Session 5

Algernon secretly goes to visit Cecily. He's pretending to be Jack's wicked younger brother, Ernest

Wayiitiwwan marii boqonnaa kana keessaa

Wayitii marii qabxii 5

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Drama

The Importance of Being Earnest, Part 4: A visit from Ernest

Journey back to Victorian London with us for the fourth episode of The Importance of Being Earnest, based on the original comedy by Oscar Wilde.

Algernon has secretly managed to find out the address of Jack's house in the country - the house where he lives with Cecily. He decides to pay Cecily a visit, pretending to be Jack's wicked younger brother, Ernest.

While you listen to the audio, see how many examples of the past perfect continuous you can spot. Then take a look at the transcript to see them in bold.

Sagalee kana dhaggeefadhuu shaakala kana xumuri

Barreeffama agarsiisi Barreeffama dhoksi

Narrator
Algernon secretly managed to find out the address of Jack's house in the country – the house where he lives with Cecily. We now join Cecily, a pretty girl of eighteen, and her governess Miss Prism – that's the lady who looks after her, in their garden on a summer's day. They're studying German grammar, but Cecily seems more interested in the flowers.

Miss Prism
Cecily! Leave the flowers. Sit down and we'll look at the German verbs.

Cecily
But I really don't like German.

Miss Prism
Cecily, you know Mr Worthing wants you to improve yourself.

Cecily
Dear Uncle Jack is so serious!

Miss Prism
Cecily! I am surprised at you. You know the problems Mr Worthing has. You must remember how worried he is about his unfortunate young brother.

Cecily
I wish Uncle Jack would let that unfortunate young man, his brother, come here sometimes. Oh, Miss Prism… Look who's coming… It's Reverend Chasuble.

Narrator
And indeed, they hadn't noticed the middle-aged man walking up the garden because they had been talking so energetically about Jack.

Miss Prism
Reverend Chasuble! This is a pleasure.

Chasuble
Oh, Miss Prism, I hope you are well?

Cecily
Miss Prism has just been complaining of a headache. I think it would be good for her to have a short walk with you in the park, Reverend.

Miss Prism
I haven't mentioned anything about a headache.

Cecily
No, dear Miss Prism, I know that, but I thought you had been looking like you might get one.

Chasuble
Mr Worthing, I suppose, has not returned from London yet?

Miss Prism
He won't be back until Monday afternoon.

Chasuble
Ah yes, he likes spending Sunday in London. He's not one of those people who spend all their time enjoying themselves, not like that young man his brother.

Miss Prism
I think, dear Reverend, I will have a walk with you. I find I have a headache after all, and a walk might do it good.

Chasuble
With pleasure, Miss Prism.

Miss Prism
Cecily, you can read your economics book while I'm gone. 

Narrator
So Miss Prism and Dr Chasuble wander off, leaving Cecily alone. She immediately shuts her book on economics and is about to get up when Merriman, the butler, arrives.

Merriman
Mr Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station.

Cecily
Uncle Jack's brother! Did you tell him Mr Worthing was in London?

Merriman
Yes, Miss. He seemed very disappointed. He had been hoping to find Mr Worthing at home and had been planning to stay the night. I mentioned that you and Miss Prism were in the garden. He said he would like to talk to you for a moment.

Cecily
Ask him to come here.

Merriman
Yes, Miss.

Cecily
I have never met a really wicked person before.

Narrator
Algernon enters looking stylish and confident.

Algernon
You are my little cousin Cecily, I'm sure.

Cecily
You are mistaken. I am not little. In fact, I believe I am unusually tall for my age. 

Algernon
Oh, I'm sorry…

Cecily
But I am your cousin Cecily. You are Uncle Jack's brother, my cousin Ernest, my wicked cousin Ernest.

Algernon
Oh! I'm not really wicked at all, cousin Cecily.

Cecily
If you aren't, then you have been deceiving us all. I hope you haven't been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. 

Algernon
Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless.

Cecily
I am glad to hear it.

Algernon
In fact, now you mention it, I've been very bad in my own small way.

Cecily
I don't think you should be so proud of that, though I am sure it has been very pleasant.

Algernon
It is much pleasanter being here with you.

Cecily
I can't understand why you are here at all. Uncle Jack isn't back until Monday afternoon.

Algernon
How disappointing! I have to go back to London early on Monday morning. 

