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jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016
The Miraculous Revenge
George Bernard Shaw
Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion
George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion and Three Other Plays 2/2 (George Bernard Shaw)
CHURCH AND THEATRE
I do not suppose many people care particularly. We are not brought up to care; and a sense of the national importance of the theatre is not born in mankind: the natural man, like so many of the soldiers at the beginning of the war, does not know what a theatre is. But please note that all these soldiers who did not know what a theatre was, knew what a church was. And they had been taught to respect churches. Nobody had ever warned them against a church as a place where frivolous women paraded in their best clothes; where stories of improper females like Potiphar’s wife, and erotic poetry like the Song of Songs, were read aloud; where the sensuous and sentimental music of Schubert, Mendelssohn, Gounod, and Brahms was more popular than severe music by greater composers; where the prettiest sort of pretty pictures of pretty saints assailed the imagination and senses through stained-glass windows; and where sculpture and architecture came to the help of painting. Nobody ever reminded them that these things had sometimes produced such developments of erotic idolatry that men who were not only enthusiastic amateurs of literature, painting, and music, but famous practitioners of them, had actually exulted when mobs and even regular troops under express command had mutilated church statues, smashed church windows, wrecked church organs, and torn up the sheets from which the church music was read and sung. When they saw broken statues in churches, they were told that this was the work of wicked, godless rioters, instead of, as it was, the work partly of zealots bent on driving the world, the flesh, and the devil out of the temple, and partly of insurgent men who had become intolerably poor because the temple had become a den of thieves. But all the sins and perversions that were so carefully hidden from them in the history of the Church were laid on the shoulders of the Theatre: that stuffy, uncomfortable place of penance in which we suffer so much inconvenience on the slenderest chance of gaining a scrap of food for our starving souls. When the Germans bombed the Cathedral of Rheims the world rang with the horror of the sacrilege. When they bombed the Little Theatre in the Adelphi, and narrowly missed bombing two writers of playsjq who lived within a few yards of it, the fact was not even mentioned in the papers. In point of appeal to the senses no theatre ever built could touch the fanejr at Rheims: no actress could rival its Virgin in beauty, nor any operatic tenor look otherwise than a fool beside its David. Its picture glass was glorious even to those who had seen the glass of Chartres. It was wonderful in its very grotesques: who would look at the Blondin Donkeyjs after seeing its leviathans? In spite of the Adam-Adelphianjt decoration on which Miss Kingston had lavished so much taste and care, the Little Theatre was in comparison with Rheims the gloomiest of little conventicles: indeed the cathedral must, from the Puritan point of view, have debauched a million voluptuaries for every one whom the Little Theatre had sent home thoughtful to a chaste bed after Mr Chesterton’s Magic or Brieux’s Les Avariés. ju Perhaps that is the real reason why the Church is lauded and the Theatre reviled. Whether or no, the fact remains that the ladyjv to whose public spirit and sense of the national value of the theatre I owed the first regular public performance of a play of mine had to conceal her action as if it had been a crime, whereas if she had given the money to the Church she would have worn a halo for it. And I admit, as I have always done, that this state of things may have been a very sensible one. I have asked Londoners again and again why they pay half a guinea to go to a theatre when they can go to St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey for nothing. Their only possible reply is that they want to see something new and possibly something wicked; but the theatres mostly disappoint both hopes. If ever a revolution makes me Dictator, I shall establish a heavy charge for admission to our churches. But everyone who pays at the church door shall receive a ticket entitling him or her to free admission to one performance at any theatre he or she prefers. Thus shall the sensuous charms of the church service be made to subsidize the sterner virtue of the drama.
THE NEXT PHASE
The present situation will not last. Although the newspaper I read at breakfast this morning before writing these words contains a calculation that no less than twenty-three wars are at present being waged to confirm the peace, England is no longer in khaki; and a violent reaction is setting in against the crude theatrical fare of the four terrible years. Soon the rents of theatres will once more be fixed on the assumption that they cannot always be full, nor even on the average half full week in and week out. Prices will change. The higher drama will be at no greater disadvantage than it was before the war; and it may benefit, first, by the fact that many of us have been torn from the fools’ paradise in which the theatre formerly traded, and thrust upon the sternest realities and necessities until we have lost both faith in and patience with the theatrical pretences that had no root either in reality or necessity; second, by the startling change made by the war in the distribution of income. It seems only the other day that a millionaire was a man with £50,000 a year. To-day, when he has paid his income tax and super tax, and insured his life for the amount of his death duties, he is lucky if his net income is £10,000, though his nominal property remains the same. And this is the result of a Budget which is called “a respite for the rich .”At the other end of the scale millions of persons have had regular incomes for the first time in their lives; and their men have been regularly clothed, fed, lodged, and taught to make up their minds that certain things have to be done, also for the first time in their lives. Hundreds of thousands of women have been taken out of their domestic cages and tasted both discipline and independence. The thoughtless and snobbish middle classes have been pulled up short by the very unpleasant experience of being ruined to an unprecedented extent. We have all had a tremendous jolt; and although the widespread notion that the shock of the war would automatically make a new heaven and a new earth, and that the dog would never go back to his vomit nor the sow to her wallowing in the mire,jw is already seen to be a delusion, yet we are far more conscious of our condition than we were, and far less disposed to submit to it. Revolution, lately only a sensational chapter in history or a demagogic claptrap, is now a possibility so imminent that hardly by trying to suppress it in other countries by arms and defamation, and calling the process anti-Bolshevism, can our Government stave it off at home.
Perhaps the most tragic figure of the day is the American President who was once a historian. In those days it became his task to tell us how, after that great war in America which was more clearly than any other war of our time a war for an idea, the conquerors, confronted with a heroic task of reconstruction, turned recreant, and spent fifteen years in abusing their victory under cover of pretending to accomplish the task they were doing what they could to make impossible. Alas! Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that men never learn anything from history. With what anguish of mind the President sees that we, the new conquerors, forgetting everything we professed to fight for, are sitting down with watering mouths to a good square meal of ten years revenge upon and humiliation of our prostrate foe, can only be guessed by those who know, as he does, how hopeless is remonstrance, and how happy Lincoln was in perishing from the earth before his inspired messages became scraps of paper. He knows well that from the Peace Conference will come, in spite of his utmost, no edict on which he will be able, like Lincoln, to invoke “the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”jx He led his people to destroy the militarism of Zabern;5 and the army they rescued is busy in Cologne imprisoning every German who does not salute a British officer; whilst the Government at home, asked whether it approves, replies that it does not propose even to discontinue this Zabernism when the Peace is concluded, but in effect looks forward to making Germans salute British officers until the end of the world. That is what war makes of men and women. It will wear off; and the worst it threatens is already proving impracticable ; but before the humble and contrite heartjy ceases to be despised, the President and I, being of the same age, will be dotards. In the meantime there is, for him, another history to write; for me, another comedy to stage. Perhaps, after all, that is what wars are for, and what historians and playwrights are for. If men will not learn until their lessons are written in blood, why, blood they must have, their own for preference.
THE EPHEMERAL THRONES AND THE ETERNAL THEATRE
To the theatre it will not matter. Whatever Bastilles fall, the theatre will stand. Apostolic Hapsburg has collapsed; All Highest Hohenzollern languishes in Holland, threatened with trial on a capital charge of fighting for his country against England; Imperial Romanoff, said to have perished miserably by a more summary method of murder, is perhaps alive or perhaps dead: nobody cares more than if he had been a peasant; the lord of Hellas is level with his lackeys in republican Switzerland; Prime Ministers and Commanders-in-Chief have passed from a brief glory as Solons and Caesars into failure and obscurity6 as closely on one another’s heels as the descendants of Banquo;jz but Euripides and Aristophanes, Shakespeare and Molière, Goethe and Ibsen remain fixed in their everlasting seats.
HOW WAR MUZZLES THE DRAMATIC POET
As for myself, why, it may be asked, did I not write two plays about the war instead of two pamphlets on it? The answer is significant. You cannot make war on war and on your neighbor at the same time. War cannot bear the terrible castigation of comedy, the ruthless light of laughter that glares on the stage. When men are heroically dying for their country, it is not the time to show their lovers and wives and fathers and mothers how they are being sacrificed to the blunders of boobies, the cupidity of capitalists, the ambition of conquerors, the electioneering of demagogues, the Pharisaism of patriots, the lusts and lies and rancors and blood-thirsts that love war because it opens their prison doors, and sets them in the thrones of power and popularity. For unless these things are mercilessly exposed they will hide under the mantle of the ideals on the stage just as they do in real life.
And though there may be better things to reveal, it may not, and indeed cannot, be militarily expedient to reveal them whilst the issue is still in the balance. Truth telling is not compatible with the defence of the realm. We are just now reading the revelations of our generals and admirals, unmuzzled at last by the armistice. During the war, General A, in his moving despatches from the field, told how General B had covered himself with deathless glory in such and such a battle. He now tells us that General B came within an ace of losing us the war by disobeying his orders on that occasion, and fighting instead of running away as he ought to have done. An excellent subject for comedy now that the war is over, no doubt; but if General A had let this out at the time, what would have been the effect on General B’s soldiers? And had the stage made known what the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for War who overruled General A thought of him, and what he thought of them, as now revealed in raging controversy, what would have been the effect on the nation? That is why comedy, though sorely tempted, had to be loyally silent; for the art of the dramatic poet knows no patriotism; recognizes no obligation but truth to natural history; cares not whether Germany or England perish; is ready to cry with Brynhild, “Lass‘uns verderben, lachend zu grunde geh’n”7 sooner than deceive or be deceived; and thus becomes in time of war a greater military danger than poison, steel, or trinitrotoluene.ka That is why I had to withhold Heartbreak House from the footlights during the war; for the Germans might on any night have turned the last act from play into earnest, and even then might not have waited for their cues.8
The hilly country in the middle of the north edge of Sussex, looking very pleasant on a fine evening at the end of September, is seen through the windows of a room which has been built so as to resemble the after part of an old-fashioned high-pooped ship with a stern gallery; kbfor the windows are ship built with heavy timbering, and run right across the room as continuously as the stability of the wall allows. A row of lockers under the windows provides an unupholstered window-seat interrupted by twin glass doors, respectively half-way between the stern post and the sides. Another door strains the illusion a little by being apparently in the ship’s port side, and yet leading, not to the open sea, but to the entrance hall of the house. Between this door and the stern gallery are bookshelves. There are electric light switches beside the door leading to the hall and the glass doors in the stern gallery. Against the starboard wall is a carpenter’s bench. The vice has a board in its jaws; and the floor is littered with shavings, over-flowing from a waste-paper basket. A couple of planes and a centrebitkc are on the bench. In the same wall, between the bench and the windows, is a narrow doorway with a half door, above which a glimpse of the room beyond shows that it is a shelved pantry with bottles and kitchen crockery.
On the starboard side, but close to the middle, is a plain oak drawing-table with drawing-board, T-square, straight-edges, set squares, kd mathematical instruments, saucers of water color, a tumbler of discolored water, Indian ink, pencils, and brushes on it. The drawing-board is set so that the draughtsman’s chair has the window on its left hand. On the floor at the end of the table, on his right, is a ship’s fire bucket. On the port side of the room, near the bookshelves, is a sofa with its back to the windows. It is a sturdy mahogany article, oddly upholstered in sailcloth, including the bolster, with a couple of blankets hanging over the back. Between the sofa and the drawing-table is a big wicker chair, with broad arms and a low sloping back, with its back to the light. A small but stout table of teak, with a round top and gate legs, ke stands against the port wall between the door and the bookcase. It is the only article in the room that suggests (not at all convincingly) a woman’s hand in the furnishing. The uncarpeted floor of narrow boards is caulked and holystonedkf like a deck.
The garden to which the glass doors lead dips to the south before the landscape rises again to the hills. Emerging from the hollow is the cupola of an observatory. Between the observatory and the house is a flagstaff on a little esplanade, with a hammock on the east side and a long garden seat on the west.
A young lady, gloved and hatted, with a dust coat on, is sitting in the window-seat with her body twisted to enable her to look out of the view. One hand props her chin: the other hangs down with a volume of the Temple Shakespearekg in it, and herfinger stuck in the page she has been reading.
A clock strikes six.
The young lady turns and looks at her watch. She rises with an air of one who waits and is almost at the end of her patience. She is a pretty girl, slender, fair, and intelligent looking, nicely but not expensively dressed, evidently not a smart idler.
With a sigh of weary resignation she comes to the draughtsman’s chair; sits down; and begins to read Shakespeare. Presently the book sinks to her lap; her eyes close; and she dozes into a slumber.
An elderly womanservant comes in from the hall with three unopened bottles of rum on a tray. She passes through and disappears in the pantry without noticing the young lady. She places the bottles on the shelf and fills her tray with empty bottles. As she returns with these, the young lady lets her book drop, awakening herself, and startling the womanservant so that she all but lets the tray fall.
THE WOMANSERVANT God bless us! [The young lady picks up the book and places it on the table.] Sorry to wake you, miss, I’m sure; but you are a stranger to me. What might you be waiting here for now?
THE YOUNG LADY Waiting for somebody to show some signs of knowing that I have been invited here.
THE WOMANSERVANT Oh, you’re invited, are you? And has nobody come? Dear! dear!
THE YOUNG LADY A wild-looking old gentleman came and looked in at the window; and I heard him calling out, “Nurse, there is a young and attractive female waiting in the poop. Go and see what she wants.” Are you the nurse?
THE WOMANSERVANT Yes, miss: I’m Nurse Guinness. That was old Captain Shotover, Mrs Hushabye’s father. I heard him roaring; but I thought it was for something else. I suppose it was Mrs Hushabye that invited you, ducky?
THE YOUNG LADY I understood her to do so. But really I think I’d better go.
NURSE GUINNESS Oh, don’t think of such a thing, miss. If Mrs Hushabye has forgotten all about it, it will be a pleasant surprise for her to see you, won’t it?
THE YOUNG LADY It has been a very unpleasant surprise to me to find that nobody expects me.9
NURSE GUINNESS You’ll get used to it, miss: this house is full of surprises for them that don’t know our ways.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [looking in from the hall suddenly: an ancient but still hardy man with an immense white beard, in a reefer jacketkh with a whistle hanging from his neck] Nurse, there is a hold-all and a handbag on the front steps for everybody to fall over. Also a tennis racquet. Who the devil left them there?
THE YOUNG LADY They are mine, I’m afraid.
THE CAPTAIN [advancing to the drawing -table] Nurse, who is this misguided and unfortunate young lady?
NURSE GUINNESS She says Miss Hessy invited her, sir.
THE CAPTAIN And had she no friend, no parents, to warn her against my daughter’s invitations? This is a pretty sort of house, by heavens! A young and attractive lady is invited here. Her luggage is left on the steps for hours; and she herself is deposited in the poop and abandoned, tired and starving. This is our hospitality. These are our manners. No room ready. No hot water. No welcoming hostess. Our visitor is to sleep in the toolshed, and to wash in the duckpond.
NURSE GUINNESS Now it’s all right, Captain: I’ll get the lady some tea; and her room shall be ready before she has finished ished it. [To the young lady.] Take off your hat, ducky; and make yourself at home [she goes to the door leading to the hall].
THE CAPTAIN [as she passes him] Ducky! Do you suppose, woman, that because this young lady has been insulted and neglected, you have the right to address her as you address my wretched children, whom you have brought up in ignorance of the commonest decencies of social intercourse?
NURSE GUINNESS Never mind him, doty.ki [Quite unconcerned, she goes out into the hall on her way to the kitchen.]
THE CAPTAIN Madam, will you favor me with your name? [He sits down in the big wicker chair.]
THE YOUNG LADY My name is Ellie Dunn.
THE CAPTAIN Dunn! I had a boatswain whose name was Dunn. He was originally a pirate in China. He set up as a ship’s chandlerkj with stores which I have every reason to believe he stole from me. No doubt he became rich. Are you his daughter?
ELLIE [indignant] No, certainly not. I am proud to be able to say that though my father has not been a successful man, nobody has ever had one word to say against him. I think my father is the best man I have ever known.
THE CAPTAIN He must be greatly changed. Has he attained the seventh degree of concentration?
ELLIE I don’t understand.
THE CAPTAIN But how could he, with a daughter? I, madam, have two daughters. One of them is Hesione Hushabye, who invited you here. I keep this house: she upsets it. I desire to attain the seventh degree of concentration: she invites visitors and leaves me to entertain them. [NURSE GUINNESS returns with the tea-tray, which she places on the teak table.] I have a second daughter who is, thank God, in a remote part of the Empire with her numskull of a husband. As a child she thought the figure-head of my ship, the Dauntless, the most beautiful thing on earth. He resembled it. He had the same expression: wooden yet enterprising. She married him, and will never set foot in this house again.
NURSE GUINNESS [carrying the table, with the tea-things on it, to ELLIE’s side] Indeed you never were more mistaken. She is in England this very moment. You have been told three times this week that she is coming home for a year for her health. And very glad you should be to see your own daughter again after all these years.
THE CAPTAIN I am not glad. The natural term of the affection of the human animal for its offspring is six years. My daughter Ariadne was born when I was forty-six. I am now eighty-eight. If she comes, I am not at home. If she wants anything, let her take it. If she asks for me, let her be informed that I am extremely old, and have totally forgotten her.
NURSE GUINNESS That’s no talk to offer to a young lady. Here, ducky, have some tea; and don’t listen to him [she pours out a cup of tea].
THE CAPTAIN [rising wrathfully] Now before high heaven they have given this innocent child Indian tea: the stuff they tan their own leather insides with. [He seizes the cup and the tea-pot and empties both into the leathern bucket.]
ELLIE [almost in tears] Oh, please! I am so tired. I should have been glad of anything.
NURSE GUINNESS Oh, what a thing to do! The poor lamb is ready to drop.
THE CAPTAIN You shall have some of my tea. Do not touch that fly-blownkk cake: nobody eats it here except the dogs. [He disappears into the pantry.]
NURSE GUINNESS There’s a man for you! They say he sold himself to the devil in Zanzibar before he was a captain; and the older he grows the more I believe them.
A WOMAN’ S VOICE [in the hall] Is anyone at home? Hesione! Nurse! Papa! Do come, somebody; and take in my luggage. Thumping heard, as of an umbrella, on the wainscot.
NURSE GUINNESS My gracious! It’s Miss Addy, Lady Utterword, Mrs Hushabye’s sister: the one I told the captain about. [Calling.] Coming, Miss, coming.
She carries the table back to its place by the door and is hurrying out when she is intercepted by LADY UTTERWORD, who bursts in much flustered. LADY UTTERWORD, a blonde, is very handsome, very well dressed, and so precipitate in speech and action that the first impression (erroneous) is one of comic silliness.
LADY UTTERWORD Oh, is that you, Nurse? How are you? You don’t look a day older. Is nobody at home? Where is Hesione? Doesn’t she expect me? Where are the servants? Whose luggage is that on the steps? Where’s papa? Is everybody asleep? [Seeing ELLIE.]Oh! I beg your pardon. I suppose you are one of my nieces. [Approaching her with outstretched arms.] Come and kiss your aunt, darling.
ELLIE I’m only a visitor. It is my luggage on the steps.
NURSE GUINNESS I’ll go get you some fresh tea, ducky. [She takes up the tray.]
ELLIE But the old gentleman said he would make some himself.
NURSE GUINNESS Bless you! he’s forgotten what he went for already. His mind wanders from one thing to another.
LADY UTTERWORD Papa, I suppose?
NURSE GUINNESS Yes, Miss.
LADY UTTERWORD [vehemently] Don’t be silly, Nurse. Don’t call me Miss.
NURSE GUINNESS [placidly] No, lovey [she goes out with the tea-tray].
LADY UTTERWORD [sitting down with a flounce on the sofa] I know what you must feel. Oh, this house, this house! I come back to it after twenty-three years; and it is just the same: the luggage lying on the steps, the servants spoilt and impossible, nobody at home to receive anybody, no regular meals, nobody ever hungry because they are always gnawing bread and butter or munching apples, and, what is worse, the same disorder in ideas, in talk, in feeling. When I was a child I was used to it: I had never known anything better, though I was unhappy, and longed all the time—oh, how I longed!—to be respectable, to be a lady, to live as others did, not to have to think of everything for myself. I married at nineteen to escape from it. My husband is Sir Hastings Utterword, who has been governor of all the crown colonies in succession. I have always been the mistress of Government House. I have been so happy: I had forgotten that people could live like this. I wanted to see my father, my sister, my nephews and nieces (one ought to, you know), and I was looking forward to it. And now the state of the house! the way I’m received! the casual impudence of that woman Guinness, our old nurse! really Hesione might at least have been here: some preparation might have been made for me. You must excuse my going on in this way; but I am really very much hurt and annoyed and disillusioned: and if I had realized it was to be like this, I wouldn’t have come. I have a great mind to go away without another word [she is on the point of weeping].
ELLIE [also very miserable] Nobody has been here to receive me either. I thought I ought to go away too. But how can I, Lady Utterword? My luggage is on the steps; and the station flykl has gone.
The captain emerges from the pantry with a tray of Chinese lacquer and a very fine tea-set on it. He rests it provisionally on the end of the table; snatches away the drawing-board, which he stands on the floor against table legs; and puts the tray in the space thus cleared. ELLIE pours out a cup greedily.
THE CAPTAIN Your tea, young lady. What! another lady! I must fetch another cup [he makes for the pantry].
LADY UTTERWORD [rising from the sofa, suffused with emotion] Papa! Don’t you know me? I’m your daughter.
THE CAPTAIN Nonsense! my daughter’s upstairs asleep. [He vanishes through the half door.]
LADY UTTERWORD retires to the window to conceal her tears.
ELLIE [going to her with the cup] Don’t be so distressed. Have this cup of tea. He is very old and very strange: he has been just like that to me. I know how dreadful it must be: my own father is all the world to me. Oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. The captain returns with another cup.
THE CAPTAIN Now we are complete. [He places it on the tray.]
LADY UTTERWORD [hysterically] Papa, you can’t have forgotten me. I am Ariadne. I’m little Paddy Patkins. Won’t you kiss me? [She goes to him and throws her arms round his neck.]
THE CAPTAIN [woodenly enduring her embrace] How can you be Ariadne? You are a middle-aged woman: well preserved, madam, but no longer young.
LADY UTTERWORD But think of all the years and years I have been away, Papa. I have had to grow old, like other people.
THE CAPTAIN [disengaging himself] You should grow out of kissing strange men: they may be striving to attain the seventh degree of concentration.
LADY UTTERWORD But I’m your daughter. You haven’t seen me for years.
THE CAPTAIN So much the worse! When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them. But when they are away, we console ourselves for their absence by dwelling on their vices. That is how I have come to think my absent daughter Ariadne a perfect fiend; so do not try to ingratiate yourself here by impersonating her [he walks firmly away to the other side of the room].
LADY UTTERWORD Ingratiating myself indeed! [With dignity .] Very well, papa. [She sits down at the drawing-table and pours out tea for herself.]
THE CAPTAIN I am neglecting my social duties.You remember Dunn? Billy Dunn?
LADY UTTERWORD Do you mean that villainous sailor who robbed you?
THE CAPTAIN [introducing ELLIE] His daughter. [He sits down on the sofa. ]
ELLIE [protesting] No—
NURSE GUINNESS returns with fresh tea.
THE CAPTAIN Take that hogwash away. Do you hear?
NURSE You’ve actually remembered about the tea! [To ELLIE.] Oh, miss, he didn’t forget you after all! You have made an impression.
THE CAPTAIN [gloomily] Youth! beauty! novelty! They are badly wanted in this house. I am excessively old. Hesione is only moderately young. Her children are not youthful.
LADY UTTERWORD How can children be expected to be youthful in this house? Almost before we could speak we were filled with notions that might have been all very well for pagan philosophers of fifty, but were certainly quite unfit for respectable people of any age.
NURSE You were always for respectability, Miss Addy.
LADY UTTERWORD Nurse, will you please remember that I am Lady Utterword, and not Miss Addy, nor lovey, nor darling, nor doty? Do you hear?
NURSE Yes, ducky: all right. I’ll tell them all they must call you My lady. [She takes her tray out with undisturbed placidity.]
LADY UTTERWORD What comfort? what sense is there in having servants with no manners?
ELLIE [rising and coming to the table to put down her empty cup] Lady Utterword, do you think Mrs Hushabye really expects me?
LADY UTTERWORD Oh, don’t ask me. You can see for yourself that I’ve just arrived; her only sister, after twenty-three years’ absence! and it seems that I am not expected.
THE CAPTAIN What does it matter whether the young lady is expected or not? She is welcome. There are beds: there is food. I’ll find a room for her myself [he makes for the door].
ELLIE [following him to stop him] Oh, please—[He goes out.] Lady Utterword, I don’t know what to do. Your father persists in believing that my father is some sailor who robbed him.
LADY UTTERWORD You had better pretend not to notice it. My father is a very clever man; but he always forgot things; and now that he is old, of course he is worse. And I must warn you that it is sometimes very hard to feel quite sure that he really forgets.
MRS HUSHABYE bursts into the room tempestuously and embraces ELLIE. She is a couple of years older than LADY UTTERWORD, and even better looking. She has magnificent black hair, eyes like the fish pools of Heshbon, km and a nobly modelled neck, short at the back and low between her shoulders in front. Unlike her sister she is uncorseted and dressed anyhow in a rich robe of black pilekn that shows off her white skin and statuesque contour.
MRS HUSHABYE Ellie, my darling, my pettikins [kissing her], how long have you been here? I’ve been at home all the time: I was putting flowers and things in your room; and when I just sat down for a moment to try how comfortable the armchair was I went off to sleep. Papa woke me and told me you were here. Fancy your finding no one, and being neglected and abandoned. [Kissing her again.] My poor love! [She deposits ELLIE on the sofa. Meanwhile ARIADNE has left the table and come over to claim her share of attention.] Oh! you’ve brought someone with you. Introduce me.
LADY UTTERWORD Hesione, is it possible that you don’t know me?
MRS HUSHABYE [conventionally] Of course I remember your face quite well. Where have we met?
LADY UTTERWORD Didn’t Papa tell you I was here? Oh! this is really too much. [She throws herself sulkily into the big chair.]
MRS HUSHABYE Papa!
LADY UTTERWORD Yes, Papa. Our papa, you unfeeling wretch! [Rising angrily.] I’ll go straight to a hotel.
MRS HUSHABYE [seizing her by the shoulders] My goodness gracious goodness, you don’t mean to say that you’re Addy!
LADY UTTERWORD I certainly am Addy; and I don’t think I can be so changed that you would not have recognized me if you had any real affection for me. And Papa didn’t think me even worth mentioning!
MRS HUSHABYE What a lark! Sit down [she pushes her back into the chair instead of kissing her, and posts herself behind it]. You do look a swell. You’re much handsomer than you used to be. You’ve made the acquaintance of Ellie, of course. She is going to marry a perfect hog of a millionaire for the sake of her father, who is as poor as a church mouse; and you must help me to stop her.
ELLIE Oh, please, Hesione!
MRS HUSHABYE My pettikins, the man’s coming here today with your father to begin persecuting you; and everybody will see the state of the case in ten minutes; so what’s the use of making a secret of it?
ELLIE He is not a hog, Hesione. You don’t know how wonderfully good he was to my father, and how deeply grateful I am to him.
MRS HUSHABYE [to LADY UTTERWORD]. Her father is a very remarkable man, Addy. His name is Mazzini Dunn. Mazziniko was a celebrity of some kind who knew Ellie’s grandparents. They were both poets, like the Brownings; and when her father came into the world Mazzini said, “Another soldier born for freedom!” So they christened him Mazzini; and he has been fighting for freedom in his quiet way ever since. That’s why he is so poor.
ELLIE I am proud of his poverty.
MRS HUSHABYE Of course you are, pettikins. Why not leave him in it, and marry someone you love?
LADY UTTERWORD [rising suddenly and explosively] Hesione, are you going to kiss me or are you not?
MRS HUSHABYE What do you want to be kissed for?
LADY UTTERWORD I don’t want to be kissed; but I do want you to behave properly and decently. We are sisters. We have been separated for twenty-three years. You ought to kiss me.
MRS HUSHABYE To-morrow morning, dear, before you make up. I hate the smell of powder.
LADY UTTERWOOD Oh! you unfeeling—[she is interrupted by the return of the captain].
THE CAPTAIN [to ELLIE] Your room is ready. [ELLIE rises.] The sheets were damp; but I have changed them [he makes for the garden door on the port side].
LADY UTTERWORD Oh! What about my sheets?
THE CAPTAIN [halting at the door] Take my advice: air them: or take them off and sleep in blankets. You shall sleep in Ariadne’s old room.
LADY UTTERWORD Indeed I shall do nothing of the sort. That little hole! I am entitled to the best spare room.
THE CAPTAIN [continuing unmoved] She married a numskull. She told me she would marry anyone to get away from home.
LADY UTTERWORD You are pretending not to know me on purpose. I will leave the house.
MAZZINI DUNN enters from the hall. He is a little elderly man with bulging credulous eyes and earnest manners. He is dressed in a blue serge jacket suit with an unbuttoned mackintosh over it, and carries a soft black hat of clerical cut.
ELLIE At last! Captain Shotover, here is my father.
THE CAPTAIN This! Nonsense! not a bit like him [he goes away through the garden, shutting the door sharply behind him].
LADY UTTERWORD I will not be ignored and pretended to be somebody else. I will have it out with Papa now, this instant. [To MAZZINI.] Excuse me. [She follows the captain out, making a hasty bow to MAZZINI, who returns it.]
MRS HUSHABYE [hospitably shaking hands] How good of you to come, Mr Dunn! You don’t mind Papa, do you? He is as mad as a hatter, you know, but quite harmless and extremely clever. You will have some delightful talks with him.
MAZZINI I hope so. [To ELLIE.] So here you are, Ellie, dear. [He draws her arm affectionately through his.] I must thank you, Mrs Hushabye, for your kindness to my daughter. I’m afraid she would have had no holiday if you had not invited her.
