Fourth Act

Scene: Sitting-room at Mrs Arbuthnot’s. Large open French window at back, looking on to garden. Doors R.C. and L.C. Gerald Arbuthnot writing at table. Enter Alice R.C. followed by Lady Hunstanton and Mrs Allonby

Alice Lady Hunstanton and Mrs Allonby.

Exit L.C.

Lady Hunstanton Good morning, Gerald.

Gerald (rising) Good morning, Lady Hunstanton. Good morning, Mrs Allonby.

Lady Hunstanton (sitting down) We came to inquire for your dear mother, Gerald. I hope she is better?

Gerald My mother has not come down yet, Lady Hunstanton.

Lady Hunstanton Ah, I am afraid the heat was too much for her last night. I think there must have been thunder in the air. Or perhaps it was the music. Music makes one feel so romantic—at least it always gets on one’s nerves.

Mrs Allonby It’s the same thing, nowadays.

Lady Hunstanton I am so glad I don’t know what you mean, dear. I am afraid you mean something wrong. Ah, I see you’re examining Mrs Arbuthnot’s pretty room. Isn’t it nice and old-fashioned?

Mrs Allonby (surveying the room through her lorgnette) It looks quite the happy English home.°

Lady Hunstanton That’s just the word, dear; that just describes it. One feels your mother’s good influence in everything she has about her, Gerald.

Mrs Allonby Lord Illingworth says that all influence is bad, but that a good influence is the worst in the world.

Lady Hunstanton When Lord Illingworth knows Mrs Arbuthnot better he will change his mind. I must certainly bring him here.

Mrs Allonby I should like to see Lord Illingworth in a happy English home.

Lady Hunstanton It would do him a great deal of good, dear. Most women in London, nowadays, seem to furnish their rooms with nothing but orchids, foreigners, and French novels. But here we have the room of a sweet saint. Fresh natural flowers,° books that don’t shock one, pictures that one can look at without blushing.

Mrs Allonby But I like blushing.

Lady Hunstanton Well, there is a good deal to be said for blushing, if one can do it at the proper moment. Poor dear Hunstanton used to tell me I didn’t blush nearly often enough. But then he was so very particular. He wouldn’t let me know any of his men friends, except those who were over seventy, like poor Lord Ashton: who afterwards, by the way, was brought into the Divorce Court.° A most unfortunate case.

Mrs Allonby I delight in men over seventy. They always offer one the devotion of a lifetime. I think seventy an ideal age for a man.

Lady Hunstanton She is quite incorrigible, Gerald, isn’t she? By-the-by, Gerald, I hope your dear mother will come and see me more often now. You and Lord Illingworth start almost immediately, don’t you?

Gerald I have given up my intention of being Lord Illingworth’s secretary.

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