Source: geocities.com/inge_y

AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Adapted by Oliver Parker, based on the play by Oscar Wilde


Scene 1. Lord Goring's Bedroom

PHIPPS
Your usual, my lord. Good morning, my lord. The morning paper, my lord.
Ah. "Sir Robert Chiltern, a rising star in Parliament, tonight hosts a party that promises to be the highlight of the social calendar, with his wife, Lady Gertrude, who is herself a leading figure in women's politics. Together, this couple represents what is best in English public life, and what is a noble contrast to the lax morality so common amongst foreign politicians."

LORD GORING
Dear, oh, dear. They will never say that about me, will they, Phipps?

PHIPPS
I sincerely hope not, sir.

LORD GORING
Bit of a busy day today, I'm afraid. Distressingly little time for sloth or idleness.

PHIPPS
Sorry to hear it, sir.

LORD GORING
Well, not entirely your fault, Phipps. Not this time.

PHIPPS
Thank you, my lord.

Scene 2. The Park.

GERTRUDE
Good morning, Tommy.

TOMMY
Good morning, Lady Chiltern. I very much look forward to this evening. Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Tommy.

TOMMY
I hope you'll be able to make our usual appointment. I have something very particular I wish to say to you. Good day, ladies.

MABEL
When Tommy wants to be romantic, he talks to one just like a doctor. Till tonight.

LORD GORING
Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Lord Goring.

COUNTESS
Lord Goring!

LORD GORING
Countess, good morning.

COUNTESS
Aren't you going to congratulate me, Lord Goring?

LORD GORING
Congratulations.

COUNTESS
Aren't you going to ask what for?

LORD GORING
What for?

COUNTESS
I've made a great decision. I've decided to get married.

LORD GORING
My God! Who to?

COUNTESS
That part is still to be decided.

LADY MARKBY
Good morning, dear Gertrude.

GERTRUDE
Good morning, Lady Markby.

LADY MARKBY
Allow me to introduce my friend, Mrs. Cheveley. Two such charming women should know each other.

MRS CHEVELEY
How do you do?

GERTRUDE
I think Mrs. Cheveley and I have met before.

MRS CHEVELEY
Of course! Gertrude. And to think you married Sir Robert Chiltern. Do you know, I was so hoping to meet your clever husband.

GERTRUDE
Really?

MRS CHEVELEY 
Yes. But I have to return to Vienna on Friday.

GERTRUDE
Oh, dear. What a shame.

LADY MARKBY
Well, perhaps I might bring her this evening.

GERTRUDE
Yes, by all means.

MRS CHEVELEY
What can I say? I'd be delighted.

GERTRUDE
Well, we'll see you tonight.

LADY MARKBY
See you tonight.

Scene 3. Lord Goring's House

LORD GORING
You see, Phipps, fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.

PHIPPS
Yes, my lord.

LORD GORING
Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.

PHIPPS
Yes, my lord.

LORD GORING
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

PHIPPS
Yes, my lord.

Scene 4. The Chilterns - Octagon room

MASON
Their graces, the Duke and Duchess of Berwick. Lord Windermere. Countess Basildon.

LORD CAVERSHAM
And it is widely agreed, the last truly decent man in London, that you're a very personable man, possessed of a most attractive personality, and that you have brought into British politics an honesty and integrity, a finer-

GERTRUDE
A nobler atmosphere. A finer attitude and -

GERTRUDE, TOMMY, LORD CAVERSHAM, SIR EDWARD
-higher ideals.

SIR ROBERT
Ah, one mustn't believe everything one reads in the newspapers.

GERTRUDE
Yes, in the old days we have the rack, nowadays we have the press. Your own newspaper being the notable exception, of course, Sir Edward, where truth shines out like a beacon and lies run vainly for the shadows.

SIR EDWARD
Bravo, Lady Chiltern. But may I ask, do I detect in your conversation a lyricism not entirely uncommon in your husband's excellent speeches?

SIR ROBERT
If you are suggesting, Sir Edward, that my position in society owes anything to my wife, you are utterly mistaken. It owes everything to my wife. I demand that you make it known immediately for without her it's true I am entirely unexceptional. Without her love, I'm nothing.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Anyway, all I know is a serious shake-up in the government looks inevitable now. I have to tell you that the Prime Minister himself was asking about you this morning.

SIR ROBERT
Really? 

SIR EDWARD
Probably afraid you'll be taking his job.

MASON
Lady Markby, Mrs. Cheveley.

LADY MARKBY
My dear, if I had a jewel for every staring eye.

MRS CHEVELEY
I'm glad to say, Lady Markby, you evidently do.

VICOMTE DE NANJAC
Excuse me. Chere madame, quelle surprise. Lady Markby. I have not seen you since Berlin.

MRS CHEVELEY
Not since Berlin, le vicomte, five years ago.

VICOMTE DE NANJAC
And you are younger and more beautiful than ever. How do you manage it?

MRS CHEVELEY
By making it a rule only to talk to perfectly charming people like yourself.

SIR ROBERT
Mrs. Cheveley, what do we know about her?

TOMMY
Very influential in Vienna, in the highest circles. A force to be reckoned with.

MABEL
And are you staying in London long?

MRS CHEVELEY
That depends partly on the weather, partly on the cooking and partly on your brother.

LADY MARKBY
My dear, Sir Robert has been dying to meet you.

SIR ROBERT
Everyone is dying to meet the brilliant Mrs. Cheveley. Our attaches in Vienna write to us about nothing else.

MRS CHEVELEY
Thank you, Sir Robert. An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship.

SIR ROBERT
And I see you met my sister.

MRS CHEVELEY
Yes, indeed.

LADY MARKBY
My dear child, allow me to introduce you to the Vicomte de Nanjac.

MABEL
Oh.

MRS CHEVELEY
You have a beautiful house, Sir Robert.

SIR ROBERT
We're very happy here.

MRS CHEVELEY
I'm sure. I would so love to look around.

SIR ROBERT
Allow me.

MRS CHEVELEY
Thank you.

MASON
Lord Goring.

LORD GORING
Good evening.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Well, son, what are you doing here? Wasting your life as usual. You should be in bed, sir. You keep too late hours. I heard of you the other night at Lady Rufford's dancing till 4:00 in the morning.

LORD GORING
Um, good evening, Father.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Can't make out how you stand London society. A lot of damn nobodies talking about nothing.

LORD GORING
I love talking about nothing, Father. It's the only thing I know anything about.

LORD CAVERSHAM
That's a paradox, sir. I hate paradoxes.

LORD GORING
So do I, Father. Everyone one meets is a paradox nowadays. It makes society so obvious, hmm?

LORD CAVERSHAM
Do you always understand what you say, sir?

LORD GORING
Yes, if I listen attentively. Brrr.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Oh, conceited young puppy!

MRS. CHEVELEY
And I have it on very good authority that you have some delightful Corots as well.

SIR ROBERT
Oh really? Whose?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Baron Arnheim.

SIR ROBERT
Did you know the Baron well?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Intimately. Did you?

SIR ROBERT
At one time.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Wonderful man, wasn't he?

SIR ROBERT
He was very remarkable, in many ways.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I often think it's a pity he never wrote his memoirs. They would have been most interesting.

SIR ROBERT
Allow me to introduce my dearest friend, the idlest man in London.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Good evening, Lord Goring.

SIR ROBERT
Ah, you've met!

LORD GORING
I did not think you'd remember me, Mrs,uh, Cheveley.

MRS. CHEVELEY
My memory is under admirable control.

TOMMY
Sir Robert, the Indian ambassador.

SIR ROBERT
Excuse me.

MRS. CHEVELEY
And so my dear Arthur, are you not just a little bit pleased to see me?

LORD GORING
Oh my dear woman, possibly even less than that.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Well, should you wish to avoid me entirely, 'tis well to know that I'll be staying at Claridges Hotel until Friday, when I shall return to Vienna. Are you still a bachelor?

LORD GORING
Resolutely so.

SIR ROBERT
Lord Goring is the result of Boodle's Club, Mrs. Cheveley.

MRS. CHEVELEY
He reflects every credit on the institution.

LORD GORING
Thank you.

Scene 5. The Chilterns 

MRS. CHEVELEY
And now Sir Robert, I have something to say to you.

