Windermere's Fan - Act II
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
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
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
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
be the last ball of the season?
DUMBY. Oh, I think not. There'll probably be two more.
back to LADY PLYMDALE.]
PARKER. Mr. Rufford. Lady Jedburgh and Miss Graham. Mr.
[These people enter as announced.]
HOPPER. How do you do, Lady Windermere? How do you do,
[Bows to LADY AGATHA.]
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Dear Mr. Hopper, how nice of you to
early. We all know how you are run after in London.
HOPPER. Capital place, London! They are not nearly so
in London as they are in Sydney.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Ah! we know your value, Mr. Hopper.
there were more like you. It would make life so much
you know, Mr. Hopper, dear Agatha and I are so much
Australia. It must be so pretty with all the dear little
flying about. Agatha has found it on the map. What a
shape it is! Just like a large packing case. However, it
very young country, isn't it?
HOPPER. Wasn't it made at the same time as the others,
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. How clever you are, Mr. Hopper. You
cleverness quite of your own. Now I mustn't keep you.
HOPPER. But I should like to dance with Lady Agatha,
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Well, I hope she has a dance left.
Have you a
dance left, Agatha?
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. The next one?
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.
HOPPER. May I have the pleasure? [LADY AGATHA bows.]
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Mind you take great care of my
chatterbox, Mr. Hopper.
[LADY AGATHA and MR. HOPPER pass into ball-room.]
[Enter LORD WINDERMERE.]
LORD WINDERMERE. Margaret, I want to speak to you.
LADY WINDERMERE. In a moment. [The music drops.]
PARKER. Lord Augustus Lorton.
[Enter LORD AUGUSTUS.]
LORD AUGUSTUS. Good evening, Lady Windermere.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Sir James, will you take me into the
room? Augustus has been dining with us to-night. I
had quite enough of dear Augustus for the moment.
[SIR JAMES ROYSTON gives the DUCHESS his aim and escorts
PARKER. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Bowden. Lord and Lady
[These people enter as announced.]
LORD AUGUSTUS. [Coming up to LORD WINDERMERE.] Want to
you particularly, dear boy. I'm worn to a shadow. Know I
look it. None of us men do look what we really are.
thing, too. What I want to know is this. Who is she?
she come from? Why hasn't she got any demmed relations?
nuisance, relations! But they make one so demmed
LORD WINDERMERE. You are talking of Mrs. Erlynne, I
only met her six months ago. Till then, I never knew of
LORD AUGUSTUS. You have seen a good deal of her since
LORD WINDERMERE. [Coldly.] Yes, I have seen a good deal
since then. I have just seen her.
LORD AUGUSTUS. Egad! the women are very down on her. I
dining with Arabella this evening! By Jove! you should
what she said about Mrs. Erlynne. She didn't leave a rag
. . [Aside.] Berwick and I told her that didn't matter
the lady in question must have an extremely fine figure.
should have seen Arabella's expression! . . . But, look
boy. I don't know what to do about Mrs. Erlynne. Egad! I
be married to her; she treats me with such demmed
She's deuced clever, too! She explains everything. Egad!
explains you. She has got any amount of explanations for
all of them different.
LORD WINDERMERE. No explanations are necessary about my
with Mrs. Erlynne.
LORD AUGUSTUS. Hem! Well, look here, dear old fellow. Do
think she will ever get into this demmed thing called
Would you introduce her to your wife? No use beating
confounded bush. Would you do that?
LORD WINDERMERE. Mrs. Erlynne is coming here to-night.
LORD AUGUSTUS. Your wife has sent her a card?
LORD WINDERMERE. Mrs. Erlynne has received a card.
LORD AUGUSTUS. Then she's all right, dear boy. But why
tell me that before? It would have saved me a heap of
[LADY AGATHA and MR. HOPPER cross and exit on terrace
PARKER. Mr. Cecil Graham!
[Enter MR. CECIL GRAHAM.]
CECIL GRAHAM. [Bows to LADY WINDERMERE, passes over and
hands with LORD WINDERMERE.] Good evening, Arthur. Why
ask me how I am? I like people to ask me how I am. It
wide-spread interest in my health. Now, to-night I am
not at all
well. Been dining with my people. Wonder why it is one's
are always so tedious? My father would talk morality
I told him he was old enough to know better. But my
that as soon as people are old enough to know better,
know anything at all. Hallo, Tuppy! Hear you're going to
married again; thought you were tired of that game.