Cecily
Well, I think you should wait till Uncle Jack arrives. I know he wants to speak to you about you emigrating.

Algernon
About me what?

Cecily
You emigrating. He's gone to London to buy you some clothes.

Algernon
I'm not happy about Jack buying my clothes. I don't like his style of ties at all.

Cecily
I don't think you'll need ties. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia.

Algernon
Australia! I'd sooner die.

Cecily
Well, he said at dinner on Wednesday night, that you would have to choose between this world, the next world, and Australia.

Algernon
Oh, well! I haven't heard very good things about Australia or the next world. This world is good enough for me, cousin Cecily.

Cecily
Yes, but are you good enough for it?

Algernon
I'm afraid I'm not. That is why you have to reform me, cousin Cecily.

Cecily
I'm sorry, I don't have time this morning.

Algernon
Well, will you have time to reform me this afternoon?

Cecily
I think you should try.

Algernon
I will, but I will need a little something to eat first. I'm a little hungry.

Cecily
How thoughtless of me! Won't you come in for something to eat?

Algernon
Thank you. Could I have one of your flowers first? 

Cecily
Certainly.

Algernon
I'd like a pink rose.

Cecily
Why? 

Algernon
Because you are like a pink rose, cousin Cecily.

Cecily
I don't think it can be right for you to talk to me like that. Miss Prism never says such things to me.

Algernon
Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady. You are the prettiest girl I ever saw.

Narrator
Algernon and Cecily go up to the house. Miss Prism and Reverend Chasuble, who had been walking and discussing the advantages of marriage for single men, also return home. But someone else is now walking up the garden path. It's Jack! He's back early. He's dressed in black and looking very serious.

Miss Prism
Mr Worthing! This is indeed a surprise. We thought you were coming back on Monday!

Chasuble
Dear Mr Worthing, I hope this black suit does not mean some terrible news?

Jack
My brother.

Miss Prism
Spending lots of money and running up debts again?

Chasuble
Still leading his life of pleasure?

Jack
Dead!

Chasuble
Your brother Ernest, dead?

Jack
Quite dead.

Download

You can download the drama from our Unit 14 downloads page or from our BBC Learning English Drama podcast page.

Vocabulary

governess
an old-fashioned word meaning a woman who lives with a family and teaches the children

unfortunate
describing someone who is in an embarrassing or unpleasant situation

Reverend
form of address to a Christian priest

butler
the most important male servant in a house

wicked
morally bad

deceiving (to deceive)
tricking people into believing something to be true when it isn't

reckless
acting without thinking of the possible effects of your actions

emigrating (to emigrate)
leaving one country to go and live in another

reform
to change someone's behaviour so they are a better person

debt
money that one person or organisation owes to another person or organisation

To do

See how much you understood from the story by answering these questions...

Earnest quiz

3 Questions

How well did you understand the story? Try our quiz about Episode 4.

Baga gammadde! Qormaata xumurteetta
Excellent! Great job! Carraa badaa! Qabxii argatte:
x / y

Credits

Miss Prism: Catherine Chapman

Miss Cecily Cardew: Alice Brown

Reverend Chasuble: Rob Carter

Merriman: Michael Harrison

Algernon Moncreiff: Darren Benedict

Jack Worthing: Tim Gibson

Narrator: Finn Aberdein

Original play written by: Oscar Wilde

Adaptation by: Sue Mushin

Illustrator: Magdolna Terray

ELT consultant: Catherine Chapman

Producer: Finn Aberdein

More

You can find all the episodes of The Importance of Being Earnest and our other BBC Learning English dramas on our Drama page.

End of Session 5

Oh no… Jack has come back to tell everyone that his young brother, Ernest, is dead. But Algernon is already there, pretending to be Ernest. What will happen when Algernon appears? Find out in Part 6.

Caasluga kutaa kanaa

Session Vocabulary

  • governess
    an old-fashioned word meaning a woman who lives with a family and teaches the children

    unfortunate
    describing someone who is in an embarrassing or unpleasant situation

    Reverend
    form of address to a Christian priest

    butler
    the most important male servant in a house

    wicked
    morally bad

    deceiving (to deceive)
    tricking people into believing something to be true when it isn't

    reckless
    acting without thinking of the possible effects of your actions

    emigrating (to emigrate)
    leaving one country to go and live in another

    reform
    to change someone's behaviour so they are a better person

    debt
    money that one person or organisation owes to another person or organisation