List Of Contents | Contents of Man and Superman, by Bernard Shaw
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flattered]. May one ask you a blunt question?

MENDOZA. As blunt as you please.

TANNER. How does it pay a man of your talent to shepherd such a
flock as this on broiled rabbit and prickly pears? I have seen
men less gifted, and I'll swear less honest, supping at the Savoy
on foie gras and champagne.

MENDOZA. Pooh! they have all had their turn at the broiled
rabbit, just as I shall have my turn at the Savoy. Indeed, I have
had a turn there already--as waiter.

TANNER. A waiter! You astonish me!

MENDOZA. [reflectively] Yes: I, Mendoza of the Sierra, was a
waiter. Hence, perhaps, my cosmopolitanism. [With sudden
intensity] Shall I tell you the story of my life?

STRAKER. [apprehensively] If it ain't too long, old chap--

TANNER. [interrupting him] Tsh-sh: you are a Philistine, Henry:
you have no romance in you. [To Mendoza] You interest me
extremely, President. Never mind Henry: he can go to sleep.

MENDOZA. The woman I loved--

STRAKER. Oh, this is a love story, is it? Right you are. Go on: I
was only afraid you were going to talk about yourself.

MENDOZA. Myself! I have thrown myself away for her sake: that is
why I am here. No matter: I count the world well lost for her.
She had, I pledge you my word, the most magnificent head of hair
I ever saw. She had humor; she had intellect; she could cook to
perfection; and her highly strung temperament made her uncertain,
incalculable, variable, capricious, cruel, in a word, enchanting.

STRAKER. A six shillin novel sort o woman, all but the cookin. Er
name was Lady Gladys Plantagenet, wasn't it?

MENDOZA. No, sir: she was not an earl's daughter. Photography,
reproduced by the half-tone process, has made me familiar with
the appearance of the daughters of the English peerage; and I can
honestly say that I would have sold the lot, faces, dowries,
clothes, titles, and all, for a smile from this woman. Yet she
was a woman of the people, a worker: otherwise--let me
reciprocate your bluntness--I should have scorned her.

TANNER. Very properly. And did she respond to your love?

MENDOZA. Should I be here if she did? She objected to marry a

TANNER. On religious grounds?

MENDOZA. No: she was a freethinker. She said that every Jew
considers in his heart that English people are dirty in their

TANNER. [surprised] Dirty!

MENDOZA. It showed her extraordinary knowledge of the world; for
it is undoubtedly true. Our elaborate sanitary code makes us
unduly contemptuous of the Gentile.

TANNER. Did you ever hear that, Henry?

STRAKER. I've heard my sister say so. She was cook in a Jewish
family once.

MENDOZA. I could not deny it; neither could I eradicate the
impression it made on her mind. I could have got round any other
objection; but no woman can stand a suspicion of indelicacy as to
her person. My entreaties were in vain: she always retorted that
she wasn't good enough for me, and recommended me to marry an
accursed barmaid named Rebecca Lazarus, whom I loathed. I talked
of suicide: she offered me a packet of beetle poison to do it
with. I hinted at murder: she went into hysterics; and as I am a
living man I went to America so that she might sleep without
dreaming that I was stealing upstairs to cut her throat. In
America I went out west and fell in with a man who was wanted by
the police for holding up trains. It was he who had the idea of
holding up motors cars--in the South of Europe: a welcome idea to
a desperate and disappointed man. He gave me some valuable
introductions to capitalists of the right sort. I formed a
syndicate; and the present enterprise is the result. I became
leader, as the Jew always becomes leader, by his brains and
imagination. But with all my pride of race I would give
everything I possess to be an Englishman. I am like a boy: I cut
her name on the trees and her initials on the sod. When I am
alone I lie down and tear my wretched hair and cry Louisa--

STRAKER. [startled] Louisa!

MENDOZA. It is her name--Louisa--Louisa Straker--

TANNER. Straker!

STRAKER. [scrambling up on his knees most indignantly] Look here:
Louisa Straker is my sister, see? Wot do you mean by gassin about
her like this? Wot she got to do with you?

MENDOZA. A dramatic coincidence! You are Enry, her favorite

STRAKER. Oo are you callin Enry? What call have you to take a
liberty with my name or with hers? For two pins I'd punch your
fat ed, so I would.

MENDOZA. [with grandiose calm] If I let you do it, will you
promise to brag of it afterwards to her? She will be reminded of
her Mendoza: that is all I desire.

TANNER. This is genuine devotion, Henry. You should respect it.

STRAKER. [fiercely] Funk, more likely.

MENDOZA. [springing to his feet] Funk! Young man: I come of a
famous family of fighters; and as your sister well knows, you
would have as much chance against me as a perambulator against
your motor car.

