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´╗┐Title: Great Catherine (Whom Glory Still Adores)
Author: Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By George Bernard Shaw

     "In Catherine's reign, whom Glory still adores"


Exception has been taken to the title of this seeming tomfoolery on the
ground that the Catherine it represents is not Great Catherine, but the
Catherine whose gallantries provide some of the lightest pages of modern
history. Great Catherine, it is said, was the Catherine whose diplomacy,
whose campaigns and conquests, whose plans of Liberal reform, whose
correspondence with Grimm and Voltaire enabled her to cut such a
magnificent figure in the eighteenth century. In reply, I can only
confess that Catherine's diplomacy and her conquests do not interest
me. It is clear to me that neither she nor the statesmen with whom she
played this mischievous kind of political chess had any notion of
the real history of their own times, or of the real forces that were
moulding Europe. The French Revolution, which made such short work of
Catherine's Voltairean principles, surprised and scandalized her as much
as it surprised and scandalized any provincial governess in the French

The main difference between her and our modern Liberal Governments was
that whereas she talked and wrote quite intelligently about Liberal
principles before she was frightened into making such talking and
writing a flogging matter, our Liberal ministers take the name of
Liberalism in vain without knowing or caring enough about its meaning
even to talk and scribble about it, and pass their flogging Bills, and
institute their prosecutions for sedition and blasphemy and so forth,
without the faintest suspicion that such proceedings need any apology
from the Liberal point of view.

It was quite easy for Patiomkin to humbug Catherine as to the condition
of Russia by conducting her through sham cities run up for the occasion
by scenic artists; but in the little world of European court intrigue
and dynastic diplomacy which was the only world she knew she was more
than a match for him and for all the rest of her contemporaries. In such
intrigue and diplomacy, however, there was no romance, no scientific
political interest, nothing that a sane mind can now retain even if
it can be persuaded to waste time in reading it up. But Catherine as a
woman with plenty of character and (as we should say) no morals,
still fascinates and amuses us as she fascinated and amused her
contemporaries. They were great sentimental comedians, these Peters,
Elizabeths, and Catherines who played their Tsarships as eccentric
character parts, and produced scene after scene of furious harlequinade
with the monarch as clown, and of tragic relief in the torture chamber
with the monarch as pantomime demon committing real atrocities, not
forgetting the indispensable love interest on an enormous and utterly
indecorous scale. Catherine kept this vast Guignol Theatre open for
nearly half a century, not as a Russian, but as a highly domesticated
German lady whose household routine was not at all so unlike that of
Queen Victoria as might be expected from the difference in their notions
of propriety in sexual relations.

In short, if Byron leaves you with an impression that he said very
little about Catherine, and that little not what was best worth saying,
I beg to correct your impression by assuring you that what Byron said
was all there really is to say that is worth saying. His Catherine is my
Catherine and everybody's Catherine. The young man who gains her favor
is a Spanish nobleman in his version. I have made him an English country
gentleman, who gets out of his rather dangerous scrape, by simplicity,
sincerity, and the courage of these qualities. By this I have given some
offence to the many Britons who see themselves as heroes: what they mean
by heroes being theatrical snobs of superhuman pretensions which, though
quite groundless, are admitted with awe by the rest of the human race.
They say I think an Englishman a fool. When I do, they have themselves
to thank.

I must not, however, pretend that historical portraiture was the motive
of a play that will leave the reader as ignorant of Russian history
as he may be now before he has turned the page. Nor is the sketch of
Catherine complete even idiosyncratically, leaving her politics out of
the question. For example, she wrote bushels of plays. I confess I
have not yet read any of them. The truth is, this play grew out of the
relations which inevitably exist in the theatre between authors and
actors. If the actors have sometimes to use their skill as the author's
puppets rather than in full self-expression, the author has sometimes to
use his skill as the actors' tailor, fitting them with parts written to
display the virtuosity of the performer rather than to solve problems of
life, character, or history. Feats of this kind may tickle an author's
technical vanity; but he is bound on such occasions to admit that the
performer for whom he writes is "the onlie begetter" of his work,
which must be regarded critically as an addition to the debt dramatic
literature owes to the art of acting and its exponents. Those who have
seen Miss Gertrude Kingston play the part of Catherine will have no
difficulty in believing that it was her talent rather than mine that
brought the play into existence. I once recommended Miss Kingston
professionally to play queens. Now in the modern drama there were no
queens for her to play; and as to the older literature of our stage: did
it not provoke the veteran actress in Sir Arthur Pinero's Trelawny of
the Wells to declare that, as parts, queens are not worth a tinker's
oath? Miss Kingston's comment on my suggestion, though more elegantly
worded, was to the same effect; and it ended in my having to make good
my advice by writing Great Catherine. History provided no other queen
capable of standing up to our joint talents.

In composing such bravura pieces, the author limits himself only by the
range of the virtuoso, which by definition far transcends the modesty
of nature. If my Russians seem more Muscovite than any Russian, and
my English people more insular than any Briton, I will not plead, as
I honestly might, that the fiction has yet to be written that can
exaggerate the reality of such subjects; that the apparently outrageous
Patiomkin is but a timidly bowdlerized ghost of the original; and
that Captain Edstaston is no more than a miniature that might hang
appropriately on the walls of nineteen out of twenty English country
houses to this day. An artistic presentment must not condescend to
justify itself by a comparison with crude nature; and I prefer to admit
that in this kind my dramatic personae are, as they should be, of the
stage stagey, challenging the actor to act up to them or beyond them,
if he can. The more heroic the overcharging, the better for the

In dragging the reader thus for a moment behind the scenes, I am
departing from a rule which I have hitherto imposed on myself so rigidly
that I never permit myself, even in a stage direction, to let slip a
word that could bludgeon the imagination of the reader by reminding him
of the boards and the footlights and the sky borders and the rest of
the theatrical scaffolding, for which nevertheless I have to plan as
carefully as if I were the head carpenter as well as the author. But
even at the risk of talking shop, an honest playwright should take at
least one opportunity of acknowledging that his art is not only limited
by the art of the actor, but often stimulated and developed by it. No
sane and skilled author writes plays that present impossibilities to
the actor or to the stage engineer. If, as occasionally happens, he asks
them to do things that they have never done before and cannot conceive
as presentable or possible (as Wagner and Thomas Hardy have done,
for example), it is always found that the difficulties are not really
insuperable, the author having foreseen unsuspected possibilities both
in the actor and in the audience, whose will-to-make-believe can perform
the quaintest miracles. Thus may authors advance the arts of acting and
of staging plays. But the actor also may enlarge the scope of the drama
by displaying powers not previously discovered by the author. If the
best available actors are only Horatios, the authors will have to
leave Hamlet out, and be content with Horatios for heroes. Some of the
difference between Shakespeare's Orlandos and Bassanios and Bertrams and
his Hamlets and Macbeths must have been due not only to his development
as a dramatic poet, but to the development of Burbage as an actor.
Playwrights do not write for ideal actors when their livelihood is at
stake: if they did, they would write parts for heroes with twenty arms
like an Indian god. Indeed the actor often influences the author too
much; for I can remember a time (I am not implying that it is yet wholly
past) when the art of writing a fashionable play had become very
largely the art of writing it "round" the personalities of a group of
fashionable performers of whom Burbage would certainly have said that
their parts needed no acting. Everything has its abuse as well as its

It is also to be considered that great plays live longer than great
actors, though little plays do not live nearly so long as the worst of
their exponents. The consequence is that the great actor, instead of
putting pressure on contemporary authors to supply him with heroic
parts, falls back on the Shakespearean repertory, and takes what he
needs from a dead hand. In the nineteenth century, the careers of Kean,
Macready, Barry Sullivan, and Irving, ought to have produced a group of
heroic plays comparable in intensity to those of Aeschylus, Sophocles,
and Euripides; but nothing of the kind happened: these actors played
the works of dead authors, or, very occasionally, of live poets who
were hardly regular professional playwrights. Sheridan Knowles, Bulwer
Lytton, Wills, and Tennyson produced a few glaringly artificial high
horses for the great actors of their time; but the playwrights proper,
who really kept the theatre going, and were kept going by the theatre,
did not cater for the great actors: they could not afford to compete
with a bard who was not for an age but for all time, and who had,
moreover, the overwhelming attraction for the actor-managers of not
charging author's fees. The result was that the playwrights and the
great actors ceased to think of themselves as having any concern with
one another: Tom Robertson, Ibsen, Pinero, and Barrie might as well have
belonged to a different solar system as far as Irving was concerned; and
the same was true of their respective predecessors.

Thus was established an evil tradition; but I at least can plead that
it does not always hold good. If Forbes Robertson had not been there to
play Caesar, I should not have written Caesar and Cleopatra. If Ellen
Terry had never been born, Captain Brassbound's Conversion would never
have been effected. The Devil's Disciple, with which I won my cordon
bleu in America as a potboiler, would have had a different sort of hero
if Richard Mansfield had been a different sort of actor, though the
actual commission to write it came from an English actor, William
Terriss, who was assassinated before he recovered from the dismay into
which the result of his rash proposal threw him. For it must be said
that the actor or actress who inspires or commissions a play as often
as not regards it as a Frankenstein's monster, and will have none of it.
That does not make him or her any the less parental in the fecundity of
the playwright.

