(MARCEL,_as before, stands in front of his easel, while RUDOLPH sits at his writing table; each trying to make the other believe that he is working indefatigably, whereas they are really only gossiping.)_
MAR. (resuming his talk) In a coupe?
RUD. Yes, in carriage and pair did she merrily
“Well, Musetta,” I questioned:
“How’s your heart?”
“It beats not—or I don’t feel it—Thanks
to this velvet I’m wearing!”
MAR. (endeavoring to laugh) I’m glad, very glad!
RUD. (aside) You humbug, you! You’re fretting and fuming!
MAR. It beats not! Bravo!
(commences to paint with great vigor)
Then I saw, too—
RUD. You saw her? How strange! (stops painting)
MAR. Rode in her carriage in grand apparel.
Just like a duchess.
RUD. Delightful! I’m glad to hear it.
MAR. (aside) You liar! you’re pining with love.
RUD. and MAR. Now to work! (they go on working)
RUD. (throwing down his pen) This pen’s
(remains seated, apparently lost in thought)
MAR. (flinging away his brush) This infamous paint-brush! (Stares at his canvas, and then without RUDOLPH observing it, he takes from his pocket a bunch of ribbons and kisses it.)
RUD. Ah! Mimi! false, fickle-hearted!
Ah! beauteous days departed!
Those hands so dainty!
Oh! fragrant, shining tresses!
Ah! snow-white bosom!
Ah! Mimi! those brief, glad, golden days!
MAR. (putting away his ribbons and staring anew
at his canvas)
How is it that my brush
With speed mechanical keeps moving,
And plasters on the colors
Quite against my will?
And though I would be painting landscapes,
Meadows, woodlands fair in Spring-tide,
My brush refuses to perform its office;
But paints dark eyes, and two red, smiling lips;
The features of Musetta haunt me still!
RUD. (taking Mimi’s old bonnet from
the table drawer)
And thou, O! rose-pink bonnet,
That ’neath her pillow lay,
That in her hour of parting she forgot—Thou
wert the witness of our joy!
Come to my heart, ah! come!
Lie close against my heart, since my love is dead!
(clasps the bonnet to his heart)
MAR. Ah! frivolous Musetta! thee can I ne’er
My grief affords her pleasure,
And yet my weak heart is fain
To call her to my fond arms again.
RUD. (endeavoring to conceal his emotion from Marcel, carelessly questions him) What time is it now?
MAR. (roused from his reverie, gaily replies) Time for our yesterday’s dinner.
RUD. But Schaunard’s not back yet. (Enter Schaunard and Colline; the former carries four rolls, and the latter a paper bag.)