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the normal. The rules apply to the shortlived, and are for their own
protection. Now tell me at once who you are.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_impressively_] Madam, I am a retired gentleman,
formerly Chairman of the All-British Synthetic Egg and Vegetable Cheese
Trust in Baghdad, and now President of the British Historical and
Archaeological Society, and a Vice-President of the Travellers' Club.

THE WOMAN. All that does not matter.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_again snorting_] Hm! Indeed!

THE WOMAN. Have you been sent here to make your mind flexible?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. What an extraordinary question! Pray do you find
my mind noticeably stiff?

THE WOMAN. Perhaps you do not know that you are on the west coast of
Ireland, and that it is the practice among natives of the Eastern Island
to spend some years here to acquire mental flexibility. The climate has
that effect.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_haughtily_] I was born, not in the Eastern
Island, but, thank God, in dear old British Baghdad; and I am not in
need of a mental health resort.

THE WOMAN. Then why are you here?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Am I trespassing? I was not aware of it.

THE WOMAN. Trespassing? I do not understand the word.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Is this land private property? If so, I make no
claim. I proffer a shilling in satisfaction of damage (if any), and am
ready to withdraw if you will be good enough to shew me the nearest way.
[_He offers her a shilling_].

THE WOMAN [_taking it and examining it without much interest_] I do not
understand a single word of what you have just said.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. I am speaking the plainest English. Are you the

THE WOMAN [_shaking her head_] There is a tradition in this part of the
country of an animal with a name like that. It used to be hunted and
shot in the barbarous ages. It is quite extinct now.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_breaking down again_] It is a dreadful thing to
be in a country where nobody understands civilized institutions. [_He
collapses on the bollard, struggling with his rising sobs_]. Excuse me.
Hay fever.

THE WOMAN [_taking a tuning-fork from her girdle and holding it to her
ear; then speaking into space on one note, like a chorister intoning
a psalm_] Burrin Pier Galway please send someone to take charge of a
discouraged shortliver who has escaped from his nurse male harmless
babbles unintelligibly with moments of sense distressed hysterical
foreign dress very funny has curious fringe of white sea-weed under his

THE GENTLEMAN. This is a gross impertinence. An insult.

THE WOMAN [_replacing her tuning-fork and addressing the elderly
gentleman_] These words mean nothing to me. In what capacity are you
here? How did you obtain permission to visit us?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_importantly_] Our Prime Minister, Mr Badger
Bluebin, has come to consult the oracle. He is my son-in-law. We are
accompanied by his wife and daughter: my daughter and granddaughter. I
may mention that General Aufsteig, who is one of our party, is really
the Emperor of Turania travelling incognito. I understand he has a
question to put to the oracle informally. I have come solely to visit
the country.

THE WOMAN. Why should you come to a place where you have no business?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Great Heavens, madam, can anything be more
natural? I shall be the only member of the Travellers' Club who has set
foot on these shores. Think of that! My position will be unique.

THE WOMAN. Is that an advantage? We have a person here who has lost both
legs in an accident. His position is unique. But he would much rather be
like everyone else.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. This is maddening. There is no analogy whatever
between the two cases.

THE WOMAN. They are both unique.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Conversation in this place seems to consist of
ridiculous quibbles. I am heartily tired of them.

THE WOMAN. I conclude that your Travellers' Club is an assembly of
persons who wish to be able to say that they have been in some place
where nobody else has been.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Of Course if you wish to sneer at us -

THE WOMAN. What is sneer?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_with a wild sob_] I shall drown myself.

_He makes desperately for the edge of the pier, but is confronted by
a man with the number one on his cap, who comes up the steps and
intercepts him. He is dressed like the woman, but a slight moustache
proclaims his sex._

THE MAN [_to the elderly gentleman_] Ah, here you are. I shall really
have to put a collar and lead on you if you persist in giving me the
slip like this.

THE WOMAN. Are you this stranger's nurse?

THE MAN. Yes. I am very tired of him. If I take my eyes off him for a
moment, he runs away and talks to everybody.