SIR ROBERT
You'll find me an eager audience.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I'm so glad. I want to talk to you about a great political and financial scheme, about this Argentine Canal Company, in fact.

SIR ROBERT
What a tedious, practical subject to talk about, Mrs. Cheveley!

MRS. CHEVELEY
Oh I like tedious, practical subjects. What I don't like are tedious, practical people. Besides, you are interested, I know, in International Canal schemes.

SIR ROBERT
Yes. But the Suez Canal was a very great and splendid undertaking. It gave us our direct route to India. This Argentine scheme is a commonplace Stock Exchange swindle.

MRS. CHEVELEY
It is a speculation, Sir Robert. A brilliant, daring speculation.

SIR ROBERT
Believe me, Mrs. Cheveley, it is a swindle. Let us call things by their proper names. It makes matters simpler. I hope you have not invested in it. I am sure you are far too clever to have done that.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I have invested very largely in it.

SIR ROBERT
Who could have advised you to do such a foolish thing?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Your old friend and mine.

SIR ROBERT
Who?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Baron Arnheim. It was one of the last things he said.

SIR ROBERT
Ah. The future of the canal depends, of course, on the attitude of Her Majesty's government. And I will personally be presenting my report to the House of Commons on Thursday night. I can tell you now that I will be condemning the scheme in no uncertain terms.

MRS. CHEVELEY
That you must not do. In your own interests, to say nothing of mine, you must not do that.

SIR ROBERT
My dear Mrs. Cheveley, what do you mean?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Sir Robert, I will be quite frank with you. I want you to amend that report to state that the Canal will be of great international value. Will you do that for me?

SIR ROBERT
You cannot be serious.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I am quite serious. And if you do what I ask, I will pay you very handsomely.

SIR ROBERT
Pay me?

MRS. CHEVELEY
My dear Sir Robert, you are a man of the world and you have your price, I suppose. Everybody has nowadays.

SIR ROBERT
If you will allow me, I will call your carriage for you. You have lived so long abroad, Mrs. Cheveley, that you seem to be unable to realize that you are talking to an English gentleman.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I realize that I am talking to a man whose past perhaps was less perfect than his reputation would suggest.

SIR ROBERT
What are you saying?

MRS. CHEVELEY
I am saying that I know the real origin of your wealth and your career and I have got your letter, too.

Scene 6. The Chilterns - Octagon room

MABEL
You are very late.

LORD GORING
Do you miss me?

MABEL
Awfully.

LORD GORING
Then I'm sorry I did not stay away later. I like being missed.

MABEL
How very selfish of you.

LORD GORING
I am very selfish.

MABEL
You're always telling me about your bad qualities.

LORD GORING
I haven't told you the half of them yet, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Really? Are the others very bad?

LORD GORING
Quite dreadful. When I think of them at night, I go to sleep at once.

MABEL
Well, I must tell you that I like your bad qualities and I would not have you part with a single one.

LORD GORING
Which shows your admirable good taste.

MABEL
Mmm.

TOMMY
Miss Mabel, may I have the pleasure of escorting you to the music room?

MABEL
Why, Tommy, I'd be delighted.

TOMMY
As Indeed would I.

MABEL
Are you coming to the music room?

LORD GORING
Not if there's any music going on, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Well, the music is in German, so you would not understand it.

LORD GORING
Quite so. Quite so.

GERTRUDE
Arthur!

LORD GORING
Gertrude, good evening.

GERTRUDE
Didn't think you liked political parties.

LORD GORING
I adore political parties. They're the only place left us where people don't talk politics.

SIR ROBERT
The affair to which you allude was no more than a speculation.

MRS. CHEVELEY
It was a swindle, Sir Robert. Let us call things by their proper names. It makes matters simpler. And now I am going to sell you that letter back and the price I ask for it is your public support of the Argentine scheme.

SIR ROBERT
I cannot do what you ask me.

MRS. CHEVELEY
You are standing on the edge of a precipice, Sir Robert. Supposing you refuse-

SIR ROBERT
What then?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Suppose I were to pay a visit to a newspaper office and give them this scandal and the proof of it. Think of their loathsome joy, think of the delight they would have in tearing you down, think of- Sir Edward!

SIR EDWARD
My dear Mrs. Cheveley! I do hope we have the opportunity to meet up while you're in London. I so enjoy the cut and thrust of continental politics.

MRS. CHEVELEY
I shall make it a particular priority.

SIR EDWARD
Sir Robert.

SIR ROBERT
It is infamous what you propose --- infamous!

MRS. CHEVELEY
Oh, no. It is the game of life, Sir Robert, as we all have to play it, sooner or later.

Scene 7. The Chilterns

MRS CHEVELEY
What a charming house, Lady Chiltern. I have spent a delightful evening.

GERTRUDE
I'm so glad. And so glad, too, you had a chance to meet my husband, Mrs. Cheveley. Though I must confess to some curiosity as to the matter of your conversation.

SIR ROBERT
Your carriage is waiting, Mrs. Cheveley.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Thanks. Well, another time perhaps, Lady Chiltern. Good evening.

GERTRUDE
Good evening, Mrs. Cheveley. 

MRS. CHEVELEY
Will you see me out, Sir Robert? Now that we have the same interests at heart we'll be great friends I hope.

SIR ROBERT
Certainly. You must let me have more time to consider your proposal.

MRS. CHEVELEY
No, there is nothing to consider. You support the scheme and I will return the letter. Scandals used to lend charm, or at least interest, to a man. Nowadays they crush him. Yours is a very nasty scandal, Sir Robert. You would be hounded out of public life, you would disappear completely.

SIR ROBERT
My God! What brought you into my life?

MRS. CHEVELEY
Circumstances. At some point we all have to pay for what we do. You have to pay now.

SIR ROBERT
I will give you any sum of money you want.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Even you are not rich enough to buy back your past. No man is.

Scene 8. The Park.

LORD GORING
Yes, but the fact is, Father, this is not my day for talking seriously. I'm very sorry, but it is not my day.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What do you mean, sir?

LORD GORING
I mean, that during the season, Father, I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday in every month between noon and 3:00.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Well, make it Tuesday, sir. Make it Tuesday.

LORD GORING
Yes, but it's before noon, Father, and that's what I'm trying to say. I'm very sorry, but my doctor said specifically.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You are thirty-six.

LORD GORING
Shh! Father! I only admit to thirty-two.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You are thirty-six. And you must get a wife.

LORD GORING
Wife?

Scene 9. Fencing.

SIR EDWARD
A shade lackluster this morning, Chiltern? Mind on other matters, I shouldn't wonder. 

SIR EDWARD
I had that Cheveley woman drive by the office last night.

SIR ROBERT
Really?

SIR EDWARD
Yes. Wanted me to add a piece about this Argentine thing. Quite interesting, really. She mentioned you.

SIR ROBERT
Did she?

SIR EDWARD
She did indeed.

SIR ROBERT
So what did she say?

SIR EDWARD
Oh , outlined the virtue of the scheme, that sort of thing. Wouldn't be surprised if she had shares in it.

SIR ROBERT
What did she say about me?

SIR EDWARD
About your speech on it. Said I should be prepared for a surprise. Wouldn't say what. Can I take it you've changed your position?

Scene 10. Public bathroom.

SIR ROBERT
I wonder what kind of woman she is.

LORD GORING
Who?

SIR ROBERT
That woman Mrs. Cheveley.

LORD GORING
Smallish. So the question remains: where to from there, hm? To the Hartlocks and the Basildons? Or should we go straight to the Bachelor's Ball?

SIR ROBERT
You know, Arthur, I almost wish I were you sometimes.

LORD GORING
Do you know, Robert, I almost wish you were, too. Except that you'd probably make something useful out of my life, and that I would never do.

SIR ROBERT
You could always get married.

LORD GORING
It's the 'always' bit that alarms me.

Scene 11. The Tableau.

MABEL
I could see by the glare in his eye that he was about to do it again.

GERTRUDE
Poor Mr. Trafford. It sounds quite serious.

MABEL
Oh, it is. He proposed to me in broad daylight in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles.

GERTRUDE
Oh!

MABEL
Really! The things that go on in front of that work of art are quite appalling. The police should interfere.

GERTRUDE
I know it may not suit a modern girl like you, Mabel, but there is, of course, one extremely effective way to put a stop to his proposals.