MRS HUSHABYE Not at all. Very nice of her to come and attract young people to the house for us.
MAZZINI [smiling] I’m afraid Ellie is not interested in young men, Mrs Hushabye. Her taste is on the graver, solider side.
MRS HUSHABYE [with a sudden rather hard brightness in her manner ] Won’t you take off your overcoat, Mr Dunn? You will find a cupboard for coats and hats and things in the corner of the hall.
MAZZINI [hastily releasing ELLIE] Yes—thank you—I had better—[he goes out].
MRS HUSHABYE [emphatically] The old brute!
MRS HUSHABYE Who! Him. He. It [pointing after MAZZINI]. “Graver, solider tastes,” indeed!
ELLIE [aghast] You don’t mean that you were speaking like that of my father!
MRS HUSHABYE I was.You know I was.
ELLIE [with dignity] I will leave your house at once. [She turns to the door.]
MRS HUSHABYE If you attempt it, I’ll tell your father why.
ELLIE [turning again] Oh! How can you treat a visitor like this, Mrs Hushabye?
MRS HUSHABYE I thought you were going to call me Hesione.
ELLIE Certainly not now?
MRS HUSHABYE Very well: I’ll tell your father.
ELLIE [distressed] Oh!
MRS HUSHABYE If you turn a hair—if you take his part against me and against your own heart for a moment, I’ll give that born soldier of freedom a piece of my mind that will stand him on his selfish old head for a week.
ELLIE Hesione! My father selfish! How little you know—She is interrupted by MAZZINI, who returns, excited and perspiring.
MAZZINI Ellie, Mangan has come: I thought you’d like to know. Excuse me, Mrs Hushabye, the strange old gentleman—
MRS HUSHABYE Papa. Quite so.
MAZZINI Oh, I beg your pardon, of course: I was a little confused by his manner. He is making Mangan help him with something in the garden; and he wants me too—A powerful whistle is heard.
THE CAPTAIN’ S VOICE Bosun ahoy! [the whistle is repeated].
MAZZINI [flustered] Oh dear! I believe he is whistling for me. [He hurries out.]
MRS HUSHABYE Now my father is a wonderful man if you like.
ELLIE Hesione, listen to me.You don’t understand. My father and Mr Mangan were boys together. Mr Ma—
MRS HUSHABYE I don’t care what they were: we must sit down if you are going to begin as far back as that. [She snatches at ELLIE’s waist, and makes her sit down on the sofa beside her.] Now, pettikins, tell me all about Mr Mangan. They call him Boss Mangan, don’t they? He is a Napoleon of industry and disgustingly rich, isn’t he? Why isn’t your father rich?
ELLIE My poor father should never have been in business. His parents were poets; and they gave him the noblest ideas; but they could not afford to give him a profession.
MRS HUSHABYE Fancy your grandparents, with their eyes in fine frenzy rolling! And so your poor father had to go into business. Hasn’t he succeeded in it?
ELLIE He always used to say he could succeed if he only had some capital. He fought his way along, to keep a roof over our heads and bring us up well; but it was always a struggle: always the same difficulty of not having capital enough. I don’t know how to describe it to you.
MRS HUSHABYE Poor Ellie! I know. Pulling the devil by the tail.
ELLIE [hurt] Oh, no. Not like that. It was at least dignified.
MRS HUSHABYE That made it all the harder, didn’t it? I shouldn’t have pulled the devil by the tail with dignity. I should have pulled hard—[between her teeth] hard. Well? Go on.
ELLIE At last it seemed that all our troubles were at an end. Mr Mangan did an extraordinarily noble thing out of pure friendship for my father and respect for his character. He asked him how much capital he wanted, and gave it to him. I don’t mean that he lent it to him, or that he invested it in his business. He just simply made him a present of it. Wasn’t that splendid of him?
MRS HUSHABYE On condition that you married him?
ELLIE Oh, no, no, no! This was when I was a child. He had never even seen me: he never came to our house. It was absolutely disinterested. Pure generosity.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh! I beg the gentleman’s pardon. Well, what became of the money?
ELLIE We all got new clothes and moved into another house. And I went to another school for two years.
MRS HUSHABYE Only two years?
ELLIE That was all: for at the end of two years my father was utterly ruined.
MRS HUSHABYE How?
ELLIE I don’t know. I never could understand. But it was dreadful. When we were poor my father had never been in debt. But when he launched out into business on a large scale, he had to incur liabilities. When the business went into liquidation he owed more money than Mr Mangan had given him.
MRS HUSHABYE Bit off more than he could chew, I suppose.
ELLIE I think you are a little unfeeling about it.
MRS HUSHABYE My pettikins, you mustn’t mind my way of talking. I was quite as sensitive and particular as you once; but I have picked up so much slang from the children that I am really hardly presentable. I suppose your father had no head for business, and made a mess of it.
ELLIE Oh, that just shows how entirely you are mistaken about him. The business turned out a great success. It now pays forty-four per cent after deducting the excess profits tax.
MRS HUSHABYE Then why aren’t you rolling in money?
ELLIE I don’t know. It seems very unfair to me.You see, my father was made bankrupt. It nearly broke his heart, because he had persuaded several of his friends to put money into the business. He was sure it would succeed; and events proved that he was quite right. But they all lost their money. It was dreadful. I don’t know what we should have done but for Mr Mangan.
MRS HUSHABYE What! Did the Boss come to the rescue again, after all his money being thrown away?
ELLIE He did indeed, and never uttered a reproach to my father. He bought what was left of the business—the buildings and the machinery and things—from the official trustee for enough money to enable my father to pay six and eightpence in the pound and get his discharge.kp Everyone pitied papa so much, and saw so plainly that he was an honorable man, that they let him off at six-and-eight-pence instead of ten shillings. Then Mr Mangan started a company to take up the business, and made my father a manager in it to save us from starvation; for I wasn’t earning anything then.
MRS HUSHABYE Quite a romance. And when did the Boss develop the tender passion?
ELLIE Oh, that was years after, quite lately. He took the chair one night at a sort of people’s concert. I was singing there. As an amateur, you know: half a guinea for expenses and three songs with three encores. He was so pleased with my singing that he asked might he walk home with me. I never saw anyone so taken aback as he was when I took him home and introduced him to my father, his own manager. It was then that my father told me how nobly he had behaved. Of course it was considered a great chance for me, as he is so rich. And—and—we drifted into a sort of understanding—I suppose I should call it an engagement—[she is distressed and cannot go on].
MRS HUSHABYE [rising and marching about] You may have drifted into it; but you will bounce out of it, my pettikins, if I am to have anything to do with it.
ELLIE [hopelessly] No: it’s no use. I am bound in honor and gratitude. I will go through with it.
MRS HUSHABYE [behind the sofa, scolding down at her] You know, of course, that it’s not honorable or grateful to marry a man you don’t love. Do you love this Mangan man?
ELLIE Yes. At least—
MRS HUSHABYE I don’t want to know about “at least”: I want to know the worst. Girls of your age fall in love with all sorts of impossible people, especially old people.
ELLIE I like Mr Mangan very much; and I shall always be—
MRS HUSHABYE [impatiently completing the sentence and prancing away intolerantly to starboard]—grateful to him for his kindness to dear father. I know. Anybody else?
ELLIE What do you mean?
MRS HUSHABYE Anybody else? Are you in love with anybody else?
ELLIE Of course not.
MRS HUSHABYE Humph! [The book on the drawing-table catches her eye. She picks it up, and evidently finds the title very unexpected. She looks at ELLIE, and asks, quaintly] Quite sure you’re not in love with an actor?
ELLIE No, no. Why? What put such a thing into your head?
MRS HUSHABYE This is yours, isn’t it? Why else should you be reading Othello?
ELLIE My father taught me to love Shakespeare.
MRS HUSHABYE [flinging the book down on the table] Really! your father does seem to be about the limit.
ELLIE [naïvely] Do you never read Shakespeare, Hesione? That seems to me so extraordinary. I like Othello.
MRS HUSHABYE Do you, indeed? He was jealous, wasn’t he?
ELLIE Oh, not that. I think all the part about jealousy is horrible. But don’t you think it must have been a wonderful experience for Desdemona, brought up so quietly at home, to meet a man who had been out in the world doing all sorts of brave things and having terrible adventures, and yet finding something in her that made him love to sit and talk with her and tell her about them?
MRS HUSHABYE That’s your idea of romance, is it?
ELLIE Not romance, exactly. It might really happen.
ELLIE’s eyes show that she is not arguing, but in a daydream. MRS HUSHABYE, watching her inquisitively, goes deliberately back to the sofa and resumes her seat beside her.
MRS HUSHABYE Ellie darling, have you noticed that some of those stories that Othello told Desdemona couldn’t have happened?
ELLIE Oh, no. Shakespeare thought they could have happened.
MRS HUSHABYE Um! Desdemona thought they could have happened. But they didn’t.
ELLIE Why do you look so enigmatic about it?You are such a sphinx: I never know what you mean.
MRS HUSHABYE Desdemona would have found him out if she had lived, you know. I wonder was that why he strangled her!
ELLIE Othello was not telling lies.
MRS HUSHABYE How do you know?
ELLIE Shakespeare would have said if he was. Hesione, there are men who have done wonderful things: men like Othello, only, of course, white, and very handsome, and—
MRS HUSHABYE Ah! Now we’re coming to it. Tell me all about him. I knew there must be somebody, or you’d never have been so miserable about Mangan: you’d have thought it quite a lark to marry him.
ELLIE [blushing vividly] Hesione, you are dreadful. But I don’t want to make a secret of it, though of course I don’t tell everybody. Besides, I don’t know him.
MRS HUSHABYE Don’t know him! What does that mean?
ELLIE Well, of course I know him to speak to.
MRS HUSHABYE But you want to know him ever so much more intimately, eh?
ELLIE No, no: I know him quite—almost intimately.
MRS HUSHABYE You don’t know him; and you know him almost intimately. How lucid!
ELLIE I mean that he does not call on us. I—I got into conversation with him by chance at a concert.
MRS HUSHABYE You seem to have rather a gay time at your concerts, Ellie.
ELLIE Not at all: we talk to everyone in the green-room waiting for our turns. I thought he was one of the artists: he looked so splendid. But he was only one of the committee. I happened to tell him that I was copying a picture at the National Gallery. I make a little money that way. I can’t paint much; but as it’s always the same picture I can do it pretty quickly and get two or three pounds for it. It happened that he came to the National Gallery one day.
MRS HUSHABYE On students’ day. Paid sixpence to stumble about through a crowd of easels, when he might have come in next day for nothing and found the floor clear! Quite by accident?
ELLIE [triumphantly] No. On purpose. He liked talking to me. He knows lots of the most splendid people. Fashionable women who are all in love with him. But he ran away from them to see me at the National Gallery and persuade me to come with him for a drive round Richmond Park in a taxi.
MRS HUSHABYE My pettikins, you have been going it. It’s wonderful what you good girls can do without anyone saying a word.
ELLIE I am not in society, Hesione. If I didn’t make acquaintances in that way I shouldn’t have any at all.
MRS HUSHABYE Well, no harm if you know how to take care of yourself. May I ask his name?
ELLIE [slowly and musically] Marcus Darnley.
MRS HUSHABYE [echoing the music] Marcus Darnley! What a splendid name!
ELLIE Oh, I’m so glad you think so. I think so too; but I was afraid it was only a silly fancy of my own.
MRS HUSHABYE Hm! Is he one of the Aberdeen Darnleys?
ELLIE Nobody knows. Just fancy! He was found in an antique chest—
MRS HUSHABYE A what?
ELLIE An antique chest, one summer morning in a rose garden, after a night of the most terrible thunderstorm.
MRS HUSHABYE What on earth was he doing in the chest? Did he get into it because he was afraid of the lightning?
ELLIE Oh, no, no: he was a baby. The name Marcus Darnley was embroidered on his baby clothes. And five hundred pounds in gold.
MRS HUSHABYE [looking hard at her] Ellie!
ELLIE The garden of the Viscount—
MRS HUSHABYE—de Rougemont?kq
ELLIE [innocently] No: de Larochejaquelin. A French family. A vicomte. His life has been one long romance. A tiger—
MRS HUSHABYE Slain by his own hand?
ELLIE Oh, no: nothing vulgar like that. He saved the life of the tiger from a hunting party: one of King Edward’s hunting parties in India. The King was furious: that was why he never had his military services properly recognized. But he doesn’t care. He is a Socialist and despises rank, and has been in three revolutions fighting on the barricades.
MRS HUSHABYE How can you sit there telling me such lies? You, Ellie, of all people! And I thought you were a perfectly simple, straightforward, good girl.
ELLIE [rising, dignified but very angry] Do you mean to say you don’t believe me?
MRS HUSHABYE Of course I don’t believe you. You’re inventing every word of it. Do you take me for a fool?
ELLIE stares at her. Her candor is so obvious that MRS HUSHABYE is puzzled.
ELLIE Goodbye, Hesione. I’m very sorry. I see now that it sounds very improbable as I tell it. But I can’t stay if you think that way about me.
MRS HUSHABYE [catching her dress] You shan’t go. I couldn’t be so mistaken: I know too well what liars are like. Somebody has really told you all this.
ELLIE [flushing] Hesione, don’t say that you don’t believe him. I couldn’t bear that.
MRS HUSHABYE [soothing her] Of course I believe him, dearest. But you should have broken it to me by degrees. [Drawing her back to her seat.] Now tell me all about him. Are you in love with him?
ELLIE Oh, no. I’m not so foolish. I don’t fall in love with people. I’m not so silly as you think.
MRS HUSHABYE I see. Only something to think about—to give some interest and pleasure to life.
ELLIE Just so. That’s all, really.
MRS HUSHABYE It makes the hours go fast, doesn’t it? No tedious waiting to go to sleep at nights and wondering whether you will have a bad night. How delightful it makes waking up in the morning! How much better than the happiest dream! All life transfigured! No more wishing one had an interesting book to read, because life is so much happier than any book! No desire but to be alone and not to have to talk to anyone: to be alone and just think about it.
ELLIE [embracing her] Hesione, you are a witch. How do you know? Oh, you are the most sympathetic woman in the world!
MRS HUSHABYE [caressing her] Pettikins, my pettikins, how I envy you! and how I pity you!
ELLIE Pity me! Oh, why?
A very handsome man of fifty, with mousquetaire moustaches, wearing a rather dandified curly brimmed hat, and carrying an elaborate walking-stick, comes into the room from the hall, and stops short at sight of the women on the sofa.
ELLIE [seeing him and rising in glad surprise] Oh! Hesione: this is Mr Marcus Darnley.
MRS HUSHABYE [rising] What a lark! He is my husband.
ELLIE But now—[she stops suddenly: then turns pale and sways].
MRS HUSHABYE [catching her and sitting down with her on the sofa] Steady, my pettikins.
THE MAN [with a mixture of confusion and effrontery, depositing his hat and stick on the teak table] My real name, Miss Dunn, is Hector Hushabye. I leave you to judge whether that is a name any sensitive man would care to confess so. I never use it when I can possibly help it. I have been away for nearly a month; and I had no idea you knew my wife, or that you were coming here. I am none the less delighted to find you in our little house.
ELLIE [in great distress] I don’t know what to do. Please, may I speak to papa? Do leave me. I can’t bear it.
MRS HUSHABYE Be off, Hector.
MRS HUSHABYE Quick, quick. Get out.
HECTOR If you think it better—[he goes out, taking his hat with him but leaving the stick on the table].
MRS HUSHABYE [laying ELLIE down at the end of the sofa] Now, pettikins, he is gone. There’s nobody but me. You can let yourself go. Don’t try to control yourself. Have a good cry.
ELLIE [raising her head] Damn!
MRS HUSHABYE Splendid! Oh, what a relief! I thought you were going to be broken-hearted. Never mind me. Damn him again.
ELLIE I am not damning him. I am damning myself for being such a fool. [Rising.] How could I let myself be taken in so? [She begins prowling to and fro, her bloom gone, looking curiously older and harder.]
MRS HUSHABYE [cheerfully] Why not, pettikins? Very few young women can resist Hector. I couldn’t when I was your age. He is really rather splendid, you know.
ELLIE [turning on her] Splendid! Yes, splendid looking, of course. But how can you love a liar?
MRS HUSHABYE I don’t know. But you can, fortunately. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much love in the world.
ELLIE But to lie like that! To be a boaster! a coward!
MRS HUSHABYE [rising in alarm] Pettikins, none of that, if you please. If you hint the slightest doubt of Hector’s courage, he will go straight off and do the most horribly dangerous things to convince himself that he isn’t a coward. He has a dreadful trick of getting out of one third-floor window and coming in at another, just to test his nerve. He has a whole drawerful of Albert Medalskr for saving people’s lives.
ELLIE He never told me that.
MRS HUSHABYE He never boasts of anything he really did: he can’t bear it; and it makes him shy if anyone else does. All his stories are made-up stories.
ELLIE [coming to her] Do you mean that he is really brave, and really has adventures, and yet tells lies about things that he never did and that never happened?
MRS HUSHABYE Yes, pettikins, I do. People don’t have their virtues and vices in sets: they have them anyhow: all mixed.
ELLIE [staring at her thoughtfully] There’s something odd about this house, Hesione, and even about you. I don’t know why I’m talking to you so calmly. I have a horrible fear that my heart is broken, but that heartbreak is not like what I thought it must be.
MRS HUSHABYE [fondling her] It’s only life educating you, pettikins. How do you feel about Boss Mangan now?
ELLIE [disengaging herself with an expression of distaste] Oh, how can you remind me of him, Hesione?
MRS HUSHABYE Sorry, dear. I think I hear Hector coming back. You don’t mind now, do you, dear?
ELLIE Not in the least. I am quite cured.
MAZZINI DUNN and HECTOR come in from the hall.
HECTOR [as he opens the door and allows MAZZINI to pass in] One second more, and she would have been a dead woman!
MAZZINI Dear! dear! what an escape! Ellie, my love, Mr Hushabye has just been telling me the most extraordinary—
ELLIE Yes, I’ve heard it [she crosses to the other side of the room].
HECTOR [following her] Not this one: I’ll tell it to you after dinner. I think you’ll like it. The truth is I made it up for you, and was looking forward to the pleasure of telling it to you. But in a moment of impatience at being turned out of the room, I threw it away on your father.
ELLIE [turning at bay with her back to the carpenter’s bench, scornfully self-possessed] It was not thrown away. He believes it. I should not have believed it.
MAZZINI [benevolently] Ellie is very naughty, Mr Hushabye. Of course she does not really think that. [He goes to the bookshelves, and inspects the titles of the volumes.]
BOSS MANGAN comes in from the hall, followed by the captain. MANGAN, carefully frock-coated as for church or for a directors’ meeting, is about fifty-five, with a care-worn, mistrustful expression, standing a little on an entirely imaginary dignity, with a dull complexion, straight, lustreless hair, and features so entirely commonplace that it is impossible to describe them.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [to MRS HUSHABYE, introducing the newcomer] Says his name is Mangan. Not able-bodied.
MRS HUSHABYE [graciously] How do you do, Mr Mangan?
MANGAN [shaking hands] Very pleased.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Dunn’s lost his muscle, but recovered his nerve. Men seldom do after three attacks of delirium tremens [he goes into the pantry].
MRS HUSHABYE I congratulate you, Mr Dunn.
MAZZINI [dazed] I am a lifelong teetotaler.
MRS HUSHABYE You will find it far less trouble to let papa have his own way than try to explain.
MAZZINI But three attacks of delirium tremens, really!
MRS HUSHABYE [to MANGAN] Do you know my husband, Mr Mangan [she indicates HECTOR].
MANGAN [going to HECTOR, who meets him with outstretched hand] Very pleased. [Turning to ELLIE.] I hope, Miss Ellie, you have not found the journey down too fatiguing. [They shake hands.]
MRS HUSHABYE Hector, show Mr Dunn his room.
HECTOR Certainly. Come along, Mr Dunn. [He takes MAZZINI out.]
ELLIE You haven’t shown me my room yet, Hesione.
MRS HUSHABYE How stupid of me! Come along. Make yourself quite at home, Mr Mangan. Papa will entertain you. [She calls to the captain in the pantry.] Papa, come and explain the house to Mr Mangan.
She goes out with ELLIE. The captain comes from the pantry.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You’re going to marry Dunn’s daughter. Don’t. You’re too old.
MANGAN [staggered] Well! That’s fairly blunt, Captain.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It’s true.
MANGAN She doesn’t think so.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER She does.
MANGAN Older men than I have—
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [finishing the sentence for him]—made fools of themselves. That, also, is true.
MANGAN [asserting himself] I don’t see that this is any business of yours.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It is everybody’s business. The stars in their courses are shaken when such things happen.
MANGAN I’m going to marry her all the same.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER How do you know?
MANGAN [playing the strong man] I intend to. I mean to. See? I never made up my mind to do a thing yet that I didn’t bring it off. That’s the sort of man I am; and there will be a better understanding between us when you make up your mind to that, Captain.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You frequent picture palaces.
MANGAN Perhaps I do. Who told you?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Talk like a man, not like a movy.You mean that you make a hundred thousand a year.
MANGAN I don’t boast. But when I meet a man that makes a hundred thousand a year, I take off my hat to that man, and stretch out my hand to him and call him brother.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Then you also make a hundred thousand a year, hey?
MANGAN No. I can’t say that. Fifty thousand, perhaps.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER His half brother only [he turns away from MANGAN with his usual abruptness, and collects the empty tea-cups on the Chinese tray].
MANGAN [irritated] See here, Captain Shotover. I don’t quite understand my position here. I came here on your daughter’s invitation. Am I in her house or in yours?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You are beneath the dome of heaven, in the house of God. What is true within these walls is true outside them. Go out on the seas; climb the mountains; wander through the valleys. She is still too young.
MANGAN [weakening] But I’m very little over fifty.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You are still less under sixty. Boss Mangan, you will not marry the pirate’s child [he carries the tray away into the pantry].
MANGAN [following him to the half door] What pirate’s child? What are you talking about?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [in the pantry] Ellie Dunn. You will not marry her.
MANGAN Who will stop me?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [emerging] My daughter [he makes for the door leading to the hall].
MANGAN [followins him] Mrs Hushabye! Do you mean to say she brought me down here to break it off?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [stopping and turning on him] I know nothing more than I have seen in her eye. She will break it off. Take my advice: marry a West Indian negress: they make excellent wives. I was married to one myself for two years.
MANGAN Well, I am damned!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I thought so. I was, too, for many years. The negress redeemed me.
MANGAN [feebly] This is queer. I ought to walk out of this house.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Why?
MANGAN Well, many men would be offended by your style of talking.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Nonsense! It’s the other sort of talking that makes quarrels. Nobody ever quarrels with me.
A gentleman, whose first-rate tailoring and frictionless manners proclaim the wellbred West Ender, comes in from the hall. He has an engaging air of being young and unmarried, but on close inspection is found to be at least over forty.
THE GENTLEMAN Excuse my intruding in this fashion, but there is no knocker on the door and the bell does not seem to ring.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Why should there be a knocker? Why should the bell ring? The door is open.
THE GENTLEMAN Precisely. So I ventured to come in.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Quite right. I will see about a room for you [he makes for the door].
THE GENTLEMAN [stopping him] But I’m afraid you don’t know who I am.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Do you suppose that at my age I make distinctions between one fellowcreature and another? [He goes out. MANGAN and the newcomer stare at one another.]
MANGAN Strange character, Captain Shotover, sir.
THE GENTLEMAN Very.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [shouting outside] Hesione, another person has arrived and wants a room. Man about town, well dressed, fifty.
THE GENTLEMAN Fancy Hesione’s feelings! May I ask are you a member of the family?
THE GENTLEMAN I am. At least a connection.
MRS HUSHABYE comes back.
MRS HUSHABYE How do you do? How good of you to come!
THE GENTLEMAN I am very glad indeed to make your acquaintance, Hesione. [Instead of taking her hand he kisses her. At the same moment the captain appears in the doorway.] You will excuse my kissing your daughter, Captain, when I tell you that—
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Stuff! Everyone kisses my daughter. Kiss her as much as you like [he makes for the pantry].
THE GENTLEMAN Thank you. One moment, Captain. [The captain halts and turns. The gentleman goes to him affably.] Do you happen to remember—but probably you don‘t, as it occurred many years ago—that your younger daughter married a numskull?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Yes. She said she’d marry anybody to get away from this house. I should not have recognized you: your head is no longer like a walnut. Your aspect is softened. You have been boiled in bread and milk for years and years, like other married men. Poor devil! [He disappears into the pantry.]
MRS HUSHABYE [going past MANGAN to the gentleman and scrutinizing him]. I don’t believe you are Hastings Utterword.
THE GENTLEMAN I am not.
MRS HUSHABYE Then what business had you to kiss me?
THE GENTLEMAN I thought I would like to. The fact is, I am Randall Utterword, the unworthy younger brother of Hastings. I was abroad diplomatizing when he was married.
LADY UTTERWORD [dashing in] Hesione, where is the key of the wardrobe in my room? My diamonds are in my dressing-bag: I must lock it up—[recognizing the stranger with a shock] Randall, how dare you? [She marches at him past MRS HUSHABYE, who retreats and joins MANGAN near the sofa.]
RANDALL How dare I what? I am not doing anything.
LADY UTTERWORD Who told you I was here?
RANDALL Hastings. You had just left when I called on you at Claridge’s; so I followed you down here. You are looking extremely well.
LADY UTTERWORD Don’t presume to tell me so.
MRS HUSHABYE What is wrong with Mr Randall, Addy?
LADY UTTERWORD [recollecting herself] Oh, nothing. But he has no right to come bothering you and papa without being invited [she goes to the window-seat and sits down, turning away from them ill-humoredly and looking into the garden, where HECTOR and ELLIE are now seen strolling together].
MRS HUSHABYE I think you have not met Mr Mangan, Addy.
LADY UTTERWORD [turning her head and nodding coldly to MANGAN] I beg your pardon. Randall, you have flustered me so: I make a perfect fool of myself.
MRS HUSHABYE Lady Utterword. My sister. My younger sister.
MANGAN [bowing] Pleased to meet you, Lady Utterword.
LADY UTTERWORD [with marked interest] Who is that gentleman walking in the garden with Miss Dunn?
MRS HUSHABYE I don’t know. She quarrelled mortally with my husband only ten minutes ago; and I didn’t know anyone else had come. It must be a visitor. [She goes to the window to look.] Oh, it is Hector. They’ve made it up.
LADY UTTERWORD Your husband! That handsome man?
MRS HUSHABYE Well, why shouldn’t my husband be a handsome man?
RANDALL [joining them at the window] One’s husband never is, Ariadne [he sits by LADY UTTERWORD, on her right].
MRS HUSHABYE One’s sister’s husband always is, Mr Randall.
LADY UTTERWORD Don’t be vulgar, Randall. And you, Hesione, are just as bad.
ELLIE and HECTOR come in from the garden by the starboard door. Randall rises. ELLIE retires into the corner near the pantry. HECTOR comes forward; and LADY UTTERWORD rises looking her very best.
MRS. HUSHABYE Hector, this is Addy.
HECTOR [apparently surprised] Not this lady.
LADY UTTERWORD [smiling] Why not?
HECTOR [looking at her with a piercing glance of deep but respectful admiration, his moustache bristling] I thought—[pulling himself together]. I beg your pardon, Lady Utterword. I am extremely glad to welcome you at last under our roof [he offers his hand with grave courtesy].
MRS HUSHABYE She wants to be kissed, Hector.
LADY UTTERWORD Hesione! [But she still smiles.]
MRS HUSHABYE Call her Addy; and kiss her like a good brother-in-law; and have done with it. [She leaves them to themselves. ]
HECTOR Behave yourself, Hesione. Lady Utterword is entitled not only to hospitality but to civilization.
LADY UTTERWORD [gratefully] Thank you, Hector. [They shake hands cordially.]
MAZZINI DUNN is seen crossing the garden from starboard to port.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [coming from the pantry and addressing ELLIE] Your father has washed himself.
ELLIE [quite self-possessed] He often does, Captain Shotover.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER A strange conversion! I saw him through the pantry window.
MAZZINI DUNN enters through the port window door, newly washed and brushed, and stops, smiling benevolently, between MANGAN and MRS HUSHABYE.
MRS HUSHABYE [introducing] Mr Mazzini Dunn, Lady Ut—oh, I forgot: you’ve met. [Indicating ELLIE] Miss Dunn.
MAZZINI [walking across the room to take ELLIE’s hand, and beaming at his own naughty irony] I have met Miss Dunn also. She is my daughter. [He draws her arm through his caressingly.]
MRS HUSHABYE Of course: how stupid! Mr Utterword, my sister‘s—er—
RANDALL [shaking hands agreeably] Her brother-in-law, Mr Dunn. How do you do?
MRS HUSHABYE This is my husband.
HECTOR We have met, dear. Don’t introduce us any more. [He moves away to the big chair, and adds] Won’t you sit down, Lady Utterword? [She does so very graciously.]
MRS HUSHABYE Sorry. I hate it: it’s like making people show their tickets.
MAZZINI [sententiously] How little it tells us, after all! The great question is, not who we are, but what we are.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Ha! What are you?
MAZZINI [taken aback] What am I?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER A thief, a pirate, and a murderer.
MAZZINI I assure you you are mistaken.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER An adventurous life; but what does it end in? Respectability. A ladylike daughter. The language and appearance of a city missionary. Let it be a warning to all of you [he goes out through the garden].
DUNN I hope nobody here believes that I am a thief, a pirate, or a murderer. Mrs Hushabye, will you excuse me a moment? I must really go and explain. [He follows the captain.]
MRS HUSHABYE [as he goes] It’s no use.You’d really better—[but DUNN has vanished]. We had better all go out and look for some tea. We never have regular tea; but you can always get some when you want: the servants keep it stewing all day. The kitchen veranda is the best place to ask. May I show you? [She goes to the starboard door.
