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nuisance. I should like to be allowed a he has got some woman in his rooms all little time to myself, now and then.

the time. Lord A. (Looking round.) Time to edu- Lord A. No, really! really! cate yourself, I suppose.

Cecil G. (In a low voice.) Yes, here is Dumby. No, time to forget all I have her fan. learned. That is much more important,

(Points to the fan.) dear Tuppy.

Lord A. (Chuckling.) By

Jove! By (Lord A. moves uneasily in his chair.) Jove! Lord D. What cynics you fellows are! Lord W. (Up by door.) I am really off Cecil G. What is a cynic?

now, Lord Darlington. I am sorry you (Sitting on the back of the sofa.)

are leaving England so soon. Pray call | Lord D. A man who knows the price on us when you come back! My wife and

of everything, and the value of noth- I will be charmed to see you! ing.

Lord D. (Up stage with Lord W.) I am Cecil G. And a sentimentalist, my dear afraid I shall be away for many years.

Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd Good-night! value in everything, and does n't know Cecil G. Arthur!

the market price of any single thing. Lord W. What? Lord D. You always amuse me, Cecil. Cecil G. I want to speak to you for a

You talk as if you were a man of ex- moment. No, do come! perience.

Lord W. (Putting on his coat.) I can't Cecil G. I am.

-I'm off! (Moves up to front of fireplace.) Cecil G. It is something very particular. Lord D. You are far too young!

It will interest you enormously. Cecil G. That is a great error. Experi- Lord W. (Smiling.) It is some of your ence is a question of instinct about life.

nonsense, Cecil. I have got it. Tuppy has n’t. Experi- Cecil G. It is n't! It is n't really! ence is the name Tuppy gives to his mis- Lord A. (Going to him.) My dear feltakes. That is all.

low, you must n't go yet. I have a lot (Lord A. looks round indignantly.) to talk to you about. And Cecil has Dumby. Experience is the name every one something to show you. gives to their mistakes.

Lord W. (Walking over.) Well, what is Cecil G. (Standing with his back to fire- it? place.) One should n't commit any Cecil G. Darlington has got a woman here (Sees on .)

his rooms.

Here is her fan. Amus

ing, is n't it? them.

(A pause.) Cecil G. Of course you are quite faithful Lord W. Good God! to this woman you are in love with, Dar

(Seizes the fan-Dumby rises.) lington, to this good woman?

Cecil G. What is the matter? Lord D. Cecil, if one really loves Lord W. Lord Darlington!

woman, all other women in the world be- Lord D. (Turning round.) Yes! come absolutely meaningless to one. Lord W. What is my wife's fan doing Love changes one-I am changed.

here in your rooms? Hands off, Cecil. Cecil G. Dear me! How very interest- Don't touch me. ing! Tuppy, I want to talk to you. Lord D. Your wife's fan? (Lord A. takes no notice.)

Lord W. Yes, here it is! Dumby. It's no use talking to Tuppy. Lord D. (Walking towards him.) I

You might just as well talk to a brick don't know ! wall.

Lord W. You must know. I demand an Cecil G. But I like talking to a brick wall explanation. Don't hold me, you fool. —it's the only thing in the world that

(To Cecil G.) never contradicts me! Tuppy!

Lord D. (Aside.) She is here after all! Lord A. Well, what is it? What is it? Lord W. Speak, sir! Why is my wife's

(Rising and going over to Cecil G.) fan here? Answer me, by God! I'll Cecil G. Come over here. I want you search your rooms, and if my wife's here,

particularly. (Aside.) Darlington has I'11been moralizing and talking about the

(Moves.) purity of love, and that sort of thing, and Lord D. You shall not search my rooms.

Dumby. Life would be very cofa wiliamo che in



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You have no right to do so. I forbid

you! Lord W. You scoundrel! I'll not leave

your room till I have searched every corner of it! What moves behind that curtain?

(Rushes towards the curtain c.) Mrs. E. (Enters behind r.) Lord Win

dermere! Lord W. Mrs. Erlynne! (Every one starts and turns round. Lady

W. slips out from behind the curtain and

glides from the room l.) Mrs. E. I am afraid I took your wife's

fan in mistake for my own, when I was leaving your house to-night. I am sorry. (Takes fan from him. Lord W. looks at her in contempt. Lord D. in mingled astonishment and anger. Lord A. turns away. The other men smile at each other.)