MABEL
What would that be?

GETRUDE
To accept one of them.

MABEL
Oh, no!

TRAINER
Ladies!

Scene 12. Public bathroom.

LORD GORING
By the way, have you been talking to my father?

SIR ROBERT
Why? Should I? 

LORD GORING
Certainly not. Huh. He was foolish enough to suggest that I model myself on you.

SIR ROBERT
I always said that your father was a man of exquisite taste and rare judgement.

LORD GORING
Hard work, probity and a good woman. He neglected to mention that you took the last good woman I know. Took her right out of my arms, if I remember correctly.

SIR ROBERT
Which, of course, you don't. Anyway, what is that saying about the sea and being plenty of fish in it?

LORD GORING
Yes, but I couldn't possibly marry a fish. I'd be sure to land an old trout.

Scene 13. The Theatre.

GWENDOLEN
I never change except in my affection

CECILY
What a noble nature you have, Gwendolen.

GERTRUDE
But you told me yesterday-

SIR ROBERT
I have reason to believe that the information I received was prejudiced-

GWENDOLEN
My own Ernest!

SIR ROBERT
-or, at any rate, misinformed.

GERTRUDE
But I-

SIR ROBERT
I now believe there may be some benefit to the scheme after all.

GERTRUDE
Benefit? To whom? 

JACK
It is a terrible thing for a man to find out-

GERTRUDE
This has nothing to do with Mrs. Cheveley, does it? 

LADY BRACKNELL
-triviality.

JACK
On the contrary, Aunt Augusta. I've now realized for the first time in my life the vital importance of being Earnest.

GERTRUDE
Robert, you are telling me the whole truth?

SIR ROBERT
Why do you ask me such a question?

GERTRUDE
Why do you not answer it? 

AUDIENCE
Bravo!

OSCAR WILDE
Ladies and gentlemen, I have enjoyed this evening immensely-

GERTRUDE
Robert, is there in your life any- any secret, any indiscretion? 

OSCAR WILDE
-which persuades me that you think as hhighly of the play as I do myself.

GERTRUDE
You must tell me, you must tell me at once.

SIR ROBERT
Oh Gertrude. There is nothing in my past life that you might not know.

GERTRUDE
I was sure of it, my darling. I was sure of it.

Scene 14. Standing Party.

LORD GORING
I found it a perfectly charming evening. Of course I did. And yours was a perfectly charming performance. The costumes were, of course, delightful. But for me, it was the acting. Would you excuse me a moment? Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Good evening, Lord Goring.

LORD GORING
Shouldn't you be in bed, Miss Mabel?

MABEL
Lord Goring!

LORD GORING
My father tells me to go to bed, so I don't see why I shouldn't give you the same advice. I always pass on good advice. It's the only sensible thing to do with it.

MABEL
Well, it's very kind of you to offer, Lord Goring.

LORD GORING
Don't mention it, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
I feel I should report that the role of elder brother is, for the moment, being more than adequately performed by my elder brother.

LORD GORING
Oh, really?

MABEL
Yes. Charming and delightful performance it is, too.

LORD GORING
I really think you ought to go to bed straightaway, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Lord Goring, you are ordering me around. I think it's most courageous of you. Especially as I'm not going to bed for hours.

Scene 15. Chiltern's Bedroom

GERTRUDE
Darling, you will write, won't you, to Mrs. Cheveley and tell her that you cannot support this scheme of hers.

SIR ROBERT
I might see her. Perhaps that would be better.

GERTRUDE
Oh no, Robert. You must never see her again. Darling, I know this woman. We were at school together. I didn't trust her then and I don't trust her now. She must know at once that she has been mistaken in you. Now, all your life you have stood apart from others. To the world, as to myself, you have been an ideal always. Be that ideal still.

Scene 16. The Chilterns - Front door.

MASON
Claridges Hotel. No answer.

COURIER
Sir.

Scene 17. Chiltern's Bedroom

GERTRUDE
Oh, I love you, Robert.

SIR ROBERT
Oh, love me. Love me, Gertrude. Love me always.

Scene 18. Claridges Hotel

CLERK
Madam.

LORD GORING
So, what is it that brings you back to London after all these years? Business or pleasure?

MRS CHEVELEY
As it happens, I have some business with your friend, Sir Robert Chiltern, which is, of course, a great pleasure. And what is it brings you here tonight?

LORD GORING
I came because you asked me to.

MRS CHEVELEY
And because you were curious.

LORD GORING
I suppose. Why did you ask me?

MRS CHEVELEY
Because I was curious also. To see whether you'd come. And you did.

LORD GORING
I see you are quite as willful as you used to be.

MRS CHEVELEY
Far more. I have greatly improved. I've had more experience.

LORD GORING
Too much experience can be a very dangerous thing, Mrs. Cheveley.

MRS CHEVELEY
Why don't you call me Laura?

LORD GORING
I don't like the name.

MRS CHEVELEY
You used to adore it.

LORD GORING
Yes, that is why.

MRS CHEVELEY
To think, it was so nearly Laura Goring. It has a certain ring. Don't you agree?

LORD GORING
Mm-hmm.

MRS CHEVELEY
We were quite well-suited, I remember.

LORD GORING
Well, you were poor, I was rich. I must have suited you very well, until you met the Baron, of course, who was richer. And that suited you much better.

MRS CHEVELEY
Have you forgiven me yet?

LORD GORING
My dear woman, it's been so long now. I've all but forgotten you. I'm afraid I really must go. I have an extremely pressing engagement.

MRS CHEVELEY
Really? Well, as you know, I hate to stand between a man and his affairs.

Scene 19. The Bachelor's Club

BRACKPOOL
Come on, Bunbury! For goodness sake!

LORD GORING
I can't believe it.

BRACKPOOL
You are a deserter, sir.

BUNBURY
I didn't say I was getting married. I was merely debating the virtues of the marital state.

SERVANT
There was a gentleman to see you, sir.

BRACKPOOL
Short debate, sir.

BUNBURY
We're a dying breed, old man. At all costs, we must stick together.

LORD GORING
Would you excuse me, gentlemen. Play the next hand without me.

Scene 20. Baron's House

BARON ARNHEIM
And now I think it's time you knew the truth that all these riches, this wondrous luxury, amounts, finally, to nothing. And that power, power over other men is the one and only thing worth having. And this is what I call the philosophy of power: gospel of gold. So now the question arises: How do you become powerful. I mean you, personally, powerful. Cigar?

SIR ROBERT
Yes, thank you.

BARON ARNHEIM
The answer is simple. The answer is information. Information is the modern commodity that can shake the world and I happen to know it is well within your grasp.

Scene 21. The Bachelor's Club

LORD GORING
And you believed what he said?

SIR ROBERT
Certainly. I believed it then and I believe it now. You've never been poor. You've never known what ambition is.

LORD GORING
Go on.

SIR ROBERT
By now, Lord Radley was a Cabinet minister and as the Baron well knew I was working as his personal secretary. One night, as usual, I was the last to leave the office. Later that evening I wrote the Baron a letter containing highly confidential information and highly valuable information regarding the financing of the Suez Canal.

LORD GORING
A cabinet secret?

SIR ROBERT
Indeed. In a subsequent transaction, the Baron made for himself three-quarters of a million pounds.

LORD GORING
And you?

SIR ROBERT
I received from the Baron  110,000.

LORD GORING
You were worth more, Robert.

SIR ROBERT
No. No, no. I got exactly what I wanted. I entered straight into Parliament and I've- Well, I've never looked back.

Scene 22. A street in London

SIR ROBERT
Is it fair, Arthur, that some act of youthful folly should be brought up against me now all these years later? Is it fair?

LORD GORING
Robert, life is never fair. Perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. Now, what does Gertrude make of all this? Robert! My dear Robert, secrets from other people's wives are a necessary luxury in modern life. But no man should have a secret from his own wife. She invariably finds it out.

SIR ROBERT
If I were to tell her, Arthur, I would lose the love of the one woman in the world I worship. I couldn't tell her but it did strike me that perhaps you might-

LORD GORING
Go on.

SIR ROBERT
That perhaps you might ... talk with her.

LORD GORING
Oh really?

SIR ROBERT
Not to tell her, of course. But just to talk with her.