RANDALL [going with her] Thank you, I don’t think I’ll take any tea this afternoon. But if you will show me the garden—
MRS HUSHABYE There’s nothing to see in the garden except papa’s observatory, and a gravel pit with a cave where he keeps dynamite and things of that sort. However, it’s pleasanter out of doors; so come along.
RANDALL Dynamite! Isn’t that rather risky?
MRS HUSHABYE Well, we don’t sit in the gravel pit when there’s a thunderstorm.
LADY UTTERWORD That’s something new. What is the dynamite for?
HECTOR To blow up the human race if it goes too far. He is trying to discover a psychic ray that will explode all the explosive at the will of a Mahatma.ks
ELLIE The captain’s tea is delicious, Mr Utterword.
MRS HUSHABYE [stopping in the doorway] Do you mean to say that you’ve had some of my father’s tea? that you got round him before you were ten minutes in the house?
ELLIE I did.
MRS HUSHABYE You little devil! [She goes out with RANDALL.]
MANGAN Won’t you come, Miss Ellie?
ELLIE I’m too tired. I’ll take a book up to my room and rest a little. [She goes to the bookshelf.]
MANGAN Right. You can’t do better. But I’m disappointed. [He follows RANDALL and MRS HUSHABYE.]
ELLIE, HECTOR, and LADY UTTERWORD are left. HECTOR is close to LADY UTTERWORD. They look at ELLIE, waiting for her to go.
ELLIE [looking at the title of a book] Do you like stories of adventure, Lady Utterword?
LADY UTTERWORD [patronizingly] Of course, dear.
ELLIE Then I’ll leave you to Mr Hushabye. [She goes out through the hall.]
HECTOR That girl is mad about tales of adventure. The lies I have to tell her!
LADY UTTERWORD [not interested in ELLIE] When you saw me what did you mean by saying that you thought, and then stopping short? What did you think?
HECTOR [folding his arms and looking down at her magnetically] May I tell you?
LADY UTTERWORD Of course.
HECTOR It will not sound very civil. I was on the point of saying, “I thought you were a plain woman.”
LADY UTTERWORD Oh, for shame, Hector! What right had you to notice whether I am plain or not?
HECTOR Listen to me, Ariadne. Until today I have seen only photographs of you; and no photograph can give the strange fascination of the daughters of that supernatural old man. There is some damnable quality in them that destroys men’s moral sense, and carries them beyond honor and dishonor. You know that, don’t you?
LADY UTTERWORD Perhaps I do, Hector. But let me warn you once for all that I am a rigidly conventional woman. You may think because I’m a Shotover that I’m a Bohemian, because we are all so horribly Bohemian. But I’m not. I hate and loathe Bohemianism. No child brought up in a strict Puritan household ever suffered from Puritanism as I suffered from our Bohemianism.
HECTOR Our children are like that. They spend their holidays in the houses of their respectable schoolfellows.
LADY UTTERWORD I shall invite them for Christmas.
HECTOR Their absence leaves us both without our natural chaperones.
LADY UTTERWORD Children are certainly very inconvenient sometimes. But intelligent people can always manage, unless they are Bohemians.
HECTOR You are no Bohemian; but you are no Puritan either: your attraction is alive and powerful. What sort of woman do you count yourself?
LADY UTTERWORD I am a woman of the world, Hector; and I can assure you that if you will only take the trouble always to do the perfectly correct thing, and to say the perfectly correct thing, you can do just what you like. An ill-conducted, careless woman gets simply no chance. An ill-conducted, careless man is never allowed within arm’s length of any woman worth knowing.
HECTOR I see. You are neither a Bohemian woman nor a Puritan woman. You are a dangerous woman.
LADY UTTERWORD On the contrary, I am a safe woman.
HECTOR You are a most accursedly attractive woman. Mind, I am not making love to you. I do not like being attracted. But you had better know how I feel if you are going to stay here.
LADY UTTERWORD You are an exceedingly clever lady-killer, Hector. And terribly handsome. I am quite a good player, myself, at that game. Is it quite understood that we are only playing?
HECTOR Quite. I am deliberately playing the fool, out of sheer worthlessness.
LADY UTTERWORD [rising brightly] Well, you are my brother-in-law. Hesione asked you to kiss me. [He seizes her in his arms and kisses her strenuously.] Oh! that was a little more than play, brother-in-law. [She pushes him suddenly away.] You shall not do that again.
HECTOR In effect, you got your claws deeper into me than I intended.
MRS HUSHABYE [coming in from the garden] Don’t let me disturb you; I only want a cap to put on daddiest. The sun is setting; and he’ll catch cold [she makes for the door leading to the hall].
LADY UTTERWORD Your husband is quite charming, darling. He has actually condescended to kiss me at last. I shall go into the garden: it’s cooler now [she goes out by the port door].
MRS HUSHABYE Take care, dear child. I don’t believe any man can kiss Addy without falling in love with her. [She goes into the hall.]
HECTOR [striking himself on the chest] Fool! Goat!
MRS HUSHABYE comes back with the captain’s cap.
HECTOR Your sister is an extremely enterprising old girl. Where’s Miss Dunn!
MRS HUSHABYE Mangan says she has gone up to her room for a nap. Addy won’t let you talk to Ellie: she has marked you for her own.
HECTOR She has the diabolical family fascination. I began making love to her automatically. What am I to do? I can’t fall in love; and I can’t hurt a woman’s feelings by telling her so when she falls in love with me. And as women are always falling in love with my moustache I get landed in all sorts of tedious and terrifying flirtations in which I’m not a bit in earnest.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, neither is Addy. She has never been in love in her life, though she has always been trying to fall in head over ears. She is worse than you, because you had one real go at least, with me.
HECTOR That was a confounded madness. I can’t believe that such an amazing experience is common. It has left its mark on me. I believe that is why I have never been able to repeat it.
MRS HUSHABYE [laughing and caressing his arm] We were frightfully in love with one another, Hector. It was such an enchanting dream that I have never been able to grudge it to you or anyone else since. I have invited all sorts of pretty women to the house on the chance of giving you another turn. But it has never come off.
HECTOR I don’t know that I want it to come off. It was damned dangerous. You fascinated me; but I loved you; so it was heaven. This sister of yours fascinates me; but I hate her; so it is hell. I shall kill her if she persists.
MRS HUSHABYE Nothing will kill Addy; she is as strong as a horse. [Releasing him.] Now I am going off to fascinate somebody.
HECTOR The Foreign Office toff?kt Randall?
MRS HUSHABYE Goodness gracious, no! Why should I fascinate him?
HECTOR I presume you don’t mean the bloated capitalist, Mangan?
MRS HUSHABYE Hm! I think he had better be fascinated by me than by Ellie. [She is going into the garden when the captain comes in from it with some sticks in his hand.] What have you got there, daddiest?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Dynamite.
MRS HUSHABYE You’ve been to the gravel pit. Don’t drop it about the house, there’s a dear. [She goes into the garden, where the evening light is now very red.]
HECTOR Listen, O sage. How long dare you concentrate on a feeling without risking having it fixed in your consciousness all the rest of your life?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Ninety minutes. An hour and a half. [He goes into the pantry. ]
HECTOR, left alone, contracts his brows, and falls into a day-dream. He does not move for some time. Then he folds his arms. Then, throwing his hands behind him, and gripping one with the other, he strides tragically once to and fro. Suddenly he snatches his walking-stick from the teak table, and draws it; for it is a sword-stick. He fights a desperate duel with an imaginary antagonist, and after many vicissitudes runs him through the body up to the hilt. He sheathes his sword and throws it on the sofa, falling into another reverie as he does so. He looks straight into the eyes of an imaginary woman; seizes her by the arms; and says in a deep and thrilling tone, “Do you love me!” The captain comes out of the pantry at this moment; and HECTOR, caught with his arms stretched out and his fists clenched, has to account for his attitude by going through a series of gymnastic exercises.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER That sort of strength is no good.You will never be as strong as a gorilla.
HECTOR What is the dynamite for?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER To kill fellows like Mangan.
HECTOR No use. They will always be able to buy more dynamite than you.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I will make a dynamite that he cannot explode.
HECTOR And that you can, eh?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Yes: when I have attained the seventh degree of concentration.
HECTOR What’s the use of that? You never do attain it.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What then is to be done? Are we to be kept forever in the mud by these hogs to whom the universe is nothing but a machine for greasing their bristles and filling their snouts?
HECTOR Are Mangan’s bristles worse than Randall’s love-locks? ku
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER We must win powers of life and death over them both. I refuse to die until I have invented the means.
HECTOR Who are we that we should judge them?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What are they that they should judge us? Yet they do, unhesitatingly. There is enmity between our seed and their seed. They know it and act on it, strangling our souls. They believe in themselves. When we believe in ourselves, we shall kill them.
HECTOR It is the same seed.You forget that your pirate has a very nice daughter. Mangan’s son may be a Plato: Randall’s a Shelley. What was my father?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The damndest scoundrel I ever met. [He replaces the drawing-board: sits down at the table; and begins to mix a wash of color.]
HECTOR Precisely. Well, dare you kill his innocent grand-children?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER They are mine also.
HECTOR Just so. We are members one of another. [He throws himself carelessly on the sofa.] I I tell you I have often thought of this killing of human vermin. Many men have thought of it. Decent men are like Daniel in the lion’s den: their survival is a miracle; and they do not always survive. We live among the Mangans and Randalls and Billie Dunns as they, poor devils, live among the disease germs and the doctors and the lawyers and the parsons and the restaurant chefs and the tradesmen and the servants and all the rest of the parasites and blackmailers. What are our terrors to theirs? Give me the power to kill them; and I’ll spare them in sheer—
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [cutting in sharply] Fellow feeling?
HECTOR No. I should kill myself if I believed that. I must believe that my spark, small as it is, is divine, and that the red light over their door is hell fire. I should spare them in simple magnanimous pity.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You can’t spare them until you have the power to kill them. At present they have the power to kill you. There are millions of blacks over the water for them to train and let loose on us. They’re going to do it. They’re doing it already.
HECTOR They are too stupid to use their power. CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [throwing down his brush and coming to the end of the sofa] Do not deceive yourself: they do use it. We kill the better half of ourselves every day to propitiate them. The knowledge that these people are there to render all our aspirations barren prevents us having the aspirations. And when we are tempted to seek their destruction they bring forth demons to delude us, disguised as pretty daughters, and singers and poets and the like, for whose sake we spare them.
HECTOR [sitting up and leaning towards him] May not Hesione be such a demon, brought forth by you lest I should slay you? CAPTAIN SHOTOVER That is possible. She has used you up, and left you nothing but dreams, as some women do. HECTOR Vampire women, demon women.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Men think the world well lost for them, and lose it accordingly. Who are the men that do things? The husbands of the shrew and of the drunkard, the men with the thorn in the flesh. [Walking distractedly away towards the pantry.] I must think these things out. [Turning suddenly.] But I go on with the dynamite none the less. I will discover a ray mightier than any X-ray: a mind ray that will explode the ammunition in the belt of my adversary before he can point his gun at me. And I must hurry. I am old: I have no time to waste in talk [he is about to go into the pantry, and HECTOR is making for the hall, when HESIONE comes back].
MRS HUSHABYE Daddiest, you and Hector must come and help me to entertain all these people. What on earth were you shouting about?
HECTOR [stopping in the act of turning the door handle] He is madder than usual.
MRS HUSHABYE We all are.
HECTOR I must change [he resumes his door opening].
MRS HUSHABYE Stop, stop. Come back, both of you. Come back. [They return, reluctantly.] Money is running short.
HECTOR Money! Where are my April dividends?
MRS HUSHABYE Where is the snow that fell last year?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Where is all the money you had for that patent lifeboat I invented?
MRS HUSHABYE Five hundred pounds; and I have made it last since Easter!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Since Easter! Barely four months! Monstrous extravagance! I could live for seven years on £500.
MRS HUSHABYE Not keeping open house as we do here, daddiest.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Only £500 for that lifeboat! I got twelve thousand for the invention before that.
MRS HUSHABYE Yes, dear; but that was for the ship with the magnetic keel that sucked up submarines. Living at the rate we do, you cannot afford life-saving inventions. Can’t you think of something that will murder half Europe at one bang?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No. I am ageing fast. My mind does not dwell on slaughter as it did when I was a boy. Why doesn’t your husband invent something? He does nothing but tell lies to women.
HECTOR Well, that is a form of invention, is it not? However, you are right: I ought to support my wife.
MRS HUSHABYE Indeed you shall do nothing of the sort: I should never see you from breakfast to dinner. I want my husband.
HECTOR [bitterly] I might as well be your lapdog.
MRS HUSHABYE Do you want to be my breadwinner, like the other poor husbands?
HECTOR No, by thunder! What a damned creature a husband is anyhow!
MRS HUSHABYE [to the captain] What about that harpoon cannon?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No use. It kills whales, not men.
MRS HUSHABYE Why not?You fire the harpoon out of a cannon, it sticks in the enemy’s general; you wind him in; and there you are.
HECTOR You are your father’s daughter, Hesione.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER There is something in it. Not to wind in generals: they are not dangerous. But one could fire a grapnel and wind in a machine gun or even a tank. I will think it out.
MRS HUSHABYE [squeezing the captain’s arm affectionately] Saved! You are a darling, daddiest. Now we must go back to these dreadful people and entertain them.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER They have had no dinner. Don’t forget that.
HECTOR Neither have I. And it is dark: it must be all hours.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, Guinness will produce some sort of dinner for them. The servants always take jolly good care that there is food in the house.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [raising a strange wail in the darkness] What a house! What a daughter!
MRS HUSHABYE [raving] What a father!
HECTOR [following suit] What a husband!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Is there no thunder in heaven?
HECTOR Is there no beauty, no bravery, on earth?
MRS HUSHABYE What do men want? They have their food, their firesides, their clothes mended, and our love at the end of the day. Why are they not satisfied? Why do they envy us the pain with which we bring them into the world, and make strange dangers and torments for themselves to be even with us?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [weirdly chanting]
I builded a house for my daughters, and opened the doors thereof,
That men might come for their choosing, and their betters spring from their love;
But one of them married a numskull;
HECTOR [taking up the rhythm]
The other a liar wed;
MRS HUSHABYE [completing the stanza]
And now must she lie beside him, even as she made her bed.
LADY UTTERWORD [calling from the garden] Hesione! Hesione! Where are you?
HECTOR The cat is on the tiles.kv
MRS HUSHABYE Coming, darling, coming [she goes quickly into the garden].
The captain goes back to his place at the table.
HECTOR [going out into the hall] Shall I turn up the lights for you?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No. Give me deeper darkness. Money is not made in the light.
The same room, with the lights turned up and the curtains drawn. Ellie comes in, followed by Mangan. Both are dressed for dinner. She strolls to the drawing-table. He comes between the table and the wicker chair.
MANGAN What a dinner! I don’t call it a dinner: I call it a meal.
ELLIE I am accustomed to meals, Mr Mangan, and very lucky to get them. Besides, the captain cooked some maccaroni for me.
MANGAN [shuddering liverishly] Too rich: I can’t eat such things. I suppose it’s because I have to work so much with my brain. That’s the worst of being a man of business: you are always thinking, thinking, thinking. By the way, now that we are alone, may I take the opportunity to come to a little understanding with you?
ELLIE [settling into the draughtsman seat] Certainly. I should like to.
MANGAN [taken aback] Should you? That surprises me; for I thought I noticed this afternoon that you avoided me all you could. Not for the first time either.
ELLIE I was very tired and upset. I wasn’t used to the ways of this extraordinary house. Please forgive me.
MANGAN Oh, that’s all right: I don’t mind. But Captain Shotover has been talking to me about you. You and me, you know.
ELLIE [interested] The captain! What did he say?
MANGAN Well, he noticed the difference between our ages.
ELLIE He notices everything.
MANGAN You don’t mind, then?
ELLIE Of course I know quite well that our engagement—
MANGAN Oh! you call it an engagement.
ELLIE Well, isn’t it?
MANGAN Oh, yes, yes: no doubt it is if you hold to it. This is the first time you’ve used the word; and I didn’t quite know where we stood: that’s all. [He sits down in the wicker chair; and resigns himself to allow her to lead the conversation.] You were saying—?
ELLIE Was I? I forget. Tell me. Do you like this part of the country? I heard you ask Mr Hushabye at dinner whether there are any nice houses to let down here.
MANGAN I like the place. The air suits me. I shouldn’t be surprised if I settled down here.
ELLIE Nothing would please me better. The air suits me too. And I want to be near Hesione.
MANGAN [with growing uneasiness] The air may suit us; but the question is, should we suit one another? Have you thought about that?
ELLIE Mr Mangan, we must be sensible, mustn’t we? It’s no use pretending that we are Romeo and Juliet. But we can get on very well together if we choose to make the best of it. Your kindness of heart will make it easy for me.
MANGAN [leaning forward, with the beginning of something like deliberate unpleasantness in his voice] Kindness of heart, eh? I ruined your father, didn’t I?
ELLIE Oh, not intentionally.
MANGAN Yes I did. Ruined him on purpose.
ELLIE On purpose!
MANGAN Not out of ill-nature, you know. And you’ll admit that I kept a job for him when I had finished with him. But business is business; and I ruined him as a matter of business.
ELLIE I don’t understand how that can be. Are you trying to make me feel that I need not be grateful to you, so that I may choose freely?
MANGAN [rising aggressively] No. I mean what I say.
ELLIE But how could it possibly do you any good to ruin my father? The money he lost was yours.
MANGAN [with a sour laugh] Was mine! It is mine, Miss Ellie, and all the money the other fellows lost too. [He shoves his hands into his pockets and shows his teeth.] I just smoked them out like a hive of bees. What do you say to that? A bit of shock, eh?
ELLIE It would have been, this morning. Now! you can’t think how little it matters. But it’s quite interesting. Only, you must explain it to me. I don’t understand it. [Propping her elbows on the drawing-board and her chin on her hands, she composes herself to listen with a combination of conscious curiosity with unconscious contempt which provokes him to more and more unpleasantness, and an attempt at patronage of her ignorance.]
MANGAN Of course you don’t understand: what do you know about business?You just listen and learn. Your father’s business was a new business; and I don’t start new businesses: I let other fellows start them. They put all their money and their friends’ money into starting them. They wear out their souls and bodies trying to make a success of them. They’re what you call enthusiasts. But the first dead lift of the thing is too much for them; and they haven’t enough financial experience. In a year or so they have either to let the whole show go bust, or sell out to a new lot of fellows for a few deferred ordinary shares:kw that is, if they’re lucky enough to get anything at all. As likely as not the very same thing happens to the new lot. They put in more money and a couple of years more work; and then perhaps they have to sell out to a third lot. If it’s really a big thing the third lot will have to sell out too, and leave their work and their money behind them. And that’s where the real business man comes in: where I come in. But I’m cleverer than some: I don’t mind dropping a little money to start the process. I took your father’s measure. I saw that he had a sound idea, and that he would work himself silly for it if he got the chance. I saw that he was a child in business, and was dead certain to outrun his expenses and be in too great a hurry to wait for his market. I knew that the surest way to ruin a man who doesn’t know how to handle money is to give him some. I explained my idea to some friends in the city, and they found the money; for I take no risks in ideas, even when they’re my own. Your father and the friends that ventured their money with him were no more to me than a heap of squeezed lemons. You’ve been wasting your gratitude: my kind heart is all rot. I’m sick of it. When I see your father beaming at me with his moist, grateful eyes, regularly wallowing in gratitude, I sometimes feel I must tell him the truth or burst. What stops me is that I know he wouldn’t believe me. He’d think it was my modesty, as you did just now. He’d think anything rather than the truth, which is that he’s a blamed fool, and I am a man that knows how to take care of himself. [He throws himself back into the big chair with large self-approval. ] Now what do you think of me, Miss Ellie?
ELLIE [dropping her hands] How strange! that my mother, who knew nothing at all about business, should have been quite right about you! She always said—not before papa, of course, but to us children—that you were just that sort of man.
MANGAN [sitting up, much hurt] Oh! did she? And yet she’d have let you marry me.
ELLIE Well, you see, Mr Mangan, my mother married a very good man—for whatever you may think of my father as a man of business, he is the soul of goodness—and she is not at all keen on my doing the same.
MANGAN Anyhow, you don’t want to marry me now, do you?
ELLIE [very calmly] Oh, I think so. Why not?
MANGAN [rising aghast] Why not!
ELLIE I don’t see why we shouldn’t get on very well together.
MANGAN Well, but look here, you know—[he stops, quite at a loss].
ELLIE [patiently] Well?
MANGAN Well, I thought you were rather particular about people’s characters.
ELLIE If we women were particular about men’s characters, we should never get married at all, Mr Mangan.
MANGAN A child like you talking of “we women”! What next! You’re not in earnest?
ELLIE Yes, I am. Aren’t you?
MANGAN You mean to hold me to it?
ELLIE Do you wish to back out of it?
MANGAN Oh, no. Not exactly back out of it.
He has nothing to say. With a long whispered whistle, he drops into the wicker chair and stares before him like a beggared gambler. But a cunning look soon comes into his face. He leans over towards her on his right elbow, and speaks in a low steady voice.
MANGAN Suppose I told you I was in love with another woman!
ELLIE [echoing him] Suppose I told you I was in love with another man!
MANGAN [bouncing angrily out of his chair] I’m not joking.
ELLIE Who told you I was?
MANGAN I tell you I’m serious.You’re too young to be serious; but you’ll have to believe me. I want to be near your friend Mrs Hushabye. I’m in love with her. Now the murder’s out.
ELLIE I want to be near your friend Mr Hushabye. I’m in love with him. [She rises and adds with a frank air] Now we are in one another’s confidence, we shall be real friends. Thank you for telling me.
MANGAN [almost beside himself] Do you think I’ll be made a convenience of like this?
ELLIE Come, Mr Mangan! you made a business convenience of my father. Well, a woman’s business is marriage. Why shouldn’t I make a domestic convenience of you?
MANGAN Because I don’t choose, see? Because I’m not a silly gull like your father. That’s why.
ELLIE [with serene contempt] You are not good enough to clean my father’s boots, Mr Mangan; and I am paying you a great compliment in condescending to make a convenience of you, as you call it. Of course you are free to throw over our engagement if you like; but, if you do, you’ll never enter Hesione’ s house again: I will take care of that.
MANGAN [gasping] You little devil, you’ve done me. [On the point of collapsing into the big chair again he recovers himself.] Wait a bit, though: you’re not so cute as you think. You can’t beat Boss Mangan as easy as that. Suppose I go straight to Mrs Hushabye and tell her that you’re in love with her husband.
ELLIE She knows it.
MANGAN You told her!!!
ELLIE She told me.
MANGAN [clutching at his bursting temples] Oh, this is a crazy house. Or else I’m going clean off my chump. Is she making a swop with you—she to have your husband and you to have hers?
ELLIE Well, you don’t want us both, do you?
MANGAN [throwing himself into the chair distractedly] My brain won’t stand it. My head’s going to split. Help! Help me to hold it. Quick: hold it: squeeze it. Save me. [ELLIE comes behind his chair; clasps his head hard for a moment; then begins to draw her hands from his forehead back to his ears.] Thank you. [Drowsily.] That’s very refreshing. [Waking a little.] Don’t you hypnotize me, though. I’ve seen men made fools of by hypnotism.
ELLIE [steadily] Be quiet. I’ve seen men made fools of without hypnotism.
MANGAN [humbly] You don’t dislike touching me, I hope. You never touched me before, I noticed.
ELLIE Not since you fell in love naturally with a grown-up nice woman, who will never expect you to make love to her. And I will never expect him to make love to me.
MANGAN He may, though.
ELLIE [making her passes rhythmically] Hush. Go to sleep. Do you hear?You are to go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep; be quiet, deeply deeply quiet; sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.
He falls asleep. ELLIE steals away; turns the light out; and goes into the garden.
NURSE GUINNESS opens the door and is seen in the light which comes in from the hall.
GUINNESS [speaking to someone outside] Mr Mangan’s not here, duckie: there’s no one here. It’s all dark.
MRS HUSHABYE [without] Try the garden. Mr Dunn and I will be in my boudoir. Show him the way.
GUINNESS Yes, ducky. [She makes for the garden door in the dark; stumbles over the sleeping MANGAN and screams.] Ahoo! O Lord, sir! I beg your pardon, I’m sure: I didn’t see you in the dark. Who is it? [She goes back to the door and turns on the light.] Oh, Mr Mangan, sir, I hope I haven’t hurt you plumping into your lap like that. [Coming to him.] I was looking for you, sir. Mrs Hushabye says will you please—[noticing that he remains quite insensible]. Oh, my good Lord, I hope I haven’t killed him. Sir! Mr Mangan! Sir! [She shakes him; and he is rolling inertly off the chair on the floor when she holds him up and props him against the cushion.] Miss Hessy! Miss Hessy! Quick, doty darling. Miss Hessy! [MRS HUSHABYE comes in from the hall, followed by MAZZINI DUNN.] Oh, Miss Hessy, I’ve been and killed him. MAZZINI runs round the back of the chair to MANGAN’s right hand, and sees that the nurse’s words are apparently only too true.
MAZZINI What tempted you to commit such a crime, woman?
MRS HUSHABYE [trying not to laugh] Do you mean you did it on purpose?
GUINNESS Now is it likely I’d kill any man on purpose? I fell over him in the dark; and I’m a pretty tidy weight. He never spoke nor moved until I shook him; and then he would have dropped dead on the floor. Isn’t it tiresome?
MRS HUSHABYE [going past the nurse to MANGAN’s side, and inspecting him less credulously than MAZZINI] Nonsense! he is not dead: he is only asleep. I can see him breathing.
GUINNESS But why won’t he wake?
MAZZINI [speaking very politely into MANGAN’s ear] Mangan! My dear Mangan! [he blows into MANGAN’s ear].
MRS HUSHABYE That’s no good [she shakes him vigorously]. Mr Mangan, wake up. Do you hear? [He begins to roll over.] Oh! Nurse, nurse: he’s falling: help me.
NURSE GUINNESS rushes to the rescue. With MAZZINI’s assistance, MANGAN is propped safely up again.
GUINNESS [behind the chair; bending over to test the case with her nose] Would he be drunk, do you think, pet?
MRS HUSHABYE Had he any of papa’s rum?
MAZZINI It can’t be that: he is most abstemious. I am afraid he drank too much formerly, and has to drink too little now. You know, Mrs Hushabye, I really think he has been hypnotized.
GUINNESS Hip no what, sir?
MAZZINI One evening at home, after we had seen a hypnotizing performance, the children began playing at it; and Ellie stroked my head. I assure you I went off dead asleep; and they had to send for a professional to wake me up after I had slept eighteen hours. They had to carry me upstairs; and as the poor children were not very strong, they let me slip; and I rolled right down the whole flight and never woke up. [MRS HUSHABYE splutters.] Oh, you may laugh, Mrs Hushabye; but I might have been killed.
MRS HUSHABYE I couldn’t have helped laughing even if you had been, Mr Dunn. So Ellie has hypnotized him. What fun!
MAZZINI Oh no, no, no. It was such a terrible lesson to her: nothing would induce her to try such a thing again.
MRS HUSHABYE Then who did it? I didn’t.
MAZZINI I thought perhaps the captain might have done it unintentionally. He is so fearfully magnetic: I feel vibrations whenever he comes close to me.
GUINNESS The captain will get him out of it anyhow, sir: I’ll back him for that. I’ll go fetch him [she makes for the pantry].
MRS HUSHABYE Wait a bit. [To MAZZINI.] You say he is all right for eighteen hours?
MAZZINI Well, I was asleep for eighteen hours.
MRS HUSHABYE Were you any the worse for it?
MAZZINI I don’t quite remember. They had poured brandy down my throat, you see; and—
MRS HUSHABYE Quite. Anyhow, you survived. Nurse, darling: go and ask Miss Dunn to come to us here. Say I want to speak to her particularly. You will find her with Mr Hushabye probably.
GUINNESS I think not, ducky: Miss Addy is with him. But I’ll find her and send her to you. [She goes out into the garden. ]
MRS HUSHABYE [calling MAZZINI’s attention to the figure on the chair] Now, Mr Dunn, look. Just look. Look hard. Do you still intend to sacrifice your daughter to that thing?
MAZZINI [troubled] You have completely upset me, Mrs Hushabye, by all you have said to me. That anyone could imagine that I—I, a consecrated soldier of freedom, if I may say so—could sacrifice Ellie to anybody or anyone, or that I should ever have dreamed of forcing her inclinations in any way, is a most painful blow to my—well, I suppose you would say to my good opinion of myself.
MRS HUSHABYE [rather stolidly] Sorry.
MAZZINI [looking forlornly at the body] What is your objection to poor Mangan, Mrs Hushabye? He looks all right to me. But then I am so accustomed to him.
MRS HUSHABYE Have you no heart? Have you no sense? Look at the brute! Think of poor weak innocent Ellie in the clutches of this slavedriver, who spends his life making thousands of rough violent workmen bend to his will and sweat for him: a man accustomed to have great masses of iron beaten into shape for him by steam-hammers! to fight with women and girls over a halfpenny an hour ruthlessly! a captain of industry, I think you call him, don’t you? Are you going to fling your delicate, sweet, helpless child into such a beast’s claws just because he will keep her in an expensive house and make her wear diamonds to show how rich he is?
MAZZINI [staring at her in wide-eyed amazement] Bless you, dear Mrs Hushabye, what romantic ideas of business you have! Poor dear Mangan isn’t a bit like that.
MRS HUSHABYE [scornfully] Poor dear Mangan indeed!
MAZZINI But he doesn’t know anything about machinery. He never goes near the men: he couldn’t manage them: he is afraid of them. I never can get him to take the least interest in the works: he hardly knows more about them than you do. People are cruelly unjust to Mangan: they think he is all rugged strength just because his manners are bad.
