Okay, so basically this was a project I had to do for my British Literature class. We had to read a book and then modernize it using the same analyzed ideas and literary concepts. I chose "The Importance of Being Earnest" and kind of wrote a parody of the play as a short story. Hopefully it's at least somewhat funny...I'm not as good at sexual inuendos as Oscar Wilde was, which is sad. Anyhow, I at least hope it's entertaining to some extent.
Feel free to give feedback, although I already turned this in for a grade :P It was a surprisingly hard assignment despite the brevity of the play itself... and yes, technology is mocked and ridiculed in it...because I could. :)
The Importance of Being Somewhat, Kind of Earnest
"Ms. Henderson!" Algernon called from the living room where he was plopped down in front of the television, laptop on his lap and smart-phone in his hand.
Ms. Henderson, Algernon's house keeper, came in, wielding a feather duster. "Yes, Algernon?"
"Ernest is coming over tonight, Ms. Henderson, and I do believe the house needs to be spotless. Ernest is a man of…earnestness, after all. And what is more earnest than a spotless house?" he mused out loud, not letting Mr. Henderson answer before he clapped his hands and set down the phone, gesturing to the television screen. "See that, Ms. Henderson?" he indicated the scene playing of a tearful bride standing at the alter. "Marriage is such a depressing thing. I'd much rather be divorced than happily married any day. Don't you agree?"
The housekeeper shrugged, going over to the fireplace mantle to dust off the many pictures of Algernon with a few intermixed of his aunt and cousin. "I would not know, Algernon."
"Have you ever been married, Ms. Henderson?" Algernon asked in curiosity, Shutting off the television in order to give the house keeper more of his attention. The real world was so much more dull than the world of lit up screens and internet access, but then again it was so much more liberating at the same time. It was a complexity and yet simplicity that Algernon found deliciously enticing. He loved it.
It took a few moments for Ms. Henderson to answer, but finally she paused in her cleaning. "I was married once, quite by accident, I assure you. It was in Las Vegas and, truth be told, I didn't even know I was getting married until the pastor said 'you may kiss the bride'. My husband and I were married about eight hours before the divorce papers were filed. It was the best feeling in the world." she cut off as Algernon held up a hand to silence her.
"That is quite enough, Ms. Henderson. I didn't ask to here your entire depressing life story." Algernon turned off the television as the doorbell rand and he gestured for the house keeper to answer it. "That must be Ernest. Ahh, how sad is this world where the less fortunate think the can afford to get married and divorced on a whim when those of use with economic status cannot even afford it is quite scandalous." he lamented. "The sanctity of marriage is getting quite holier with such actions."
Ms. Henderson paused. not having left the room, as the doorbell rang again. "Mr. (insert last name here), are you suggesting that I can't afford-" she started.
"The doorbell, Ms. Henderson. Now!" Algernon interrupted and with a huff she traversed through the house to the front door. Algernon looked up as she returned with a tall man dressed in a clean, recently pressed suit at her side. A bright smile spread over Algernon's face and he set down the laptop on the table so he could stand up and great the man with a warm hug. "Ah, Ernest! It's good to see you, my friend. Ms Henderson! Fetch us some coffee and cracker." he called to the woman and had the other man sit down across from the couch.
"It's nice to see you again, Algernon." the man smiled, relaxing into the armchair. "I have something of the utmost importance to speak with you about."
Algernon waved a hand, getting back on the laptop. "But first I have something of more importance to ask you about, before we address this appalling idea of marriage you have."
The man arched an eyebrow but nodded for Algernon to proceed. A frown appeared on his lips as he recognized the mobile phone Algernon held up. "Why, that's my phone, Algy. I've been looking for it for ages!" he paused and a scowl formed on his brow. "I've called you twice asking if you'd found it!"
Flicking through the texts on the phone, Algernon laughed. "Well I didn't find it, my dear Ernest! It was on the coffee table from the last time you were here. Anyway, that's besides the point. Who's Cecily?" he asked.
