MRS. ERLYNNE. Oh, I'm sure she will have no objection.
LORD WINDERMERE. I wish that at the same time she would give you a miniature she kisses every night before she prays - It's the miniature of a young innocent-looking girl with beautiful DARK hair.
MRS. ERLYNNE. Ah, yes, I remember. How long ago that seems! [Goes to sofa and sits down.] It was done before I was married. Dark hair and an innocent expression were the fashion then, Windermere! [A pause.]
LORD WINDERMERE. What do you mean by coming here this morning? What is your object? [Crossing L.C. and sitting.]
MRS. ERLYNNE. [With a note of irony in her voice.] To bid good- bye to my dear daughter, of course. [LORD WINDERMERE bites his under lip in anger. MRS. ERLYNNE looks at him, and her voice and manner become serious. In her accents at she talks there is a note of deep tragedy. For a moment she reveals herself.] Oh, don't imagine I am going to have a pathetic scene with her, weep on her neck and tell her who I am, and all that kind of thing. I have no ambition to play the part of a mother. Only once in my life like I known a mother's feelings. That was last night. They were terrible - they made me suffer - they made me suffer too much. For twenty years, as you say, I have lived childless, - I want to live childless still. [Hiding her feelings with a trivial laugh.] Besides, my dear Windermere, how on earth could I pose as a mother with a grown-up daughter? Margaret is twenty-one, and I have never admitted that I am more than twenty-nine, or thirty at the most. Twenty-nine when there are pink shades, thirty when there are not. So you see what difficulties it would involve. No, as far as I am concerned, let your wife cherish the memory of this dead, stainless mother. Why should I interfere with her illusions? I find it hard enough to keep my own. I lost one illusion last night. I thought I had no heart. I find I have, and a heart doesn't suit me, Windermere. Somehow it doesn't go with modern dress. It makes one look old. [Takes up hand-mirror from table and looks into it.] And it spoils one's career at critical moments.
LORD WINDERMERE. You fill me with horror - with absolute horror.
MRS. ERLYNNE. [Rising.] I suppose, Windermere, you would like me to retire into a convent, or become a hospital nurse, or something of that kind, as people do in silly modern novels. That is stupid of you, Arthur; in real life we don't do such things - not as long as we have any good looks left, at any rate. No - what consoles one nowadays is not repentance, but pleasure. Repentance is quite out of date. And besides, if a woman really repents, she has to go to a bad dressmaker, otherwise no one believes in her. And nothing in the world would induce me to do that. No; I am going to pass entirely out of your two lives. My coming into them has been a mistake - I discovered that last night.
LORD WINDERMERE. A fatal mistake.