LORD GORING
I see.

SIR ROBERT
It's just that Gertrude can sometimes be a little hard-headed.

LORD GORING
Hm...

SIR ROBERT
And you are her oldest and perhaps closest friend. And I just thought that talking with you might perhaps-

LORD GORING
-soften her head a little. Well, it hass been known.

Scene 23. Women's Liberal Association London Branch Meeting

MRS -
Thank you, Mrs. Chiltern. It was most inspiring.

GERTRUDE
Oh, I'm so glad.

A LADY
Wonderful speech.

GERTRUDE
Well, I must say, Arthur, I'm delighted to find you showing such a keen interest in women's politics.

LORD GORING
Yes, very keen. I'm afraid I had a little bit of a late night last night.

GERTRUDE
Hmm. So I gather. I'm glad to see you.

LORD GORING
Are you?

GERTRUDE
Yes. I wanted to talk to you about Robert.

LORD GORING
Really?

GERTRUDE
He seems a little distracted of late, a little anxious.

LORD GORING
Yes.

GERTRUDE
You've noticed it, too?

LORD GORING
I suppose so. Yes. In a way. I mean, the life that he's chosen for himself by its own nature must hold innumerable stresses, full of countless compromises.

GERTRUDE
Compromises?

LORD GORING
Yes. What I mean is, once a man has set his heart and soul on getting to a certain point, if he has to climb the crag, he has to climb the crag. If he has to walk in the mire-

GETRUDE
Well?

LORD GORING
Well, then he has to walk, my dear Gertrude, in the mire. Of course, I'm only talking in the most general terms on a subject about which I know absolutely nothing.

GERTRUDE
I always thought those were your favourite subjects, Arthur.

LORD GORING
Yes, indeed. Indeed.

GERTRUDE
Go on.

LORD GORING
Oh, yes. No, um-

Scene 24. The Chilterns - Morning room.

LORD GORING
Supposing, for instance, a public figure, any public figure - Lord Merton, or my father, or Robert even, say - had, years ago, written some foolish letter to someone.

GERTRUDE
What do you mean by a 'foolish letter'?

LORD GORING
I mean, a letter gravely compromising one's position. I'm putting an imaginary case, of course.

GERTRUDE
I cannot help but feel, Arthur, that you are wanting to tell me something.

LORD GORING
What I really want to say, dear Gertrude, is that if for any reason you're ever in trouble, come to me at once and know that I will help you in every way I can.

GERTRUDE
Lord Goring! You are talking quite seriously.

LORD GORING
You must forgive me, Lady Chiltern. It won't occur again.

GERTRUDE
No, I like you to be serious.

MABEL
Gertrude! Please don't say such dreadful things to Lord Goring. Seriousness would be very unbecoming to him. Good morning, Lord Goring. Pray be as trivial as you can.

LORD GORING
I should like to, Miss Mabel, but I'm afraid I'm a little out of practice this morning. Besides, I really ought to be going.

MABEL
Oh, will you be there tonight?

LORD GORING
I've received no invitation.

GERTRUDE
Well, you have now. I'm sorry, Mabel. I'm not in the mood for modern art. You don't mind, do you, if Arthur escorts you in my place?

MABEL
As long as he promises not to be too serious, for I have observed a worrying trend.

LORD GORING
I swear on my life to be utterly trivial and never to keep my word.

MABEL
In which case, I shall be delighted.

LORD GORING
In which case, so shall I. My dear Gertrude, thank you. You will remember what I said to you, won't you?

GERTRUDE
Yes, but I still don't know why you said it.

LORD GORING
I hardly know myself. Goodbye, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Lord Goring? Lord Goring? What dreadful manners you have, leaving just as I arrive. I'm sure you were very badly brought up.

LORD GORING
Mmm, I was.

MABEL
I wish I had brought you up.

LORD GORING
I'm sorry you didn't.

MABEL
'Tis too late now, I suppose.

LORD GORING
I shouldn't think so for a moment. So- Till tonight then.

MABEL
Eight o'clock.

LORD GORING
Eight o'clock.

MABEL
So?

GERTRUDE
So?

Scene 25. Sir Robert Chiltern's Office

MRS CHEVELEY (voice over)
My dear Sir Robert, I must confess to being not a little disappointed to receive your letter of last night, and to learn that my proposition held no interest for you. Perhaps I failed to present it in sufficiently attractive or persuasive terms. Another time, perhaps. Yours sincerely. Laura Cheveley. P.S. If I should be in the neighbourhood, I might just pay my respects to your charming wife. I wonder whether the matter would be of any interest to her.

Scene 26. The Chilterns 

GERTRUDE
Mrs. Cheveley? Won't you sit down?

MRS CHEVELEY
Thanks.

LADY MARKBY
And you know, I can't help feeling that this disturbing new thing, this higher education of women, will deal a terrible blow to happy married life.

MRS CHEVELEY
The high education of men is what I should like to see. Men need it so sadly.

LADY MARKBY
They do, dear, but I'm afraid such a scheme would be quite unpractical. I don't think man has much capacity for development. He's gone as far as he can, and that's not far, is it? With regard to women, well, dear Gertrude, modern women understand everything, I'm told.

MRS CHEVELEY
Except their husbands. That is the one thing the modern woman never understands.

LADY MARKBY
And a very good thing, too, dear, I daresay. It might break up many a happy home if they did. Not yours, I need hardly say, Gertrude. You have married the prefect husband. And now, dear ladies, I had better set forth. I haven't time to be idling around here all day. I should be idling around somewhere else shortly, or I shall fall behind. No, no. I'll see myself out. No doubt you both have many pleasant reminiscences of your schooldays to talk over together.

GERTRUDE
Good-bye.

LADY MARKBY
Good-bye, my dear.

MRS CHEVELEY
Wonderful woman, Lady Markby, isn't she? Talks more and says less than anybody I ever met. Now, Gertrude.

GERTRUDE
Mrs. Cheveley. I think it is right to tell you that I wish you never to return to this house again. And never to attempt to contact my husband.

MRS CHEVELEY
I see that after all these years you've not changed a bit.

GERTRUDE
I hope I never will.

MRS CHEVELEY
Then life has taught you nothing?

GETRUDE
It has taught me that a person who has once been guilty of a dishonest and dishonourable action may be guilty of it a second time and should be shunned.

MRS CHEVELEY
Would you apply that rule to everyone?

GERTRUDE
Yes. Without exception.

MRS CHEVELEY
Then I am sorry for you, Gertrude. Very sorry for you.

GERTRUDE
I thank you for your sympathy. But it is your departure I would prefer.

MRS CHEVELEY
Do you know, Gertrude, I don't mind your talking morality a bit. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. You dislike me. I am quite aware of that, and I have always detested you. And yet, I have come here to give you some advice. I hold your husband in the hollow of my hand. And if you are wise, you will make him do what I tell him.

GERTRUDE
How dare you class my husband with yourself! Leave me house. You are unfit to enter it.

MRS CHEVELEY
Your house? A house bought with the price of dishonour? Everything in which has been paid for by fraud. Ask him what the origin of his fortune is! Get him to tell you how he sold to a stockbroker a Cabinet secret. Learn from him to what you owe your position.

GERTRUDE
It is not true. Robert, tell her it is not true.

SIR ROBERT
Go. Go at once. You've done your worst now.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Dear Sir Robert, Lady Chiltern, unless you meet my terms I think you'll find the worst is yet to come. You have until half past ten tonight.

GERTRUDE
Tell me it is not true.

SIR ROBERT
Let me explain.

GERTRUDE
Tell me it is not true.

SIR ROBERT
Please, let me tell you. Please listen to me.

GERTRUDE
No.

SIR ROBERT
Listen, please!

GERTRUDE
No! Don't come near me! Don't touch me!

SIR ROBERT
Listen to me!

GERTRUDE
How could you? How could you do that, Robert? You've lied to the whole world. You- you will not lie to me.

SIR ROBERT
Gertrude, please. I must tell you.

GERTRUDE
No. Don't say anything. You were to me something apart from common life. A thing noble, pure. The world seemed to me finer because you were in it. Goodness more real because you lived.

SIR ROBERT
I'm - I'm sorry. Very sorry. I, I suppose I should go. Should I?

