Arms and the Man By George Bernard Shaw Act III

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

SERGIUS (recoiling). The Swiss!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLUNTSCHLI (absently, sitting at the table as before, and putting down his papers). That's a remarkable looking young woman.

SERGIUS (gravely, without moving). Captain Bluntschli.

BLUNTSCHLI. Eh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SERGIUS (striding forward). Ha! That is a confession.

RAINA (haughtily). What do you mean?

SERGIUS. You love that man!

RAINA (scandalized). Sergius!

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

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

RAINA (forgetting herself). Oh! (Collapsing on the ottoman.) Are you?

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

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

SERGIUS (taken aback). Bluntschli! Raina: is this true?

RAINA (rising in wrathful majesty). Oh, how dare you, how dare you?

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

SERGIUS (with the old measured emphasis, folding his arms). I never apologize.

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

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

RAINA (stopping, shocked). Burnt alive!

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

RAINA. How horrible!

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

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

BLUNTSCHLI. Come, Saranoff: that matter is explained.

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

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

SERGIUS (with grim humor). You saw that?

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

SERGIUS (cynically). Raina: our romance is shattered. Life's a farce.

BLUNTSCHLI (to Raina, goodhumoredly). You see: he's found himself out now.

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

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

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

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As Bluntschli hides in Raina's bedroom, what does he tell her that he keeps loaded in his gun?




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