"Cecily?" the man's eyes widened slightly. "Cecily who?" he feigned confusion.
"The Cecily who sent you a text yesterday at two o=clock in the afternoon saying: My dearest Uncle Jack, these lessons are an absolute bore. I suggest you come back home from your brother Ernest's house immediately before Ms. Prism throws a fit. Love you, your little Cecily 3" Algernon flipped the phone over in his hand, tossing it to the other man. "So, Ernest…who is this Cecily and why does she think you're Jack?"
The man sighed, turning off his phone and putting it safely in his pocket. "She thinks I'm Jack because that's who I am."
"No, you're Ernest." Algernon said firmly, shaking his head. "When I met you on facebook through that one mutual friend you were Ernest and you have been Ernest ever since."
"No, actually, my real name is Jack. I just pretend to be Ernest since woman find the name Ernest so much more attractive. It's a convenience, really."
"Jack?" Algernon said skeptically with a frown. "But your email says Ernest and your twitter says Ernest. Heck, even your facebook is under the name Ernest!"
Jack shrugged. "So? I'm Ernest online and Jack in real life."
Algernon blinked in shock before speaking slowly. "Ernest online and Jack in real life…why, that is a prefect idea!" he smiled brightly, getting back on his laptop. "In fact, I have created a young friend of mine, by the name of Bunburry, for just this purpose. I've even created a facebook page under his name in order to aid me in my aversion of social labor, see? The conveniences of modern technology are astounding." he mused, turning the laptop around to show a page that read 'James A. Bunburry' at the top.
"And what is the purpose of such a friend, Algy, if he doesn't actually exist?" Jack asked skeptically.
The other man shrugged. "He's quite an ill friend, helps me get out of dinner with my dear Auntie Bracknel every other week." he said demurely before sitting up. "Now, I have no qualms about you really being Jack and not Ernest, lord knows the teens today change their name every other week. You're just keeping up with the times. My issue with this text is that you seem to have a young girl named Cecily who calls you Uncle, living at your home. This is especially scandalous since you seem intent on dating that girl you met online. Gwendolyn."
"Cecily is my…aunt." Jack answered quickly, toying with his phone.
Unfortunately Algernon was not convinced and arched a skeptical eyebrow at the other young man. "You have an aunt who is little? I would say she was talking about stature, except you're too tall for any relative of yours to be deemed short. Therefore, she must be talking about her age. Not to mention she uses emoticons, a sure sign of youth."
"So she's a small old lady who uses emoticons." Jack said with a shrug. "Why is that not plausible?"
Algernon flopped back against the couch dramatically, throwing a hand on his forehead. "Oh, I pity the elderly who can use emoticons correctly!" he cried in distress. "Next they'll be using those horrid slang terms like 'swag' and 'yolo'." he paused mid-way through his rant, sitting up again and resting his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. "But that's not the point, Jack. The point is that you have a young girl named Cecily staying at your house who happens to think you have a brother named Ernest." he speculated, looking at Jack expectantly for an explanation.
Jack sighed and rubbed his temples, quit put out on being found out by his friend. "Cecily is my adopted daughter. My father, the man who took me in when I was found, died and said in his will that I should take care of her." he explained.
"And your supposed brother Ernest?"
"When I must go somewhere, normally to visit you, I tell Cecily that I'm visiting my brother. She saw an email addressed to Ernest and inquired about him. Now, obviously, I couldn't explain to a young girl suck as her, they are all so delicate in today's society, that I am Jack in real life and Ernest online. So, I told her Ernest was my brother." Jack explained.
"And why don't you just tell her you're going to visit your good friend Algernon?"
"You'd be a terrible influence on her, Algernon." Jack huffed. "You work far too hard and spend way too much time on luxurious activities. You are a man of leisure and riches, Algy, and I simply cannot let you get even the slightest bit involved with her. She'd be bound to be interested in you, as young girls always are with the worst of men."
