Gwendolen Then you think we should forgive them?
Cecily Yes. I mean no.
Gwendolen True! I had forgotten. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one.
Cecily Could we not both speak at the same time?
Gwendolen An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Will you take the time from me?
Cecily Certainly. (Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger)
Gwendolen and Cecily (speaking together)° Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. That is all!
Jack and Algernon (speaking together) Our Christian names! Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon.
Gwendolen (to Jack) For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing?
Jack I am.
Cecily (to Algernon) To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal?
Algernon I am!
Gwendolen How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, men are infinitely beyond us.
Jack We are! (Clasps hands with Algernon)
Cecily They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing.
Gwendolen (to Jack) Darling!
Algernon (to Cecily) Darling! (They fall into each others arms)
Enter Merriman. When he enters he coughs loudly, seeing the situation
Merriman Ahem! Ahem! Lady Bracknell.
Jack Good heavens!
Enter Lady Bracknell. The couples separate, in alarm.
Lady Bracknell Gwendolen! What does this mean?
Gwendolen Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr Worthing, mamma.
Lady Bracknell Come here. Sit down. Sit down immediately. Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young, of physical weakness in the old. (Turns to Jack) Apprised, sir, of my daughters sudden flight by her trusty maid, whose confidence I purchased by means of a small coin, I followed her at once by a luggage train.° Her unhappy father is, I am glad to say, under the impression that she