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SCENE-Same as in Act I.

lady? I can't find it, and Parker says it was not left in any of the rooms. He has looked in all of them and on the ter

race as well. Lady W. It does n't matter. Tell Parker not to trouble. That will do.

(Erit Rosalie.) Lady W. (Rising.) She is sure to tell

him. I can fancy a person doing a wonderful act of self-sacrifice, doing it spontaneously, recklessly, nobly—and afterwards finding out that it costs too much. Why should she hesitate between her ruin and mine? ... How strange! I would have publicly disgraced her in my own house. <Şhe accepts public disgrace in the house of another to save me. ... There is a bitter irony in things, a bitter irony in the way we talk of good and bad

.. Oh, what a lesson! and what a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us! For even if she does n't tell, I must. Oh! the shame of it, the shame of it. To tell it is to live through it all again. Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. ... Oh!

(Starts as Lord W.enters.) Lord W. (Kisses her.) Margaret-how i

pale you look! Lady W. I slept very badly. Lord W. (Sitting on sofa with her.) I

am so sorry. I came in dreadfully late, and did n't like to wake you.

You are crying, dear. Lady W. Yes, I am crying, for I have

something to tell you, Arthur. Lord W. My dear child, you are not well.

You've been doing too much. Let us go away to the country. You ’ll be all right at Selby. The season is almost over. There is no use staying on. Poor darling! We'll go away to-day, if you like ! (Rises.) We can easily cateii the 4.30. I I'll send a wire to Fannen. (Crosses and sits doun at table to write

a telegram.) Lady W. Yes; let us go away to-day.

No; I can't go to-day, Arthur. There is some one I must see before I leave town

-some one who has been kind to me. Lord W. (Rising and leaning over sofa.)

Kind to you?
Lady W. Far more than that. (Rises

and goes to him.) I will tell you, Ar-
thur, but only love me, love me as you

used to love me. Lord W. Used to? You are not think

Lady W. (Lying on sofa.) How can I tell him? I can't tell him. It would kill

I wonder what happened after I escaped from that horrible room. Perhaps she told them the true reason of her being there, and the real meaning of that -fatal fan of mine. Oh, if he knowshow can I look him in the face again? He would never forgive me. (Touches bell.) How securely one thinks one lives -out of reach of temptation, sin, folly. And then suddenly-Oh! Life is terrible. It rules us, we do not rule it.

(Enter Rosalie r.) Rosalie. Did your ladyship ring for me? Lady W. Yes. Have you found out at

what time Lord Windermere came in last

night? Rosalie. His lordship did not come in till

five o'clock. Lady W. Five o'clock! He knocked at

my door this morning, did n't he? Rosalie. Yes, my lady—at half-past nine.

I told him your ladyship was not awake

yet. Lady W. Did he say anything? Rosalie. Something about your ladyship’s

fan. I did n't quite catch what his lordship said. Has the fan been lost, my


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ing of that wretched woman who came here last night? (Coming round and sitting r. of her.) You don't still imagine

-no, you could n't. Lady W. I don't. I know now I was

wrong and foolish. Lord W. It was very good of you to re

ceive her last night-but you are never

to see her again. Lady W. Why do you say that ?

(A pausc.) " Lord W. (IIolding her hand.) Mar

garet, I thought Mrs. Erlynne was a woman more sinned against than sinning, as the phrase goes. I thought she wanted to be good, to get back into a place that she had lost by a moment's folly, to lead again a decent life. believed what she told me, I was mistaken in her. She is

bad-as bad as a woman can be. Lady W. Arthur, Arthur, don't talk so

bitterly about any woman. I don't think now that people can be divided into the good and the bad, as though they were two separate races or creations. What are called good women may have terrible things in them, mad moods of recklessness, assertion, jealousy, sin. Bad women, as they are termed, may have in them sorrow, repentance, pity, sacrifice. And I don't think Mrs. Erlynne a bad

-I know she's not. Lord W. My dear child, the woman's im

possible. No matter what harm she tries to do us, you must never see her again.

