The Inca of Perusalem - Bernard Shaw - E-Book

The Inca of Perusalem E-Book

Bernard Shaw

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Bernard Shaw













A hotel sitting room. A table in the centre. On it a telephone. Two chairs at it, opposite one another. Behind it, the door. The fireplace has a mirror in the mantelpiece.


A spinster Princess, hatted and gloved, is ushered in by the hotel manager, spruce and artifically bland by professional habit, but treating his customer with a condescending affability which sails very close to the east wind of insolence.


THE MANAGER. I am sorry I am unable to accommodate Your Highness on the first floor.


THE PRINCESS [very shy and nervous.] Oh, please don't mention it. This is quite nice. Very nice. Thank you very much.


THE MANAGER. We could prepare a room in the annexe—


THE PRINCESS. Oh no. This will do very well.


She takes of her gloves and hat: puts them on the table; and sits down.


THE MANAGER. The rooms are quite as good up here. There is less noise; and there is the lift. If Your Highness desires anything, there is the telephone—


THE PRINCESS. Oh, thank you, I don't want anything. The telephone is so difficult: I am not accustomed to it.


THE MANAGER. Can I take any order? Some tea?


THE PRINCESS. Oh, thank you. Yes: I should like some tea, if I might—if it would not be too much trouble.


He goes out. The telephone rings. The Princess starts out of her chair, terrified, and recoils as far as possible from the instrument.


THE PRINCESS. Oh dear! [It rings again. She looks scared. It rings again. She approaches it timidly. It rings again. She retreats hastily. It rings repeatedly. She runs to it in desperation and puts the receiver to her ear.] Who is there? What do I do? I am not used to the telephone: I don't know how—What! Oh, I can hear you speaking quite distinctly. [She sits down, delighted, and settles herself for a conversation.] How wonderful! What! A lady? Oh! a person. Oh, yes: I know. Yes, please, send her up. Have my servants finished their lunch yet? Oh no: please don't disturb them: I'd rather not. It doesn't matter. Thank you. What? Oh yes, it's quite easy. I had no idea—am I to hang it up just as it was? Thank you. [She hangs it up.]


Ermyntrude enters, presenting a plain and staid appearance in a long straight waterproof with a hood over her head gear. She comes to the end of the table opposite to that at which the Princess is seated.


THE PRINCESS. Excuse me. I have been talking through the telephone: and I heard quite well, though I have never ventured before. Won't you sit down?


ERMYNTRUDE. No, thank you, Your Highness. I am only a lady's maid. I understood you wanted one.


THE PRINCESS. Oh no: you mustn't think I want one. It's so unpatriotic to want anything now, on account of the war, you know. I sent my maid away as a public duty; and now she has married a soldier and is expecting a war baby. But I don't know how to do without her. I've tried my very best; but somehow it doesn't answer: everybody cheats me; and in the end it isn't any saving. So I've made up my mind to sell my piano and have a maid. That will be a real saving, because I really don't care a bit for music, though of course one has to pretend to. Don't you think so?


ERMYNTRUDE. Certainly I do, Your Highness. Nothing could be more correct. Saving and self-denial both at once; and an act of kindness to me, as I am out of place.


THE PRINCESS. I'm so glad you see it in that way. Er—you won't mind my asking, will you?—how did you lose your place?


ERMYNTRUDE. The war, Your Highness, the war.