LORD AUGUSTUS. You're excessively trivial, my dear boy,
CECIL GRAHAM. By the way, Tuppy, which is it? Have you
married and once divorced, or twice divorced and once
say you've been twice divorced and once married. It
seems so much
LORD AUGUSTUS. I have a very bad memory. I really don't
which. [Moves away R.]
LADY PLYMDALE. Lord Windermere, I've something most
LORD WINDERMERE. I am afraid--if you will excuse me--I
LADY PLYMDALE. Oh, you mustn't dream of such a thing.
dangerous nowadays for a husband to pay any attention to
in public. It always makes people think that he beats
they're alone. The world has grown so suspicious of
looks like a happy married life. But I'll tell you what
it is at
supper. [Moves towards door of ball-room.]
LORD WINDERMERE. [C.] Margaret! I MUST speak to you.
LADY WINDERMERE. Will you hold my fan for me, Lord
Thanks. [Comes down to him.]
LORD WINDERMERE. [Crossing to her.] Margaret, what you
before dinner was, of course, impossible?
LADY WINDERMERE. That woman is not coming here to-night!
LORD WINDERMERE. [R.C.] Mrs. Erlynne is coming here, and
in any way annoy or wound her, you will bring shame and
us both. Remember that! Ah, Margaret! only trust me! A
should trust her husband!
LADY WINDERMERE. [C.] London is full of women who trust
husbands. One can always recognise them. They look so
unhappy. I am not going to be one of them. [Moves up.]
Darlington, will you give me back my fan, please?
Thanks. . . . A
useful thing a fan, isn't it? . . . I want a friend
Darlington: I didn't know I would want one so soon.
LORD DARLINGTON. Lady Windermere! I knew the time would
day; but why to-night?
LORD WINDERMERE. I WILL tell her. I must. It would be
if there were any scene. Margaret . . .
PARKER. Mrs. Erlynne!
[LORD WINDERMERE starts. MRS. ERLYNNE enters, very
dressed and very dignified. LADY WINDERMERE clutches at
then lets it drop on the door. She bows coldly to MRS.
who bows to her sweetly in turn, and sails into the
LORD DARLINGTON. You have dropped your fan, Lady
[Picks it up and hands it to her.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. [C.] How do you do, again, Lord
charming your sweet wife looks! Quite a picture!
LORD WINDERMERE. [In a low voice.] It was terribly rash
of you to
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Smiling.] The wisest thing I ever did in
And, by the way, you must pay me a good deal of
evening. I am afraid of the women. You must introduce me
of them. The men I can always manage. How do you do,
Augustus? You have quite neglected me lately. I have not
since yesterday. I am afraid you're faithless. Every one
LORD AUGUSTUS. [R.] Now really, Mrs. Erlynne, allow me
MRS. ERLYNNE. [R.C.] No, dear Lord Augustus, you can't
anything. It is your chief charm.
LORD AUGUSTUS. Ah! if you find charms in me, Mrs.
[They converse together. LORD WINDERMERE moves uneasily
room watching MRS. ERLYNNE.]
LORD DARLINGTON. [To LADY WINDERMERE.] How pale you are!
LADY WINDERMERE. Cowards are always pale!
LORD DARLINGTON. You look faint. Come out on the
LADY WINDERMERE. Yes. [To PARKER.] Parker, send my cloak
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Crossing to her.] Lady Windermere, how
your terrace is illuminated. Reminds me of Prince
Doria's at Rome.
[LADY WINDERMERE bows coldly, and goes off with LORD
Oh, how do you do, Mr. Graham? Isn't that your aunt,
Jedburgh? I should so much like to know her.
CECIL GRAHAM. [After a moment's hesitation and
Oh, certainly, if you wish it. Aunt Caroline, allow me
introduce Mrs. Erlynne.
MRS. ERLYNNE. So pleased to meet you, Lady Jedburgh.
her on the sofa.] Your nephew and I are great friends. I
much interested in his political career. I think he's
sure to be a
wonderful success. He thinks like a Tory, and talks like
Radical, and that's so important nowadays. He's such a
talker, too. But we all know from whom he inherits that.
