BASIC ENGLISH: International Second Language
Section Three, Part Four
2. From Arms and the Man
NIGHT : A Woman's bedroom in Bulgaria, in a small town near the Dragoman Pass, late in November in the year 1885. Through an open window with a little railed walk outside, a mountaintop in the Balkan range, strangely white and beautiful in the starlight and mow, seems quite near at hand, though it is in fact miles away. The inside of the room is not like anything to be seen in the West of Europe. It is half good Bulgarian, half cheap Viennese. Over the head of the bed, which is placed against a little wall cutting off an angle of the room, is a painted wood structure, blue and gold, with a white Christ, and a light in front of it in a metal ball with a hole through it hanging by three chains. The chief seat placed near the other side of the room and opposite the window, is a long Turkish one. The outer cover and the curtains of the bed, the window curtains, the little floor covering, and the bits of material used for ornamenting the room are of the East and very beautiful: the paper on the walls is of the West and poor in design. The washing-place, against the wall on the side nearest the long seat and the window, is made up of a painted iron basin with a bucket under it in a painted metal frame, and one linen cloth on the rail at the side. The dressing-table between the bed and the window is a common wood table, covered with a cloth worked in a number of different colors, and on it is a very good looking-glass. The door is on the side nearest the bed: and there is a chest-of-drawers between. The chest-of-drawers, like the dressing-table, is covered by a brightly-colored cloth of Bulgarian design; and on it there are some paper-backed books of fiction, a box of soft chocolates, and in a frame resting on a support like those used for painter's canvases, a camera-picture of some size of a very good-looking man in military dress. Even in the picture he has an important air, and one is conscious of the attraction of his eyes There is a wax-light on the chest-of-drawers and another on the dressing-table with a box of matches by the side of it.
by George Bernard Shaw
The window is made like a door and is wide open. Outside, two wood shutters may be seen open. On the railed walk a young woman, very conscious of the strangely beautiful quality of the night, and of the fact that, being young and beautiful, she is part of it is looking at the snow-topped Balkans. She is in her nightdress, well covered by a long loose coat of skins which is, at the very least about three times the value of the things in her room.
Her thoughts are broken into by her mother, Catherine Petko if, a woman over forty, of great force and authority, with beautiful black hair and eyes, who seems as if she might be married to a mountain farmer, but is doing everything in her power to be like a Viennese of good birth, and for that purpose goes about in a tea dress of the latest design.
CATHERINE [coming in quickly, full of good news] : Raina! [She says 'Rah-eena,' with the weight on the 'ee']. Raina! [She goes to the bed ,in the belief that Raina is there.] Why, where -? [Raina is now looking into the room]. My clear girl! Are you out in the night air, and still not in bed ? You'll get such a cold. Louka said you were sleeping.
RAINA [her thoughts far away] : I sent her away. I had a desire to be by myself. The stars are so beautiful ! What's wrong ?
CATHERINE: Such news! There has been a fight.
RAINA [her eyes wide open] : Ah! [She comes quickly to Catherine].
CATHERINE : A great fight at Slivnitza! We overcame the Serbians ! And it was all because of Sergius.
RAINA [with a cry of pleasure] : Ah! [Running into her mother's open arms] Oh, mother! [Then, with sudden fear] Is father safe ?
CATHERINE : Naturally ; he sends me the news. Sergius is the great man of the hour, a second Napoleon in the eyes of his men.
RAINA : Go on, go on. How was it ? [Overcome by her feelings]
Oh, mother, mother, mother! [Pulling her mother onto the long seat ; they give one another a rain of kisses].
CATHRINE [more and more moved by her story] : You have no idea what a fight it was. An attack by the horsemen! What a thought! He went against the authority of our Russian generals1 -- did it without orders -- made himself responsible for the attack -- heading it himself -- was the first man to go through their guns. Don't you see it all, Raina : our good Bulgarians with their blades and eyes flaming, thundering down like a mass of snow over a mountain slope and driving the poor Serbs and their Austrian chiefs in every direction like leaves in a wind. And you! You kept Sergius waiting a year before you would take his ring. Oh, if you have a drop of Bulgarian blood in your body, you will go down on your knees to him when he comes back.
RAINA : What attention will he give to my poor little love after he has had an army of strong men at his feet ? But that's not important : I am happy -- so uplifted at the thought of him !
[She gets up, walking about very much moved.] It makes it clear that all our ideas were right after all.
CATHERINE [angrily] : Our ideas right ! What are you talking about ?
RAINA : Our ideas of what Sergius would do. Our love of country. Our high purpose. Sometimes I had a fear that they might be simply thoughts without substance. Oh, what false-hearted little things girls are ! When I put on Sergius's blade he seemed so great, so good; I was not true to my love for him when I had the thought that he might not come up to our hopes, or that he might make us seem foolish or do the wrong thing.