GERTRUDE
Go. Get out.

Scene 27. Lord Goring's House

LORD GORING
No, my second buttonhole. Much better. You know, Phipps, a really well-made buttonhole is the only link between art and nature.

PHIPPS
Yes, my lord.

LORD GORING
I don't think I quite like this one.

PHIPPS
Hmm?

LORD GORING
Um, makes me look a little old. Makes me almost in the prime of life, eh, Phipps?

PHIPPS
I don't observe any alteration in your lordship's appearance.

LORD GORING
You don't?

PHIPPS
No, my lord.

LORD GORING
Hmm. Very well. Oh, my God. Father, how delightful to see you.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Take my cloak off.

LORD GORING
Is it really worthwhile, Father?

LORD CAVERSHAM
Of course, it's worthwhile, sir.

LORD GORING
But you see, I'm afraid I've recently made the resolution not to have visitors on Thursday between 7:00 and 9:00 in the evening.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Glad to hear it. Can't stand interruptions. No draught, I hope, in this room.

LORD GORING
No, sir.

LORD CAVERSHAM
I feel a draught, sir. I feel it distinctly.

LORD GORING
So do I, sir. Dreadful draught. Why don't you go home? I'll come see you tomorrow, and we can talk about anything you like.

LORD CAVERSHAM
No, sir. I have called this evening with a definite purpose. And I'm going to see it through at all costs to my health or yours. Put my cloak down, sir.

LORD GORING
I hate seeing this through, Father, especially when it's through someone else's eyes.

LORD CAVERSHAM
I'm afraid I don't follow you there.

LORD GORING
As far as I can make out, you seem to follow me everywhere, Father. Ah, God.

SIR ROBERT
Good evening, Arthur.

LORD GORING
My dear Robert. The fact is I really am horribly busy tonight.

SIR ROBERT
But Arthur, I must speak with you.

LORD GORING
Gertrude has discovered the truth.

SIR ROBERT
Yes. I am afraid she has.

LORD GORING
Come. Come in, Robert. But if you wouldn't mind waiting for a short while. I'm afraid I'm right in the middle of giving my performance of the attentive son.

SIR ROBERT
Oh I'm sorry.

LORD GORING
So am I.

Scene 28. Lord Goring's House

GERTRUDE (voice over)
When you left this afternoon, my life fell apart. My love is in ruins. I need you after all. I am coming to you now. Gertrude.

LORD GORING
There is a lady coming to see me this evening on particular business. Show her into the drawing room when she arrives. Do you understand?

PHIPPS
Oh, yes, my lord.

LORD GORING
This is a matter of the gravest importance.

PHIPPS
I understand, my lord.

LORD GORING
No one else is to be admitted under any circumstances. Tell them I'm not at home.

PHIPPS
I understand, my lord.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Arthur!

LORD GORING
Yes, Father.

MRS CHEVELEY
Good evening, Phipps.

PHIPPS
How nice to see you again, madam. His lordship is engaged at present with Lord Caversham, madam.

MRS CHEVELEY
How very filial.

PHIPPS
His lordship told me to ask you, madam, to be kind enough to wait in the drawing room for him. His lordship will come to you there.

MRS CHEVELEY
Lord Goring expects me?

PHIPPS
Yes, madam.

MRS CHEVELEY
Are you quite sure?

PHIPPS
His lordship's directions on the subject were very precise.

MRS CHEVELEY
No, I don't care for that lamp. It is far too glaring. Light some candles.

PHIPPS
Certainly, madam.

Scene 29. Lord Goring's House

LORD CAVERSHAM
Marriage is not a matter of affection, sir. It is a question of common sense.

LORD GORING
But women who have common sense are always so curiously plain. Aren't they, Father? Of course, I'm only speaking from hearsay.

LORD CAVERSHAM
No woman, plain or pretty, has any common sense at all. Common sense is a privilege of our sex.

LORD GORING
Quite so. And we men are so wonderfully self-sacrificing. We never use it. Do we, Father?

LORD CAVERSHAM
I use it, sir. I use nothing else.

LORD GORING
Hmm. So my mother tells me.

LORD CAVERSHAM
It is the secret of your mother's happiness. What was that?

LORD GORING
Nothing, Father. Nothing.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You are heartless, sir. Very heartless.

LORD GORING
Oh, I hope not, Father.

Scene 30. Lord Goring's House - Outside the drawing room

GERTRUDE (voice over)
When you left this afternoon, my life fell apart. I am coming to you now. Gertrude.

PHIPPS
There we are, madam.

MRS CHEVELEY
Thank you.

PHIPPS
Thank you, madam.

Scene 31. Lord Goring's House

PHIPPS
I'm afraid his lordship's not at home this evening, my lady.

GERTRUDE
I- I see.

PHIPPS
I'm sorry, Lady Chiltern.

GERTRUDE
Not at all.

LORD CAVERSHAM
As you keep saying!

LORD GORING
Is she there? 

PHIPPS
Yes, my lord.

Scene 32. Lord Goring's House.

LORD GORING
Oh, my dear fellow.

SIR ROBERT
I'm sorry, Arthur. I didn't know where else to go. I don't know what to do, Arthur.

LORD GORING
Robert, last night you were telling me how much Gertrude means to you, hm? How much you love her.

SIR ROBERT
More than anything in the world. But there is a wide gulf between us now and I fear I shall never bridge it. I fear she will never forgive me.

LORD GORING
Surely there must be some sin in her past life. Any sin. Weakness, perhaps, that might -well- help her to understand yours.

SIR ROBERT
No. I don't believe Gertrude knows what weakness or temptation is.

LORD GORING
But she loves you, Robert. She cannot but forgive you. I feel certain that if she could hear you now, the regret you feel about your past.

SIR ROBERT
Regret?

LORD GORING
Yes, regret. I feel certain that she would pity you. Perhaps, even at this moment, she is pitying you. Praying that she might once again be in your arms.

SIR ROBERT
God grant it, but I doubt it. There is something else I need to tell you about, Arthur. The debate on the Argentine Canal is to begin at 10.30 this evening. I have made up my mind what I am going to say. I have decided- What was that?

LORD GORING
Nothing.

SIR ROBERT
I heard a noise from next door.

LORD GORING
No, no, you didn't.

SIR ROBERT
Is there someone there? Arthur?

LORD GORING
Robert, you are excited, unnerved. There is no one in that room. Now sit down, for God's sake!

SIR ROBERT
Would you give me your word of honour?

LORD GORING
Oh yes.

SIR ROBERT
Let me look for myself.

LORD GORING
Oh, Robert.

SIR ROBERT
If there is no one there then why shouldn't I look?

LORD GORING
Robert! There is someone in that room. My dear fellow, I do apologize, but I must state she is entirely guiltless in this matter.

SIR ROBERT
She is scheming, devious and deceitful.

LORD GORING
I beg your pardon?

SIR ROBERT
And you! You are false as a friend and treacherous.

LORD GORING
Robert...

MRS. CHEVELEY
Good evening, Lord Goring. Sir Robert.

SIR ROBERT
So tell me, Goring, how the devil do you explain her presence here?

LORD GORING
To be quite honest, I can't.

SIR ROBERT
I take it you two have been planning this for some time.

LORD GORING
Robert, believe me. We have not. We have never planned anything.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Except marriage, of course, Lord Goring. Come now, Arthur. You can't have forgotten we were engaged for at least three weeks.

LORD GORING
Yes, but-

SIR ROBERT
At this moment I find it hard to see why on earth you broke it off. You seem to be entirely well-suited to each other.

LORD GORING
Robert, I give you my word.

SIR ROBERT
No, sir. Oh no, sir. You have lied enough upon your word of honour.

MRS CHEVELEY
I appeared to have caused something of a commotion.

PHIPPS
Good night, Sir Robert.

Scene 33. Lord Goring's House 

LORD GORING
So, you've come here to sell me Robert Chiltern's letter.

MRS CHEVELEY
To offer it to you on condition. How did you guess?

LORD GORING
What is your price for it?

MRS CHEVELEY
My price- I've arrived at the romantic stage. When I saw you the other night at the Chilterns, I knew you were the only person I'd ever cared for. If I've ever cared for anybody, Arthur. So, on the morning of the day that you marry me, I will give you Robert Chiltern's letter. That is my offer.

