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Arms and the Man

George Bernard Shaw

Contents

Act One, continued

page 1 of 2

Act One, continued

Page 1

Page 2

Act One, continued

Act One, continued

Act One, continued

Note: Bluntschli’s entry to end of Act One

Summary: Act One, Bluntschli’s entry to end of Act One

The man, as the stage notes describe, is of “undistinguished” appearance. He does not seem as impressive a solider as the picture of Sergius that Raina keeps in her room. Raina is surprised at the man’s cleverness, and that he seems more interested in preserving his life than in behaving as a soldier “should.” The man threatens again to kill Raina if she draws attention to him. Raina counters that she is not afraid to die. The man responds that, if Bulgarians were to enter and kill him, they would be left alone in Raina’s room with her only in her bedclothes. The man implies that this would be a dangerous predicament for Raina, and she agrees, though is revolted. She gets up to find her cloak to cover herself, but the man takes it, as a guarantee that Raina will keep quiet, so that no soldiers come in and see her scantily clothed He calls the cloak a weapon more powerful than a pistol.

A bustling is heard outside the room. Catherine and Louka are coming, and just before they enter, Raina tells the man to hide behind a curtain. He does, and Catherine and Louka ask if everything is all right. They bring in a polite young soldier of the Bulgarian army, who reports that a runaway from the Serbians might be on the balcony and attempt to get into the house. Raina denies this possibility, testily, but she allows the soldier to search the area. He, Catherine, and Louka find no one and wish Raina good night. Raina tells Louka to stay with her mother the rest of the evening, as she, Raina, pretends to be worried that Catherine will need protection from the retreating Serbians. In a stage direction, the reader learns that Louka makes a strange face at Raina when she says this. Louka is aware Raina is up to something suspicious.

When the three leave the room, the man emerges from the curtain, relieved at not having been found out. He says he is indebted to Raina for protecting him. Raina cries out, realizing that the man has left his pistol in plain sight on the ottoman while the other three were present. The man says they were lucky, and that Raina shouldn’t worry, since the gun isn’t loaded. Indeed, he has no space for extra cartridges in his pockets, because he usually only carries chocolates in them, although he has just run out. Raina finds this behavior unbecoming for a soldier, but the man says that carrying candy is a sign of a veteran, rather than a novice.

Raina offers the man her chocolate cream candies, which he loves and eats. The man discusses the cavalry charge from the earlier in the day. He insults the leader of the Bulgarian side, which he does not know was Raina’s future husband, Sergius. Although Raina thinks that Sergius’ behavior was heroic, the man claims that it was instead foolish, unprofessional, and showy. After all, the man continues, the Serbians had machine guns and the Bulgarians and Russians had only horses. In most circumstances, the charge would have been a death sentence for the Bulgarian side, as the machine guns would have mowed them down immediately. But the Serbian forces were supplied with the wrong kind of cartridges for their guns, and only because of this were they defeated by the advancing Bulgarians. Thus Sergius and his cavalry won the battle, but only from sheer luck, and in the face of his own catastrophic military decision-making.

Raina is shocked by this news and angry at the man for delivering it. She says she cannot allow the man to stay in her bedroom, since he has now spoken ill of her future husband. The man begs to be permitted to hide in her bedroom, because if she forces him outside, he will surely be killed. He only wants to sleep, but prepares to leave anyway. Raina stops him and brags that her family is famous for its hospitality. She says that if the man had asked for her pity instead of pointing a gun at her, Raina would have helped him. Raina continues bragging about her family’s wealth, and that they have the only library in Bulgaria. They are so cultured, compared to other Bulgarians, that they even wash regularly. The man seems subtly amused by this, and notes that the man’s father owns six hotels, although Raina appears not to notice this indication of his family’s station in society.

Raina tells the man to stay awake and alert while she informs her mother, Catherine, of the situation, since her father, Major Petkoff, is still off at battle. The man promises not to sleep. But when Raina is gone, he stumbles over to her bed and falls asleep instantly. Catherine and Raina return to find the man this way. Catherine is shocked and wants to wake him, but Raina begs Catherine to let him be.

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Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid, in Latin: Arma virumque cano.

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Arms and the Man