Algernon huffed softly and waved the insult off. "That too is besides the point. What I would love to ask you about now is this deal with that girl Gwendolyn."
"You mean the one I met online who just happened to be your cousin?" Jack asked with a soft snort. He rolled his eyes as Algernon started singing 'It's a small world after all' in a high pitched voice and quickly cut him off. "After much deliberating I have decided to ask Gwendolyn to marry me." he stated bluntly, waiting for Algernon's reaction.
Alas, Algernon's response to such news was exactly what Jack had expected. "Marry you?!" Algernon yelped, nearly falling off his chair in shock. "But she likes you!"
Jack rolls his eyes. "I do believe that's the point of marriage, Algernon. To marry the person you like."
The man across from Jack shook his head adamantly. "Not at all, Jack. Although…I suppose you at least have a chance, since you haven't gone on a date yet. The less you know about your wife when you marry her, the better." he sighed, giving Jack a look. "Look, Jack, woman never marry the men they actually like. Instead they marry men who are either lawyers or complete jerks. The can't marry nice men, it's one of the rules of womanhood." he told Algernon, as if it were completely obvious. Jack could almost hear the 'no duh' tacked onto the end.
"I guess I'll just have try and take my chance." Jack huffed, gesturing for Algernon to pass over the laptop. "Now hand it over so I can propose." he said.
"You're proposing over the internet?" Algernon asked as he passed over the computer and waited for Jack to sign onto the online dating site. "Good, that's the only proper way to do it. Otherwise it gets much to complicated with face-to-face interaction."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Jack murmured distractedly as he typed a couple sentences before hitting enter. "There, my proposal is sent."
They waited a few minutes and there was a small blip as Jack received a responding message on the site. "She said yes!" he gasped happily.
Algernon's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Really? That's surprising…" he murmured, trying to peek at the screen. "Wait…" he frowned as he thought. "Does she know you as Ernest or Jack?"
"Ernest." Jack answered distractedly as he typed furiously. "I'm Ernest online, remember?"
"So for all we know she could actually be Nick, since you two have never met in person before?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "No, because you're related to her and thus have seen her before. I hope. Not as if it would matter if she was Nick…" he trailed off absentmindedly, frowning as there was another blip. He read through the message quickly before looking up at Algernon, a bit shocked. "…She wants me to chat with her mother, Mrs. Bracknel."
"Mrs. Bracknel?! My aunt?!" Algernon's mouth gaped in shock before he closed it with a snap. "Well…I suppose that would be for the better. After all, Gwendolyn cannot possibly be allowed to make that decision alone. It's far too stressful a decision for a woman of her stature." he declared, looking over Jack's shoulder at the screen just as the words 'Mr. Ernest Worthing, this is Mrs. Bracknel, Gwendolyn's mother. Please respond immediately.' popped up in the message bar.
As he quickly typed back a response, Jack turned away the computer screen from Algernon's praying gaze. "This is a personal matter, Algy. I'd prefer if you didn't read over my shoulder. Make yourself useful and…update you twitter feed or something."
Algernon huffed and relaxed back, taking out his own cell phone and doing just that. It was almost a half-an-hour until Jack was done, the sound of furious typing filling the room for the entire time, with only a couple drawn-out pauses. The conversation on-screen went something like this:
"Gwendolyn says: Mr. Ernest Worthing, this is Mrs. Bracknel, Gwendolyn's mother. Please respond immediately.
Ernest says: Hello, Mrs. Bracknel. Gwendolyn's a great girl. How may I help you?
Gwendolyn says: Mr. Worthing, there are a few questions that I must ask you before I can
declare judgment on whether my dear child can be engaged to you. I cannot possibly let her or her father decide on this matter. It is of far too little importance to require their attention. Now, Mr. Worthing, what are your investments?
