Why She Would Not

A Little Comedy

Why She Would Not by George Bernard Shaw (copyright © 1950) All rights reserved. This script may not be performed, printed, downloaded or re-transmitted without the author's consent.
     A PATH through a wood. A fine summer afternoon. A lady, good-looking, well dressed, and not over thirty, is being conducted along the path by a burly and rather dangerous- looking man, middle aged, ugly, dressed in a braided coat and mutton pie cap which give him the air of being a hotel porter or commissionaire of some sort.
     THE LADY [stopping] Where are we now? I should hardly call this a short cut.
     THE MAN [truculently] I'm damned if I know. Two miles from anywhere.
     THE LADY. But you must know. You are a forest guide.
     THE MAN. Guide my foot! I'm no bloody guide. How much money have you got on you?
     THE LADY. Why?
     THE MAN. Because I mean to have it off you, see? Hand over.
     THE LADY. Do you mean to rob me? You said you were a guide; and we agreed for seven-and-sixpence. I will give you your seven-and-sixpence and not a penny more. If you dare to try to rob me I'll call the police.
     THE MAN. Call away. There isnt a copper within five miles. Are them pearls round your neck real? Whether or no I mean to have them. You have three pounds in notes in your handbag: I saw them when you paid the taxi. Are you going to hand over quietly or shall I have to take them? It'll hurt a bit.
     A YOUNG MALE VOICE [very affable] Is there anything amiss? Can I help?
     The Man and the Lady start violently, not having noticed the newcomer until he arrives between them. He is a likeable looking juvenile in a workman's cap, but otherwise might by his clothes be an artisan off duty or a gentleman. His accent is that of a wellbred man.
     THE MAN [ferociously] Who the hell are you?
     THE NEWCOMER. Nobody but a tramp looking for a job.
     THE MAN. Well, dont you come interfering with me. Get out of here, double quick.
     THE NEWCOMER [sunnily] I'm in no hurry. The lady might like me to stay. If she wants a witness I'm on the job.
     THE LADY. Oh yes: please stay. This man is trying to rob me.
     THE NEWCOMER. Oh dear! That wont do, you know, matey. Thou shalt not steal.
     THE MAN [with exaggerated fierceness] Who are you calling matey? Listen here. Are you going to get out or have I to sling you out?
     THE NEWCOMER [gaily] You can try. I'm game for a scrap. Fists, catch as catch can, up and down wrestling, or all three together? Be quick. The mounted police patrol will pass at six. Take off your coat; and come on.
     THE MAN [he is an abject coward] Easy, governor, easy. I dont want no fighting. All I asked of the lady was my money for guiding her.
     THE NEWCOMER [to the Lady] Give it to him and get rid of him.
     THE LADY. I never refused to give it to him. Here it is. [She gives the man five shillings].
     THE MAN [humbly] Thank you, lady. [He hurries away, almost running.]
     THE LADY. How brave of you to offer to fight that big man!
     THE NEWCOMER. Bluff, dear lady, pure bluff. A bully is not always a coward; but a big coward is almost always a bully. I took his measure; that is all. Where do you want to go to?
     THE LADY. To Timbertown. I live there. I am Miss White of Four Towers: a very famous old house. I can reward you handsomely for rescuing me when I get home.
     THE NEWCOMER. I know the way. A mile and a half. Can you walk it?
     THE LADY. Yes of course. I can walk ten miles.
     THE NEWCOMER. Right O! Follow me.
     They go off together.

Scene II