1. Some of the names marking a man's position in the army are used in this play. The highest of those named is a field-marshal, after which come, in order of authority : general, major-general, colonel, major, captain.
But - but - [suddenly, seating herself again] Give me your word you'll never say anything to him about this.
CATHRINE : I'll not give my word till I am certain what I'm undertaking.
RAINA : Well, it came into my head while I was in his arms and he was looking into my eyes, that possibly we only had these high ideas because we are so given to reading Byron and Pushlcin, and because we were so taken out of ourselves by the opera that winter at Bucharest. Common existence is not generally like that! -- in fact it had never been, so far as my experience went then. [With regret] How foolish I was, mother -- to have doubts about him : I was not certain if all his great qualifies and his military knowledge might not go up in smoke when he went into his first fight. I had a troubling fear that he might seem a little cheap there by the side of all those expert Russians.
CATHRINE : Seem cheap! Shame on you! The Serbs have Austrians over them who are quite as expert as our Russians : but even so we have got the best of them in every fight.
RAINA [laughing and resting happily against her mother] : Yes.
I was a feeble-hearted little thing to let myself be overcome by the fears of common sense. Oh, to have the knowledge that it was all true -- that Sergius is every inch as good and great as he seems -- that the earth is truly a beautiful place for women who have eyes to see it and men who are able to make it so! How happy I am ! What a flowering of all my hopes ! Ali !
At this point Louka came in. She is a good-looking girl in the dress of a Bulgarian country-woman, with an overskirt and a cloth round her head. She has a good opinion of herself, and has such an air of questioning all authority that though her behavior to Raina is that of a servant there is little respect in it. She has some fear of Catherine) but even with her goes as far as possible.
LOUKA : Please, madam, all the windows are to be shut, and the shutters fixed. They say there may be firing in the streets. [Raina and Catherine get up together in fear]. The Serbs are being sent back through the Dragoman Pass; and they say they may come into the town. Our horsemen will be after them; and you may be certain our men will be ready for them now they are running away. [She goes out on the railed walk, pulling the outside shutters together : then comes back into the room].
CATHRINE [businesslike, her housekeeping impulses awake] : I will have to see that everything is made safe in the lower part of the house.
RAINA : Why are our countrymen so cruel ? How is one any better off for putting unhappy runaways to death ?
CATHRINE : Cruel! When they would be ready to put you to death -- or worse ?
RAINA [to Louka] : Let me have the shutters open a little, and I will get them shut if any noise comes to my ears.
CATHRINE [in a voice of authority, turning on her way to the door] : No, no, dear : you are to keep them shut. You would be certain to go off to sleep with them open. Put them together, Louka.
LOUKA : Yes, madam. [She gets them shut].
RAINA : Have no fear about me. The minute the sound of a gun comes to my ears, I will put out the lights and get the bed things rolled round me with my ears well covered.
CATHRINE : Quite the wisest thing to do, my love. Good night
RAINA : Good night. [Her feeling comes back for a minute]. Keep me in your thoughts [They give one another a kiss]. This is the happiest night of my existence -- if only there are no runaways.
CATHRINE : Go to bed, dear ; and don't give them a thought. [She goes out].
LOUKA [secretly to Raina] : If you would be happier with the shutters open, give them a push like this [she gives them a push : they come open : she puts them together again]. One of them is generally fixed at the base; but the pin has gone.
RAINA [with authority, protesting] : It is very good of you, Louka; but we have to do what we are ordered. [Louka makes a face] Good night.
LOUKA [untroubled] : Good night. [She goes out, looking very pleased with. herself].
Raina, now by herself, takes off her coat and puts it on the long seat. Then she goes to the chest-of-drawers, stopping before the picture with feelings which she is unable to put into words. She does not give it a kiss, or put it against her heart, or make any sign of physical love ; but she takes it in her hands, lifting it up, as if moved to some act of religion.
RAINA [looking up at the picture] : Oh, I will never be less than you have made me in your thoughts, ruler of my heart -- never, never, never. [She puts it back again with great respect.
Then she takes a work of fiction from the books on the table. After turning the leaves over with a far away look on her face, she comes to her page, at which she puts the book down inside out ; then, with a happy little cry, she gets into bed, and is all ready for reading herself to sleep. But before giving herself up to fiction, she takes a look up again, her mind full of the beautiful present, and says in a low voice] My Sergius, my great Sergius !
The quiet of the night outside is broken by a gun in the distance. She gives a jump, all attention; then come two more sounds, much nearer, putting such fear into her that she gets quickly out of bed, and puts out the light on the chest-of-drawers. Then, with her fingers in her ears, she goes running to the dressing-table, puts out the light there, and goes quickly back to bed in the dark, nothing being seen but the feeble light in the ball hanging in front of the Christ, and the starlight through the cracks in the shutters. The firing is starting again : there is a sudden burst of it quite near at hand. While the sound is still in the air, the shutters go from view, pulled open from outside, and for a minute the square of white starlight is suddenly seen with the form of a man outlined in black upon it The shutters are pulled together straightaway and the room is dark again. But the quiet is now broken by the sound of quick, hard breathing. Then there is a small noise; and the flame of a match is seen in the middle of the room.