Ernest says: Stock, Mrs. Bracknel. All of my investments are solely in stocks.
Gwendolyn says: Stocks, Mr. Worthing? That is perfectly satisfactory. Land will lose its value, gold can be stolen, and the banking system is preposterous, but stocks will never fail you. Yes, I daresay stocks are the safest of investments, Mr. Worthing.
Ernest says: Thank you, Mrs. Bracknel. The economic state for the rich is so uncertain nowadays.
Gwendolyn says: Indeed, Mr. Worthing. These are sad times indeed when the poor have a better quality of life than the rich. The economics of the country are preposterous. Even more so than the state of the marriage laws. Now, Mr. Worthing, from where do you originate?
Ernest says: I am the adopted son of Mr. Charles Worthing, owner of a great deal of social websites on the business end of the interweb.
Gwendolyn says: That's all very well, Mr. Worthing, but from where do you originate? Who is your true parentage since Charles Worthing is only your adoptive father? I assume you do have some form of family.
Ernest says: I do not know, Mrs. Bracknel. I seem to have originated from a coat closet in the Art Museum, to be honest, ma'am.
Gwendolyn says: A coat closet?! Why, that is quite irregular.
Ernest says: In the Picasso exhibit. I was found there by my adoptive father who took me in and I have been Ernest Worthing ever since. He even left his young daughter Cecily in my custody.
Gwendolyn says: I do not care if you were found in the Picasso exhibit or the exhibit of the atrocity that calls itself modern art. A coat closet is not a very acceptable place of origin. You gain no economical assurance from being procreated in a coat closet.
Ernest says: …I apologize, Mrs. Bracknel, but that is my place of origin. I cannot change it no matter how hard I try.
Gwendolyn says: Well obviously you haven't tried hard enough. Why, my friend from down the street. Mrs. Charleston, has changed her place and family of origin three times since I first met her a year ago. Do you have any hobbies, Mr. Worthing?
Ernest says: I must apologize again and say that besides the navigation of the society on the internet, I have no hobbies.
Gwendolyn says: But you do frequent social websites? That is an acceptable use of your time. Leisure makes the mind idle, the internet makes it more active. The advances of technology is really a blessing, it makes social discourse so much more easier without the inconvenience of in-person communication.
Ernest says: Yes, of course. Mrs. Bracknel. But isn't the real world so much more relaxing? It's slower and…freer, don't you think?
Gwendolyn says: I can hardly agree with that, Mr. Worthing. I'm afraid with that philosophy I cannot let you marry my dear Gwendolyn.
Ernest says: Well…doesn't she get some say in that matter?
Gwendolyn says: No, Mr. Worthing! I can hardly let her choose for herself or she may find herself being submissive to the man she marries. It is a woman's job to be dominant in the household and the man to do the work. Don't you agree?
Ernest says: Well…
Gwendolyn says: Mr. Worthing, I'm afraid if you don't agree there is absolutely no chance of you marrying my daughter, unless it is for the sole purpose of divorcing her.
Ernest says: Divorcing her? Why on earth would I do that?
Gwendolyn says: Divorced life is much more pleasant than married life. Why, when I married Mr. Bracknel he was already divorced twice and I've never seen a happier man.
Ernest says: I am sorry, but I have no intention of divorcing Gwendolyn after I marry her.
Gwendolyn says: Well the, Mr. Worthing, you two are no longer engaged. Good day.
~Gwendolyn has disconnected~"
"Your aunt is insufferable, Algernon." Jack huffed, closing the laptop with an angry snap.
Algernon grinned. "I know. Isn't she absolutely wonderful? It was always my opinion that she would make a great philosopher. Or feminist speaker." he paused, giving a sigh of fond remembrance before turning to Jack. "So, are you and my dear cousin to be married?"
"No." Jack huffed again, getting up and putting his jacket back on. "Mrs. Bracknel refuses to let me marry her because of my uncertain origins. And I'd already invited Gwendolyn to my house for tea tomorrow, too." he sighed.
