Fourth Act

Scene: Same as in Act I

Lady windermere (lying on sofa) How can I tell him? I can’t tell him. It would kill me. 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 knows—how 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 windermere 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 windermere Five o’clock? He knocked at my door this morning, didn’t he?

Rosalie Yes, my lady—at half-past nine. I told him° your ladyship was not awake yet.

Lady windermere Did he say anything?

Rosalie Something about your ladyship’s fan. I didn’t quite catch what his lordship said. Has the fan been lost, my 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 terrace as well.

Lady windermere It doesn’t matter. Tell Parker not to trouble. That will do.

Exit Rosalie

Lady windermere (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. She 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 women.… 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 doesn’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 Windermere enters)

Lord Windermere (kisses her) Margaret—how pale you look!

Lady windermere I slept very badly.

Lord Windermere (sitting on sofa with her) I am so sorry. I came in dreadfully late, and didn’t like to wake you. You are crying, dear.

Lady windermere Yes, I am crying, for I have something to tell you, Arthur.

Lord Windermere 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 today, if you like. (Rises) We can easily catch the 3.40. I’ll send a wire to Fannen. (Crosses and sits down at table to write a telegram)

Lady windermere Yes; let us go away today. No; I can’t go today, Arthur. There is someone I must see before I leave town—someone who has been kind to me.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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