STRAKER. [secretly daunted, but rising from his knees with an air
of reckless pugnacity] I ain't afraid of you. With your Louisa!
Louisa! Miss Straker is good enough for you, I should think.

MENDOZA. I wish you could persuade her to think so.

STRAKER. [exasperated] Here--

TANNER. [rising quickly and interposing] Oh come, Henry: even if
you could fight the President you can't fight the whole League of
the Sierra. Sit down again and be friendly. A cat may look at a
king; and even a President of brigands may look at your sister.
All this family pride is really very old fashioned.

STRAKER. [subdued, but grumbling] Let him look at her. But wot
does he mean by makin out that she ever looked at im?
[Reluctantly resuming his couch on the turf] Ear him talk, one ud
think she was keepin company with him. [He turns his back on them
and composes himself to sleep].

MENDOZA. [to Tanner, becoming more confidential as he finds
himself virtually alone with a sympathetic listener in the still
starlight of the mountains; for all the rest are asleep by this
time] It was just so with her, sir. Her intellect reached forward
into the twentieth century: her social prejudices and family
affections reached back into the dark ages. Ah, sir, how the
words of Shakespear seem to fit every crisis in our emotions!

      I loved Louisa: 40,000 brothers
      Could not with all their quantity of love
      Make up my sum.

And so on. I forget the rest. Call it madness if you will--
infatuation. I am an able man, a strong man: in ten years I
should have owned a first-class hotel. I met her; and you see! I
am a brigand, an outcast. Even Shakespear cannot do justice to
what I feel for Louisa. Let me read you some lines that I have
written about her myself. However slight their literary merit may
be, they express what I feel better than any casual words can.
[He produces a packet of hotel bills scrawled with manuscript,
and kneels at the fire to decipher them, poking it with a stick
to make it glow].

TANNER. [clapping him rudely on the shoulder] Put them in the
fire, President.

MENDOZA. [startled] Eh?

TANNER. You are sacrificing your career to a monomania.

MENDOZA. I know it.

TANNER. No you don't. No man would commit such a crime against
himself if he really knew what he was doing. How can you look
round at these august hills, look up at this divine sky, taste
this finely tempered air, and then talk like a literary hack on a
second floor in Bloomsbury?

MENDOZA. [shaking his head] The Sierra is no better than
Bloomsbury when once the novelty has worn off. Besides, these
mountains make you dream of women--of women with magnificent

TANNER. Of Louisa, in short. They will not make me dream of
women, my friend: I am heartwhole.

MENDOZA. Do not boast until morning, sir. This is a strange
country for dreams.

TANNER. Well, we shall see. Goodnight. [He lies down and composes
himself to sleep].

Mendoza, with a sigh, follows his example; and for a few moments
there is peace in the Sierra. Then Mendoza sits up suddenly and
says pleadingly to Tanner--

MENDOZA. Just allow me to read a few lines before you go to
sleep. I should really like your opinion of them.

TANNER. [drowsily] Go on. I am listening.

MENDOZA.  I saw thee first in Whitsun week
          Louisa, Louisa--

TANNER. [roaring himself] My dear President, Louisa is a
very pretty name; but it really doesn't rhyme well to Whitsun

MENDOZA. Of course not. Louisa is not the rhyme, but the refrain.

TANNER. [subsiding] Ah, the refrain. I beg your pardon. Go on.

MENDOZA. Perhaps you do not care for that one: I think you will
like this better. [He recites, in rich soft tones, and to slow

          Louisa, I love thee.
          I love thee, Louisa.
          Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee.
          One name and one phrase make my music,
          Louisa. Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee.

          Mendoza thy lover,
          Thy lover, Mendoza,
          Mendoza adoringly lives for Louisa.
          There's nothing but that in the world for Mendoza.
          Louisa, Louisa, Mendoza adores thee.

[Affected] There is no merit in producing beautiful lines upon
such a name. Louisa is an exquisite name, is it not?

TANNER. [all but asleep, responds with a faint groan].

MENDOZA.  O wert thou, Louisa,
          The wife of Mendoza,
          Mendoza's Louisa, Louisa Mendoza,
          How blest were the life of Louisa's Mendoza!
          How painless his longing of love for Louisa!

That is real poetry--from the heart--from the heart of hearts.
Don't you think it will move her?

No answer.

