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George Bernard Shaw.

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breath. How beautifully you waltz, William!

MRS. CLANDON (sinking on the saddlebag seat on the hearth). Oh, how
could you make me do such a silly thing, Finch! I haven't danced since
the soiree at South Place twenty years ago.

GLORIA (peremptorily at Valentine). Get up. (Valentine gets up
abjectly.) Now let us have no false delicacy. Tell my mother that we
have agreed to marry one another. (A silence of stupefaction ensues.
Valentine, dumb with panic, looks at them with an obvious impulse to run
away.)

DOLLY (breaking the silence). Number Six!

PHILIP. Sh!

DOLLY (tumultuously). Oh, my feelings! I want to kiss somebody; and we
bar it in the family. Where's Finch?

McCOMAS (starting violently). No, positively - (Crampton appears in the
window.)

DOLLY (running to Crampton). Oh, you're just in time. (She kisses him.)
Now (leading him forward) bless them.

GLORIA. No. I will have no such thing, even in jest. When I need a
blessing, I shall ask my mother's.

CRAMPTON (to Gloria, with deep disappointment). Am I to understand that
you have engaged yourself to this young gentleman?

GLORIA (resolutely). Yes. Do you intend to be our friend or -

DOLLY (interposing). - or our father?

CRAMPTON. I should like to be both, my child. But surely - ! Mr.
Valentine: I appeal to your sense of honor.

VALENTINE. You're quite right. It's perfect madness. If we go out to
dance together I shall have to borrow five shillings from her for a
ticket. Gloria: don't be rash: you're throwing yourself away. I'd much
better clear straight out of this, and never see any of you again. I
shan't commit suicide: I shan't even be unhappy. It'll be a relief to
me: I - I'm frightened, I'm positively frightened; and that's the plain
truth.

GLORIA (determinedly). You shall not go.

VALENTINE (quailing). No, dearest: of course not. But - oh, will somebody
only talk sense for a moment and bring us all to reason! I can't.
Where's Bohun? Bohun's the man. Phil: go and summon Bohun -

PHILIP. From the vastly deep. I go. (He makes his bat quiver in the air
and darts away through the window.)

WAITER (harmoniously to Valentine). If you will excuse my putting in a
word, sir, do not let a matter of five shillings stand between you and
your happiness, sir. We shall be only too pleased to put the ticket down
to you: and you can settle at your convenience. Very glad to meet you in
any way, very happy and pleased indeed, sir.

PHILIP (re-appearing). He comes. (He waves his bat over the window.
Bohun comes in, taking off his false nose and throwing it on the table
in passing as he comes between Gloria and Valentine.)

VALENTINE. The point is, Mr. Bohun -

McCOMAS (interrupting from the hearthrug). Excuse me, sir: the point
must be put to him by a solicitor. The question is one of an engagement
between these two young people. The lady has some property, and (looking
at Crampton) will probably have a good deal more.

CRAMPTON. Possibly. I hope so.

VALENTINE. And the gentleman hasn't a rap.

BOHUN (nailing Valentine to the point instantly). Then insist on a
settlement. That shocks your delicacy: most sensible precautions do. But
you ask my advice; and I give it to you. Have a settlement.

GLORIA (proudly). He shall have a settlement.

VALENTINE. My good sir, I don't want advice for myself. Give h e r some
advice.

BOHUN. She won't take it. When you're married, she won't take yours
either - (turning suddenly on Gloria) oh, no, you won't: you think you
will; but you won't. He'll set to work and earn his living - (turning
suddenly to Valentine) oh, yes, you will: you think you won't; but you
will. She'll make you.

CRAMPTON (only half persuaded). Then, Mr. Bohun, you don't think this
match an unwise one?

BOHUN. Yes, I do: all matches are unwise. It's unwise to be born; it's
unwise to be married; it's unwise to live; and it's unwise to die.

WAITER (insinuating himself between Crampton and Valentine). Then, if
I may respectfully put in a word in, sir, so much the worse for
wisdom! (To Valentine, benignly.) Cheer up, sir, cheer up: every man is
frightened of marriage when it comes to the point; but it often turns
out very comfortable, very enjoyable and happy indeed, sir - from time
to time. I never was master in my own house, sir: my wife was like your
young lady: she was of a commanding and masterful disposition, which my
son has inherited. But if I had my life to live twice over, I'd do it
again, I'd do it again, I assure you. You never can tell, sir: you never
can tell.

PHILIP. Allow me to remark that if Gloria has made up her mind -

DOLLY. The matter's settled and Valentine's done for. And we're missing
all the dances.

VALENTINE (to Gloria, gallantly making the best of it). May I have a
dance -

BOHUN (interposing in his grandest diapason). Excuse me: I claim that
privilege as counsel's fee. May I have the honor - thank you. (He dances
away with Gloria and disappears among the lanterns, leaving Valentine
gasping.)

VALENTINE (recovering his breath). Dolly: may I - (offering himself as
her partner)?

DOLLY. Nonsense! (Eluding him and running round the table to the
fireplace.) Finch - my Finch! (She pounces on McComas and makes him
dance.)

McCOMAS (protesting). Pray restrain - really - (He is borne off dancing
through the window.)

VALENTINE (making a last effort). Mrs. Clandon: may I -

PHILIP (forestalling him). Come, mother. (He seizes his mother and
whirls her away.)

MRS. CLANDON (remonstrating). Phil, Phil - (She shares McComas's fate.)

CRAMPTON (following them with senile glee). Ho! ho! He! he! he! (He goes
into the garden chuckling at the fun.)

VALENTINE (collapsing on the ottoman and staring at the waiter). I might
as well be a married man already. (The waiter contemplates the captured
Duellist of Sex with affectionate commiseration, shaking his head
slowly.)

CURTAIN.










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Online LibraryGeorge Bernard ShawYou Never Can Tell → online text (page 9 of 9)