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Title: Arms and the Man
Author: Shaw, Bernard
Language: English
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[Illustration] 



Arms and the Man

A Pleasant Play

by George Bernard Shaw

Contents

 INTRODUCTION
 ARMS AND THE MAN
 ACT I
 ACT II
 ACT III



INTRODUCTION


To the irreverent—and which of us will claim entire exemption from that
comfortable classification?—there is something very amusing in the
attitude of the orthodox criticism toward Bernard Shaw. He so obviously
disregards all the canons and unities and other things which every
well-bred dramatist is bound to respect that his work is really
unworthy of serious criticism (orthodox). Indeed he knows no more about
the _dramatic art_ than, according to his own story in “The Man of
Destiny,” Napoleon at Tavazzano knew of the _Art of War_. But both men
were successes each in his way—the latter won victories and the former
gained audiences, in the very teeth of the accepted theories of war and
the theatre. Shaw does not know that it is unpardonable sin to have his
characters make long speeches at one another, apparently thinking that
this embargo applies only to long speeches which consist mainly of
bombast and rhetoric. There never was an author who showed less
predilection for a specific medium by which to accomplish his results.
He recognized, early in his days, many things awry in the world and he
assumed the task of mundane reformation with a confident spirit. It
seems such a small job at twenty to set the times aright. He began as
an Essayist, but who reads essays now-a-days?—he then turned novelist
with no better success, for no one would read such preposterous stuff
as he chose to emit. He only succeeded in proving that absolutely
rational men and women—although he has created few of the latter—can be
most extremely disagreeable to our conventional way of thinking.

As a last resort, he turned to the stage, not that he cared for the
dramatic art, for no man seems to care less about “Art for Art’s sake,”
being in this a perfect foil to his brilliant compatriot and
contemporary, Wilde. He cast his theories in dramatic forms merely
because no other course except silence or physical revolt was open to
him. For a long time it seemed as if this resource too was doomed to
fail him. But finally he has attained a hearing and now attempts at
suppression merely serve to advertise their victim.

It will repay those who seek analogies in literature to compare Shaw
with Cervantes. After a life of heroic endeavor, disappointment,
slavery, and poverty, the author of “Don Quixote” gave the world a
serious work which caused to be laughed off the world’s stage forever
the final vestiges of decadent chivalry.

The institution had long been outgrown, but its vernacular continued to
be the speech and to express the thought “of the world and among the
vulgar,” as the quaint, old novelist puts it, just as to-day the novel
intended for the consumption of the unenlightened must deal with peers
and millionaires and be dressed in stilted language. Marvellously he
succeeded, but in a way he least intended. We have not yet, after so
many years, determined whether it is a work to laugh or cry over. “It
is our joyfullest modern book,” says Carlyle, while Landor thinks that
“readers who see nothing more than a burlesque in ‘Don Quixote’ have
but shallow appreciation of the work.”

Shaw in like manner comes upon the scene when many of our social usages
are outworn. He sees the fact, announces it, and we burst into guffaws.
The continuous laughter which greets Shaw’s plays arises from a real
contrast in the point of view of the dramatist and his audiences. When
Pinero or Jones describes a whimsical situation we never doubt for a
moment that the author’s point of view is our own and that the abnormal
predicament of his characters appeals to him in the same light as to
his audience. With Shaw this sense of community of feeling is wholly
lacking. He describes things as he sees them, and the house is in a
roar. Who is right? If we were really using our own senses and not
gazing through the glasses of convention and romance and make-believe,
should we see things as Shaw does?

Must it not cause Shaw to doubt his own or the public’s sanity to hear
audiences laughing boisterously over tragic situations? And yet, if
they did not come to laugh, they would not come at all. Mockery is the
price he must pay for a hearing. Or has he calculated to a nicety the
power of reaction? Does he seek to drive us to aspiration by the
portrayal of sordidness, to disinterestedness by the picture of
selfishness, to illusion by disillusionment? It is impossible to
believe that he is unconscious of the humor of his dramatic situations,
yet he stoically gives no sign. He even dares the charge, terrible in
proportion to its truth, which the most serious of us shrinks from—the
lack of a sense of humor. Men would rather have their integrity
impugned.

In “Arms and the Man” the subject which occupies the dramatist’s
attention is that survival of barbarity—militarism—which raises its
horrid head from time to time to cast a doubt on the reality of our
civilization. No more hoary superstition survives than that the donning
of a uniform changes the nature of the wearer. This notion pervades
society to such an extent that when we find some soldiers placed upon
the stage acting rationally, our conventionalized senses are shocked.
The only men who have no illusions about war are those who have
recently been there, and, of course, Mr. Shaw, who has no illusions
about anything.

It is hard to speak too highly of “Candida.” No equally subtle and
incisive study of domestic relations exists in the English drama. One
has to turn to George Meredith’s “The Egoist” to find such character
dissection. The central note of the play is, that with the true woman,
weakness which appeals to the maternal instinct is more powerful than
strength which offers protection. _Candida_ is quite unpoetic, as,
indeed, with rare exceptions, women are prone to be. They have small
delight in poetry, but are the stuff of which poems and dreams are
made. The husband glorying in his strength but convicted of his
weakness, the poet pitiful in his physical impotence but strong in his
perception of truth, the hopelessly de-moralized manufacturer, the
conventional and hence emotional typist make up a group which the drama
of any language may be challenged to rival.

In “The Man of Destiny” the object of the dramatist is not so much the
destruction as the explanation of the Napoleonic tradition, which has
so powerfully influenced generation after generation for a century.
However the man may be regarded, he was a miracle. Shaw shows that he
achieved his extraordinary career by suspending, for himself, the
pressure of the moral and conventional atmosphere, while leaving it
operative for others. Those who study this play—extravaganza, that it
is—will attain a clearer comprehension of Napoleon than they can get
from all the biographies.

“You Never Can Tell” offers an amusing study of the play of social
conventions. The “twins” illustrate the disconcerting effects of that
perfect frankness which would make life intolerable. _Gloria_
demonstrates the powerlessness of reason to overcome natural instincts.
The idea that parental duties and functions can be fulfilled by the
light of such knowledge as man and woman attain by intuition is
brilliantly lampooned. _Crampton_, the father, typifies the common
superstition that among the privileges of parenthood are inflexibility,
tyranny, and respect, the last entirely regardless of whether it has
been deserved.

The waiter, _William_, is the best illustration of the man “who knows
his place” that the stage has seen. He is the most pathetic figure of
the play. One touch of verisimilitude is lacking; none of the guests
gives him a tip, yet he maintains his urbanity. As Mr. Shaw has not yet
visited America he may be unaware of the improbability of this
situation.

To those who regard literary men merely as purveyors of amusement for
people who have not wit enough to entertain themselves, Ibsen and Shaw,
Maeterlinck and Gorky must remain enigmas. It is so much pleasanter to
ignore than to face unpleasant realities—to take Riverside Drive and
not Mulberry Street as the exponent of our life and the expression of
our civilization. These men are the sappers and miners of the advancing
army of justice. The audience which demands the truth and despises the
contemptible conventions that dominate alike our stage and our life is
daily growing. Shaw and men like him—if indeed he is not absolutely
unique—will not for the future lack a hearing.

M.



ARMS AND THE MAN



ACT I


Night. A lady’s bedchamber in Bulgaria, in a small town near the
Dragoman Pass. It is late in November in the year 1885, and through an
open window with a little balcony on the left can be seen a peak of the
Balkans, wonderfully white and beautiful in the starlit snow. The
interior of the room is not like anything to be seen in the east of
Europe. It is half rich Bulgarian, half cheap Viennese. The counterpane
and hangings of the bed, the window curtains, the little carpet, and
all the ornamental textile fabrics in the room are oriental and
gorgeous: the paper on the walls is occidental and paltry. Above the
head of the bed, which stands against a little wall cutting off the
right hand corner of the room diagonally, is a painted wooden shrine,
blue and gold, with an ivory image of Christ, and a light hanging
before it in a pierced metal ball suspended by three chains. On the
left, further forward, is an ottoman. The washstand, against the wall
on the left, consists of an enamelled iron basin with a pail beneath it
in a painted metal frame, and a single towel on the rail at the side. A
chair near it is Austrian bent wood, with cane seat. The dressing
table, between the bed and the window, is an ordinary pine table,
covered with a cloth of many colors, but with an expensive toilet
mirror on it. The door is on the right; and there is a chest of drawers
between the door and the bed. This chest of drawers is also covered by
a variegated native cloth, and on it there is a pile of paper backed
novels, a box of chocolate creams, and a miniature easel, on which is a
large photograph of an extremely handsome officer, whose lofty bearing
and magnetic glance can be felt even from the portrait. The room is
lighted by a candle on the chest of drawers, and another on the
dressing table, with a box of matches beside it.

The window is hinged doorwise and stands wide open, folding back to the
left. Outside a pair of wooden shutters, opening outwards, also stand
open. On the balcony, a young lady, intensely conscious of the romantic
beauty of the night, and of the fact that her own youth and beauty is a
part of it, is on the balcony, gazing at the snowy Balkans. She is
covered by a long mantle of furs, worth, on a moderate estimate, about
three times the furniture of her room.

Her reverie is interrupted by her mother, Catherine Petkoff, a woman
over forty, imperiously energetic, with magnificent black hair and
eyes, who might be a very splendid specimen of the wife of a mountain
farmer, but is determined to be a Viennese lady, and to that end wears
a fashionable tea gown on all occasions.

CATHERINE.
(_entering hastily, full of good news_). Raina—(_she pronounces it
Rah-eena, with the stress on the ee_) Raina—(_she goes to the bed,
expecting to find Raina there._) Why, where—(_Raina looks into the
room._) Heavens! child, are you out in the night air instead of in your
bed? You’ll catch your death. Louka told me you were asleep.

RAINA.
(_coming in_). I sent her away. I wanted to be alone. The stars are so
beautiful! What is the matter?

CATHERINE.
Such news. There has been a battle!

RAINA.
(_her eyes dilating_). Ah! (_She throws the cloak on the ottoman, and
comes eagerly to Catherine in her nightgown, a pretty garment, but
evidently the only one she has on._)

CATHERINE.
A great battle at Slivnitza! A victory! And it was won by Sergius.

RAINA.
(_with a cry of delight_). Ah! (_Rapturously._) Oh, mother! (_Then,
with sudden anxiety_) Is father safe?

CATHERINE.
Of course: he sent me the news. Sergius is the hero of the hour, the
idol of the regiment.

RAINA.
Tell me, tell me. How was it! (_Ecstatically_) Oh, mother, mother,
mother! (_Raina pulls her mother down on the ottoman; and they kiss one
another frantically._)

CATHERINE.
(_with surging enthusiasm_). You can’t guess how splendid it is. A
cavalry charge—think of that! He defied our Russian commanders—acted
without orders—led a charge on his own responsibility—headed it
himself—was the first man to sweep through their guns. Can’t you see
it, Raina; our gallant splendid Bulgarians with their swords and eyes
flashing, thundering down like an avalanche and scattering the wretched
Servian dandies like chaff. And you—you kept Sergius waiting a year
before you would be betrothed to him. Oh, if you have a drop of
Bulgarian blood in your veins, you will worship him when he comes back.

RAINA.
What will he care for my poor little worship after the acclamations of
a whole army of heroes? But no matter: I am so happy—so proud! (_She
rises and walks about excitedly._) It proves that all our ideas were
real after all.

CATHERINE.
(_indignantly_). Our ideas real! What do you mean?

RAINA.
Our ideas of what Sergius would do—our patriotism—our heroic ideals.
Oh, what faithless little creatures girls are!—I sometimes used to
doubt whether they were anything but dreams. When I buckled on
Sergius’s sword he looked so noble: it was treason to think of
disillusion or humiliation or failure. And yet—and yet—(_Quickly._)
Promise me you’ll never tell him.

CATHERINE.
Don’t ask me for promises until I know what I am promising.

RAINA.
Well, it came into my head just as he was holding me in his arms and
looking into my eyes, that perhaps we only had our heroic ideas because
we are so fond of reading Byron and Pushkin, and because we were so
delighted with the opera that season at Bucharest. Real life is so
seldom like that—indeed never, as far as I knew it then.
(_Remorsefully._) Only think, mother, I doubted him: I wondered whether
all his heroic qualities and his soldiership might not prove mere
imagination when he went into a real battle. I had an uneasy fear that
he might cut a poor figure there beside all those clever Russian
officers.

CATHERINE.
A poor figure! Shame on you! The Servians have Austrian officers who
are just as clever as our Russians; but we have beaten them in every
battle for all that.

RAINA.
(_laughing and sitting down again_). Yes, I was only a prosaic little
coward. Oh, to think that it was all true—that Sergius is just as
splendid and noble as he looks—that the world is really a glorious
world for women who can see its glory and men who can act its romance!
What happiness! what unspeakable fulfilment! Ah! (_She throws herself
on her knees beside her mother and flings her arms passionately round
her. They are interrupted by the entry of Louka, a handsome, proud girl
in a pretty Bulgarian peasant’s dress with double apron, so defiant
that her servility to Raina is almost insolent. She is afraid of
Catherine, but even with her goes as far as she dares. She is just now
excited like the others; but she has no sympathy for Raina’s raptures
and looks contemptuously at the ecstasies of the two before she
addresses them._)

LOUKA.
If you please, madam, all the windows are to be closed and the shutters
made fast. They say there may be shooting in the streets. (_Raina and
Catherine rise together, alarmed._) The Servians are being chased right
back through the pass; and they say they may run into the town. Our
cavalry will be after them; and our people will be ready for them you
may be sure, now that they are running away. (_She goes out on the
balcony and pulls the outside shutters to; then steps back into the
room._)

RAINA.
I wish our people were not so cruel. What glory is there in killing
wretched fugitives?

CATHERINE.
(_business-like, her housekeeping instincts aroused_). I must see that
everything is made safe downstairs.

RAINA.
(_to Louka_). Leave the shutters so that I can just close them if I
hear any noise.

CATHERINE.
(_authoritatively, turning on her way to the door_). Oh, no, dear, you
must keep them fastened. You would be sure to drop off to sleep and
leave them open. Make them fast, Louka.

LOUKA.
Yes, madam. (_She fastens them._)

RAINA.
Don’t be anxious about me. The moment I hear a shot, I shall blow out
the candles and roll myself up in bed with my ears well covered.

CATHERINE.
Quite the wisest thing you can do, my love. Good-night.

RAINA.
Good-night. (_They kiss one another, and Raina’s emotion comes back for
a moment._) Wish me joy of the happiest night of my life—if only there
are no fugitives.

CATHERINE.
Go to bed, dear; and don’t think of them. (_She goes out._)

LOUKA.
(_secretly, to Raina_). If you would like the shutters open, just give
them a push like this. (_She pushes them: they open: she pulls them to
again._) One of them ought to be bolted at the bottom; but the bolt’s
gone.

RAINA.
(_with dignity, reproving her_). Thanks, Louka; but we must do what we
are told. (_Louka makes a grimace._) Good-night.

LOUKA.
(_carelessly_). Good-night. (_She goes out, swaggering._)

(_Raina, left alone, goes to the chest of drawers, and adores the
portrait there with feelings that are beyond all expression. She does
not kiss it or press it to her breast, or shew it any mark of bodily
affection; but she takes it in her hands and elevates it like a
priestess._)

RAINA.
(_looking up at the picture with worship._) Oh, I shall never be
unworthy of you any more, my hero—never, never, never.

(_She replaces it reverently, and selects a novel from the little pile
of books. She turns over the leaves dreamily; finds her page; turns the
book inside out at it; and then, with a happy sigh, gets into bed and
prepares to read herself to sleep. But before abandoning herself to
fiction, she raises her eyes once more, thinking of the blessed reality
and murmurs_)

My hero! my hero!

(_A distant shot breaks the quiet of the night outside. She starts,
listening; and two more shots, much nearer, follow, startling her so
that she scrambles out of bed, and hastily blows out the candle on the
chest of drawers. Then, putting her fingers in her ears, she runs to
the dressing-table and blows out the light there, and hurries back to
bed. The room is now in darkness: nothing is visible but the glimmer of
the light in the pierced ball before the image, and the starlight seen
through the slits at the top of the shutters. The firing breaks out
again: there is a startling fusillade quite close at hand. Whilst it is
still echoing, the shutters disappear, pulled open from without, and
for an instant the rectangle of snowy starlight flashes out with the
figure of a man in black upon it. The shutters close immediately and
the room is dark again. But the silence is now broken by the sound of
panting. Then there is a scrape; and the flame of a match is seen in
the middle of the room._)

RAINA.
(_crouching on the bed_). Who’s there? (_The match is out instantly._)
Who’s there? Who is that?