To an author who has any feeling of his business there is a keen and
whimsical joy in divining and revealing a side of an actor's genius
overlooked before, and unsuspected even by the actor himself. When I
snatched Mr Louis Calvert from Shakespeare, and made him wear a frock
coat and silk hat on the stage for perhaps the first time in his life, I
do not think he expected in the least that his performance would enable
me to boast of his Tom Broadbent as a genuine stage classic. Mrs
Patrick Campbell was famous before I wrote for her, but not for playing
illiterate cockney flower-maidens. And in the case which is provoking me
to all these impertinences, I am quite sure that Miss Gertrude
Kingston, who first made her reputation as an impersonator of the most
delightfully feather-headed and inconsequent ingenues, thought me more
than usually mad when I persuaded her to play the Helen of Euripides,
and then launched her on a queenly career as Catherine of Russia.

It is not the whole truth that if we take care of the actors the plays
will take care of themselves; nor is it any truer that if we take care
of the plays the actors will take care of themselves. There is both give
and take in the business. I have seen plays written for actors that made
me exclaim, "How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds makes deeds ill
done!" But Burbage may have flourished the prompt copy of Hamlet under
Shakespeare's nose at the tenth rehearsal and cried, "How oft the sight
of means to do great deeds makes playwrights great!" I say the tenth
because I am convinced that at the first he denounced his part as a
rotten one; thought the ghost's speech ridiculously long; and wanted to
play the king. Anyhow, whether he had the wit to utter it or not, the
boast would have been a valid one. The best conclusion is that every
actor should say, "If I create the hero in myself, God will send an
author to write his part." For in the long run the actors will get the
authors, and the authors the actors, they deserve.

Great Catherine was performed for the first time at the Vaudeville
Theatre in London on the 18th November 1913, with Gertrude Kingston as
Catherine, Miriam Lewes as Yarinka, Dorothy Massingham as Claire, Norman
McKinnell as Patiomkin, Edmond Breon as Edstaston, Annie Hill as the
Princess Dashkoff, and Eugene Mayeur and F. Cooke Beresford as Naryshkin
and the Sergeant.



1776. Patiomkin in his bureau in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburgh.
Huge palatial apartment: style, Russia in the eighteenth century
imitating the Versailles du Roi Soleil. Extravagant luxury. Also dirt
and disorder.

Patiomkin, gigantic in stature and build, his face marred by the loss
of one eye and a marked squint in the other, sits at the end of a
table littered with papers and the remains of three or four successive
breakfasts. He has supplies of coffee and brandy at hand sufficient for
a party of ten. His coat, encrusted with diamonds, is on the floor. It
has fallen off a chair placed near the other end of the table for the
convenience of visitors. His court sword, with its attachments, is on
the chair. His three-cornered hat, also bejewelled, is on the table.
He himself is half dressed in an unfastened shirt and an immense
dressing-gown, once gorgeous, now food-splashed and dirty, as it serves
him for towel, handkerchief, duster, and every other use to which a
textile fabric can be put by a slovenly man. It does not conceal his
huge hairy chest, nor his half-buttoned knee breeches, nor his legs.
These are partly clad in silk stockings, which he occasionally hitches
up to his knees, and presently shakes down to his shins, by his restless
movement. His feet are thrust into enormous slippers, worth, with their
crust of jewels, several thousand roubles apiece.

Superficially Patiomkin is a violent, brutal barbarian, an upstart
despot of the most intolerable and dangerous type, ugly, lazy, and
disgusting in his personal habits. Yet ambassadors report him the ablest
man in Russia, and the one who can do most with the still abler Empress
Catherine II, who is not a Russian but a German, by no means barbarous
or intemperate in her personal habits. She not only disputes with
Frederick the Great the reputation of being the cleverest monarch in
Europe, but may even put in a very plausible claim to be the cleverest
and most attractive individual alive. Now she not only tolerates
Patiomkin long after she has got over her first romantic attachment to
him, but esteems him highly as a counsellor and a good friend. His love
letters are among the best on record. He has a wild sense of humor,
which enables him to laugh at himself as well as at everybody else. In
the eyes of the English visitor now about to be admitted to his presence
he may be an outrageous ruffian. In fact he actually is an outrageous
ruffian, in no matter whose eyes; but the visitor will find out, as
everyone else sooner or later fends out, that he is a man to be reckoned
with even by those who are not intimidated by his temper, bodily
strength, and exalted rank.

A pretty young lady, Yarinka, his favorite niece, is lounging on an
ottoman between his end of the table and the door, very sulky and
dissatisfied, perhaps because he is preoccupied with his papers and his
brandy bottle, and she can see nothing of him but his broad back.

There is a screen behind the ottoman.

An old soldier, a Cossack sergeant, enters.

THE SERGEANT [softly to the lady, holding the door handle]. Little
darling honey, is his Highness the prince very busy?

VARINKA. His Highness the prince is very busy. He is singing out of
tune; he is biting his nails; he is scratching his head; he is hitching
up his untidy stockings; he is making himself disgusting and odious to
everybody; and he is pretending to read state papers that he does
not understand because he is too lazy and selfish to talk and be

PATIOMKIN [growls; then wipes his nose with his dressing-gown]!!

VARINKA. Pig. Ugh! [She curls herself up with a shiver of disgust and
retires from the conversation.]

THE SERGEANT [stealing across to the coat, and picking it up to replace
it on the back of the chair]. Little Father, the English captain,
so highly recommended to you by old Fritz of Prussia, by the English
ambassador, and by Monsieur Voltaire (whom [crossing himself] may God in
his infinite mercy damn eternally!), is in the antechamber and desires

PATIOMKIN [deliberately]. To hell with the English captain; and to hell
with old Fritz of Prussia; and to hell with the English ambassador; and
to hell with Monsieur Voltaire; and to hell with you too!

THE SERGEANT. Have mercy on me, Little Father. Your head is bad this
morning. You drink too much French brandy and too little good Russian

PATIOMKIN [with sudden fury]. Why are visitors of consequence announced
by a sergeant? [Springing at him and seizing him by the throat.] What
do you mean by this, you hound? Do you want five thousand blows of the
stick? Where is General Volkonsky?

THE SERGEANT [on his knees]. Little Father, you kicked his Highness

PATIOMKIN [flinging him dawn and kicking him]. You lie, you dog. You

THE SERGEANT. Little Father, life is hard for the poor. If you say it is
a lie, it is a lie. He FELL downstairs. I picked him up; and he kicked
me. They all kick me when you kick them. God knows that is not just,
Little Father!

PATIOMKIN [laughs ogreishly; then returns to his place at the table,

VARINKA. Savage! Boot! It is a disgrace. No wonder the French sneer at
us as barbarians.

THE SERGEANT [who has crept round the table to the screen, and
insinuated himself between Patiomkin's back and Varinka]. Do you think
the Prince will see the captain, little darling?

PATIOMKIN. He will not see any captain. Go to the devil!

THE SERGEANT. Be merciful, Little Father. God knows it is your duty to
see him! [To Varinka.] Intercede for him and for me, beautiful little
darling. He has given me a rouble.

PATIOMKIN. Oh, send him in, send him in; and stop pestering me. Am I
never to have a moment's peace?

The Sergeant salutes joyfully and hurries out, divining that Patiomkin
has intended to see the English captain all along, and has played this
comedy of fury and exhausted impatience to conceal his interest in the

VARINKA. Have you no shame? You refuse to see the most exalted persons.
You kick princes and generals downstairs. And then you see an English
captain merely because he has given a rouble to that common soldier. It
is scandalous.

PATIOMKIN. Darling beloved, I am drunk; but I know what I am doing. I
wish to stand well with the English.

VARINKA. And you think you will impress an Englishman by receiving him
as you are now, half drunk?

PATIOMKIN [gravely]. It is true: the English despise men who cannot
drink. I must make myself wholly drunk [he takes a huge draught of


The Sergeant returns ushering a handsome strongly built young English
officer in the uniform of a Light Dragoon. He is evidently on fairly
good terms with himself, and very sure of his social position. He
crosses the room to the end of the table opposite Patiomkin's, and
awaits the civilities of that statesman with confidence. The Sergeant
remains prudently at the door.

THE SERGEANT [paternally]. Little Father, this is the English captain,
so well recommended to her sacred Majesty the Empress. God knows, he
needs your countenance and protec-- [he vanishes precipitately,
seeing that Patiomkin is about to throw a bottle at him. The Captain
contemplates these preliminaries with astonishment, and with some
displeasure, which is not allayed when, Patiomkin, hardly condescending
to look at his visitor, of whom he nevertheless takes stock with the
corner of his one eye, says gruffly]. Well?

EDSTASTON. My name is Edstaston: Captain Edstaston of the Light
Dragoons. I have the honor to present to your Highness this letter from
the British ambassador, which will give you all necessary particulars.
[He hands Patiomkin the letter.]

PATIOMKIN [tearing it open and glancing at it for about a second]. What
do you want?

EDSTASTON. The letter will explain to your Highness who I am.

PATIOMKIN. I don't want to know who you are. What do you want?

EDSTASTON. An audience of the Empress. [Patiomkin contemptuously throws
the letter aside. Edstaston adds hotly.] Also some civility, if you

PATIOMKIN [with derision]. Ho!

VARINKA. My uncle is receiving you with unusual civility, Captain. He
has just kicked a general downstairs.

EDSTASTON. A Russian general, madam?

VARINKA. Of course.

EDSTASTON. I must allow myself to say, madam, that your uncle had better
not attempt to kick an English officer downstairs.

PATIOMKIN. You want me to kick you upstairs, eh? You want an audience of
the Empress.

EDSTASTON. I have said nothing about kicking, sir. If it comes to that,
my boots shall speak for me. Her Majesty has signified a desire to have
news of the rebellion in America. I have served against the rebels; and
I am instructed to place myself at the disposal of her Majesty, and to
describe the events of the war to her as an eye-witness, in a discreet
and agreeable manner.

