Eliza, who is exquisitely dressed, produces an impression of such remarkable distinction and beauty as she enters that they all rise, quite fluttered. Guided by Higgins’s signals, she comes to Mrs. Higgins with studied grace.
LIZA [speaking with pedantic correctness of pronunciation and great beauty of tone] How do you do, Mrs. Higgins? [She gasps slightly in making sure of the H in Higgins, but is quite successful]. Mr. Higgins told me I might come.
MRS. HIGGINS [cordially] Quite right: I’m very glad indeed to see you.
PICKERING. How do you do, Miss Doolittle?
LIZA [shaking hands with him] Colonel Pickering, is it not?
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. I feel sure we have met before, Miss Doolittle. I remember your eyes.
LIZA. How do you do? [She sits down on the ottoman gracefully in the place just left vacant by Higgins].
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My daughter Clara.
LIZA. How do you do?
CLARA [impulsively] How do you
do? [She sits down on the ottoman beside Eliza, devouring her with her eyes]. 90
FREDDY [coming to their side of the ottoman] Ive certainly had the pleasure.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My son Freddy.
LIZA. How do you do?
Freddy bows and sits down in the Elizabethan chair, infatuated.
HIGGINS [suddenly] By George, yes: it all comes back to me! [They stare at him]. Covent Garden! [Lamentably] What a damned thing!
MRS. HIGGINS. Henry, please! [He is about to sit on the edge of the table]. Dont sit on my writing-table: youll break it.
HIGGINS [sulkily] Sorry.
He goes to the divan, stumbling into the fender and over the fire-irons on his way; extricating himself with muttered imprecations; and finishing his disastrous journey by throwing himself so impatiently on the divan that he almost breaks it. Mrs. Higgins looks at him, but controls herself and says nothing.
A long and painful pause ensues.
MRS. HIGGINS [at last, conversationally] Will it rain, do you think?
LIZA. The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no indications of any great change in the barometrical situation.
FREDDY. Ha! ha! how awfully funny!
LIZA. What is wrong with that, young man? I bet I got it right.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. I’m sure I hope it wont turn cold. Theres so much influenza about. It runs right through our whole family regularly every spring.
LIZA [darkly] My aunt died of influenza: so they said.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [clicks her tongue sympathetically]!!!
LIZA [in the same tragic tone] But it’s my belief they done the old woman in.
MRS. HIGGINS [puzzled] Done her in?
LIZA. Y-e-e-e-es, Lord love you! Why should she die of influenza? She come through diphtheria right enough the year before. I saw her with my own eyes. Fairly blue with it, she was. They all thought she was dead; but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [startled] Dear me!
LIZA [piling up the indictment] What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched it done her in.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. What does doing her in mean?
HIGGINS [hastily] Oh, thats the new small talk. To do a person in means to kill them.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [to Eliza, horrified] You surely dont believe that your aunt was killed?
LIZA. Do I not!