RAINA [making herself as small as possible on the bed] : Who's there ? [The match Is out in a second]. Who's there ? Who is that ?
A MAN'S VOICE [in the dark, quietly, but with a note of danger in it] : Sh - sh! Don't make a noise ; or you'll be fired at. Be good ; and you'll be quite safe. [There is a sound of her getting out of bed, and going to the door]. Take care : it's no use attempting to get away.
RAINA: But who - -.
THE VOICE [with a note of danger] : Now then ; if you make a noise, my gun will go off. [With authority] Get a light and let me see you. Is that clear ? [It is quiet and dark for another minute while she goes back to the dressing-table. Then she puts a match to a wax-light, and all becomes clear. He is a man of about 35 in a shocking condition, covered with wet earth and blood and snow, the leather band round his body and that of his gun-cover keeping together the bits of the blue coat of a Serbian gunner. All which the light and his unwashed, dirty condition make it possible to see is that he is not very tall and not specially interesting-looking, that he has a strong neck and back; a round, thick-looking head, covered with short, stiff brown waving hair, clear quick blue eyes, good mouth and front part of head, an impossibly common-sense nose like that of a strong-minded baby, a military walk and quick way of talking, and has all his senses about him, though he is in such a tight place; even seeing the humor of it, without, however, the least suggestion that he is not being serious or is giving away a chance. He gets a rough idea of what Raina Is like from one look at her: how old she is, her position in society, her general qualities, and the degree of her fear -- and goes on, less roughly, but still with great decision] It is with great regret that I put you in this position; but you see what my dress is -- Serb! If I am taken I will be put to death. [Darkly] Is that clear to you ?
RAINA : Yes.
THE MAN: Well, I'm not going to be put to death if I have anything to do with it. [Even more darkly] Is that clear to you ? [Quickly but quietly he gets the door locked].
RAINA [A note of disgust in her voice] : There's no doubt about that. [Pulling herself up very straight, and looking him in the face, she says slowly and in a cutting voice] It is true that some military men have a fear of death.
THE MAN [with unsmiling good-humor] : All of them, dear madam, all of them, take my word for it. It is our business to go on living as long as we are able. Now, if you make a noise --
RAINA [cutting him short] : You will let off your gun at me. Why are you so certain that I have a fear of death ?
THE MAN [with design] : Ah, but if I don't let off my gun, what will be the outcome ? A number of your horsemen will come bursting into this beautiful room of yours and put me to death here like a pig ; because I'll put up a hard fight : they're not going to get me into the street for their amusement : I've seen what they are. Are you ready for that sort of company in your present undressed condition ? [Raina, suddenly conscious of her nightdress, has an impulse of shame, and puts it more tightly about her neck. Watching her, he says, unkindly] : Not quite, eh ? [She goes in the direction of the long seat. He puts his gun up in a second, says loudly] Stop ! [She comes to a stop] Where are you going?
RAINA [quietly, with self-control] : Only to get my coat.
THE MAN [going quickly to the seat and suddenly taking the coat] : A good idea ! No ; I'll keep the coat ; and you will take care that nobody comes in and sees you without it. This is a better instrument than the gun. [He puts the gun down on the seat].
RAINA [disgusted] : It is not the instrument which a self-respecting man would make use of!
THE MAN : It's good enough for a man who has only you between him and death. [While they are looking at one another for a minute, Raina feeling shocked that even a Serbian is able to be so coldly self-interested as this and to have so little respect for women, a sharp outburst of firing in the street gives them a sadden sense of danger. The cold feeling of death near at hand makes the man's voice quiet while he says] Have you got that straight ? If you are going to let those dogs in on me they will see you as you are.
A great noise. The military in the street give violent blows on the door of the house, crying out "Get the door open ! Get the door open ! Get up, will you !" A man servants voice says to them angrily from inside "This is Major Petkoff's house : you mayn't come in here"; but after another outburst of noise, and rain of blows on the door, he lets down a chain with a sharp sound, after which loud footsteps quickly come nearer and there are further cries, but these sounds are overcome at last by the voice of Catherine saying angrily to the man who is in authority, "What is this, sir ? Have you any idea where you are ?" The noise suddenly comes to an end.
LOUKA [outside, giving blows on the bedroom door] : Madam ! madam ! Come quickly and get the door open. If you don't it will be broken down.
The runaway puts up his head with the motion of a man who sees that there is no hope for him, dropping the behavior he has been putting on to keep Raina in fear of him.