[Resignedly] Asleep, as usual. Doggrel to all the world; heavenly
music to me! Idiot that I am to wear my heart on my sleeve! [He
composes himself to sleep, murmuring] Louisa, I love thee; I love
thee, Louisa; Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I--

Straker snores; rolls over on his side; and relapses into sleep.
Stillness settles on the Sierra; and the darkness deepens. The
fire has again buried itself in white ash and ceased to glow. The
peaks show unfathomably dark against the starry firmament; but
now the stars dim and vanish; and the sky seems to steal away out
of the universe. Instead of the Sierra there is nothing;
omnipresent nothing. No sky, no peaks, no light, no sound, no
time nor space, utter void. Then somewhere the beginning of a
pallor, and with it a faint throbbing buzz as of a ghostly
violoncello palpitating on the same note endlessly. A couple of
ghostly violins presently take advantage of this bass

(a staff of music is supplied here)

and therewith the pallor reveals a man in the void, an
incorporeal but visible man, seated, absurdly enough, on nothing.
For a moment he raises his head as the music passes him by. Then,
with a heavy sigh, he droops in utter dejection; and the violins,
discouraged, retrace their melody in despair and at last give it
up, extinguished by wailings from uncanny wind instruments,

(more music)

It is all very odd. One recognizes the Mozartian strain;
and on this hint, and by the aid of certain sparkles of violet
light in the pallor, the man's costume explains itself as that of
a Spanish nobleman of the XV-XVI century. Don Juan, of
course; but where? why? how? Besides, in the brief lifting
of his face, now hidden by his hat brim, there was a curious
suggestion of Tanner. A more critical, fastidious, handsome face,
paler and colder, without Tanner's impetuous credulity and
enthusiasm, and without a touch of his modern plutocratic
vulgarity, but still a resemblance, even an identity. The name
too: Don Juan Tenorio, John Tanner. Where on earth---or elsewhere
--have we got to from the XX century and the Sierra?

Another pallor in the void, this time not violet, but a
disagreeable smoky yellow. With it, the whisper of a ghostly
clarionet turning this tune into infinite sadness:

(Here there is another musical staff.)

The yellowish pallor moves: there is an old crone wandering in
the void, bent and toothless; draped, as well as one can guess,
in the coarse brown frock of some religious order. She wanders
and wanders in her slow hopeless way, much as a wasp flies in its
rapid busy way, until she blunders against the thing she seeks:
companionship. With a sob of relief the poor old creature
clutches at the presence of the man and addresses him in her dry
unlovely voice, which can still express pride and resolution as
well as suffering.

THE OLD WOMAN. Excuse me; but I am so lonely; and this place is
so awful.

DON JUAN. A new comer?

THE OLD WOMAN. Yes: I suppose I died this morning. I confessed; I
had extreme unction; I was in bed with my family about me and my
eyes fixed on the cross. Then it grew dark; and when the light
came back it was this light by which I walk seeing nothing. I
have wandered for hours in horrible loneliness.

DON JUAN. [sighing] Ah! you have not yet lost the sense of time.
One soon does, in eternity.

THE OLD WOMAN. Where are we?

DON JUAN. In hell.

THE OLD WOMAN [proudly] Hell! I in hell! How dare you?

DON JUAN. [unimpressed] Why not, Senora?

THE OLD WOMAN. You do not know to whom you are speaking. I am a
lady, and a faithful daughter of the Church.

DON JUAN. I do not doubt it.

THE OLD WOMAN. But how then can I be in hell? Purgatory, perhaps:
I have not been perfect: who has? But hell! oh, you are lying.

DON JUAN. Hell, Senora, I assure you; hell at its best that is,
its most solitary--though perhaps you would prefer company.

THE OLD WOMAN. But I have sincerely repented; I have confessed.

DON JUAN. How much?

THE OLD WOMAN. More sins than I really committed. I loved

DON JUAN. Ah, that is perhaps as bad as confessing too little. At
all events, Senora, whether by oversight or intention, you are
certainly damned, like myself; and there is nothing for it now
but to make the best of it.

THE OLD WOMAN [indignantly] Oh! and I might have been so much
wickeder! All my good deeds wasted! It is unjust.

DON JUAN. No: you were fully and clearly warned. For your bad
deeds, vicarious atonement, mercy without justice. For your good
deeds, justice without mercy. We have many good people here.

THE OLD WOMAN. Were you a good man?

DON JUAN. I was a murderer.

THE OLD WOMAN. A murderer! Oh, how dare they send me to herd with
murderers! I was not as bad as that: I was a good woman. There is
some mistake: where can I have it set right?

DON JUAN. I do not know whether mistakes can be corrected here.
Probably they will not admit a mistake even if they have made

THE OLD WOMAN. But whom can I ask?

DON JUAN. I should ask the Devil, Senora: he understands the ways
of this place, which is more than I ever could.

THE OLD WOMAN. The Devil! I speak to the Devil!

DON JUAN. In hell, Senora, the Devil is the leader of the best

THE OLD WOMAN. I tell you, wretch, I know I am not in hell.

DON JUAN. How do you know?

THE OLD WOMAN. Because I feel no pain.

DON JUAN. Oh, then there is no mistake: you are intentionally

THE OLD WOMAN. Why do you say that?

DON JUAN. Because hell, Senora, is a place for the wicked. The

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