Pygmalion (ACT III, page 1 of 11)


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It is Mrs. Higgins's at-home day. Nobody has yet arrived. Her
drawing-room, in a flat on Chelsea embankment, has three windows
looking on the river; and the ceiling is not so lofty as it would be in
an older house of the same pretension. The windows are open, giving
access to a balcony with flowers in pots. If you stand with your face
to the windows, you have the fireplace on your left and the door in the
right-hand wall close to the corner nearest the windows.

Mrs. Higgins was brought up on Morris and Burne Jones; and her room,
which is very unlike her son's room in Wimpole Street, is not crowded
with furniture and little tables and nicknacks. In the middle of the
room there is a big ottoman; and this, with the carpet, the Morris
wall-papers, and the Morris chintz window curtains and brocade covers
of the ottoman and its cushions, supply all the ornament, and are much
too handsome to be hidden by odds and ends of useless things. A few
good oil-paintings from the exhibitions in the Grosvenor Gallery thirty
years ago (the Burne Jones, not the Whistler side of them) are on the
walls. The only landscape is a Cecil Lawson on the scale of a Rubens.
There is a portrait of Mrs. Higgins as she was when she defied fashion
in her youth in one of the beautiful Rossettian costumes which, when
caricatured by people who did not understand, led to the absurdities of
popular estheticism in the eighteen-seventies.

In the corner diagonally opposite the door Mrs. Higgins, now over sixty
and long past taking the trouble to dress out of the fashion, sits
writing at an elegantly simple writing-table with a bell button within
reach of her hand. There is a Chippendale chair further back in the
room between her and the window nearest her side. At the other side of
the room, further forward, is an Elizabethan chair roughly carved in
the taste of Inigo Jones. On the same side a piano in a decorated case.
The corner between the fireplace and the window is occupied by a divan
cushioned in Morris chintz.

It is between four and five in the afternoon.

The door is opened violently; and Higgins enters with his hat on.

MRS. HIGGINS [dismayed] Henry [scolding him]! What are you doing here
to-day? It is my at home day: you promised not to come. [As he bends to
kiss her, she takes his hat off, and presents it to him].

HIGGINS. Oh bother! [He throws the hat down on the table].

MRS. HIGGINS. Go home at once.

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