THE MAN [kindly and with true feeling] : No use, dear : there is no hope for me. [Sending the coat across to her] Quick ! put it round you : they're coming.
RAINA : Oh, how good of you. [She puts it round her, feeling very much happier].
THE MAN [between his teeth] : Not at all.
RAINA [troubled] : What will you do ?
THE MAN [unsmilingly] : The first man in will get my answer. Don't come near ; and keep your head turned away. It will not take long ; but it will not be delicate. [He takes out his blade, turning to the door and waiting].
RAINA [acting on impulse] : I'll give you help. I'll keep you safe.
THE MAN : There is nothing to be done.
RAINA : There is. I'll put you out of view. [Pulling him in the direction of the window] Here! At the back of the curtains
THE MAN [giving way to her] : There's half a chance if you keep your head.
RAINA [pulling the curtain in front of him] : S-sh ! [She goes in the direction of the long seat].
THE MAN [putting out his head] : Keep this in mind --
RAINA [running back to him] : Yes ?
THE MAN : - - nine military men out of ten have no brains.
RAINA : Oh ! [pulling the curtain in front of him angrily].
THE MAN [looking out at the other side] : If they see me, I give you my word there'll be a fight: a great fight.
She gives a stamp with her foot. He goes from view quickly. She takes off her coat and puts it across the foot of the bed. Then, with a tired, troubled air, she gets the door open. Louka comes in, very full of something.
L0UKA: One of those pigs of Serbs has been seen getting up the water-pipe to your window. Our men have come after him; and they are the worse for drink, and o angry and violent. [She goes in the direction of the other side of the room to get as far from the door as possible]. Madam says you are to get dressed this minute, and to -- [She sees the gun on the long seat, and comes to a stop, cold with fear].
RAINA [as if angry at being troubled] : They will not come in here. Why have they been let in ?
CATHRINE [coming in quickly] : Raina, dearest: are you safe ? Have you seen anyone ? Has any sound come to your ears ?
RAINA : Only the firing. The military will not come in here, will they ?
CATHERINE : By a happy chance there is a Russian among them: he is a friend of Sergius. [Talking through the door to someone outside] Sir : will you come in now. My daughter will see you.
A young Russian, in Bulgarian military dress, comes in, blade in hand.
THE RUSSIAN [with a soft cat-like air and stiff military walk] : Your servant, dear madam. It is with regret that I come into your room like this ; but there is a Serb who has got onto the walk outside your window. Will you and madam, your mother, please go out while we have a look?
RAINA [with bad humor] : How foolish, sir: you may see for yourself that there is no one outside. [She gets the shutters wide open, keeping her back to the curtain, where the man is, and pointing to the railed walk in the moon-light. Two guns are fired from under the window : and the glass opposite Raina is broken to bits. Raina, taking a quick breath and shutting her eyes, keeps where she is while Catherine gives a cry, and the Russian with a loud Take care ! [goes quickly outside the window].
THE RUSSIAN [outside the window, crying angrily down to the street] : No more firing down there, you fatheads: no more firing I say. [He is seen angrily looking down for a minute; then turning to Retina, he makes an attempt to put on his polished air again]. Would it be possible for anyone to have got in without your knowledge ? Were you sleeping?
RAINA : No, I have not been in bed.
THE RUSSIAN [bad-humouredly, coming back into the room ] : The persons living round here have their heads so full of runaway Serbs that they see them everywhere. [With respect] Dear madam: a thousand regrets. Good night. [Sets his head bent low as a sign of respect, in a stiff military way, and Retina coldly does the same. He does the same to Catherine, who goes out after him].
Raina gets the shutters fixed. Turning, she sees Louka, who has been watching it all with interest.
RAINA : Keep by my mother, Louka, till the military go away.
Louka gives a look at Raina, at the long seat, at the curtain ; then, screwing up her lips as if she had a secret and laughing openly, she goes out. Raina, very angry at this behavior goes to the door, shutting it after her with a loud noise, and locking it violently. The man quickly comes out from the back of the curtain, pushing his blade back in its cover, then putting the danger from his mind in a businesslike way, he comes over to Raina.
THE MAN : A narrow chance; but all is well. Dear madam: your servant to the death. My one regret now, in your interests, is that I did not go into the Bulgarian army in place of the other one. I am not a Serb by birth.
RAINA [stiffly] : No : you are one of the Austrians who gave support to the Serbs in the hope that they would put an end to our existence as a free nation, and are controlling their army for them. They are hated here.
THE MAN : Austrian! Not I. You've no reason for hating me, dear young woman. I am a Swiss, fighting only for a living. I went in with the Serbs because they came first on the road from Switzerland. Be kind : you have completely got the better of us.
RAINA : Have I not been kind ?
THE MAN : More than kind ! Without a thought of self ! But I am still not safe. This present wave of fighting will be quickly over ; but they will be after the runaways all night on and off. I will have to take my chance to get away when it's quiet for a little. [Smiling at her] You will not be troubled by my waiting a minute or two, will you ?
