Man and Superman By George Bernard Shaw Act IV

HECTOR. I have taken care. I am taking care. I'm taking care of my honor and my position in English society.

MALONE. [hotly] Your position has been got by my money: do you know that?

HECTOR. Well, you've just spoiled it all by opening that letter. A letter from an English lady, not addressed to you — a confidential letter! a delicate letter! a private letter opened by my father! That's a sort of thing a man can't struggle against in England. The sooner we go back together the better. [He appeals mutely to the heavens to witness the shame and anguish of two outcasts].

VIOLET. [snubbing him with an instinctive dislike for scene making] Don't be unreasonable, Hector. It was quite natural of Mr Malone to open my letter: his name was on the envelope.

MALONE. There! You've no common sense, Hector. I thank you, Miss Robinson.

HECTOR. I thank you, too. It's very kind of you. My father knows no better.

MALONE. [furiously clenching his fists] Hector —

HECTOR. [with undaunted moral force] Oh, it's no use hectoring me. A private letter's a private letter, dad: you can't get over that.

MALONE [raising his voice] I won't be talked back to by you, d'y' hear?

VIOLET. Ssh! please, please. Here they all come.

Father and son, checked, glare mutely at one another as Tanner comes in through the little gate with Ramsden, followed by Octavius and Ann.

VIOLET. Back already!

TANNER. The Alhambra is not open this afternoon.

VIOLET. What a sell!

Tanner passes on, and presently finds himself between Hector and a strange elder, both apparently on the verge of personal combat. He looks from one to the other for an explanation. They sulkily avoid his eye, and nurse their wrath in silence.

RAMSDEN. Is it wise for you to be out in the sunshine with such a headache, Violet?

TANNER. Have you recovered too, Malone?

VIOLET. Oh, I forgot. We have not all met before. Mr Malone: won't you introduce your father?

HECTOR. [with Roman firmness] No, I will not. He is no father of mine.

MALONE. [very angry] You disown your dad before your English friends, do you?

VIOLET. Oh please don't make a scene.

Ann and Octavius, lingering near the gate, exchange an astonished glance, and discreetly withdraw up the steps to the garden, where they can enjoy the disturbance without intruding. On their way to the steps Ann sends a little grimace of mute sympathy to Violet, who is standing with her back to the little table, looking on in helpless annoyance as her husband soars to higher and higher moral eminences without the least regard to the old man's millions.

HECTOR. I'm very sorry, Miss Robinson; but I'm contending for a principle. I am a son, and, I hope, a dutiful one; but before everything I'm a Man!!! And when dad treats my private letters as his own, and takes it on himself to say that I shan't marry you if I am happy and fortunate enough to gain your consent, then I just snap my fingers and go my own way.

TANNER. Marry Violet!

RAMSDEN. Are you in your senses?

TANNER. Do you forget what we told you?

HECTOR. [recklessly] I don't care what you told me.

RAMSDEN. [scandalized] Tut tut, sir! Monstrous! [he flings away towards the gate, his elbows quivering with indignation]

TANNER. Another madman! These men in love should be locked up. [He gives Hector up as hopeless, and turns away towards the garden, but Malone, taking offence in a new direction, follows him and compels him, by the aggressivenes of his tone, to stop].

MALONE. I don't understand this. Is Hector not good enough for this lady, pray?

TANNER. My dear sir, the lady is married already. Hector knows it; and yet he persists in his infatuation. Take him home and lock him up.

MALONE. [bitterly] So this is the high-born social tone I've spoilt by my ignorant, uncultivated behavior! Makin love to a married woman! [He comes angrily between Hector and Violet, and almost bawls into Hector's left ear] You've picked up that habit of the British aristocracy, have you?

HECTOR. That's all right. Don't you trouble yourself about that. I'll answer for the morality of what I'm doing.

TANNER. [coming forward to Hector's right hand with flashing eyes] Well said, Malone! You also see that mere marriage laws are not morality! I agree with you; but unfortunately Violet does not.

MALONE. I take leave to doubt that, sir. [Turning on Violet] Let me tell you, Mrs Robinson, or whatever your right name is, you had no right to send that letter to my son when you were the wife of another man.

HECTOR. [outraged] This is the last straw. Dad: you have insulted my wife.


TANNER. YOU the missing husband! Another moral impostor! [He smites his brow, and collapses into Malone's chair].

MALONE. You've married without my consent!

RAMSDEN. You have deliberately humbugged us, sir!

HECTOR. Here: I have had just about enough of being badgered. Violet and I are married: that's the long and the short of it. Now what have you got to say — any of you?

MALONE. I know what I've got to say. She's married a beggar.

HECTOR. No; she's married a Worker [his American pronunciation imparts an overwhelming intensity to this simple and unpopular word]. I start to earn my own living this very afternoon.

MALONE. [sneering angrily] Yes: you're very plucky now, because you got your remittance from me yesterday or this morning, I reckon. Wait til it's spent. You won't be so full of cheek then.

HECTOR. [producing a letter from his pocketbook] Here it is [thrusting it on his father]. Now you just take your remittance and yourself out of my life. I'm done with remittances; and I'm done with you. I don't sell the privilege of insulting my wife for a thousand dollars.

MALONE. [deeply wounded and full of concern] Hector: you don't know what poverty is.

HECTOR. [fervidly] Well, I want to know what it is. I want'be a Man. Violet: you come along with me, to your own home: I'll see you through.

OCTAVIUS. [jumping down from the garden to the lawn and running to Hector's left hand] I hope you'll shake hands with me before you go, Hector. I admire and respect you more than I can say. [He is affected almost to tears as they shake hands].

VIOLET. [also almost in tears, but of vexation] Oh don't be an idiot, Tavy. Hector's about as fit to become a workman as you are.

TANNER. [rising from his chair on the other ride of Hector] Never fear: there's no question of his becoming a navvy, Mrs Malone. [To Hector] There's really no difficulty about capital to start with. Treat me as a friend: draw on me.

OCTAVIUS. [impulsively] Or on me.

MALONE. [with fierce jealousy] Who wants your dirty money? Who should he draw on but his own father? [Tanner and Octavius recoil, Octavius rather hurt, Tanner consoled by the solution of the money difficulty. Violet looks up hopefully]. Hector: don't be rash, my boy. I'm sorry for what I said: I never meant to insult Violet: I take it all back. She's just the wife you want: there!

HECTOR. [Patting him on the shoulder] Well, that's all right, dad. Say no more: we're friends again. Only, I take no money from anybody.

MALONE. [pleading abjectly] Don't be hard on me, Hector. I'd rather you quarrelled and took the money than made friends and starved. You don't know what the world is: I do.

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Ann has great respect for Violet because she believes Violet