A MAN’S VOICE.
(_in the darkness, subduedly, but threateningly_). Sh—sh! Don’t call
out or you’ll be shot. Be good; and no harm will happen to you. (_She
is heard leaving her bed, and making for the door._) Take care, there’s
no use in trying to run away. Remember, if you raise your voice my
pistol will go off. (_Commandingly._) Strike a light and let me see
you. Do you hear? (_Another moment of silence and darkness. Then she is
heard retreating to the dressing-table. She lights a candle, and the
mystery is at an end. A man of about 35, in a deplorable plight,
bespattered with mud and blood and snow, his belt and the strap of his
revolver case keeping together the torn ruins of the blue coat of a
Servian artillery officer. As far as the candlelight and his unwashed,
unkempt condition make it possible to judge, he is a man of middling
stature and undistinguished appearance, with strong neck and shoulders,
a roundish, obstinate looking head covered with short crisp bronze
curls, clear quick blue eyes and good brows and mouth, a hopelessly
prosaic nose like that of a strong-minded baby, trim soldierlike
carriage and energetic manner, and with all his wits about him in spite
of his desperate predicament—even with a sense of humor of it, without,
however, the least intention of trifling with it or throwing away a
chance. He reckons up what he can guess about Raina—her age, her social
position, her character, the extent to which she is frightened—at a
glance, and continues, more politely but still most determinedly_)
Excuse my disturbing you; but you recognise my uniform—Servian. If I’m
caught I shall be killed. (_Determinedly._) Do you understand that?

RAINA.
Yes.

MAN.
Well, I don’t intend to get killed if I can help it. (_Still more
determinedly._) Do you understand that? (_He locks the door with a
snap._)

RAINA.
(_disdainfully_). I suppose not. (_She draws herself up superbly, and
looks him straight in the face, saying with emphasis_) Some soldiers, I
know, are afraid of death.

MAN.
(_with grim goodhumor_). All of them, dear lady, all of them, believe
me. It is our duty to live as long as we can, and kill as many of the
enemy as we can. Now if you raise an alarm—

RAINA.
(_cutting him short_). You will shoot me. How do you know that I am
afraid to die?

MAN.
(_cunningly_). Ah; but suppose I don’t shoot you, what will happen
then? Why, a lot of your cavalry—the greatest blackguards in your
army—will burst into this pretty room of yours and slaughter me here
like a pig; for I’ll fight like a demon: they shan’t get me into the
street to amuse themselves with: I know what they are. Are you prepared
to receive that sort of company in your present undress? (_Raina,
suddenly conscious of her nightgown, instinctively shrinks and gathers
it more closely about her. He watches her, and adds, pitilessly_) It’s
rather scanty, eh? (_She turns to the ottoman. He raises his pistol
instantly, and cries_) Stop! (_She stops._) Where are you going?

RAINA.
(_with dignified patience_). Only to get my cloak.

MAN.
(_darting to the ottoman and snatching the cloak_). A good idea. No:
I’ll keep the cloak: and you will take care that nobody comes in and
sees you without it. This is a better weapon than the pistol. (_He
throws the pistol down on the ottoman._)

RAINA.
(_revolted_). It is not the weapon of a gentleman!

MAN.
It’s good enough for a man with only you to stand between him and
death. (_As they look at one another for a moment, Raina hardly able to
believe that even a Servian officer can be so cynically and selfishly
unchivalrous, they are startled by a sharp fusillade in the street. The
chill of imminent death hushes the man’s voice as he adds_) Do you
hear? If you are going to bring those scoundrels in on me you shall
receive them as you are. (_Raina meets his eye with unflinching scorn.
Suddenly he starts, listening. There is a step outside. Someone tries
the door, and then knocks hurriedly and urgently at it. Raina looks at
the man, breathless. He throws up his head with the gesture of a man
who sees that it is all over with him, and, dropping the manner which
he has been assuming to intimidate her, flings the cloak to her,
exclaiming, sincerely and kindly_) No use: I’m done for. Quick! wrap
yourself up: they’re coming!

RAINA.
(_catching the cloak eagerly_). Oh, thank you. (_She wraps herself up
with great relief. He draws his sabre and turns to the door, waiting._)

LOUKA.
(_outside, knocking_). My lady, my lady! Get up, quick, and open the
door.

RAINA.
(_anxiously_). What will you do?

MAN.
(_grimly_). Never mind. Keep out of the way. It will not last long.

RAINA.
(_impulsively_). I’ll help you. Hide yourself, oh, hide yourself,
quick, behind the curtain. (_She seizes him by a torn strip of his
sleeve, and pulls him towards the window._)

MAN.
(_yielding to her_). There is just half a chance, if you keep your
head. Remember: nine soldiers out of ten are born fools. (_He hides
behind the curtain, looking out for a moment to say, finally_) If they
find me, I promise you a fight—a devil of a fight! (_He disappears.
Raina takes off the cloak and throws it across the foot of the bed.
Then with a sleepy, disturbed air, she opens the door. Louka enters
excitedly._)

LOUKA.
A man has been seen climbing up the water-pipe to your balcony—a
Servian. The soldiers want to search for him; and they are so wild and
drunk and furious. My lady says you are to dress at once.

RAINA.
(_as if annoyed at being disturbed_). They shall not search here. Why
have they been let in?

CATHERINE.
(_coming in hastily_). Raina, darling, are you safe? Have you seen
anyone or heard anything?

RAINA.
I heard the shooting. Surely the soldiers will not dare come in here?

CATHERINE.
I have found a Russian officer, thank Heaven: he knows Sergius.
(_Speaking through the door to someone outside._) Sir, will you come in
now! My daughter is ready.

(_A young Russian officer, in Bulgarian uniform, enters, sword in
hand._)

THE OFFICER.
(_with soft, feline politeness and stiff military carriage_). Good
evening, gracious lady; I am sorry to intrude, but there is a fugitive
hiding on the balcony. Will you and the gracious lady your mother
please to withdraw whilst we search?

RAINA.
(_petulantly_). Nonsense, sir, you can see that there is no one on the
balcony. (_She throws the shutters wide open and stands with her back
to the curtain where the man is hidden, pointing to the moonlit
balcony. A couple of shots are fired right under the window, and a
bullet shatters the glass opposite Raina, who winks and gasps, but
stands her ground, whilst Catherine screams, and the officer rushes to
the balcony._)

THE OFFICER.
(_on the balcony, shouting savagely down to the street_). Cease firing
there, you fools: do you hear? Cease firing, damn you. (_He glares down
for a moment; then turns to Raina, trying to resume his polite
manner._) Could anyone have got in without your knowledge? Were you
asleep?

RAINA.
No, I have not been to bed.

THE OFFICER.
(_impatiently, coming back into the room_). Your neighbours have their
heads so full of runaway Servians that they see them everywhere.
(_Politely._) Gracious lady, a thousand pardons. Good-night. (_Military
bow, which Raina returns coldly. Another to Catherine, who follows him
out. Raina closes the shutters. She turns and sees Louka, who has been
watching the scene curiously._)

RAINA.
Don’t leave my mother, Louka, whilst the soldiers are here. (_Louka
glances at Raina, at the ottoman, at the curtain; then purses her lips
secretively, laughs to herself, and goes out. Raina follows her to the
door, shuts it behind her with a slam, and locks it violently. The man
immediately steps out from behind the curtain, sheathing his sabre, and
dismissing the danger from his mind in a businesslike way._)

MAN.
A narrow shave; but a miss is as good as a mile. Dear young lady, your
servant until death. I wish for your sake I had joined the Bulgarian
army instead of the Servian. I am not a native Servian.

RAINA.
(_haughtily_). No, you are one of the Austrians who set the Servians on
to rob us of our national liberty, and who officer their army for them.
We hate them!

MAN.
Austrian! not I. Don’t hate me, dear young lady. I am only a Swiss,
fighting merely as a professional soldier. I joined Servia because it
was nearest to me. Be generous: you’ve beaten us hollow.

RAINA.
Have I not been generous?

MAN.
Noble!—heroic! But I’m not saved yet. This particular rush will soon
pass through; but the pursuit will go on all night by fits and starts.
I must take my chance to get off during a quiet interval. You don’t
mind my waiting just a minute or two, do you?

RAINA.
Oh, no: I am sorry you will have to go into danger again. (_Motioning
towards ottoman._) Won’t you sit—(_She breaks off with an irrepressible
cry of alarm as she catches sight of the pistol. The man, all nerves,
shies like a frightened horse._)

MAN.
(_irritably_). Don’t frighten me like that. What is it?

RAINA.
Your pistol! It was staring that officer in the face all the time. What
an escape!

MAN.
(_vexed at being unnecessarily terrified_). Oh, is that all?

RAINA.
(_staring at him rather superciliously, conceiving a poorer and poorer
opinion of him, and feeling proportionately more and more at her ease
with him_). I am sorry I frightened you. (_She takes up the pistol and
hands it to him._) Pray take it to protect yourself against me.

MAN.
(_grinning wearily at the sarcasm as he takes the pistol_). No use,
dear young lady: there’s nothing in it. It’s not loaded. (_He makes a
grimace at it, and drops it disparagingly into his revolver case._)

RAINA.
Load it by all means.

MAN.
I’ve no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry
chocolate instead; and I finished the last cake of that yesterday.

RAINA.
(_outraged in her most cherished ideals of manhood_). Chocolate! Do you
stuff your pockets with sweets—like a schoolboy—even in the field?

MAN.
Yes. Isn’t it contemptible?

(_Raina stares at him, unable to utter her feelings. Then she sails
away scornfully to the chest of drawers, and returns with the box of
confectionery in her hand._)

RAINA.
Allow me. I am sorry I have eaten them all except these. (_She offers
him the box._)

MAN.
(_ravenously_). You’re an angel! (_He gobbles the comfits._) Creams!
Delicious! (_He looks anxiously to see whether there are any more.
There are none. He accepts the inevitable with pathetic goodhumor, and
says, with grateful emotion_) Bless you, dear lady. You can always tell
an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The
young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub. Thank you.
(_He hands back the box. She snatches it contemptuously from him and
throws it away. This impatient action is so sudden that he shies
again._) Ugh! Don’t do things so suddenly, gracious lady. Don’t revenge
yourself because I frightened you just now.

RAINA.
(_superbly_). Frighten me! Do you know, sir, that though I am only a
woman, I think I am at heart as brave as you.

MAN.
I should think so. You haven’t been under fire for three days as I
have. I can stand two days without shewing it much; but no man can
stand three days: I’m as nervous as a mouse. (_He sits down on the
ottoman, and takes his head in his hands._) Would you like to see me
cry?

RAINA.
(_quickly_). No.

MAN.
If you would, all you have to do is to scold me just as if I were a
little boy and you my nurse. If I were in camp now they’d play all
sorts of tricks on me.

RAINA.
(_a little moved_). I’m sorry. I won’t scold you. (_Touched by the
sympathy in her tone, he raises his head and looks gratefully at her:
she immediately draws back and says stiffly_) You must excuse me: our
soldiers are not like that. (_She moves away from the ottoman._)

MAN.
Oh, yes, they are. There are only two sorts of soldiers: old ones and
young ones. I’ve served fourteen years: half of your fellows never
smelt powder before. Why, how is it that you’ve just beaten us? Sheer
ignorance of the art of war, nothing else. (_Indignantly._) I never saw
anything so unprofessional.

RAINA.
(_ironically_). Oh, was it unprofessional to beat you?

MAN.
Well, come, is it professional to throw a regiment of cavalry on a
battery of machine guns, with the dead certainty that if the guns go
off not a horse or man will ever get within fifty yards of the fire? I
couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it.

RAINA.
(_eagerly turning to him, as all her enthusiasm and her dream of glory
rush back on her_). Did you see the great cavalry charge? Oh, tell me
about it. Describe it to me.

MAN.
You never saw a cavalry charge, did you?

RAINA.
How could I?

MAN.
Ah, perhaps not—of course. Well, it’s a funny sight. It’s like slinging
a handful of peas against a window pane: first one comes; then two or
three close behind him; and then all the rest in a lump.

RAINA.
(_her eyes dilating as she raises her clasped hands ecstatically_).
Yes, first One!—the bravest of the brave!

MAN.
(_prosaically_). Hm! you should see the poor devil pulling at his
horse.

RAINA.
Why should he pull at his horse?

MAN.
(_impatient of so stupid a question_). It’s running away with him, of
course: do you suppose the fellow wants to get there before the others
and be killed? Then they all come. You can tell the young ones by their
wildness and their slashing. The old ones come bunched up under the
number one guard: they know that they are mere projectiles, and that
it’s no use trying to fight. The wounds are mostly broken knees, from
the horses cannoning together.

RAINA.
Ugh! But I don’t believe the first man is a coward. I believe he is a
hero!

MAN.
(_goodhumoredly_). That’s what you’d have said if you’d seen the first
man in the charge to-day.

RAINA.
(_breathless_). Ah, I knew it! Tell me—tell me about him.

MAN.
He did it like an operatic tenor—a regular handsome fellow, with
flashing eyes and lovely moustache, shouting a war-cry and charging
like Don Quixote at the windmills. We nearly burst with laughter at
him; but when the sergeant ran up as white as a sheet, and told us
they’d sent us the wrong cartridges, and that we couldn’t fire a shot
for the next ten minutes, we laughed at the other side of our mouths. I
never felt so sick in my life, though I’ve been in one or two very
tight places. And I hadn’t even a revolver cartridge—nothing but
chocolate. We’d no bayonets—nothing. Of course, they just cut us to
bits. And there was Don Quixote flourishing like a drum major, thinking
he’d done the cleverest thing ever known, whereas he ought to be
courtmartialled for it. Of all the fools ever let loose on a field of
battle, that man must be the very maddest. He and his regiment simply
committed suicide—only the pistol missed fire, that’s all.

RAINA.
(_deeply wounded, but steadfastly loyal to her ideals_). Indeed! Would
you know him again if you saw him?

MAN.
Shall I ever forget him. (_She again goes to the chest of drawers. He
watches her with a vague hope that she may have something else for him
to eat. She takes the portrait from its stand and brings it to him._)

RAINA.
That is a photograph of the gentleman—the patriot and hero—to whom I am
betrothed.

MAN.
(_looking at it_). I’m really very sorry. (_Looking at her._) Was it
fair to lead me on? (_He looks at the portrait again._) Yes: that’s
him: not a doubt of it. (_He stifles a laugh._)

RAINA.
(_quickly_). Why do you laugh?

MAN.
(_shamefacedly, but still greatly tickled_). I didn’t laugh, I assure
you. At least I didn’t mean to. But when I think of him charging the
windmills and thinking he was doing the finest thing—(_chokes with
suppressed laughter_).

RAINA.
(_sternly_). Give me back the portrait, sir.

MAN.
(_with sincere remorse_). Of course. Certainly. I’m really very sorry.
(_She deliberately kisses it, and looks him straight in the face,
before returning to the chest of drawers to replace it. He follows her,
apologizing._) Perhaps I’m quite wrong, you know: no doubt I am. Most
likely he had got wind of the cartridge business somehow, and knew it
was a safe job.

RAINA.
That is to say, he was a pretender and a coward! You did not dare say
that before.

MAN.
(_with a comic gesture of despair_). It’s no use, dear lady: I can’t
make you see it from the professional point of view. (_As he turns away
to get back to the ottoman, the firing begins again in the distance._)

RAINA.
(_sternly, as she sees him listening to the shots_). So much the better
for you.

MAN.
(_turning_). How?

RAINA.
You are my enemy; and you are at my mercy. What would I do if I were a
professional soldier?

MAN.
Ah, true, dear young lady: you’re always right. I know how good you
have been to me: to my last hour I shall remember those three chocolate
creams. It was unsoldierly; but it was angelic.

RAINA.
(_coldly_). Thank you. And now I will do a soldierly thing. You cannot
stay here after what you have just said about my future husband; but I
will go out on the balcony and see whether it is safe for you to climb
down into the street. (_She turns to the window._)

MAN.
(_changing countenance_). Down that waterpipe! Stop! Wait! I can’t! I
daren’t! The very thought of it makes me giddy. I came up it fast
enough with death behind me. But to face it now in cold blood!—(_He
sinks on the ottoman._) It’s no use: I give up: I’m beaten. Give the
alarm. (_He drops his head in his hands in the deepest dejection._)

RAINA.
(_disarmed by pity_). Come, don’t be disheartened. (_She stoops over
him almost maternally: he shakes his head._) Oh, you are a very poor
soldier—a chocolate cream soldier. Come, cheer up: it takes less
courage to climb down than to face capture—remember that.

