Hester Do you, in England, allow no friendship to exist between a young man and a young girl?
Enter Lady Hunstanton, followed by Footman° with shawls and a cushion
Lady Caroline We think it very inadvisable. Jane, I was just saying what a pleasant party you have asked us to meet. You have a wonderful power of selection. It is quite a gift.
Lady Hunstanton Dear Caroline, how kind of you! I think we all do fit in very nicely together. And I hope our charming American visitor will carry back pleasant recollections of our English country life. (To Footman) The cushion, there, Francis. And my shawl. The Shetland. Get the Shetland.°
Exit Footman for shawl. Enter Gerald Arbuthnot
Gerald Lady Hunstanton, I have such good news to tell you. Lord Illingworth has just offered to make me his secretary.
Lady Hunstanton His secretary? That is good news indeed, Gerald. It means a very brilliant future in store for you. Your dear mother will be delighted. I really must try and induce her to come up here tonight. Do you think she would, Gerald? I know how difficult it is to get her to go anywhere.
Gerald Oh! I am sure she would, Lady Hunstanton, if she knew Lord Illingworth had made me such an offer.
Enter Footman with shawl
Lady Hunstanton I will write and tell her about it, and ask her to come up and meet him. (To Footman) Just wait, Francis.
Lady Caroline That is a very wonderful opening for so young a man as you are, Mr Arbuthnot.
Gerald It is indeed, Lady Caroline. I trust I shall be able to show myself worthy of it.
Lady Caroline I trust so.
Gerald (to Hester) You have not congratulated me yet, Miss Worsley.
Hester Are you very pleased about it?°
Gerald Of course I am. It means everything to methings that were out of the reach of hope before may be within hopes reach now.
Hester Nothing should be out of the reach of hope. Life is a hope.
Lady Hunstanton I fancy, Caroline, that Diplomacy is what Lord Illingworth is aiming at. I heard that he was offered Vienna.° But that may not be true.
Lady Caroline I dont think that England should be represented abroad by an unmarried man, Jane. It might lead to complications.
Lady Hunstanton You are too nervous, Caroline. Believe me, you are too nervous. Besides, Lord Illingworth may marry any day. I was in hopes he would have married Lady Kelso. But I believe he said her family was too large. Or was it her feet? I forget which. I regret it very much. She was made to be an ambassadors wife.
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