RAINA [putting on her smoothen society air] : Oh, not at all. Do take a seat.
THE MAN : With pleasure. [Seating himself at the front of the bed].
Raina goes to the long seat; walking self-consciously and takes a seat. Unhappily, it is on the gun, and she gets up with a loud cry. The man, all nerves, gets to his feet with a jump which takes him to the other side of the room.
THE MAN [angrily] : Don't give me a shock like that. What is it ?
RAINA : Your gun! It was looking that Russian in the face all the time. What a near thing !
THE MAN [disgusted at his unnecessary fear] : Oh, is that all ?
RAINA [looking at him without very much respect while forming a poorer and poorer opinion of him, and so feeling more and more herself in his company] : I had no desire to give you any cause for fear. [She takes up the gun, and gives it to him]. Please take it to keep yourself safe from me.
THE MAN [smiling in a tired way at these cutting words while he takes the gun] : No use, dear madam, there's nothing in it.
[He makes a face at it, and puts it into its cover with an air of having a poor opinion of it].
RAINA : You will quickly be able to put that right.
THE MAN : I haven't anything to put in it. What use is gunpowder in a fight ? I make it a rule to take chocolate with me in place of it ; and I came to the end of the last cake of that hours back.
RAINA [shocked in her highest ideas of men] : Chocolate ! Do you have your pockets full of sweets -- like a schoolboy -- even when you are fighting ?
THE MAN [smiling] : Yes: isn't it shocking ? [With feeling] I'd give anything to have some now.
RAINA : Let me give you some. [She goes to the chest-of-drawers with a look of disgust, and comes back with the box of sweets in her hand]. Unhappily I have taken all but these. [She puts the box before him].
THE MAN [his mouth watering] : You're a dear! [He puts the sweets quickly into his mouth]. Soft ones! How good they are ! [He takes a good look, hoping there may be some more. There aren't any: he is only able to put his fingers round the box to get the last taste. When that is at an end he makes the best of it, and with sad good humor he says with feeling] What a sweet girl you are ! You may quickly see if a man has been in the army a long time by what he takes with him to the wars. The young ones take guns and gunpowder with them; the old ones, food. That was good of you. [He gives back the box. She takes it from him quickly, hating him for what he has said ; and gives it a push away. He gives another jump, as if she had been going to give him a blow]. Ugh! Don't do things so suddenly, dear madam. It's unkind to give me this punishment for causing you a minute's fear a little earlier.
RAINA [her nose in the air] : Fear, did you say ? Though I am only a woman, sir, I am certain that at heart I have as little fear of danger as you.
THE MAN : I would say so. You haven't been under fire for three days as I have. I am able to put up with two days without being much the worse for it ; but no man is the same after three days : I'm all nerves, like a bird when the cat is after it. [He takes a seat, and puts his head on his hands] Would it give you any pleasure to see me crying ?
RAINA [shocked] : No.
THE MAN : If it would, all you have to do is to get angry with me as if I was a little boy, and you were taking care of me. If I was under canvas now, they would be playing all sorts of tricks an me.
RAINA [a little moved] : Poor thing! I'll not be angry with you. [Touched by the kind note in her voice, he puts up his head and gives her a happier look: she takes a step back quickly and says stiffly] I had no thought of giving you pain. Our fighters are not like that. [She goes away from the seat].
THE MAN : Oh yes, they are. There are only two sorts of men in the army: Old ones and young ones. I have been at it fourteen years: half of your men haven't ever been in a fight before. Why, how is it that you have got the better of us ? By having no idea at all of the art of war, simply that. [Angrily] I have never seen so little knowledge of the rules.
RAINA [cuttingly] : Oh ! Was that why they overcame you?
THE MAN : Well, come! Is it right to send a force of horsemen
against a machine-gun position, when it is certain that if the guns go off not a horse or man will ever get nearer than fifty yards ? I simply had no belief in my eyes when I saw it.
RAINA [quickly turning to him, all her interest and all her hopes coming suddenly back to her]. Did you see the great attack by the horsemen ? Oh, give me an account of it. What was it like ?
THE MAN : You have never seen an attack by horsemen, have you ?
RAINA : What chance would I have had ?
THE MAN : Ah, possibly not. No: naturally not ! Well, it's a strange thing to see. It's like sending a hand-full of small stones against a window: first one comes, then two or three at the back of him ; and then all the rest in a mass.
RAINA [her eyes getting round, gripping her hands together and lifting them while she Is talking] : Yes, first One ! - -the greatest and best of them!
THE MAN [quite unmoved] : Mm ! you have only to see the poor thing pulling at his horse.
RAINA : Why does he do that ?
THE MAN [angry at such a foolish question] : Because it's running away with him, naturally: is it probable that the man has a desire to get there before the others and be put to death?
