Great Catherine HTML version

The Third Scene
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
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; and--
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.