THE WOMAN [_after taking out her tuning-fork and sounding it, intones as
before_] Burrin Pier. Wash out. [_She puts up the fork, and addresses
the man_]. I sent a call for someone to take care of him. I have been
trying to talk to him; but I can understand very little of what he says.
You must take better care of him: he is badly discouraged already. If
I can be of any further use, Fusima, Gort, will find me. [_She goes

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Any further use! She has been of no use to me.
She spoke to me without any introduction, like any improper female. And
she has made off with my shilling.

THE MAN. Please speak slowly. I cannot follow. What is a shilling? What
is an introduction? Improper female doesnt make sense.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Nothing seems to make sense here. All I can tell
you is that she was the most impenetrably stupid woman I have ever met
in the whole course of my life.

THE MAN. That cannot be. She cannot appear stupid to you. She is a
secondary, and getting on for a tertiary at that.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. What is a tertiary? Everybody here keeps talking
to me about primaries and secondaries and tertiaries as if people were
geological strata.

THE MAN. The primaries are in their first century. The secondaries are
in their second century. I am still classed as a primary [_he points to
his number_]; but I may almost call myself a secondary, as I shall be
ninety-five next January. The tertiaries are in their third century. Did
you not see the number two on her badge? She is an advanced secondary.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. That accounts for it. She is in her second

THE MAN. Her second childhood! She is in her fifth childhood.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_again resorting to the bollard_] Oh! I cannot
bear these unnatural arrangements.

THE MAN [_impatient and helpless_] You shouldn't have come among us.
This is no place for you.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_nerved by indignation_] May I ask why? I am a
Vice-President of the Travellers' Club. I have been everywhere: I hold
the record in the Club for civilized countries.

THE MAN. What is a civilized country?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. It is - well, it is a civilized country.
[_Desperately_] I don't know: I - I - I - I shall go mad if you keep on
asking me to tell you things that everybody knows. Countries where you
can travel comfortably. Where there are good hotels. Excuse me; but,
though you say you are ninety-four, you are worse company than a child
of five with your eternal questions. Why not call me Daddy at once?

THE MAN. I did not know your name was Daddy.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. My name is Joseph Popham Bolge Bluebin Barlow,

THE MAN. That is five men's names. Daddy is shorter. And O.M. will not
do here. It is our name for certain wild creatures, descendants of
the aboriginal inhabitants of this coast. They used to be called the
O'Mulligans. We will stick to Daddy.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. People will think I am your father.

THE MAN [_shocked_] Sh-sh! People here never allude to such
relationships. It is not quite delicate, is it? What does it matter
whether you are my father or not?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. My worthy nonagenarian friend: your faculties are
totally decayed. Could you not find me a guide of my own age?

THE MAN. A young person?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Certainly not. I cannot go about with a young


THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Why! Why!! Why!!! Have you no moral sense?

THE MAN. I shall have to give you up. I cannot understand you.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. But you meant a young woman, didn't you?

THE MAN. I meant simply somebody of your own age. What difference does
it make whether the person is a man or a woman?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. I could not have believed in the existence of
such scandalous insensibility to the elementary decencies of human

THE MAN. What are decencies?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_shrieking_] Everyone asks me that.

THE MAN [_taking out a tuning-fork and using it as the woman did_] Zozim
on Burrin Pier to Zoo Ennistymon I have found the discouraged shortliver
he has been talking to a secondary and is much worse I am too old he is
asking for someone of his own age or younger come if you can. [_He puts
up his fork and turns to the Elderly Gentleman_]. Zoo is a girl of
fifty, and rather childish at that. So perhaps she may make you happy.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Make me happy! A bluestocking of fifty! Thank

THE MAN. Bluestocking? The effort to make out your meaning is fatiguing.
Besides, you are talking too much to me: I am old enough to discourage
you. Let us be silent until Zoo comes. [_He turns his back on the
Elderly Gentleman, and sits down on the edge of the pier, with his legs
dangling over the water_].

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Certainly. I have no wish to force my
conversation on any man who does not desire it. Perhaps you would like
to take a nap. If so, pray do not stand on ceremony.