"I'm sure she'll go even if the two of you are not engaged, Jack. And will Cecily be there?" Algernon asked innocently.
"Yes, but you are not to go anywhere near her, Algy." Jack said sternly as Algernon escorted him to the front door.
Algernon grinned, opening the door for his friend. "oh, of course I will not be anywhere near her. You did say she was interested in your nonexistent brother Ernest, did you not?"
"I did." Jack nodded, stepping out. "She seems to be quite infatuated with him. You know, now that I am determined to marry Gwendolyn I do believe I will kill my brother Ernest." he nodded firmly. "Yes, I will. I think he may have a fatal accident…perhaps fall off a cliff."
"Indeed he will." Algernon nodded with a mischievous grin that Jack missed. "Good day. See you later."
"See you later."
Cecily, a young girl with a pretty face, dressed in boy's clothes, sat on the grass, pulling up the blades as her tutor Ms. Prism read about military history from an old, worn textbook. "Cecily!" Ms. Prism's shrill voice rang out. "Are you even listening to a word I say?"
"No." the young girl answered, getting up and climbing up into the tree she had been sitting under. "I don't care that the Roman's used a crescent moon formation to out flank the opposing army. When will this be practical in real life?" she asked, hanging upside down from a tree branch.
Her tutor rolled her eyes, closing the history book with a snap. "When a naïve soul on the internet makes an incorrect comment about Roman warfare and you can then correct them if you would just listen." she answered.
"But why would I want to correct them in the first place?" Cecily asked, hoping down from the tree. "What do I care what others do online? For all I know they could just be really smart people trolling those stupid enough to correct them and take their information as opinionated fact."
Ms. Prism rolled her eyes, pulling out her ipad so she could take down some notes and update her facebook status. "You care because you should. Although…I guess it is predicted that by the time you're my age digital communication will become obsolete. Just think of how wonderful a world it would be if people actually saw each other when they talked?" she mused with an airy smile.
"That's the point of facetime, Ms. Prism." Cecily said lightly, walking over to the garden to smell the flowers. "Although really, even that's a false image of reality." she let out a melancholy sigh. "Sometimes I wish that I could throw my computer and iphone away and just talk to others in person."
"Yes, yes. That's very nice, dear." Ms. Prism murmured distractedly as her cell phone buzzed and she giggles, reading the text.
"Is that pastor Howard again?" Cecily giggled gaily, skipping over to Ms. Prism.
The tutor blushed and quickly put the phone in her pocket. "No, of course not." she said quickly. She looked at her watch before jumping up. "Your father will be back soon, Cecily, why don't you read some more of your classics before he gets back?" she suggested, gathering up he nook, ipad, and the history book.
"And where are you going?" Cecily asked teasingly, picking up a flower and sniffing it daintily.
"Mr. Howard has invited me to walk in Roseland part with him. I would stay here to read more to you, but it would be rude to refuse clergyman." she said airily. "Now keep on reading Cecily, you don't want to disappoint your father."
Cecily pouted and plopped back down onto the grass. "What classic should I read?" she asked with an irritated huff. "I honestly don't know why I have to read the classics, they're nothing like the great works of Oscar Wilde and F. Scott Fitzgerald."
Ms. Prism rolled her eyes, tossing Cecily her nook. "Read 'Twilight', it's a wonderful work of literature. You can learn much from it." she instructed before walking back into the house, closing the back door behind her.
"Yeah, like what kind of man not to fall in love with." Cecily muttered, shutting the nook off and tossing it a few feet away. She jerked up when she heard footsteps coming across the lawn. "Hello?" she asked, looking up at the approaching stranger curiously.
"Hello, there." Algernon greeted with a friendly wave, stopping just in front of Cecily. "Are you Ms. Cecily Worthing?" he asked.
