The Same. A Chamber in the Same. FRANCESCA and RITTA discovered at the bridal toilet.
Ring high, ring high! to earth and sky;
A lady goes a-wedding;
The people shout, the show draws out,
And smiles the bride is shedding.
No bell for you, ye ragged
A beggar goes a-wedding;
The people sneer, the thing’s so queer,
And tears the bride is shedding.
Ring low, ring low! dull bell
One tone will do for either;
The lady glad, and beggar sad,
Have both lain down together.
FRANCESCA. A mournful ballad!
RITTA. I scarce knew
I’m weary of this wreath. These orange-flowers
Will never be adjusted to my taste:
Strive as I will, they ever look awry.
My fingers ache!
FRANCESCA. Not more than my poor head.
There, leave them so.
RITTA. That’s better, yet not well.
FRANCESCA. They are but fading things, not
worth your pains:
They’ll scarce outlive the marriage merriment.
Ritta, these flowers are hypocrites; they show
An outside gayety, yet die within,
Minute by minute. You shall see them fall,
Black with decay, before the rites are o’er.
RITTA. How beautiful you are!
FRANCESCA. Fie, flatterer!
White silk and laces, pearls and orange-flowers,
Would do as much for any one.
RITTA. No, no!
You give them grace, they nothing give to you.
Why, after all, you make the wreath look well;
But somewhat dingy, where it lies against
Your pulsing temple, sullen with disgrace.
Ah! well, your Count should be the proudest man
That ever led a lady into church,
Were he a modern Alexander. Poh!
What are his trophies to a face like that?
FRANCESCA. I seem to please you, Ritta.
And you will please me better. You are sad:
I marked it ever since you saw the Count.
I fear the splendour of his victories,
And his sweet grace of manner—for, in faith,
His is the gentlest, grandest character,
RITTA. Despite his—
FRANCESCA. Ritta, what?
RITTA. Despite his difference
from Count Paolo.—
What is the matter? [Supporting her.
FRANCESCA. Nothing; mere fatigue.
Hand me my kerchief. I am better now.
What were you saying?
RITTA. That I fear the Count
Has won your love.
FRANCESCA. Would that
be cause for fear?