THE MAN. What is a nap?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_exasperated, going to him and speaking with
great precision and distinctness_] A nap, my friend, is a brief period
of sleep which overtakes superannuated persons when they endeavor to
entertain unwelcome visitors or to listen to scientific lectures. Sleep.
Sleep. [_Bawling into his ear_] Sleep.

THE MAN. I tell you I am nearly a secondary. I never sleep.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_awestruck_] Good Heavens!

_A young woman with the number one on her cap arrives by land. She looks
no older than Savvy Barnabas, whom she somewhat resembles, looked a
thousand years before. Younger, if anything._

THE YOUNG WOMAN. Is this the patient?

THE MAN [_scrambling up_] This is Zoo. [_To Zoo_] Call him Daddy.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_vehemently_] No.

THE MAN [_ignoring the interruption_] Bless you for taking him off my
hands! I have had as much of him as I can bear. [_He goes down the steps
and disappears_].

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_ironically taking off his hat and making a
sweeping bow from the edge of the pier in the direction of the
Atlantic Ocean_] Good afternoon, sir; and thank you very much for your
extraordinary politeness, your exquisite consideration for my feelings,
your courtly manners. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. [_Clapping
his hat on again_] Pig! Ass!

ZOO [_laughs very heartily at him_]!!!

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_turning sharply on her_] Good afternoon, madam.
I am sorry to have had to put your friend in his place; but I find that
here as elsewhere it is necessary to assert myself if I am to be treated
with proper consideration. I had hoped that my position as a guest would
protect me from insult.

ZOO. Putting my friend in his place. That is some poetic expression, is
it not? What does it mean?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Pray, is there no one in these islands who
understands plain English?

ZOO. Well, nobody except the oracles. They have to make a special
historical study of what we call the dead thought.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Dead thought! I have heard of the dead languages,
but never of the dead thought.

ZOO. Well, thoughts die sooner than languages. I understand your
language; but I do not always understand your thought. The oracles will
understand you perfectly. Have you had your consultation yet?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. I did not come to consult the oracle, madam. I am
here simply as a gentleman travelling for pleasure in the company of my
daughter, who is the wife of the British Prime Minister, and of General
Aufsteig, who, I may tell you in confidence, is really the Emperor of
Turania, the greatest military genius of the age.

ZOO. Why should you travel for pleasure! Can you not enjoy yourself at

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. I wish to see the World.

ZOO. It is too big. You can see a bit of it anywhere.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_out of patience_] Damn it, madam, you don't want
to spend your life looking at the same bit of it! [_Checking himself_] I
beg your pardon for swearing in your presence.

ZOO. Oh! That is swearing, is it? I have read about that. It sounds
quite pretty. Dammitmaddam, dammitmaddam, dammitmaddam, dammitmaddam.
Say it as often as you please: I like it.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_expanding with intense relief_] Bless you for
those profane but familiar words! Thank you, thank you. For the first
time since I landed in this terrible country I begin to feel at home.
The strain which was driving me mad relaxes: I feel almost as if I were
at the club. Excuse my taking the only available seat: I am not so young
as I was. [_He sits on the bollard_]. Promise me that you will not hand
me over to one of these dreadful tertiaries or secondaries or whatever
you call them.

ZOO. Never fear. They had no business to give you in charge to Zozim.
You see he is just on the verge of becoming a secondary; and these
adolescents will give themselves the airs of tertiaries. You naturally
feel more at home with a flapper like me. [_She makes herself
comfortable on the sacks_].

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Flapper? What does that mean?

ZOO. It is an archaic word which we still use to describe a female who
is no longer a girl and is not yet quite adult.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. A very agreeable age to associate with, I find. I
am recovering rapidly. I have a sense of blossoming like a flower. May I
ask your name?

ZOO. Zoo.


ZOO. Not Miss Zoo. Zoo.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Precisely. Er - Zoo what?

ZOO. No. Not Zoo What. Zoo. Nothing but Zoo.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_puzzled_] Mrs Zoo, perhaps.

ZOO. No. Zoo. Cant you catch it? Zoo.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Of course. Believe me, I did not really think you
were married: you are obviously too young; but here it is so hard to
feel sure - er -

ZOO [_hopelessly puzzled_] What?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Marriage makes a difference, you know. One can
say things to a married lady that would perhaps be in questionable taste
to anyone without that experience.