PATIOMKIN. Psha! I know. You think if she once sets eyes on your face
and your uniform your fortune is made. You think that if she could stand
a man like me, with only one eye, and a cross eye at that, she must fall
down at your feet at first sight, eh?

EDSTASTON [shocked and indignant]. I think nothing of the sort; and I'll
trouble you not to repeat it. If I were a Russian subject and you made
such a boast about my queen, I'd strike you across the face with my
sword. [Patiomkin, with a yell of fury, rushes at him.] Hands off, you
swine! [As Patiomkin, towering over him, attempts to seize him by the
throat, Edstaston, who is a bit of a wrestler, adroitly backheels him.
He falls, amazed, on his back.]

VARINKA [rushing out]. Help! Call the guard! The Englishman is murdering
my uncle! Help! Help!

The guard and the Sergeant rush in. Edstaston draws a pair of small
pistols from his boots, and points one at the Sergeant and the other at
Patiomkin, who is sitting on the floor, somewhat sobered. The soldiers
stand irresolute.

EDSTASTON. Stand off. [To Patiomkin.] Order them off, if you don't want
a bullet through your silly head.

THE SERGEANT. Little Father, tell us what to do. Our lives are yours;
but God knows you are not fit to die.

PATIOMKIN [absurdly self-possessed]. Get out.

THE SERGEANT. Little Father--

PATIOMKIN [roaring]. Get out. Get out, all of you. [They withdraw, much
relieved at their escape from the pistol. Patiomkin attempts to rise,
and rolls over.] Here! help me up, will you? Don't you see that I'm
drunk and can't get up?

EDSTASTON [suspiciously]. You want to get hold of me.

PATIOMKIN [squatting resignedly against the chair on which his clothes
hang]. Very well, then: I shall stay where I am, because I'm drunk and
you're afraid of me.

EDSTASTON. I'm not afraid of you, damn you!

PATIOMKIN [ecstatically]. Darling, your lips are the gates of truth. Now
listen to me. [He marks off the items of his statement with ridiculous
stiff gestures of his head and arms, imitating a puppet.] You are
Captain Whatshisname; and your uncle is the Earl of Whatdyecallum; and
your father is Bishop of Thingummybob; and you are a young man of the
highest spr--promise (I told you I was drunk), educated at Cambridge,
and got your step as captain in the field at the GLORIOUS battle of
Bunker's Hill. Invalided home from America at the request of Aunt Fanny,
Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. All right, eh?

EDSTASTON. How do you know all this?

PATIOMKIN [crowing fantastically]. In er lerrer, darling, darling,
darling, darling. Lerrer you showed me.

EDSTASTON. But you didn't read it.

PATIOMKIN [flapping his fingers at him grotesquely]. Only
one eye, darling. Cross eye. Sees everything. Read lerrer
inceince--istastaneously. Kindly give me vinegar borle. Green borle.
On'y to sober me. Too drunk to speak porply. If you would be so kind,
darling. Green borle. [Edstaston, still suspicious, shakes his head and
keeps his pistols ready.] Reach it myself. [He reaches behind him up
to the table, and snatches at the green bottle, from which he takes a
copious draught. Its effect is appalling. His wry faces and agonized
belchings are so heartrending that they almost upset Edstaston. When the
victim at last staggers to his feet, he is a pale fragile nobleman,
aged and quite sober, extremely dignified in manner and address, though
shaken by his recent convulsions.] Young man, it is not better to be
drunk than sober; but it is happier. Goodness is not happiness. That is
an epigram. But I have overdone this. I am too sober to be good company.
Let me redress the balance. [He takes a generous draught of brandy, and
recovers his geniality.] Aha! That's better. And now listen, darling.
You must not come to Court with pistols in your boots.

EDSTASTON. I have found them useful.

PATIOMKIN. Nonsense. I'm your friend. You mistook my intention because
I was drunk. Now that I am sober--in moderation--I will prove that I
am your friend. Have some diamonds. [Roaring.] Hullo there! Dogs, pigs:

The Sergeant comes in.

THE SERGEANT. God be praised, Little Father: you are still spared to us.

PATIOMKIN. Tell them to bring some diamonds. Plenty of diamonds. And
rubies. Get out. [He aims a kick at the Sergeant, who flees.] Put up
your pistols, darling. I'll give you a pair with gold handgrips. I am
your friend.

EDSTASTON [replacing the pistols in his boots rather unwillingly]. Your
Highness understands that if I am missing, or if anything happens to me,
there will be trouble.

PATIOMKIN [enthusiastically]. Call me darling.

EDSTASTON. It is not the English custom.

PATIOMKIN. You have no hearts, you English! [Slapping his right breast.]
Heart! Heart!

EDSTASTON. Pardon, your Highness: your heart is on the other side.

PATIOMKIN [surprised and impressed]. Is it? You are learned! You are
a doctor! You English are wonderful! We are barbarians, drunken pigs.
Catherine does not know it; but we are. Catherine's a German. But I have
given her a Russian heart [he is about to slap himself again.]

EDSTASTON [delicately]. The other side, your Highness.

PATIOMKIN [maudlin]. Darling, a true Russian has a heart on both sides.

The Sergeant enters carrying a goblet filled with precious stones.

PATIOMKIN. Get out. [He snatches the goblet and kicks the Sergeant out,
not maliciously but from habit, indeed not noticing that he does it.]
Darling, have some diamonds. Have a fistful. [He takes up a handful and
lets them slip back through his fingers into the goblet, which he then
offers to Edstaston.]

EDSTASTON. Thank you, I don't take presents.

PATIOMKIN [amazed]. You refuse!

EDSTASTON. I thank your Highness; but it is not the custom for English
gentlemen to take presents of that kind.

PATIOMKIN. Are you really an Englishman?


PATIOMKIN. You are the first Englishman I ever saw refuse anything
he could get. [He puts the goblet on the table; then turns again to
Edstaston.] Listen, darling. You are a wrestler: a splendid wrestler.
You threw me on my back like magic, though I could lift you with one
hand. Darling, you are a giant, a paladin.

EDSTASTON [complacently]. We wrestle rather well in my part of England.

PATIOMKIN. I have a Turk who is a wrestler: a prisoner of war. You shall
wrestle with him for me. I'll stake a million roubles on you.

EDSTASTON [incensed]. Damn you! do you take me for a prize-fighter? How
dare you make me such a proposal?

PATIOMKIN [with wounded feeling]. Darling, there is no pleasing you.
Don't you like me?

EDSTASTON [mollified]. Well, in a sort of way I do; though I don't know
why I should. But my instructions are that I am to see the Empress;

PATIOMKIN. Darling, you shall see the Empress. A glorious woman, the
greatest woman in the world. But lemme give you piece 'vice--pah! still
drunk. They water my vinegar. [He shakes himself; clears his throat;
and resumes soberly.] If Catherine takes a fancy to you, you may ask for
roubles, diamonds, palaces, titles, orders, anything! and you may aspire
to everything: field-marshal, admiral, minister, what you please--except

EDSTASTON. I tell you I don't want to ask for anything. Do you suppose I
am an adventurer and a beggar?

PATIOMKIN [plaintively]. Why not, darling? I was an adventurer. I was a


PATIOMKIN. Well: what's wrong with me?

EDSTASTON. You are a Russian. That's different.

PATIOMKIN [effusively]. Darling, I am a man; and you are a man; and
Catherine is a woman. Woman reduces us all to the common denominator.
[Chuckling.] Again an epigram! [Gravely.] You understand it, I hope.
Have you had a college education, darling? I have.

EDSTASTON. Certainly. I am a Bachelor of Arts.

PATIOMKIN. It is enough that you are a bachelor, darling: Catherine will
supply the arts. Aha! Another epigram! I am in the vein today.

EDSTASTON [embarrassed and a little offended]. I must ask your Highness
to change the subject. As a visitor in Russia, I am the guest of the
Empress; and I must tell you plainly that I have neither the right nor
the disposition to speak lightly of her Majesty.

PATIOMKIN. You have conscientious scruples?

EDSTASTON. I have the scruples of a gentleman.

PATIOMKIN. In Russia a gentleman has no scruples. In Russia we face

EDSTASTON. In England, sir, a gentleman never faces any facts if they
are unpleasant facts.

PATIOMKIN. In real life, darling, all facts are unpleasant. [Greatly
pleased with himself.] Another epigram! Where is my accursed chancellor?
these gems should be written down and recorded for posterity. [He rushes
to the table: sits down: and snatches up a pen. Then, recollecting
himself.] But I have not asked you to sit down. [He rises and goes to
the other chair.] I am a savage: a barbarian. [He throws the shirt and
coat over the table on to the floor and puts his sword on the table.] Be
seated, Captain.

EDSTASTON Thank you.

They bow to one another ceremoniously. Patiomkin's tendency to grotesque
exaggeration costs him his balance; he nearly falls over Edstaston, who
rescues him and takes the proffered chair.

PATIOMKIN [resuming his seat]. By the way, what was the piece of advice
I was going to give you?

EDSTASTON. As you did not give it, I don't know. Allow me to add that I
have not asked for your advice.

PATIOMKIN. I give it to you unasked, delightful Englishman. I remember
it now. It was this. Don't try to become Tsar of Russia.

EDSTASTON [in astonishment]. I haven't the slightest intention--

PATIOMKIN. Not now; but you will have: take my words for it. It will
strike you as a splendid idea to have conscientious scruples--to desire
the blessing of the Church on your union with Catherine.