MAN.
(_dreamily, lulled by her voice_). No, capture only means death; and
death is sleep—oh, sleep, sleep, sleep, undisturbed sleep! Climbing
down the pipe means doing something—exerting myself—thinking! Death ten
times over first.

RAINA.
(_softly and wonderingly, catching the rhythm of his weariness_). Are
you so sleepy as that?

MAN.
I’ve not had two hours’ undisturbed sleep since the war began. I’m on
the staff: you don’t know what that means. I haven’t closed my eyes for
thirty-six hours.

RAINA.
(_desperately_). But what am I to do with you.

MAN.
(_staggering up_). Of course I must do something. (_He shakes himself;
pulls himself together; and speaks with rallied vigour and courage._)
You see, sleep or no sleep, hunger or no hunger, tired or not tired,
you can always do a thing when you know it must be done. Well, that
pipe must be got down—(_He hits himself on the chest, and adds_)—Do you
hear that, you chocolate cream soldier? (_He turns to the window._)

RAINA.
(_anxiously_). But if you fall?

MAN.
I shall sleep as if the stones were a feather bed. Good-bye. (_He makes
boldly for the window, and his hand is on the shutter when there is a
terrible burst of firing in the street beneath._)

RAINA.
(_rushing to him_). Stop! (_She catches him by the shoulder, and turns
him quite round._) They’ll kill you.

MAN.
(_coolly, but attentively_). Never mind: this sort of thing is all in
my day’s work. I’m bound to take my chance. (_Decisively._) Now do what
I tell you. Put out the candles, so that they shan’t see the light when
I open the shutters. And keep away from the window, whatever you do. If
they see me, they’re sure to have a shot at me.

RAINA.
(_clinging to him_). They’re sure to see you: it’s bright moonlight.
I’ll save you—oh, how can you be so indifferent? You want me to save
you, don’t you?

MAN.
I really don’t want to be troublesome. (_She shakes him in her
impatience._) I am not indifferent, dear young lady, I assure you. But
how is it to be done?

RAINA.
Come away from the window—please. (_She coaxes him back to the middle
of the room. He submits humbly. She releases him, and addresses him
patronizingly._) Now listen. You must trust to our hospitality. You do
not yet know in whose house you are. I am a Petkoff.

MAN.
What’s that?

RAINA.
(_rather indignantly_). I mean that I belong to the family of the
Petkoffs, the richest and best known in our country.

MAN.
Oh, yes, of course. I beg your pardon. The Petkoffs, to be sure. How
stupid of me!

RAINA.
You know you never heard of them until this minute. How can you stoop
to pretend?

MAN.
Forgive me: I’m too tired to think; and the change of subject was too
much for me. Don’t scold me.

RAINA.
I forgot. It might make you cry. (_He nods, quite seriously. She pouts
and then resumes her patronizing tone._) I must tell you that my father
holds the highest command of any Bulgarian in our army. He is
(_proudly_) a Major.

MAN.
(_pretending to be deeply impressed_). A Major! Bless me! Think of
that!

RAINA.
You shewed great ignorance in thinking that it was necessary to climb
up to the balcony, because ours is the only private house that has two
rows of windows. There is a flight of stairs inside to get up and down
by.

MAN.
Stairs! How grand! You live in great luxury indeed, dear young lady.

RAINA.
Do you know what a library is?

MAN.
A library? A roomful of books.

RAINA.
Yes, we have one, the only one in Bulgaria.

MAN.
Actually a real library! I should like to see that.

RAINA.
(_affectedly_). I tell you these things to shew you that you are not in
the house of ignorant country folk who would kill you the moment they
saw your Servian uniform, but among civilized people. We go to
Bucharest every year for the opera season; and I have spent a whole
month in Vienna.

MAN.
I saw that, dear young lady. I saw at once that you knew the world.

RAINA.
Have you ever seen the opera of Ernani?

MAN.
Is that the one with the devil in it in red velvet, and a soldier’s
chorus?

RAINA.
(_contemptuously_). No!

MAN.
(_stifling a heavy sigh of weariness_). Then I don’t know it.

RAINA.
I thought you might have remembered the great scene where Ernani,
flying from his foes just as you are tonight, takes refuge in the
castle of his bitterest enemy, an old Castilian noble. The noble
refuses to give him up. His guest is sacred to him.

MAN.
(_quickly waking up a little_). Have your people got that notion?

RAINA.
(_with dignity_). My mother and I can understand that notion, as you
call it. And if instead of threatening me with your pistol as you did,
you had simply thrown yourself as a fugitive on our hospitality, you
would have been as safe as in your father’s house.

MAN.
Quite sure?

RAINA.
(_turning her back on him in disgust._) Oh, it is useless to try and
make you understand.

MAN.
Don’t be angry: you see how awkward it would be for me if there was any
mistake. My father is a very hospitable man: he keeps six hotels; but I
couldn’t trust him as far as that. What about YOUR father?

RAINA.
He is away at Slivnitza fighting for his country. I answer for your
safety. There is my hand in pledge of it. Will that reassure you? (_She
offers him her hand._)

MAN.
(_looking dubiously at his own hand_). Better not touch my hand, dear
young lady. I must have a wash first.

RAINA.
(_touched_). That is very nice of you. I see that you are a gentleman.

MAN.
(_puzzled_). Eh?

RAINA.
You must not think I am surprised. Bulgarians of really good
standing—people in OUR position—wash their hands nearly every day. But
I appreciate your delicacy. You may take my hand. (_She offers it
again._)

MAN.
(_kissing it with his hands behind his back_). Thanks, gracious young
lady: I feel safe at last. And now would you mind breaking the news to
your mother? I had better not stay here secretly longer than is
necessary.

RAINA.
If you will be so good as to keep perfectly still whilst I am away.

MAN.
Certainly. (_He sits down on the ottoman._)

(_Raina goes to the bed and wraps herself in the fur cloak. His eyes
close. She goes to the door, but on turning for a last look at him,
sees that he is dropping of to sleep._)

RAINA.
(_at the door_). You are not going asleep, are you? (_He murmurs
inarticulately: she runs to him and shakes him._) Do you hear? Wake up:
you are falling asleep.

MAN.
Eh? Falling aslee—? Oh, no, not the least in the world: I was only
thinking. It’s all right: I’m wide awake.

RAINA.
(_severely_). Will you please stand up while I am away. (_He rises
reluctantly._) All the time, mind.

MAN.
(_standing unsteadily_). Certainly—certainly: you may depend on me.

(_Raina looks doubtfully at him. He smiles foolishly. She goes
reluctantly, turning again at the door, and almost catching him in the
act of yawning. She goes out._)

MAN.
(_drowsily_). Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, slee—(_The words trail off
into a murmur. He wakes again with a shock on the point of falling._)
Where am I? That’s what I want to know: where am I? Must keep awake.
Nothing keeps me awake except danger—remember that—(_intently_) danger,
danger, danger, dan— Where’s danger? Must find it. (_He starts of
vaguely around the room in search of it._) What am I looking for?
Sleep—danger—don’t know. (_He stumbles against the bed._) Ah, yes: now
I know. All right now. I’m to go to bed, but not to sleep—be sure not
to sleep—because of danger. Not to lie down, either, only sit down.
(_He sits on the bed. A blissful expression comes into his face._) Ah!
(_With a happy sigh he sinks back at full length; lifts his boots into
the bed with a final effort; and falls fast asleep instantly._)

(_Catherine comes in, followed by Raina._)

RAINA.
(_looking at the ottoman_). He’s gone! I left him here.

CATHERINE.
Here! Then he must have climbed down from the—

RAINA.
(_seeing him_). Oh! (_She points._)

CATHERINE.
(_scandalized_). Well! (_She strides to the left side of the bed, Raina
following and standing opposite her on the right._) He’s fast asleep.
The brute!

RAINA.
(_anxiously_). Sh!

CATHERINE.
(_shaking him_). Sir! (_Shaking him again, harder._) Sir!! (_Vehemently
shaking very bard._) Sir!!!

RAINA.
(_catching her arm_). Don’t, mamma: the poor dear is worn out. Let him
sleep.

CATHERINE.
(_letting him go and turning amazed to Raina_). The poor dear! Raina!!!
(_She looks sternly at her daughter. The man sleeps profoundly._)



ACT II


The sixth of March, 1886. In the garden of major Petkoff’s house. It is
a fine spring morning; and the garden looks fresh and pretty. Beyond
the paling the tops of a couple of minarets can be seen, shewing that
there is a valley there, with the little town in it. A few miles
further the Balkan mountains rise and shut in the view. Within the
garden the side of the house is seen on the right, with a garden door
reached by a little flight of steps. On the left the stable yard, with
its gateway, encroaches on the garden. There are fruit bushes along the
paling and house, covered with washing hung out to dry. A path runs by
the house, and rises by two steps at the corner where it turns out of
the right along the front. In the middle a small table, with two bent
wood chairs at it, is laid for breakfast with Turkish coffee pot, cups,
rolls, etc.; but the cups have been used and the bread broken. There is
a wooden garden seat against the wall on the left.

Louka, smoking a cigaret, is standing between the table and the house,
turning her back with angry disdain on a man-servant who is lecturing
her. He is a middle-aged man of cool temperament and low but clear and
keen intelligence, with the complacency of the servant who values
himself on his rank in servility, and the imperturbability of the
accurate calculator who has no illusions. He wears a white Bulgarian
costume jacket with decorated border, sash, wide knickerbockers, and
decorated gaiters. His head is shaved up to the crown, giving him a
high Japanese forehead. His name is Nicola.

NICOLA.
Be warned in time, Louka: mend your manners. I know the mistress. She
is so grand that she never dreams that any servant could dare to be
disrespectful to her; but if she once suspects that you are defying
her, out you go.

LOUKA.
I do defy her. I will defy her. What do I care for her?

NICOLA.
If you quarrel with the family, I never can marry you. It’s the same as
if you quarrelled with me!

LOUKA.
You take her part against me, do you?

NICOLA.
(_sedately_). I shall always be dependent on the good will of the
family. When I leave their service and start a shop in Sofia, their
custom will be half my capital: their bad word would ruin me.

LOUKA.
You have no spirit. I should like to see them dare say a word against
me!

NICOLA.
(_pityingly_). I should have expected more sense from you, Louka. But
you’re young, you’re young!

LOUKA.
Yes; and you like me the better for it, don’t you? But I know some
family secrets they wouldn’t care to have told, young as I am. Let them
quarrel with me if they dare!

NICOLA.
(_with compassionate superiority_). Do you know what they would do if
they heard you talk like that?

LOUKA.
What could they do?

NICOLA.
Discharge you for untruthfulness. Who would believe any stories you
told after that? Who would give you another situation? Who in this
house would dare be seen speaking to you ever again? How long would
your father be left on his little farm? (_She impatiently throws away
the end of her cigaret, and stamps on it._) Child, you don’t know the
power such high people have over the like of you and me when we try to
rise out of our poverty against them. (_He goes close to her and lowers
his voice._) Look at me, ten years in their service. Do you think I
know no secrets? I know things about the mistress that she wouldn’t
have the master know for a thousand levas. I know things about him that
she wouldn’t let him hear the last of for six months if I blabbed them
to her. I know things about Raina that would break off her match with
Sergius if—

LOUKA.
(_turning on him quickly_). How do you know? I never told you!

NICOLA.
(_opening his eyes cunningly_). So that’s your little secret, is it? I
thought it might be something like that. Well, you take my advice, and
be respectful; and make the mistress feel that no matter what you know
or don’t know, they can depend on you to hold your tongue and serve the
family faithfully. That’s what they like; and that’s how you’ll make
most out of them.

LOUKA.
(_with searching scorn_). You have the soul of a servant, Nicola.

NICOLA.
(_complacently_). Yes: that’s the secret of success in service.

(_A loud knocking with a whip handle on a wooden door, outside on the
left, is heard._)

MALE VOICE OUTSIDE.
Hollo! Hollo there! Nicola!

LOUKA.
Master! back from the war!

NICOLA.
(_quickly_). My word for it, Louka, the war’s over. Off with you and
get some fresh coffee. (_He runs out into the stable yard._)

LOUKA.
(_as she puts the coffee pot and the cups upon the tray, and carries it
into the house_). You’ll never put the soul of a servant into me.

(_Major Petkoff comes from the stable yard, followed by Nicola. He is a
cheerful, excitable, insignificant, unpolished man of about 50,
naturally unambitious except as to his income and his importance in
local society, but just now greatly pleased with the military rank
which the war has thrust on him as a man of consequence in his town.
The fever of plucky patriotism which the Servian attack roused in all
the Bulgarians has pulled him through the war; but he is obviously glad
to be home again._)

PETKOFF.
(_pointing to the table with his whip_). Breakfast out here, eh?

NICOLA.
Yes, sir. The mistress and Miss Raina have just gone in.

PETKOFF.
(_fitting down and taking a roll_). Go in and say I’ve come; and get me
some fresh coffee.

NICOLA.
It’s coming, sir. (_He goes to the house door. Louka, with fresh
coffee, a clean cup, and a brandy bottle on her tray meets him._) Have
you told the mistress?

LOUKA.
Yes: she’s coming.

(_Nicola goes into the house. Louka brings the coffee to the table._)

PETKOFF.
Well, the Servians haven’t run away with you, have they?

LOUKA.
No, sir.

PETKOFF.
That’s right. Have you brought me some cognac?

LOUKA.
(_putting the bottle on the table_). Here, sir.

PETKOFF.
That’s right. (_He pours some into his coffee._)

(_Catherine who has at this early hour made only a very perfunctory
toilet, and wears a Bulgarian apron over a once brilliant, but now half
worn out red dressing gown, and a colored handkerchief tied over her
thick black hair, with Turkish slippers on her bare feet, comes from
the house, looking astonishingly handsome and stately under all the
circumstances. Louka goes into the house._)

CATHERINE.
My dear Paul, what a surprise for us. (_She stoops over the back of his
chair to kiss him._) Have they brought you fresh coffee?

PETKOFF.
Yes, Louka’s been looking after me. The war’s over. The treaty was
signed three days ago at Bucharest; and the decree for our army to
demobilize was issued yesterday.

CATHERINE.
(_springing erect, with flashing eyes_). The war over! Paul: have you
let the Austrians force you to make peace?

PETKOFF.
(_submissively_). My dear: they didn’t consult me. What could _I_ do?
(_She sits down and turns away from him._) But of course we saw to it
that the treaty was an honorable one. It declares peace—

CATHERINE.
(_outraged_). Peace!

PETKOFF.
(_appeasing her_).—but not friendly relations: remember that. They
wanted to put that in; but I insisted on its being struck out. What
more could I do?

CATHERINE.
You could have annexed Servia and made Prince Alexander Emperor of the
Balkans. That’s what I would have done.

PETKOFF.
I don’t doubt it in the least, my dear. But I should have had to subdue
the whole Austrian Empire first; and that would have kept me too long
away from you. I missed you greatly.

CATHERINE.
(_relenting_). Ah! (_Stretches her hand affectionately across the table
to squeeze his._)

PETKOFF.
And how have you been, my dear?

CATHERINE.
Oh, my usual sore throats, that’s all.

PETKOFF.
(_with conviction_). That comes from washing your neck every day. I’ve
often told you so.

CATHERINE.
Nonsense, Paul!

PETKOFF.
(_over his coffee and cigaret_). I don’t believe in going too far with
these modern customs. All this washing can’t be good for the health:
it’s not natural. There was an Englishman at Phillipopolis who used to
wet himself all over with cold water every morning when he got up.
Disgusting! It all comes from the English: their climate makes them so
dirty that they have to be perpetually washing themselves. Look at my
father: he never had a bath in his life; and he lived to be
ninety-eight, the healthiest man in Bulgaria. I don’t mind a good wash
once a week to keep up my position; but once a day is carrying the
thing to a ridiculous extreme.

CATHERINE.
You are a barbarian at heart still, Paul. I hope you behaved yourself
before all those Russian officers.

PETKOFF.
I did my best. I took care to let them know that we had a library.

CATHERINE.
Ah; but you didn’t tell them that we have an electric bell in it? I
have had one put up.

PETKOFF.
What’s an electric bell?

CATHERINE.
You touch a button; something tinkles in the kitchen; and then Nicola
comes up.

PETKOFF.
Why not shout for him?

CATHERINE.
Civilized people never shout for their servants. I’ve learnt that while
you were away.