MRS HUSHABYE Do you mean to tell me he isn’t strong enough to crush poor little Ellie?
MAZZINI Of course it’s very hard to say how any marriage will turn out; but speaking for myself, I should say that he won’t have a dog’s chance against Ellie. You know, Ellie has remarkable strength of character. I think it is because I taught her to like Shakespeare when she was very young.
MRS HUSHABYE [contemptuously] Shakespeare! The next thing you will tell me is that you could have made a great deal more money than Mangan. [She retires to the sofa, and sits down at the port end of it in the worst of humors.]
MAZZINI [following her and taking the other end] No: I’m no good at making money. I don’t care enough for it, somehow. I’m not ambitious! that must be it. Mangan is wonderful about money: he thinks of nothing else. He is so dreadfully afraid of being poor. I am always thinking of other things: even at the works I think of the things we are doing and not of what they cost. And the worst of it is, poor Mangan doesn’t know what to do with his money when he gets it. He is such a baby that he doesn’t know even what to eat and drink: he has ruined his liver eating and drinking the wrong things; and now he can hardly eat at all. Ellie will diet him splendidly. You will be surprised when you come to know him better: he is really the most helpless of mortals. You get quite a protective feeling towards him.
MRS HUSHABYE Then who manages his business, pray?
MAZZINI I do. And of course other people like me.
MRS HUSHABYE Footlingkx people, you mean.
MAZZINI I suppose you’d think us so.
MRS HUSHABYE And pray why don’t you do without him if you’re all so much cleverer?
MAZZINI Oh, we couldn’t: we should ruin the business in a year. I’ve tried; and I know. We should spend too much on everything. We should improve the quality of the goods and make them too dear. We should be sentimental about the hard cases among the workpeople. But Mangan keeps us in order. He is down on us about every extra halfpenny. We could never do without him. You see, he will sit up all night thinking of how to save sixpence. Won’t Ellie make him jump, though, when she takes his house in hand!
MRS HUSHABYE Then the creature is a fraud even as a captain of industry!
MAZZINI I am afraid all the captains of industry are what you call frauds, Mrs Hushabye. Of course there are some manufacturers who really do understand their own works; but they don’t make as high a rate of profit as Mangan does. I assure you Mangan is quite a good fellow in his way. He means well.
MRS HUSHABYE He doesn’t look well. He is not in his first youth, is he?
MAZZINI After all, no husband is in his first youth for very long, Mrs Hushabye. And men can’t afford to marry in their first youth nowadays.
MRS HUSHABYE Now if I said that, it would sound witty. Why can’t you say it wittily? What on earth is the matter with you? Why don’t you inspire everybody with confidence? with respect?
MAZZINI [humbly] I think that what is the matter with me is that I am poor. You don’t know what that means at home. Mind: I don’t say they have ever complained. They’ve all been wonderful: they’ve been proud of my poverty. They’ve even joked about it quite often. But my wife has had a very poor time of it. She has been quite resigned—
MRS HUSHABYE [shuddering involuntarily]!!
MAZZINI There! You see, Mrs Hushabye. I don’t want Ellie to live on resignation.
MRS HUSHABYE Do you want her to have to resign herself to living with a man she doesn’t love?
MAZZINI [wistfully] Are you sure that would be worse than living with a man she did love, if he was a footling person?
MRS HUSHABYE [relaxing her contemptuous attitude, quite interested in MAZZINI now] You know, I really think you must love Ellie very much; for you become quite clever when you talk about her.
MAZZINI I didn’t know I was so very stupid on other subjects.
MRS HUSHABYE You are, sometimes.
MAZZINI [turning his head away; for his eyes are wet] I have learnt a good deal about myself from you, Mrs Hushabye; and I’m afraid I shall not be the happier for your plain speaking. But if you thought I needed it to make me think of Ellie’s happiness you were very much mistaken.
MRS HUSHABYE [leaning towards him kindly] Have I been a beast?
MAZZINI [pulling himself together] It doesn’t matter about me, Mrs Hushabye. I think you like Ellie; and that is enough for me.
MRS HUSHABYE I’m beginning to like you a little. I perfectly loathed you at first. I thought you the most odious, self-satisfied, boresome elderly prig I ever met.
MAZZINI [resigned, and now quite cheerful] I daresay I am all that. I never have been a favorite with gorgeous women like you. They always frighten me.
MRS HUSHABYE [pleased] Am I a gorgeous woman, Mazzini? I shall fall in love with you presently.
MAZZINI [with placid gallantry] No, you won‘t, Hesione. But you would be quite safe. Would you believe it that quite a lot of women have flirted with me because I am quite safe? But they get tired of me for the same reason.
MRS HUSHABYE [mischievously] Take care. You may not be so safe as you think.
MAZZINI Oh yes, quite safe. You see, I have been in love really: the sort of love that only happens once. [Softly.] That’s why Ellie is such a lovely girl.
MRS HUSHABYE Well, really, you are coming out. Are you quite sure you won’t let me tempt you into a second grand passion?
MAZZINI Quite. It wouldn’t be natural. The fact is, you don’t strike on my box, Mrs Hushabye; and I certainly don’t strike on yours.
MRS HUSHABYE I see.Your marriage was a safety match.
MAZZINI What a very witty application of the expression I used! I should never have thought of it.
ELLIE comes in from the garden, looking anything but happy.
MRS HUSHABYE [rising] Oh! here is Ellie at last. [She goes behind the sofa.]
ELLIE [on the threshold of the starboard door] Guinness said you wanted me: you and papa.
MRS HUSHABYE You have kept us waiting so long that it almost came to—well, never mind. Your father is a very wonderful man [she ruffles his hair affectionately]: the only one I ever met who could resist me when I made myself really agreeable. [She comes to the big chair, on MANGAN’s left.] Come here. I have something to show you. [ELLIE strolls listlessly to the other side of the chair.] Look.
ELLIE [contemplating MANGAN without interest] I know. He is only asleep. We had a talk after dinner; and he fell asleep in the middle of it.
MRS HUSHABYE You did it, Ellie. You put him asleep.
MAZZINI [rising quickly and coming to the back of the chair] Oh, I hope not. Did you, Ellie?
ELLIE [wearily] He asked me to.
MAZZINI But it’s dangerous. You know what happened to me.
ELLIE [utterly indifferent] Oh, I daresay I can wake him. If not, somebody else can.
MRS HUSHABYE It doesn’t matter, anyhow, because I have at last persuaded your father that you don’t want to marry him.
ELLIE [suddenly coming out of her listlessness, much vexed] But why did you do that, Hesione? I do want to marry him. I fully intend to marry him.
MAZZINI Are you quite sure, Ellie? Mrs Hushabye has made me feel that I may have been thoughtless and selfish about it.
ELLIE [very clearly and steadily] Papa. When Mrs. Hushabye takes it on herself to explain to you what I think or don’t think, shut your ears tight; and shut your eyes too. Hesione knows nothing about me: she hasn’t the least notion of the sort of person I am, and never will. I promise you I won’t do anything I don’t want to do and mean to do for my own sake.
MAZZINI You are quite, quite sure?
ELLIE Quite, quite sure. Now you must go away and leave me to talk to Mrs Hushabye.
MAZZINI But I should like to hear. Shall I be in the way?
ELLIE [inexorable] I had rather talk to her alone.
MAZZINI [affectionately] Oh, well, I know what a nuisance parents are, dear. I will be good and go. [He goes to the garden door.] By the way, do you remember the address of that professional who woke me up? Don’t you think I had better telegraph to him?
MRS HUSHABYE [moving towards the sofa] It’s too late to telegraph tonight.
MAZZINI I suppose so. I do hope he’ll wake up in the course of the night. [He goes out into the garden.]
ELLIE [turning rigorously on HESIONE the moment her father is out of the room]. Hesione, what the devil do you mean by making mischief with my father about Mangan?
MRS HUSHABYE [promptly losing her temper] Don’t you dare speak to me like that, you little minx. Remember that you are in my house.
ELLIE Stuff! Why don’t you mind your own business? What is it to you whether I choose to marry Mangan or not? MRS HUSHABYE Do you suppose you can bully me, you miserable little matrimonial adventurer?
ELLIE Every woman who hasn’t any money is a matrimonial adventurer. It’s easy for you to talk: you have never known what it is to want money; and you can pick up men as if they were daisies. I am poor and respectable—
MRS HUSHABYE [interrupting] Ho! respectable! How did you pick up Mangan? How did you pick up my husband? You have the audacity to tell me that I am a—a—a—
ELLIE A siren. So you are. You were born to lead men by the nose: if you weren‘t, Marcus would have waited for me, perhaps.
MRS HUSHABYE [suddenly melting and half laughing] Oh, my poor Ellie, my pettikins, my unhappy darling! I am so sorry about Hector. But what can I do? It’s not my fault: I’d give him to you if I could.
ELLIE I don’t blame you for that.
MRS HUSHABYE What a brute I was to quarrel with you and call you names! Do kiss me and say you’re not angry with me.
ELLIE [fiercely] Oh, don’t slop and gush and be sentimental. Don’t you see that unless I can be hard—as hard as nails—I shall go mad? I don’t care a damn about your calling me names: do you think a woman in my situation can feel a few hard words?
MRS HUSHABYE Poor little woman! Poor little situation!
ELLIE I suppose you think you’re being sympathetic. You are just foolish and stupid and selfish. You see me getting a smasher right in the face that kills a whole part of my life: the best part that can never come again; and you think you can help me over it by a little coaxing and kissing. When I want all the strength I can get to lean on: something iron, something stony, I don’t care how cruel it is, you go all mushy and want to slobber over me. I’m not angry; I’m not unfriendly; but for God’s sake do pull yourself together; and don’t think that because you’re on velvet and always have been, women who are in hell can take it as easily as you.
MRS HUSHABYE [shrugging her shoulders] Very well. [She sits down on the sofa in her old place.] But I warn you that when I am neither coaxing and kissing nor laughing, I am just wondering how much longer I can stand living in this cruel, damnable world. You object to the siren: well, I drop the siren. You want to rest your wounded bosom against a grindstone. Well [folding her arms], here is the grindstone.
ELLIE [sitting down beside her, appeased] That’s better: you really have the trick of falling in with everyone’s mood; but you don’t understand, because you are not the sort of woman for whom there is only one man and only one chance.
MRS HUSHABYE I certainly don’t understand how your marrying that object [indicating MANGAN] will console you for not being able to marry Hector.
ELLIE Perhaps you don’t understand why I was quite a nice girl this morning, and am now neither a girl nor particularly nice.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, yes, I do. It’s because you have made up your mind to do something despicable and wicked.
ELLIE I don’t think so, Hesione. I must make the best of my ruined house.
MRS HUSHABYE Pooh!You’ll get over it.Your house isn’t ruined.
ELLIE Of course I shall get over it. You don’t suppose I’m to sit down and die of a broken heart, I hope, or be an old maid living on a pittance from the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers’ Association. But my heart is broken, all the same. What I mean by that is that I know that what has happened to me with Marcus will not happen to me ever again. In the world for me there is Marcus and a lot of other men of whom one is just the same as another. Well, if I can’t have love, that’s no reason why I should have poverty. If Mangan has nothing else, he has money.
MRS HUSHABYE And are there no young men with money.
ELLIE Not within my reach. Besides, a young man would have the right to expect love from me, and would perhaps leave me when he found I could not give it to him. Rich young men can get rid of their wives, you know, pretty cheaply. But this object, as you call him, can expect nothing more from me than I am prepared to give him.
MRS HUSHABYE He will be your owner, remember. If he buys you, he will make the bargain pay him and not you. Ask your father.
ELLIE [rising and strolling to the chair to contemplate their subject] You need not trouble on that score, Hesione. I have more to give Boss Mangan than he has to give me: it is I who am buying him, and at a pretty good price too, I think. Women are better at that sort of bargain than men. I have taken the Boss’s measure; and ten Boss Mangans shall not prevent me doing far more as I please as his wife than I have ever been able to do as a poor girl. [Stooping to the recumbent figure.] Shall they, Boss? I think not. [She passes on to the drawing-table, and leans against the end of it, facing the windows.] I shall not have to spend most of my time wondering how long my gloves will last, anyhow.
MRS HUSHABYE [rising superbly] Ellie, you are a wicked, sordid little beast. And to think that I actually condescended to fascinate that creature there to save you from him! Well, let me tell you this: if you make this disgusting match, you will never see Hector again if I can help it.
ELLIE [unmoved] I nailed Mangan by telling him that if he did not marry me he should never see you again [she lifts herself on her wrists and seats herself on the end of the table].
MRS HUSHABYE [recoiling] Oh!
ELLIE So you see I am not unprepared for your playing that trump against me. Well, you just try it: that’s all. I should have made a man of Marcus, not a household pet.
MRS HUSHABYE [flaming] You dare!
ELLIE [looking almost dangerous] Set him thinking about me if you dare.
MRS HUSHABYE Well, of all the impudent little fiends I ever met! Hector says there is a certain point at which the only answer you can give to a man who breaks all the rules is to knock him down. What would you say if I were to box your ears?
ELLIE [calmly] I should pull your hair.
MRS HUSHABYE [mischievously] That wouldn’t hurt me. Perhaps it comes off at night.
ELLIE [so taken aback that she drops off the table and runs to her] Oh, you don’t mean to say, Hesione, that your beautiful black hair is false?
MRS HUSHABYE [patting it] Don’t tell Hector. He believes in it.
ELLIE [groaning] Oh! Even the hair that ensnared him false! Everything false!
MRS HUSHABYE Pull it and try. Other women can snare men in their hair; but I can swing a baby on mine. Aha! you can’t do that, Goldylocks.
ELLIE [heartbroken] No. You have stolen my babies.
MRS HUSHABYE Pettikins, don’t make me cry. You know what you said about my making a household pet of him is a little true. Perhaps he ought to have waited for you. Would any other woman on earth forgive you?
ELLIE Oh, what right had you to take him all for yourself! [Pulling herself together.] There! You couldn’t help it: neither of us could help it. He couldn’t help it. No, don’t say anything more: I can’t bear it. Let us wake the object. [She begins stroking MANGAN’s head, reversing the movement with which she put him to sleep.] Wake up, do you hear? You are to wake up at once. Wake up, wake up, wake—
MANGAN [bouncing out of the chair in a fury and turning on them] Wake up! So you think I’ve been asleep, do you? [He kicks the chair violently back out of his way, and gets between them.] You throw me into a trance so that I can’t move hand or foot—I might have been buried alive! it’s a mercy I wasn‘t—and then you think I was only asleep. If you’d let me drop the two times you rolled me about, my nose would have been flattened for life against the floor. But I’ve found you all out, anyhow. I know the sort of people I’m among now. I’ve heard every word you’ve said, you and your precious father, and [to MRS HUSHABYE] you too. So I’m an object, am I? I’m a thing, am I? I’m a fool that hasn’t sense enough to feed myself properly, am I? I’m afraid of the men that would starve if it weren’t for the wages I give them, am I? I’m nothing but a disgusting old skinflint to be made a convenience of by designing women and fool managers of my works, am I? I’m—
MRS HUSHABYE [with the most elegant aplomb] Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh! Mr Mangan, you are bound in honor to obliterate from your mind all you heard while you were pretending to be asleep. It was not meant for you to hear.
MANGAN Pretending to be asleep! Do you think if I was only pretending that I’d have sprawled there helpless, and listened to such unfairness, such lies, such injustice and plotting and backbiting and slandering of me, if I could have up and told you what I thought of you! I wonder I didn’t burst.
MRS HUSHABYE [sweetly] You dreamt it all, Mr. Mangan. We were only saying how beautifully peaceful you looked in your sleep. That was all, wasn’t it, Ellie? Believe me, Mr Mangan, all those unpleasant things came into your mind in the last half second before you woke. Ellie rubbed your hair the wrong way; and the disagreeable sensation suggested a disagreeable dream.
MANGAN [doggedly] I believe in dreams.
MRS HUSHABYE So do I. But they go by contraries,ky don’t they?
MANGAN [depths of emotion suddenly welling up in him] I shan’t forget, to my dying day, that when you gave me the glad eye that time in the garden, you were making a fool of me. That was a dirty low mean thing to do. You had no right to let me come near you if I disgusted you. It isn’t my fault if I’m old and haven’t a moustache like a bronze candlestick as your husband band has. There are things no decent woman would do to a man—like a man hitting a woman in the breast. HESIONE, utterly shamed, sits down on the sofa and covers her face with her hands. MANGAN sits down also on his chair and begins to cry like a child. ELLIE stares at them. MRS HUSHABYE, at the distressing sound he makes, takes down her hands and looks at him. She rises and runs to him.
MRS HUSHABYE Don’t cry: I can’t bear it. Have I broken your heart? I didn’t know you had one. How could I?
MANGAN I’m a man, ain’t I?
MRS HUSHABYE [half coaxing, half rallying, altogether tenderly] Oh no: not what I call a man. Only a Boss: just that and nothing else. What business has a Boss with a heart?
MANGAN Then you’re not a bit sorry for what you did, nor ashamed?
MRS HUSHABYE I was ashamed for the first time in my life when you said that about hitting a woman in the breast, and I found out what I’d done. My very bones blushed red. You’ve had your revenge, Boss. Aren’t you satisfied?
MANGAN Serve you right! Do you hear? Serve you right! You’re just cruel. Cruel.
MRS HUSHABYE Yes: cruelty would be delicious if one could only find some sort of cruelty that didn’t really hurt. By the way [sitting down beside him on the arm of the chair], what’s your name? It’s not really Boss, is it?
MANGAN [shortly] If you want to know, my name’s Alfred.
MRS HUSHABYE [springs up] Alfred!! Ellie, he was christened after Tennyson!!!
MANGAN [rising] I was christened after my uncle, and never had a penny from him, damn him! What of it?
MRS HUSHABYE It comes to me suddenly that you are a real person: that you had a mother, like anyone else. [Putting her hands on his shoulders and surveying him.] Little Alf!
MANGAN Well, you have a nerve.
MRS HUSHABYE And you have a heart, Alfy, a whimpering little heart, but a real one. [Releasing him suddenly.] Now run and make it up with Ellie. She has had time to think what to say to you, which is more than I had [she goes out quickly into the garden by the port door].
MANGAN That woman has a pair of hands that go right through you.
ELLIE Still in love with her, in spite of all we said about you?
MANGAN Are all women like you two? Do they never think of anything about a man except what they can get out of him? You weren’t even thinking that about me. You were only thinking whether your gloves would last.
ELLIE I shall not have to think about that when we are married.
MANGAN And you think I am going to marry you after what I heard there!
ELLIE You heard nothing from me that I did not tell you before.
MANGAN Perhaps you think I can’t do without you.
ELLIE I think you would feel lonely without us all, now, after coming to know us so well.
MANGAN [with something like a yell of despair] Am I never to have the last word?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [appearing at the starboard garden door] There is a soul in torment here. What is the matter?
MANGAN This girl doesn’t want to spend her life wondering how long her gloves will last.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [passing through] Don’t wear any. I never do [he goes into the pantry].
LADY UTTERWORD [appearing at the port garden door, in a handsome dinner dress] Is anything the matter?
ELLIE This gentleman wants to know is he never to have the last word?
LADY UTTERWORD [coming forward to the sofa] I should let him have it, my dear. The important thing is not to have the last word, but to have your own way.
MANGAN She wants both.
LADY UTTERWORD She won’t get them, Mr Mangan. Providence always has the last word.
MANGAN [desperately] Now you are going to come religion over me. In this house a man’s mind might as well be a football. I’m going. [He makes for the hall, but is stopped by a hail from the captain, who has just emerged from his pantry].
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Whither away, Boss Mangan?
MANGAN To hell out of this house: let that be enough for you and all here.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You were welcome to come: you are free to go. The wide earth, the high seas, the spacious skies are waiting for you outside.
LADY UTTERWORD But your things, Mr Mangan. Your bag, your comb and brushes, your pyjamas—
HECTOR [who has just appeared in the port doorway in a handsome Arab costume] Why should the escaping slave take his chains with him?
MANGAN That’s right, Hushabye. Keep the pyjamas, my lady, and much good may they do you.
HECTOR [advancing to LADY UTTERWORD’s left hand] Let us all go out into the night and leave everything behind us.
MANGAN You stay where you are, the lot of you. I want no company, especially female company.
ELLIE Let him go. He is unhappy here. He is angry with us.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Go, Boss Mangan; and when you have found the land where there is happiness and where there are no women, send me its latitude and longitude; and I will join you there.
LADY UTTERWORD You will certainly not be comfortable without your luggage, Mr Mangan.
ELLIE [impatient] Go, go: why don’t you go? It is a heavenly night: you can sleep on the heath. Take my waterproof to lie on: it is hanging up in the hall.
HECTOR Breakfast at nine, unless you prefer to breakfast with the captain at six.
ELLIE Good night, Alfred.
HECTOR Alfred! [He runs back to the door and calls into the garden. ] Randall, Mangan’s Christian name is Alfred.
RANDALL [appearing in the starboard doorway in evening dress] Then Hesione wins her bet.
MRS HUSHABYE appears in the port doorway. She throws her left arm round HECTOR’s neck: draws him with her to the back of the sofa: and throws her right arm round LADY UTTERWORD’s neck.
MRS HUSHABYE They wouldn’t believe me, Alf. They contemplate him.
MANGAN Is there any more of you coming in to look at me, as if I was the latest thing in a menagerie?
MRS HUSHABYE You are the latest thing in this menagerie. Before MANGAN can retort, a fall of furniture is heard from upstairs: then a pistol shot, and a yell of pain. The staring group breaks up in consternation.
MAZZINI’S VOICE [from above] Help! A burglar! Help!kz
HECTOR [his eyes blazing] A burglar!!!
MRS HUSHABYE No, Hector: you’ll be shot [but it is too late; he has dashed out past MANGAN, who hastily moves towards the bookshelves out of his way].
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [blowing his whistle] All hands aloft! [He strides out after HECTOR.]
LADY UTTERWORD My diamonds! [She follows the captain. ]
RANDALL [rushing after her] No, Ariadne. Let me.
ELLIE Oh, is papa shot? [She runs out.]
MRS HUSHABYE Are you frightened, Alf?
MANGAN No. It ain’t my house, thank God.
MRS HUSHABYE If they catch a burglar, shall we have to go into court as witnesses, and be asked all sorts of questions about our private lives?
MANGAN You won’t be believed if you tell the truth.
MAZZINI, terribly upset, with a duelling pistol in his hand, comes from the hall, and makes his way to the drawing-table.
MAZZINI Oh, my dear Mrs Hushabye, I might have killed him. [He throws the pistol on the table and staggers round to the chair.] I hope you won’t believe I really intended to. HECTOR comes in, marching an old and villainous looking man before him by the collar. He plants him in the middle of the room and releases him.
ELLIE follows, and immediately runs across to the back of her father’s chair and pats his shoulders.
RANDALL [entering with a poker] Keep your eye on this door, Mangan. I’ll look after the other [he goes to the starboard door and stands on guard there].
LADY UTTERWORD comes in after RANDALL, and goes between MRS HUSHABYE and MANGAN.
NURSE GUINNESS brings up the rear, and waits near the door, on MANGAN’s left.
MRS HUSHABYE What has happened?
MAZZINI Your housekeeper told me there was somebody upstairs, and gave me a pistol that Mr Hushabye had been practising with. I thought it would frighten him; but it went off at a touch.
THE BURGLAR Yes, and took the skin off my ear. Precious near took the top off my head. Why don’t you have a proper revolver instead of a thing like that, that goes off if you as much as blow on it?
HECTOR One of my duelling pistols. Sorry.
MAZZINI He put his hands up and said it was a fair cop.la
THE BURGLAR So it was. Send for the police.
HECTOR No, by thunder! It was not a fair cop. We were four to one.
MRS HUSHABYE What will they do to him?
THE BURGLAR Ten years. Beginning with solitary. Ten years off my life. I shan’t serve it all: I’m too old. It will see me out.
LADY UTTERWORD You should have thought of that before you stole my diamonds.
THE BURGLAR Well, you’ve got them back, lady, haven’t you? Can you give me back the years of my life you are going to take from me?
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, we can’t bury a man alive for ten years for a few diamonds.
THE BURGLAR Ten little shining diamonds! Ten long black years!
LADY UTTERWORD Think of what it is for us to be dragged through the horrors of a criminal court, and have all our family affairs in the papers! If you were a native, and Hastings could order you a good beating and send you away, I shouldn’t mind; but here in England there is no real protection for any respectable person.
THE BURGLAR I’m too old to be giv a hiding, lady. Send for the police and have done with it. It’s only just and right you should.
RANDALL [who has relaxed his vigilance on seeing the burglar so pacifically disposed, and comes forward swinging the poker between his fingers like a well-folded umbrella] It is neither just nor right that we should be put to a lot of inconvenience to gratify your moral enthusiasm, my friend. You had better get out, while you have the chance.
THE BURGLAR [inexorably] No. I must work my sin off my conscience. This has come as a sort of call to me. Let me spend the rest of my life repenting in a cell. I shall have my reward above.
MANGAN [exasperated] The very burglars can’t behave naturally in this house.
HECTOR My good sir, you must work out your salvation at somebody else’s expense. Nobody here is going to charge you.
THE BURGLAR Oh, you won’t charge me, won’t you?
HECTOR No. I’m sorry to be inhospitable; but will you kindly leave the house?
THE BURGLAR Right. I’ll go to the police station and give myself up. [He turns resolutely to the door: but HECTOR stops him.]
LADY UTTERWORD You will have to do as you are told.
THE BURGLAR It’s compounding a felony, you know.
MRS HUSHABYE This is utterly ridiculous. Are we to be forced to prosecute this man when we don’t want to?
THE BURGLAR Am I to be robbed of my salvation to save you the trouble of spending a day at the sessions?lb Is that justice? Is it right? Is it fair to me?
MAZZINI [rising and leaning across the table persuasively as if it were a pulpit desk or a shop counter] Come, come! let me show you how you can turn your very crimes to account. Why not set up as a locksmith? You must know more about locks than most honest men?
THE BURGLAR That’s true, sir. But I couldn’t set up as a locksmith under twenty pounds.
RANDALL Well, you can easily steal twenty pounds. You will find it in the nearest bank.
THE BURGLAR [horrified] Oh, what a thing for a gentleman to put into the head of a poor criminal scrambling out of the bottomless pit as it were! Oh, shame on you, sir! Oh, God forgive you! [He throws himself into the big chair and covers his face as if in prayer.]
LADY UTTERWORD Really, Randall!
HECTOR It seems to me that we shall have to take up a collection for this inopportunely contrite sinner.
LADY UTTERWORD But twenty pounds is ridiculous.
THE BURGLAR [looking up quickly] I shall have to buy a lot of tools, lady.
LADY UTTERWORD Nonsense: you have your burgling kit.
THE BURGLAR What’s a jimmy and a centrebit and an acetylene welding plantlc and a bunch of skeleton keys? I shall want a forge, and a smithy, and a shop, and fittings. I can’t hardly do it for twenty.
HECTOR My worthy friend, we haven’t got twenty pounds.
THE BURGLAR [now master of the situation] You can raise it among you, can’t you?
MRS HUSHABYE Give him a sovereign, Hector, and get rid of him.
HECTOR [giving him a pound] There! Off with you.
THE BURGLAR [rising and taking the money very ungratefully] I won’t promise nothing. You have more on you than a quid: all the lot of you, I mean.
LADY UTTERWORD [rigorously] Oh, let us prosecute him and have done with it. I have a conscience too, I hope; and I do not feel at all sure that we have any right to let him go, especially if he is going to be greedy and impertinent.
THE BURGLAR [quickly] All right, lady, all right. I’ve no wish to be anything but agreeable. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen; and thank you kindly.
He is hurrying out when he is confronted in the doorway by CAPTAIN SHOTOVER.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [fixing the burglar with a piercing regard] What’s this? Are there two of you?
THE BURGLAR [falling on his knees before the captain in abject terror] Oh, my good Lord, what have I done? Don’t tell me it’s your house I’ve broken into, Captain Shotover.
The captain seizes him by the collar: drags him to his feet: and leads him to the middle of the group, HECTOR falling back beside his wife to make way for them.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [turning him towards ELLIE] Is that your daughter? [He releases him.]
THE BURGLAR Well, how do I know, Captain?You know the sort of life you and me has led. Any young lady of that age might be my daughter anywhere in the wide world, as you might say.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [to MAZZINI] You are not Billy Dunn. This is Billy Dunn. Why have you imposed on me?
THE BURGLAR [indignantly to MAZZINI] Have you been giving yourself out to be me? You, that nigh blew my head off! Shooting yourself, in a manner of speaking!
MAZZINI My dear Captain Shotover, ever since I came into this house I have done hardly anything else but assure you that I am not Mr William Dunn, but Mazzini Dunn, a very different person.
THE BURGLAR He don’t belong to my branch, Captain. There’s two sets in the family: the thinking Dunns and the drinking Dunns, each going their own ways. I’m a drinking Dunn: he’s a thinking Dunn. But that didn’t give him any right to shoot me.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER So you’ve turned burglar, have you?
THE BURGLAR No, Captain: I wouldn’t disgrace our old sea calling by such a thing. I am no burglar.
LADY UTTERWORD What were you doing with my diamonds?
GUINNESS What did you break into the house for if you’re no burglar?
RANDALL Mistook the house for your own and came in by the wrong window, eh?
THE BURGLAR Well, it’s no use my telling you a lie: I can take in most captains, but not Captain Shotover, because he sold himself to the devil in Zanzibar, and can divine water, spot gold, explode a cartridge in your pocket with a glance of his eye, and see the truth hidden in the heart of man. But I’m no burglar.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Are you an honest man?
THE BURGLAR I don’t set up to be better than my fellow-creatures, and never did, as you well know, Captain. But what I do is innocent and pious. I enquire about for houses where the right sort of people live. I work it on them same as I worked it here. I break into the house; put a few spoons or diamonds in my pocket; make a noise; get caught; and take up a collection. And you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get caught when you’re actually trying to. I have knocked over all the chairs in a room without a soul paying any attention to me. In the end I have had to walk out and leave the job.