LORD GORING
Are you quite serious?

MRS CHEVELEY
Yes. Quite serious.

LORD GORING
My dear Mrs. Cheveley, I'm afraid I should make you a very bad husband.

MRS CHEVELEY
I don't mind bad husbands. I've had two. They amuse me immensely. Here is a chance to rise to great heights of self-sacrifice, Arthur. I think you should. And the rest of your life, you could spend in contemplating your own perfection.

LORD GORING
I do that as it is.

MRS CHEVELEY
For the privilege of being your wife, I am ready to sacrifice the greatest prize in my possession.

LORD GORING
I'm honoured.

MRS CHEVELEY
Arthur, you loved me once. You asked me to be your wife. Ask me again. Ask me now.

Scene 34. The Museum

VICOMTE DE NANJAC
Bonsoir.

Scene 35. Lord Goring's House 

LORD GORING
Mmm, my dear Mrs. Cheveley.

MRS CHEVELEY
My dear Lord Goring.

LORD GORING
Now I'm going to give you some good advice.

MRS CHEVELEY
Pray don't. One should never give a woman anything she can't wear in the evening.

LORD GORING
I'm sorry, but I don't seem to be able to stop myself. Now, I'm going to tell you that love, about which I admit I know so little, love cannot be bought, it can only be given. And I sense it is not in my power to give to you, nor is it in yours, I suspect, at all.

MRS CHEVELEY
Dear boy, you underestimate us both.

LORD GORING
To give and not to expect return. Hmm? That is what lies at the heart of love. I fear, though, the notion is a stranger to us both. And yet, if we're honest, it is something we both long for. Something that it takes great courage to do. Yes. That is our dark secret. Your coming here tonight is the first whisper of it. And for that I admire you. Give me the letter. Prove your affections to me and give me the letter.

MRS CHEVELEY
And surrender my position of power?

LORD GORING
The future of a great man is in your hands, Mrs. Cheveley. Crush him and your power dies with him. That's worth of any feeling I've ever had for you. If you ever loved me.

MRS CHEVELEY
I did love you.

LORD GORING
I know. I know.

MRS CHEVELEY
Not that much.

LORD GORING
I know, I must admit, I never thought you did. Even so, I felt it worth a try.

MRS CHEVELEY
I understand and respect you all the more for the attempt. And I take it you reject my offer?

LORD GORING
I fear I must. When, tempting as it seems, in truth, it's a little more than blackmail.

MRS CHEVELEY
True.

Scene 36. The Museum.

MABEL
Gertrude.

GERTRUDE
Mabel. I suddenly remembered you were due to meet Arthur.

MABEL
At least somebody remembered.

GERTRUDE
You mean, he's not here either? Oh, strange.

MABEL
Gertrude, are you quite well?

GERTRUDE
Me? Yes, of course. No, I'm not at all. Could we talk? Everything I have ever learned, all that I believe leads me to reject and revile him for what he has done. And yet-

MABEL
And yet?

GERTRUDE
I have never known such a joy as when I'm with him. I've never felt so free as when I'm lying in his arms.

Scene 37. Lord Goring's House - Drawing room

MRS CHEVELEY
Well, Arthur, I shall look out for you at the Commons where at least I'll see your friend submit to my desires.

LORD GORING
I wouldn't be too sure.

MRS CHEVELEY
Come now. We both know how dearly he values his career.

LORD GORING
I look forward to him proving you wrong. I anticipate it keenly. In fact, I'd stake my shirt on it.

MRS CHEVELEY
Your shirt?

LORD GORING
Indeed. I think I'd probably wager my entire wardrobe on his integrity.

MRS CHEVELEY
What confidence! Would you stake your liberty?

LORD GORING
My liberty?

MRS CHEVELEY
Hmm. A rather charming little idea has sprung into my head. And now I consider it, I discover it to be a rather charming big idea.

LORD GORING
Go on.

MRS CHEVELEY
If, as you suggest, he stands by his principles and condemns the scheme in question, then shall I give you his letter to dispose of as you choose. But if, as I project, he surrenders to my demands and publicly supports the scheme, then-

LORD GORING
Then shall I give you my hand in marriage.

MRS CHEVELEY
Precisely.

LORD GORING
To dispose of as you please.

MRS CHEVELEY
As a betting man, you must concede that there is a certain thrill to it. Concede, too, how elegantly I've eased from proposal to proposition.

LORD GORING
And with barely any loss of face. I'm most impressed, indeed.

MRS CHEVELEY
We are creatures of compromise, you and I. I await your response. Perhaps you're all of a sudden less certain of your friend's true nature when your own future rests upon it?

LORD GORING
Not at all. I accept your wager in all confidence.

MRS CHEVELEY
You do?

LORD GORING
I do.

MRS CHEVELEY
Oh, Arthur, isn't it remarkable how those two little words can quicken the heart?

Scene 38. The Museum

MABEL
Will you do something for me, Gertrude?

GERTRUDE
Hmm?

MABEL
Will you accompany me to the House of Commons? I believe there is a rather interesting debate there tonight. I believe the Prime Minister himself has taken an interest. And I believe that its outcome will prove particularly interesting to you. And to me. Whatever it may be.

LORD GORING
Damn!

Scene 39. The House of Commons.

SPEAKER
The Honourable Member for Whitney.

PRIME MINISTER
Good evening Chiltern.

SIR ROBERT
Prime Minister.

FIRST MEMBER OF PARLIAMEN
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade to what extent he believes the projected Argentine Canal merits the nation's attention and support.

SIR HUGO
Mr. Speaker, I believe this excellent scheme represents a genuine opportunity to extend our trading routes and to stamp our authority on an increasingly vital portion of the globe.

MEMBERS
Hear, hear.

LORD CAVERSHAM
I didn't expect to see you here.

LORD GORING
Nor did I. But I find I've developed a sudden and very singular interest in politics.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Married yet?

LORD GORING
Ask me again in half an hour.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What?

LORD GORING
Nothing.

SPEAKER
The Honourable Member for Cheltenham.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Arthur!

LORD GORING
Shh!

SECOND MEMBER OF PARLIAMEN
I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to clarify his position in respect to the proposed scheme.

MEMBER
Answer, sir.

SIR ROBERT
Let me first of all thank the Honourable Member for his articulate contribution to the debate. Since I last addressed this House on the subject, I have had the opportunity to investigate this scheme more thoroughly and to grasp fully the ramifications of lending it support. I have to inform the House that I was mistaken in my original perceptions and that I have now taken a rather different view. 

LORD GORING
Ow, ow, ow!

SIR ROBERT
I- I find that now I must agree with my Right Honourable Friend that this is indeed an excellent scheme, a genuine opportunity. An opportunity particularly if you happen to be a corrupt investor. A corrupt investor with nothing but self-interest at heart. For now it is my utter conviction that this scheme never should have had or should ever have any chance of success. It is a fraud, an infamous fraud at that. An involvement would be a political fraud of the worst possible kind. This great nation has long been a great commercial power. Now it seems there exist a growing compulsion to use that power merely to beget more power. Money merely to beget more money. Irrespective of the true cost to the nation's soul. And it is this sickness, a kind of moral blindness, commerce without conscience, which threatens to strike at the very soul of this nation. And the only remedy that I can see is to strike back and to strike now! 

LORD GORING
Hear, hear.

SPEAKER
Order!

SIR ROBERT
As we stand- as we stand at the end of this most eventful century, it seems that we do, after all, have a genuine opportunity. One honest chance to shed our sometimes imperfect past to start again, to step unshackled into the next century and to look our future squarely and proudly in the face.

MEMBERS
Hear, hear.

Scene 40. Parliament Building

MRS CHEVELEY
You must agree it has been a romantic interlude, Arthur. You might even confess to some faint and secret regret at its outcome. For I do, indeed, feel some slight relief that in the end Sir Robert has come to no harm.

LORD GORING
Really?

MRS CHEVELEY
Oh, yes. You see, I'm not really as quite as wicked as you suppose.

LORD GORING
Mrs. Cheveley!

MRS CHEVELEY
And a lady must always honour her bets. Come back with me, Arthur. Come back to Vienna.

MAN#1
Great work.

MAN#2
Bravo, Sir Robert.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Bravo, Sir Robert. It seems I underestimated you.