PETKOFF.
Well, I’ll tell you something I’ve learnt, too. Civilized people don’t
hang out their washing to dry where visitors can see it; so you’d
better have all that (_indicating the clothes on the bushes_) put
somewhere else.

CATHERINE.
Oh, that’s absurd, Paul: I don’t believe really refined people notice
such things.

(_Someone is heard knocking at the stable gates._)

PETKOFF.
There’s Sergius. (_Shouting._) Hollo, Nicola!

CATHERINE.
Oh, don’t shout, Paul: it really isn’t nice.

PETKOFF.
Bosh! (_He shouts louder than before._) Nicola!

NICOLA.
(_appearing at the house door_). Yes, sir.

PETKOFF.
If that is Major Saranoff, bring him round this way. (_He pronounces
the name with the stress on the second syllable—Sarah-noff._)

NICOLA.
Yes, sir. (_He goes into the stable yard._)

PETKOFF.
You must talk to him, my dear, until Raina takes him off our hands. He
bores my life out about our not promoting him—over my head, mind you.

CATHERINE.
He certainly ought to be promoted when he marries Raina. Besides, the
country should insist on having at least one native general.

PETKOFF.
Yes, so that he could throw away whole brigades instead of regiments.
It’s no use, my dear: he has not the slightest chance of promotion
until we are quite sure that the peace will be a lasting one.

NICOLA.
(_at the gate, announcing_). Major Sergius Saranoff! (_He goes into the
house and returns presently with a third chair, which he places at the
table. He then withdraws._)

(_Major Sergius Saranoff, the original of the portrait in Raina’s room,
is a tall, romantically handsome man, with the physical hardihood, the
high spirit, and the susceptible imagination of an untamed mountaineer
chieftain. But his remarkable personal distinction is of a
characteristically civilized type. The ridges of his eyebrows, curving
with a ram’s-horn twist round the marked projections at the outer
corners, his jealously observant eye, his nose, thin, keen, and
apprehensive in spite of the pugnacious high bridge and large nostril,
his assertive chin, would not be out of place in a Paris salon. In
short, the clever, imaginative barbarian has an acute critical faculty
which has been thrown into intense activity by the arrival of western
civilization in the Balkans; and the result is precisely what the
advent of nineteenth-century thought first produced in England: to-wit,
Byronism. By his brooding on the perpetual failure, not only of others,
but of himself, to live up to his imaginative ideals, his consequent
cynical scorn for humanity, the jejune credulity as to the absolute
validity of his ideals and the unworthiness of the world in
disregarding them, his wincings and mockeries under the sting of the
petty disillusions which every hour spent among men brings to his
infallibly quick observation, he has acquired the half tragic, half
ironic air, the mysterious moodiness, the suggestion of a strange and
terrible history that has left him nothing but undying remorse, by
which Childe Harold fascinated the grandmothers of his English
contemporaries. Altogether it is clear that here or nowhere is Raina’s
ideal hero. Catherine is hardly less enthusiastic, and much less
reserved in shewing her enthusiasm. As he enters from the stable gate,
she rises effusively to greet him. Petkoff is distinctly less disposed
to make a fuss about him._)

PETKOFF.
Here already, Sergius. Glad to see you!

CATHERINE.
My dear Sergius!(_She holds out both her hands._)

SERGIUS.
(_kissing them with scrupulous gallantry_). My dear mother, if I may
call you so.

PETKOFF.
(_drily_). Mother-in-law, Sergius; mother-in-law! Sit down, and have
some coffee.

SERGIUS.
Thank you, none for me. (_He gets away from the table with a certain
distaste for Petkoff’s enjoyment of it, and posts himself with
conscious grace against the rail of the steps leading to the house._)

CATHERINE.
You look superb—splendid. The campaign has improved you. Everybody here
is mad about you. We were all wild with enthusiasm about that
magnificent cavalry charge.

SERGIUS.
(_with grave irony_). Madam: it was the cradle and the grave of my
military reputation.

CATHERINE.
How so?

SERGIUS.
I won the battle the wrong way when our worthy Russian generals were
losing it the right way. That upset their plans, and wounded their
self-esteem. Two of their colonels got their regiments driven back on
the correct principles of scientific warfare. Two major-generals got
killed strictly according to military etiquette. Those two colonels are
now major-generals; and I am still a simple major.

CATHERINE.
You shall not remain so, Sergius. The women are on your side; and they
will see that justice is done you.

SERGIUS.
It is too late. I have only waited for the peace to send in my
resignation.

PETKOFF.
(_dropping his cup in his amazement_). Your resignation!

CATHERINE.
Oh, you must withdraw it!

SERGIUS.
(_with resolute, measured emphasis, folding his arms_). I never
withdraw!

PETKOFF.
(_vexed_). Now who could have supposed you were going to do such a
thing?

SERGIUS.
(_with fire_). Everyone that knew me. But enough of myself and my
affairs. How is Raina; and where is Raina?

RAINA.
(_suddenly coming round the corner of the house and standing at the top
of the steps in the path_). Raina is here. (_She makes a charming
picture as they all turn to look at her. She wears an underdress of
pale green silk, draped with an overdress of thin ecru canvas
embroidered with gold. On her head she wears a pretty Phrygian cap of
gold tinsel. Sergius, with an exclamation of pleasure, goes impulsively
to meet her. She stretches out her hand: he drops chivalrously on one
knee and kisses it._)

PETKOFF.
(_aside to Catherine, beaming with parental pride_). Pretty, isn’t it?
She always appears at the right moment.

CATHERINE.
(_impatiently_). Yes: she listens for it. It is an abominable habit.

(_Sergius leads Raina forward with splendid gallantry, as if she were a
queen. When they come to the table, she turns to him with a bend of the
head; he bows; and thus they separate, he coming to his place, and she
going behind her father’s chair._)

RAINA.
(_stooping and kissing her father_). Dear father! Welcome home!

PETKOFF.
(_patting her cheek_). My little pet girl. (_He kisses her; she goes to
the chair left by Nicola for Sergius, and sits down._)

CATHERINE.
And so you’re no longer a soldier, Sergius.

SERGIUS.
I am no longer a soldier. Soldiering, my dear madam, is the coward’s
art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of
harm’s way when you are weak. That is the whole secret of successful
fighting. Get your enemy at a disadvantage; and never, on any account,
fight him on equal terms. Eh, Major!

PETKOFF.
They wouldn’t let us make a fair stand-up fight of it. However, I
suppose soldiering has to be a trade like any other trade.

SERGIUS.
Precisely. But I have no ambition to succeed as a tradesman; so I have
taken the advice of that bagman of a captain that settled the exchange
of prisoners with us at Peerot, and given it up.

PETKOFF.
What, that Swiss fellow? Sergius: I’ve often thought of that exchange
since. He over-reached us about those horses.

SERGIUS.
Of course he over-reached us. His father was a hotel and livery stable
keeper; and he owed his first step to his knowledge of horse-dealing.
(_With mock enthusiasm._) Ah, he was a soldier—every inch a soldier! If
only I had bought the horses for my regiment instead of foolishly
leading it into danger, I should have been a field-marshal now!

CATHERINE.
A Swiss? What was he doing in the Servian army?

PETKOFF.
A volunteer of course—keen on picking up his profession. (_Chuckling._)
We shouldn’t have been able to begin fighting if these foreigners
hadn’t shewn us how to do it: we knew nothing about it; and neither did
the Servians. Egad, there’d have been no war without them.

RAINA.
Are there many Swiss officers in the Servian Army?

PETKOFF.
No—all Austrians, just as our officers were all Russians. This was the
only Swiss I came across. I’ll never trust a Swiss again. He cheated
us—humbugged us into giving him fifty able bodied men for two hundred
confounded worn out chargers. They weren’t even eatable!

SERGIUS.
We were two children in the hands of that consummate soldier, Major:
simply two innocent little children.

RAINA.
What was he like?

CATHERINE.
Oh, Raina, what a silly question!

SERGIUS.
He was like a commercial traveller in uniform. Bourgeois to his boots.

PETKOFF.
(_grinning_). Sergius: tell Catherine that queer story his friend told
us about him—how he escaped after Slivnitza. You remember?—about his
being hid by two women.

SERGIUS.
(_with bitter irony_). Oh, yes, quite a romance. He was serving in the
very battery I so unprofessionally charged. Being a thorough soldier,
he ran away like the rest of them, with our cavalry at his heels. To
escape their attentions, he had the good taste to take refuge in the
chamber of some patriotic young Bulgarian lady. The young lady was
enchanted by his persuasive commercial traveller’s manners. She very
modestly entertained him for an hour or so and then called in her
mother lest her conduct should appear unmaidenly. The old lady was
equally fascinated; and the fugitive was sent on his way in the
morning, disguised in an old coat belonging to the master of the house,
who was away at the war.

RAINA.
(_rising with marked stateliness_). Your life in the camp has made you
coarse, Sergius. I did not think you would have repeated such a story
before me. (_She turns away coldly._)

CATHERINE.
(_also rising_). She is right, Sergius. If such women exist, we should
be spared the knowledge of them.

PETKOFF.
Pooh! nonsense! what does it matter?

SERGIUS.
(_ashamed_). No, Petkoff: I was wrong. (_To Raina, with earnest
humility._) I beg your pardon. I have behaved abominably. Forgive me,
Raina. (_She bows reservedly._) And you, too, madam. (_Catherine bows
graciously and sits down. He proceeds solemnly, again addressing
Raina._) The glimpses I have had of the seamy side of life during the
last few months have made me cynical; but I should not have brought my
cynicism here—least of all into your presence, Raina. I—(_Here, turning
to the others, he is evidently about to begin a long speech when the
Major interrupts him._)

PETKOFF.
Stuff and nonsense, Sergius. That’s quite enough fuss about nothing: a
soldier’s daughter should be able to stand up without flinching to a
little strong conversation. (_He rises._) Come: it’s time for us to get
to business. We have to make up our minds how those three regiments are
to get back to Phillipopolis:—there’s no forage for them on the Sofia
route. (_He goes towards the house._) Come along. (_Sergius is about to
follow him when Catherine rises and intervenes._)

CATHERINE.
Oh, Paul, can’t you spare Sergius for a few moments? Raina has hardly
seen him yet. Perhaps I can help you to settle about the regiments.

SERGIUS.
(_protesting_). My dear madam, impossible: you—

CATHERINE.
(_stopping him playfully_). You stay here, my dear Sergius: there’s no
hurry. I have a word or two to say to Paul. (_Sergius instantly bows
and steps back._) Now, dear (_taking Petkoff’s arm_), come and see the
electric bell.

PETKOFF.
Oh, very well, very well. (_They go into the house together
affectionately. Sergius, left alone with Raina, looks anxiously at her,
fearing that she may be still offended. She smiles, and stretches out
her arms to him._)

(_Exit R. into house, followed by Catherine._)

SERGIUS.
(_hastening to her, but refraining from touching her without express
permission_). Am I forgiven?

RAINA.
(_placing her hands on his shoulder as she looks up at him with
admiration and worship_). My hero! My king.

SERGIUS.
My queen! (_He kisses her on the forehead with holy awe._)

RAINA.
How I have envied you, Sergius! You have been out in the world, on the
field of battle, able to prove yourself there worthy of any woman in
the world; whilst I have had to sit at home
inactive,—dreaming—useless—doing nothing that could give me the right
to call myself worthy of any man.

SERGIUS.
Dearest, all my deeds have been yours. You inspired me. I have gone
through the war like a knight in a tournament with his lady looking on
at him!

RAINA.
And you have never been absent from my thoughts for a moment. (_Very
solemnly._) Sergius: I think we two have found the higher love. When I
think of you, I feel that I could never do a base deed, or think an
ignoble thought.

SERGIUS.
My lady, and my saint! (_Clasping her reverently._)

RAINA.
(_returning his embrace_). My lord and my g—

SERGIUS.
Sh—sh! Let me be the worshipper, dear. You little know how unworthy
even the best man is of a girl’s pure passion!

RAINA.
I trust you. I love you. You will never disappoint me, Sergius. (_Louka
is heard singing within the house. They quickly release each other._)
Hush! I can’t pretend to talk indifferently before her: my heart is too
full. (_Louka comes from the house with her tray. She goes to the
table, and begins to clear it, with her back turned to them._) I will
go and get my hat; and then we can go out until lunch time. Wouldn’t
you like that?

SERGIUS.
Be quick. If you are away five minutes, it will seem five hours.
(_Raina runs to the top of the steps and turns there to exchange a look
with him and wave him a kiss with both hands. He looks after her with
emotion for a moment, then turns slowly away, his face radiant with the
exultation of the scene which has just passed. The movement shifts his
field of vision, into the corner of which there now comes the tail of
Louka’s double apron. His eye gleams at once. He takes a stealthy look
at her, and begins to twirl his moustache nervously, with his left hand
akimbo on his hip. Finally, striking the ground with his heels in
something of a cavalry swagger, he strolls over to the left of the
table, opposite her, and says_) Louka: do you know what the higher love
is?

LOUKA.
(_astonished_). No, sir.

SERGIUS.
Very fatiguing thing to keep up for any length of time, Louka. One
feels the need of some relief after it.

LOUKA.
(_innocently_). Perhaps you would like some coffee, sir? (_She
stretches her hand across the table for the coffee pot._)

SERGIUS.
(_taking her hand_). Thank you, Louka.

LOUKA.
(_pretending to pull_). Oh, sir, you know I didn’t mean that. I’m
surprised at you!

SERGIUS.
(_coming clear of the table and drawing her with him_). I am surprised
at myself, Louka. What would Sergius, the hero of Slivnitza, say if he
saw me now? What would Sergius, the apostle of the higher love, say if
he saw me now? What would the half dozen Sergiuses who keep popping in
and out of this handsome figure of mine say if they caught us here?
(_Letting go her hand and slipping his arm dexterously round her
waist._) Do you consider my figure handsome, Louka?

LOUKA.
Let me go, sir. I shall be disgraced. (_She struggles: he holds her
inexorably._) Oh, will you let go?

SERGIUS.
(_looking straight into her eyes_). No.

LOUKA.
Then stand back where we can’t be seen. Have you no common sense?

SERGIUS.
Ah, that’s reasonable. (_He takes her into the stableyard gateway,
where they are hidden from the house._)

LOUKA.
(_complaining_). I may have been seen from the windows: Miss Raina is
sure to be spying about after you.

SERGIUS.
(_stung—letting her go_). Take care, Louka. I may be worthless enough
to betray the higher love; but do not you insult it.

LOUKA.
(_demurely_). Not for the world, sir, I’m sure. May I go on with my
work please, now?

SERGIUS.
(_again putting his arm round her_). You are a provoking little witch,
Louka. If you were in love with me, would you spy out of windows on me?

LOUKA.
Well, you see, sir, since you say you are half a dozen different
gentlemen all at once, I should have a great deal to look after.

SERGIUS.
(_charmed_). Witty as well as pretty. (_He tries to kiss her._)

LOUKA.
(_avoiding him_). No, I don’t want your kisses. Gentlefolk are all
alike—you making love to me behind Miss Raina’s back, and she doing the
same behind yours.

SERGIUS.
(_recoiling a step_). Louka!

LOUKA.
It shews how little you really care!

SERGIUS.
(_dropping his familiarity and speaking with freezing politeness_). If
our conversation is to continue, Louka, you will please remember that a
gentleman does not discuss the conduct of the lady he is engaged to
with her maid.

LOUKA.
It’s so hard to know what a gentleman considers right. I thought from
your trying to kiss me that you had given up being so particular.

SERGIUS.
(_turning from her and striking his forehead as he comes back into the
garden from the gateway_). Devil! devil!

LOUKA.
Ha! ha! I expect one of the six of you is very like me, sir, though I
am only Miss Raina’s maid. (_She goes back to her work at the table,
taking no further notice of him._)

SERGIUS.
(_speaking to himself_). Which of the six is the real man?—that’s the
question that torments me. One of them is a hero, another a buffoon,
another a humbug, another perhaps a bit of a blackguard. (_He pauses
and looks furtively at Louka, as he adds with deep bitterness_) And
one, at least, is a coward—jealous, like all cowards. (_He goes to the
table._) Louka.

LOUKA.
Yes?

SERGIUS.
Who is my rival?

LOUKA.
You shall never get that out of me, for love or money.

SERGIUS.
Why?

LOUKA.
Never mind why. Besides, you would tell that I told you; and I should
lose my place.

SERGIUS.
(_holding out his right hand in affirmation_). No; on the honor of
a—(_He checks himself, and his hand drops nerveless as he concludes,
sardonically_)—of a man capable of behaving as I have been behaving for
the last five minutes. Who is he?