EDSTASTON [racing in utter amazement]. My union with Catherine! You're

PATIOMKIN [unmoved]. The day you hint at such a thing will be the day of
your downfall. Besides, it is not lucky to be Catherine's husband. You
know what happened to Peter?

EDSTASTON [shortly; sitting down again]. I do not wish to discuss it.

PATIOMKIN. You think she murdered him?

EDSTASTON. I know that people have said so.

PATIOMKIN [thunderously; springing to his feet]. It is a lie: Orloff
murdered him. [Subsiding a little.] He also knocked my eye out; but
[sitting down placidly] I succeeded him for all that. And [patting
Edstaston's hand very affectionately] I'm sorry to say, darling, that if
you become Tsar, I shall murder you.

EDSTASTON [ironically returning the caress]. Thank you. The occasion
will not arise. [Rising.] I have the honor to wish your Highness good

PATIOMKIN [jumping up and stopping him on his way to the door]. Tut tut!
I'm going to take you to the Empress now, this very instant.

EDSTASTON. In these boots? Impossible! I must change.

PATIOMKIN. Nonsense! You shall come just as you are. You shall show her
your calves later on.

EDSTASTON. But it will take me only half an hour to--

PATIOMKIN. In half an hour it will be too late for the petit lever.
Come along. Damn it, man, I must oblige the British ambassador, and the
French ambassador, and old Fritz, and Monsieur Voltaire and the rest of
them. [He shouts rudely to the door.] Varinka! [To Edstaston, with tears
in his voice.] Varinka shall persuade you: nobody can refuse Varinka
anything. My niece. A treasure, I assure you. Beautiful! devoted!
fascinating! [Shouting again.] Varinka, where the devil are you?

VARINKA [returning]. I'll not be shouted for. You have the voice of a
bear, and the manners of a tinker.

PATIOMKIN. Tsh-sh-sh. Little angel Mother: you must behave yourself
before the English captain. [He takes off his dressing-gown and throws
it over the papers and the breakfasts: picks up his coat: and disappears
behind the screen to complete his toilette.]

EDSTASTON. Madam! [He bows.]

VARINKA [courtseying]. Monsieur le Capitaine!

EDSTASTON. I must apologize for the disturbance I made, madam.

PATIOMKIN [behind the screen]. You must not call her madam. You must
call her Little Mother, and beautiful darling.

EDSTASTON. My respect for the lady will not permit it.

VARINKA. Respect! How can you respect the niece of a savage?

EDSTASTON [deprecatingly]. Oh, madam!

VARINKA. Heaven is my witness, Little English Father, we need someone
who is not afraid of him. He is so strong! I hope you will throw him
down on the floor many, many, many times.

PATIOMKIN [behind the screen]. Varinka!


PATIOMKIN. Go and look through the keyhole of the Imperial bed-chamber;
and bring me word whether the Empress is awake yet.

VARINKA. Fi donc! I do not look through keyholes.

PATIOMKIN [emerging, having arranged his shirt and put on his diamonded
coat]. You have been badly brought up, little darling. Would any lady or
gentleman walk unannounced into a room without first looking through the
keyhole? [Taking his sword from the table and putting it on.] The great
thing in life is to be simple; and the perfectly simple thing is to look
through keyholes. Another epigram: the fifth this morning! Where is my
fool of a chancellor? Where is Popof?

EDSTASTON [choking with suppressed laughter]!!!!

PATIOMKIN [gratified]. Darling, you appreciate my epigram.

EDSTASTON. Excuse me. Pop off! Ha! ha! I can't help laughing: What's his
real name, by the way, in case I meet him?

VARINKA [surprised]. His real name? Popof, of course. Why do you laugh,
Little Father?

EDSTASTON. How can anyone with a sense of humor help laughing? Pop off!
[He is convulsed.]

VARINKA [looking at her uncle, taps her forehead significantly]!!

PATIOMKIN [aside to Varinka]. No: only English. He will amuse Catherine.
[To Edstaston.] Come, you shall tell the joke to the Empress: she is by
way of being a humorist [he takes him by the arm, and leads him towards
the door].

EDSTASTON [resisting]. No, really. I am not fit--

PATIOMKIN. Persuade him, Little angel Mother.

VARINKA [taking his other arm]. Yes, yes, yes. Little English Father:
God knows it is your duty to be brave and wait on the Empress. Come.

EDSTASTON. No. I had rather--

PATIOMKIN [hauling him along]. Come.

VARINKA [pulling him and coaxing him]. Come, little love: you can't
refuse me.

EDSTASTON. But how can I?

PATIOMKIN. Why not? She won't eat you.

VARINKA. She will; but you must come.

EDSTASTON. I assure you--it is quite out of the question--my clothes--

VARINKA. You look perfect.

PATIOMKIN. Come along, darling.

EDSTASTON [struggling]. Impossible--

VARINKA. Come, come, come.

EDSTASTON. No. Believe me--I don't wish--I--

VARINKA. Carry him, uncle.

PATIOMKIN [lifting him in his arms like a father carrying a little boy].
Yes: I'll carry you.

EDSTASTON. Dash it all, this is ridiculous!

VARINKA [seizing his ankles and dancing as he is carried out]. You must
come. If you kick you will blacken my eyes.

PATIOMKIN. Come, baby, come.

By this time they have made their way through the door and are out of


The Empress's petit lever. The central doors are closed. Those who
enter through them find on their left, on a dais of two broad steps, a
magnificent curtained bed. Beyond it a door in the panelling leads to
the Empress's cabinet. Near the foot of the bed, in the middle of
the room, stands a gilt chair, with the Imperial arms carved and the
Imperial monogram embroidered.

The Court is in attendance, standing in two melancholy rows down the
side of the room opposite to the bed, solemn, bored, waiting for the
Empress to awaken. The Princess Dashkoff, with two ladies, stands
a little in front of the line of courtiers, by the Imperial chair.
Silence, broken only by the yawns and whispers of the courtiers.
Naryshkin, the Chamberlain, stands by the head of the bed.

A loud yawn is heard from behind the curtains.

NARYSHKIN [holding up a warning hand]. Ssh!

The courtiers hastily cease whispering: dress up their lines: and
stiffen. Dead silence. A bell tinkles within the curtains. Naryshkin and
the Princess solemnly draw them and reveal the Empress.

Catherine turns over on her back, and stretches herself.

CATHERINE [yawning]. Heigho--ah--yah--ah--ow--what o'clock is it? [Her
accent is German.]

NARYSHKIN [formally]. Her Imperial Majesty is awake. [The Court falls on
its knees.]

ALL. Good morning to your Majesty.

NARYSHKIN. Half-past ten, Little Mother.

CATHERINE [sitting up abruptly]. Potztausend! [Contemplating the
kneeling courtiers.] Oh, get up, get up. [All rise.] Your etiquette
bores me. I am hardly awake in the morning before it begins. [Yawning
again, and relapsing sleepily against her pillows.] Why do they do it,

NARYSHKIN. God knows it is not for your sake, Little Mother. But you see
if you were not a great queen they would all be nobodies.

CATHERINE [sitting up]. They make me do it to keep up their own little
dignities? So?

NARYSHKIN. Exactly. Also because if they didn't you might have them
flogged, dear Little Mother.

CATHERINE [springing energetically out of bed and seating herself on
the edge of it]. Flogged! I! A Liberal Empress! A philosopher! You are a
barbarian, Naryshkin. [She rises and turns to the courtiers.] And then,
as if I cared! [She turns again to Naryshkin.] You should know by this
time that I am frank and original in character, like an Englishman. [She
walks about restlessly.] No: what maddens me about all this ceremony
is that I am the only person in Russia who gets no fun out of my being
Empress. You all glory in me: you bask in my smiles: you get titles and
honors and favors from me: you are dazzled by my crown and my robes: you
feel splendid when you have been admitted to my presence; and when I
say a gracious word to you, you talk about it to everyone you meet for
a week afterwards. But what do I get out of it? Nothing. [She throws
herself into the chair. Naryshkin deprecates with a gesture; she hurls
an emphatic repetition at him.] Nothing!! I wear a crown until my neck
aches: I stand looking majestic until I am ready to drop: I have to
smile at ugly old ambassadors and frown and turn my back on young and
handsome ones. Nobody gives me anything. When I was only an Archduchess,
the English ambassador used to give me money whenever I wanted it--or
rather whenever he wanted to get anything out of my sacred predecessor
Elizabeth [the Court bows to the ground]; but now that I am Empress
he never gives me a kopek. When I have headaches and colics I envy the
scullerymaids. And you are not a bit grateful to me for all my care of
you, my work, my thought, my fatigue, my sufferings.

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF. God knows, Little Mother, we all implore you
to give your wonderful brain a rest. That is why you get headaches.
Monsieur Voltaire also has headaches. His brain is just like yours.

CATHERINE. Dashkoff, what a liar you are! [Dashkoff curtsies with
impressive dignity.] And you think you are flattering me! Let me tell
you I would not give a rouble to have the brains of all the philosophers
in France. What is our business for today?

NARYSHKIN. The new museum, Little Mother. But the model will not be
ready until tonight.

CATHERINE [rising eagerly]. Yes, the museum. An enlightened capital
should have a museum. [She paces the chamber with a deep sense of the
importance of the museum.] It shall be one of the wonders of the world.
I must have specimens: specimens, specimens, specimens.

NARYSHKIN. You are in high spirits this morning, Little Mother.

