The serenade - 1

George Bernard Shaw, the famous English playwright, came from a middle class family. He was born in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, in 1856, and was proud of being an Irishman.
In 1876 he left his home town for London, where he became a journalist. In 1884 he joined the Fabian Society, a socialist organization of bourgeois intellectuals.
After a few unsuccessful attempts at writing novels, Shaw turned to plays. His first play appeared in 1892. Later on he wrote a large number of plays, all of which are known for their brilliant dialogue and sharp political satire.
In 1931 Shaw visited the Soviet Union. The famous playwright was always a true friend to the first Socialist State.
Bernard Shaw died in 1950 at the age of ninety-four.

I celebrated my fortieth birthday by putting on one of the amateur theatrical performances for which my house at Beckenham is famous.
The play, written by myself, was in three acts, and an important feature was the sound of a horn in the second act.
I had engage a horn player to blow the horn. He was to place himself, not on the stage, but downstairs in the hall so as to make it sound distant.
The best seat was occupied by the beautiful Linda Fitznightingale. The next chair, which I had intended for myself, had been taken by Mr Porcharlester, a young man of some musical talent.
As Linda loved music, Porsharlester's talent gave him in her eyes an advantage over older and cleverer men. I decided to breafy up their conversation as soon as I could.
After I had seen that everything was all right for the performance, I hurried to Linda's side with an apology for my long absence. As I approached, Porcharlester rose, saying, "I'm going behind the stage if you don't mind."
"Boys will be boys," I said when he had gone. "But how are your musical studies progressing?"
"I'm full of Schubert now. Oh, Colonel Green, do you know Schubert's serenade?"
"Oh, a lovely thing. It's something like this, I think..." "Yes, it is little like that. Does Mr Porcharlester sing it?" I hated to hear her mention the name, so I said, "He tries to sing it."
"But do you like it?" she asked.
"Hm, well the fact is..." I tried to avoid a straight answer. "Do you like it?"
"I love it. I dream of it. I've lived on it for the last three days."
"I hope to hear you sing it when the play's over." "I sing it! Oh, I'd never dare. Ah, here is Mr Porcharlester, I'll make him promise to sing it to us."
"Green," said Porcharlester, "I don't wish to bother you, but the man who is to play the horn hasn't turned up."
"Dear me," I said, "I ordered him at exactly half-past seven. If he fails to come in time, the play will be spoilt."
I excused myself to Linda, and hurried to the hall. The horn was there, on the table. But the man was nowhere to be seen.
At the moment I heard the signal for the horn. I waited for him, but he did not come. Had he mixed up the time? I hurried to the dining-room. There at the table he sat, fast asleep. Before him were five bottles, empty. Where he had got them from was beyond me. I shook him, but could not wake him up.
I ran back to the hall promising myself to have him shot for not obeying my orders. The signal came again. They were waiting. I saw but one way to save the play from failure.
I took up the instrument, put the smaller end into my mouth and blew. Not a sound came from the thing. The signal was given a third time. Then I took the horn again, put it to my lips and blew as hard as I could.
The result was terrible. My ears were deafened, the windows shook, the hats of my visitors rained from their pegs, and as I pressed my hands to my head, the horn player came out, shaky on his feet, and looked at the guests, who began to appear on the stairs...
For the next three months I studied horn-blowing. I did not like my teacher and hated to hear him always saying that the horn was more like the human voice than any other instrument. But he was clever, and I worked hard without a word of complaint. At last I asked him if he thought I could play something in private to a friend.
"Well, Colonel," he said, "I'll tell you the truth: it would be beyond your ability. You haven't the lip for it. You blow too hard, and it spoils the impression. What were you thinking of playing to your friend?"
"Something that you must teach me, Schubert's serenade."
He stared at me, and shook his head. "It isn't written for the instrument, sir," he said, "you'll never play it." But I insisted. "The first time I play it through1 without a mistake, I'll give you five pounds," I said. So the man gave in.
(to be continued)