us!

LADY WINDERMERE. Us! From this moment my life is separate from yours. But if you wish to avoid a public scandal, write at once to this woman, and tell her that I forbid her to come here!

LORD WINDERMERE. I will not - I cannot - she must come!

LADY WINDERMERE. Then I shall do exactly as I have said. [Goes R.] You leave me no choice. [Exit R.]

LORD WINDERMERE. [Calling after her.] Margaret! Margaret! [A pause.] My God! What shall I do? I dare not tell her who this woman really is. The shame would kill her. [Sinks down into a chair and buries his face in his hands.]

ACT DROP

Act II

SCENE

Drawing-room in Lord Windermere’s house. Door R.U. opening into ball-room, where band is playing. Door L. through which guests are entering. Door L.U. opens on to illuminated terrace. Palms, flowers, and brilliant lights. Room crowded with guests. Lady Windermere is receiving them.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Up C.] So strange Lord Windermere isn’t here. Mr. Hopper is very late, too. You have kept those five dances for him, Agatha? [Comes down.]

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Sitting on sofa.] Just let me see your card. I’m so glad Lady Windermere has revived cards. - They’re a mother’s only safeguard. You dear simple little thing! [Scratches out two names.] No nice girl should ever waltz with such particularly younger sons! It looks so fast! The last two dances you might pass on the terrace with Mr. Hopper.

[Enter MR. DUMBY and LADY PLYMDALE from the ball-room.]

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Fanning herself.] The air is so pleasant there.

PARKER. Mrs. Cowper-Cowper. Lady Stutfield. Sir James Royston. Mr. Guy Berkeley.

[These people enter as announced.]

DUMBY. Good evening, Lady Stutfield. I suppose this will be the last ball of the season?

LADY STUTFIELD. I suppose so, Mr. Dumby. It’s been a delightful season, hasn’t it?

DUMBY. Quite delightful! Good evening, Duchess. I suppose this will be the last ball of the season?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. I suppose so, Mr. Dumby. It has been a very dull season, hasn’t it?

DUMBY. Dreadfully dull! Dreadfully dull!

MR. COWPER-COWPER. Good evening, Mr. Dumby. I suppose this will be the last ball of the season?

DUMBY. Oh, I think not. There’ll probably be two more. [Wanders back to LADY PLYMDALE.]

PARKER. Mr.

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