CATHERINE [with sudden levity.] I am always in high spirits, even when
people do not bring me my slippers. [She runs to the chair and sits
down, thrusting her feet out.]

The two ladies rush to her feet, each carrying a slipper. Catherine,
about to put her feet into them, is checked by a disturbance in the

PATIOMKIN [carrying Edstaston through the antechamber]. Useless to
struggle. Come along, beautiful baby darling. Come to Little Mother. [He

March him baby, Baby, baby, Lit-tle ba-by bumpkins.

VARINKA [joining in to the same doggerel in canon, a third above]. March
him, baby, etc., etc.

EDSTASTON [trying to make himself heard]. No, no. This is carrying a
joke too far. I must insist. Let me down! Hang it, will you let me
down! Confound it! No, no. Stop playing the fool, will you? We don't
understand this sort of thing in England. I shall be disgraced. Let me

CATHERINE [meanwhile]. What a horrible noise! Naryshkin, see what it is.

Naryshkin goes to the door.

CATHERINE [listening]. That is Prince Patiomkin.

NARYSHKIN [calling from the door]. Little Mother, a stranger.

Catherine plunges into bed again and covers herself up. Patiomkin,
followed by Varinka, carries Edstaston in: dumps him down on the foot
of the bed: and staggers past it to the cabinet door. Varinka joins
the courtiers at the opposite side of the room. Catherine, blazing with
wrath, pushes Edstaston off her bed on to the floor: gets out of bed:
and turns on Patiomkin with so terrible an expression that all kneel
down hastily except Edstaston, who is sprawling on the carpet in angry

CATHERINE. Patiomkin, how dare you? [Looking at Edstaston.] What is

PATIOMKIN [on his knees, tearfully]. I don't know. I am drunk. What is
this, Varinka?

EDSTASTON [scrambling to his feet]. Madam, this drunken ruffian--

PATIOMKIN. Thas true. Drungn ruffian. Took dvantage of my being drunk.
Said: take me to Lil angel Mother. Take me to beaufl Empress. Take me
to the grea'st woman on earth. Thas whas he he said. I took him. I was
wrong. I am not sober.

CATHERINE. Men have grown sober in Siberia for less, Prince.

PATIOMKIN. Serve em right! Sgusting habit. Ask Varinka.

Catherine turns her face from him to the Court. The courtiers see that
she is trying not to laugh, and know by experience that she will not
succeed. They rise, relieved and grinning.

VARINKA. It is true. He drinks like a pig.

PATIOMKIN [plaintively]. No: not like pig. Like prince. Lil Mother made
poor Patiomkin prince. Whas use being prince if I mayn't drink?

CATHERINE [biting her lips]. Go. I am offended.

PATIOMKIN. Don't scold, Lil Mother.

CATHERINE [imperiously]. Go.

PATIOMKIN [rising unsteadily]. Yes: go. Go bye bye. Very sleepy. Berr go
bye bye than go Siberia. Go bye bye in Lil Mother's bed [he pretends to
make an attempt to get into the bed].

CATHERINE [energetically pulling him back]. No, no! Patiomkin! What
are you thinking of? [He falls like a log on the floor, apparently dead

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF. Scandalous! An insult to your Imperial Majesty!

CATHERINE. Dashkoff: you have no sense of humor. [She steps down to the
door level and looks indulgently at Patiomkin. He gurgles brutishly. She
has an impulse of disgust.] Hog. [She kicks him as hard as she can.] Oh!
You have broken my toe. Brute. Beast. Dashkoff is quite right. Do you

PATIOMKIN. If you ask my pi-pinion of Dashkoff, my pipinion is that
Dashkoff is drunk. Scanlous. Poor Patiomkin go bye bye. [He relapses
into drunken slumbers.]

Some of the courtiers move to carry him away.

CATHERINE [stopping them]. Let him lie. Let him sleep it off. If he
goes out it will be to a tavern and low company for the rest of the day.
[Indulgently.] There! [She takes a pillow from the bed and puts it under
his head: then turns to Edstaston: surveys him with perfect dignity: and
asks, in her queenliest manner.] Varinka, who is this gentleman?

VARINKA. A foreign captain: I cannot pronounce his name. I think he is
mad. He came to the Prince and said he must see your Majesty. He can
talk of nothing else. We could not prevent him.

EDSTASTON [overwhelmed by this apparent betrayal]. Oh! Madam: I am
perfectly sane: I am actually an Englishman. I should never have dreamt
of approaching your Majesty without the fullest credentials. I have
letters from the English ambassador, from the Prussian ambassador.
[Naively.] But everybody assured me that Prince Patiomkm is all-powerful
with your Majesty; so I naturally applied to him.

PATIOMKIN [interrupts the conversation by an agonized wheezing groan as
of a donkey beginning to bray]!!!

CATHERINE [like a fishfag]. Schweig, du Hund. [Resuming her impressive
royal manner.] Have you never been taught, sir, how a gentleman should
enter the presence of a sovereign?

EDSTASTON. Yes, Madam; but I did not enter your presence: I was carried.

CATHERINE. But you say you asked the Prince to carry you.

EDSTASTON. Certainly not, Madam. I protested against it with all my
might. I appeal to this lady to confirm me.

VARINKA [pretending to be indignant]. Yes, you protested. But, all the
same, you were very very very anxious to see her Imperial Majesty.
You blushed when the Prince spoke of her. You threatened to strike him
across the face with your sword because you thought he did not speak
enthusiastically enough of her. [To Catherine.] Trust me: he has seen
your Imperial Majesty before.

CATHERINE [to Edstaston]. You have seen us before?

EDSTASTON. At the review, Madam.

VARINKA [triumphantly]. Aha! I knew it. Your Majesty wore the hussar
uniform. He saw how radiant! how splendid! your Majesty looked. Oh! he
has dared to admire your Majesty. Such insolence is not to be endured.

EDSTASTON. All Europe is a party to that insolence, Madam.

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF. All Europe is content to do so at a respectful
distance. It is possible to admire her Majesty's policy and her eminence
in literature and philosophy without performing acrobatic feats in the
Imperial bed.

EDSTASTON. I know nothing about her Majesty's eminence in policy or
philosophy: I don't pretend to understand such things. I speak as a
practical man. And I never knew that foreigners had any policy: I always
thought that policy was Mr. Pitt's business.

CATHERINE [lifting her eyebrows]. So?

VARINKA. What else did you presume to admire her Majesty for, pray?

EDSTASTON [addled]. Well, I--I--I--that is, I--[He stammers himself

CATHERINE [after a pitiless silence]. We are waiting for your answer.

EDSTASTON. But I never said I admired your Majesty. The lady has twisted
my words.

VARINKA. You don't admire her, then?

EDSTASTON. Well, I--naturally--of course, I can't deny that the uniform
was very becoming--perhaps a little unfeminine--still--Dead silence.
Catherine and the Court watch him stonily. He is wretchedly embarrassed.

CATHERINE [with cold majesty]. Well, sir: is that all you have to say?

EDSTASTON. Surely there is no harm in noticing that er--that er--[He
stops again.]

CATHERINE. Noticing that er--? [He gazes at her, speechless, like a
fascinated rabbit. She repeats fiercely.] That er--?

EDSTASTON [startled into speech]. Well, that your Majesty
was--was--[soothingly] Well, let me put it this way: that it was rather
natural for a man to admire your Majesty without being a philosopher.

CATHERINE [suddenly smiling and extending her hand to him to be kissed].

EDSTASTON [kissing it]. Not at all. Your Majesty is very good. I have
been very awkward; but I did not intend it. I am rather stupid, I am

CATHERINE. Stupid! By no means. Courage, Captain: we are pleased. [He
falls on his knee. She takes his cheeks in her hands: turns up his face:
and adds] We are greatly pleased. [She slaps his cheek coquettishly: he
bows almost to his knee.] The petit lever is over. [She turns to go into
the cabinet, and stumbles against the supine Patiomkin.] Ach! [Edstaston
springs to her assistance, seizing Patiomkin's heels and shifting him
out of the Empress's path.] We thank you, Captain.

He bows gallantly and is rewarded by a very gracious smile. Then
Catherine goes into her cabinet, followed by the princess Dashkoff, who
turns at the door to make a deep courtsey to Edstaston.

VARINKA. Happy Little Father! Remember: I did this for you. [She runs
out after the Empress.]

Edstaston, somewhat dazed, crosses the room to the courtiers, and is
received with marked deference, each courtier making him a profound bow
or curtsey before withdrawing through the central doors. He returns
each obeisance with a nervous jerk, and turns away from it, only to find
another courtier bowing at the other side. The process finally reduced
him to distraction, as he bumps into one in the act of bowing to another
and then has to bow his apologies. But at last they are all gone except


PATIOMKIN [jumping up vigorously]. You have done it, darling. Superbly!

EDSTASTON [astonished]. Do you mean to say you are not drunk?

PATIOMKIN. Not dead drunk, darling. Only diplomatically drunk. As a
drunken hog, I have done for you in five minutes what I could not have
done in five months as a sober man. Your fortune is made. She likes you.

EDSTASTON. The devil she does!

PATIOMKIN. Why? Aren't you delighted?

EDSTASTON. Delighted! Gracious heavens, man, I am engaged to be married.

PATIOMKIN. What matter? She is in England, isn't she?

EDSTASTON. No. She has just arrived in St. Petersburg.

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF [returning]. Captain Edstaston, the Empress is
robed, and commands your presence.

EDSTASTON. Say I was gone before you arrived with the message. [He
hurries out. The other three, too taken aback to stop him, stare after
him in the utmost astonishment.]