Allandale was saying to me only yesterday, in the Park,
Graham talks almost as well as his aunt.
LADY JEDBURGH. [R.] Most kind of you to say these
to me! [MRS. ERLYNNE smiles, and continues
DUMBY. [To CECIL GRAHAM.] Did you introduce Mrs. Erlynne
CECIL GRAHAM. Had to, my dear fellow. Couldn't help it!
woman can make one do anything she wants. How, I don't
DUMBY. Hope to goodness she won't speak to me! [Saunters
MRS. ERLYNNE. [C. To LADY JEDBURGH.] On Thursday? With
pleasure. [Rises, and speaks to LORD WINDERMERE,
a bore it is to have to be civil to these old dowagers!
always insist on it!
LADY PLYMDALE. [To MR. DUMBY.] Who is that well-dressed
talking to Windermere?
DUMBY. Haven't got the slightest idea! Looks like an
luxe of a wicked French novel, meant specially for the
MRS. ERLYNNE. So that is poor Dumby with Lady Plymdale?
she is frightfully jealous of him. He doesn't seem
speak to me to-night. I suppose he is afraid of her.
coloured women have dreadful tempers. Do you know, I
dance with you first, Windermere. [LORD WINDERMERE bits
and frowns.] It will make Lord Augustus so jealous! Lord
Augustus! [LORD AUGUSTUS comes down.] Lord Windermere
my dancing with him first, and, as it's his own house, I
refuse. You know I would much sooner dance with you.
LORD AUGUSTUS. [With a low bow.] I wish I could think
MRS ERLYNNE. You know it far too well. I can fancy a
dancing through life with you and finding it charming.
LORD AUGUSTUS. [Placing his hand on his white
thank you, thank you. You are the most adorable of all
MRS. ERLYNNE. What a nice speech! So simple and so
the sort of speech I like. Well, you shall hold my
towards ball-room on LORD WINDERMERE'S arm.] Ah, Mr.
are you? I am so sorry I have been out the last three
have called. Come and lunch on Friday.
DUMBY. [With perfect nonchalance.] Delighted!
[LADY PLYMDALE glares with indignation at MR. DUMBY.
follows MRS. ERLYNNE and LORD WINDERMERE into the
LADY PLYMDALE. [To MR. DUMBY.] What an absolute brute
you are! I
never can believe a word you say! Why did you tell me
know her? What do you mean by calling on her three times
You are not to go to lunch there; of course you
DUMBY. My dear Laura, I wouldn't dream of going!
LADY PLYMDALE. You haven't told me her name yet! Who is
DUMBY. [Coughs slightly and smooths his hair.] She's a
LADY PLYMDALE. That woman!
DUMBY. Yes; that is what every one calls her.
LADY PLYMDALE. How very interesting! How intensely
I really must have a good stare at her. [Goes to door of
and looks in.] I have heard the most shocking things
They say she is ruining poor Windermere. And Lady
goes in for being so proper, invites her! How extremely
It takes a thoroughly good woman to do a thoroughly
You are to lunch there on Friday!
LADY PLYMDALE. Because I want you to take my husband
with you. He
has been so attentive lately, that he has become a
nuisance. Now, this woman is just the thing for him.
attendance upon her as long as she lets him, and won't
I assure you, women of that kind are most useful. They
basis of other people's marriages.
DUMBY. What a mystery you are!
LADY PLYMDALE. [Looking at him.] I wish YOU were!
DUMBY. I am--to myself. I am the only person in the
should like to know thoroughly; but I don't see any
chance of it
just at present.
[They pass into the ball-room, and LADY WINDERMERE and
DARLINGTON enter from the terrace.]
LADY WINDERMERE. Yes. Her coming here is monstrous,
I know now what you meant to-day at tea-time. Why didn't
me right out? You should have!
LORD DARLINGTON. I couldn't! A man can't tell these
another man! But if I had known he was going to make you
here to-night, I think I would have told you. That
insult, at any
rate, you would have been spared.
LADY WINDERMERE. I did not ask her. He insisted on her
against my entreaties--against my commands. Oh! the
tainted for me! I feel that every woman here sneers at
me as she
dances by with my husband. What have I done to deserve
gave him all my life. He took it--used it--spoiled it! I
degraded in my own eyes; and I lack courage--I am a
down on sofa.]