Cecily nodded, tilting her head to the side curiously. "Yes, I am. And you are…?"
"I'm Ernest. Your guardian Jack is my brother." Algernon answered with a smile.
The young girl nearly squealed in delight, jumping to her feet to hug Algernon tightly, nearly knocking her over. "Oh, Ernest! I knew you'd come! I knew you wouldn't desert me!" she exclaimed with a bright smile, letting go of Algernon so she could bounce up and down in excitement. "Why, I was just about to update my Myspace account about our engagement, and now I can post that I finally got to meet you. My very own Ernest." she sighed like a love-sick fool.
"Engagement?!" Algernon's eyebrows shot up in surprise. He had hardly met this lovely young lady for a minute and already they were engaged? He couldn't believe his luck. "Since when have we been engaged?"
"Why for at least three months, silly. Ever since I found out Jack had a brother named Ernest I knew I was destined to fall in love with you. A man with the name of Ernest just inspires such…trust, don't you think?" Cecily grinned, taking out her iphone and showing her Myspace account to Algernon. "See? This was my post when you first proposed to me in this very space of grass three months ago. And this..." she flipped to another post. "was my profile when I broke it off a month later."
Algernon's eyes widened. "You broke it off? Why on earth did you do that? What did I do wrong?"
Cecily shrugged. "It just wasn't going to work out, my sweet Ernest. However, your messages after that were so sweat and grammatically incorrect with so much texting lingo and emoticon errors that I just simply had to take you back. We've been re-engaged for about a month now."
Nodding a bit as he took all of that in, Algernon frowned a bit. "Messages? What messages did I send you?" he asked in confusion.
"These messages." Cecily showed him a long list of emails. "I of course had to write all of them for you, you were so neglectful, but it was a rather productive use of my time. And now I finally got to meet you in person! And we can get married and live or divorce happily ever after!" she squealed. Algernon almost winced at that, wondering why in the world every girl seemed so intent on getting divorced at some point in her life.
"We shall be married at once." Algernon grinned, taking Cecily's hand and pulling her close, capturing her lips in a slow and passionate kiss.
"What in the world!" came a shout from behind them and the back door to the house banged shut. They both spun around to see Jack striding over the lawn towards them. "Algernon! What in the world are you doing with-"
"It's your brother Ernest, Jack!" Cecily talked over the start of Jack's rant. "He's come to visit me and finally take notice of our engagement. Isn't it wonderful?!" she gushed, taking Algernon's hand and entwining their fingers.
Jack blinked, giving Algernon a burning look. "Why, yes, it's absolutely wonderful." he said through gritted teeth. "Now, if you would excuse us, my…brother and I have some business to discuss." he said and grabbed Algernon by the elbow, dragging him back into the house.
Cecily sighed and sat down on one of the lawn chairs, re-doing her entire Myspace profile page until she heard footsteps again, thinking it was Ernest back. "Ernest, what did you and Ja…" she trailed off as she looked up at a very pretty woman. "Oh, hello."
Gwendolyn smiled uncertainly at Cecily, wondering why in the world her Ernest had a young and unfortunately very pretty girl living at his house. "Hello, I'm looking for Ernest Worthing?" she asked.
"He's inside talking to my uncle Jack." Cecily smiled and gestured for the woman to sit down. "I'm Cecily, Jack's adopted daughter. Why do you want to see Ernest?" she asked curiously.
The other woman sat down across from Cecily. "Ernest invited me here since we are to be engaged." she answered, looking rather pleased with herself. She blinked in surprise as Cecily, instead of congratulating her, shrieked in outrage.
"You're engaged to Ernest?!" She shrieked. "But I'm engaged to Ernest!"
There was a pause as the two woman glared at each other, immediate hatred for each other reflected in the other's eyes. This was the scene that Jack and Algernon walking in on and they glanced at each other in confusion. "Cecily? What's going on?" Jack asked carefully, not wanting to anger such volatile woman.