RANDALL When that happens, do you put back the spoons and diamonds?
THE BURGLAR Well, I don’t fly in the face of Providence, if that’s what you want to know.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Guinness, you remember this man?
GUINNESS I should think I do, seeing I was married to him, the blackguard!
THE BURGLAR It wasn’t legal. I’ve been married to no end of women. No use coming that over me.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Take him to the forecastle [he flings him to the door with a strength beyond his years].
GUINNESS I suppose you mean the kitchen. They won’t have him there. Do you expect servants to keep company with thieves and all sorts?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Land-thieves and water-thieves are the same flesh and blood. I’ll have no boatswain on my quarter-deck. Off with you both.
THE BURGLAR Yes, Captain. [He goes out humbly.]
MAZZINI Will it be safe to have him in the house like that?
GUINNESS Why didn’t you shoot him, sir? If I’d known who he was, I’d have shot him myself. [She goes out.]
MRS HUSHABYE Do sit down, everybody. [She sits down on the sofa].
They all move except ELLIE. MAZZINI resumes his seat. RANDALL sits down in the window-seat near the starboard door, again making a pendulum of his poker, and studying it as Galileo might have done. HECTOR sits on his left, in the middle. MANGAN, forgotten, sits in the port corner. LADY UTTERWORD takes the big chair. CAPTAIN SHOTOVER goes into the pantry in deep abstraction. They all look after him: and LADY UTTERWORD coughs consciously.
MRS HUSHABYE So Billy Dunn was poor nurse’s little romance. I knew there had been somebody.
RANDALL They will fight their battles over again and enjoy themselves immensely.
LADY UTTERWORD [irritably] You are not married; and you know nothing about it, Randall. Hold your tongue.
MRS HUSHABYE Well, we have had a very exciting evening. Everything will be an anticlimax after it. We’d better all go to bed.
RANDALL Another burglar may turn up.
MAZZINI Oh, impossible! I hope not.
RANDALL Why not? There is more than one burglar in England.
MRS HUSHABYE What do you say, Alf?
MANGAN [huffily] Oh, I don’t matter. I’m forgotten. The burglar has put my nose out of joint. Shove me into a corner and have done with me.
MRS HUSHABYE [jumping up mischievously, and going to him] Would you like a walk on the heath, Alfred? With me?
ELLIE Go, Mr Mangan. It will do you good. Hesione will soothe you.
MRS HUSHABYE [slipping her arm under his and pulling him upright ] Come, Alfred. There is a moon: it’s like the night in Tristan and Isolde.10 [She caresses his arm and draws him to the port garden door.] ]
MANGAN [writhing but yielding] How you can have the face—the heart—[he breaks down and is heard sobbing as she takes him out].
LADY UTTERWORD What an extraordinary way to behave! What is the matter with the man?
ELLIE [in a strangely calm voice, staring into an imaginary distance] His heart is breaking: that is all. [The captain appears at the pantry door, listening.] It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.
LADY UTTERWORD [suddenly rising in a rage, to the astonishment of the rest] How dare you?
HECTOR Good heavens! What’s the matter?
RANDALL [in a warning whisper] Tch—tch—tch! Steady.
ELLIE [surprised and haughty] I was not addressing you particularly, Lady Utterword. And I am not accustomed to being asked how dare I.
LADY UTTERWORD Of course not. Anyone can see how badly you have been brought up.
MAZZINI Oh, I hope not, Lady Utterword. Really!
LADY UTTERWORD I know very well what you meant. The impudence!
ELLIE What on earth do you mean?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [advancing to the table] She means that her heart will not break. She has been longing all her life for someone to break it. At last she has become afraid she has none to break.
LADY UTTERWORD [flinging herself on her knees and throwing her arms round him] Papa, don’t say you think I’ve no heart.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [raising her with grim tenderness] If you had no heart how could you want to have it broken, child?
HECTOR [rising with a bound] Lady Utterword, you are not to be trusted. You have made a scene [he runs out into the garden through the starboard door].
LADY UTTERWORD Oh! Hector, Hector! [she runs out after him].
RANDALL Only nerves, I assure you. [He rises and follows her, waving the poker in his agitation.] Ariadne! Ariadne! For God’s sake, be careful. You will—[he is gone].
MAZZINI [rising] How distressing! Can I do anything, I wonder?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [promptly taking his chair and setting to work at the drawing-board] No. Go to bed. Good-night.
MAZZINI [bewildered] Oh! Perhaps you are right.
ELLIE Good-night, dearest. [She kisses him.]
MAZZINI Good-night, love. [He makes for the door, but turns aside to the bookshelves.] I’ll just take a book [he takes one]. Good-night. [He goes out, leaving ELLIE alone with the captain.]
The captain is intent on his drawing. ELLIE, standing sentry over his chair, contemplates him for a moment.
ELLIE Does nothing ever disturb you, Captain Shotover?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I’ve stood on the bridge for eighteen hours in a typhoon. Life here is stormier; but I can stand it.
ELLIE Do you think I ought to marry Mr Mangan?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [never looking up] One rock is as good as another to be wrecked on.
ELLIE I am not in love with him.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Who said you were?
ELLIE You are not surprised?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Surprised! At my age!
ELLIE It seems to me quite fair. He wants me for one thing: I want him for another.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Money?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Well, one turns the cheek: the other kisses it. One provides the cash: the other spends it.
ELLIE Who will have the best of the bargain, I wonder?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You. These fellows live in an office all day. You will have to put up with him from dinner to breakfast; but you will both be asleep most of that time. All day you will be quit of him; and you will be shopping with his money. If that is too much for you, marry a seafaring man: you will be bothered with him only three weeks in the year, perhaps.
ELLIE That would be best of all, I suppose.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It’s a dangerous thing to be married right up to the hilt, like my daughter’s husband. The man is at home all day, like a damned soul in hell.
ELLIE I never thought of that before.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER If you’re marrying for business, you can’t be too businesslike.
ELLIE Why do women always want other women’s husbands?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Why do horse-thieves prefer a horse that is broken-in to one that is wild?
ELLIE [with a short laugh] I suppose so. What a vile world it is!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It doesn’t concern me. I’m nearly out of it.
ELLIE And I’m only just beginning.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Yes; so look ahead.
ELLIE Well, I think I am being very prudent.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I didn’t say prudent. I said look ahead.
ELLIE What’s the difference?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It’s prudent to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. But don’t forget that your soul sticks to you if you stick to it; but the world has a way of slipping through your fingers.
ELLIE [wearily, leaving him and beginning to wander restlessly about the room] I’m sorry, Captain Shotover; but it’s no use talking like that to me. Old-fashioned people are no use to me. Old-fashioned people think you can have a soul without money. They think the less money you have, the more soul you have. Young people nowadays know better. A soul is a very expensive thing to keep: much more so than a motor car.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Is it? How much does your soul eat?
ELLIE Oh, a lot. It eats music and pictures and books and mountains and lakes and beautiful things to wear and nice people to be with. In this country you can’t have them without lots of money: that is why our souls are so horribly starved.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Mangan’s soul lives on pig’s food.
ELLIE Yes: money is thrown away on him. I suppose his soul was starved when he was young. But it will not be thrown away on me. It is just because I want to save my soul that I am marrying for money. All the women who are not fools do.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER There are other ways of getting money. Why don’t you steal it?
ELLIE Because I don’t want to go to prison.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Is that the only reason? Are you quite sure honesty has nothing to do with it?
ELLIE Oh, you are very very old-fashioned, Captain. Does any modern girl believe that the legal and illegal ways of getting money are the honest and dishonest ways? Mangan robbed my father and my father’s friends. I should rob all the money back from Mangan if the police would let me. As they won‘t, I must get it back by marrying him.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I can’t argue: I’m too old: my mind is made up and finished. All I can tell you is that, old-fashioned or new-fashioned, if you sell yourself, you deal your soul a blow that all the books and pictures and concerts and scenery in the world won’t heal [he gets up suddenly and makes for the pantry].
ELLIE [running after him and seizing him by the sleeve] Then why did you sell yourself to the devil in Zanzibar?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [stopping, startled] What?
ELLIE You shall not run away before you answer. I have found out that trick of yours. If you sold yourself, why shouldn’t I?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I had to deal with men so degraded that they wouldn’t obey me unless I swore at them and kicked them and beat them with my fists. Foolish people took young thieves off the streets; flung them into a training ship where they were taught to fear the cane instead of fearing God; and thought they’d made men and sailors of them by private subscription. I tricked these thieves into believing I’d sold myself to the devil. It saved my soul from the kicking and swearing that was damning me by inches.
ELLIE [releasing him] I shall pretend to sell myself to Boss Mangan to save my soul from the poverty that is damning me by inches.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Riches will damn you ten times deeper. Riches won’t save even your body.
ELLIE Old-fashioned again. We know now that the soul is the body, and the body the soul. They tell us they are different because they want to persuade us that we can keep our souls if we let them make slaves of our bodies. I am afraid you are no use to me, Captain.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What did you expect? A Savior, eh? Are you old-fashioned enough to believe in that?
ELLIE No. But I thought you were very wise, and might help me. Now I have found you out. You pretend to be busy, and think of fine things to say, and run in and out to surprise people by saying them, and get away before they can answer you.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It confuses me to be answered. It discourages me. I cannot bear men and women. I have to run away. I must run away now [he tries to].
ELLIE [again seizing his arm] You shall not run away from me. I can hypnotize you. You are the only person in the house I can say what I like to. I know you are fond of me. Sit down. [She draws him to the sofa.]
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [yielding] Take care: I am in my dotage. Old men are dangerous: it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world.
They sit side by side on the sofa. She leans affectionately against him with her head on his shoulder and her eyes half closed.
ELLIE [dreamily] I should have thought nothing else mattered to old men. They can’t be very interested in what is going to happen to themselves.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER A man’s interest in the world is only the overflow from his interest in himself. When you are a child your vessel is not yet full; so you care for nothing but your own affairs. When you grow up, your vessel overflows; and you are a politician, a philosopher, or an explorer and adventurer. In old age the vessel dries up: there is no overflow: you are a child again. I can give you the memories of my ancient wisdom: mere scraps and leavings; but I no longer really care for anything but my own little wants and hobbies. I sit here working out my old ideas as a means of destroying my fellow-creatures. I see my daughters and their men living foolish lives of romance and sentiment and snobbery. I see you, the younger generation, turning from their romance and sentiment and snobbery to money and comfort and hard common sense. I was ten times happier on the bridge in the typhoon, or frozen into Arctic ice for months in darkness, than you or they have ever been. You are looking for a rich husband. At your age I looked for hardship, danger, horror, and death, that I might feel the life in me more intensely. I did not let the fear of death govern my life; and my reward was, I had my life. You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life; and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.
ELLIE [sitting up impatiently] But what can I do? I am not a sea captain: I can’t stand on bridges in typhoons, or go slaughtering seals and whales in Greenland’s icy mountains.ld They won’t let women be captains. Do you want me to be a stewardess?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER There are worse lives. The stewardesses could come ashore if they liked; but they sail and sail and sail.
ELLIE What could they do ashore but marry for money? I don’t want to be a stewardess: I am too bad a sailor. Think of something else for me.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I can’t think so long and continuously. I am too old. I must go in and out. [He tries to rise.]
ELLIE [pulling him back] You shall not. You are happy here, aren’t you?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I tell you it’s dangerous to keep me. I can’t keep awake and alert.
ELLIE What do you run away for? To sleep?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No. To get a glass of rum.
ELLIE [frightfully disillusioned] Is that it? How disgusting! Do you like being drunk?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No: I dread being drunk more than anything in the world. To be drunk means to have dreams; to go soft; to be easily pleased and deceived; to fall into the clutches of women. Drink does that for you when you are young. But when you are old: very very old, like me, the dreams come by themselves. You don’t know how terrible that is: you are young: you sleep at night only, and sleep soundly. But later on you will sleep in the afternoon. Later still you will sleep even in the morning; and you will awake tired, tired of life. You will never be free from dozing and dreams; the dreams will steal upon your work every ten minutes unless you can awaken yourself with rum. I drink now to keep sober; but the dreams are conquering: rum is not what it was: I have had ten glasses since you came; and it might be so much water. Go get me another: Guinness knows where it is. You had better see for yourself the horror of an old man drinking.
ELLIE You shall not drink. Dream. I like you to dream. You must never be in the real world when we talk together.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I am too weary to resist, or too weak. I am in my second childhood. I do not see you as you really are. I can’t remember what I really am. I feel nothing but the accursed happiness I have dreaded all my life long: the happiness that comes as life goes, the happiness of yielding and dreaming instead of resisting and doing, the sweetness of the fruit that is going rotten.
ELLIE You dread it almost as much as I used to dread losing my dreams and having to fight and do things. But that is all over for me: my dreams are dashed to pieces. I should like to marry a very old, very rich man. I should like to marry you. I had much rather marry you than marry Mangan. Are you very rich?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No. Living from hand to mouth. And I have a wife somewhere in Jamaica: a black one. My first wife. Unless she’s dead.
ELLIE What a pity! I feel so happy with you. [She takes his hand, almost unconsciously, and pats it.] I thought I should never feel happy again.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Why?
ELLIE Don’t you know?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER No.
ELLIE Heartbreak. I fell in love with Hector, and didn’t know he was married.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Heartbreak? Are you one of those who are so sufficient to themselves that they are only happy when they are stripped of everything, even of hope?
ELLIE [gripping the hand] It seems so; for I feel now as if there was nothing I could not do, because I want nothing.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER That’s the only real strength. That’s genius. That’s better than rum.
ELLIE [throwing away his hand] Rum! Why did you spoil it? HECTOR and RANDALL come in from the garden through the starboard door.
HECTOR I beg your pardon. We did not know there was anyone here.
ELLIE [rising] That means that you want to tell Mr Randall the story about the tiger. Come, Captain: I want to talk to my father; and you had better come with me.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [rising] Nonsense! the man is in bed.
ELLIE Aha! I’ve caught you. My real father has gone to bed; but the father you gave mele is in the kitchen. You knew quite well all along. Come. [She draws him out into the garden with her through the port door.]
HECTOR That’s an extraordinary girl. She has the Ancient Mariner on a string like a Pekinese dog.
RANDALL Now that they have gone, shall we have a friendly chat?
HECTOR You are in what is supposed to be my house. I am at your disposal.
HECTOR sits down in the draughtsman’s chair, turning it to face RANDALL, who remains standing, leaning at his ease against the carpenter’s bench.
RANDALL I take it that we may be quite frank. I mean about Lady Utterword.
HECTOR You may. I have nothing to be frank about. I never met her until this afternoon.
RANDALL [straightening up] What! But you are her sister’s husband.
HECTOR Well, if you come to that, you are her husband’s brother.
RANDALL But you seem to be on intimate terms with her.
HECTOR So do you.
RANDALL Yes: but I am on intimate terms with her. I have known her for years.
HECTOR It took her years to get to the same point with you that she got to with me in five minutes, it seems.
RANDALL [vexed] Really, Ariadne is the limit [he moves away huffishly towards the windows].
HECTOR [coolly] She is, as I remarked to Hesione, a very enterprising woman.
RANDALL [returning, much troubled] You see, Hushabye, you are what women consider a good-looking man.
HECTOR I cultivated that appearance in the days of my vanity; and Hesione insists on my keeping it up. She makes me wear these ridiculous things [indicating his Arab costume] because she thinks me absurd in evening dress.
RANDALL Still, you do keep it up, old chap. Now, I assure you I have not an atom of jealousy in my disposition—
HECTOR The question would seem to be rather whether your brother has any touch of that sort.
RANDALL What! Hastings! Oh, don’t trouble about Hastings. He has the gift of being able to work sixteen hours a day at the dullest detail, and actually likes it. That gets him to the top wherever he goes. As long as Ariadne takes care that he is fed regularly, he is only too thankful to anyone who will keep her in good humor for him.
HECTOR And as she has all the Shotover fascination, there is plenty of competition for the job, eh?
RANDALL [angrily] She encourages them. Her conduct is perfectly scandalous. I assure you, my dear fellow, I haven’t an atom of jealousy in my composition; but she makes herself the talk of every place she goes to by her thoughtlessness. It’s nothing more: she doesn’t really care for the men she keeps hanging about her; but how is the world to know that? It’s not fair to Hastings. It’s not fair to me.
HECTOR Her theory is that her conduct is so correct—
RANDALL Correct! She does nothing but make scenes from morning till night. You be careful, old chap. She will get you into trouble: that is, she would if she really cared for you.
HECTOR Doesn’t she?
RANDALL Not a scrap. She may want your scalp to add to her collection; but her true affection has been engaged years ago. You had really better be careful.
HECTOR Do you suffer much from this jealousy?
RANDALL Jealousy! I jealous! My dear fellow, haven’t I told you that there is not an atom of—
HECTOR Yes. And Lady Utterword told me she never made scenes. Well, don’t waste your jealousy on my moustache. Never waste jealousy on a real man: it is the imaginary hero that supplants us all in the long run. Besides, jealousy does not belong to your easy man-of-the-world pose, which you carry so well in other respects.
RANDALL Really, Hushabye, I think a man may be allowed to be a gentleman without being accused of posing.
HECTOR It is a pose like any other. In this house we know all the poses: our game is to find out the man under the pose. The man under your pose is apparently Ellie’s favorite, Othello.
RANDALL Some of your games in this house are damned annoying, let me tell you.
HECTOR Yes: I have been their victim for many years. I used to writhe under them at first; but I became accustomed to them. At last I learned to play them.
RANDALL If it’s all the same to you I had rather you didn’t play them on me. You evidently don’t quite understand my character, or my notions of good form.
HECTOR Is it your notion of good form to give away Lady Utterword?
RANDALL [a childishly plaintive note breaking into his huff] I have not said a word against Lady Utterword. This is just the conspiracy over again.
HECTOR What conspiracy?
RANDALL You know very well, sir. A conspiracy to make me out to be pettish and jealous and childish and everything I am not. Everyone knows I am just the opposite.
HECTOR [rising] Something in the air of the house has upset you. It often does have that effect. [He goes to the garden door and calls LADY UTTERWORD with commanding emphasis.] Ariadne!
LADY UTTERWORD [at some distance] Yes.
RANDALL What are you calling her for? I want to speak—
LADY UTTERWORD [arriving breathless] Yes. You really are a terribly commanding person. What’s the matter?
HECTOR I do not know how to manage your friend Randall. No doubt you do.
LADY UTTERWORD Randall: have you been making yourself ridiculous, as usual? I can see it in your face. Really, you are the most pettishlf creature.
RANDALL You know quite well, Ariadne, that I have not an ounce of pettishness in my disposition. I have made myself perfectly pleasant here. I have remained absolutely cool and imperturbable in the face of a burglar. Imperturbability is almost too strong a point of mine. But [putting his foot down with a stamp, and walking angrily up and down the room] I insist on being treated with a certain consideration. I will not allow Hushabye to take liberties with me. I will not stand your encouraging people as you do.
HECTOR The man has a rooted delusion that he is your husband.
LADY UTTERWORD I know. He is jealous. As if he had any right to be! He compromises me everywhere. He makes scenes all over the place. Randall: I will not allow it. I simply will not allow it. You had no right to discuss me with Hector. I will not be discussed by men.
HECTOR Be reasonable, Ariadne. Your fatal gift of beauty forces men to discuss you.
LADY UTTERWORD Oh indeed! what about your fatal gift of beauty?
HECTOR How can I help it?
LADY UTTERWORD You could cut off your moustache: I can’t cut off my nose. I get my whole life messed up with people falling in love with me. And then Randall says I run after men.
LADY UTTERWORD Yes you do: you said it just now. Why can’t you think of something else than women? Napoleon was quite right when he said that women are the occupation of the idle man. Well, if ever there was an idle man on earth, his name is Randall Utterword.
LADY UTTERWORD [overwhelming him with a torrent of words] Oh yes you are: it’s no use denying it. What have you ever done? What good are you? You are as much trouble in the house as a child of three. You couldn’t live without your valet.
RANDALL This is—
LADY UTTERWORD Laziness! You are laziness incarnate. You are selfishness itself. You are the most uninteresting man on earth. You can’t even gossip about anything but yourself and your grievances and your ailments and the people who have offended you. [Turning to HECTOR.] Do you know what they call him, Hector?
LADY UTTERWORD Randall the Rotter: that is his name in good society.
RANDALL [shouting] I’ll not bear it, I tell you. Will you listen to me, you infernal—[he chokes].
LADY UTTERWORD Well: go on. What were you going to call me? An infernal what? Which unpleasant animal is it to be this time?
RANDALL [foaming] There is no animal in the world so hateful as a woman can be. You are a maddening devil. Hushabye, you will not believe me when I tell you that I have loved this demon all my life; but God knows I have paid for it [he sits down in the draughtsman’s chair, weeping].
LADY UTTERWORD [standing over him with triumphant contempt] Cry-baby!
HECTOR [gravely, coming to him] My friend, the Shotover sisters have two strange powers over men. They can make them love; and they can make them cry. Thank your stars that you are not married to one of them.
LADY UTTERWORD [haughtily] And pray, Hector—
HECTOR [suddenly catching her round the shoulders: swinging her right round him and away from RANDALL: and gripping her throat with the other hand] Ariadne, if you attempt to start on me, I’ll choke you: do you hear? The cat-and-mouse game with the other sex is a good game; but I can play your head off at it. [He throws her, not at all gently, into the big chair, and proceeds, less fiercely but firmly.] It is true that Napoleon said that woman is the occupation of the idle man. But he added that she is the relaxation of the warrior. Well, I am the warrior. So take care.
LADY UTTERWORD [not in the least put out, and rather pleased by his violence] My dear Hector, I have only done what you asked me to do.
HECTOR How do you make that out, pray?
LADY UTTERWORD You called me in to manage Randall, didn’t you? You said you couldn’t manage him yourself.
HECTOR Well, what if I did? I did not ask you to drive the man mad.
LADY UTTERWORD He isn’t mad. That’s the way to manage him. If you were a mother, you’d understand.
HECTOR Mother! What are you up to now?
LADY UTTERWORD Its quite simple. When the children got nerves and were naughty, I smacked them just enough to give them a good cry and a healthy nervous shock. They went to sleep and were quite good afterwards. Well, I can’t smack Randall: he is too big; so when he gets nerves and is naughty, I just rag him till he cries. He will be all right now. Look: he is half asleep already [which is quite true].
RANDALL [waking up indignantly] I’m not. You are most cruel, Ariadne. [Sentimentally.] But I suppose I must forgive you, as usual [he checks himself in the act of yawning].
LADY UTTERWORD [to HECTOR] Is the explanation satisfactory, dread warrior?
HECTOR Some day I shall kill you, if you go too far. I thought you were a fool.
LADY UTTERWORD [laughing] Everybody does, at first. But I am not such a fool as I look. [She rises complacently.] Now, Randall, go to bed. You will be a good boy in the morning.
RANDALL [only very faintly rebellious] I’ll go to bed when I like. It isn’t ten yet.
LADY UTTERWORD It is long past ten. See that he goes to bed at once, Hector. [She goes into the garden.]
HECTOR Is there any slavery on earth viler than this slavery of men to women?
RANDALL [rising resolutely] I’ll not speak to her tomorrow. I’ll not speak to her for another week. I’ll give her such a lesson. I’ll go straight to bed without bidding her good-night. [He makes for the door leading to the hall.]
HECTOR You are under a spell, man. Old Shotover sold himself to the devil in Zanzibar. The devil gave him a black witch for a wife; and these two demon daughters are their mystical progeny. I am tied to Hesione’s apron-string; but I’m her husband; and if I did go stark staring mad about her, at least we became man and wife. But why should you let yourself be dragged about and beaten by Ariadne as a toy donkey is dragged about and beaten by a child? What do you get by it? Are you her lover?
RANDALL You must not misunderstand me. In a higher sense—in a Platonic sense—
HECTOR Psha! Platonic sense! She makes you her servant; and when pay-day comes round, she bilks you: that is what you mean.
RANDALL [feebly] Well, if I don’t mind, I don’t see what business it is of yours. Besides, I tell you I am going to punish her. You shall see: I know how to deal with women. I’m really very sleepy. Say good-night to Mrs Hushabye for me, will you, like a good chap. Good-night. [He hurries out.]
HECTOR Poor wretch! Oh women! women! women! [He lifts his fists in invocation to heaven.] Fall. Fall and crush.11 [He goes out into the garden.]
In the garden, Hector, as he comes out through the glass door of the poop, finds Lady Utterword lying voluptuously in the hammock on the east side of the flagstaff, in the circle of light cast by the electric arc, which is like a moon in its opal globe. Beneath the head of the hammock, a campstool. On the other side of the flagstaff, on the long garden seat, Captain Shotover is asleep, with Ellie beside him, leaning affectionately against him on his right hand. On his left is a deck chair. Behind them in the gloom, Hesione is strolling about with Mangan. It is a fine still night, moonless.
LADY UTTERWORD What a lovely night! It seems made for us.
HECTOR The night takes no interest in us. What are we to the night? [He sits down moodily in the deck chair.]
ELLIE [dreamily, nestling against the captain] Its beauty soaks into my nerves. In the night there is peace for the old and hope for the young.
HECTOR Is that remark your own?
ELLIE No. Only the last thing the captain said before he went to sleep.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I’m not asleep.
HECTOR Randall is. Also Mr Mazzini Dunn. Mangan, too, probably.
HECTOR Oh, you are there. I thought Hesione would have sent you to bed by this time.
MRS HUSHABYE [coming to the back of the garden seat, into the light, with MANGAN] I think I shall. He keeps telling me he has a presentiment that he is going to die. I never met a man so greedy for sympathy.
MANGAN [plaintively] But I have a presentiment. I really have. And you wouldn’t listen.
MRS HUSHABYE I was listening for something else. There was a sort of splendid drumming in the sky. Did none of you hear it? It came from a distance and then died away.
MANGAN I tell you it was a train.
MRS HUSHABYE And I tell you, Alf, there is no train at this hour. The last is nine forty-five.
MANGAN But a goods train.
MRS HUSHABYE Not on our little line. They tack a truck on to the passenger train. What can it have been, Hector?
HECTOR Heaven’s threatening growl of disgust at us useless futile creatures. [Fiercely.] I tell you, one of two things must happen. Either out of that darkness some new creation will come to supplant us as we have supplanted the animals, or the heavens will fall in thunder and destroy us.
LADY UTTERWORD [in a cool instructive manner, wallowing comfortably in her hammock] We have not supplanted the animals, Hector. Why do you ask heaven to destroy this house, which could be made quite comfortable if Hesione had any notion of how to live? Don’t you know what is wrong with it?
HECTOR We are wrong with it. There is no sense in us. We are useless, dangerous, and ought to be abolished.
LADY UTTERWORD Nonsense! Hastings told me the very first day he came here, nearly twenty-four years ago, what is wrong with the house.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What! The numskull said there was something wrong with my house!
LADY UTTERWORD I said Hastings said it; and he is not in the least a numskull.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What’s wrong with my house?
LADY UTTERWORD Just what is wrong with a ship, papa. Wasn’t it clever of Hastings to see that?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The man’s a fool. There’s nothing wrong with a ship.
LADY UTTERWORD Yes, there is.
MRS HUSHABYE But what is it? Don’t be aggravating, Addy.
LADY UTTERWORD Guess.
HECTOR Demons. Daughters of the witch of Zanzibar. Demons.
LADY UTTERWORD Not a bit. I assure you, all this house needs to make it a sensible, healthy, pleasant house, with good appetites and sound sleep in it, is horses.
MRS HUSHABYE Horses! What rubbish!
LADY UTTERWORD Yes: horses. Why have we never been able to let this house? Because there are no proper stables. Go anywhere in England where there are natural, wholesome, contented, and really nice English people; and what do you always find? That the stables are the real centre of the household; and that if any visitor wants to play the piano the whole room has to be upset before it can be opened, there are so many things piled on it. I never lived until I learned to ride; and I shall never ride really well because I didn’t begin as a child. There are only two classes in good society in England: the equestrian classes and the neurotic classes. It isn’t mere convention: everybody can see that the people who hunt are the right people and the people who don’t are the wrong ones.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER There is some truth in this. My ship made a man of me; and a ship is the horse of the sea.
LADY UTTERWORD Exactly how Hastings explained your being a gentleman.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Not bad for a numskull. Bring the man here with you next time: I must talk to him.
LADY UTTERWORD Why is Randall such an obvious rotter? He is well bred; he has been at a public school and a university; he has been in the Foreign Office; he knows the best people and has lived all his life among them. Why is he so unsatisfactory, so contemptible? Why can’t he get a valet to stay with him longer than a few months? Just because he is too lazy and pleasure-loving to hunt and shoot. He strums the piano, and sketches, and runs after married women, and reads literary books and poems. He actually plays the flute; but I never let him bring it into my house. If he would only—[she is interrupted by the melancholy strains of a flute coming from an open window above. She raises herself indignantly in the hammock]. Randall, you have not gone to bed. Have you been listening? [The flute replies pertly.]
How vulgar! Go to bed instantly, Randall: how dare you? [The window is slammed down. She subsides.] How can anyone care for such a creature!
MRS HUSHABYE Addy: do you think Ellie ought to marry poor Alfred merely for his money?
MANGAN [much alarmed] What’s that? Mrs Hushabye, are my affairs to be discussed like this before everybody?
LADY UTTERWORD I don’t think Randall is listening now.
MANGAN Everybody is listening. It isn’t right.
MRS HUSHABYE But in the dark, what does it matter? Ellie doesn’t mind. Do you, Ellie?
ELLIE Not in the least. What is your opinion, Lady Utterword? You have so much good sense.
MANGAN But it isn’t right. It—[MRS HUSHABYE puts her hand on his mouth.] Oh, very well.
