First Act

Scene: Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room. Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table and, after the music has ceased, Algernon enters [from music-room]

Alergnon Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?

Lane I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.

Algernon I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately—anyone can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.

Lane Yes, sir.

Algernon And, speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell?

Lane Yes, sir. (Hands them on a salver

Algernon (inspects them, takes two, and sits down on the sofa) Oh! … by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreham° and Mr Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.

Lane Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint.

Algernon Why is it that at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information.

Lane I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand.

Algernon Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralizing as that?

Lane I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding° between myself and a young person.

Algernon (languidly) I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.

Lane No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

Algernon Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.

Lane Thank you, sir.

Lane goes out

Algernon Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.

Enter Lane

Lane Mr Ernest Worthing.

Enter Jack.° Lane goes out

  By PanEris using Melati.

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