Then they all come. It is dear which are the young ones by their violent behavior and the way they are waving their blades about. The old ones come all together in the safest possible position: they are conscious that they are simply being used in place of lead, and that it's no use attempting to put up a fight. The wounds are chiefly broken knees, from the horses getting pushed together.
RAINA : Ugh! But it doesn't seem to me that the first man has any fear. He is a great man !
THE MAN [good-humouredly] : That's what you would have said if you had seen the first man in the attack to-day.
RAINA [out of breath, overlooking everything] : Ah, I was certain of it. Give me an account of him.
THE MAN : He did it like an opera-actor -- a very good-looking young man, with bright eyes and beautiful black hair on his lip, giving his war-cry and coming down on us like a Don Quixote.
How we were laughing !
RAINA : What ? You made sport of him!
THE MAN : Yes; but when the Sergeant came running up as white as death, and said we had been sent the wrong things, and that we would be unable to let off a machine-gun for ten minutes, we were laughing at the other side of our mouths. That was the worst experience I've ever had ; though I have been in one or two tight places. And I hadn't even lead for my gun; only chocolate. I had no other arms at all : nothing. Naturally, we were simply cut to bits. And there was Don Quixote waving his blade like a chief bandsman, quite certain that it was all his doing, though he might well have been turned out of the army for his behavior. Of all the foolish men ever let loose in a fight, that man is certainly the most feather-brained. He and his men were going straight to their death -- but the gun didn't go off: that's all.
RAINA [deeply wounded, but still true to her high ideas] : So that's your opinion ! If you saw him again, would you be able to say who he was ?
THE MAN : His face is printed in my memory !
She again goes to the chest-of-drawers. He keeps
his eyes on her half hoping that she may have some more food for him. She takes the picture down and goes back to him with it.
RAINA : That is a picture of the man -- a great lover of his country and a great fighter -- to whom I am going to be married.
THE MAN [seeing who it is with a shock] : Truly, I had no idea I was paining you. [Looking at her] Was it quite right to make me go on ? [He takes another look at the picture]. Yes ; that's Don Quixote. Not a doubt of it. [He keeps back a laugh].
RAINA [quickly] : Why are you laughing?
THE MAN [shamed, but still with a feeling of great amusement] : I wasn't laughing. At least, I had no desire to. But when I see him in my mind's eye acting the part of Don Quixote and quite certain he was doing the greatest thing -- [He is bursting with amusement].
RAINA [in a hard voice] : Give me back the picture, sir.
THE MAN [with true regret] : Why, certainly. It was shocking of me. [He gives her the picture. She slowly gives it a kiss, looking him straight in the face before going to the chest-of-drawers to put it back. He goes after her, still regretting his behavior]. I may be quite wrong, you see: no doubt I am. Most probably he had got news of our condition somehow, and did it in the knowledge that it was safe.
RAINA : That is to say, he was not what he seemed, and was in fact in fear of danger! You had not the face to say that before.
THE MAN [with the motion of one who gives up hope] : It's no use, dear madam: I am unable to make you see it from the expert's point of view. [While he is turning away to go back to the seat, the sound of gun-firing in the distance gives the suggestion of further trouble].
RAINA [in a hard voice, when she sees he is troubled by the firing] : So much the better for you!
THE MAN [turning] : How ?
RAINA : You are fighting against my country; and you are in my hands. What would I do if war was my trade ?
THE MAN : Ah, true, dear madam; you're right every time. I am conscious how good you have been to me : to my last hour I will keep the memory of those three soft chocolates. It was a most unmilitary thing to do : but it was very, very sweet.
EMMA [coldly] : It is kind of you to say so. And now I will do a military thing. It is not possible for me to keep you here after what you have this minute said about the man to whom I am going to be married ; but I will go outside the window and see if it is safe for you to get down into the street. [She goes in the direction of the window].
THE MAN [his face changing ] : Down that water pipe! Stop! One minute! It's impossible ! I'm not strong enough! The very thought of it makes my head go round and round. I came up it quickly enough with death at the back of me. But to do it now,
when there's nothing to make me-! [Slowly taking a seat]. It's no use; I give up; you have got the better of me! Let them take me. [He puts his head down on his hands, at the end of everything].
RAINA [moved by his unhappy condition] : Come: don't give up hope. [She is acting to him almost like a mother: he gives his head a shake]. Oh, you are a very poor fighter -- you're only made of chocolate ! Come, take heart. That journey is more readily faced than the danger of being made a prisoner: keep that in mind.
THE MAN [softly, comforted by her voice] : No; if they took me it would only be death; and death is sleep -- oh, sleep, sleep, sleep, untroubled sleep ! Getting down the pipe would be doing something -- using my muscles -- taking thought! Death ten times before that.
RAINA [softly and with surprise, hearing the tired rhythm in his voice] : Are you as much in need of sleep as that?