LORD DARLINGTON. If I know you at all, I know that you
with a man who treats you like this! What sort of life
have with him? You would feel that he was lying to you
moment of the day. You would feel that the look in his
false, his voice false, his touch false, his passion
would come to you when he was weary of others; you would
comfort him. He would come to you when he was devoted to
you would have to charm him. You would have to be to him
of his real life, the cloak to hide his secret.
LADY WINDERMERE. You are right--you are terribly right.
am I to turn? You said you would be my friend, Lord
Tell me, what am I to do? Be my friend now.
LORD DARLINGTON. Between men and women there is no
possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but
friendship. I love you -
LADY WINDERMERE. No, no! [Rises.]
LORD DARLINGTON. Yes, I love you! You are more to me
anything in the whole world. What does your husband give
Nothing. Whatever is in him he gives to this wretched
he has thrust into your society, into your home, to
before every one. I offer you my life -
LADY WINDERMERE. Lord Darlington!
LORD DARLINGTON. My life--my whole life. Take it, and do
what you will. . . . I love you--love you as I have
never loved any
living thing. From the moment I met you I loved you,
blindly, adoringly, madly! You did not know it then--you
now! Leave this house to-night. I won't tell you that
matters nothing, or the world's voice, or the voice of
They matter a great deal. They matter far too much. But
moments when one has to choose between living one's own
fully, entirely, completely--or dragging out some false,
degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy
have that moment now. Choose! Oh, my love, choose.
LADY WINDERMERE. [Moving slowly away from him, and
looking at him
with startled eyes.] I have not the courage.
LORD DARLINGTON. [Following her.] Yes; you have the
There may be six months of pain, of disgrace even, but
when you no
longer bear his name, when you bear mine, all will be
Margaret, my love, my wife that shall be some day--yes,
You know it! What are you now? This woman has the place
belongs by right to you. Oh! go--go out of this house,
erect, with a smile upon your lips, with courage in your
London will know why you did it; and who will blame you?
If they do, what matter? Wrong? What is wrong? It's
wrong for a
man to abandon his wife for a shameless woman. It is
wrong for a
wife to remain with a man who so dishonours her. You
said once you
would make no compromise with things. Make none now. Be
LADY WINDERMERE. I am afraid of being myself. Let me
me wait! My husband may return to me. [Sits down on
LORD DARLINGTON. And you would take him back! You are
not what I
thought you were. You are just the same as every other
would stand anything rather than face the censure of a
praise you would despise. In a week you will be driving
woman in the Park. She will be your constant guest--your
friend. You would endure anything rather than break with
this monstrous tie. You are right. You have no courage;
LADY WINDERMERE. Ah, give me time to think. I cannot
now. [Passes her hand nervously over her brow.]
LORD DARLINGTON. It must be now or not at all.
LADY WINDERMERE. [Rising from the sofa.] Then, not at
LORD DARLINGTON. You break my heart!
LADY WINDERMERE. Mine is already broken. [A pause.]
LORD DARLINGTON. To-morrow I leave England. This is the
I shall ever look on you. You will never see me again.
moment our lives met--our souls touched. They must never
touch again. Good-bye, Margaret. [Exit.]
LADY WINDERMERE. How alone I am in life! How terribly
[The music stops. Enter the DUCHESS OF BERWICK and LORD
laughing and talking. Other guests come on from
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Dear Margaret, I've just been having
delightful chat with Mrs. Erlynne. I am so sorry for
what I said
to you this afternoon about her. Of course, she must be
if YOU invite her. A most attractive woman, and has such
views on life. Told me she entirely disapproved of
more than once, so I feel quite safe about poor
imagine why people speak against her. It's those horrid
mine--the Saville girls--they're always talking scandal.
should go to Homburg, dear, I really should. She is just
too attractive. But where is Agatha? Oh, there she is:
AGATHA and MR. HOPPER enter from terrace L.U.E.] Mr.
Hopper, I am
very, very angry with you. You have taken Agatha out on
terrace, and she is so delicate.
HOPPER. Awfully sorry, Duchess. We went out for a moment
got chatting together.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [C.] Ah, about dear Australia, I
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Agatha, darling! [Beckons her over.]
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma!