LADY UTTERWORD How much money have you, Mr. Mangan?
MANGAN Really—No: I can’t stand this.
LADY UTTERWORD Nonsense, Mr Mangan! It all turns on your income, doesn’t it?
MANGAN Well, if you come to that, how much money has she?
LADY UTTERWORD You are answered, Mr Mangan. And now, as you have made Miss Dunn throw her cards on the table, you cannot refuse to show your own.
MRS HUSHABYE Come, Alf! out with it! How much?
MANGAN [baited out of all prudence] Well, if you want to know, I have no money and never had any.
MRS HUSHABYE Alfred, you mustn’t tell naughty stories.
MANGAN I’m not telling you stories. I’m telling you the raw truth.
LADY UTTERWORD Then what do you live on, Mr Mangan?
MANGAN Travelling expenses. And a trifle of commission.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER What more have any of us but travelling expenses for our life’s journey?
MRS HUSHABYE But you have factories and capital and things?
MANGAN People think I have. People think I’m an industrial Napoleon. That’s why Miss Ellie wants to marry me. But I tell you I have nothing.
ELLIE Do you mean that the factories are like Marcus’s tigers? That they don’t exist?
MANGAN They exist all right enough. But they’re not mine. They belong to syndicates and shareholders and all sorts of lazy good-for-nothing capitalists. I get money from such people to start the factories. I find people like Miss Dunn’s father to work them, and keep a tight hand so as to make them pay. Of course I make them keep me going pretty well; but it’s a dog’s life; and I don’t own anything.
MRS HUSHABYE Alfred, Alfred, you are making a poor mouth of itlg to get out of marrying Ellie.
MANGAN I’m telling the truth about my money for the first time in my life; and it’s the first time my word has ever been doubted.
LADY UTTERWORD How sad! Why don’t you go in for politics, Mr Mangan?
MANGAN Go in for politics! Where have you been living? I am in politics.
LADY UTTERWORD I’m sure I beg your pardon. I never heard of you.
MANGAN Let me tell you, Lady Utterword, that the Prime Minister of this country asked me to join the Government without even going through the nonsense of an election, as the dictator of a great public department.
LADY UTTERWORD As a Conservative or a Liberal?
MANGAN No such nonsense. As a practical business man. [They all burst out laughing.] What are you all laughing at?
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, Alfred, Alfred!
ELLIE You! who have to get my father to do everything for you!
MRS HUSHABYE You! who are afraid of your own workmen!
HECTOR You! with whom three women have been playing cat and mouse all the evening!
LADY UTTERWORD You must have given an immense sum to the party funds, Mr Mangan.
MANGAN Not a penny out of my own pocket. The syndicate found the money: they knew how useful I should be to them in the Government.
LADY UTTERWORD This is most interesting and unexpected, pected, Mr Mangan. And what have your administrative achievements been, so far?
MANGAN Achievements? Well, I don’t know what you call achievements; but I’ve jolly well put a stop to the games of the other fellows in the other departments. Every man of them thought he was going to save the country all by himself, and do me out of the credit and out of my chance of a title. I took good care that if they wouldn’t let me do it they shouldn’t do it themselves either. I may not know anything about my own machinery; but I know how to stick a ramrod into the other fellow’s. And now they all look the biggest fools going.
HECTOR And in heaven’s name, what do you look like?
MANGAN I look like the fellow that was too clever for all the others, don’t I? If that isn’t a triumph of practical business, what is?
HECTOR Is this England, or is it a madhouse?
LADY UTTERWORD Do you expect to save the country, Mr Mangan?
MANGAN Well, who else will? Will your Mr Randall save it?
LADY UTTERWORD Randall the rotter! Certainly not.
MANGAN Will your brother-in-law save it with his moustache and his fine talk?
HECTOR Yes, if they will let me.
MANGAN [sneering] Ah! Will they let you?
HECTOR No. They prefer you.
MANGAN Very well then, as you’re in a world where I’m appreciated and you’re not, you’d best be civil to me, hadn’t you? Who else is there but me?
LADY UTTERWORD There is Hastings. Get rid of your ridiculous sham democracy; and give Hastings the necessary powers, and a good supply of bamboo to bring the British native to his senses: he will save the country with the greatest ease.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It had better be lost. Any fool can govern with a stick in his hand. I could govern that way. It is not God’s way. The man is a numskull.
LADY UTTERWORD The man is worth all of you rolled into one. What do you say, Miss Dunn?
ELLIE I think my father would do very well if people did not put upon him and cheat him and despise him because he is so good.
MANGAN [contemptuously] I think I see Mazzini Dunn getting into parliament or pushing his way into the Government. We’ve not come to that yet, thank God! What do you say, Mrs Hushabye?
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, I say it matters very little which of you governs the country so long as we govern you.
HECTOR We? Who is we, pray?
MRS HUSHABYE The devil’s granddaughters, dear. The lovely women.
HECTOR [raising his hands as before] Fall, I say, and deliver us from the lures of Satan!
ELLIE There seems to be nothing real in the world except my father and Shakespeare. Marcus’s tigers are false; Mr Mangan’s millions are false; there is nothing really strong and true about Hesione but her beautiful black hair; and Lady Utterword’s is too pretty to be real. The one thing that was left to me was the Captain’s seventh degree of concentration; and that turns out to be—
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Rum.
LADY UTTERWORD [placidly] A good deal of my hair is quite genuine. The Duchess of Dithering offered me fifty guineas for this [touching her forehead] under the impression that it was a transformation; but it is all natural except the color.
MANGAN [wildly] Look here: I’m going to take off all my clothes [he begins tearing off his coat].
MRS HUSHABYE [catching his arm and stopping him] Alfred, for shame! Are you mad?
MANGAN Shame! What shame is there in this house? Let’s all strip stark naked. We may as well do the thing thoroughly when we’re about it. We’ve stripped ourselves morally naked: well, let us strip ourselves physically naked as well, and see how we like it. I tell you I can’t bear this. I was brought up to be respectable. I don’t mind the women dyeing their hair and the men drinking: it’s human nature. But it’s not human nature to tell everybody about it. Every time one of you opens your mouth I go like this [he cowers as if to avoid a missile], afraid of what will come next. How are we to have any self-respect if we don’t keep it up that we’re better than we really are?
LADY UTTERWORD I quite sympathize with you, Mr Mangan. I have been through it all; and I know by experience that men and women are delicate plants and must be cultivated under glass. Our family habit of throwing stones in all directions and letting the air in is not only unbearably rude, but positively dangerous. Still, there is no use catching physical colds as well as moral ones; so please keep your clothes on.
MANGAN I’ll do as I like: not what you tell me. Am I a child or a grown man? I won’t stand this mothering tyranny. I’ll go back to the city, where I’m respected and made much of.
MRS HUSHABYE Goodbye, Alf. Think of us sometimes in the city. Think of Ellie’s youth!
ELLIE Think of Hesione’s eyes and hair!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Think of this garden in which you are not a dog barking to keep the truth out!
HECTOR Think of Lady Utterword’s beauty! her good sense! her style!
LADY UTTERWORD Flatterer. Think, Mr. Mangan, whether you can really do any better for yourself elsewhere: that is the essential point, isn’t it?
MANGAN [surrendering] All right: all right. I’m done. Have it your own way. Only let me alone. I don’t know whether I’m on my head or my heels when you all start on me like this. I’ll stay. I’ll marry her. I’ll do anything for a quiet life. Are you satisfied now?
ELLIE No. I never really intended to make you marry me, Mr Mangan. Never in the depths of my soul. I only wanted to feel my strength: to know that you could not escape if I chose to take you.
MANGAN [indignantly] What! Do you mean to say you are going to throw me over after my acting so handsome?
LADY UTTERWORD I should not be too hasty, Miss Dunn. You can throw Mr Mangan over at any time up to the last moment. Very few men in his position go bankrupt. You can live very comfortably on his reputation for immense wealth.
ELLIE I cannot commit bigamy, Lady Utterword.
ELLIE Only half an hour ago I became Captain Shotover’s white wife.
MRS HUSHABYE Ellie! What nonsense! Where?
ELLIE In heaven, where all true marriages are made.
LADY UTTERWORD Really, Miss Dunn! Really, papa!
MANGAN He told me I was too old! And him a mummy!
HECTOR [quoting Shelley]
“Their altar the grassy earth outspread: And their priest the muttering wind.”lh
ELLIE Yes: I, Ellie Dunn, give my broken heart and my strong sound soul to its natural captain, my spiritual husband and second father.
She draws the captain’s arm through hers, and pats his hand. The captain remains fast asleep.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, that’s very clever of you, pettikins. Very clever. Alfred, you could never have lived up to Ellie.You must be content with a little share of me.
MANGAN [sniffing and wiping his eyes] It isn’t kind—[his emotion chokes him.].
LADY UTTERWORD You are well out of it, Mr Mangan. Miss Dunn is the most conceited young woman I have met since I came back to England.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, Ellie isn’t conceited. Are you, pettikins?
ELLIE I know my strength now, Hesione.
MANGAN Brazen, I call you. Brazen.
MRS HUSHABYE Tut, tut, Alfred: don’t be rude. Don’t you feel how lovely this marriage night is, made in heaven? Aren’t you happy, you and Hector? Open your eyes: Addy and Ellie look beautiful enough to please the most fastidious man: we live and love and have not a care in the world. We women have managed all that for you. Why in the name of common sense do you go on as if you were two miserable wretches? CAPTAIN SHOTOVER I tell you happiness is no good. You can be happy when you are only half alive. I am happier now I am half dead than ever I was in my prime. But there is no blessing on my happiness.
ELLIE [her face lighting up] Life with a blessing! that is what I want. Now I know the real reason why I couldn’t marry Mr Mangan: there would be no blessing on our marriage. There is a blessing on my broken heart. There is a blessing on your beauty, Hesione. There is a blessing on your father’s spirit. Even on the lies of Marcus there is a blessing; but on Mr Mangan’s money there is none.
MANGAN I don’t understand a word of that.
ELLIE Neither do I. But I know it means something.
MANGAN Don’t say there was any difficulty about the blessing. I was ready to get a bishop to marry us.
MRS HUSHABYE Isn’t he a fool, pettikins?
HECTOR [fiercely] Do not scorn the man. We are all fools.
MAZZINI, in pyjamas and a richly colored silk dressing-gown, comes from the house, on LADY UTTERWORD’s side.
MRS HUSHABYE Oh! here comes the only man who ever resisted me. What’s the matter, Mr Dunn? Is the house on fire?
MAZZINI Oh, no: nothing’s the matter: but really it’s impossible to go to sleep with such an interesting conversation going on under one’s window, and on such a beautiful night too. I just had to come down and join you all. What has it all been about?
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, wonderful things, soldier of freedom.
HECTOR For example, Mangan, as a practical business man, has tried to undress himself and has failed ignominiously; whilst you, as an idealist, have succeeded brilliantly.
MAZZINI I hope you don’t mind my being like this, Mrs Hushabye. [He sits down on the campstool.]
MRS HUSHABYE On the contrary, I could wish you always like that.
LADY UTTERWORD Your daughter’s match is off, Mr Dunn. It seems that Mr Mangan, whom we all supposed to be a man of property, owns absolutely nothing.
MAZZINI Well, of course I knew that, Lady Utterword. But if people believe in him and are always giving him money, whereas they don’t believe in me and never give me any, how can I ask poor Ellie to depend on what I can do for her?
MANGAN Don’t you run away with this idea that I have nothing. I—
HECTOR Oh, don’t explain. We understand. You have a couple of thousand pounds in exchequer bills, 50,000 shares worth tenpence a dozen, and half a dozen tabloids of cyanide of potassium to poison yourself with when you are found out. That’s the reality of your millions.
MAZZINI Oh no, no, no. He is quite honest: the businesses are genuine and perfectly legal.
HECTOR [disgusted] Yah! Not even a great swindler!
MANGAN So you think. But I’ve been too many for some honest men, for all that.
LADY UTTERWORD There is no pleasing you, Mr Mangan. You are determined to be neither rich nor poor, honest nor dishonest.
MANGAN There you go again. Ever since I came into this silly house I have been made to look like a fool, though I’m as good a man in this house as in the city.
ELLIE [musically] Yes: this silly house, this strangely happy house, this agonizing house, this house without foundations. I shall call it Heartbreak House.
MRS HUSHABYE Stop, Ellie; or I shall howl like an animal.12
MANGAN [breaks into a low snivelling]!!!
MRS HUSHABYE There! you have set Alfred off.
ELLIE I like him best when he is howling.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Silence! [MANGAN subsides into silence. ] I say, let the heart break in silence.
HECTOR Do you accept that name for your house?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER It is not my house: it is only my kennel.
HECTOR We have been too long here. We do not live in this house: we haunt it.
LADY UTTERWORD [heart torn] It is dreadful to think how you have been here all these years while I have gone round the world. I escaped young; but it has drawn me back. It wants to break my heart too. But it shan’t. I have left you and it behind. It was silly of me to come back. I felt sentimental about papa and Hesione and the old place. I felt them calling to me.
MAZZINI I But what a very natural and kindly and charming human feeling, Lady Utterword!
LADY UTTERWORD So I thought, Mr Dunn. But I know now that it was only the last of my influenza. I found that I was not remembered and not wanted.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER You left because you did not want us. Was there no heartbreak in that for your father?13 You tore yourself up by the roots; and the ground healed up and brought forth fresh plants and forgot you. What right had you to come back and probe old wounds?
MRS HUSHABYE You were a complete stranger to me at first, Addy; but now I feel as if you had never been away.
LADY UTTERWORD Thank you, Hesione; but the influenza is quite cured. The place may be Heartbreak House to you, Miss Dunn, and to this gentleman from the city who seems to have so little self-control; but to me it is only a very ill-regulated and rather untidy villa without any stables.
HECTOR Inhabited by—?
ELLIE A crazy old sea captain and a young singer who adores him.
MRS HUSHABYE A sluttish female, trying to stave off a double chin and an elderly spread, vainly wooing a born soldier of freedom.
MAZZINI Oh, really, Mrs Hushabye—
MANGAN A member of His Majesty’s Government that everybody sets down as a nincompoop: don’t forget him, Lady Utterword.
LADY UTTERWORD And a very fascinating gentleman whose chief occupation is to be married to my sister.
HECTOR All heartbroken imbeciles.
MAZZINI Oh no. Surely, if I may say so, rather a favorable specimen of what is best in our English culture. You are very charming people, most advanced, unprejudiced, frank, humane, unconventional, democratic, free-thinking, and everything that is delightful to thoughtful people.
MRS HUSHABYE You do us proud, Mazzini.
MAZZINI I am not flattering, really. Where else could I feel perfectly at ease in my pyjamas? I sometimes dream that I am in very distinguished society, and suddenly I have nothing on but my pyjamas! Sometimes I haven’t even pyjamas. And I always feel overwhelmed with confusion. But here, I don’t mind in the least: it seems quite natural.
LADY UTTERWORD An infallible sign that you are now not in really distinguished society, Mr Dunn. If you were in my house, you would feel embarrassed.
MAZZINI I shall take particular care to keep out of your house, Lady Utterword.
LADY UTTERWORD You will be quite wrong, Mr Dunn. I should make you very comfortable; and you would not have the trouble and anxiety of wondering whether you should wear your purple and gold or your green and crimson dressing-gown at dinner. You complicate life instead of simplifying it by doing these ridiculous things.
ELLIE Your house is not Heartbreak House: is it, Lady Utterword?
HECTOR Yet she breaks hearts, easy as her house is. That poor devil upstairs with his flute howls when she twists his heart, just as Mangan howls when my wife twists his.
LADY UTTERWORD That is because Randall has nothing to do but have his heart broken. It is a change from having his head shampooed. Catch anyone breaking Hastings’ heart!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The numskull wins, after all.
LADY UTTERWORD I shall go back to my numskull with the greatest satisfaction when I am tired of you all, clever as you are.
MANGAN [huffily] I never set up to be clever.
LADY UTTERWORD I forgot you, Mr Mangan.
MANGAN Well, I don’t see that quite, either.
LADY UTTERWORD You may not be clever, Mr Mangan; but you are successful.
MANGAN But I don’t want to be regarded merely as a successful man. I have an imagination like anyone else. I have a presentiment—
MRS HUSHABYE Oh, you are impossible, Alfred. Here I am devoting myself to you; and you think of nothing but your ridiculous presentiment. You bore me. Come and talk poetry to me under the stars. [She drags him away into the darkness.]
MANGAN [tearfully, as he disappears] Yes: it’s all very well to make fun of me; but if you only knew—
HECTOR [impatientty] How is all this going to end?
MAZZINI It won’t end, Mr Hushabye. Life doesn’t end: it goes on.
ELLIE Oh, it can’t go on forever. I’m always expecting something. I don’t know what it is; but life must come to a point sometime.
LADY UTTERWORD The point for a young woman of your age is a baby.
HECTOR Yes, but, damn it, I have the same feeling; and I can’t have a baby.
LADY UTTERWORD By deputy, Hector.
HECTOR But I have children. All that is over and done with for me: and yet I too feel that this can’t last. We sit here talking, and leave everything to Mangan and to chance and to the devil. Think of the powers of destruction that Mangan and his mutual admiration gang wield! It’s madness: it’s like giving a torpedo to a badly brought up child to play at earthquakes with.
MAZZINI I know. I used often to think about that when I was young.
HECTOR Think! What’s the good of thinking about it? Why didn’t you do something?
MAZZINI But I did. I joined societies and made speeches and wrote pamphlets. That was all I could do. But, you know, though the people in the societies thought they knew more than Mangan, most of them wouldn’t have joined if they had known as much. You see they had never had any money to handle or any men to manage. Every year I expected a revolution, or some frightful smash-up: it seemed impossible that we could blunder and muddle on any longer. But nothing happened, except, of course, the usual poverty and crime and drink that we are used to. Nothing ever does happen. It’s amazing how well we get along, all things considered.
LADY UTTERWORD Perhaps somebody cleverer than you and Mr Mangan was at work all the time.
MAZZINI Perhaps so. Though I was brought up not to believe in anything, I often feel that there is a great deal to be said for the theory of an over-ruling Providence, after all.
LADY UTTERWORD Providence! I meant Hastings.
MAZZINI Oh, I beg your pardon, Lady Utterword.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Every drunken skipper trusts to Providence. But one of the ways of Providence with drunken skippers is to run them on the rocks.
MAZZINI Very true, no doubt, at sea. But in politics, I assure you, they only run into jellyfish thing happens.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER At sea nothing happens to the sea. Nothing happens to the sky. The sun comes up from the east and goes down to the west. The moon grows from a sickle to an arc lamp, and comes later and later until she is lost in the light as other things are lost in the darkness. After the typhoon, the flying-fish glitter in the sunshine like birds. It’s amazing how they get along, all things considered. Nothing happens, except something not worth mentioning.
ELLIE What is that, O Captain, my captain?li
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [savagely] Nothing but the smash of the drunken skipper’s ship on the rocks, the splintering of her rotten timbers, the tearing of her rusty plates, the drowning of the crew like rats in a trap.
ELLIE Moral: don’t take rum.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [vehemently] That is a lie, child. Let a man drink ten barrels of rum a day, he is not a drunken skipper until he is a drifting skipper. Whilst he can lay his course and stand on his bridge and steer it, he is no drunkard. It is the man who lies drinking in his bunk and trusts to Providence that I call the drunken skipper, though he drank nothing but the waters of the River Jordan.
ELLIE Splendid! And you haven’t had a drop for an hour. You see you don’t need it: your own spirit is not dead.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Echoes: nothing but echoes. The last shot was fired years ago.
HECTOR And this ship that we are all in? This soul’s prison we call England?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The captain is in his bunk, drinking bottled ditch-water; and the crew is gambling in the forecastle. She will strike and sink and split. Do you think the laws of God will be suspended in favor of England because you were born in it?
HECTOR Well, I don’t mean to be drowned like a rat in a trap. I still have the will to live. What am I to do?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Do? Nothing simpler. Learn your business as an Englishman.
HECTOR And what may my business as an Englishman be, pray?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Navigation. Learn it and live; or leave it and be damned.
ELLIE Quiet, quiet: you’ll tire yourself.
MAZZINI I thought all that once, Captain; but I assure you nothing will happen.
A dull distant explosion is heard.
HECTOR [starting up] What was that?
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Something happening [he blows his whistle]. Breakers ahead!
The light goes out.
HECTOR [furiously] Who put that light out? Who dared put that light out?
NURSE GUINNESS [running in from the house to the middle of the esplanade] I did, sir. The police have telephoned to say we’ll be summoned if we don’t put that light out: it can be seen for miles.
HECTOR It shall be seen for a hundred miles [he dashes into the house].
NURSE GUINNESS The rectory is nothing but a heap of bricks, they say. Unless we can give the rector a bed he has nowhere to lay his head this night.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The Church is on the rocks, breaking up. I told him it would unless it headed for God’s open sea.
NURSE GUINNESS And you are all to go down to the cellars.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Go there yourself, you and all the crew. Batten down the hatches.
NURSE GUINNESS And hide beside the coward I married! I’ll go on the roof first. [The lamp lights up again.] There! Mr Hushabye’s turned it on again.
THE BURGLAR [hurrying in and appealing to NURSE GUINNESS] Here: where’s the way to that gravel pit? The boot-boy says there’s a cave in the gravel pit. Them cellars is no use. Where’s the gravel pit, Captain?
NURSE GUINNESS Go straight on past the flagstaff until you fall into it and break your dirty neck. [She pushes him contemptuously towards the flagstaff,andherself goes to the foot of the hammock and waits there, as it were by Ariadne’s cradle.]
Another and louder explosion is heard. The burglar stops and stands trembling.
ELLIE [rising] That was nearer.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The next one will get us. [He rises.] Stand by, all hands, for judgment.
THE BURGLAR Oh my Lordy God! [He rushes away frantically past the flagstaff into the gloom.]
MRS HUSHABYE [emerging panting from the darkness] Who was that running away? [She comes to ELLIE.] Did you hear the explosions? And the sound in the sky: it’s splendid: it’s like an orchestra: it’s like Beethoven.
ELLIE By thunder, Hesione: it is Beethoven.
She and HESIONE throw themselves into one another’s arms in wild excitement. The light increases.
MAZZINI [anxiously] The light is getting brighter.
NURSE GUINNESS [looking up at the house] It’s Mr Hushabye turning on all the lights in the house and tearing down the curtains.
RANDALL [rushing in in his pyjamas, distractedly waving a flute] Ariadne, my soul, my precious, go down to the cellars: I beg and implore you, go down to the cellars!
LADY UTTERWORD [quite composed in her hammock] The governor’s wife in the cellars with the servants! Really, Randall!
RANDALL But what shall I do if you are killed?
LADY UTTERWORD You will probably be killed, too, Randall. Now play your flute to show that you are not afraid; and be good. Play us “Keep the home fires burning.”
NURSE GUINNESS [grimly] They’ll keep the home fires burning for us: them up there.
RANDALL [having tried to play] My lips are trembling. I can’t get a sound.
MAZZINI I hope poor Mangan is safe.
MRS HUSHABYE He is hiding in the cave in the gravel pit.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER My dynamite drew him there. It is the hand of God.
HECTOR [returning from the house and striding across to his former place] There is not half light enough. We should be blazing to the skies.
ELLIE [tense with excitement] Set fire to the house, Marcus.
MRS HUSHABYE My house! No.
HECTOR I thought of that; but it would not be ready in time.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER The judgment has come. Courage will not save you; but it will show that your souls are still live.
MRS HUSHABYE Sh-sh! Listen: do you hear it now? It’s magnificent.
They all turn away from the house and look up, listening.
HECTOR [gravely] Miss Dunn, you can do no good here. We of this house are only moths flying into the candle. You had better go down to the cellar.
ELLIE [scornfully] I don’t think.
MAZZINI Ellie, dear, there is no disgrace in going to the cellar. An officer would order his soldiers to take cover. Mr Hushabye is behaving like an amateur. Mangan and the burglar are acting very sensibly; and it is they who will survive.
ELLIE Let them. I shall behave like an amateur. But why should you run any risk?
MAZZINI Think of the risk those poor fellows up there are running!
NURSE GUINNESS Think of them, indeed, the murdering blackguards! What next?
A terrific explosion shakes the earth. They reel back into their seats, or clutch the nearest support. They hear the falling of the shattered glass from the windows.
MAZZINI Is anyone hurt?
HECTOR Where did it fall?
NURSE GUINNESS [in hideous triumph] Right in the gravel pit: I seen it. Serve un right! I seen it [she runs away towards the gravel pit, laughing harshly].
HECTOR One husband gone.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Thirty pounds of good dynamite wasted.
MAZZINI Oh, poor Mangan!
HECTOR Are you immortal that you need pity him? Our turn next.
They wait in silence and intense expectation. HESIONE and ELLIE hold each other’s hand tight.
A distant explosion is heard.
MRS HUSHABYE [relaxing her grip] Oh! they have passed us.
LADY UTTERWORD The danger is over, Randall. Go to bed.
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER Turn in, all hands. The ship is safe. [He sits down and goes asleep.]
ELLIE [disappointedly] Safe!
HECTOR [disgustedly] Yes, safe. And how damnably dull the world has become again suddenly! [He sits down.]
MAZZINI [sitting down] I was quite wrong, after all. It is we who have survived; and Mangan and the burglar—
HECTOR—the two burglars—
LADY UTTERWORD—the two practical men of business—
MAZZINI—both gone. And the poor clergyman will have to get a new house.
MRS HUSHABYE But what a glorious experience! I hope they’ll come again tomorrow night.
ELLIE [radiant at the prospect] Oh, I hope so.
RANDALL at last succeeds in keeping the home fires burninglj on his flute.
For many of the footnotes and endnotes of this edition, and especially where I have not been able to track a reference myself, I have relied mainly on two sources: the series of selected Shaw plays (Major Barbara, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House) annotated by A. C. Ward in the 1950s and 1960s, published by Longmans, Green and Co; and The Complete Prefaces, vols. 1 and 2, annotated by Dan H. Laurence and Daniel J. Leary, published by Allen Lane, Penguin Press, 1993, 1995.
1 (p. 5) they conclude that I am echoing Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Strindberg, Tolstoy: Shaw is naming several controversial figures of his time: German philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860) and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900); Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828—1906); Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg (1849—19 12); and Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910).
2 (p. 6) though I already knew all about Alnaschar and Don Quixote and Simon Tappertit and many another romantic hero mocked by reality: Shaw lists three fictional romantic heroes: In “The Barber’s Fifth Brother,” a tale from The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, Alnaschar is a dreamer who invests in glassware in a scheme to become rich and marry the vizier’s daughter, but then shatters the glass in a rage against his imaginary wife; Don Quixote is the idealistic romantic hero of the satirical romance of that name by Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1 616); Simon Tappertit, in Charles Dickens’s novel Barnaby Rudge (1841), is a locksmith’s apprentice given to ambitious and romantic delusions.
3 (p. 10) Nietzsche, like Schopenhauer, is the victim in England of a single much quoted sentence containing the phrase “big blonde beast”: The phrase, from Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals (1887; First Essay, section 11), refers to the noble animal element that reemerges from time to time in heroic peoples. “Blonde,” according to Nietzsche’s translator, Walter Kaufmann, refers not to the Teutonic races but to a lion’s mane.
4 (p. 15) His [Undershaft‘s] conduct stands the Kantian test: The reference is to the categorical imperative—universal rule of ethical conduct—of German philosopher Immanuel Kant (17 24-1804): Act as if the maxim from which you act were to become a universal law.
5 (p. 20) I am met with nothing but vague cacklings about Ibsen and Nietzsche, and am only too thankful that they are not about Alfred de Musset and Georges Sand: Shaw uses French writers (and lovers) Alfred de Musset (1810—1857) and George Sand (1804)-1876; pen name of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dude vant) as representatives of outmoded Romantic thought.
6 (p. 26) a flag with Blood and Fire on it is unfurled, not in murderous rancor, but because fire is beautiful and blood a vital and splendid red: The Salvation Army motto, which appears on its flag, is “Blood and Fire.” Shaw explains here that the Blood and Fire are not literal but rather figurative of the beauty and energy of life and joy; like the English artist and poet William Blake (1757-1827), Shaw appreciated the power and exuberance of vital energy.
7 (p. 28) like Frederick’s grenadier, the Salvationist wants to live for ever: During the SevenYears War ( 1756—1763), in his failed attack on Kolin (June 18, 1757), King Frederick II of Prussia (known as Frederick the Great) is said to have turned to his hesitant soldiers and urged them on with the taunt, “You scoundrels! Do you want to live forever?”
8 (p. 38) he launches his sixpennorth of fulminate, missing his mark, but ... slaying twenty-three persons, besides wounding ninety-nine.... Had he blown all Madrid to atoms, ... not one could have escaped the charge of being an accessory, ... themselves also: Unfortunately, Shaw here seems to sympathize with Morral’s terrorist act (see note on page 37); at the least, he refuses to judge it as something worse than stupidity: The deaths of twenty-three innocent people and the injuring of ninety-nine others provoke him only to note that as participants in a repressive and exploitative capitalist society, they along with everyone else were guilty of allowing that society to continue its evil. It is an abhorrent view. And if it does not sound strange to our ears, that is because we heard this explanation of terrorism often enough after the terrorist attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
9 (p. 38) Bonapart’s pounding of the Paris mob to pieces in 1795, called in playful approval by our respectable classes “the whiff of grapeshot”: “The Whiff of Grapeshot” is the title of chapter 7 in Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle’s 1837 work The French Revolution (book 3, part 7). In the chapter Carlyle recounts how Napoleon fired with cannons upon a crowd of insurrectionists, killing 200 of them; he asserts that this action marked the end of the French Revolution.
10 (p. 39) who can doubt that all over the world proletarians of the ducal kidney are now revelling in “the whiff of dynamite”: Shaw’s analogy creates a false moral equivalence between a crowd using violence to seize power and in turn being met with violence to a crowd witnessing a wedding and being blown up.
