Two such charming women should know each other!
LADY CHILTERN. [Advances towards MRS. CHEVELEY with a sweet smile. Then suddenly stops, and bows rather distantly.] I think Mrs. Cheveley and I have met before. I did not know she had married a second time.
LADY MARKBY. [Genially.] Ah, nowadays people marry as often as they can, don't they? It is most fashionable. [To DUCHESS OF MARYBOROUGH.] Dear Duchess, and how is the Duke? Brain still weak, I suppose? Well, that is only to be expected, is it not? His good father was just the same. There is nothing like race, is there?
MRS. CHEVELEY. [Playing with her fan.] But have we really met before, Lady Chiltern? I can't remember where. I have been out of England for so long.
LADY CHILTERN. We were at school together, Mrs. Cheveley.
MRS. CHEVELEY [Superciliously.] Indeed? I have forgotten all about my schooldays. I have a vague impression that they were detestable.
LADY CHILTERN. [Coldly.] I am not surprised!
MRS. CHEVELEY. [In her sweetest manner.] Do you know, I am quite looking forward to meeting your clever husband, Lady Chiltern. Since he has been at the Foreign Office, he has been so much talked of in Vienna. They actually succeed in spelling his name right in the newspapers. That in itself is fame, on the continent.
LADY CHILTERN. I hardly think there will be much in common between you and my husband, Mrs. Cheveley! [Moves away.]
VICOMTE DE NANJAC. Ah! chere Madame, queue surprise! I have not seen you since Berlin!
MRS. CHEVELEY. Not since Berlin, 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.
VICOMTE DE NANJAC. Ah! you flatter me. You butter me, as they say here.
MRS. CHEVELEY. Do they say that here? How dreadful of them!
VICOMTE DE NANJAC. Yes, they have a wonderful language. It should be more widely known.
[SIR ROBERT CHILTERN enters. A man of forty, but looking somewhat younger. Clean-shaven, with finely-cut features, dark-haired and dark-eyed. A personality of mark. Not popular - few personalities are. But intensely admired by the few, and deeply respected by the many. The note of his manner is that of perfect distinction, with a slight touch of pride. One feels that he is conscious of the success he has made in life. A nervous temperament, with a tired look. The firmly-chiselled mouth and chin contrast strikingly with the romantic expression in the deep-set eyes. The variance is suggestive of an almost complete separation of passion and intellect, as though thought and emotion were each isolated in its own sphere through some violence of will-power. There is nervousness in the nostrils, and in the pale, thin, pointed hands. It would be inaccurate to call him picturesque. Picturesqueness cannot survive the House of Commons. But Vandyck would have liked to have painted his head.]
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. Good evening, Lady Markby! I hope you have brought Sir John with you?
LADY MARKBY. Oh! I have brought a much more charming person than Sir John. Sir John's temper since he has taken seriously to politics has become quite unbearable.