LOUKA.
I don’t know. I never saw him. I only heard his voice through the door
of her room.

SERGIUS.
Damnation! How dare you?

LOUKA.
(_retreating_). Oh, I mean no harm: you’ve no right to take up my words
like that. The mistress knows all about it. And I tell you that if that
gentleman ever comes here again, Miss Raina will marry him, whether he
likes it or not. I know the difference between the sort of manner you
and she put on before one another and the real manner. (_Sergius
shivers as if she had stabbed him. Then, setting his face like iron, he
strides grimly to her, and grips her above the elbows with both
bands._)

SERGIUS.
Now listen you to me!

LOUKA.
(_wincing_). Not so tight: you’re hurting me!

SERGIUS.
That doesn’t matter. You have stained my honor by making me a party to
your eavesdropping. And you have betrayed your mistress—

LOUKA.
(_writhing_). Please—

SERGIUS.
That shews that you are an abominable little clod of common clay, with
the soul of a servant. (_He lets her go as if she were an unclean
thing, and turns away, dusting his hands of her, to the bench by the
wall, where he sits down with averted head, meditating gloomily._)

LOUKA.
(_whimpering angrily with her hands up her sleeves, feeling her bruised
arms_). You know how to hurt with your tongue as well as with your
hands. But I don’t care, now I’ve found out that whatever clay I’m made
of, you’re made of the same. As for her, she’s a liar; and her fine
airs are a cheat; and I’m worth six of her. (_She shakes the pain off
hardily; tosses her head; and sets to work to put the things on the
tray. He looks doubtfully at her once or twice. She finishes packing
the tray, and laps the cloth over the edges, so as to carry all out
together. As she stoops to lift it, he rises._)

SERGIUS.
Louka! (_She stops and looks defiantly at him with the tray in her
hands._) A gentleman has no right to hurt a woman under any
circumstances. (_With profound humility, uncovering his head._) I beg
your pardon.

LOUKA.
That sort of apology may satisfy a lady. Of what use is it to a
servant?

SERGIUS.
(_thus rudely crossed in his chivalry, throws it off with a bitter
laugh and says slightingly_). Oh, you wish to be paid for the hurt?
(_He puts on his shako, and takes some money from his pocket._)

LOUKA.
(_her eyes filling with tears in spite of herself_). No, I want my hurt
made well.

SERGIUS.
(_sobered by her tone_). How?

(_She rolls up her left sleeve; clasps her arm with the thumb and
fingers of her right hand; and looks down at the bruise. Then she
raises her head and looks straight at him. Finally, with a superb
gesture she presents her arm to be kissed. Amazed, he looks at her; at
the arm; at her again; hesitates; and then, with shuddering intensity,
exclaims_)

SERGIUS.
Never! (_and gets away as far as possible from her._)

(_Her arm drops. Without a word, and with unaffected dignity, she takes
her tray, and is approaching the house when Raina returns wearing a hat
and jacket in the height of the Vienna fashion of the previous year,
1885. Louka makes way proudly for her, and then goes into the house._)

RAINA.
I’m ready! What’s the matter? (_Gaily._) Have you been flirting with
Louka?

SERGIUS.
(_hastily_). No, no. How can you think such a thing?

RAINA.
(_ashamed of herself_). Forgive me, dear: it was only a jest. I am so
happy to-day.

(_He goes quickly to her, and kisses her hand remorsefully. Catherine
comes out and calls to them from the top of the steps._)

CATHERINE.
(_coming down to them_). I am sorry to disturb you, children; but Paul
is distracted over those three regiments. He does not know how to get
them to Phillipopolis; and he objects to every suggestion of mine. You
must go and help him, Sergius. He is in the library.

RAINA.
(_disappointed_). But we are just going out for a walk.

SERGIUS.
I shall not be long. Wait for me just five minutes. (_He runs up the
steps to the door._)

RAINA.
(_following him to the foot of the steps and looking up at him with
timid coquetry_). I shall go round and wait in full view of the library
windows. Be sure you draw father’s attention to me. If you are a moment
longer than five minutes, I shall go in and fetch you, regiments or no
regiments.

SERGIUS.
(_laughing_). Very well. (_He goes in. Raina watches him until he is
out of her sight. Then, with a perceptible relaxation of manner, she
begins to pace up and down about the garden in a brown study._)

CATHERINE.
Imagine their meeting that Swiss and hearing the whole story! The very
first thing your father asked for was the old coat we sent him off in.
A nice mess you have got us into!

RAINA.
(_gazing thoughtfully at the gravel as she walks_). The little beast!

CATHERINE.
Little beast! What little beast?

RAINA.
To go and tell! Oh, if I had him here, I’d stuff him with chocolate
creams till he couldn’t ever speak again!

CATHERINE.
Don’t talk nonsense. Tell me the truth, Raina. How long was he in your
room before you came to me?

RAINA.
(_whisking round and recommencing her march in the opposite
direction_). Oh, I forget.

CATHERINE.
You cannot forget! Did he really climb up after the soldiers were gone,
or was he there when that officer searched the room?

RAINA.
No. Yes, I think he must have been there then.

CATHERINE.
You think! Oh, Raina, Raina! Will anything ever make you
straightforward? If Sergius finds out, it is all over between you.

RAINA.
(_with cool impertinence_). Oh, I know Sergius is your pet. I sometimes
wish you could marry him instead of me. You would just suit him. You
would pet him, and spoil him, and mother him to perfection.

CATHERINE.
(_opening her eyes very widely indeed_). Well, upon my word!

RAINA.
(_capriciously—half to herself_). I always feel a longing to do or say
something dreadful to him—to shock his propriety—to scandalize the five
senses out of him! (_To Catherine perversely._) I don’t care whether he
finds out about the chocolate cream soldier or not. I half hope he may.
(_She again turns flippantly away and strolls up the path to the corner
of the house._)

CATHERINE.
And what should I be able to say to your father, pray?

RAINA.
(_over her shoulder, from the top of the two steps_). Oh, poor father!
As if he could help himself! (_She turns the corner and passes out of
sight._)

CATHERINE.
(_looking after her, her fingers itching_). Oh, if you were only ten
years younger! (_Louka comes from the house with a salver, which she
carries hanging down by her side._) Well?

LOUKA.
There’s a gentleman just called, madam—a Servian officer—

CATHERINE.
(_flaming_). A Servian! How dare he—(_Checking herself bitterly._) Oh,
I forgot. We are at peace now. I suppose we shall have them calling
every day to pay their compliments. Well, if he is an officer why don’t
you tell your master? He is in the library with Major Saranoff. Why do
you come to me?

LOUKA.
But he asks for you, madam. And I don’t think he knows who you are: he
said the lady of the house. He gave me this little ticket for you.
(_She takes a card out of her bosom; puts it on the salver and offers
it to Catherine._)

CATHERINE.
(_reading_). “Captain Bluntschli!” That’s a German name.

LOUKA.
Swiss, madam, I think.

CATHERINE.
(_with a bound that makes Louka jump back_). Swiss! What is he like?

LOUKA.
(_timidly_). He has a big carpet bag, madam.

CATHERINE.
Oh, Heavens, he’s come to return the coat! Send him away—say we’re not
at home—ask him to leave his address and I’ll write to him—Oh, stop:
that will never do. Wait! (_She throws herself into a chair to think it
out. Louka waits._) The master and Major Saranoff are busy in the
library, aren’t they?

LOUKA.
Yes, madam.

CATHERINE.
(_decisively_). Bring the gentleman out here at once. (_Imperatively._)
And be very polite to him. Don’t delay. Here (_impatiently snatching
the salver from her_): leave that here; and go straight back to him.

LOUKA.
Yes, madam. (_Going._)

CATHERINE.
Louka!

LOUKA.
(_stopping_). Yes, madam.

CATHERINE.
Is the library door shut?

LOUKA.
I think so, madam.

CATHERINE.
If not, shut it as you pass through.

LOUKA.
Yes, madam. (_Going._)

CATHERINE.
Stop! (_Louka stops._) He will have to go out that way (_indicating the
gate of the stable yard_). Tell Nicola to bring his bag here after him.
Don’t forget.

LOUKA.
(_surprised_). His bag?

CATHERINE.
Yes, here, as soon as possible. (_Vehemently._) Be quick! (_Louka runs
into the house. Catherine snatches her apron off and throws it behind a
bush. She then takes up the salver and uses it as a mirror, with the
result that the handkerchief tied round her head follows the apron. A
touch to her hair and a shake to her dressing gown makes her
presentable._) Oh, how—how—how can a man be such a fool! Such a moment
to select! (_Louka appears at the door of the house, announcing
“Captain Bluntschli;” and standing aside at the top of the steps to let
him pass before she goes in again. He is the man of the adventure in
Raina’s room. He is now clean, well brushed, smartly uniformed, and out
of trouble, but still unmistakably the same man. The moment Louka’s
back is turned, Catherine swoops on him with hurried, urgent, coaxing
appeal._) Captain Bluntschli, I am very glad to see you; but you must
leave this house at once. (_He raises his eyebrows._) My husband has
just returned, with my future son-in-law; and they know nothing. If
they did, the consequences would be terrible. You are a foreigner: you
do not feel our national animosities as we do. We still hate the
Servians: the only effect of the peace on my husband is to make him
feel like a lion baulked of his prey. If he discovered our secret, he
would never forgive me; and my daughter’s life would hardly be safe.
Will you, like the chivalrous gentleman and soldier you are, leave at
once before he finds you here?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_disappointed, but philosophical_). At once, gracious lady. I only
came to thank you and return the coat you lent me. If you will allow me
to take it out of my bag and leave it with your servant as I pass out,
I need detain you no further. (_He turns to go into the house._)

CATHERINE.
(_catching him by the sleeve_). Oh, you must not think of going back
that way. (_Coaxing him across to the stable gates._) This is the
shortest way out. Many thanks. So glad to have been of service to you.
Good-bye.

BLUNTSCHLI.
But my bag?

CATHERINE.
It will be sent on. You will leave me your address.

BLUNTSCHLI.
True. Allow me. (_He takes out his card-case, and stops to write his
address, keeping Catherine in an agony of impatience. As he hands her
the card, Petkoff, hatless, rushes from the house in a fluster of
hospitality, followed by Sergius._)

PETKOFF.
(_as he hurries down the steps_). My dear Captain Bluntschli—

CATHERINE.
Oh Heavens! (_She sinks on the seat against the wall._)

PETKOFF.
(_too preoccupied to notice her as he shakes Bluntschli’s hand
heartily_). Those stupid people of mine thought I was out here, instead
of in the—haw!—library. (_He cannot mention the library without
betraying how proud he is of it._) I saw you through the window. I was
wondering why you didn’t come in. Saranoff is with me: you remember
him, don’t you?

SERGIUS.
(_saluting humorously, and then offering his hand with great charm of
manner_). Welcome, our friend the enemy!

PETKOFF.
No longer the enemy, happily. (_Rather anxiously._) I hope you’ve come
as a friend, and not on business.

CATHERINE.
Oh, quite as a friend, Paul. I was just asking Captain Bluntschli to
stay to lunch; but he declares he must go at once.

SERGIUS.
(_sardonically_). Impossible, Bluntschli. We want you here badly. We
have to send on three cavalry regiments to Phillipopolis; and we don’t
in the least know how to do it.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_suddenly attentive and business-like_). Phillipopolis! The forage is
the trouble, eh?

PETKOFF.
(_eagerly_). Yes, that’s it. (_To Sergius._) He sees the whole thing at
once.

BLUNTSCHLI.
I think I can shew you how to manage that.

SERGIUS.
Invaluable man! Come along! (_Towering over Bluntschli, he puts his
hand on his shoulder and takes him to the steps, Petkoff following. As
Bluntschli puts his foot on the first step, Raina comes out of the
house._)

RAINA.
(_completely losing her presence of mind_). Oh, the chocolate cream
soldier!

(_Bluntschli stands rigid. Sergius, amazed, looks at Raina, then at
Petkoff, who looks back at him and then at his wife._)

CATHERINE.
(_with commanding presence of mind_). My dear Raina, don’t you see that
we have a guest here—Captain Bluntschli, one of our new Servian
friends?

(_Raina bows; Bluntschli bows._)

RAINA.
How silly of me! (_She comes down into the centre of the group, between
Bluntschli and Petkoff_) I made a beautiful ornament this morning for
the ice pudding; and that stupid Nicola has just put down a pile of
plates on it and spoiled it. (_To Bluntschli, winningly._) I hope you
didn’t think that you were the chocolate cream soldier, Captain
Bluntschli.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_laughing_). I assure you I did. (_Stealing a whimsical glance at
her._) Your explanation was a relief.

PETKOFF.
(_suspiciously, to Raina_). And since when, pray, have you taken to
cooking?

CATHERINE.
Oh, whilst you were away. It is her latest fancy.

PETKOFF.
(_testily_). And has Nicola taken to drinking? He used to be careful
enough. First he shews Captain Bluntschli out here when he knew quite
well I was in the—hum!—library; and then he goes downstairs and breaks
Raina’s chocolate soldier. He must—(_At this moment Nicola appears at
the top of the steps R., with a carpet bag. He descends; places it
respectfully before Bluntschli; and waits for further orders. General
amazement. Nicola, unconscious of the effect he is producing, looks
perfectly satisfied with himself. When Petkoff recovers his power of
speech, he breaks out at him with_) Are you mad, Nicola?

NICOLA.
(_taken aback_). Sir?

PETKOFF.
What have you brought that for?

NICOLA.
My lady’s orders, sir. Louka told me that—

CATHERINE.
(_interrupting him_). My orders! Why should I order you to bring
Captain Bluntschli’s luggage out here? What are you thinking of,
Nicola?

NICOLA.
(_after a moment’s bewilderment, picking up the bag as he addresses
Bluntschli with the very perfection of servile discretion_). I beg your
pardon, sir, I am sure. (_To Catherine._) My fault, madam! I hope
you’ll overlook it! (_He bows, and is going to the steps with the bag,
when Petkoff addresses him angrily._)

PETKOFF.
You’d better go and slam that bag, too, down on Miss Raina’s ice
pudding! (_This is too much for Nicola. The bag drops from his hands on
Petkoff’s corns, eliciting a roar of anguish from him._) Begone, you
butter-fingered donkey.

NICOLA.
(_snatching up the bag, and escaping into the house_). Yes, sir.

CATHERINE.
Oh, never mind, Paul, don’t be angry!

PETKOFF.
(_muttering_). Scoundrel. He’s got out of hand while I was away. I’ll
teach him. (_Recollecting his guest._) Oh, well, never mind. Come,
Bluntschli, lets have no more nonsense about you having to go away. You
know very well you’re not going back to Switzerland yet. Until you do
go back you’ll stay with us.

RAINA.
Oh, do, Captain Bluntschli.

PETKOFF.
(_to Catherine_). Now, Catherine, it’s of you that he’s afraid. Press
him and he’ll stay.

CATHERINE.
Of course I shall be only too delighted if (_appealingly_) Captain
Bluntschli really wishes to stay. He knows my wishes.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_in his driest military manner_). I am at madame’s orders.

SERGIUS.
(_cordially_). That settles it!

PETKOFF.
(_heartily_). Of course!

RAINA.
You see, you must stay!

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_smiling_). Well, If I must, I must! (_Gesture of despair from
Catherine._)



ACT III


In the library after lunch. It is not much of a library, its literary
equipment consisting of a single fixed shelf stocked with old
paper-covered novels, broken backed, coffee stained, torn and thumbed,
and a couple of little hanging shelves with a few gift books on them,
the rest of the wall space being occupied by trophies of war and the
chase. But it is a most comfortable sitting-room. A row of three large
windows in the front of the house shew a mountain panorama, which is
just now seen in one of its softest aspects in the mellowing afternoon
light. In the left hand corner, a square earthenware stove, a perfect
tower of colored pottery, rises nearly to the ceiling and guarantees
plenty of warmth. The ottoman in the middle is a circular bank of
decorated cushions, and the window seats are well upholstered divans.
Little Turkish tables, one of them with an elaborate hookah on it, and
a screen to match them, complete the handsome effect of the furnishing.
There is one object, however, which is hopelessly out of keeping with
its surroundings. This is a small kitchen table, much the worse for
wear, fitted as a writing table with an old canister full of pens, an
eggcup filled with ink, and a deplorable scrap of severely used pink
blotting paper.

