Trotter. Ah, there you go again! In my sense of the word! You believe that my criticism is merely a personal impression; that—
Fanny. You always said it was.
Trotter. Pardon me: not on this point. If you had been classically educated—
Fanny. But I have.
Trotter. Pooh! Cambridge! If you had been educated at Oxford, you would know that the definition of a play has been settled exactly and scientifically for two thousand two hundred and sixty years. When I say that these entertainments are not plays, I dont mean in my sense of the word, but in the sense given to it for all time by the immortal Stagirite.
Fanny. Who is the Stagirite?
Trotter. [shocked] You dont know who the Stagirite was?
Fanny. Sorry. Never heard of him.
Trotter. And this is Cambridge education! Well, my dear young lady, I’m delighted to find theres something you don’t know; and I shant spoil you by dispelling an ignorance which, in my opinion, is highly becoming to your age and sex. So we’ll leave it at that.
Fanny. But you will promise to tell my father that lots of people write plays just like this one—that I havnt selected it out of mere heartlessness?
Trotter. I cant possibly tell you what I shall say to your father about the play until Ive seen the play. But I’ll tell you what I shall say to him about you. I shall say that youre a very foolish young lady; that youve got into a very questionable set; and that the sooner he takes you away from Cambridge and its Fabian Society, the better.
Fanny. It’s so funny to hear you pretending to be a heavy father. In Cambridge we regard you as a bel esprit, a wit, an Irresponsible, a Parisian Immoralist, tres chic.
Fanny. Theres quite a Trotter set.
Trotter. Well, upon my word!
Fanny. They go in for adventures and call you Aramis.
Trotter. They wouldnt dare!
Fanny. You always make such delicious fun
of the serious people.
Trotter. [frantic] Stop talking French to me: it’s not a proper language for a young girl. Great heavens! how is it possible that a few innocent pleasantries should be so frightfully misunderstood? Ive tried all my life to be sincere and simple, to be unassuming and kindly. Ive lived a blameless life. Ive supported the Censorship in the face of ridicule and insult. And now I’m told that I’m a centre of Immoralism! of Modern Minxism! a trifler with the most sacred subjects! a Nietzschean!! perhaps a Shavian!!!
Fanny. Do you mean you are really on the serious side, Mr Trotter?
Trotter. Of course I’m on the serious side. How dare you ask me such a question?