NARYSHKIN [turning from the door]. She will have him knouted. He is a
dead man.

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF. But what am I to do? I cannot take such an answer
to the Empress.

PATIOMKIN. P-P-P-P-P-P-W-W-W-W-W-rrrrrr [a long puff, turning into a
growl]! [He spits.] I must kick somebody.

NARYSHKIN [flying precipitately through the central doors]. No, no.

THE PRINCESS DASHKOFF [throwing herself recklessly in front of Patiomkin
as he starts in pursuit of the Chamberlain]. Kick me. Disable me. It
will be an excuse for not going back to her. Kick me hard.

PATIOMKIN. Yah! [He flings her on the bed and dashes after Naryshkin.]


In a terrace garden overlooking the Neva. Claire, a robust young English
lady, is leaning on the river wall. She turns expectantly on hearing
the garden gate opened and closed. Edstaston hurries in. With a cry of
delight she throws her arms round his neck.

CLAIRE. Darling!

EDSTASTON [making a wry face]. Don't call me darling.

CLAIRE [amazed and chilled]. Why?

EDSTASTON. I have been called darling all the morning.

CLAIRE [with a flash of jealousy]. By whom?

EDSTASTON. By everybody. By the most unutterable swine. And if we do
not leave this abominable city now: do you hear? now; I shall be called
darling by the Empress.

CLAIRE [with magnificent snobbery]. She would not dare. Did you tell her
you were engaged to me?

EDSTASTON. Of course not.


EDSTASTON. Because I didn't particularly want to have you knouted, and
to be hanged or sent to Siberia myself.

CLAIRE. What on earth do you mean?

EDSTASTON. Well, the long and short of it is--don't think me a coxcomb,
Claire: it is too serious to mince matters--I have seen the Empress;

CLAIRE. Well, you wanted to see her.

EDSTASTON. Yes; but the Empress has seen me.

CLAIRE. She has fallen in love with you!

EDSTASTON. How did you know?

CLAIRE. Dearest: as if anyone could help it.

EDSTASTON. Oh, don't make me feel like a fool. But, though it does sound
conceited to say it, I flatter myself I'm better looking than Patiomkin
and the other hogs she is accustomed to. Anyhow, I daren't risk staying.

CLAIRE. What a nuisance! Mamma will be furious at having to pack, and at
missing the Court ball this evening.

EDSTASTON. I can't help that. We haven't a moment to lose.

CLAIRE. May I tell her she will be knouted if we stay?

EDSTASTON. Do, dearest.

He kisses her and lets her go, expecting her to run into the house.

CLAIRE [pausing thoughtfully]. Is she--is she good-looking when you see
her close?

EDSTASTON. Not a patch on you, dearest.

CLAIRE [jealous]. Then you did see her close?

EDSTASTON. Fairly close.

CLAIRE. Indeed! How close? No: that's silly of me: I will tell mamma.
[She is going out when Naryshkin enters with the Sergeant and a squad of
soldiers.] What do you want here?

The Sergeant goes to Edstaston: plumps down on his knees: and takes
out a magnificent pair of pistols with gold grips. He proffers them to
Edstaston, holding them by the barrels.

NARYSHKIN. Captain Edstaston: his Highness Prince Patiomkin sends you
the pistols he promised you.

THE SERGEANT. Take them, Little Father; and do not forget us poor
soldiers who have brought them to you; for God knows we get but little
to drink.

EDSTASTON [irresolutely]. But I can't take these valuable things. By
Jiminy, though, they're beautiful! Look at them, Claire.

As he is taking the pistols the kneeling Sergeant suddenly drops them;
flings himself forward; and embraces Edstaston's hips to prevent him
from drawing his own pistols from his boots.

THE SERGEANT. Lay hold of him there. Pin his arms. I have his pistols.
[The soldiers seize Edstaston.]

EDSTASTON. Ah, would you, damn you! [He drives his knee into the
Sergeant's epigastrium, and struggles furiously with his captors.]

THE SERGEANT [rolling on the ground, gasping and groaning]. Owgh!
Murder! Holy Nicholas! Owwwgh!

CLAIRE. Help! help! They are killing Charles. Help!

NARYSHKIN [seizing her and clapping his hand over her mouth]. Tie
him neck and crop. Ten thousand blows of the stick if you let him go.
[Claire twists herself loose: turns on him: and cuffs him furiously.]
Yow--ow! Have mercy, Little Mother.

CLAIRE. You wretch! Help! Help! Police! We are being murdered. Help!

The Sergeant, who has risen, comes to Naryshkin's rescue, and grasps
Claire's hands, enabling Naryshkin to gag her again. By this time
Edstaston and his captors are all rolling on the ground together. They
get Edstaston on his back and fasten his wrists together behind his
knees. Next they put a broad strap round his ribs. Finally they pass a
pole through this breast strap and through the waist strap and lift him
by it, helplessly trussed up, to carry him of. Meanwhile he is by no
means suffering in silence.

EDSTASTON [gasping]. You shall hear more of this. Damn you, will
you untie me? I will complain to the ambassador. I will write to the
Gazette. England will blow your trumpery little fleet out of the water
and sweep your tinpot army into Siberia for this. Will you let me
go? Damn you! Curse you! What the devil do you mean by it?
I'll--I'll--I'll-- [he is carried out of hearing].

NARYSHKIN [snatching his hands from Claire's face with a scream, and
shaking his finger frantically]. Agh! [The Sergeant, amazed, lets go her
hands.] She has bitten me, the little vixen.

CLAIRE [spitting and wiping her mouth disgustedly]. How dare you put
your dirty paws on my mouth? Ugh! Psha!

THE SERGEANT. Be merciful, Little angel Mother.

CLAIRE. Do not presume to call me your little angel mother. Where are
the police?

NARYSHKIN. We are the police in St Petersburg, little spitfire.

THE SERGEANT. God knows we have no orders to harm you, Little Mother.
Our duty is done. You are well and strong; but I shall never be the same
man again. He is a mighty and terrible fighter, as stout as a bear.
He has broken my sweetbread with his strong knees. God knows poor folk
should not be set upon such dangerous adversaries!

CLAIRE. Serve you right! Where have they taken Captain Edstaston to?

NARYSHKIN [spitefully]. To the Empress, little beauty. He has insulted
the Empress. He will receive a hundred and one blows of the knout. [He
laughs and goes out, nursing his bitten finger.]

THE SERGEANT. He will feel only the first twenty and he will be
mercifully dead long before the end, little darling.

CLAIRE [sustained by an invincible snobbery]. They dare not touch an
English officer. I will go to the Empress myself: she cannot know who
Captain Edstaston is--who we are.

THE SERGEANT. Do so in the name of the Holy Nicholas, little beauty.

CLAIRE. Don't be impertinent. How can I get admission to the palace?

THE SERGEANT. Everybody goes in and out of the palace, little love.

CLAIRE. But I must get into the Empress's presence. I must speak to her.

THE SERGEANT. You shall, dear Little Mother. You shall give the poor old
Sergeant a rouble; and the blessed Nicholas will make your salvation his

CLAIRE [impetuously]. I will give you [she is about to say fifty
roubles, but checks herself cautiously]--Well: I don't mind giving you
two roubles if I can speak to the Empress.

THE SERGEANT [joyfully]. I praise Heaven for you, Little Mother. Come.
[He leads the way out.] It was the temptation of the devil that led
your young man to bruise my vitals and deprive me of breath. We must be
merciful to one another's faults.


A triangular recess communicating by a heavily curtained arch with the
huge ballroom of the palace. The light is subdued by red shades on the
candles. In the wall adjoining that pierced by the arch is a door. The
only piece of furniture is a very handsome chair on the arch side. In
the ballroom they are dancing a polonaise to the music of a brass band.

Naryshkin enters through the door, followed by the soldiers carrying
Edstaston, still trussed to the pole. Exhausted and dogged, he makes no

NARYSHKIN. Halt. Get that pole clear of the prisoner. [They dump
Edstaston on the floor and detach the pole. Naryshkin stoops over him
and addresses him insultingly.] Well! are you ready to be tortured? This
is the Empress's private torture chamber. Can I do anything to make you
quite comfortable? You have only to mention it.

EDSTASTON. Have you any back teeth?

NARYSHKIN [surprised]. Why?

EDSTASTON. His Majesty King George the Third will send for six of them
when the news of this reaches London; so look out, damn your eyes!

NARYSHKIN [frightened]. Oh, I assure you I am only obeying my orders.
Personally I abhor torture, and would save you if I could. But the
Empress is proud; and what woman would forgive the slight you put upon

EDSTASTON. As I said before: Damn your eyes!

NARYSHKIN [almost in tears]. Well, it isn't my fault. [To the soldiers,
insolently.] You know your orders? You remember what you have to do when
the Empress gives you the word? [The soldiers salute in assent.]

Naryshkin passes through the curtains, admitting a blare of music and
a strip of the brilliant white candlelight from the chandeliers in
the ballroom as he does so. The white light vanishes and the music is
muffled as the curtains fall together behind him. Presently the band
stops abruptly: and Naryshkin comes back through the curtains. He makes
a warning gesture to the soldiers, who stand at attention. Then he
moves the curtain to allow Catherine to enter. She is in full Imperial
regalia, and stops sternly just where she has entered. The soldiers fall
on their knees.

CATHERINE. Obey your orders.

The soldiers seize Edstaston, and throw him roughly at the feet of the

CATHERINE [looking down coldly on him]. Also [the German word], you have
put me to the trouble of sending for you twice. You had better have come
the first time.