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Aside.] Did Mr. Hopper definitely -
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. And what answer did you give him,
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Affectionately.] My dear one! You
say the right thing. Mr. Hopper! James! Agatha has told
everything. How cleverly you have both kept your secret.
HOPPER. You don't mind my taking Agatha off to
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Indignantly.] To Australia? Oh,
mention that dreadful vulgar place.
HOPPER. But she said she'd like to come with me.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [Severely.] Did you say that,
LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Agatha, you say the most silly
possible. I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square
would be a
more healthy place to reside in. There are lots of
live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no
kangaroos crawling about. But we'll talk about that
James, you can take Agatha down. You'll come to lunch,
James. At half-past one, instead of two. The Duke will
say a few words to you, I am sure.
HOPPER. I should like to have a chat with the Duke,
has not said a single word to me yet.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK. I think you'll find he will have a
to say to you to-morrow. [Exit LADY AGATHA with MR.
now good-night, Margaret. I'm afraid it's the old, old
dear. Love--well, not love at first sight, but love at
the end of
the season, which is so much more satisfactory.
LADY WINDERMERE. Good-night, Duchess.
[Exit the DUCHESS OF BERWICK on LORD PAISLEY'S arm.]
LADY PLYMDALE. My dear Margaret, what a handsome woman
husband has been dancing with! I should be quite jealous
if I were
you! Is she a great friend of yours?
LADY WINDERMERE. No!
LADY PLYMDALE. Really? Good-night, dear. [Looks at MR.
DUMBY. Awful manners young Hopper has!
CECIL GRAHAM. Ah! Hopper is one of Nature's gentlemen,
type of gentleman I know.
DUMBY. Sensible woman, Lady Windermere. Lots of wives
objected to Mrs. Erlynne coming. But Lady Windermere has
uncommon thing called common sense.
CECIL GRAHAM. And Windermere knows that nothing looks so
innocence as an indiscretion.
DUMBY. Yes; dear Windermere is becoming almost modern.
thought he would. [Bows to LADY WINDERMERE and exit.]
LADY JEDBURGH. Good night, Lady Windermere. What a
woman Mrs. Erlynne is! She is coming to lunch on
you come too? I expect the Bishop and dear Lady Merton.
LADY WINDERMERE. I am afraid I am engaged, Lady Jedburgh.
LADY JEDBURGH. So sorry. Come, dear. [Exeunt LADY
[Enter MRS. ERLYNNE and LORD WINDERMERE.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. Charming ball it has been! Quite reminds
me of old
days. [Sits on sofa.] And I see that there are just as
in society as there used to be. So pleased to find that
has altered! Except Margaret. She's grown quite pretty.
time I saw her--twenty years ago, she was a fright in
Positive fright, I assure you. The dear Duchess! and
Lady Agatha! Just the type of girl I like! Well, really,
Windermere, if I am to be the Duchess's sister-in-law
LORD WINDERMERE. [Sitting L. of her.] But are you--?
[Exit MR. CECIL GRAHAM with rest of guests. LADY
watches, with a look of scorn and pain, MRS. ERLYNNE and
husband. They are unconscious of her presence.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. Oh, yes! He's to call to-morrow at twelve
He wanted to propose to-night. In fact he did. He kept
proposing. Poor Augustus, you know how he repeats
himself. Such a
bad habit! But I told him I wouldn't give him an answer
morrow. Of course I am going to take him. And I dare say
make him an admirable wife, as wives go. And there is a
of good in Lord Augustus. Fortunately it is all on the
Just where good qualities should be. Of course you must
help me in
LORD WINDERMERE. I am not called on to encourage Lord
MRS. ERLYNNE. Oh, no! I do the encouraging. But you will
a handsome settlement, Windermere, won't you?
LORD WINDERMERE. [Frowning.] Is that what you want to
talk to me
MRS ERLYNNE. Yes.
LORD WINDERMERE. [With a gesture of impatience.] I will
of it here.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Laughing.] Then we will talk of it on the
Even business should have a picturesque background.
Should it not,
Windermere? With a proper background women can do
LORD WINDERMERE. Won't to-morrow do as well?
