Arms and the Man
The sixth of March, 1886. In the garden of major Petkoff's house. It is a fine
spring morning; and the garden looks fresh and pretty. Beyond the paling the
tops of a couple of minarets can he seen, shewing that there it a valley there,
with the little town in it. A few miles further the Balkan mountains rise and shut in
the view. Within the garden the side of the house is seen on the right, with a
garden door reached by a little flight of steps. On the left the stable yard, with its
gateway, encroaches on the garden. There are fruit bushes along the paling and
house, covered with washing hung out to dry. A path runs by the house, and
rises by two steps at the corner where it turns out of the right along the front. In
the middle a small table, with two bent wood chairs at it, is laid for breakfast with
Turkish coffee pot, cups, rolls, etc.; but the cups have been used and the bread
broken. There is a wooden garden seat against the wall on the left.
Louka, smoking a cigaret, is standing between the table and the house, turning
her back with angry disdain on a man-servant who is lecturing her. He is a
middle-aged man of cool temperament and low but clear and keen intelligence,
with the complacency of the servant who values himself on his rank in servility,
and the imperturbability of the accurate calculator who has no illusions. He wears
a white Bulgarian costume jacket with decorated harder, sash, wide
knickerbockers, and decorated gaiters. His head is shaved up to the crown,
giving him a high Japanese forehead. His name is Nicola.
NICOLA. Be warned in time, Louka: mend your manners. I know the mistress.
She is so grand that she never dreams that any servant could dare to be
disrespectful to her; but if she once suspects that you are defying her, out you
LOUKA. I do defy her. I will defy her. What do I care for her?
NICOLA. If you quarrel with the family, I never can marry you. It's the same as if
you quarrelled with me!
LOUKA. You take her part against me, do you?
NICOLA (sedately). I shall always be dependent on the good will of the family.
When I leave their service and start a shop in Sofea, their custom will be half my
capital: their bad word would ruin me.
LOUKA. You have no spirit. I should like to see them dare say a word against
NICOLA (pityingly). I should have expected more sense from you, Louka. But
you're young, you're young!