"Ah, Ernest, there you are!" Gwendolyn answered instead. "Are you engaged to this young lady?" she asked, glaring at Cecily scornfully. "She claims you are."
Jack blinked at Gwendolyn in surprise. "Why no! Of course not! She's my adopted daughter. I'm engaged to you, my dear Gwendolyn." He answered truthfully, going over to the young woman and kissing her cheek.
Gwendolyn smiled softly at Jack, standing to hug him tightly and press a chaste kiss to his lips. "Oh I knew she couldn't possibly be telling the truth. A man with the name of Ernest would never lie. I knew I could trust you, my dear Ernest."
"Ernest?" Cecily frowned over at the couple before laughing. "Oh Gwendolyn, I'm sorry for being so mean earlier. Indeed, you are not a harlot who steals other girl's men like I thought you were. That's my adoptive father Jack, not Ernest." She happily went over to Algernon, placing her hand in his. "This is the Mr. Ernest Worthing I'm to be engaged to. He's Jack's brother."
"Jack?!" Gwendolyn exclaimed, immediately stepping away from Jack, looking horrified. "You mean you aren't actually Ernest?!" she paused and turned to Cecily. "And you, my dear girl, are much mistaken. That man on your arm is not Mr. Ernest Worthing. He's Algernon, my cousin."
"Algernon?!" Cecily shrieked, pushing Algernon away. "You're not Ernest either?! What a horrid name is Algernon, it doesn't give any sense of security at all. How dare you take advantage of and fool such young, sweet girls as Gwendolyn and myself." She turned to the other woman, all signs of dislike gone, and smiled congenially to her. "I apologize, dear friend, for such hasty judgments I may have made. I now see that you too have been wronged by these two men." She nodded to Gwendolyn in respect and together both she and the older woman turned their backs on the two men.
"Whatever shall we do?" Gwendolyn whispered to Cecily. "We both see to be engaged to the same man; Jack's brother Mr. Ernest."
"Indeed." Cecily nodded. "But we have no idea who or where he is. Should we ask?" she asked nervously, throwing a furtive glance over her shoulder at the shell-shocked men.
"Yes." Gwendolyn stated with a nod and they both turned around. "Jack, where is your brother Ernest? We both see to be engaged to him."
Jack sighed morosely and shook his head, tearing up slightly. "It would seem that my dear brother Ernest is with us no longer. In fact, I have recently received the new that he is dead."
"Dead?!" both girls gasped in horror.
"Oh yes, he is quite dead." Jack nodded sadly. "He fell off a cliff just yesterday afternoon." He sighed.
"Was there no chance of survival?" Gwendolyn asked.
"None." Jack shook his head. "In fact…he never existed. It's most unfortunate that his nonexistent life should be ended so soon before it even began."
Both girls nearly started crying, but were interrupted by Ms. Prism running out of the house, looking scared. "Jack, Jack!" she shouted. "Mrs. Bracknel is sitting inside and requests upon her nephew Algernon immediately!" she exclaimed.
Jack's eyes widened in surprise and he turned to Algernon. "Algernon, would you please meet me in the Naming office of city hall later this afternoon? Yes? Good. Now go talk to your insufferable aunt." He directed before following Algernon and Cecily inside, Gwendolyn back to hanging off his arm.
Mrs. Bracknel sat in the living room, looking around it with interested disdain. "Ahh, Algernon!" she beamed, kissing her nephew on both cheeks. She stepped back, catching Cecily in a calculating stare. "And who is this darling young girl, Algernon?"
"This is Cecily, Auntie." Algernon smiled, pulling Cecily, who had of course decided to forgive him since she learned of Ernest's unfortunate death, to his side. "Se and I are engaged to be married."
"Are you now?" Mrs. Bracknel arched an eyebrow, not breaking her stare on Cecily. "Cecily, how old are you?"
"I'm eighteen." Cecily answered immediately. "And three and a half months."