ZOO. You are getting out of my depth: I dont understand a word you are
saying. Married and questionable taste convey nothing to me. Stop,
though. Is married an old form of the word mothered?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Very likely. Let us drop the subject. Pardon me
for embarrassing you. I should not have mentioned it.

ZOO. What does embarrassing mean?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Well, really! I should have thought that so
natural and common a condition would be understood as long as human
nature lasted. To embarrass is to bring a blush to the cheek.

ZOO. What is a blush?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_amazed_] Dont you blush???

ZOO. Never heard of it. We have a word flush, meaning a rush of blood to
the skin. I have noticed it in my babies, but not after the age of two.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Your babies!!! I fear I am treading on very
delicate ground; but your appearance is extremely youthful; and if I may
ask how many - ?

ZOO. Only four as yet. It is a long business with us. I specialize in
babies. My first was such a success that they made me go on. I -

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_reeling on the bollard_] Oh! dear!

ZOO. Whats the matter? Anything wrong?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. In Heaven's name, madam, how old are you?

ZOO. Fifty-six.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. My knees are trembling. I fear I am really ill.
Not so young as I was.

ZOO. I noticed that you are not strong on your legs yet. You have many
of the ways and weaknesses of a baby. No doubt that is why I feel called
on to mother you. You certainly are a very silly little Daddy.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_stimulated by indignation_] My name, I repeat,
is Joseph Popham Bolge Bluebin Barlow, O.M.

ZOO. What a ridiculously long name! I cant call you all that. What did
your mother call you?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. You recall the bitterest struggles of my
childhood. I was sensitive on the point. Children suffer greatly from
absurd nicknames. My mother thoughtlessly called me Iddy Toodles. I
was called Iddy until I went to school, when I made my first stand for
children's rights by insisting on being called at least Joe. At fifteen
I refused to answer to anything shorter than Joseph. At eighteen I
discovered that the name Joseph was supposed to indicate an unmanly
prudery because of some old story about a Joseph who rejected the
advances of his employer's wife: very properly in my opinion. I then
became Popham to my family and intimate friends, and Mister Barlow
to the rest of the world. My mother slipped back into Iddy when her
faculties began to fail her, poor woman; but I could not resent that, at
her age.

ZOO. Do you mean to say that your mother bothered about you after you
were ten?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Naturally, madam. She was my mother. What would
you have had her do?

ZOO. Go on to the next, of course. After eight or nine children become
quite uninteresting, except to themselves. I shouldnt know my two eldest
if I met them.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_again drooping_] I am dying. Let me die. I wish
to die.

ZOO [_going to him quickly and supporting him_] Hold up. Sit up
straight. Whats the matter?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_faintly_] My spine, I think. Shock. Concussion.

ZOO [_maternally_] Pow wow wow! What is there to shock you? [_Shaking
him playfully_] There! Sit up; and be good.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_still feebly_] Thank you. I am better now.

ZOO [_resuming her seat on the sacks_] But what was all the rest of that
long name for? There was a lot more of it. Blops Booby or something.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [_impressively_] Bolge Bluebin, madam: a
historical name. Let me inform you that I can trace my family back for
more than a thousand years, from the Eastern Empire to its ancient seat
in these islands, to a time when two of my ancestors, Joyce Bolge
and Hengist Horsa Bluebin, wrestled with one another for the prime
ministership of the British Empire, and occupied that position
successively with a glory of which we can in these degenerate days form
but a faint conception. When I think of these mighty men, lions in war,
sages in peace, not babblers and charlatans like the pigmies who now
occupy their places in Baghdad, but strong silent men, ruling an empire
on which the sun never set, my eyes fill with tears: my heart bursts
with emotion: I feel that to have lived but to the dawn of manhood in
their day, and then died for them, would have been a nobler and happier
lot than the ignominious ease of my present longevity.

ZOO. Longevity! [_she laughs_].

