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A bedroom in a suburban villa in one of the richest cities in England. A sea beach in a mountainous country. Too True to Be Good is a comedy written by playwright George Bernard Shaw at the age of 76. First staged at the Guild Theatre, New York, followed in the same year by a production in Malvern, Worcestershire starring Beatrice Lillie, Claude Rains, and Leo G. Carroll.
149 pages, with a reading time of ~4.75 hours (37,354 words), and first published in 1931. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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Night. One of the best bedrooms in one of the best suburban villas in one of the richest cities in England. A young lady with an unhealthy complexion is asleep in the bed. A small table at the head of the bed, convenient to her right hand, and crowded with a medicine bottle, a measuring glass, a pill box, a clinical thermometer in a glass of water, a half read book with the place marked by a handkerchief, a powder puff and handmirror, and an electric bell handle on a flex, shews that the bed is a sick bed and the young lady an invalid.
The furniture includes a very handsome dressing table with silverbacked hairbrushes and toilet articles, a dainty pincushion, a stand of rings, a jewel box of black steel with the lid open and a rope of pearls heaped carelessly half in and half out, a Louis Quinze writing table and chair with inkstand, blotter, and cabinet of stationery, a magnificent wardrobe, a luxurious couch, and a tall screen of Chinese workmanship which, like the expensive carpet and everything else in the room, proclaims that the owner has money enough to buy the best things at the best shops in the best purchaseable taste.
The bed is nearly in the middle of the room, so that the patient’s nurses can pass freely between the wall and the head of it. If we contemplate the room from the foot of the bed, with the patient’s toes pointing straight at us, we have the door (carefully sandbagged lest a draught of fresh air should creep underneath) level with us in the righthand wall, the couch against the same wall farther away, the window (every ray of moonlight excluded by closed curtains and a dark green spring blind) in the middle of the left wall with the wardrobe on its right and the writing table on its left, the screen at right angles to the wardrobe, and the dressing table against the wall facing us halfway between the bed and the couch.
Besides the chair at the writing table there is an easy chair at the medicine table, and a chair at each side of the dressing table.
The room is lighted by invisible cornice lights, and by two mirror lights on the dressing table and a portable one on the writing table; but these are now switched off; and the only light in action is another portable one on the medicine table, very carefully subdued by a green shade.
The patient is sleeping heavily. Near her, in the easy chair, sits a Monster. In shape and size it resembles a human being; but in substance it seems to be made of a luminous jelly with a visible skeleton of short black rods. It drops forward in the chair with its head in its hands, and seems in the last degree wretched.
THE MONSTER. Oh! Oh!! Oh!!! I am so ill! so miserable! Oh, I wish I were dead. Why doesnt she die and release me from my sufferings? What right has she to get ill and make me ill like this? Measles: thats what she’s got. Measles! German measles! And she’s given them to me, a poor innocent microbe that never did her any harm. And she says that I gave them to her. Oh, is this justice? Oh, I feel so rotten. I wonder what my temperature is: they took it from under her tongue half an hour ago. [Scrutinizing the table and discovering the thermometer in the glass]. Here’s the thermometer: theyve left it for the doctor to see instead of shaking it down. If it’s over a hundred I’m done for: I darent look. Oh, can it be that I’m dying? I must look. [It looks, and drops the thermometer back into the glass with a gasping scream]. A hundred and three! It’s all over. [It collapses].
The door opens; and an elderly lady and a young doctor come in. The lady steals along on tiptoe, full of the deepest concern for the invalid. The doctor is indifferent, but keeps up his bedside manner carefully, though he evidently does not think the case is so serious as the lady does. She comes to the bedside on the invalid’s left. He comes to the other side of the bed and looks attentively at his patient.
THE ELDERLY LADY [in a whisper sibilant enough to wake the dead] She is asleep.
THE MONSTER. I should think so. This fool here, the doctor, has given her a dose of the latest fashionable opiate that would keep a cock asleep till half past eleven on a May morning.
THE ELDERLY LADY. Oh doctor, do you think there is any chance? Can she possibly survive this last terrible complication?
THE MONSTER. Measles! He mistook it for influenza.
THE ELDERLY LADY. It was so unexpected! such a crushing blow! And I have taken such care of her. She is my only surviving child: my pet: my precious one. Why do they all die? I have never neglected the smallest symptom of illness. She has had doctors in attendance on her almost constantly since she was born.
THE MONSTER. She has the constitution of a horse or she’d have died like the others.