Lord Darlington. How do you do, Lady Windermere?
Lady Windermere. How do you do, Lord Darlington? No, I can’t shake hands with you. My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren’t they lovely? They came up from Selby this morning.
Lord Darlington. They are quite perfect. [Sees a fan lying on the table.] And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?
Lady Windermere. Do. Pretty, isn’t it! It’s got my name on it, and everything. I have only just seen it myself. It’s my husband’s birthday present to me. You know today is my birthday?
Lord Darlington. No? Is it really?
Lady Windermere. Yes, I’m of age today. Quite an important day in my life, isn’t it? That is why I am giving this party tonight. Do sit down. [Still arranging flowers.]
Lord Darlington. [Sitting down.] I wish I had known it was your birthday, Lady Windermere. I would have covered the whole street in front of your house with flowers for you to walk on. They are made for you.
[A short pause.]
Lady Windermere. Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.
Lord Darlington. I, Lady Windermere?
[Enter Parker and Footman C., with tray and tea things.]
Lady Windermere. Put it there, Parker. That will do. [Wipes her hands with her pocket-handkerchief, goes to tea-table, and sits down.] Won’t you come over, Lord Darlington?
[Exit Parker C.]
Lord Darlington. [Takes chair and goes across L.C.] I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did. [Sits down at table L.]
Lady Windermere. Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.
Lord Darlington. [Smiling.] Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They’re the only things we can pay.