The authors deem it their duty to point out this identity of character. It has seemed to them that these two mirthful, fragile, and unhappy creatures in this comedy of Bohemian life might haply figure as one person, whose name should not be Mimi, not Francine, but “the Ideal.”]
“...Mimi was a charming girl specially apt to appeal to Rudolph, the poet and dreamer. Aged twenty-two, she was slight and graceful. Her face reminded one of some sketch of high-born beauty; its features had marvellous refinement.
“The hot, impetuous blood of youth coursed through her veins, giving a rosy hue to her clear complexion that had the white velvety bloom of the camellia.
“This frail beauty allured Rudolph. But what wholly served to enchant him were Mimi’s tiny hands, that, despite her household duties, she contrived to keep whiter even than the Goddess of Ease.”
IN THE ATTIC
Spacious window, from which one sees an expanse of snow-clad roofs. On left, a fireplace, a table, small cupboard, a little book-case, four chairs, a picture easel, a bed, a few books, many packs of cards, two candlesticks. Door in the middle, another on left.
Curtain rises quickly
Rudolph and Marcel. Rudolph looks pensively out of the window. Marcel works at his painting, “The Passage of the Red Sea,” with hands nipped with cold, and warms them by blowing on them from time to time, often changing position on account of the frost.
Mar. (seated, continuing to paint)
This Red Sea passage feels as damp and chill to me
As if adown my back a stream were flowing.
(Goes a little way back from the easel to look at the picture.)
But in revenge a Pharaoh will I drown.
(Turning to his work.)
And you? (to Rudolph)
Rud. (pointing to the tireless stove)
Lazily rising, see how the smoke
From thousands of chimneys floats upward!
And yet that stove of ours
No fuel seems to need, the idle rascal,
Content to live in ease, just like a lord!
Mar. ’Tis now a good, long while since we paid his lawful wages.
Rud. Of what use are the forests all white under the snow?
Mar. Now Rudolph, let me tell you
A fact that overcomes me,
I’m simply frozen!
Rud. (approaching Marcel)
And I, Marcel, to be quite candid,
I’ve no faith in the sweat of my brow.
Mar. All my fingers are frozen
Just as if they’d been touching that iceberg,
Touching that block of marble, the heart of false Musetta.
(Heaves a long sigh, laying aside his palette and brushes, and ceases painting.)