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- Arms and the Man - 5/18 -


capture--remember that.

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

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

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

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

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

RAINA (anxiously). But if you fall?

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

RAINA (rushing to him). Stop! (She catches him by the shoulder, and turns him quite round.) They'll kill you.

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

RAINA (clinging to him). They're sure to see you: it's bright moonlight. I'll save you--oh, how can you be so indifferent? You want me to save you, don't you?

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

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

MAN. What's that?

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

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

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

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

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

MAN (pretending to be deeply impressed). A Major! Bless me! Think of that!

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

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

RAINA. Do you know what a library is?

MAN. A library? A roomful of books.

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

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

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

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

RAINA. Have you ever seen the opera of Ernani?

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

RAINA (contemptuously). No!

MAN (stifling a heavy sigh of weariness). Then I don't know it.

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

MAN (quickly waking up a little). Have your people got that notion?

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

MAN. Quite sure?

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

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

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

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

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

MAN (puzzled). Eh?

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

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

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

MAN. Certainly. (He sits down on the ottoman.)

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

RAINA (at the door). You are not going asleep, are you? (He murmurs inarticulately: she runs to him and shakes him.) Do you hear? Wake up: you are falling asleep.

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

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

MAN (standing unsteadily). Certainly--certainly: you may depend on me.

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

MAN (drowsily). Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, slee--(The words trail of 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


Arms and the Man - 5/18

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