THE MAN : All the time I have been with this army I've not had two hours unbroken sleep. I haven't had my eyes shut for forty-eight hours.
RAINA [at a loss] : But what am I to do with you ?
THE MAN [getting up uncertainly, moved by her trouble of mind] : Naturally, I will have to do something. [He gives himself a shake; gets control of himself ; and says with new force and a new air of facing danger] You see, sleep or no sleep, desire for food or not, tired or not tired, you are able to do anything at any time if you are certain it has to be done. Well, I have to get down that pipe: [he gives himself a blow on the chest] is that clear to you, you man of chocolate ? [He gives a turn in the direction of the window].
RAINA [troubled] : But if you have a fall ?
THE MAN : I will go to sleep as if the stones were a feather bed. Good night. [He goes with an air of decision in the direction of the window; and his hand is on the shutter when there is a loud burst of firing in the street under the window].
RAINA [running to him] : Stop! [She takes him by the arm violently, pulling him quite round]. They'll put you to death.
THE MAN [quietly, but with attention] : Don't be troubled :
this sort of thing is all in my day's work. I have to take my chance. [With decision] Now do what I say. Put out the light ; so that they will not see it when I get the shutters open. And keep away from the window, whatever you do. If they see me, they are certain to let off a gun at me.
RAINA [hanging on to him] : They are certain to see you; it's bright moonlight. I'll keep you safe -- oh, how is it possible for you to have so little feeling! Have you no desire to be kept safe ?
THE MAN : It would be a shame to give you any more trouble.
[She gives him a shake in her desire to do something]. I am not without feeling, dear young woman. But how is it to be done ?
RAINA: Come away from the window. [She takes him back to the middle of the room by force. The minute she takes her hands off him he goes automatically in the direction of the window again. She takes him by the arm again, and turning him back, says] Please ! [She lets him go, and says kindly, but with authority] Now give attention. You've got to put yourself in our hands. You have still no idea in whose house you are. I am a Petkoff.
THE MAN : A what ?
RAINA [somewhat angrily] : I am saying that I am of the family of the Petkoff's, the most well-off and the most noted family in our country.
THE MAN : Oh, yes, I see. Do not be angry with me. The Petkoffs, naturally. How foolish of me !
RAINA : It is clear you had no knowledge of their existence till this minute. Why go to the trouble of acting as ii you had ?
THE MAN : Don't be angry with me: I am so tired that I am unable to give thought to anything; and what you said had so little connection with what had gone before that I was at a loss. Don't be angry with me.
RAINA : Oh, yes. I might have you crying in front of me. [He makes a motion of agreement quite seriously. She makes a little face at him, then puts on the same voice again]. I may say that my father has the highest position of any Bulgarian in our army.
He is [very self-important] a Major.
THE MAN [seeming to be much surprised] : A Major ! I say, he is an important man!
RAINA : You made it clear that you had no idea who we were by acting as if it was necessary to get up the drain pipe to the railed walk, because ours is the only private house which has two lines of windows. There are steps inside to get up and down by.
THE MAN : Steps! I say! You are certainly living in great comfort, dear madam.
RAINA : Have you any idea what a library is ?
THE MAN : A library ? A room full of books ?
EMMA : Yes. We have one, the only one in Bulgaria.
THE MAN : A library! It would give me great pleasure to see that.
RAINA [putting on airs] : I am saying these things to make it clear to you that you are not in the house of foolish country persons who would put you to death the minute they saw your Serbian dress, but among persons of education. We go to Bucharest every year for the opera; and I have been a complete month in Vienna.
THE MAN : I saw that, dear madam. I saw very quickly, that you were a person of wide experience.
RAINA : Have you ever seen the opera of Ernani ?
THE MAN : Is that the one with Satan in it in red silk, and massed military voices ?
RAINA [making clear that she has a very poor opinion of him] : No!
THE MAN [very tired but keeping back the signs of it] : Then I have not seen it.
RAINA : I had an idea you might have kept in mind the part where Ernani, with his attackers after him like you tonight, went into the house of a man by whom he was hated, an old Castilian of high birth. The Castilian will not give him up. The man under his roof is safe.
THE MAN [quickly, becoming a little more awake] : Have your father and mother got that idea?
RAINA [very self-important] : That idea, as you say, is not strange to my mother and me. And if, in place of pointing your gun at me as you did, you had simply come to us as a runaway, putting yourself in our hands, you would have been as safe as in your father's house.
THE MAN : Quite certain ?
RAINA [turning her back on him in disgust] : Oh, it is no use attempting to make you see.
THE MAN : Don't be angry; you see what a tight place I would be in if there was any error. My father keeps open house: he has six hotels; but I wouldn't take that sort of chance with him. What about your father?
RAINA : He is away at Slivnitza fighting for his country. I make myself responsible for you. There is my hand on it. Will that make you happier ? [She puts out her hand to him].