She is inadmissible anywhere. Lady W. But I want to see her. I want

her to come here. Lord W. Never! Lady W. She came here once

as your guest. She must come as mine,

That is but fair. Lord W. She should never have come

here. Lady W. (Rising.) It is too late, Arthur, to say that now.

(Moves away.) Lord W. (Rising.) Margaret, if you

knew where Mrs. Erlynne went last night, after she left this house, you would not sit in the same room with her. It was absolutely shameless, the whole

thing. Lady W. Arthur, I can't bear it any

longer. I must tell you. Last night(Enter Parker with a tray on which lie

Lady W.'s fan and a card.) Parker. Mrs. Erlynne has called to re

turn your ladyship's fan which she took away by mistake last night. Mrs. Er

lynne has written a message on the card. Lady W. Oh, ask Mrs. Erlynne to be kind enough to


(Reads card.) Say I shall be very glad to see her. (Exit Parker.) She wants to see me,

Arthur. Lord IV. (Takes card and looks at it.)

Margaret, I beg you not to. Let me see her first, at any rate. She's a very dangerous woman. She is the most dangerous woman I know. You don't realize

what you 're doing. Lady IV. It is right that I should see her. Lord W. My child, you may be on the

brink of a great sorrow. Don't go to
meet it. It is absolutely necessary that

I should see her before you do.
Lady W. Why should it be necessary?

(Enter Parker.) Parker. Mrs. Erlynne.

(Enter Mrs. E. Exit Parker.) Mrs. E. How do you do, Lady Winder

mere? (To Lord W.) How do you do? Do you know, Lady Windermere, I am so sorry about your fan. I can't imagine how I made such a silly mistake. Most stupid of me. And as I was driving in your direction, I thought I would take the opportunity of returning your property in person, with many apologies for my carelessness, and of bidding you good

bye. Lady W. Good-bye? (Moves towards

sofa with Mrs. E. and sits down beside her.) Are you going away, then, Mrs.

Erlynne? Mrs. E. Yes; I am going to live abroad again. The English climate does n't suit

My—heart is affected here, and that I don't like. I prefer living in the south. London is too full of fogs andand serious people, Lord Windermere. Whether the fogs produce the serious people or whether the serious people produce the fogs, I don't know, but the whole thing rather gets on my nerves, and so I'm leaving this afternoon by the

Club Train. Lady W. This afternoon? But I wanted

so much to come and see you. Mrs. E. How kind of you! But I am

afraid I have to go. Lady W. Shall I never see you again,

Mrs. Erlynne? Mrs. E. 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 W. Oh, with pleasure. There is one on that table. I'll show it to you.

(Goes across to the table.) Lord W. (Coming up to Mrs. E. and speaking in a low voice.)

It is monstrous your intruding yourself here after

your conduct last night. Mrs. E. (With an amused smile.) My dear Windermere,

before morals! Lady W. (Returning.) I'm afraid it is

very flattering—I am not so pretty as that.

(Showing photograph.) Mrs. E. You much prettier. But

have n't you got one of yourself with

your little boy? Lady W. I have. Would you prefer one

of those ? Mrs. E. Yes. Lady W. I'll go and get it for you, if

you ’ll excuse me for a moment. I have

one upstairs. Mrs. E. So sorry, Lady Windermere, to

give you so much trouble. Lady W. (Moves to door r.) No trouble

at all, Mrs. Erlynne. Mrs. E. Thanks so much. (Exit Lady W.

r.) You seem rather out of temper this morning, Windermere. Why should you be? Margaret and I get on charmingly

together. Lord W. I can't bear to see you with her.

