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Comedic 4 Person Scene from Shaw's "Pygmalion" ("My Fair Lady")

Act One: Eliza and Professor Higgins Meet


In this introductory scene, Eliza Doolittle, a humble flower girl with a supposedly “lower class” accent, meets Prof. Henry Higgins for the first time. The Professor has been recording her words for linguistic purposes. Liza, however, believes that she is somehow in trouble.

LIZA: (springing up terrified) I ain't done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman. I've a right to sell flowers if I keep off the kerb. (Hysterically) I'm a respectable girl: so help me, I never spoke to him except to ask him to buy a flower off me. Oh, sir, don't let him charge me. You dunno what it means to me. They'll take away my character and drive me on the streets for speaking to gentlemen! They—

HIGGINS: (coming forward on her right, the rest crowding after him) There, there, there, there! Who's hurting you, you silly girl? What do you take me for?

THE BYSTANDER: It's all right: he's a gentleman: look at his boots. (Explaining to the note taker) She thought you was a copper's nark, sir.

HIGGINS: (with quick interest) What's a copper's nark?

THE BYSTANDER: (inept at definition) It's a-- well, it's a copper's nark, as you might say. What else would you call it? A sort of informer.

LIZA: (still hysterical) I take my Bible oath I never said a word—

HIGGINS: (overbearing but good-humored) Oh, shut up, shut up. Do I look like a policeman?

LIZA: (far from reassured) Then what did you take down my words for? How do I know whether you took me down right? You just show me what you've wrote about me. (The note taker opens his book and holds it steadily under her nose, though the pressure of the mob trying to read it over his shoulders would upset a weaker man). What's that? That ain't proper writing. I can't read that.

HIGGINS: I can. (Reads, reproducing her pronunciation exactly) "Cheer ap, Keptin; n' haw ya flahr orf a pore gel."

LIZA: (much distressed) It's because I called him Captain. I meant no harm. (To the gentleman) Oh, sir, don't let him lay a charge agen me for a word like that. You--

THE GENTLEMAN: Charge! I make no charge. (To the note taker) Really, sir, if you are a detective, you need not begin protecting me against molestation by young women until I ask you. Anybody could see that the girl meant no harm.

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