At the side of this table, which stands on the right, Bluntschli is
hard at work, with a couple of maps before him, writing orders. At the
head of it sits Sergius, who is also supposed to be at work, but who is
actually gnawing the feather of a pen, and contemplating Bluntschli’s
quick, sure, businesslike progress with a mixture of envious irritation
at his own incapacity, and awestruck wonder at an ability which seems
to him almost miraculous, though its prosaic character forbids him to
esteem it. The major is comfortably established on the ottoman, with a
newspaper in his hand and the tube of the hookah within his reach.
Catherine sits at the stove, with her back to them, embroidering.
Raina, reclining on the divan under the left hand window, is gazing in
a daydream out at the Balkan landscape, with a neglected novel in her
lap.

The door is on the left. The button of the electric bell is between the
door and the fireplace.

PETKOFF.
(_looking up from his paper to watch how they are getting on at the
table_). Are you sure I can’t help you in any way, Bluntschli?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_without interrupting his writing or looking up_). Quite sure, thank
you. Saranoff and I will manage it.

SERGIUS.
(_grimly_). Yes: we’ll manage it. He finds out what to do; draws up the
orders; and I sign ’em. Division of labour, Major. (_Bluntschli passes
him a paper._) Another one? Thank you. (_He plants the papers squarely
before him; sets his chair carefully parallel to them; and signs with
the air of a man resolutely performing a difficult and dangerous
feat._) This hand is more accustomed to the sword than to the pen.

PETKOFF.
It’s very good of you, Bluntschli, it is indeed, to let yourself be put
upon in this way. Now are you quite sure I can do nothing?

CATHERINE.
(_in a low, warning tone_). You can stop interrupting, Paul.

PETKOFF.
(_starting and looking round at her_). Eh? Oh! Quite right, my love,
quite right. (_He takes his newspaper up, but lets it drop again._) Ah,
you haven’t been campaigning, Catherine: you don’t know how pleasant it
is for us to sit here, after a good lunch, with nothing to do but enjoy
ourselves. There’s only one thing I want to make me thoroughly
comfortable.

CATHERINE.
What is that?

PETKOFF.
My old coat. I’m not at home in this one: I feel as if I were on
parade.

CATHERINE.
My dear Paul, how absurd you are about that old coat! It must be
hanging in the blue closet where you left it.

PETKOFF.
My dear Catherine, I tell you I’ve looked there. Am I to believe my own
eyes or not? (_Catherine quietly rises and presses the button of the
electric bell by the fireplace._) What are you shewing off that bell
for? (_She looks at him majestically, and silently resumes her chair
and her needlework._) My dear: if you think the obstinacy of your sex
can make a coat out of two old dressing gowns of Raina’s, your
waterproof, and my mackintosh, you’re mistaken. That’s exactly what the
blue closet contains at present. (_Nicola presents himself._)

CATHERINE.
(_unmoved by Petkoff’s sally_). Nicola: go to the blue closet and bring
your master’s old coat here—the braided one he usually wears in the
house.

NICOLA.
Yes, madam. (_Nicola goes out._)

PETKOFF.
Catherine.

CATHERINE.
Yes, Paul?

PETKOFF.
I bet you any piece of jewellery you like to order from Sofia against a
week’s housekeeping money, that the coat isn’t there.

CATHERINE.
Done, Paul.

PETKOFF.
(_excited by the prospect of a gamble_). Come: here’s an opportunity
for some sport. Who’ll bet on it? Bluntschli: I’ll give you six to one.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_imperturbably_). It would be robbing you, Major. Madame is sure to be
right. (_Without looking up, he passes another batch of papers to
Sergius._)

SERGIUS.
(_also excited_). Bravo, Switzerland! Major: I bet my best charger
against an Arab mare for Raina that Nicola finds the coat in the blue
closet.

PETKOFF.
(_eagerly_). Your best char—

CATHERINE.
(_hastily interrupting him_). Don’t be foolish, Paul. An Arabian mare
will cost you 50,000 levas.

RAINA.
(_suddenly coming out of her picturesque revery_). Really, mother, if
you are going to take the jewellery, I don’t see why you should grudge
me my Arab.

(_Nicola comes back with the coat and brings it to Petkoff, who can
hardly believe his eyes._)

CATHERINE.
Where was it, Nicola?

NICOLA.
Hanging in the blue closet, madam.

PETKOFF.
Well, I am d—

CATHERINE.
(_stopping him_). Paul!

PETKOFF.
I could have sworn it wasn’t there. Age is beginning to tell on me. I’m
getting hallucinations. (_To Nicola._) Here: help me to change. Excuse
me, Bluntschli. (_He begins changing coats, Nicola acting as valet._)
Remember: I didn’t take that bet of yours, Sergius. You’d better give
Raina that Arab steed yourself, since you’ve roused her expectations.
Eh, Raina? (_He looks round at her; but she is again rapt in the
landscape. With a little gush of paternal affection and pride, he
points her out to them and says_) She’s dreaming, as usual.

SERGIUS.
Assuredly she shall not be the loser.

PETKOFF.
So much the better for her. I shan’t come off so cheap, I expect. (_The
change is now complete. Nicola goes out with the discarded coat._) Ah,
now I feel at home at last. (_He sits down and takes his newspaper with
a grunt of relief._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_to Sergius, handing a paper_). That’s the last order.

PETKOFF.
(_jumping up_). What! finished?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Finished. (_Petkoff goes beside Sergius; looks curiously over his left
shoulder as he signs; and says with childlike envy_) Haven’t you
anything for me to sign?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Not necessary. His signature will do.

PETKOFF.
Ah, well, I think we’ve done a thundering good day’s work. (_He goes
away from the table._) Can I do anything more?

BLUNTSCHLI.
You had better both see the fellows that are to take these. (_To
Sergius._) Pack them off at once; and shew them that I’ve marked on the
orders the time they should hand them in by. Tell them that if they
stop to drink or tell stories—if they’re five minutes late, they’ll
have the skin taken off their backs.

SERGIUS.
(_rising indignantly_). I’ll say so. And if one of them is man enough
to spit in my face for insulting him, I’ll buy his discharge and give
him a pension. (_He strides out, his humanity deeply outraged._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_confidentially_). Just see that he talks to them properly, Major,
will you?

PETKOFF.
(_officiously_). Quite right, Bluntschli, quite right. I’ll see to it.
(_He goes to the door importantly, but hesitates on the threshold._) By
the bye, Catherine, you may as well come, too. They’ll be far more
frightened of you than of me.

CATHERINE.
(_putting down her embroidery_). I daresay I had better. You will only
splutter at them. (_She goes out, Petkoff holding the door for her and
following her._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
What a country! They make cannons out of cherry trees; and the officers
send for their wives to keep discipline! (_He begins to fold and docket
the papers. Raina, who has risen from the divan, strolls down the room
with her hands clasped behind her, and looks mischievously at him._)

RAINA.
You look ever so much nicer than when we last met. (_He looks up,
surprised._) What have you done to yourself?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Washed; brushed; good night’s sleep and breakfast. That’s all.

RAINA.
Did you get back safely that morning?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Quite, thanks.

RAINA.
Were they angry with you for running away from Sergius’s charge?

BLUNTSCHLI.
No, they were glad; because they’d all just run away themselves.

RAINA.
(_going to the table, and leaning over it towards him_). It must have
made a lovely story for them—all that about me and my room.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Capital story. But I only told it to one of them—a particular friend.

RAINA.
On whose discretion you could absolutely rely?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Absolutely.

RAINA.
Hm! He told it all to my father and Sergius the day you exchanged the
prisoners. (_She turns away and strolls carelessly across to the other
side of the room._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_deeply concerned and half incredulous_). No! you don’t mean that, do
you?

RAINA.
(_turning, with sudden earnestness_). I do indeed. But they don’t know
that it was in this house that you hid. If Sergius knew, he would
challenge you and kill you in a duel.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Bless me! then don’t tell him.

RAINA.
(_full of reproach for his levity_). Can you realize what it is to me
to deceive him? I want to be quite perfect with Sergius—no meanness, no
smallness, no deceit. My relation to him is the one really beautiful
and noble part of my life. I hope you can understand that.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_sceptically_). You mean that you wouldn’t like him to find out that
the story about the ice pudding was a—a—a—You know.

RAINA.
(_wincing_). Ah, don’t talk of it in that flippant way. I lied: I know
it. But I did it to save your life. He would have killed you. That was
the second time I ever uttered a falsehood. (_Bluntschli rises quickly
and looks doubtfully and somewhat severely at her._) Do you remember
the first time?

BLUNTSCHLI.
I! No. Was I present?

RAINA.
Yes; and I told the officer who was searching for you that you were not
present.

BLUNTSCHLI.
True. I should have remembered it.

RAINA.
(_greatly encouraged_). Ah, it is natural that you should forget it
first. It cost you nothing: it cost me a lie!—a lie!! (_She sits down
on the ottoman, looking straight before her with her hands clasped on
her knee. Bluntschli, quite touched, goes to the ottoman with a
particularly reassuring and considerate air, and sits down beside
her._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
My dear young lady, don’t let this worry you. Remember: I’m a soldier.
Now what are the two things that happen to a soldier so often that he
comes to think nothing of them? One is hearing people tell lies (_Raina
recoils_): the other is getting his life saved in all sorts of ways by
all sorts of people.

RAINA.
(_rising in indignant protest_). And so he becomes a creature incapable
of faith and of gratitude.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_making a wry face_). Do you like gratitude? I don’t. If pity is akin
to love, gratitude is akin to the other thing.

RAINA.
Gratitude! (_Turning on him._) If you are incapable of gratitude you
are incapable of any noble sentiment. Even animals are grateful. Oh, I
see now exactly what you think of me! You were not surprised to hear me
lie. To you it was something I probably did every day—every hour. That
is how men think of women. (_She walks up the room melodramatically._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_dubiously_). There’s reason in everything. You said you’d told only
two lies in your whole life. Dear young lady: isn’t that rather a short
allowance? I’m quite a straightforward man myself; but it wouldn’t last
me a whole morning.

RAINA.
(_staring haughtily at him_). Do you know, sir, that you are insulting
me?

BLUNTSCHLI.
I can’t help it. When you get into that noble attitude and speak in
that thrilling voice, I admire you; but I find it impossible to believe
a single word you say.

RAINA.
(_superbly_). Captain Bluntschli!

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_unmoved_). Yes?

RAINA.
(_coming a little towards him, as if she could not believe her
senses_). Do you mean what you said just now? Do you know what you said
just now?

BLUNTSCHLI.
I do.

RAINA.
(_gasping_). I! I!!! (_She points to herself incredulously, meaning “I,
Raina Petkoff, tell lies!” He meets her gaze unflinchingly. She
suddenly sits down beside him, and adds, with a complete change of
manner from the heroic to the familiar_) How did you find me out?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_promptly_). Instinct, dear young lady. Instinct, and experience of
the world.

RAINA.
(_wonderingly_). Do you know, you are the first man I ever met who did
not take me seriously?

BLUNTSCHLI.
You mean, don’t you, that I am the first man that has ever taken you
quite seriously?

RAINA.
Yes, I suppose I do mean that. (_Cosily, quite at her ease with him._)
How strange it is to be talked to in such a way! You know, I’ve always
gone on like that—I mean the noble attitude and the thrilling voice. I
did it when I was a tiny child to my nurse. She believed in it. I do it
before my parents. They believe in it. I do it before Sergius. He
believes in it.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Yes: he’s a little in that line himself, isn’t he?

RAINA.
(_startled_). Do you think so?

BLUNTSCHLI.
You know him better than I do.

RAINA.
I wonder—I wonder is he? If I thought that—! (_Discouraged._) Ah, well,
what does it matter? I suppose, now that you’ve found me out, you
despise me.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_warmly, rising_). No, my dear young lady, no, no, no a thousand
times. It’s part of your youth—part of your charm. I’m like all the
rest of them—the nurse—your parents—Sergius: I’m your infatuated
admirer.

RAINA.
(_pleased_). Really?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_slapping his breast smartly with his hand, German fashion_). Hand
aufs Herz! Really and truly.

RAINA.
(_very happy_). But what did you think of me for giving you my
portrait?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_astonished_). Your portrait! You never gave me your portrait.

RAINA.
(_quickly_). Do you mean to say you never got it?

BLUNTSCHLI.
No. (_He sits down beside her, with renewed interest, and says, with
some complacency._) When did you send it to me?

RAINA.
(_indignantly_). I did not send it to you. (_She turns her head away,
and adds, reluctantly._) It was in the pocket of that coat.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_pursing his lips and rounding his eyes_). Oh-o-oh! I never found it.
It must be there still.

RAINA.
(_springing up_). There still!—for my father to find the first time he
puts his hand in his pocket! Oh, how could you be so stupid?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_rising also_). It doesn’t matter: it’s only a photograph: how can he
tell who it was intended for? Tell him he put it there himself.

RAINA.
(_impatiently_). Yes, that is so clever—so clever! What shall I do?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Ah, I see. You wrote something on it. That was rash!

RAINA.
(_annoyed almost to tears_). Oh, to have done such a thing for you, who
care no more—except to laugh at me—oh! Are you sure nobody has touched
it?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Well, I can’t be quite sure. You see I couldn’t carry it about with me
all the time: one can’t take much luggage on active service.

RAINA.
What did you do with it?

BLUNTSCHLI.
When I got through to Peerot I had to put it in safe keeping somehow. I
thought of the railway cloak room; but that’s the surest place to get
looted in modern warfare. So I pawned it.

RAINA.
Pawned it!!!

BLUNTSCHLI.
I know it doesn’t sound nice; but it was much the safest plan. I
redeemed it the day before yesterday. Heaven only knows whether the
pawnbroker cleared out the pockets or not.

RAINA.
(_furious—throwing the words right into his face_). You have a low,
shopkeeping mind. You think of things that would never come into a
gentleman’s head.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_phlegmatically_). That’s the Swiss national character, dear lady.

RAINA.
Oh, I wish I had never met you. (_She flounces away and sits at the
window fuming._)

(_Louka comes in with a heap of letters and telegrams on her salver,
and crosses, with her bold, free gait, to the table. Her left sleeve is
looped up to the shoulder with a brooch, shewing her naked arm, with a
broad gilt bracelet covering the bruise._)

LOUKA.
(_to Bluntschli_). For you. (_She empties the salver recklessly on the
table._) The messenger is waiting. (_She is determined not to be civil
to a Servian, even if she must bring him his letters._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_to Raina_). Will you excuse me: the last postal delivery that reached
me was three weeks ago. These are the subsequent accumulations. Four
telegrams—a week old. (_He opens one._) Oho! Bad news!

RAINA.
(_rising and advancing a little remorsefully_). Bad news?

BLUNTSCHLI.
My father’s dead. (_He looks at the telegram with his lips pursed,
musing on the unexpected change in his arrangements._)

RAINA.
Oh, how very sad!

BLUNTSCHLI.
Yes: I shall have to start for home in an hour. He has left a lot of
big hotels behind him to be looked after. (_Takes up a heavy letter in
a long blue envelope._) Here’s a whacking letter from the family
solicitor. (_He pulls out the enclosures and glances over them._) Great
Heavens! Seventy! Two hundred! (_In a crescendo of dismay._) Four
hundred! Four thousand!! Nine thousand six hundred!!! What on earth
shall I do with them all?

RAINA.
(_timidly_). Nine thousand hotels?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Hotels! Nonsense. If you only knew!—oh, it’s too ridiculous! Excuse me:
I must give my fellow orders about starting. (_He leaves the room
hastily, with the documents in his hand._)

LOUKA.
(_tauntingly_). He has not much heart, that Swiss, though he is so fond
of the Servians. He has not a word of grief for his poor father.

RAINA.
(_bitterly_). Grief!—a man who has been doing nothing but killing
people for years! What does he care? What does any soldier care? (_She
goes to the door, evidently restraining her tears with difficulty._)

LOUKA.
Major Saranoff has been fighting, too; and he has plenty of heart left.
(_Raina, at the door, looks haughtily at her and goes out._) Aha! I
thought you wouldn’t get much feeling out of your soldier. (_She is
following Raina when Nicola enters with an armful of logs for the
fire._)

NICOLA.
(_grinning amorously at her_). I’ve been trying all the afternoon to
get a minute alone with you, my girl. (_His countenance changes as he
notices her arm._) Why, what fashion is that of wearing your sleeve,
child?

LOUKA.
(_proudly_). My own fashion.

NICOLA.
Indeed! If the mistress catches you, she’ll talk to you. (_He throws
the logs down on the ottoman, and sits comfortably beside them._)

LOUKA.
Is that any reason why you should take it on yourself to talk to me?

