You Never Can Tell

第5章

DOLLY (vexed).Oh, how tiresome of you to let it all out! And we've just been pretending that you were a respectable professional man in a first-rate position.

MRS.CLANDON (horrified).Oh, Dolly, Dolly! My dearest, how can you be so rude? (To Valentine.) Will you excuse these barbarian children of mine, Mr.Valentine?

VALENTINE.Thank you, I'm used to them.Would it be too much to ask you to wait five minutes while I get rid of my landlord downstairs?

DOLLY.Don't be long.We're hungry.

MRS.CLANDON (again remonstrating).Dolly, dear!

VALENTINE (to Dolly).All right.(To Mrs.Clandon.) Thank you: Ishan't be long.(He steals a look at Gloria as he turns to go.She is looking gravely at him.He falls into confusion.) I--er--er--yes--thank you (he succeeds at last in blundering himself out of the room;but the exhibition is a pitiful one).

PHILIP.Did you observe? (Pointing to Gloria.) Love at first sight.You can add his scalp to your collection, Gloria.

MRS.CLANDON.Sh--sh, pray, Phil.He may have heard you.

PHILIP.Not he.(Bracing himself for a scene.) And now look here, mamma.(He takes the stool from the bench; and seats himself majestically in the middle of the room, taking a leaf out of Valentine's book.Dolly, feeling that her position on the step of the operating chair is unworthy of the dignity of the occasion, rises, looking important and determined; crosses to the window; and stands with her back to the end of the writing-table, her hands behind her and on the table.Mrs.Clandon looks at them, wondering what is coming.Gloria becomes attentive.Philip straightens his back; places his knuckles symmetrically on his knees; and opens his case.) Dolly and I have been talking over things a good deal lately; and I don't think, judging from my knowledge of human nature--we don't think that you (speaking very staccato, with the words detached) quite appreciate the fact ---DOLLY (seating herself on the end of the table with a spring).That we've grown up.

MRS.CLANDON.Indeed? In what way have I given you any reason to complain?

PHILIP.Well, there are certain matters upon which we are beginning to feel that you might take us a little more into your confidence.

MRS.CLANDON (rising, with all the placidity of her age suddenly broken up; and a curious hard excitement, dignified but dogged, ladylike but implacable--the manner of the Old Guard of the Women's Rights movement--coming upon her).Phil: take care.Remember what I have always taught you.There are two sorts of family life, Phil; and your experience of human nature only extends, so far, to one of them.

(Rhetorically.) The sort you know is based on mutual respect, on recognition of the right of every member of the household to independence and privacy (her emphasis on "privacy" is intense) in their personal concerns.And because you have always enjoyed that, it seems such a matter of course to you that you don't value it.But (with biting acrimony) there is another sort of family life: a life in which husbands open their wives' letters, and call on them to account for every farthing of their expenditure and every moment of their time; in which women do the same to their children; in which no room is private and no hour sacred; in which duty, obedience, affection, home, morality and religion are detestable tyrannies, and life is a vulgar round of punishments and lies, coercion and rebellion, jealousy, suspicion, recrimination--Oh! I cannot describe it to you: fortunately for you, you know nothing about it.(She sits down, panting.Gloria has listened to her with flashing eyes, sharing all her indignation.)DOLLY (inaccessible to rhetoric).See Twentieth Century Parents, chapter on Liberty, passim.

MRS.CLANDON (touching her shoulder affectionately, soothed even by a gibe from her).My dear Dolly: if you only knew how glad I am that it is nothing but a joke to you, though it is such bitter earnest to me.

(More resolutely, turning to Philip.) Phil, I never ask you questions about your private concerns.You are not going to question me, are you?

PHILIP.I think it due to ourselves to say that the question we wanted to ask is as much our business as yours.

DOLLY.Besides, it can't be good to keep a lot of questions bottled up inside you.You did it, mamma; but see how awfully it's broken out again in me.

MRS.CLANDON.I see you want to ask your question.Ask it.

DOLLY AND PHILIP (beginning simultaneously).Who--- (They stop.)PHILIP.Now look here, Dolly: am I going to conduct this business or are you?

DOLLY.You.

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MRS.CLANDON (remonstrating).Phil!

PHILIP.Dentist is an ugly word.The man of ivory and gold asked us whether we were the children of Mr.Densmore Clandon of Newbury Hall.

In pursuance of the precepts in your treatise on Twentieth Century Conduct, and your repeated personal exhortations to us to curtail the number of unnecessary lies we tell, we replied truthfully the we didn't know.

DOLLY.Neither did we.

PHILIP.Sh! The result was that the gum architect made considerable difficulties about accepting our invitation to lunch, although I doubt if he has had anything but tea and bread and butter for a fortnight past.Now my knowledge of human nature leads me to believe that we had a father, and that you probably know who he was.

MRS.CLANDON (her agitation returning).Stop, Phil.Your father is nothing to you, nor to me (vehemently).That is enough.(The twins are silenced, but not satisfied.Their faces fall.But Gloria, who has been following the altercation attentively, suddenly intervenes.)GLORIA (advancing).Mother: we have a right to know.

MRS.CLANDON (rising and facing her).Gloria! "We!" Who is "we"?

GLORIA (steadfastly).We three.(Her tone is unmistakable: she is pitting her strength against her mother for the first time.The twins instantly go over to the enemy.)MRS.CLANDON (wounded).In your mouth "we" used to mean you and I, Gloria.

Bernard Shaw

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