MRS. ERLYNNE. No; you see, to-morrow I am going to
And I think it would be a good thing if I was able to
tell him that
I had--well, what shall I say?--2000 pounds a year left
to me by a
third cousin--or a second husband--or some distant
relative of that
kind. It would be an additional attraction, wouldn't it?
a delightful opportunity now of paying me a compliment,
But you are not very clever at paying compliments. I am
Margaret doesn't encourage you in that excellent habit.
great mistake on her part. When men give up saying what
charming, they give up thinking what is charming. But
what do you say to 2000 pounds? 2500 pounds, I think. In
life margin is everything. Windermere, don't you think
an intensely amusing place? I do!
[Exit on terrace with LORD WINDERMERE. Music strikes up
LADY WINDERMERE. To stay in this house any longer is
To-night a man who loves me offered me his whole life. I
it. It was foolish of me. I will offer him mine now. I
him mine. I will go to him! [Puts on cloak and goes to
then turns back. Sits down at table and writes a letter,
into an envelope, and leaves it on table.] Arthur has
understood me. When he reads this, he will. He may do as
chooses now with his life. I have done with mine as I
as I think right. It is he who has broken the bond of
not I. I only break its bondage.
[PARKER enters L. and crosses towards the ball-room R.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Is Lady Windermere in the ball-room?
PARKER. Her ladyship has just gone out.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Gone out? She's not on the terrace?
PARKER. No, madam. Her ladyship has just gone out of the
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Starts, and looks at the servant with a
expression in her face.] Out of the house?
PARKER. Yes, madam--her ladyship told me she had left a
his lordship on the table.
MRS. ERLYNNE. A letter for Lord Windermere?
PARKER. Yes, madam.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Thank you.
[Exit PARKER. The music in the ball-room stops.] Gone
out of her
house! A letter addressed to her husband! [Goes over to
and looks at letter. Takes it up and lays it down again
shudder of fear.] No, no! It would be impossible! Life
repeat its tragedies like that! Oh, why does this
come across me? Why do I remember now the one moment of
my life I
most wish to forget? Does life repeat its tragedies?
letter open and reads it, then sinks down into a chair
gesture of anguish.] Oh, how terrible! The same words
years ago I wrote to her father! and how bitterly I have
punished for it! No; my punishment, my real punishment
night, is now! [Still seated R.]
[Enter LORD WINDERMERE L.U.E.]
LORD WINDERMERE. Have you said good-night to my wife?
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Crushing letter in her hand.] Yes.
LORD WINDERMERE. Where is she?
MRS. ERLYNNE. She is very tired. She has gone to bed.
she had a headache.
LORD WINDERMERE. I must go to her. You'll excuse me?
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Rising hurriedly.] Oh, no! It's nothing
She's only very tired, that is all. Besides, there are
still in the supper-room. She wants you to make her
them. She said she didn't wish to be disturbed. [Drops
She asked me to tell you!
LORD WINDERMERE. [Picks up letter.] You have dropped
MRS. ERLYNNE. Oh yes, thank you, that is mine. [Puts out
to take it.]
LORD WINDERMERE. [Still looking at letter.] But it's my
handwriting, isn't it?
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Takes the letter quickly.] Yes, it's--an
Will you ask them to call my carriage, please?
LORD WINDERMERE. Certainly.
[Goes L. and Exit.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. Thanks! What can I do? What can I do? I
passion awakening within me that I never felt before.
What can it
mean? The daughter must not be like the mother--that
terrible. How can I save her? How can I save my child? A
may ruin a life. Who knows that better than I?
Windermere must be
got out of the house; that is absolutely necessary.
[Goes L.] But
how shall I do it? It must be done somehow. Ah!
[Enter LORD AUGUSTUS R.U.E. carrying bouquet.]
LORD AUGUSTUS. Dear lady, I am in such suspense! May I
an answer to my request?
MRS. ERLYNNE. Lord Augustus, listen to me. You are to
Windermere down to your club at once, and keep him there
as long as
possible. You understand?
LORD AUGUSTUS. But you said you wished me to keep early
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Nervously.] Do what I tell you. Do what I
LORD AUGUSTUS. And my reward?
MRS. ERLYNNE. Your reward? Your reward? Oh! ask me that
morrow. But don't let Windermere out of your sight
you do I will never forgive you. I will never speak to
I'll have nothing to do with you. Remember you are to
Windermere at your club, and don't let him come back
LORD AUGUSTUS. Well, really, I might be her husband
Positively I might. [Follows her in a bewildered