NICOLA.
Come: don’t be so contrary with me. I’ve some good news for you. (_He
takes out some paper money. Louka, with an eager gleam in her eyes,
comes close to look at it._) See, a twenty leva bill! Sergius gave me
that out of pure swagger. A fool and his money are soon parted. There’s
ten levas more. The Swiss gave me that for backing up the mistress’s
and Raina’s lies about him. He’s no fool, he isn’t. You should have
heard old Catherine downstairs as polite as you please to me, telling
me not to mind the Major being a little impatient; for they knew what a
good servant I was—after making a fool and a liar of me before them
all! The twenty will go to our savings; and you shall have the ten to
spend if you’ll only talk to me so as to remind me I’m a human being. I
get tired of being a servant occasionally.

LOUKA.
(_scornfully_). Yes: sell your manhood for thirty levas, and buy me for
ten! Keep your money. You were born to be a servant. I was not. When
you set up your shop you will only be everybody’s servant instead of
somebody’s servant.

NICOLA.
(_picking up his logs, and going to the stove_). Ah, wait till you see.
We shall have our evenings to ourselves; and I shall be master in my
own house, I promise you. (_He throws the logs down and kneels at the
stove._)

LOUKA.
You shall never be master in mine. (_She sits down on Sergius’s
chair._)

NICOLA.
(_turning, still on his knees, and squatting down rather forlornly, on
his calves, daunted by her implacable disdain_). You have a great
ambition in you, Louka. Remember: if any luck comes to you, it was I
that made a woman of you.

LOUKA.
You!

NICOLA.
(_with dogged self-assertion_). Yes, me. Who was it made you give up
wearing a couple of pounds of false black hair on your head and
reddening your lips and cheeks like any other Bulgarian girl? I did.
Who taught you to trim your nails, and keep your hands clean, and be
dainty about yourself, like a fine Russian lady? Me! do you hear that?
me! (_She tosses her head defiantly; and he rises, ill-humoredly,
adding more coolly_) I’ve often thought that if Raina were out of the
way, and you just a little less of a fool and Sergius just a little
more of one, you might come to be one of my grandest customers, instead
of only being my wife and costing me money.

LOUKA.
I believe you would rather be my servant than my husband. You would
make more out of me. Oh, I know that soul of yours.

NICOLA.
(_going up close to her for greater emphasis_). Never you mind my soul;
but just listen to my advice. If you want to be a lady, your present
behaviour to me won’t do at all, unless when we’re alone. It’s too
sharp and impudent; and impudence is a sort of familiarity: it shews
affection for me. And don’t you try being high and mighty with me
either. You’re like all country girls: you think it’s genteel to treat
a servant the way I treat a stable-boy. That’s only your ignorance; and
don’t you forget it. And don’t be so ready to defy everybody. Act as if
you expected to have your own way, not as if you expected to be ordered
about. The way to get on as a lady is the same as the way to get on as
a servant: you’ve got to know your place; that’s the secret of it. And
you may depend on me to know my place if you get promoted. Think over
it, my girl. I’ll stand by you: one servant should always stand by
another.

LOUKA.
(_rising impatiently_). Oh, I must behave in my own way. You take all
the courage out of me with your cold-blooded wisdom. Go and put those
logs on the fire: that’s the sort of thing you understand. (_Before
Nicola can retort, Sergius comes in. He checks himself a moment on
seeing Louka; then goes to the stove._)

SERGIUS.
(_to Nicola_). I am not in the way of your work, I hope.

NICOLA.
(_in a smooth, elderly manner_). Oh, no, sir, thank you kindly. I was
only speaking to this foolish girl about her habit of running up here
to the library whenever she gets a chance, to look at the books. That’s
the worst of her education, sir: it gives her habits above her station.
(_To Louka._) Make that table tidy, Louka, for the Major. (_He goes out
sedately._)

(_Louka, without looking at Sergius, begins to arrange the papers on
the table. He crosses slowly to her, and studies the arrangement of her
sleeve reflectively._)

SERGIUS.
Let me see: is there a mark there? (_He turns up the bracelet and sees
the bruise made by his grasp. She stands motionless, not looking at
him: fascinated, but on her guard._) Ffff! Does it hurt?

LOUKA.
Yes.

SERGIUS.
Shall I cure it?

LOUKA.
(_instantly withdrawing herself proudly, but still not looking at
him_). No. You cannot cure it now.

SERGIUS.
(_masterfully_). Quite sure? (_He makes a movement as if to take her in
his arms._)

LOUKA.
Don’t trifle with me, please. An officer should not trifle with a
servant.

SERGIUS.
(_touching the arm with a merciless stroke of his forefinger_). That
was no trifle, Louka.

LOUKA.
No. (_Looking at him for the first time._) Are you sorry?

SERGIUS.
(_with measured emphasis, folding his arms_). I am never sorry.

LOUKA.
(_wistfully_). I wish I could believe a man could be so unlike a woman
as that. I wonder are you really a brave man?

SERGIUS.
(_unaffectedly, relaxing his attitude_). Yes: I am a brave man. My
heart jumped like a woman’s at the first shot; but in the charge I
found that I was brave. Yes: that at least is real about me.

LOUKA.
Did you find in the charge that the men whose fathers are poor like
mine were any less brave than the men who are rich like you?

SERGIUS.
(_with bitter levity._) Not a bit. They all slashed and cursed and
yelled like heroes. Psha! the courage to rage and kill is cheap. I have
an English bull terrier who has as much of that sort of courage as the
whole Bulgarian nation, and the whole Russian nation at its back. But
he lets my groom thrash him, all the same. That’s your soldier all
over! No, Louka, your poor men can cut throats; but they are afraid of
their officers; they put up with insults and blows; they stand by and
see one another punished like children—-aye, and help to do it when
they are ordered. And the officers!—-well (_with a short, bitter
laugh_) I am an officer. Oh, (_fervently_) give me the man who will
defy to the death any power on earth or in heaven that sets itself up
against his own will and conscience: he alone is the brave man.

LOUKA.
How easy it is to talk! Men never seem to me to grow up: they all have
schoolboy’s ideas. You don’t know what true courage is.

SERGIUS.
(_ironically_). Indeed! I am willing to be instructed.

LOUKA.
Look at me! how much am I allowed to have my own will? I have to get
your room ready for you—to sweep and dust, to fetch and carry. How
could that degrade me if it did not degrade you to have it done for
you? But (_with subdued passion_) if I were Empress of Russia, above
everyone in the world, then—ah, then, though according to you I could
shew no courage at all; you should see, you should see.

SERGIUS.
What would you do, most noble Empress?

LOUKA.
I would marry the man I loved, which no other queen in Europe has the
courage to do. If I loved you, though you would be as far beneath me as
I am beneath you, I would dare to be the equal of my inferior. Would
you dare as much if you loved me? No: if you felt the beginnings of
love for me you would not let it grow. You dare not: you would marry a
rich man’s daughter because you would be afraid of what other people
would say of you.

SERGIUS.
(_carried away_). You lie: it is not so, by all the stars! If I loved
you, and I were the Czar himself, I would set you on the throne by my
side. You know that I love another woman, a woman as high above you as
heaven is above earth. And you are jealous of her.

LOUKA.
I have no reason to be. She will never marry you now. The man I told
you of has come back. She will marry the Swiss.

SERGIUS.
(_recoiling_). The Swiss!

LOUKA.
A man worth ten of you. Then you can come to me; and I will refuse you.
You are not good enough for me. (_She turns to the door._)

SERGIUS.
(_springing after her and catching her fiercely in his arms_). I will
kill the Swiss; and afterwards I will do as I please with you.

LOUKA.
(_in his arms, passive and steadfast_). The Swiss will kill you,
perhaps. He has beaten you in love. He may beat you in war.

SERGIUS.
(_tormentedly_). Do you think I believe that she—she! whose worst
thoughts are higher than your best ones, is capable of trifling with
another man behind my back?

LOUKA.
Do you think she would believe the Swiss if he told her now that I am
in your arms?

SERGIUS.
(_releasing her in despair_). Damnation! Oh, damnation! Mockery,
mockery everywhere: everything I think is mocked by everything I do.
(_He strikes himself frantically on the breast._) Coward, liar, fool!
Shall I kill myself like a man, or live and pretend to laugh at myself?
(_She again turns to go._) Louka! (_She stops near the door._)
Remember: you belong to me.

LOUKA.
(_quietly_). What does that mean—an insult?

SERGIUS.
(_commandingly_). It means that you love me, and that I have had you
here in my arms, and will perhaps have you there again. Whether that is
an insult I neither know nor care: take it as you please. But
(_vehemently_) I will not be a coward and a trifler. If I choose to
love you, I dare marry you, in spite of all Bulgaria. If these hands
ever touch you again, they shall touch my affianced bride.

LOUKA.
We shall see whether you dare keep your word. But take care. I will not
wait long.

SERGIUS.
(_again folding his arms and standing motionless in the middle of the
room_). Yes, we shall see. And you shall wait my pleasure.

(_Bluntschli, much preoccupied, with his papers still in his hand,
enters, leaving the door open for Louka to go out. He goes across to
the table, glancing at her as he passes. Sergius, without altering his
resolute attitude, watches him steadily. Louka goes out, leaving the
door open._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_absently, sitting at the table as before, and putting down his
papers_). That’s a remarkable looking young woman.

SERGIUS.
(_gravely, without moving_). Captain Bluntschli.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Eh?

SERGIUS.
You have deceived me. You are my rival. I brook no rivals. At six
o’clock I shall be in the drilling-ground on the Klissoura road, alone,
on horseback, with my sabre. Do you understand?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_staring, but sitting quite at his ease_). Oh, thank you: that’s a
cavalry man’s proposal. I’m in the artillery; and I have the choice of
weapons. If I go, I shall take a machine gun. And there shall be no
mistake about the cartridges this time.

SERGIUS.
(_flushing, but with deadly coldness_). Take care, sir. It is not our
custom in Bulgaria to allow invitations of that kind to be trifled
with.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_warmly_). Pooh! don’t talk to me about Bulgaria. You don’t know what
fighting is. But have it your own way. Bring your sabre along. I’ll
meet you.

SERGIUS.
(_fiercely delighted to find his opponent a man of spirit_). Well said,
Switzer. Shall I lend you my best horse?

BLUNTSCHLI.
No: damn your horse!—-thank you all the same, my dear fellow. (_Raina
comes in, and hears the next sentence._) I shall fight you on foot.
Horseback’s too dangerous: I don’t want to kill you if I can help it.

RAINA.
(_hurrying forward anxiously_). I have heard what Captain Bluntschli
said, Sergius. You are going to fight. Why? (_Sergius turns away in
silence, and goes to the stove, where he stands watching her as she
continues, to Bluntschli_) What about?

BLUNTSCHLI.
I don’t know: he hasn’t told me. Better not interfere, dear young lady.
No harm will be done: I’ve often acted as sword instructor. He won’t be
able to touch me; and I’ll not hurt him. It will save explanations. In
the morning I shall be off home; and you’ll never see me or hear of me
again. You and he will then make it up and live happily ever after.

RAINA.
(_turning away deeply hurt, almost with a sob in her voice_). I never
said I wanted to see you again.

SERGIUS.
(_striding forward_). Ha! That is a confession.

RAINA.
(_haughtily_). What do you mean?

SERGIUS.
You love that man!

RAINA.
(_scandalized_). Sergius!

SERGIUS.
You allow him to make love to you behind my back, just as you accept me
as your affianced husband behind his. Bluntschli: you knew our
relations; and you deceived me. It is for that that I call you to
account, not for having received favours that I never enjoyed.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_jumping up indignantly_). Stuff! Rubbish! I have received no favours.
Why, the young lady doesn’t even know whether I’m married or not.

RAINA.
(_forgetting herself_). Oh! (_Collapsing on the ottoman._) Are you?

SERGIUS.
You see the young lady’s concern, Captain Bluntschli. Denial is
useless. You have enjoyed the privilege of being received in her own
room, late at night—

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_interrupting him pepperily_). Yes; you blockhead! She received me
with a pistol at her head. Your cavalry were at my heels. I’d have
blown out her brains if she’d uttered a cry.

SERGIUS.
(_taken aback_). Bluntschli! Raina: is this true?

RAINA.
(_rising in wrathful majesty_). Oh, how dare you, how dare you?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Apologize, man, apologize! (_He resumes his seat at the table._)

SERGIUS.
(_with the old measured emphasis, folding his arms_). I never
apologize.

RAINA.
(_passionately_). This is the doing of that friend of yours, Captain
Bluntschli. It is he who is spreading this horrible story about me.
(_She walks about excitedly._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
No: he’s dead—burnt alive.

RAINA.
(_stopping, shocked_). Burnt alive!

BLUNTSCHLI.
Shot in the hip in a wood yard. Couldn’t drag himself out. Your
fellows’ shells set the timber on fire and burnt him, with half a dozen
other poor devils in the same predicament.

RAINA.
How horrible!

SERGIUS.
And how ridiculous! Oh, war! war! the dream of patriots and heroes! A
fraud, Bluntschli, a hollow sham, like love.

RAINA.
(_outraged_). Like love! You say that before me.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Come, Saranoff: that matter is explained.

SERGIUS.
A hollow sham, I say. Would you have come back here if nothing had
passed between you, except at the muzzle of your pistol? Raina is
mistaken about our friend who was burnt. He was not my informant.

RAINA.
Who then? (_Suddenly guessing the truth._) Ah, Louka! my maid, my
servant! You were with her this morning all that time after—-after—-Oh,
what sort of god is this I have been worshipping! (_He meets her gaze
with sardonic enjoyment of her disenchantment. Angered all the more,
she goes closer to him, and says, in a lower, intenser tone_) Do you
know that I looked out of the window as I went upstairs, to have
another sight of my hero; and I saw something that I did not understand
then. I know now that you were making love to her.

SERGIUS.
(_with grim humor_). You saw that?

RAINA.
Only too well. (_She turns away, and throws herself on the divan under
the centre window, quite overcome._)

SERGIUS.
(_cynically_). Raina: our romance is shattered. Life’s a farce.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_to Raina, goodhumoredly_). You see: he’s found himself out now.

SERGIUS.
Bluntschli: I have allowed you to call me a blockhead. You may now call
me a coward as well. I refuse to fight you. Do you know why?

BLUNTSCHLI.
No; but it doesn’t matter. I didn’t ask the reason when you cried on;
and I don’t ask the reason now that you cry off. I’m a professional
soldier. I fight when I have to, and am very glad to get out of it when
I haven’t to. You’re only an amateur: you think fighting’s an
amusement.

SERGIUS.
You shall hear the reason all the same, my professional. The reason is
that it takes two men—real men—men of heart, blood and honor—to make a
genuine combat. I could no more fight with you than I could make love
to an ugly woman. You’ve no magnetism: you’re not a man, you’re a
machine.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_apologetically_). Quite true, quite true. I always was that sort of
chap. I’m very sorry. But now that you’ve found that life isn’t a
farce, but something quite sensible and serious, what further obstacle
is there to your happiness?

RAINA.
(_riling_). You are very solicitous about my happiness and his. Do you
forget his new love—Louka? It is not you that he must fight now, but
his rival, Nicola.

SERGIUS.
Rival!! (_Striking his forehead._)

RAINA.
Did you not know that they are engaged?

SERGIUS.
Nicola! Are fresh abysses opening! Nicola!!

RAINA.
(_sarcastically_). A shocking sacrifice, isn’t it? Such beauty, such
intellect, such modesty, wasted on a middle-aged servant man! Really,
Sergius, you cannot stand by and allow such a thing. It would be
unworthy of your chivalry.

SERGIUS.
(_losing all self-control_). Viper! Viper! (_He rushes to and fro,
raging._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
Look here, Saranoff; you’re getting the worst of this.

RAINA.
(_getting angrier_). Do you realize what he has done, Captain
Bluntschli? He has set this girl as a spy on us; and her reward is that
he makes love to her.

SERGIUS.
False! Monstrous!

RAINA.
Monstrous! (_Confronting him._) Do you deny that she told you about
Captain Bluntschli being in my room?

SERGIUS.
No; but—

RAINA.
(_interrupting_). Do you deny that you were making love to her when she
told you?

SERGIUS.
No; but I tell you—

RAINA.
(_cutting him short contemptuously_). It is unnecessary to tell us
anything more. That is quite enough for us. (_She turns her back on him
and sweeps majestically back to the window._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_quietly, as Sergius, in an agony of mortification, sinks on the
ottoman, clutching his averted head between his fists_). I told you you
were getting the worst of it, Saranoff.

SERGIUS.
Tiger cat!

RAINA.
(_running excitedly to Bluntschli_). You hear this man calling me
names, Captain Bluntschli?

