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