Be careful! Or you’ll smash
The Christmas tree! You’ll smash the gramophone!
[A soldier tries the door on the right. Suddenly it is opened from within and RADA appears on the threshold with the revolver in her hand.]
There is one woman here,
One woman and a child——
And war they tell me is a noble thing;
It is the mother of heroic deeds,
The nurse of honour, manhood.
Christ, a speech!
Yes, and your training benefits your health.
[Who is crouching over the fire again.]
Certainly, Rada! Military training!
Life is a battle.
You hear, drunk as you are,
Up to your necks in blood, you hear this fool,
This poor old fool, piping his dreary cry;
And through his lips, and through his softening brain,
You and the men that buy you, statesmen, kings,
Teach the poor sheep of the world that war is good.
Go! Take your manhood out of this. Or else——
[She threatens to shoot.]
I have one bullet for the child, and five
To share between you and myself!
[They fall back before the revolver as she raises it.]
If you have children of your own,
Listen to me ... The child is twelve years old.
She has never had one hard word spoken to her
In all her life.
Nor shall she now, by God!
Where is she? Bring her out!
Twelve years of age!
That’s ripe enough for marriage to a soldier.
She can’t shoot! Look at the way she’s holding it!
Duck down and make a rush for it! Come on!
[Several of them make a rush, RADA steps back and shuts the door in
Locked out, by God! We’ll have to break it down.
She’ll keep her word. You’ll never get ’em alive.
Never. I know that kind. You’d better clear out!
Come on! We’ll burst the door.
[They put their shoulders to the door and it begins to give. ARRAM
makes a sign to MICHAEL, urging him to interfere. A revolver shot is
heard within. The men pause, and there is another shot.]
By God, she’s done it!
[There is a booming of distant artillery.]
Hear that! The enemy!
Making a night attack!
[There is a loud bugle call without.]
ARRAM There goes the bugle! [They all rush out, except NANKO, who looks out into the night after them, then closes the outer door, takes a crystallized plum from the table, crosses the room and stares at the floor, near the door on the right.]