Candida has been asked to choose between her husband and the young,
Now I want you to look at this other boy here—MY boy—spoiled from his cradle. We go once a fortnight to see his parents. You should come with us, Eugene, and see the pictures of the hero of that household. James as a baby! the most wonderful of all babies. James holding his first school prize, won at the ripe age of eight! James as the captain of his eleven! James in his first frock coat! James under all sorts of glorious circumstances! You know how strong he is (I hope he didn't hurt you)—how clever he is—how happy! (With deepening gravity.) Ask James's mother and his three sisters what it cost to save James the trouble of doing anything but be strong and clever and happy. Ask ME what it costs to be James's mother and three sisters and wife and mother to his children all in one. Ask Prossy and Maria how troublesome the house is even when we have no visitors to help us to slice the onions. Ask the tradesmen who want to worry James and spoil his beautiful sermons who it is that puts them off. When there is money to give, he gives it: when there is money to refuse, I refuse it. I build a castle of comfort and indulgence and love for him, and stand sentinel always to keep little vulgar cares out. I make him master here, though he does not know it, and could not tell you a moment ago how it came to be so. (With sweet irony.) And when he thought I might go away with you, his only anxiety was what should become of ME! And to tempt me to stay he offered me (leaning forward to stroke his hair caressingly at each phrase) his strength for MY defence, his industry for my livelihood, his position for my dignity, his— (Relenting.) Ah, I am mixing up your beautiful sentences and spoiling them, am I not, darling? (She lays her cheek fondly against his.)
George Bernard Shaw, Candida, 1898.
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