Pygmalion (ACT II, page 2 of 19)


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HIGGINS [as he shuts the last drawer] Well, I think that's the whole
show.

PICKERING. It's really amazing. I haven't taken half of it in, you know.

HIGGINS. Would you like to go over any of it again?

PICKERING [rising and coming to the fireplace, where he plants himself
with his back to the fire] No, thank you; not now. I'm quite done up
for this morning.

HIGGINS [following him, and standing beside him on his left] Tired of
listening to sounds?

PICKERING. Yes. It's a fearful strain. I rather fancied myself because
I can pronounce twenty-four distinct vowel sounds; but your hundred and
thirty beat me. I can't hear a bit of difference between most of them.

HIGGINS [chuckling, and going over to the piano to eat sweets] Oh, that
comes with practice. You hear no difference at first; but you keep on
listening, and presently you find they're all as different as A from B.
[Mrs. Pearce looks in: she is Higgins's housekeeper] What's the matter?

MRS. PEARCE [hesitating, evidently perplexed] A young woman wants to
see you, sir.

HIGGINS. A young woman! What does she want?

MRS. PEARCE. Well, sir, she says you'll be glad to see her when you
know what she's come about. She's quite a common girl, sir. Very common
indeed. I should have sent her away, only I thought perhaps you wanted
her to talk into your machines. I hope I've not done wrong; but really
you see such queer people sometimes--you'll excuse me, I'm sure, sir--

HIGGINS. Oh, that's all right, Mrs. Pearce. Has she an interesting
accent?

MRS. PEARCE. Oh, something dreadful, sir, really. I don't know how you
can take an interest in it.

HIGGINS [to Pickering] Let's have her up. Show her up, Mrs. Pearce [he
rushes across to his working table and picks out a cylinder to use on
the phonograph].

MRS. PEARCE [only half resigned to it] Very well, sir. It's for you to
say. [She goes downstairs].

HIGGINS. This is rather a bit of luck. I'll show you how I make
records. We'll set her talking; and I'll take it down first in Bell's
visible Speech; then in broad Romic; and then we'll get her on the
phonograph so that you can turn her on as often as you like with the
written transcript before you.

MRS. PEARCE [returning] This is the young woman, sir.

The flower girl enters in state. She has a hat with three ostrich
feathers, orange, sky-blue, and red. She has a nearly clean apron, and
the shoddy coat has been tidied a little. The pathos of this deplorable
figure, with its innocent vanity and consequential air, touches
Pickering, who has already straightened himself in the presence of Mrs.
Pearce. But as to Higgins, the only distinction he makes between men
and women is that when he is neither bullying nor exclaiming to the
heavens against some featherweight cross, he coaxes women as a child
coaxes its nurse when it wants to get anything out of her.

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