An Ideal Husband
MRS. MARCHMONT. So do I. It puts one almost on a level with the commercial
classes, doesn't it? But dear Gertrude Chiltern is always telling me that I should
have some serious purpose in life. So I come here to try to find one.
LADY BASILDON. [Looking round through her lorgnette.] I don't see anybody
here to-night whom one could possibly call a serious purpose. The man who took
me in to dinner talked to me about his wife the whole time.
MRS. MARCHMONT. How very trivial of him!
LADY BASILDON. Terribly trivial! What did your man talk about?
MRS. MARCHMONT. About myself.
LADY BASILDON. [Languidly.] And were you interested?
MRS. MARCHMONT. [Shaking her head.] Not in the smallest degree.
LADY BASILDON. What martyrs we are, dear Margaret!
MRS. MARCHMONT. [Rising.] And how well it becomes us, Olivia!
[They rise and go towards the music-room. The VICOMTE DE NANJAC, a young
attache known for his neckties and his Anglomania, approaches with a low bow,
and enters into conversation.]
MASON. [Announcing guests from the top of the staircase.] Mr. and Lady Jane
Barford. Lord Caversham.
[Enter LORD CAVERSHAM, an old gentleman of seventy, wearing the riband
and star of the Garter. A fine Whig type. Rather like a portrait by Lawrence.]
LORD CAVERSHAM. Good evening, Lady Chiltern! Has my good-for- nothing
young son been here?
LADY CHILTERN. [Smiling.] I don't think Lord Goring has arrived yet.
MABEL CHILTERN. [Coming up to LORD CAVERSHAM.] Why do you call Lord
[MABEL CHILTERN is a perfect example of the English type of prettiness, the
apple-blossom type. She has all the fragrance and freedom of a flower. There is
ripple after ripple of sunlight in her hair, and the little mouth, with its parted lips, is
expectant, like the mouth of a child. She has the fascinating tyranny of youth, and
the astonishing courage of innocence. To sane people she is not reminiscent of