Arms and the Man
by George Bernard Shaw
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
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
"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
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.
ARMS AND THE MAN
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
RAINA. Have you ever seen the opera of Ernani?
MAN. Is that the one with the devil in it in red velvet, and a
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
MAN (quickly waking up a little). Have your people got that
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
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
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
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.)
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 harder, 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
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
LOUKA (with searching scorn). You have the soul of a servant,
NICOLA (complacently). Yes: that's the secret of success in
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
PETKOFF (patting her cheek). My little pet girl. (He kisses
her; she goes to the chair left by Nicola for Sergius, and sits
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
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
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
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
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
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
SERGIUS (charmed). Witty as well as pretty. (He tries to kiss
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
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.)
SERGIUS. Who is my rival?
LOUKA. You shall never get that out of me, for love or money.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
CATHERINE (opening her eyes very widely indeed). Well, upon my
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,
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
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
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.)
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
PETKOFF (as he hurries down the steps). My dear Captain
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
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
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).
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
BLUNTSCHLI (in his driest military manner). I am at madame's
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.)
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
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
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
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
CATHERINE (in a low, warning tone). You can stop interrupting,
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.)
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
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
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
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.
RAINA. Did you get back safely that morning?
BLUNTSCHLI. Quite, thanks.
RAINA. Were they angry with you for running away from Sergius's
BLUNTSCHLI. No, they were glad; because they'd all just run away
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
BLUNTSCHLI. Capital story. But I only told it to one of them—a
RAINA. On whose discretion you could absolutely rely?
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
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
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
BLUNTSCHLI (astonished). Your portrait! You never gave me your
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
SERGIUS (gravely, without moving). Captain Bluntschli.
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
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
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.)
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
BLUNTSCHLI. Apologize, man, apologize! (He resumes his seat at
SERGIUS (with the old measured emphasis, folding his arms). I
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
SERGIUS (starting up). I! a chocolate cream soldier! Certainly
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
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
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
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
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
CATHERINE. Marry Louka! Sergius: you are bound by your word to
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
LOUKA. I have done Raina no harm.
CATHERINE (haughtily). Raina! (Raina is equally indignant at
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
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
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
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
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
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
SERGIUS. Twenty, noble Switzer!
BLUNTSCHLI. I have two hundred horses. (They are amazed.) How
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?
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
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
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
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
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!