The bag is undoubtedly mine. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me. It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years.
Jack: [In a pathetic voice.] Miss Prism, more is restored to you than this hand-bag. I was the baby you placed in it.
Miss Prism: [Amazed.] You?
Jack: [Embracing her.] Yes . . . mother!
Miss Prism: [Recoiling in indignant astonishment.] Mr. Worthing! I am unmarried!
Jack: Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. But after all, who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Why should there be one law for men, and another for women? Mother, I forgive you. [Tries to embrace her again.]
Miss Prism: [Still more indignant.] Mr. Worthing, there is some error. [Pointing to Lady Bracknell.] There is the lady who can tell you who you really are.
Jack: [After a pause.] Lady Bracknell, I hate to seem inquisitive, but would you kindly inform me who I am?
Lady Bracknell: I am afraid that the news I have to give you will not altogether please you. You are the son of my poor sister, Mrs. Moncrieff, and consequently Algernon’s elder brother.
Jack: Algy’s elder brother! Then I have a brother after all. I knew I had a brother! I always said I had a brother! Cecily,—how could you have ever doubted that I had a brother? [Seizes hold of Algernon.] Dr. Chasuble, my unfortunate brother. Miss Prism, my unfortunate brother. Gwendolen, my unfortunate brother. Algy, you young scoundrel, you will have to treat me with more respect in the future. You have never behaved to me like a brother in all your life.
Algernon: Well, not till to-day, old boy, I admit. I did my best, however, though I was out of practice.
Gwendolen: [To Jack.] My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name, now that you have become some one else?
Jack: Good heavens! . . . I had quite forgotten that point. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable, I suppose?
Gwendolen: I never change, except in my affections.
Cecily: What a noble nature you have, Gwendolen!
Jack: Then the question had better be cleared up at once. Aunt Augusta, a moment. At the time when Miss Prism left me in the hand-bag, had I been christened already?
Lady Bracknell: Every luxury that money could buy, including christening, had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents.
Jack: Then I was christened! That is settled. Now, what name was I given? Let me know the worst.
Lady Bracknell: Being the eldest son you were naturally christened after your father.
Jack: [Irritably.] Yes, but what was my father’s Christian name?
Lady Bracknell: [Meditatively.] I cannot at the present moment recall what the General’s Christian name was. But I have no doubt he had one. He was eccentric, I admit. But only in later years. And that was the result of the Indian climate, and marriage, and indigestion, and other things of that kind.
Jack: Algy! Can’t you recollect what our father’s Christian name was?
Algernon: My dear boy, we were never even on speaking terms. He died before I was a year old.