11 (p. 39) we are a civilized and merciful people, and, however much we may regret it, must not treat him as Ravaillac and Damiens: François Ravaillac (1578—1610) assassinated King Henry IV of France (Henry of Navarre); Robert-Francis Damiens (1715-1757) attempted to assassinate King Louis XV of France. Both men were tortured and executed.
12 (p. 40) Think of him setting out to find a gentleman and a Christian in the multitude of human wolves howling for his blood: The outcry against Morral and Nakens (see note on page 40) must have been extraordinary for Shaw to display anger as he does here. One hopes that Shaw’s appellation (howling wolves) was not meant to apply to the families of the twenty-three people killed by Morral, who might justifiably speak against Nakens for harboring a terrorist.
13 (p. 45) It would be far more sensible to put up with their vices ... until they give more trouble than they are worth, at which point we should ... place them in the lethal chamber: Shaw was a man of ideas: Many were good; several were bad. The idea of executing incorrigible lawbreakers is an example of the latter. Shaw believed that execution should be reserved only for those criminals who are not capable of reform; he considered that system of dealing with crime to be morally superior for three reasons: He saw punishment of any kind as morally reprehensible and repugnant; he considered capital punishment to be murder and revenge dressed in solemn ritual; and he believed that capital punishment degrades the souls of the executors. Furthermore, he felt repeat offenders should be executed in a nonpunitive way rather than imprisoned because imprisonment is extraordinarily cruel punishment and therefore morally indefensible.
14 (p. 49) Lady Britomart: Lady Britomart is named after Ed mund Spenser’s knight-heroine in book 3 of The Faerie Queene (1590) to indicate her formidable strength of character. The name also suggests a range of meanings and associations: British, Mars (god of war in classical mythology), and markets (capitalism) .
15 (p. 54) “Do you think Bismarck or Gladstone or Disraeli could have openly defied every social and moral obligation all their lives as your father has?”: Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), known as the Iron Chancellor, was the first chancellor of Germany; rivals William Gladstone (1809-1898) and Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) were successive prime ministers of Britain.
16 (p.57) “history tells us of only two successful institutions: one the Undershaft firm, and the other the Roman Empire under the Antonines”: Antonines is the collective name of the second-century Roman emperors Antoninus Pius and his sons, who succeeded him. Undershaft has borrowed this opinion about the age of the Antonines from English historian Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788).
17 (p. 60) Adolphus Cusins: Shaw based the character of Cusins in part on his friend Gilbert Murray (1866—1957), a noted scholar of the religion and literature of ancient Greece. Murray’s translations of Euripides (later much criticized by T. S. Eliot for wordiness) were performed alongside Shaw’s plays at the Court Theatre in the first decade of the twentieth century.
18 (p. 63) “pukinon domon elthein” [transliterated from the Greek]: The phrase, which means “to enter the thick (compact) house,” is adapted from a passage about the theft of a helmet by Autolycus (son of the messenger god Mercury, in Greek mythology) in book 10 of the Iliad, the epic poem about the siege of Troy attributed to the Greek poet Homer. Gilbert Murray (see note 17, above) furnished Shaw with this gag in a letter of October 7, 1905, by suggesting that the line could also mean that it was a bit thick of Autolycus to break into the house.
19 (p. 78) “Romola”: Romola is the eponymous heroine of the 1863 novel by English novelist George Eliot. By his own admission, Shaw “almost venerated” Eliot in his youth; but he later came to regard her as too lacking in hope. By associating Snobby with the Chartists (see note on p. 77) and Rummy with George Eliot, Shaw is distinguishing himself from the previous generation of social reformers.
20 (p. 82) striking her with his fist in the face: Though there are episodes of farcical violence in Shaw, this extended episode of realistic violence is unique. In spite of its realism, however, Bill Walker’s violence toward women has the literary model of Bill Sykes’s brutal treatment of Nancy in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist (1837-1838). The connection between the two Bills was made even more apparent when Robert Newton played both characters in the respective film versions: David Lean, who had been the film editor of Major Barbara in 1941, cast Newton as Bill Sykes in the Oliver Twist he directed in 1948.
21 (p. 85) “coroner’s inquest on me daughter”: As the father of a daughter who has died, Peter Shirley foreshadows Under shaft in his later figurative loss of Barbara.
22 (p. 96) “Dionysos”: In Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of wine, is not one of the original Olympian gods and is consequently something of an outsider—a foundling god, one might say. The Greeks associated Dionysus with wine-drinking and ecstatic reveling, hence with the abandonment (or transcendence) of reason and rational restraint of the appetites. Gilbert Murray’s translation of Euripides’ The Bacchae, which depicts the seduction and destruction of the young ruler Pentheus by Dionysus, influenced the writing of Major Barbara, as did Shaw’s friendship and collegial relationship with Murray. Murray’s translation of Euripides’ Hippolytus was performed at the Court Theatre the same year Major Barbara was performed there.
23 (p. 96) “One and another / In money and guns may outpass his brother; ... / But whoe’er can know ... / That to live is happy, has found his heaven”: Shaw has Cusins quote from Murray’s translation of The Bacchae, but he substitutes “money and guns” for Murray’s “gold and power.”
24 (p. 97) “Is it so hard a thing to see ... / And shall not Barbara be loved for ever?”: Cusins continues to quote from The Bacchae, substituting “Fate” for “Hate” in Murray’s original and, as he goes on to indicate, “Barbara” in place of “loveliness.”
25 (p. 106) “That will make the standard price to buy anybody who’s for sale. I’m not; and the Army’s not”: In a Wildean example of life imitating art, in 2002 a Florida chapter of the Salvation Army refused a large donation from an individual who had won the state lottery on the grounds that it would be hypocritical to accept the winnings because many of the Army’s clients had gambled away their families’ financial means of support.
26 (p. 107) incidentally stealing the sovereign on his way out by picking up his cap from the drum: Snobby’s deft theft of Bill’s sovereign parallels Undershaft’s stealthy “removal” of Barbara’s ability to rely on the Salvation Army, which he is in the process of accomplishing underneath the surface of the action.
27 (p. 114) the band strikes up the march, which rapidly becomes more distant as the procession moves briskly away: Shaw controls the mood and emotion of this moment through stagecraft. Having gradually crowded the scene from the beginning of the act to the climax here, he now swiftly removes almost everyone from the stage to enact the sense of Barbara’s feeling of abandonment and loss. Everyone (save Peter Shirley) and everything fades away from her, including the sound of the Salvation Army band, leaving her bewildered and desolate.
28 (p. 114) “‘My ducats and my daughter’!”: Undershaft ironically quotes Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on the subject of losing both his daughter and the money she stole from him while eloping with Lorenzo (act 2, scene 8). At this moment, Undershaft has “lost” his daughter by deliberately alienating her from her vocation as a Salvation Army savior of souls; and he has lost his money by donating a large sum to the Salvation Army.
29 (p. 115) The mug smashes against the door and falls in fragments: Here Shaw creates in the action a realistic and striking analogue to the shattering of Barbara’s sense of self.
30 (p. 116) “a Rowton doss”: This is a step up from a flophouse: A doss is a crude or makeshift bed; in the late nineteenth century, an organization chaired by English philanthropist Baron Rowton made good, inexpensive lodgings available to the poor.
31 (p. 116) “Tell me about Tom Paine’s books and Bradlaush’s lectures”: American political philosopher Thomas Paine (1737- 1809) and English reformer Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891) were radical left-wing thinkers; they appeal to Peter Shirley because of their antireligious (Paine) and unorthodox religious (Bradlaugh) views. Shaw implies that Barbara now needs to rethink how to channel her own deeply religious impulses.
32 (p. 137) “Did you know that, Undershaft?”: Lomax’s presumptuously familiar form of address here is underlined by Undershaft’s pointedly formal address in his response: “Mr. Lomax.” Lomax’s carelessness with matches extends to his manners and, Shaw implies, to his intellectual exercises as well.
33 (p. 138) “William Morris Labor Church”: William Morris (1834-1896), socialist and aestheticist, was one of Shaw’s heroes. That Morris has inspired the founding of a Labor church is a Shaw joke.
34 (p. 144) UNDERSHAFT (enigmatically) “A will of which I am a part.”BARBARA (startled) “father! Do you know what you are saying; or are you laying a snare for my soul?”: Barbara’s response indicates that she interprets her father’s enigmatic statement to mean that God’s mysterious will drives the munitions works. But Shaw has made Undershaft’s self-explanation resemble closely that of Mephistopheles in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s nineteenth-century poetic drama Faust (part I): “I am a part of the part [Chaos] that originally was all there was.” Shaw thus preserves the ambiguity of Undershaft’s agency—that is, whether it is divine or devilish.
THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA
1 (p. 178) equipage (or autopage): Shaw here coins the latter term (referring to keeping an automobile) in imitation of the former, which means a horse-drawn carriage and the expenses and employees associated with keeping it.
2 . (p. 181) every piano-tuner a Helmholtz, every Old Bailey barrister a Solon, every Seven Dials pigeon dealer a Darwin, ... every locomotive engine a miracle, and its driver no less wonderful than George Stephenson: Hermann L. F. von Helmholtz (1821-1894) was a renowned German physiologist and physicist; Old Bailey is London’s main criminal court building; Greek statesman Solon (c.600 B.C.), one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, was renowned as a wise lawgiver; Seven Dials, a meeting point of seven roads in London and a poor area in Victorian times, is an unglamorous locale; English inventor George Stephenson (1781-1848) invented the railway locomotive engine.
3 (p. 208) Bluebeard: Bluebeard, the serial wife-killer of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale in Contes de ma mere l‘oye (Mother Goose Tales, 1697), is presumably based on the real-life figure of Gilles de Rais, a fifteenth-century homosexual pederast and serial killer of young boys. Shaw would use the historical character in his play Saint Joan (1923).
4 (p. 226) I was reproached during the performances of The Doctor’s Dilemma at the Court Theatre in 1907: The Court Theatre is where many of Shaw’s plays were first performed between 1904 and 1907. These productions consolidated his reputation as an accomplished, provocative, entertaining modern playwright. This preface to The Doctor’s Dilemma was written after it had been rehearsed and performed at the Court Theatre. Shaw always advised readers to attend to his prefaces after they had seen or read the play.
5 (p. 253) His combination of soft manners and responsive kindliness, with a certain unseizable reserve and a familiar yet foreign chiselling of feature, reveal the Jew: Although Shaw’s observations here of racial characteristics are without self-consciousness or prejudice, his calling attention to Doctor Schutzmacher’s racial identity was deemed too controversial when a film version of the play was made in 1958: The character was omitted in the adaptation.
6 (p. 258) “What is it the old cardinal says in Browning’s play? ’I have known four and twenty leaders of revolt’ ”: The “old cardinal” is the papal legate Ogniben (Everygood in Italian), in English playwright Robert Browning’s A Soul’s Tragedy (1846); in the play, Ogniben cynically manipulates the protagonist, Chiappino, into demonstrating how unreal his political idealism is. Sir Patrick plays a somewhat analogous role in Ridgeon’s adventure of self-discovery. (Shaw had been a member of the Browning Society and knew Browning’s verse dramas well.)
7 (p. 267) “Walpole! the absent-minded beggar”: The reference is to English writer Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem “The Absent-minded Beggar.” The accent in the delivery of B.B.’s line falls on “absent-minded”; “beggar” is used here figuratively to mean “fellow,” not an actual “beggar.”
8 (p. 317) “I don’t believe in morality. I’m a disciple of Bernard Shaw”: Michael Holroyd reports in his biography of Shaw (Bernard Shaw, vol. 2; see “For Further Reading”) that a blackmailer once tried to justify his criminal behavior by claiming he was a disciple of Shaw. Such a misuse of his works, Shaw felt, was due mainly to journalistic misrepresentations of his ideas.
9 (p. 341) “I believe in Michael Angelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; ... Amen”: Shaw indicated that Louis’s prayer derives from a story by German composer and writer Richard Wagner, “An End in Paris” (1841), in which the composer-protagonist professes a similar creed, but with “God, Mozart, and Beethoven” where Louis has his trinity of great artists.
10 (p. 346) “I think it is Shakespear who says ... The readiness is all”: Shaw said that this hilarious mismatching and mangling of lines from Shakespeare’s plays was inspired by the duke’s fearful version of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Mark Twain’s 1884 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (chapter 21). First, B.B. switches the order of “good” and “evil” in Marc Antony’s famous observation, “The evil that men do lives after them, / The good is oft interred with their bones” (Julius Caesar, act 3, scene 2). “If tis not today, twil be tomorrow” approximates Hamlet’s “If it be not now, yet it will come” (Hamlet, act 5, scene 2). “Tomorrow and tomorrow and to morrow” is from Macbeth’s despairing speech (Macbeth, act 5, scene 5). B.B. next comes close to Macbeth’s words about Duncan: “After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well” (act 3, scene 2). “And like this insubstantial bourne ... wrack behind” combines Hamlet’s “from whose bourne no traveler returns” (act 3, scene 1) with Prospero’s “And like this insubstantial pageant faded / Leave not a rack [cloud] behind” (The Tempest, act 4, scene 1). “Out, out, brief candle” is Macbeth’s speech (act 5, scene 5). “Nothing canst thou to damnation add” is Othello to Iago (Othello, act 3, scene 3). Finally, B.B. returns to Hamlet’s same speech about Providence for “The readiness is all” (act 5, scene 5).
1 (p. 361) Melville Bell: The reference is to American teacher of elocution Alexander Melville Bell (1819-1905); inspired by his wife’s deafness, he invented “visible speech,” a system of written sounds, to help deaf-mutes communicate.
2 (p. 367) St. Paul’s Church: In later editions Shaw specified, “Not Wren’s cathedral but Inigo Jones’ church.” Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) were renowned English architects. Jones restored Saint Paul’s Church in 1634; Wren designed the new Saint Paul’s Cathedral after it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
3 (p. 369) “Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal,fewd dan y’ de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel‘s, flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin.Will ye-oo py me f ’them”: That is, “Oh, he’s your son, is he? Well, if you’d done your duty by him as a mother should, he’d know better than to spoil a poor girl’s flowers and then run away without paying. Will you pay me for them?”
4 (p. 374) “May I ask, sir, do you do this for your living at a music hall?”: The origin of this episode in the play can be found in a letter Shaw wrote to The Morning Leader (August 16, 1901) about his having been invited to the docks to explain elocution to the laborers. When Shaw instead explained to them the “phonetic alphabet,” they were amused and called him “a quick-change artist.” Also, though they recognized the difference between their pronunciation and that of educated people, “the nature of that difference—which they earnestly desired to remove—was a mystery to them.”
5 (p. 381) On the walls, engravings; mostly Piranesis: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was an Italian architect and engraver; his Carceri (Prisons) engravings depict enormous and labyrinthine structures that, as geometric displays, appeal to Higgins’s scientific taste.
6 (p. 397) “You know, Pickering, that woman has the most extraordinary ideas about me.... I cant account for it”: Higgins’s lack of self-knowledge in regard to his domineering nature is comparable to Lady Britomart’s similar disingenuousness in Major Barbara. Ultimately, though, Shaw’s comic motif of willful egotists who fail to recognize themselves as such probably derives from Sir Anthony Absolute (in Richard Sheridan’s The Rivals, 1775), who, in the midst of a passionate fury, asks his son Jack to be “cool” like his father.
7 (p. 399) “his native woodnotes wild”: English poet John Milton (1608-1674) refers thus to Shakespeare in his poem “L‘Allegro” (line 134) in order to distinguish his own art as sophisticated and premeditated from Shakespeare’s spontaneous products of the imagination. Shaw made a similar distinction between himself and Shakespeare, whom he considered to be the master of word music, but poor in ideas. By recalling Milton’s lines here Shaw makes Higgins, the figurative version of himself, a Miltonist; like Milton, Shaw was anxious about his own originality in comparison to Shakespeare. Milton and his creation Satan (in Paradise Lost) and Shaw and his creation Higgins all want to be the authors of themselves.
8 (p. 409) Mrs. Higgins was brought up on Morris and Burne Jones; and her room ... is not crowded with furniture and little tables and nicknacks.... the Morris wall-papers, and the Morris chintz window curtains and brocade covers.... A few good oil-paintings ... (the Burne Jones, not the Whistler): English poet and artist William Morris (1834-1896), a friend of Shaw, introduced the idea of designing homes and furnishings according to aesthetic principles; he designed wallpaper, chintzes, and the like. Mrs. Higgins rejects Victorian horror vacui (“fear of empty spaces”) by not crowding her drawing room with “furniture and little tables and nicknacks”; in doing so, she proclaims her modernity. Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) was a pre-Raphaelite painter and an associate of Morris; Mrs. Higgins’s embrace of Burne-Jones shows that her modernity stops short of Shaw’s contemporaries, for she has no paintings in the more modern manner of Whistler.
9 (p. 411) “My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible”: Shaw refers to Higgins as having a “mother-fixation,” and as such he must be accounted as one of the earliest literary characters created from a consciousness of the Oedipus complex (a child’s sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite sex and jealousy of the parent of the same sex), a theory developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Shaw was familiar with Freud’s theories and wrote about them extensively to Gilbert Murray on March 14, 1911.
10 (p. 419) “bloody”: No one knows precisely why this particular adjective became taboo in British English, but it did. Its casual application seems to have been considered blasphemous or sacrilegious, or at least too vulgar for polite conversation. It was unheard on the British stage until Eliza uttered it in 1914; it provoked tidal waves of laughter, as much at the breaking of a taboo as at the enormity of Eliza’s social gaffe. Since there are no more verbal taboos on our stage, except politically incorrect ones, the original effect is not reproducible.
11 (p. 424) “Lionel Monckton”: This English composer (1861-1924) wrote the hit musical comedy The Arcadians, which ran in London from 1909 to 1911; Monckton’s most popular airs would have been familiar to Londoners like Higgins and Eliza.
12 (p. 428) La Fanciulla del Golden West: Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s great opera is actually titled La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West, 1910); Shaw has conflated its title with that of its play-source, The Girl of the Golden West (1905), by American playwright David Belasco. The aria Higgins is “half-singing” is most likely “Ch’ ella mi creda libero e lontano” (Let her think that I am free and far away).
13 (p. 435) and finally goes down on her knees on the hearthrug to look for the ring: The hearthrug is in front of the fireplace where Higgins had flung the ring. By having Eliza search there among the ashes, Shaw is playing on the story of Cinderella. In later editions Shaw added that Eliza then puts the ring on the dessert stand, where she knows Higgins will find it because of his fondness for sweets.
14 (pp. 441-442) “it’s a choice between the Skilly of the workhouse and the Char Bydis of the middle class”: In Greek legend Scylla, a sea monster, and Charybdis, a whirlpool, occupied opposite sides of the Strait of Messina, through which Odysseus had to sail without being capsized by either. The phrase “between Scylla and Charybdis” means between two equal difficulties.
15 (p. 459) Higgins, left alone, rattles his cash in his pocket; chuckles; and disports himself in a highly self-satisfied manner: Since the first performance of Pygmalion in England, actors and audiences have rebelled against the unresolved ending of Shaw’s first version of the play, used in this edition. In Shaw’s later revision, Higgins “roars with laughter” as he informs his mother that Eliza is going to “marry Freddy.” In so doing, Higgins conforms to the prose narrative Shaw appended to the published version of the play.
16 (p. 469) Age had not withered him, nor could custom stale his infinite variety: Shaw’s application of Enobarbus’s famous ascription of immortal vitality to Cleopatra (in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, act 2, scene 2) shows his great affection and friendship for Wells, as do the sentences that follow.
1 (p. 477) Heartbreak House and Horseback Hall: With these two categories—metaphors, really Shaw indicates a division of the upper classes. Heartbreak House, as he goes on to explain, symbolizes the socially liberal, artistic, and intellectual but apolitical and self-absorbed group; Horseback Hall is the pro forma conservative, anti-intellectual, anti-artistic, but pro-leisure-sports and self-absorbed group. Shaw points out that neither group provided a good pool for political leaders.
2 (p. 479) the garden of Klingsor: Shaw uses this image as a symbol of sensuous self-indulgence. In German composer Richard Wagner’s 1882 opera Parsifal, the eponymous hero is tempted to such self-indulgence by the flower maidens in the magical garden of the evil magician Klingsor.
3 (p. 489) unsuccessful [attempt] to assassinate Mr Lloyd George: David Lloyd George (1863-1945) was prime minister of Great Britain during the last two years of World War I, and thereafter for four more years. Louis Cottin, an anarchist, attempted to assassinate him but only wounded him.
4 (p. 492) Tearing the Garter from the Kaiser’s leg, ... changing the King’s illustrious and historically appropriate surname (for the war was the old war of Guelph against Ghibelline): The Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded in 1348 by King Edward III; at the start of World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia (1888 to 1918), was stripped of this high British honor. Also at the start of the war, Britain’s King George V changed his family name from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the English Windsor. The Guelphs and the Ghibellines were two warring political parties in Italy during the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries; the Guelphs, the papal and popular party, opposed the authority of the German emperors in Italy, while the aristocratic Ghibellines supported the German emperors.
5 . (p. 516) to destroy the militarism of Zabern: Zabern, usually spelled Saverne, in northeastern France in the region of Alsace-Lorraine, was the site of conflict between the German military and local citizens that contributed to the motivation for World War I.
6 (p. 517) Apostolic Hapsburg has collapsed;All Highest Hohenzollern languishes in Holland, ... Imperial Romanoff, said to have perished miserably by a more summary method of murder, ... the lord of Hellas is level with his lackeys in republican Switzerland; ... Commanders-in-Chief have passed from a brief glory as Solons and Caesars into failure and obscurity: Hapsburg is the name of the ruling family of Austria that gained ascendancy over much of Europe during the sixteenth century. Hohenzollern is the royal family name of Kaiser Wilhelm II (see note 4, above), who abdicated to Holland on November 9, 1918. Czar Nicholas II of Russia (1868—1918), a member of the Romanoff (or Romanov) Russian dynasty and the last czar of Russia, was murdered with all his family by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. Constantine I, king of Greece (1913-1917, 1920-1922), known as king of the Hellenes, did not support the Allied forces during World War I and consequently was deposed; he sought refuge in Switzerland. The Greek statesman Solon (c.600 B.C.), one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, was renowned as a wise lawgiver.
7 (p. 518) “Lass’uns verderben, lachend zu grunde geh‘n”: The English translation is “Laughing let us be destroyed, laughing let us go to our graves”; the quotation is from the ecstatic love duet between Brünnhilde and Siegfried that concludes Richard Wagner’s 1871 opera Siegfried.
8 (pp. 518-519) That is why I had to withhold Heartbreak House from the footlights during the war;for the Germans might ... not have waited for their cues: In a letter of October 5, 1916, to Sidney and Beatrice Webb (fellow members of the Fabian Society), Shaw recounts his experience with two zeppelins that passed over his country home in Ayot St. Lawrence; the experience was the inspiration for the end of the play. In the letter, Shaw writes: “The sound of the Zepp’s engines was so fine, and its voyage through the stars so enchanting, that I positively caught myself hoping next night that there would be another raid.” Clearly, Shaw transmuted these feelings into Ellie and Hesione’s emotions at the end of the play. Shaw adds the following observation in the letter after he notes the human suffering caused by the bringing down of one of the zeppelins and the gleeful response of some of the onlookers, as well as his own ability to get right to sleep: “Pretty lot of animals we are!”
9 (p. 524) “It has been a very unpleasant surprise to me to find that nobody expects me”: It is a common motif in dreams that one arrives at a place where one is not known or expected. Heartbreak House begins with Ellie’s falling asleep, and with Nurse Guinness’s just managing to prevent a crash of bottles to the floor. These two actions frame the play as a circular dream: The entire play may be seen as Ellie’s dream; at the end of the play, the motif of the bottles that do not fall is replicated on a grander scale by the house’s escaping destruction.
10 (p. 596) “it’s like the night in Tristan and Isolde”: In Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde (1859), the lovers are drawn to the night as the realm where a true and complete union can take place between them.
11 (p. 611) “Fall and crush”: Hector echoes Albany’s line, “Fall, and cease” in the last scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear. As Albany sees the ancient Lear carrying in Cordelia’s murdered body, he expresses his sense that the world should collapse and end in the face of such evil. Likewise, through Hector’s sense of futility here, Shaw is expressing his own anger at the carnage and stupidity of a world gone war-mad between 1914 and 1918.
12 (p. 624) “Stop, Ellie; or I shall howl like an animal”: Through Hesione’s near-breakdown, Shaw is alluding (again) to the final scene of King Lear, when Lear enters with the body of Cordelia in his arms and commands everyone to “Howl, howl, howl.” Lear is reduced to a grieving animal howling out its raw pain. It is such grief over the cataclysm of the war that keeps threatening to break through the surface of the play, as here in Hesione’s attempt to suppress her despair.
13 (p. 625) “Was there no heartbreak in that for your father?”: Shotover’s humiliation here in the confession of how his daughter Addy’s leaving home broke his heart shows how deeply Shaw has embedded King Lear in Heartbreak House; just as Lear’s denial of his own mortality manifests itself in his incestuous impulse to keep his daughter Cordelia to himself, so too does Captain Shotover’s resistance to crashing the ship of state on the rocks manifest itself in his spiritual marriage to Ellie, who, as befits the dream-like state of the action, can be both his daughter and his wife. The issue of Ellie’s marrying the older Mangan, a man her adored father’s age, is Shaw’ s version of the first part of King Lear, where Cordelia must first reject her father’s demands on her.
INSPIRED BY PYGMALION AND THREE OTHER PLAYS
My Fair Lady, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, opened on Broadway on March 15, 1956, to overwhelming applause from audiences and critics alike. The original production starred Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins and the incandescent Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle. Eliza gets things started memorably with “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” in which she daydreams for a “room somewhere / far away from the cold night air.”The roster of songs, which all became hits, includes “Just You Wait,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
Lerner and Loewe had attempted to turn Pygmalion into a musical in 1952 but found the task impossible. For this production they made several cuts to Shaw’s drama, most conspicuously changing Shaw’s ending into an unambiguously happy one. At the beginning of the libretto, Lerner inserted the phrase, “I have omitted [Shaw’s epilogue] because in it Shaw explains how Eliza ends not with Higgins but with Freddy and—Shaw and Heaven forgive me!—I am not certain he is right.”Thus My Fair Lady closes with Higgins’s famous: “Eliza? Where the devil are my slippers?”
My Fair Lady quickly became a phenomenon in American thea ter. The Broadway production was a great commercial success, earned ten Tony nominations, and has been called the greatest stage musical of all time. On June 13, 1961, My Fair Lady beat out Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! as history’s longest-running Broadway play, and the best-selling original cast recording is still in demand. At the 1957 Tony Awards, Harrison earned a statue for his performance, and Andrews was nominated for hers (she spent a total of forty-eight months playing Eliza on the stage). My Fair Lady also won Tonys for best director (Moss Hart), best conductor and musical director (Franz Allers), best scenic designer (Oliver Smith), best costume designer (Cecil Beaton), and best musical.
Part of My Fair Lady’s commercial success was the multimillion dollar sale of the movie rights. George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story and David Copperfield) directed the lavish screen adaptation, produced by movie mogul Jack L. Warner. Rex Harrison reprised his stage role as phonetics professor Henry Higgins, and Audrey Hepburn replaced Julie Andrews, with songs voiced by Marni Nixon (who also sang Natalie Wood’s part in West Side Story). The 1964 film opens with a dazzling sequence of close-ups of flowers lining a brilliantly recreated Covent Garden Opera House. Hepburn’s waifish and unwashed Eliza stands by, selling flowers to the fabulously dressed, upper-class operagoers. Without delay, Harrison sidles up and begins to abuse Hepburn for her deplorable accent, giving vent to barbed dialogue that is indebted to Shaw’s original. Some of the more acerbic insults include “A woman who utters such disgusting and depressing noise has no right to be anywhere, no right to live,” and “Don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.” So begins one of cinema’s most intelligent romances, one in which the principal players neither touch nor kiss.
Cukor’s My Fair Lady was nominated for twelve Academy Awards. The film earned Oscars for best actor (Harrison); director; cinematography and color (Harry Stradling); art and set direction; sound; music and score adaptation (André Previn); and costume design (Cecil Beaton), as well as best picture. Oddly enough, Julie Andrews, who is generally agreed to be sorely missing from Cukor’s film, won the best actress Oscar for her performance in that year’s Mary Poppins.
The stage success of My Fair Lady in New York and London inspired MGM to produce a lavish widescreen film of The Doctor‘s Dilemma (1958). Directed by Anthony Asquith (who had co-directed with Leslie Howard the highly successful 1938 film of Pygmalion), it stars Dirk Bogarde and Leslie Caron, and features the experienced Shavian actors Robert Morley and Alastair Sim, who play two incompetent doctors with great comedic zest and skill.
Major Barbara was memorably filmed in 1941 while German bombs fell on London, inconveniencing the production greatly. The director of record is Gabriel Pascal, but the editor, David Lean, seems to have had a large part in putting the film together. Wendy Hiller, who effectively created the role of Eliza Doolittle on screen three years earlier, plays Barbara. Rex Harrison is an attractive Cusins, while Robert Morley makes a delightfully devilish Undershaft.
Heartbreak House has never been filmed, but Rex Harrison and Amy Irving starred in an excellent television adaptation in 1986. Harrison as Captain Shotover proves himself once again the premier Shavian actor of his time, while Amy Irving finds the emotional depth Shaw meant the role of Ellie to have.
COMMENTS & QUESTIONS
In this section, we aim to provide the reader with an array of perspectives on the text, as well as questions that challenge those perspectives. The commentary has been culled from sources as diverse as reviews contemporaneous with the works, letters written by the author, literary criticism of later generations, and appreciations written throughout the works’ history. Following the commentary, a series of questions seeks to filter George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and Three Other Plays through a variety of points of view and bring about a richer understanding of these enduring works.