LORD GORING
Robert-

SIR ROBERT
I'm sorry if I've spoiled your plans.

MRS. CHEVELEY
Far more than yet you realize.

SIR ROBERT
There, at least, is some small satisfaction.

LORD GORING
Look, Robert, my dear-

SIR ROBERT
I have nothing to say to you, Lord Goring, nor is there anything I wish to hear.
I hope that now you are content. That I didn't disappoint you.

GERTRUDE
Robert, I-

SIR ROBERT
Let women make no more ideals of men or they may ruin other lives as completely as you --- you, whom I have loved so wildly ---have surely ruined mine.

GERTRUDE
Robert-

SIR ROBERT
I know there is no hope for us now. I know you can never forgive me. 

MRS CHEVELEY
Poor man, I almost begin to feel sorry for him.

LORD GORING
Sorry?

MRS CHEVELEY
Oh, yes. I can't bear to see so upright a gentleman, so honourable an English gentleman, being so shamefully deceived.

LORD GORING
Deceived?

MRS CHEVELEY
And on such positively pink paper.

LORD GORING
What are you talking about, Mrs. Cheveley?

MRS CHEVELEY
"I need you after all. I'm coming to you now."

LORD GORING
You stole Gertrude's letter.

MRS CHEVELEY
Losing a man is scant cause for concern, but losing a man to her is another matter entirely. And so I feel it only right that Sir Robert should know, as indeed he shall, when the letter arrives at this office first thing in the morning. (to Gertrude) You've got a good man there, Gertrude. You should try to hold on to him.

GERTRUDE
Do you know, Laura, it occurs to me this whole business is really just about you and me.

LORD GORING
Gertrude, I must speak with you.

GERTRUDE
Uh- not now. Please.

LORD GORING
Gertrude, it's about that letter. The letter you wrote to me.

GERTRUDE
Do come 'round in the morning. I can't talk now.

MABEL
Lord Goring?

LORD GORING
Miss Mabel! About this evening, I-

MABEL
Congratulations!

LORD GORING
I beg your pardon?

MABEL
I gather you're to be congratulated.

LORD GORING
Well, naturally, there's nothing I like more than to be congratulated; though invariably I find the pleasure immeasurably increased by knowing what for.

MABEL
Oh, haven't you heard? You're to be married. Your father says.

LORD GORING
Does he?

MABEL
Yes, he does.

LORD GORING
Did he, by any chance, tell you to who?

MABEL
No. When we saw you with that woman Mrs. Cheeseley, we naturally assumed-

LORD GORING
Oh, did we?

MABEL
Yes, we did.

LORD GORING
Well, the fact is your assumptions are presumptuous. You see, I'm not sure that I've seen anything I quite like the look of yet.

MABEL
Oh, really?

LORD GORING
Mmm, really.

MABEL
In which case, I have something vitally important to say to you.

LORD GORING
Oh?

MABEL
To look at a thing is quite different from seeing a thing. And one does not see anything until one sees its beauty.

LORD GORING
Oh, really?

MABEL
Yes. Really.

LORD GORING
Oh, Mabel.

MABEL
Do you have something you wish to say to me, Lord Goring?

LORD GORING
Um- No, no. I don't think so.

MABEL
Then I don't wish to hear it. Good night.

LORD GORING
Good night.

MABEL
I'm sure that nice Mr. Trafford will have something to say to me. And I'm even surer I will be quite charmed to listen!

LORD GORING
Damn! It is a great nuisance. I can't find anyone else to talk to and I'm so full of interesting information. I feel like the latest edition of something or other. Well, after some consideration, there's so much to do, there's only one thing to be done. There comes a time in every son's life when he must, indeed, follow his father's advice. I shall go to bed at once.

Scene 41. The Park.

LADY MARKBY
I do hope we see you in the near future, Mrs. Cheveley.

MRS CHEVELEY
Oh, so do I. But I fear, Lady Markby, that for me the future seems strangely uncertain.

LADY MARKBY
And what of the present?

MRS CHEVELEY
Well, as a very dear friend once said to me: 'To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.' Good-bye, dear lady Markby.

LADY MARKBY
London will be the lesser for your leaving. And sadly lacking in scandal.

MRS CHEVELEY
Oh, my dear Lady Markby, my personal favourite is shortly to unfold. Consider it a parting gift.

LADY MARKBY
Thank you, Mrs. Cheveley.

Scene 42. The Chilterns - Morning room

GERTRUDE
May I see it?

LORD GORING
Hmm.

MABEL
So that is what you were doing with that woman Mrs. Cheveley.

LORD GORING
Mmm.

MABEL
Oh. Well, it certainly didn't look that way.

LORD GORING
Ah, yes, but there's a great deal of difference between looking and seeing, isn't there, Miss Mabel?

GERTRUDE
Oh, my dear Arthur. What a good friend you are to him. To us.

LORD GORING
But the truth is, we're not out of danger yet. In fact, I believe there's a rather popular saying about frying pans and fires. Only this time it is you and I, dear Gertrude, who are to be roasted.

GERTRUDE
Oh, no, Arthur, I couldn't. No, I couldn't.

LORD GORING
I think it is better that he should know the exact truth.

GERTRUDE
So you want me to tell him that- What? That I intended a secret-

LORD GORING
Secret rendez-vous. Yes.

GERTRUDE
With a single man? And at such an hour? You- You want me to tell him that? It's scandalous, Arthur.

LORD GORING
That may be, but it's also the truth. And in this case, it may be our best option.

GERTRUDE
But I'm a married woman. I couldn't possibly tell him.

LORD GORING
Then may I do it?

GERTRUDE
Certainly not. And you must give me your word, Arthur, that you never will.

LORD GORING
But you are wrong, Gertrude! I will give you my word.

SIR ROBERT
-that you will never tell me what, Lordd Goring?

LORD GORING
Robert.

SIR ROBERT
What does this mean?

LORD GORING
Why- Robert, I meant to give it to you last night, but-

SIR ROBERT
Last night?

LORD GORING
Yes. When Gertrude sent it over, but you left in such a hurry.

SIR ROBERT
Oh, so this letter is intended for me?

LORD GORING
Of cour- Oh my goodness, you didn't think- you couldn't possibly think that, 
you know- Huh?

SIR ROBERT
The name- The address on the envelope is yours.

LORD GORING
But she knew that when you left here, you would come to me at once, obviously. Well, it stands to reason, old man, come on.

MABEL
It's true, Robert. I delivered it myself.

SIR ROBERT
You did?

LORD GORING
You did? You did.

MABEL
Certainly. As you will remember, Gertrude, after my rehearsals, I called in for tea. And when you mentioned the letter, I remarked that I was shortly to meet up with Lord Goring as we had an appointment to visit the new modern art exhibition at Grosvenor, which, quite frankly, apart from 'Two Studies in Gray' by Whistler was exceedingly forgettable. And that is exactly what Lord Goring proceeded to do. Namely forget it, before he even saw it, for you see, he never appeared. A fact which I find most upsetting, both on behalf of myself and Mr. Whistler. And we're both deciding whether or not to forgive him. In the mean time, I delivered the letter myself to your office this morning. And, you know, the fact of the matter is: I still haven't heard a word of apology!

LORD GORING
Um, sorry.

MABEL
I forgive you.

LORD GORING
Thank you.

SIR ROBERT
Is this true? 'When you left, my life- my life fell apart' 'I need you after all' Your life fell apart, Gertrude?

GERTRUDE
Yes.

SIR ROBERT
You need me, Gertrude?

GERTRUDE
Y-Yes.

SIR ROBERT
Why did you not say that you loved me?

GERTRUDE
Oh, because I loved you.

SIR ROBERT
Oh, I- I do not care what punishment or disgrace is in store for me. This letter of yours, Gertrude, makes me feel nothing that the world can do can harm me now.

GERTRUDE
There is no disgrace in store for you, nor any public shame.

SIR ROBERT
Oh! I- I do not understand.

GERTRUDE
We have much to thank him for, Robert.

SIR ROBERT
When I finished my speech last night I felt sure that my future was in ruins.

LORD GORING
And when you began, I wasn't so sure about my own.

SIR ROBERT
I don't know how to thank you, Arthur.