Mrs. Bracknel nodded. "Satisfactory. Now, how would you say you are as a woman?"
Cecily thought for a few moments, humming happily to herself before she answered. "I like to be on top of everything." She smiled. "I do believe it's a woman's role to be in control of the house, in every way."
This answer caused a brief smile to flash across Mrs. Bracknel's lips. "Very good, Cecily." She looked up at Jack. "Mr. Worthing, what are Cecily's assets?"
"A bonds investment, three hundred acres of land, and a large share in the McDonald's corporation." Jack answered proudly.
"Oh, that's more than satisfactory. Algernon, Cecily, you two can get married."
"I beg your pardon!" Jack exclaimed with a scowl. "I am Cecily's guardian and I decide who and when she marries. I absolutely cannot let her marry Algernon, no matter how good of a candidate you think he is as a husband."
Mrs. Bracknel huffed, thinking for a long moment, frowning when she reached a conclusion. "What is I let you marry Gwendolyn?"
"Well that would be a different matter altogether!" Jack exclaimed happily. "Why, if Gwendolyn and I could marry then I daresay Cecily would be allowed to marry Algernon."
There was a pause before Mrs. Bracknel sighed. "If only there wasn't such uncertainty as to your origins…" she trailed off just as Ms. Prism walked in. The tutor froze like a dear in the headlights as she caught sight of Mrs. Bracknel, iphone tumbling out of her hand. "Prism!" Mrs. Bracknel exclaimed in a shrill voice, stopping Ms. Prism's attempted escape from the room. "Where is the child, Prism?!" she demanded.
Ms. Prism bit her lip, picking her phone back up slowly. "Gone." She answered unhappily. "He wandered off at the museum when we were visiting the Picasso exhibit. I looked everywhere, but there was no report of a found boy by the name of Ernest."
"Ernest?!" Everyone else in the room gasped at the same time that Jack exclaimed, "The Picasso exhibit!?"
Mrs. Bracknel turned to look at Jack with an arched eyebrow, looking from him to Ms. Prism and back again. "Ms. Prism was taking care of my sister's son, named after his father General Ernest. She seems, however, to have lost him those many years ago." She glared at the tutor.
"He wandered off!" Ms. Prism protested as she trembled. "I was updating my twitter feed, it really is sensational writing, I plan to become quite famous, and when I turned back around the boy was gone! Lost!"
There was silence as everyone in the room took in the new information. "Was this the Picasso exhibit at the Art Museum on 75th?" Jack asked, finally breaking the silence.
Ms. Prism nodded with a sniff. "Yes, in the middle of winter too! I asked security, but all they said was they had found a young boy who claimed to be Jack the Giant Slayer."
Jack's eyes widened. "Why, that was my favorite book as a child!" he exclaimed, eyes shining. "I used to pretend to be Jack all the time!"
At this revelation Mrs. Bracknel gasped, looking Jack over, as if reappraising him. "Well…he is the right height…and age…and stature." She tilted her head to the side. "I daresay, he even speaks like he's my sister's child." She nodded and took out her phone, looking through her list of contacts. "My sister's son was named after his father, and his father's name was…Ernest. Indeed, it really was Ernest." She said, showing the contact name to Jack.
"Ernest?!" Gwendolyn squealed, hugging Jack tightly and kissing him. "My very own Ernest! I always knew you couldn't possibly be lying about that!" she exclaimed, kissing him again.
Mrs. Bracknel watched the spectacle with a scandalized expression before her face softened. "Well, Ernest, I think it only be fair that I let Gwendolyn marry you. After all, she's always been convinced that she would marry a man named Ernest."
Jack grinned happily as Cecily and Algernon hugged, laughing gaily since now they, too would be allowed to be married. The man sighed, sitting down with Gwendolyn in his lap. "You know, I always knew there was some importance in being somewhat, kind of, sometimes earnest."