EDSTASTON [exsufflicate, and pettishly angry]. I haven't come either
time. I've been carried. I call it infernal impudence.

CATHERINE. Take care what you say.

EDSTASTON. No use. I daresay you look very majestic and very handsome;
but I can't see you; and I am not intimidated. I am an Englishman; and
you can kidnap me; but you can't bully me.

NARYSHKIN. Remember to whom you are speaking.

CATHERINE [violently, furious at his intrusion]. Remember that dogs
should be dumb. [He shrivels.] And do you, Captain, remember that famous
as I am for my clemency, there are limits to the patience even of an

EDSTASTON. How is a man to remember anything when he is trussed up
in this ridiculous fashion? I can hardly breathe. [He makes a futile
struggle to free himself.] Here: don't be unkind, your Majesty: tell
these fellows to unstrap me. You know you really owe me an apology.

CATHERINE. You think you can escape by appealing, like Prince Patiomkin,
to my sense of humor?

EDSTASTON. Sense of humor! Ho! Ha, ha! I like that. Would anybody with
a sense of humor make a guy of a man like this, and then expect him to
take it seriously? I say: do tell them to loosen these straps.

CATHERINE [seating herself]. Why should I, pray?

EDSTASTON. Why! Why! Why, because they're hurting me.

CATHERINE. People sometimes learn through suffering. Manners, for

EDSTASTON. Oh, well, of course, if you're an ill-natured woman, hurting
me on purpose, I have nothing more to say.

CATHERINE. A monarch, sir, has sometimes to employ a necessary, and
salutary severity--

EDSTASTON [Interrupting her petulantly]. Quack! quack! quack!

CATHERINE. Donnerwetter!

EDSTASTON [continuing recklessly]. This isn't severity: it's tomfoolery.
And if you think it's reforming my character or teaching me anything,
you're mistaken. It may be a satisfaction to you; but if it is, all I
can say is that it's not an amiable satisfaction.

CATHERINE [turning suddenly and balefully on Naryshkin]. What are you
grinning at?

NARYSHKIN [falling on his knees in terror]. Be merciful, Little Mother.
My heart is in my mouth.

CATHERINE. Your heart and your mouth will be in two separate parts of
your body if you again forget in whose presence you stand. Go. And take
your men with you. [Naryshkin crawls to the door. The soldiers rise.]
Stop. Roll that [indicating Edstaston] nearer. [The soldiers obey.] Not
so close. Did I ask you for a footstool? [She pushes Edstaston away with
her foot.]

EDSTASTON [with a sudden squeal]. Agh!!! I must really ask your
Majesty not to put the point of your Imperial toe between my ribs. I am

CATHERINE. Indeed? All the more reason for you to treat me with respect,
Captain. [To the others.] Begone. How many times must I give an order
before it is obeyed?

NARYSHKIN. Little Mother: they have brought some instruments of torture.
Will they be needed?

CATHERINE [indignantly]. How dare you name such abominations to a
Liberal Empress? You will always be a savage and a fool, Naryshkin.
These relics of barbarism are buried, thank God, in the grave of Peter
the Great. My methods are more civilized. [She extends her toe towards
Edstaston's ribs.]

EDSTASTON [shrieking hysterically]. Yagh! Ah! [Furiously.] If your
Majesty does that again I will write to the London Gazette.

CATHERINE [to the soldiers]. Leave us. Quick! do you hear? Five thousand
blows of the stick for the soldier who is in the room when I speak
next. [The soldiers rush out.] Naryshkin: are you waiting to be knouted?
[Naryshkin backs out hastily.]

Catherine and Edstaston are now alone. Catherine has in her hand a
sceptre or baton of gold. Wrapped round it is a new pamphlet, in French,
entitled L'Homme aux Quarante Ecus. She calmly unrolls this and begins
to read it at her ease as if she were quite alone. Several seconds
elapse in dead silence. She becomes more and more absorbed in the
pamphlet, and more and more amused by it.

CATHERINE [greatly pleased by a passage, and turning over the leaf].


Silence. Catherine reads on.

CATHERINE. Wie komisch!

EDSTASTON. Ahem! ahem!


CATHERINE [soliloquizing enthusiastically]. What a wonderful author is
Monsieur Voltaire! How lucidly he exposes the folly of this crazy plan
for raising the entire revenue of the country from a single tax on land!
how he withers it with his irony! how he makes you laugh whilst he is
convincing you! how sure one feels that the proposal is killed by his
wit and economic penetration: killed never to be mentioned again among
educated people!

EDSTASTON. For Heaven's sake, Madam, do you intend to leave me tied up
like this while you discuss the blasphemies of that abominable infidel?
Agh!! [She has again applied her toe.] Oh! Oo!

CATHERINE [calmly]. Do I understand you to say that Monsieur Voltaire is
a great philanthropist and a great philosopher as well as the wittiest
man in Europe?

EDSTASTON. Certainly not. I say that his books ought to be burnt by
the common hangman [her toe touches his ribs]. Yagh! Oh don't. I shall
faint. I can't bear it.

CATHERINE. Have you changed your opinion of Monsieur Voltaire?

EDSTASTON. But you can't expect me as a member of the Church of England
[she tickles him] --agh! Ow! Oh Lord! he is anything you like. He is a
philanthropist, a philosopher, a beauty: he ought to have a statue, damn
him! [she tickles him]. No! bless him! save him victorious, happy and
glorious! Oh, let eternal honors crown his name: Voltaire thrice worthy
on the rolls of fame! [Exhausted.] Now will you let me up? And look
here! I can see your ankles when you tickle me: it's not ladylike.

CATHERINE [sticking out her toe and admiring it critically]. Is the
spectacle so disagreeable?

EDSTASTON. It's agreeable enough; only [with intense expression] for
heaven's sake don't touch me in the ribs.

CATHERINE [putting aside the pamphlet]. Captain Edstaston, why did you
refuse to come when I sent for you?

EDSTASTON. Madam, I cannot talk tied up like this.

CATHERINE. Do you still admire me as much as you did this morning?

EDSTASTON. How can I possibly tell when I can't see you? Let me get up
and look. I can't see anything now except my toes and yours.

CATHERINE. Do you still intend to write to the London Gazette about me?

EDSTASTON. Not if you will loosen these straps. Quick: loosen me. I'm

CATHERINE. I don't think you are [tickling him].


CATHERINE. What [she tickles him again].

EDSTASTON [with a shriek]. No: angel, angel!

CATHERINE [tenderly]. Geliebter!

EDSTASTON. I don't know a word of German; but that sounded kind.
[Becoming hysterical.] Little Mother, beautiful little darling angel
mother: don't be cruel: untie me. Oh, I beg and implore you. Don't be
unkind. I shall go mad.

CATHERINE. You are expected to go mad with love when an Empress deigns
to interest herself in you. When an Empress allows you to see her foot
you should kiss it. Captain Edstaston, you are a booby.

EDSTASTON [indignantly]. I am nothing of the kind. I have been mentioned
in dispatches as a highly intelligent officer. And let me warn your
Majesty that I am not so helpless as you think. The English Ambassador
is in that ballroom. A shout from me will bring him to my side; and then
where will your Majesty be?

CATHERINE. I should like to see the English Ambassador or anyone else
pass through that curtain against my orders. It might be a stone wall
ten feet thick. Shout your loudest. Sob. Curse. Scream. Yell [she
tickles him unmercifully].

EDSTASTON [frantically]. Ahowyou!!!! Agh! oh! Stop! Oh Lord! Ya-a-a-ah!
[A tumult in the ballroom responds to his cries].

VOICES FROM THE BALLROOM. Stand back. You cannot pass. Hold her back
there. The Empress's orders. It is out of the question. No, little
darling, not in there. Nobody is allowed in there. You will be sent to
Siberia. Don't let her through there, on your life. Drag her back. You
will be knouted. It is hopeless, Mademoiselle: you must obey orders.
Guard there! Send some men to hold her.

CLAIRE'S VOICE. Let me go. They are torturing Charles in there. I WILL
go. How can you all dance as if nothing was happening? Let me go, I tell
you. Let--me--go. [She dashes through the curtain, no one dares follow

CATHERINE [rising in wrath]. How dare you?

CLAIRE [recklessly]. Oh, dare your grandmother! Where is my Charles?
What are they doing to him?

EDSTASTON [shouting]. Claire, loosen these straps, in Heaven's name.

CLAIRE [seeing him and throwing herself on her knees at his side]. Oh,
how dare they tie you up like that! [To Catherine.] You wicked wretch!
You Russian savage! [She pounces on the straps, and begins unbuckling

CATHERINE [conquering herself with a mighty effort]. Now self-control.
Self-control, Catherine. Philosophy. Europe is looking on. [She forces
herself to sit down.]

EDSTASTON. Steady, dearest: it is the Empress. Call her your Imperial
Majesty. Call her Star of the North, Little Mother, Little Darling:
that's what she likes; but get the straps off.

CLAIRE. Keep quiet, dear: I cannot get them off if you move.

CATHERINE [calmly]. Keep quite still, Captain [she tickles him.]

EDSTASTON. Ow! Agh! Ahowyow!

CLAIRE [stopping dead in the act of unbuckling the straps and turning
sick with jealousy as she grasps the situation]. Was THAT what I thought
was your being tortured?

CATHERINE [urbanely]. That is the favorite torture of Catherine the
Second, Mademoiselle. I think the Captain enjoys it very much.

CLAIRE. Then he can have as much more of it as he wants. I am sorry I
intruded. [She rises to go.]