THE MAN [looking in doubt at his hand] : Better not take my hand, dear madam. I will have to have a wash first.
RAINA [pleased] : That is very touching of you. I see that you are a man of good family.
THE MAN [in doubt] : Eli ?
RAINA : Don't get the idea that I am surprised. Bulgarians of good education -- persons in our position -- give their hands a wash almost every day. You see your delicate feelings are not wasted on me. You may take my hand. [She puts it out again].
THE MAN [kissing it with his hands at the back of him] : It is very good of you, dear madam: I have the feeling that I am safe at last. And now will you take the news to your mother ? I had better not be here secretly longer than is necessary.
RAINA : If you will be so good as to keep quite quiet while I am away.
THE MAN : Certainly. [He takes a seat].
Raina goes to the bed and puts the coat round her. His eyes are shut. She goes to the door. Turning for a last look at him, she sees that he is going off to sleep.
RANA [at the door] : You are not going to sleep, are you ? [He says something in a low voice: she goes quickly to him and gives him a shake]. Are you giving attention ? Get up : you are going to sleep.
THE MAN : What ? Going to sl - ? Oh no: not in the least: I was only going over things in my mind. It's all right: I'm quite awake.
RAINA [sharply] : Will you please keep on your feet while I am away. [He gets up in a protesting sort of way]. All the time, see?
THE MAN [ his balance very uncertain] : Certainly -- certainly : you may be quite happy about me.
Raina gives him a doubting look. He gives a feeble smile. She goes slowly, turning again at the door, almost in time to see his head dropping forward. She goes out.
THE MAN [only half awake] : Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, slee - [The words come to an end in a low sound. He comes awake again with a shock, almost falling over]. Where am I ? That's what I've got to he clear about: where am I ? Have to keep awake. Nothing keeps me awake but danger -- keep that in mind -- [with interest] danger, danger, danger, dan -- [going off again; another shock] Where's danger ? Have to see where it is. [He goes uncertainly round the room looking for it]. What am I looking for ? Sleep, danger, no idea. [He comes up against the bed]. Ah, yes; now I've got it. All right now. I'm to go to bed, but not to sleep -- be certain not to go to sleep -- because of danger. Not to get inside it, only to take a seat on it. [He takes a seat on the bed. A happy look comes into his face]. Ah ! [With a happy sound he gets on to his back, lifting his boots onto the bed with the last bit of force he has, and goes to sleep straight away].
Catherine comes in with Raina after her.
RAINA [looking at the long seat] : He's gone! He was here when I went out
CATHERINE : Here ? Then without doubt he got down from the --
RAINA [seeing him] : Oh ! [She makes a sign with her finger].
CATHERINE: [shocked] : Well ! [She goes quickly to the bed. Raina comes after her and goes to the opposite side]. He is in a deep sleep. The pig!
RAINA [hoping to make her keep quiet] : Sh !
CATHRINE [shaking him] : Sir ! [Shaking him again, harder]. Sir! Violently, shaking very hard] : Sir !!
RAINA [gripping her arm] : Don't, mother: the poor dear is tired out. Let him go on sleeping.
CATHERINE [letting him go, and turning in great surprise to Raina] : The poor dear! Raina !!! [She gives her daughter a cold look].
The man goes on sleeping deeply.
Another passage from later in the book, Act III, from "Learning Basic English".
RAINA (getting angrier ) : Do you see what he has done, Captain Bluntschli ? She has put this girl to keep a secret watch on us; and her reward is that he makes love to her.
SERGIUS : False ! A shocking suggestion!
RAINA : Shocking ! (going up to him ) Will you give your word that it was not she who said that Captain Bluntschli was in my room ?
SERGIUS : No ; but --
RAINA (stopping him ) : Will you give your word that you were not making love to her when she made the statement?
SERGIUS : No ; but I say --
RAINA (cutting him short, with an angry shake of the head ) : It is unnecessary to say anything more to us. This is quite enough for us. (Turning away from him, she goes sailing back to the window.)
BLUNTSCHLI (quietly, as Sergius, in deepest shame, slowly takes up his position on the long seat, turned away from them, gripping his head between his shut hands ) : I said you were getting the worst of it, Saranoff.
SERGIUS : Cat !
RAINA (running to Bluntschli, very worked up ) : You see, Captain Bluntschli ? This man is using bad names to me.
BLUNTSCHLI : What is more natural, dear madam ? He has to do something to keep his self-respect. Come (very kindly ), don't be angry with one another. What good does it do ?
For those of us who want to see the whole play, here is a copy -- not all in Basic Engish.
It is in normal English, BUT we have inserted the known Basic passages from above. We may, over time, add some Basic simplifications. If anybody
has the G.B.Shaw approved orginal in Basic, please contact the B.E.Institute.
Link to Arms and the Man, Chapter II.