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Yes, madam, relative longevity. As it is, I have
to be content and proud to know that I am descended from both those

ZOO. You must be descended from every Briton who was alive in their
time. Dont you know that?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Do not quibble, madam. I bear their names, Bolge
and Bluebin; and I hope I have inherited something of their majestic
spirit. Well, they were born in these islands. I repeat, these islands
were then, incredible as it now seems, the centre of the British Empire.
When that centre shifted to Baghdad, and the Englishman at last returned
to the true cradle of his race in Mesopotamia, the western islands were
cast off, as they had been before by the Roman Empire. But it was to the
British race, and in these islands, that the greatest miracle in history

ZOO. Miracle?

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Yes: the first man to live three hundred years
was an Englishman. The first, that is, since the contemporaries of

ZOO. Oh, that!

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. Yes, that, as you call it so flippantly. Are you
aware, madam, that at that immortal moment the English race had lost
intellectual credit to such an extent that they habitually spoke of
one another as fatheads? Yet England is now a sacred grove to which
statesmen from all over the earth come to consult English sages who
speak with the experience of two and a half centuries of life. The land
that once exported cotton shirts and hardware now exports nothing but
wisdom. You see before you, madam, a man utterly weary of the week-end
riverside hotels of the Euphrates, the minstrels and pierrots on the
sands of the Persian Gulf, the toboggans and funiculars of the Hindoo
Koosh. Can you wonder that I turn, with a hungry heart, to the mystery
and beauty of these haunted islands, thronged with spectres from a magic
past, made holy by the footsteps of the wise men of the West. Consider
this island on which we stand, the last foothold of man on this side
of the Atlantic: this Ireland, described by the earliest bards as an
emerald gem set in a silver sea! Can I, a scion of the illustrious
British race, ever forget that when the Empire transferred its seat to
the East, and said to the turbulent Irish race which it had oppressed
but never conquered, 'At last we leave you to yourselves; and much good
may it do you,' the Irish as one man uttered the historic shout 'No:
we'll be damned if you do,' and emigrated to the countries where there
was still a Nationalist question, to India, Persia, and Corea, to
Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli. In these countries they were ever
foremost in the struggle for national independence; and the world rang
continually with the story of their sufferings and wrongs. And what poem
can do justice to the end, when it came at last? Hardly two hundred
years had elapsed when the claims of nationality were so universally
conceded that there was no longer a single country on the face of the
earth with a national grievance or a national movement. Think of the
position of the Irish, who had lost all their political faculties by
disuse except that of nationalist agitation, and who owed their position
as the most interesting race on earth solely to their sufferings! The
very countries they had helped to set free boycotted them as intolerable
bores. The communities which had once idolized them as the incarnation
of all that is adorable in the warm heart and witty brain, fled from
them as from a pestilence. To regain their lost prestige, the Irish
claimed the city of Jerusalem, on the ground that they were the lost
tribes of Israel; but on their approach the Jews abandoned the city
and redistributed themselves throughout Europe. It was then that these
devoted Irishmen, not one of whom had ever seen Ireland, were counselled
by an English Archbishop, the father of the oracles, to go back to their
own country. This had never once occurred to them, because there was
nothing to prevent them and nobody to forbid them. They jumped at the
suggestion. They landed here: here in Galway Bay, on this very ground.
When they reached the shore the older men and women flung themselves
down and passionately kissed the soil of Ireland, calling on the young
to embrace the earth that had borne their ancestors. But the young
looked gloomily on, and said 'There is no earth, only stone.' You will
see by looking round you why they said that: the fields here are of
stone: the hills are capped with granite. They all left for England next
day; and no Irishman ever again confessed to being Irish, even to his
own children; so that when that generation passed away the Irish race
vanished from human knowledge. And the dispersed Jews did the same lest
they should be sent back to Palestine. Since then the world, bereft of
its Jews and its Irish, has been a tame dull place. Is there no pathos
for you in this story? Can you not understand now why I am come to visit
the scene of this tragic effacement of a race of heroes and poets?

ZOO. We still tell our little children stories like that, to help them
to understand. But such things do not happen really. That scene of the
Irish landing here and kissing the ground might have happened to a
hundred people. It couldn't have happened to a hundred thousand: you
know that as well as I do. And what a ridiculous thing to call people

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