Besides, you have not told me the truth,

Mrs. Erlynne. Mrs. E. I have not told her the truth,

you mean. Lord W. (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 Ahan 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. E. Why do you say that? Lord w. You made me get you an in

vitation to my wife's ball. Mrs. E. For my daughter's ball-yes. Lord W. 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. E. Yes. Lord W. (Turning round

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 wifeMrs. E. (Coldly.) My daughter, you

mean. Lord W. 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. E. (Rising.) Do you count that to

his credit, Lord Windermere-or to

mine? Lord W. To his, now that I know you. Mrs. E. Take care-you had better be

careful. Lord W. Oh, I am not going to mince

words for you. I know you thoroughly. Mrs. E. (Looking steadily at him.) I

question that. Lord W. 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. E. (Shrugging her shoulders.)

Don't use ugly words, Windermere.
They are vulgar. I saw my chance, it is

true, and took it. Lord W. Yes, you took it-and spoiled it

all last night by being found out. Mrs. E. (With a strange smile.) You

are quite right, I spoiled it all last night.

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Lord W. And as for your blunder in tak

ing 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. E. I think I shall keep it. (Goes

up.) It's extremely pretty. (Takes up fan.) I shall ask Margaret to give it to


Lord W. I hope my wife will give it you. Mrs. E. Oh, I'm sure she will have no

objection. Lord W. 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. Vrs. E. Ah, yes, I remember. How long

ago that seems! (Goes to sofa and sits down.) It was done before I was married. Dark hair and an innocent expression were the fashion then, Windermere!

(A pause.) Lord W. What do you mean by coming

here this morning? What is your objeet?

(Crossing l. c. and sitting.) Mrs. E. (With a note of irony in her

voice.) To bid good-bye to my dear daughter, of course. (Lord W. bites his underlip in anger. Mrs. E. looks at him, and her voice and manner become serious. In her accents as she talks there is a note of deep tragedy. For a moment she reveals herself.) Oh, don't imagine I am going to have a pathetic scene with her, weep on her neck and tell her who I am, and all that kind of thing. I have no ambition to play the part of a mother. Only once in my life have I known a mother's feelings. That was last night. They were terrible—they made me suffer —they made me suffer too much. For twenty years, as you say, I have lived childless--I want to live childless still. (Hiding her feelings with a trivial laugh.) Besides, my dear Windermere, how on earth could I pose as a mother with a grown-up daughter? Margaret is twenty-one, and I have never admitted that I am more than twenty-nine, or thirty at the most. Twenty-nine when there are pink shades, thirty when there are not. So you see what difficulties it would involve. No, as far as I am con

cerned, let your wife cherish the memory of this dead, stainless mother. Why should I interfere with her illusions? I find it hard enough to keep my own.

I lost one illusion last night. I thought I had no heart. I find I have, and a heart does n't suit me, Windermere. Somehow it does n't go with modern dress. It makes one look old. (Takes up handmirror from table and looks into it.) And it spoils one's career at critical mo

ments. Lord W. You fill me with horror--with

absolute horror. Mrs. E. (Rising.) I

suppose, Windermere, you would like me to retire into a convent or become a hospital nurse or something of that kind, as people do in silly modern novels. That is stupid of you, Arthur; in real life we don't do such things—not as long as we have any good looks left, at any rate. No—what consoles one now-a-days is not repentance, but pleasure. Repentance is quite out of date. And besides, if a woman really repents, she has to go to a bad dressmaker, otherwise no one believes in her. And nothing in the world would induce me to do that. No; I am going to pass entirely out of your two lives. My coming into them has been a mistake-I discovered

that last night. Lord W. A fatal mistake. Mrs. E. (Smiling.) Almost fatal. Lord W. I am sorry now I did not tell

my wife the whole thing at once. Mrs. E. I regret my bad actions. You

regret your good ones——that is the differ

ence between us. Lord W. I don't trust you. I will tell

my wife. It's better for her to know, and from me. It will cause her infinite pain-it will humiliate her terribly, but

it's right that she should know. Mrs. E. You propose to tell her ? Lord W. I am going to tell her. Mrs. E. (Going up to him.) If you do,

I will make my name so infamous that it will mar every moment of her life. It will ruin her and make her wretched. If you dare to tell her, there is no depth of degradation I will not sink to, no pit of shame I will not enter. You shall not

tell her-I forbid you. Lord IV. Why? Mrs. E. (After a pause.) If I said to

you that I cared for her, perhaps loved her even-you

would would n't you?


at me,

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