BLUNTSCHLI.
What else can he do, dear lady? He must defend himself somehow. Come
(_very persuasively_), don’t quarrel. What good does it do? (_Raina,
with a gasp, sits down on the ottoman, and after a vain effort to look
vexedly at Bluntschli, she falls a victim to her sense of humor, and is
attacked with a disposition to laugh._)

SERGIUS.
Engaged to Nicola! (_He rises._) Ha! ha! (_Going to the stove and
standing with his back to it._) Ah, well, Bluntschli, you are right to
take this huge imposture of a world coolly.

RAINA.
(_to Bluntschli with an intuitive guess at his state of mind_). I
daresay you think us a couple of grown up babies, don’t you?

SERGIUS.
(_grinning a little_). He does, he does. Swiss civilization
nursetending Bulgarian barbarism, eh?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_blushing_). Not at all, I assure you. I’m only very glad to get you
two quieted. There now, let’s be pleasant and talk it over in a
friendly way. Where is this other young lady?

RAINA.
Listening at the door, probably.

SERGIUS.
(_shivering as if a bullet had struck him, and speaking with quiet but
deep indignation_). I will prove that that, at least, is a calumny.
(_He goes with dignity to the door and opens it. A yell of fury bursts
from him as he looks out. He darts into the passage, and returns
dragging in Louka, whom he flings against the table, R., as he cries_)
Judge her, Bluntschli—you, the moderate, cautious man: judge the
eavesdropper.

(_Louka stands her ground, proud and silent._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_shaking his head_). I mustn’t judge her. I once listened myself
outside a tent when there was a mutiny brewing. It’s all a question of
the degree of provocation. My life was at stake.

LOUKA.
My love was at stake. (_Sergius flinches, ashamed of her in spite of
himself._) I am not ashamed.

RAINA.
(_contemptuously_). Your love! Your curiosity, you mean.

LOUKA.
(_facing her and retorting her contempt with interest_). My love,
stronger than anything you can feel, even for your chocolate cream
soldier.

SERGIUS.
(_with quick suspicion—to Louka_). What does that mean?

LOUKA.
(_fiercely_). It means—

SERGIUS.
(_interrupting her slightingly_). Oh, I remember, the ice pudding. A
paltry taunt, girl.

(_Major Petkoff enters, in his shirtsleeves._)

PETKOFF.
Excuse my shirtsleeves, gentlemen. Raina: somebody has been wearing
that coat of mine: I’ll swear it—somebody with bigger shoulders than
mine. It’s all burst open at the back. Your mother is mending it. I
wish she’d make haste. I shall catch cold. (_He looks more attentively
at them._) Is anything the matter?

RAINA.
No. (_She sits down at the stove with a tranquil air._)

SERGIUS.
Oh, no! (_He sits down at the end of the table, as at first._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_who is already seated_). Nothing, nothing.

PETKOFF.
(_sitting down on the ottoman in his old place_). That’s all right.
(_He notices Louka._) Anything the matter, Louka?

LOUKA.
No, sir.

PETKOFF.
(_genially_). That’s all right. (_He sneezes._) Go and ask your
mistress for my coat, like a good girl, will you? (_She turns to obey;
but Nicola enters with the coat; and she makes a pretence of having
business in the room by taking the little table with the hookah away to
the wall near the windows._)

RAINA.
(_rising quickly, as she sees the coat on Nicola’s arm_). Here it is,
papa. Give it to me, Nicola; and do you put some more wood on the fire.
(_She takes the coat, and brings it to the Major, who stands up to put
it on. Nicola attends to the fire._)

PETKOFF.
(_to Raina, teasing her affectionately_). Aha! Going to be very good to
poor old papa just for one day after his return from the wars, eh?

RAINA.
(_with solemn reproach_). Ah, how can you say that to me, father?

PETKOFF.
Well, well, only a joke, little one. Come, give me a kiss. (_She kisses
him._) Now give me the coat.

RAINA.
Now, I am going to put it on for you. Turn your back. (_He turns his
back and feels behind him with his arms for the sleeves. She
dexterously takes the photograph from the pocket and throws it on the
table before Bluntschli, who covers it with a sheet of paper under the
very nose of Sergius, who looks on amazed, with his suspicions roused
in the highest degree. She then helps Petkoff on with his coat._)
There, dear! Now are you comfortable?

PETKOFF.
Quite, little love. Thanks. (_He sits down; and Raina returns to her
seat near the stove._) Oh, by the bye, I’ve found something funny.
What’s the meaning of this? (_He put his hand into the picked pocket._)
Eh? Hallo! (_He tries the other pocket._) Well, I could have
sworn—(_Much puzzled, he tries the breast pocket._) I wonder—(_Tries
the original pocket._) Where can it—(_A light flashes on him; he rises,
exclaiming_) Your mother’s taken it.

RAINA.
(_very red_). Taken what?

PETKOFF.
Your photograph, with the inscription: “Raina, to her Chocolate Cream
Soldier—a souvenir.” Now you know there’s something more in this than
meets the eye; and I’m going to find it out. (_Shouting_) Nicola!

NICOLA.
(_dropping a log, and turning_). Sir!

PETKOFF.
Did you spoil any pastry of Miss Raina’s this morning?

NICOLA.
You heard Miss Raina say that I did, sir.

PETKOFF.
I know that, you idiot. Was it true?

NICOLA.
I am sure Miss Raina is incapable of saying anything that is not true,
sir.

PETKOFF.
Are you? Then I’m not. (_Turning to the others._) Come: do you think I
don’t see it all? (_Goes to Sergius, and slaps him on the shoulder._)
Sergius: you’re the chocolate cream soldier, aren’t you?

SERGIUS.
(_starting up_). I! a chocolate cream soldier! Certainly not.

PETKOFF.
Not! (_He looks at them. They are all very serious and very
conscious._) Do you mean to tell me that Raina sends photographic
souvenirs to other men?

SERGIUS.
(_enigmatically_). The world is not such an innocent place as we used
to think, Petkoff.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_rising_). It’s all right, Major. I’m the chocolate cream soldier.
(_Petkoff and Sergius are equally astonished._) The gracious young lady
saved my life by giving me chocolate creams when I was starving—shall I
ever forget their flavour! My late friend Stolz told you the story at
Peerot. I was the fugitive.

PETKOFF.
You! (_He gasps._) Sergius: do you remember how those two women went on
this morning when we mentioned it? (_Sergius smiles cynically. Petkoff
confronts Raina severely._) You’re a nice young woman, aren’t you?

RAINA.
(_bitterly_). Major Saranoff has changed his mind. And when I wrote
that on the photograph, I did not know that Captain Bluntschli was
married.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_much startled protesting vehemently_). I’m not married.

RAINA.
(_with deep reproach_). You said you were.

BLUNTSCHLI.
I did not. I positively did not. I never was married in my life.

PETKOFF.
(_exasperated_). Raina: will you kindly inform me, if I am not asking
too much, which gentleman you are engaged to?

RAINA.
To neither of them. This young lady (_introducing Louka, who faces them
all proudly_) is the object of Major Saranoff’s affections at present.

PETKOFF.
Louka! Are you mad, Sergius? Why, this girl’s engaged to Nicola.

NICOLA.
(_coming forward _). I beg your pardon, sir. There is a mistake. Louka
is not engaged to me.

PETKOFF.
Not engaged to you, you scoundrel! Why, you had twenty-five levas from
me on the day of your betrothal; and she had that gilt bracelet from
Miss Raina.

NICOLA.
(_with cool unction_). We gave it out so, sir. But it was only to give
Louka protection. She had a soul above her station; and I have been no
more than her confidential servant. I intend, as you know, sir, to set
up a shop later on in Sofia; and I look forward to her custom and
recommendation should she marry into the nobility. (_He goes out with
impressive discretion, leaving them all staring after him._)

PETKOFF.
(_breaking the silence_). Well, I am—-hm!

SERGIUS.
This is either the finest heroism or the most crawling baseness. Which
is it, Bluntschli?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Never mind whether it’s heroism or baseness. Nicola’s the ablest man
I’ve met in Bulgaria. I’ll make him manager of a hotel if he can speak
French and German.

LOUKA.
(_suddenly breaking out at Sergius_). I have been insulted by everyone
here. You set them the example. You owe me an apology. (_Sergius
immediately, like a repeating clock of which the spring has been
touched, begins to fold his arms._)

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_before he can speak_). It’s no use. He never apologizes.

LOUKA.
Not to you, his equal and his enemy. To me, his poor servant, he will
not refuse to apologize.

SERGIUS.
(_approvingly_). You are right. (_He bends his knee in his grandest
manner._) Forgive me!

LOUKA.
I forgive you. (_She timidly gives him her hand, which he kisses._)
That touch makes me your affianced wife.

SERGIUS.
(_springing up_). Ah, I forgot that!

LOUKA.
(_coldly_). You can withdraw if you like.

SERGIUS.
Withdraw! Never! You belong to me! (_He puts his arm about her and
draws her to him._) (_Catherine comes in and finds Louka in Sergius’s
arms, and all the rest gazing at them in bewildered astonishment._)

CATHERINE.
What does this mean? (_Sergius releases Louka._)

PETKOFF.
Well, my dear, it appears that Sergius is going to marry Louka instead
of Raina. (_She is about to break out indignantly at him: he stops her
by exclaiming testily._) Don’t blame me: I’ve nothing to do with it.
(_He retreats to the stove._)

CATHERINE.
Marry Louka! Sergius: you are bound by your word to us!

SERGIUS.
(_folding his arms_). Nothing binds me.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_much pleased by this piece of common sense_). Saranoff: your hand. My
congratulations. These heroics of yours have their practical side after
all. (_To Louka._) Gracious young lady: the best wishes of a good
Republican! (_He kisses her hand, to Raina’s great disgust._)

CATHERINE.
(_threateningly_). Louka: you have been telling stories.

LOUKA.
I have done Raina no harm.

CATHERINE.
(_haughtily_). Raina! (_Raina is equally indignant at the liberty._)

LOUKA.
I have a right to call her Raina: she calls me Louka. I told Major
Saranoff she would never marry him if the Swiss gentleman came back.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_surprised_). Hallo!

LOUKA.
(_turning to Raina_). I thought you were fonder of him than of Sergius.
You know best whether I was right.

BLUNTSCHLI.
What nonsense! I assure you, my dear Major, my dear Madame, the
gracious young lady simply saved my life, nothing else. She never cared
two straws for me. Why, bless my heart and soul, look at the young lady
and look at me. She, rich, young, beautiful, with her imagination full
of fairy princes and noble natures and cavalry charges and goodness
knows what! And I, a common-place Swiss soldier who hardly knows what a
decent life is after fifteen years of barracks and battles—a vagabond—a
man who has spoiled all his chances in life through an incurably
romantic disposition—a man—

SERGIUS.
(_starting as if a needle had pricked him and interrupting Bluntschli
in incredulous amazement_). Excuse me, Bluntschli: what did you say had
spoiled your chances in life?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_promptly_). An incurably romantic disposition. I ran away from home
twice when I was a boy. I went into the army instead of into my
father’s business. I climbed the balcony of this house when a man of
sense would have dived into the nearest cellar. I came sneaking back
here to have another look at the young lady when any other man of my
age would have sent the coat back—

PETKOFF.
My coat!

BLUNTSCHLI.—Yes: that’s the coat I mean—would have sent it back and
gone quietly home. Do you suppose I am the sort of fellow a young girl
falls in love with? Why, look at our ages! I’m thirty-four: I don’t
suppose the young lady is much over seventeen. (_This estimate produces
a marked sensation, all the rest turning and staring at one another. He
proceeds innocently._) All that adventure which was life or death to
me, was only a schoolgirl’s game to her—chocolate creams and hide and
seek. Here’s the proof! (_He takes the photograph from the table._)
Now, I ask you, would a woman who took the affair seriously have sent
me this and written on it: “Raina, to her chocolate cream soldier—a
souvenir”? (_He exhibits the photograph triumphantly, as if it settled
the matter beyond all possibility of refutation._)

PETKOFF.
That’s what I was looking for. How the deuce did it get there?

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_to Raina complacently_). I have put everything right, I hope,
gracious young lady!

RAINA.
(_in uncontrollable vexation_). I quite agree with your account of
yourself. You are a romantic idiot. (_Bluntschli is unspeakably taken
aback._) Next time I hope you will know the difference between a
schoolgirl of seventeen and a woman of twenty-three.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_stupefied_). Twenty-three! (_She snaps the photograph contemptuously
from his hand; tears it across; and throws the pieces at his feet._)

SERGIUS.
(_with grim enjoyment of Bluntschli’s discomfiture_). Bluntschli: my
one last belief is gone. Your sagacity is a fraud, like all the other
things. You have less sense than even I have.

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_overwhelmed_). Twenty-three! Twenty-three!! (_He considers._) Hm!
(_Swiftly making up his mind._) In that case, Major Petkoff, I beg to
propose formally to become a suitor for your daughter’s hand, in place
of Major Saranoff retired.

RAINA.
You dare!

BLUNTSCHLI.
If you were twenty-three when you said those things to me this
afternoon, I shall take them seriously.

CATHERINE.
(_loftily polite_). I doubt, sir, whether you quite realize either my
daughter’s position or that of Major Sergius Saranoff, whose place you
propose to take. The Petkoffs and the Saranoffs are known as the
richest and most important families in the country. Our position is
almost historical: we can go back for nearly twenty years.

PETKOFF.
Oh, never mind that, Catherine. (_To Bluntschli._) We should be most
happy, Bluntschli, if it were only a question of your position; but
hang it, you know, Raina is accustomed to a very comfortable
establishment. Sergius keeps twenty horses.

BLUNTSCHLI.
But what on earth is the use of twenty horses? Why, it’s a circus.

CATHERINE.
(_severely_). My daughter, sir, is accustomed to a first-rate stable.

RAINA.
Hush, mother, you’re making me ridiculous.

BLUNTSCHLI.
Oh, well, if it comes to a question of an establishment, here goes!
(_He goes impetuously to the table and seizes the papers in the blue
envelope._) How many horses did you say?

SERGIUS.
Twenty, noble Switzer!

BLUNTSCHLI.
I have two hundred horses. (_They are amazed._) How many carriages?

SERGIUS.
Three.

BLUNTSCHLI.
I have seventy. Twenty-four of them will hold twelve inside, besides
two on the box, without counting the driver and conductor. How many
tablecloths have you?

SERGIUS.
How the deuce do I know?

BLUNTSCHLI.
Have you four thousand?

SERGIUS.
NO.

BLUNTSCHLI.
I have. I have nine thousand six hundred pairs of sheets and blankets,
with two thousand four hundred eider-down quilts. I have ten thousand
knives and forks, and the same quantity of dessert spoons. I have six
hundred servants. I have six palatial establishments, besides two
livery stables, a tea garden and a private house. I have four medals
for distinguished services; I have the rank of an officer and the
standing of a gentleman; and I have three native languages. Show me any
man in Bulgaria that can offer as much.

PETKOFF.
(_with childish awe_). Are you Emperor of Switzerland?

BLUNTSCHLI.
My rank is the highest known in Switzerland: I’m a free citizen.

CATHERINE.
Then Captain Bluntschli, since you are my daughter’s choice, I shall
not stand in the way of her happiness. (_Petkoff is about to speak._)
That is Major Petkoff’s feeling also.

PETKOFF.
Oh, I shall be only too glad. Two hundred horses! Whew!

SERGIUS.
What says the lady?

RAINA.
(_pretending to sulk_). The lady says that he can keep his tablecloths
and his omnibuses. I am not here to be sold to the highest bidder.

BLUNTSCHLI.
I won’t take that answer. I appealed to you as a fugitive, a beggar,
and a starving man. You accepted me. You gave me your hand to kiss,
your bed to sleep in, and your roof to shelter me—

RAINA.
(_interrupting him_). I did not give them to the Emperor of
Switzerland!

BLUNTSCHLI.
That’s just what I say. (_He catches her hand quickly and looks her
straight in the face as he adds, with confident mastery_) Now tell us
who you did give them to.

RAINA.
(_succumbing with a shy smile_). To my chocolate cream soldier!

BLUNTSCHLI.
(_with a boyish laugh of delight_). That’ll do. Thank you. (_Looks at
his watch and suddenly becomes businesslike._) Time’s up, Major. You’ve
managed those regiments so well that you are sure to be asked to get
rid of some of the Infantry of the Teemok division. Send them home by
way of Lom Palanka. Saranoff: don’t get married until I come back: I
shall be here punctually at five in the evening on Tuesday fortnight.
Gracious ladies—good evening. (_He makes them a military bow, and
goes._)

SERGIUS.
What a man! What a man!





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