George Bernard Shaw
Every time one of my new plays is first produced the critics declare it is rotten, though they are always willing to admit that the next to the last play is the greatest thing I’ve done. I have educated the critics up to an appreciation of the next to the last of my plays.
—New YorkTimes (May 5, 1907)
H. L. Mencken
If we divest ourselves of the idea that Shaw is trying to preach some rock-ribbed doctrine in each of his plays, instead of merely setting forth human events as he sees them, we may find his dramas much easier of comprehension. True enough, in his prefaces and stage directions, he delivers himself of many wise saws and elaborate theories. But upon the stage, fortunately, prefaces and stage directions are no longer read to audiences, as they were in Shakespeare’s time, and so, if they are ever to discharge their natural functions, the Shaw dramas must stand as simple plays....
Shaw himself, a follower of Ibsen, has shown variations sufficiently marked to bring him followers of his own. In all the history of the English stage, no man has exceeded him in technical resources nor in nimbleness of wit. Some of his scenes are fairly irresistible, and throughout his plays his avoidance of the old-fashioned machinery of the drama gives even his wildest extravagances an air of reality.
—George Bernard Shaw: His Plays (1905)
A. B. Walkley
In perfect innocence Mr. Shaw puts his apology into the mouth of one of the people in Major Barbara. “Andrew, this is not the place for making speeches”; and Andrew replies, “I know no other way of expressing myself.” Exactly! Here is a dramatist who knows no other way of expressing himself in drama than the essentially undramatic way of speech-making. He never knew any other way, but in his earlier plays he did make an effort to conceal the fact. In his earlier plays there was some pretence of dramatic form, unity, coherence. In Major Barbara there is none.
—Drama and Life (1907)
“The Doctor’s Dilemma”—the nature of the dilemma need not be specified here—is one long tirade against the medical profession. The supposed indictment is fortified by reckless misstatement, gross exaggeration, unscrupulous pleading, suppression of the truth, malicious suggestion, and dogmatic assertion. Occasional instances of maltreatment are quoted as general examples. A quasi-scientific gloss is imparted to fluent nonsense by the use of technical phraseology. In his preface he coolly writes: “I deal with the subject as an economist, a politician, and a citizen, exercising my common sense,” common sense being the one quality of which his fallacious illustrations are conspicuously devoid. He does not explain why an economist or a politician should be an infallible judge of medical ethics, practice, and ability. Never were methods more unscientific than those which he employs. Unfortunately the adroitness of his whimsical humor often distracts attention from his own malpractice. He does not always talk pernicious rubbish. His advocacy of sunshine and soap, for instance, as sanitary agents, is perfectly sound. But his wise edicts are mere platitudes. Some of his conclusions are indisputable, but when he points out the way to reform he shatters his pretence of being an economist. He ruins his case by his unjust perversity, dishonesty, and egotism. But his humorous caricatures of different types of physicians and surgeons are delicious, as is his possibly unintended exposure of the humbug of the so-called “artistic temperament” in the person of the fascinating rascal Dubedat. Mr. Shaw knows something about shams.
—March 30, 1911
A new book by George Bernard Shaw is always hailed by a multitude of readers; even the worst of the Shaw of today is so much better than the best of many writers that the bookbuyer’s enthusiasm will not be seriously dampened by Heartbreak House. It is probably the worst of Shaw....
For the characters are not typical, and the situations are often absurd. The workmanship is frequently slipshod, not in the old way which was Mr. Shaw’s clever flouting of conventional technique, but in pure carelessness. In some cases one smarts from the unadulterated theatrical hoakum.
If a man can be partaker of God’s theatre, he shall likewise be partaker of God’s rest, says Bacon. But if truth be the thing which Shaw will have most, rest is that which he will have not at all. If we will be partakers of Shaw’s theatre we must be prepared to be partakers of his fierce unrest.
But then no thinker would ever desire to lay up any other reward. When Whitman writes: “I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than oneself is,” we must either assent or dissent. Simply to cry out “Whitmanesque!” is no way out of the difficulty. When Ibsen writes a play to prove that building happy homes for happy human beings is not the highest peak of human endeavour, leaving us to find out what higher summit there may be, he intends us to use our brains. It is beside the point to cry out “How like Ibsen!” Heartbreak House is a restatement of these two themes. You have to get Ibsen thoroughly in mind if you are not to find the Zeppelin at the end of Shaw’s play merely monstrous. It has already destroyed the people who achieve; it is to come again to lighten the talkers’ darkness, and at the peril of all the happy homes in the neighbourhood.You will do well to keep Whitman in mind when you hear the old sea-captain bellowing with a thousand different intonations and qualities of emphasis: Be yourself, do not sleep. I do not mean, of course, that Shaw had these two themes actually in mind when he set about this rather maundering, Tchekovian rhapsody. But they have long been part of his mental make-up, and he cannot escape them or their implications. The difficulty seems to be in the implications. Is a man to persist in being himself if that self runs counter to God or the interests of parish, nation, the community at large? The characters in this play are nearer to apes and goats than to men and women. Shall they nevertheless persist in being themselves, or shall they pray to be Zeppelin-destroyed and born again? The tragedy of the women is the very ordinary one of having married the wrong man. But all these men—liars and humbugs, ineffectual, hysterical, neurasthenic—are wrong men. The play, in so far as it has a material plot, is an affair of grotesque and horrid accouplements It is monstrous for the young girl to mate in any natural sense with a, superficially considered, rather disgusting old man. Shall she take him in the spirit as a spiritual mate? Shaw holds that she shall, and that in the theater even spiritual truth shall prevail over formal prettiness.
—Alarums and Excursions (1922)
1. Shaw was an active member of the Fabian Society, a reformist, quasi-socialist organization. Do you see evidence of this affiliation in the plays in this volume?
2. . Consider Shaw’s treatment of strong-minded, unconventional young women. Do they seem real flesh and blood, or mere mouthpieces for Shaw’s ideas? What do you make of their usual association with older men?
3. What are the most common butts of Shaw’s humor?
4. Do you feel that the primary effect of Shaw’s prefaces is to illuminate the plays? What else do they do?
5. Shaw is a notorious polemicist. But are the endings of these four plays polemical? Do they make a point or argue a cause in an unequivocal way? Or are they ambiguous, suggestive rather than explicit?
FOR FURTHER READING
WORKS BY SHAW
Collected Plays with Their Prefaces: Vols. 1-7. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975.
The Collected Screenplays of Bernard Shaw. Edited by Bernard F. Dukore. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980.
Collected Letters. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. Vol. 1, 1874-1897, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1965; Vol. 2, 1898-1910, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1972; Vol. 3, 1911—1925, New York: Viking Press, 1985; Vol. 4, 1926-1950. New York: Viking Press, 1988.
The Drama Observed. Edited by Bernard F. Dukore. Vol. 1 : 1880—1895; Vol. 2:1895—1897; Vol. 3:1897-1911;Vol. 4:1911—1950. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993. An invaluable collection of all Shaw’s writings about theater.
Shaw’s Music: The Complete Musical Criticism in Three Volumes. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. Vol. I:1876-1890; Vol. 2:1890—1893; Vol. 3:1893-1850. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981.
Ervine, St. John G. Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work, and Friends. New York: William Morrow, 1956. The most sympathetic and fair biography of Shaw.
Henderson, Archibald. George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1956.
Holroyd, Michael. Bernard Shaw, Vol. 1, 1856-1898: The Search for Love, New York: Random House, 1988. Bernard Shaw, Vol. 2, 1898-1918: The Pursuit of Power. New York: Random House, 1989. Bernard Shaw, Vol. 3, 1918-1950 : The Lure of Fantasy. New York: Random House, 1991. Bernard Shaw, Vol. 4, 1950-1991: The Last Laugh. New York: Random House, 1992. The most detailed and comprehensive biography. A condensed version is available: Bernard Shaw: The One- Volume Definitive Edition. New York: Random House, 1998.
Shaw, George Bernard. Interviews and Recollections. Edited by A. M. Gibbs. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1990. An indispensable record of first-hand personal views of and by Shaw.
Bentley, Eric. Bernard Shaw. New York: New Directions, 1947.
Berst, Charles A. Bernard Shaw and the Art of Drama. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973.
Bertolini, John A. The Playwrighting Self of Bernard Shaw. Carbon-dale and Edwardsville: University of Southern Illinois Press, 1991.
Crompton, Louis. Shaw the Dramatist. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969.
Dukore, Bernard. Shaw’s Theatre. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.
Evans, T. F., ed. Shaw: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge, 1976.
Gibbs, A. M. The Art and Mind of Shaw. New York: Macmillan, 1983.
Gordon, David J. Bernard Shaw and the Comic Sublime. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
Holroyd, Michael, ed. The Genius of Shaw. New York: Holt, Rine hart and Winston, 1979.
Meisel, Martin. Shaw and the Nineteenth-Century Theater. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963. A brilliant and delightful account of Shaw’s relationship to the theater of his youth.
Morgan, Margery M. The Shavian Playground. London: Methuen, 1972.
Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies: Vols. 1-22 successive. General editors: Stanley Weintraub, Fred D. Crawford, Gale K. Larson. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981-2003.
Turco, Alfred, Jr. Shaw’s Moral Vision. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976.
Valency, Maurice. The Cart and the Trumpet. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.
Watson, Barbara Bellow. A Shavian Guide to the Intelligent Woman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972. Still the best case for Shaw as a feminist.
Wisenthal, J. L. The Marriage of Contraries. Cambridge, MA: Har vard University Press, 1974.
Leader of a heresy (belief contrary to orthodox tenets of a religion).
German publisher of American and British literature (including Shaw).
Viewpoint¡ outlook (German).
Pun on an actual spinal pathology, Pott’s disease.
One who vaunts the worth of the male gender.
That is, the question of whether women are morally superior to men.
Quotation from Shakespeare’s Henry V (act 4, scene 1).
English translation: Beyond Good and Evil (1886).
Shaw borrows F. J. Wilson’s term for the morbid dwelling on Christ’s suffering.
john S. Stuart-Glennie (1832—1909?) was a Scots writer and historian; English historian Henry Thomas Buckle (1821—1862) is the author of History of Civilization in England.
In later editions Shaw added here “of my acquaintance,” after he had become friends with Stuart-Glennie.
Dives is Latin for “rich”; Shaw is referring to the biblical story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (see Luke 16:19-31).
Reference to Aymerigot Marcel, governor of Aloise, described in Chronicles, an account of the HundredYears’ War by Jean Froissart (1333?-c. 1405).
Prince Pyotr Kropotkin (1842-192 1), Russian geographer and anarchist.
Reference to The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1896), beautifully illustrated by English painter Edward Burne-Jones and printed by William Morris (English artist and founder of Kelmscott Press); this edition of Chaucer’s works represents aestheticism.
By leaping (Latin).
English poet ( 1612- 1680); author of the long satirical poem Hudibras, mentioned below.
Indifference to religion; as charged against the Laodiceans in the Bible, Revelation 3:14—22.
Reference to English poet Thomas Hood’s “The Song of the Shirt” (1843), which laments the hard laboring lives of seamstresses.
American thinker and economist (1839-1897), whose 1884 London lecture on society and economics led Shaw into socialism.
That is, Doctor Haggage in Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855-1857), a novel that Shaw considered an indictment of capitalism.
Persistent debt collectors.
T. Henry Howard, Salvation Army chief of staff (1912—1919).
British colonial trading posts were run by factors, or agents, and thus were called factories.
Bishops of the Church of England, when sitting as a ruling body.
Reference to Russian writer Maxim Gorky (pen name of Aleksey Peshkov, 1868-1936).
Shaw refers to the unsuccessful Russian Revolution of 1905.
Distributors of charity.
Between Alfonso XIII of Spain and Victoria Eugénie, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, on May 31, 1906.
Reference to Spanish anarchist Mateo Morral, who threw a bomb at King Alfonso XIII’s wedding party and later committed suicide.
Nikolai Bobrikov (1839-1904), Vyacheslav Plehve (1846-1904), and Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov (1857-1905) were Russian officials assassinated by revolutionaries.
Reference to Jose Nakens, editor of the revolutionary newspaper E1 Motin, who provided temporary refuge for Morral (see note on page 37).
Reference to George William Foote (1850-1915), a passionate opponent of orthodox Christianity.
Laborers who perform the dangerous work of coupling and uncoupling railway cars.
Tory and Whig are the names of political parties that are, respectively, conservative and liberal.
Joking name, in typical British humor, for a large cannon of the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London.
That is, King’s College of Cambridge University.
Ruler of Turkey.
Saint Andrew Undershaft is a church in London.
That is, a member of a Christian sect other than the Church of England.
Particular religion supported financially by the state.
Snobby is named after a well-known Chartist, James Bronterre O‘Brien (1805-1864); Chartists were nineteenth-century English political reformers who advocated for the working classes.
Snobby quotes the Bible (see Joshua 9:21, King James Version) to disdain mere manual laborers.
That is, heart.
Nervous, discarded, and rejected as incurable by the hospital.
That is, “all understanding”; Price is quoting from the Bible, Philippians 4:7: “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (KJV).
“Mog” is a diminutive of Margaret; in subsequent editions, Shaw spelled Walker’s pronunciation more phonetically: “Ebbijem.”
Slaughterers of worn-out domestic animals, such as horses.
Something the cat would drink.
One with the lowly job of scrubbing pots.
That is, half.
That is, how.
LIndershaft means that Barbara might find Methodism, a religion of the common people, appealing.
Saint Simeon (c.390-459), called “Stylites” (pillar-dweller), spent the last thirty years of his life on a pillar (where, presumably, he could not wash easily).
Seller of shoddy goods.
That is, “I hadn’t just no show with him at all.”
The Lord Mayor of London’s collection of donations in times of national need.
Pubs owned by the breweries or distilleries that supply them.
Improvise a bass-line accompaniment.
Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor (1819).
Barbara repeats Christ’s words of doubt just before He dies on the Cross (see the Bible, Matthew 27:46).
The 1905 equivalent of a fast-food restaurant.
British physician and philanthropist Thomas Barnardo (1845-1905) founded homes for orphaned and destitute children, which were known as Doctor Barnardo’s Homes.
In the House of Commons (Parliament’s lower house), the Treasury bench is the first row of seats on the right of the Speaker, where cabinet members sit.
Caucuses are small councils within a political party that determine party positions; leading articles are the leading editorials in newspapers.
Primitive Methodists belong to a branch of the church that adheres more strictly to original Methodist doctrine.
Group that looks to reason instead of to a supernatural being as the basis for moral behavior.
pins, like bowling pins, used in the game of skittles.
Quotation from Sonnet 16, “Cromwell, our chief of men” (lines 10-11), by English poet John Milton (1608-1674.).
Wealthier members of a congregation could pay to have a regular seat.
Conservative organization founded in 1883; named for the presumed favorite flower of Benjamin Disraeli (see endnote 15.)
Material waterproofed on one side.
That is, the House of Commons.
Allusion to book 5 of Plato’s Republic (fifth century B.C.), which asserts that an ideal society cannot be realized until philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers—that is, until “political greatness and wisdom meet in one.”
Made from list, a strong material that borders a weaker cloth.
Robert Schumann (1810—1856), German Romantic composer renowned for his piano compositions.
Pendant fleshy lobe at the back of the mouth.
Christian sect (founded 1838) that rejected medical treatment on biblical grounds.
Dangerous drugs, legally obtained only with a doctor’s prescription.
Physician who died in 1890.
Low-cost doctor’s office.
Big business corporations; also, the Stock Exchange.
Extremist members of the left wing.
Une variously attributed to French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713—1784.) and eighteenth-century revolutionary Jean Messelier.
Spiritualists who conduct seances to contact the dead.
John Abernathy (1764—1831), English surgeon renowned for his popular lectures.
Religion, founded in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy, that eschews doctors in favor of spiritual healing.
Solution containing formaldehyde, used as a disinfectant.
Thomas Sydenham (1624—1689) English physician and pioneer in treating diseases.
Noted immunologist and a friend of Shaw (1861—1947); partial model for Doctor Ridgeon in the play.
German bacteriologist and Nobel laureate Robert Koch (1843—1910) developed tuberculin, a substance to diagnose tuberculosis.
Measurement of the amount of opsonin in the blood; opsonin is a constituent of the blood that helps phagocytes (such as white blood cells) destroy disease.
Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755—1843), German physician who introduced homeopathy (treatment of disease by introducing small doses of a remedy that produce symptoms of the disease in a healthy person).
Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800—1859), a much-admired and -quoted British historian and author.
Cupping was a medical practice of drawing blood to the surface of the body with warmed glass vessels; firing was cauterizing a wound with a heated iron.
Last lines of “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” by English poet Thomas Gray (1716—1771).
Paraphrase of “Essay on Criticism,” by English poet Alexander Pope (1688—1744); Shaw substituted “knowledge” for Pope’s “learning.”
It is the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, that states all men “are endowed... with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Reference to English essayist Charles Lamb’s “A Dissertation on Roast Pig,” from Essays of Elia (1823).
X rays; discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen in 1895.
Days every three months when rent and other payments are due.
Conducting a service of thanksgiving for a new mother.
Reference to Proverbs 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son” (KJV).
Device that attaches to the wrist to record the pulse graphically on paper.
French author Marquis de Sade (1740—1814), known for his licentious novels and pamphlets, was imprisoned for numerous sex offenses; the word sadism is derived from his name.
English trader and philanthropist (1712—1786) said to have introduced the umbrella to England.
Reference to an accident in 1893 between two ships of the British Royal Navy—HMS Victoria and HMS Camperdown—in which many drowned.
Edward Jenner (1749—1823) English physician who discovered the smallpox vaccine.
English writer (1689-1762) who introduced inoculation for smallpox to England, after observing it in Turkey.
Praisers of times past (Latin).
This could be reserved by wealthy people for an annual payment.
Epidemic of bubonic plague in 1685 that killed tens of thousands of people.
Professional organization for physicians in Britain.
Company doctors paid through workers’ contributions.
Sir James Paget (1814—1899), renowned English surgeon and pathologist.
American novelist (0856- I898).
Reference to The Doctor, a painting by Sir Luke Fildes ( 1844-1927), based on the death of his son, that depicts a doctor keeping watch at the bedside of a sick child.
For lack of a better (French).
Infections of the finger or toe.
Staying in musty rooms.
Former name of Hawaii.
Superstitious practice using magic and spells.
Martyr (272?—205) during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian; in Naples, a phial thought to contain his dried blood is said to liquefy each year.
The writings of Russian biologist Ilya Metchnikoff ( 1845-I 9 16) include Immunity in Infectious Diseases (1905) and The Nature of Man (1903).
London public-health board established in I867 that operated, among other things, specialist hospitals for infectious diseases and tuberculosis.
Medicinal syrup derived from the squill plant, a bulbous herb.
hus Feste gloats over Malvolio’s humiliation in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (act 5,cene I ) .
Hypothetical substance thought to be released through burning, a theory disproved by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743- 1794).
In Molière’s play The Imaginary Invalid (1673) a doctor who disdains such new fangled theories as circulation of the blood.
Sixteenth-century German alchemist and physician.
Tall mirror that covers the wall space between two windows.
Transversely corded fabric.
Chandelier with gas burners.
Having a projecting breastbone.
Abbreviated version of the Latin phrase infra dignitatem, which means “beneath one’s dignity.”
Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Term for winning a backgammon game before the opponent removes any pieces from the board, thereby earning double points.
Nut-shaped mass of tissue.
Poisonous bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Appearing moral, but being immoral (see the Bible, Matthew 23:27, KJV).
Quotation from Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Criticism,” this time accurate (see footnote to page 196).
B.B.’s memory of the laws of Medes and Persians from the Bible (see Daniel 6:8-15) fails, so he improvises.
Informal marriage certificate.
Life-size dummy with movable limbs.
Lamp that burns volatile liquid fuel such as alcohol, sometimes in conjunction with a container, for heating substances.
Heavy brownish silk fabric.
Meaning “pay up”; a term derived from a mining practice of payment by gold dust.
Maid in charge of the room where liqueurs and cakes are stored.
Does not represent any particular religion.
Scottish novelist and dramatist J.M. Barrie, best known for his character Peter Pan, was a friend of Shaw; Better Dead (1887) is his first novel.
Proverbial saying that derives from English author Francis Bacon’s essay “On Boldness” (from Essays, 1625).
No license is required to practice journalism.
Street in London where professional photographers had their shops.
Quotation from the Bible, Psalm 73:4-5 (KJV).
Of the dead [say] nothing but good (Latin).
Expensive shopping area in London.
Quotation from “The Latest Decalogue,” by English poet Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861).
English philologist and mathematician (1814-1890); an advocate of spelling reform.
Italian singer (1817—1895) who taught French in England and advocated a phonetic alphabet.
Institute founded in 1887 to conduct research into resources and raw materials of the British Empire, and to make the growing Empire understandable to the British people.
Reference to A Manual of Current Shorthand (1892).
Named after its inventor, Sir Isaac Pitman (1813-1897).
Amalthaea, the Sibyl of Cumae, was a legendary prophetess of ancient Rome who destroyed six of nine prophetic books when the Roman king refused to pay for them.
Robert Bridges, poet laureate of England (1913-1930) and author of Milton’s Prosody (1893), practiced spelling reform.
The valet who passes as a nobleman in Victor Hugo’s 1838 verse drama of the same name.
That is, “Two bunches of violets trod in the mud.”
Shaw later revised this phrase to “a romantic figure.”
Sixpence coin (slang).
Having turned them up due to the rain.
That is, with soliciting for prostitution.
Slang expression equivalent to “damn me”; probably from “blind me.”
Hanwell County Asylum for the insane.
That is, worried and chased.
Working-class district of London; a slum area in the mid to late 1800s.
Peevish, or ill-natured.
Relating to the Pharisees, a sect often portrayed in the Bible as hypocritical.
Lamp chimneys are glass tubes around the wick of an oil lamp that keep the flame steady; flames in the tube that resonate to the human voice are called “singing flames.”
Used in the earliest phonographs as a medium for recording and replaying sound.
Portraits engraved on copper or steel; Higgins prefers their austerity to voluptuous color.
System of phonetic notation devised by English phonetician Henry Sweet (1845-1912).
Astonished; this Latinate word suits Higgins, who is a Milton aficionado (see note 7 for this play).
Pejorative word for a woman, ranging in meaning from a pert (saucy, or forward) woman to a prostitute.
Woman who wears a skirt that is dirty from being dragged over wet ground and who searches the street for usable things.
Strong scouring soap with a wrapper bearing the image of a monkey looking into a mirror.
London department store.
Off his head; crazy.
Garbage man (sanitation worker).
Old-fashioned term for an immoral scoundrel.
Quotation from Milton’s “Il Penseroso”: “Sweet Bird that shunn‘st the noise of folly, / Most musicall, most melancholy!” (lines 61-62).
Manual laborer; ditch-digger.
Artists’ quarter in London.
English landscape painter (1851-1882), whose best-known work, “The Minister’s Garden,” was exhibited in 1878 at the Grosvenor Gallery in London.
After the English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), who painted medieval religious and fantasy subjects.
Particular day reserved for casual visits from acquaintances.
That is, “How do you do?”
Area of low pressure.
Offensively dirty and badly behaved.
Crew’s quarters in a ship’s bow.
Loose-fitting jacket for wear when relaxing at home.
Love letter with a crest embossed on it; Pickering is speaking ironically.
Higgins is repeating a well-known saying by English theologian and logician Richard Whately (1787-1863).
Allusion to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, in which Dr. Frankenstein refers to the monster he creates as the “creature.”
Jargon; insincere speech.
Slang for “ran away.”
Parody of “Rockefeller”; John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was an American industrialist and philanthropist.
That is, get money out of me.
Church where wealthy people married.
Horse-drawn closed carriage with the driver outside in front.
Higgins is explicitly identifying himself with Milton (see note 7 for this play).
Eleanor Gwynne (1650-1687), English actress and mistress of King Charles II.
Slang for a member of the upper class whose clothes indicate his status.
Condition of marriage whereby a widow can draw income from her husband’s estate.
New Testament book that recounts the proselytizing travels of Saints Peter and Paul.
Richard Porson (1759-1808) and Richard Bentley (1662-1742) were noted English classical scholars; Bentley, as Milton’s first editor, foolishly rewrote lines in Paradise Lost.
Lucius Cornelius Balbus (first century B.C.), Julius Caesar’s chief of engineers.
Air of superiority; pretentiousness.
John Scott Haldane (1860-1936), Scottish writer and physiologist.
One who believes evolution has direction and purpose; a follower of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) or Shaw.
Collection of essays published in 1902.
Reference to Back to Methuselah (1921), a cycle of five plays by Shaw that revisit the themes of evolution and human destiny.
Composers of symphonic poems, such as Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908).
Like the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792—1822), Shaw was a vegetarian.
Opening from the stomach into the intestine.
Eponymous hero of Henrik Ibsen’s Faustian verse drama of 1867.
Abnormal physical or emotional sensitivity.
As a warning to others; literally, “to encourage others” (French).
Socialist leader Jean Jaurès, who defended Alfred Dreyfus (accused of treason), was assassinated by a fanatical patriot on July 13, 1914.
Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) served twice as premier of France.
James Keir Hardie (1856-1915), first leader of the Labour Party in Parliament.
That’s war (French).
Shaw uses the third-century B.C. Greek geometrician and engineer to symbolize reason.
Carmagnoles are songs and dances popular during the French Revolution; cor roberries (usually “corroborees”) are Australian Aborigine festivities with songs and dances.
Near quotation of Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (act 3, scene 1).
Allusion to the Bible, Ezekiel 18:2.
Military drill in which soldiers arrange themselves into files four deep.
Promising young intellectual and Fabian socialist who was killed in 1916.
Brutal criminal in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist (1837-1838).
The manager is American theatrical producer Charles Frohman (1860-1915); the author is Charles Klein, who co-wrote the 1910 farce Potash and Perlmutter.
Irish art dealer (1875-1915); director of the National Gallery of Ireland.
Paraphrase of a line in President Woodrow Wilson’s April 2, 1917, address to Congress upon the United States entering World War I.
Isabella makes this comparison in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (act 2, scene 2).
Quotation of more of Isabella’s speech.
Reference to the French traitor Paul Bolo, who was accused of spying on his country and executed in 1918.
Explosives used to breach a gate or wall.
All of these are allegorical places or persons in John Bunyan’s Pilgram’s Progress (1678), which Shaw admired for its hopefulness.
This commander in chief of the British forces (1914—1921) provided Shaw with a demonstration of experimental weapons.
Marietta Alboni (1823—1894), Italian contralto opera singer.
George Barnwell is a sinner in George Lillo’s middle-class sentimental tragedy The London Merchant (1731); Maria Martin is the heroine of Maria Martin, or the Red Barn Mystery, about her murder by her lover in 1827; Sweeney Todd is the legendary “Demon Barber” of London, who slit his customers’ throats.
Actor-manager of the period (1837-1919).
French farce adapted into English by James Alberry (1838-1899).
Reference to Sir Carl Meyer, who donated £70,000 to the National Theatre in 1908.
In the person of King Edward VII, who attended Shaw’s play John Bull’s Other Island (1904).
J. M. Barrie (see footnote to page 320) and Shaw, who were neighbors and friends.
Music-hall turn by the animal imitators the Brothers Griffiths that parodied the French tightrope walker Charles Blondin (1824—1897).
The decor of the Adelphi Theatre was by Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792).
Play by French dramatist Eugène Brieux, adapted into English in 1914 as Damaged Goods, by John Pollock.
Reference to English theater manager A. E. F. Horniman (1860-1937), who presented Shaw’s first publicly produced play, Arms and the Man, in 1894.
Allusion to the Bible, 2 Peter 2:22.
Quotation from the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January I, 1863.
Ironic allusion to the Bible, Isaiah 57:15.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth (act 4, scene 1), when shown the descendants of the murdered Banquo in a vision, Macbeth asks if their line will “stretch out to the crack of doom?”
The explosive TNT.
Balcony-like platform projecting from the stern of a ship.
Usually spelled “centerbit”; tool for making cylindrical holes.
T squares, straightedges, and set squares are types of rulers.
Movable table legs that support table leaves.
Scrubbed with a piece of sandstone, as a ship’s deck.
New Temple Shakespeare was a popular series of Shakespeare’s plays.
Naval officer’s double-breasted blue jacket.
Idiosyncratic form of address (perhaps related to “dote”).
Dealer in supplies for ships.
Hired transportation to and from the train station.
Simile taken from the Bible, Song of Solomon 7:4.
Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), an Italian revolutionary who sought to unify Italy under a republican government and who participated in Italy’s struggle for independence from Austrian domination.
That is, from bankruptcy, so he could once again engage in business.
Louis de Rougemont is the assumed name of nineteenth-century Swiss adventurer Louis Grin (1847- 1921), who wrote sensational, often bogus, accounts of his adventures; Hesione implies that “Marcus Darnley” (her husband’s pseudonym) is a liar.
Awards, named for Prince Albert (1819-1861, husband of Queen Victoria), for altruistic rescues from injury or death.
Expensively dressed gentleman.
Long locks of hair variously arranged, worn especially by men in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Meaning she is looking for a mate.
Shares issued to the owners of a company, on which a dividend is paid at a later date.
Silly, or inconsequential.
That is, the reality is the opposite of the dream.
Shaw had rehearsed this sudden intrusion by a criminal into a country house in his earlier play Misalliance (1910).
Meaning he was caught fair and square.
Active court, when cases are being heard.
Phrase from Bishop Reginald Herber’s early-nineteenth-century “Missionary Hymn.”
That is, Billy Dunn.
Peevish, or fretful.
Meaning he is deliberately downplaying his assets.
Near quotation from “Rosalind and Helen: A Modern Eclogue,” by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (179 2- 1822); Shaw has changed “our” to “their.”
Allusion to Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain! My Captain!” written in response to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
Allusion to English composer Ivor Novello’s popular World War I song “Keep the Home Fires Burning” (1915).