EDSTASTON [catching her train in his teeth and holding on like a
bull-dog]. Don't go. Don't leave me in this horrible state. Loosen me.
[This is what he is saying: but as he says it with the train in his
mouth it is not very intelligible.]

CLAIRE. Let go. You are undignified and ridiculous enough yourself
without making me ridiculous. [She snatches her train away.]

EDSTASTON. Ow! You've nearly pulled my teeth out: you're worse than the
Star of the North. [To Catherine.] Darling Little Mother: you have a
kind heart, the kindest in Europe. Have pity. Have mercy. I love you.
[Claire bursts into tears.] Release me.

CATHERINE. Well, just to show you how much kinder a Russian savage can
be than an English one (though I am sorry to say I am a German) here
goes! [She stoops to loosen the straps.]

CLAIRE [jealously]. You needn't trouble, thank you. [She pounces on
the straps: and the two set Edstaston free between them.] Now get up,
please; and conduct yourself with some dignity if you are not utterly

EDSTASTON. Dignity! Ow! I can't. I'm stiff all over. I shall never be
able to stand up again. Oh Lord! how it hurts! [They seize him by the
shoulders and drag him up.] Yah! Agh! Wow! Oh! Mmmmmm! Oh, Little Angel
Mother, don't ever do this to a man again. Knout him; kill him; roast
him; baste him; head, hang, and quarter him; but don't tie him up like
that and tickle him.

CATHERINE. Your young lady still seems to think that you enjoyed it.

CLAIRE. I know what I think. I will never speak to him again. Your
Majesty can keep him, as far as I am concerned.

CATHERINE. I would not deprive you of him for worlds; though really I
think he's rather a darling [she pats his cheek].

CLAIRE [snorting]. So I see, indeed.

EDSTASTON. Don't be angry, dearest: in this country everybody's a
darling. I'll prove it to you. [To Catherine.] Will your Majesty be good
enough to call Prince Patiomkin?

CATHERINE [surprised into haughtiness]. Why?

EDSTASTON. To oblige me.

Catherine laughs good-humoredly and goes to the curtains and opens them.
The band strikes up a Redowa.

CATHERINE [calling imperiously]. Patiomkin! [The music stops suddenly.]
Here! To me! Go on with your music there, you fools. [The Redowa is

The sergeant rushes from the ballroom to relieve the Empress of the
curtain. Patiomkin comes in dancing with Yarinka.

CATHERINE [to Patiomkin]. The English captain wants you, little darling.

Catherine resumes her seat as Patiomkin intimates by a grotesque bow
that he is at Edstaston's service. Yarinka passes behind Edstaston and
Claire, and posts herself on Claire's right.

EDSTASTON. Precisely. [To Claire. ] You observe, my love: "little
darling." Well, if her Majesty calls him a darling, is it my fault that
she calls me one too?

CLAIRE. I don't care: I don't think you ought to have done it. I am very
angry and offended.

EDSTASTON. They tied me up, dear. I couldn't help it. I fought for all I
was worth.

THE SERGEANT [at the curtains]. He fought with the strength of lions and
bears. God knows I shall carry a broken sweetbread to my grave.

EDSTASTON. You can't mean to throw me over, Claire. [Urgently.] Claire.

VARINKA [in a transport of sympathetic emotion, pleading with clasped
hands to Claire]. Oh, sweet little angel lamb, he loves you: it shines
in his darling eyes. Pardon him, pardon him.

PATIOMKIN [rushing from the Empress's side to Claire and falling on his
knees to her]. Pardon him, pardon him, little cherub! little wild duck!
little star! little glory! little jewel in the crown of heaven!

CLAIRE. This is perfectly ridiculous.

VARINKA [kneeling to her]. Pardon him, pardon him, little delight,
little sleeper in a rosy cradle.

CLAIRE. I'll do anything if you'll only let me alone.

THE SERGEANT [kneeling to her]. Pardon him, pardon him, lest the mighty
man bring his whip to you. God knows we all need pardon!

CLAIRE [at the top of her voice]. I pardon him! I pardon him!

PATIOMKIN [springing up joyfully and going behind Claire, whom he raises
in his arms]. Embrace her, victor of Bunker's Hill. Kiss her till she

THE SERGEANT. Receive her in the name of the holy Nicholas.

VARINKA. She begs you for a thousand dear little kisses all over her

CLAIRE [vehemently]. I do not. [Patiomkin throws her into Edstaston's
arms.] Oh! [The pair, awkward and shamefaced, recoil from one another,
and remain utterly inexpressive.]

CATHERINE [pushing Edstaston towards Claire]. There is no help for it,
Captain. This is Russia, not England.

EDSTASTON [plucking up some geniality, and kissing Claire ceremoniously
on the brow]. I have no objection.

VARINKA [disgusted]. Only one kiss! and on the forehead! Fish. See how I
kiss, though it is only my horribly ugly old uncle [she throws her arms
round Patiomkin's neck and covers his face with kisses].

THE SERGEANT [moved to tears]. Sainted Nicholas: bless your lambs!

CATHERINE. Do you wonder now that I love Russia as I love no other place
on earth?

NARYSHKIN [appearing at the door]. Majesty: the model for the new museum
has arrived.

CATHERINE [rising eagerly and making for the curtains]. Let us go. I can
think of nothing but my museum. [In the archway she stops and turns to
Edstaston, who has hurried to lift the curtain for her.] Captain, I wish
you every happiness that your little angel can bring you. [For his
ear alone.] I could have brought you more; but you did not think so.

EDSTASTON [kissing her hand, which, instead of releasing, he holds
caressingly and rather patronizingly in his own]. I feel your Majesty's
kindness so much that I really cannot leave you without a word of plain
wholesome English advice.

CATHERINE [snatching her hand away and bounding forward as if he had
touched her with a spur]. Advice!!!

PATIOMKIN. Madman: take care!

NARYSHKIN. Advise the Empress!!

THE SERGEANT. Sainted Nicholas!

VARINKA. Hoo hoo! [a stifled splutter of laughter].

EDSTASTON [following the Empress and resuming kindly but judicially].
After all, though your Majesty is of course a great queen, yet when all
is said, I am a man; and your Majesty is only a woman.

CATHERINE. Only a wo-- [she chokes].

EDSTASTON [continuing]. Believe me, this Russian extravagance will not
do. I appreciate as much as any man the warmth of heart that prompts it;
but it is overdone: it is hardly in the best taste: it is really I must
say it--it is not proper.

CATHERINE [ironically, in German]. So!

EDSTASTON. Not that I cannot make allowances. Your Majesty has, I know,
been unfortunate in your experience as a married woman--

CATHERINE [furious]. Alle Wetter!!!

EDSTASTON [sentimentally]. Don't say that. Don't think of him in that
way. After all, he was your husband; and whatever his faults may have
been, it is not for you to think unkindly of him.

CATHERINE [almost bursting]. I shall forget myself.

EDSTASTON. Come! I am sure he really loved you; and you truly loved him.

CATHERINE [controlling herself with a supreme effort]. No, Catherine.
What would Voltaire say?

EDSTASTON. Oh, never mind that vile scoffer. Set an example to Europe,
Madam, by doing what I am going to do. Marry again. Marry some good man
who will be a strength and support to your old age.

CATHERINE. My old--[she again becomes speechless].

EDSTASTON. Yes: we must all grow old, even the handsomest of us.

CATHERINE [sinking into her chair with a gasp]. Thank you.

EDSTASTON. You will thank me more when you see your little ones round
your knee, and your man there by the fireside in the winter evenings--by
the way, I forgot that you have no fireside here in spite of the
coldness of the climate; so shall I say by the stove?

CATHERINE. Certainly, if you wish. The stove by all means.

EDSTASTON [impulsively]. Ah, Madam, abolish the stove: believe me, there
is nothing like the good old open grate. Home! duty! happiness! they
all mean the same thing; and they all flourish best on the drawing-room
hearthrug. [Turning to Claire.] And now, my love, we must not detain the
Queen: she is anxious to inspect the model of her museum, to which I am
sure we wish every success.

CLAIRE [coldly]. I am not detaining her.

EDSTASTON. Well, goodbye [wringing Patiomkin's hand] goo-oo-oodbye,
Prince: come and see us if ever you visit England. Spire View, Deepdene,
Little Mugford, Devon, will always find me. [To Yarinka, kissing her
hand.] Goodbye, Mademoiselle: goodbye, Little Mother, if I may call you
that just once. [Varinka puts up her face to be kissed.] Eh? No, no, no,
no: you don't mean that, you know. Naughty! [To the Sergeant.] Goodbye,
my friend. You will drink our healths with this [tipping him].

THE SERGEANT. The blessed Nicholas will multiply your fruits, Little

EDSTASTON. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

He goes out backwards, bowing, with Claire curtseying, having been
listened to in utter dumbfoundedness by Patiomkin and Naryshkin, in
childlike awe by Yarinka, and with quite inexpressible feelings by
Catherine. When he is out of sight she rises with clinched fists and
raises her arms and her closed eyes to Heaven. Patiomkin: rousing
himself from his stupor of amazement, springs to her like a tiger, and
throws himself at her feet.

PATIOMKIN. What shall I do to him for you? Skin him alive? Cut off his
eyelids and stand him in the sun? Tear his tongue out? What shall it be?

CATHERINE [opening her eyes]. Nothing. But oh, if I could only have had
him for my--for my--for my--

PATIOMKIN [in a growl of jealousy]. For your lover?

CATHERINE [with an ineffable smile]. No: for my museum.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Great Catherine (Whom Glory Still Adores)" ***

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