LORD GORING
I'm sure I'll think of something. In the meantime I'd be grateful for the return of my hand.

SIR ROBERT
Oh.

Scene 42. The Chilterns - Stairs

LORD GORING
Miss Mabel! Miss Mabel? Miss Mabel, wait! I, uh, I have something particular to say to you.

MABEL
Oh! Is it a proposal?

LORD GORING
Well, yes, it is.

MABEL
It is?

LORD GORING
I think it is.

MABEL
Well, yes or no?

LORD GORING
Well, actually, yes. I'm afraid it is.

MABEL
I'm so glad. That makes the second one today.

LORD GORING
What? Oh, dear, not-

MABEL
Yes, Tommy Trafford. It is one of Tommy's days for proposing. He always proposes on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the season.

LORD GORING
Ah, but today is Friday.

MABEL
I know. Today is special.

LORD GORING
Well, you didn't accept him, did you?

MABEL
I shall be in the conservatory under the second palm tree on the right.

LORD GORING
Second palm tree on the right?

MABEL
The usual palm tree. And then we'll see how you do.

LORD GORING
The usual?

LORD CAVERSHAM
Well, sir, what are you doing here? Wasting your time as usual?

LORD GORING
My dear Father, when one pays a visit, it is for the purpose of wasting other people's time and not one's own. What are you doing here?

LORD CAVERSHAM
I've important news for Chiltern.

Scene 43. The Chilterns - Morning room

SIR ROBERT
A seat in the Cabinet?

LORD CAVERSHAM
Certainly and you well deserve it, too. You have got what we want so much in political life nowadays--- high character, high moral tone, high principles. Everything that you have not got, sir, and never will have.

SIR ROBERT
I cannot accept this offer, Lord Caversham. I have decided to decline it.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Decline it, sir?

SIR ROBERT
It is my intention to retire at once from public life.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Decline a seat in the Cabinet and retire from public life! I've never heard such damned nonsense in the whole course of my existence. Now I beg your pardon, Lady Chiltern. Will you kindly prevent your husband from making such a...

GERTRUDE
I think my husband is right, Lord Caversham. I agree with him.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You agree? Good heavens!

GERTRUDE
I admire him for it. I admire him immensely for it.

SIR ROBERT
I shall write at once to the Prime Minister. If you'll excuse me for a moment, Lord Caversham.

GERTRUDE
Lord Caversham.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What is the matter with this family? There's something wrong here. Idiocy? Hereditary, perhaps. Both of them, too. Very sad. Very sad, indeed. They're not an old family. Can't understand it. Oh, well, suppose I'd better go back to the Prime Minister and tell him Chiltern's the damnedest fool I've ever met and won't take the seat.

LORD GORING
No, Father. I would rather you did not quite yet. I'd rather you took a seat yourself.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What are you prattling on about now?

LORD GORING
Why don't you go in there for a while, Father? The second palm tree to the right, the usual palm tree.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What?

LORD GORING
There's somebody I want you to talk to.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What about?

LORD GORING
About me, sir? Hmm?

LORD CAVERSHAM
Not a subject on which much eloquence is possible.

LORD GORING
Well-

Scene 44. The Chilterns 

LORD GORING
Getrude.

GERTRUDE
Yes, Arthur, it is Robert himself who wishes to retire from public life.

LORD GORING
Oh, really.

GERTRUDE
It was he who first said so.

LORD GORING
Rather than lose your love, he would do anything. Has he not been punished enough?

GERTRUDE
We've both been punished. I set him up too high.

LORD GORING
Do not then set him down now too low. Dear Gertrude, it is not the perfect but the imperfect who have need of love.

GERTRUDE
You seem to know a great deal about everything all of a sudden.

LORD GORING
Oh, I hope not. All I do know is that it takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and still to love it. And even more courage to see it in the one you love. Dear Gertrude, you have more courage then any woman I know. Do not be afraid to use it.

Scene 45. The Chilterns - Conservatory

LORD CAVERSHAM
Lady Caversham need never know.

LORD GORING
Thank you, Father.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Can't say I hold up much hope, old man.

LORD GORING
What?

MABEL
Lord Goring. You have something you wish to say to me?

LORD GORING
Um, marry me, Mi- Marry me, Miss Mabel.

MABEL
Well, Lord Goring, I must say this comes as quite a surprise.

LORD GORING
Oh, well, if you need time to consider, I'll just-

MABEL
No! No, no, I don't need time. I need a reason.

LORD GORING
What?

MABEL
A reason why you think I should marry you.

LORD GORING
Oh. Hmm. Um, a reason, you say?

MABEL
A good one, yes.

LORD GORING
Hmm.

Scene 46. The Chilterns 

GERTRUDE
Robert. May I?

SIR ROBERT
Of course. Gertrude!

GERTRUDE
It is more than enough to know that you would sacrifice it when I asked. We have, all of us, feet of clay, Robert; women as well as men.

SIR ROBERT
Can it be that you've forgiven me?

GERTRUDE
Oh, I- I suppose it must be that. Oh, goodness. Hold me, Robert. Forgive me.

SIR ROBERT
Gertrude! Gertrude, my wife! I love you.

LORD GORING
I love you. I love you.

MABEL
Is that your reason?

LORD GORING
Mm-hmm. I love you. Mabel, I said-

MABEL
I, I, I, know.

LORD GORING
Well? Couldn't you love me just a little bit in return, hmm?

MABEL
Arthur, you silly! If you knew anything about anything, which you don't, you'd know that I absolutely adore you.

LORD GORING
Really?

MABEL
Mmm.

LORD GORING
Well, why didn't you mention it before?

MABEL
Because, dear boy, you never would have believed me.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What the devil's going on in this house?

Scene 47. The Chilterns

LORD CAVERSHAM
Congratulations, sir. If the country doesn't go to the dogs or the Radicals, we shall have you Prime Minister some day.

SIR ROBERT
Thank you, Lord Caversham. And, Arthur, I only wish there's something I could do to repay you.

LORD GORING
Robert, as a matter of fact, there is. You are your sister's guardian. I should like your consent to our marriage. That is all.

GERTRUDE
Oh I am so glad!

SIR ROBERT
You wish to marry Mabel? 

LORD GORING
Yes.

SIR ROBERT 
I'm sorry, Arthur, but the thing is quite out of the question. 

GERTRUDE
Oh, Robert.

SIR ROBERT
No, I- I have to consider Mabel's future happiness and as much as I care for you, Arthur, I don't think her happiness would be safe in your hands.

LORD GORING
But I love Mabel. No other woman has a place in my heart.

GERTRUDE
Darling, if they truly love each other, why should they not be married?

SIR ROBERT
I shall tell you. When I called on Lord Goring yesterday evening I found Mrs. Cheveley concealed in his room. I then discovered that they were at one time engaged to be married. I'm very sorry Mabel, but how can I possibly allow you to marry him when- when he is involved with another woman? I'm sorry, Arthur. It would be wrong of me. It would be unjust to her.

LORD GORING
Very well.

MABEL
But Arthur-

LORD GORING
Shh. Mabel, there is nothing I can say.

GERTRUDE
Robert, Arthur was as surprised as you to find Mrs. Cheveley in his room last night. He was expecting quite another woman.

SIR ROBERT
Another woman? What do you mean?

GERTRUDE
Well, the truth is the business about Mabel and Mr. Whistler, well, you see, that was just my friend being kind and, um, protecting me. Well, the truth is when I agreed to the story, about the letter being intended for you and not for Arthur, well, you see, the truth is- The truth is- I lied.

LORD GORING
Bravo.

LORD CAVERSHAM
(Laughing)

LORD GORING
Father.

GERTRUDE
I need a drink.

LORD CAVERSHAM
Me, too.

Scene 48. The Church.

LORD CAVERSHAM
If you don't make her an ideal husband, I'll cut you off with a shilling.

MABEL
An ideal husband. Oh, I don't think I should like that.

LORD CAVERSHAM
What do you want him to be then, my dear?

MABEL
I think he can be whatever he chooses.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You don't deserve her, sir.

LORD GORING
My dear Father, if we men married the women we deserved, we should have a very bad time of it.

LORD CAVERSHAM
You're heartless, sir. Quite heartless.

LORD GORING
Oh, I hope not, sir. I hope not.


=THE END=