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Title: La Boheme
Author: Giacosa, Giuseppe, 1847-1906, Illica, Luigi, 1857-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "La Boheme" ***

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An Opera in Four Acts

Libretto by

English Version by

Music by


RUDOLPH (a poet)                    Tenor
SCHAUNARD (a musician)              Baritone
BENOIT (a landlord)                 Bass
MIMI                                Soprano
PARPIGNOL                           Tenor
MARCEL (a painter)                  Baritone
COLLINE (a philosopher)             Bass
ALCINDORO (a councilor of state)    Bass
MUSETTA                             Soprano
CUSTOM-HOUSE SERGEANT               Bass

Students, Work Girls, Citizens, Shopkeepers, Street Vendors, Soldiers,
Restaurant Waiters, Boys, Girls, etc.



The opera is founded on Henri Murger's book "La Vie de Bohème."


Rudolph and Marcel are sitting in the latter's attic-studio in the
Quartier Latin, in Paris. Marcel is absorbed in his painting. The day
is cold. They have no money to buy coal. Marcel takes a chair to burn
it, when Rudolph remembers that he has a manuscript which has been
rejected by the publishers and lights a fire with that instead.
Colline enters, looking abject and miserable. He had gone out to pawn
his books, but nobody wanted them. Their friend, Schaunard, however,
had better luck. He comes bringing fuel and provisions. They all
prepare their meal, when the landlord enters and demands the payment
of his rent. The friends offer him a glass of wine and turn him out
amidst joking and laughter. After their gay repast they separate and
Rudolph remains alone writing.

A knock is heard at the door and Mimi, a little seamstress, who lives
on the same floor, appears and asks Rudolph to give her a match to
light her candle. As she is about to go out, she falls in a faint.
Rudolph gives her wine and restores her to consciousness. She tells
him that she suffers from consumption. Rudolph is struck by her beauty
and her delicate hands. She notices that she has lost her key and
whilst they search for it their candles are extinguished. As they
grope on the floor in the dark, Rudolph finds the key and puts it in
his pocket. Their hands meet and Rudolph tries to warm her hands and
tells her all about his life. Mimi confides her struggles to him and
their conversation soon turns upon their love for each other.


Rudolph's friends have repaired to their favorite Café. It is
Christmas Eve and everyone is in festive spirits. All the shops are
bright and displaying their goods. Hawkers offer their goods for sale
in the streets. Rudolph and Mimi are seen entering a milliner's where
Rudolph is to buy her a new hat. Colline, Schaunard and Marcel take
their seats in front of the Café, where a table has been prepared for
them. Rudolph introduces Mimi to his friends. Musetta, Marcel's flame,
with whom he has quarrelled, now enters with Alcindoro. Marcel is
deeply moved when he sees her. Musetta notices this and sends
Alcindoro on an errand. Whilst he is away, she makes peace with
Marcel. The friends find that they have not sufficient money to pay
for their supper, so they carry off Musetta and leave their bills to
be paid by Alcindoro.


Months have elapsed, bringing joy and misery to Rudolph and Mimi.
Rudolph loves Mimi passionately, but is consumed with jealousy. On a
wintry day, Marcel is seen leaving a tavern near the Gates of Paris.
He meets Mimi; she looks pale and haggard. She asks Marcel to help her
and tells him of Rudolph's love and jealousy, explaining that she must
leave him. Rudolph now comes upon the scene and not seeing Mimi tells
of all the miseries of their lives; how he loves her and believes her
to be dying of consumption. Mimi's cough betrays her and although she
says good-bye to Rudolph they find they cannot part and determine to
await the spring. Meanwhile Musetta and Marcel have a violent quarrel.


Marcel and Rudolph are now living together in their attic-studio.
Musetta and Mimi have left them. They are seemingly working, but their
thoughts wander towards the women they love. Schaunard and Colline
enter with rolls and a herring for their meal. They have a wild time
and are dancing and singing when Musetta enters and tells them that
Mimi is outside so weak and ill that she can go no further. They make
up a bed on the couch for her and bring her in. She clings to Rudolph
and implores him not to leave her. Mimi reconciles Marcel and Musetta.
Musetta tells her old friends that Mimi is dying and gives them her
earrings to sell, asking them to get a doctor for Mimi. They all go
out leaving Rudolph alone with Mimi. He holds her in his arms and
recalls their love. Mimi is seized with a fit of coughing and falls
back in a faint. Musetta returns with medicine. Mimi regains
consciousness and turning to Rudolph tells him of her love. Musetta
falls upon her knees in prayer and Mimi passes away in Rudolph's arms.

_...rain or dust, cold or heat, nothing stops these bold adventurers.

Their existence of every day is a work of genius, a daily problem
which they always contrive to solve with the aid of bold mathematics.

When want presses them, abstemious as anchorites--but, if a little
fortune falls into their hands, see them ride forth on the most
ruinous fancies, loving the fairest and youngest, drinking the oldest
and best wines, and not finding enough windows whence to throw their
money; then--the last crown dead and buried--they begin again to dine
at the table d'hôte of chance, where their cover is always laid;
smugglers of all the industries which spring from art; in chase, from
morning till night, of that wild animal which is called the crown.

"Bohemia" has a special dialect, a distinct jargon of its own. This
vocabulary is the hell of rhetoric and the paradise of neologism_.

_A gay life; yet a terrible one_!

(Il. MURGER, preface to "Vie de Bohème")[1]

[Footnote 1: Rather than follow MURGER'S novel step by step, the
authors of the present libretto, both for reasons of musical and
dramatic effect, have sought to derive inspiration from the French
writer's admirable preface.

Although they have faithfully portrayed the characters, even
displaying a certain fastidiousness as to sundry local details; albeit
in the scenic development of the opera they have followed Murger's
method of dividing the libretto into four separate acts, in the
dramatic and comic episodes they have claimed that ample and entire
freedom of action, which, rightly or wrongly, they deemed necessary to
the proper scenic presentment of a novel the most free, perhaps, in
modern literature.

Yet, in this strange book, if the characters of each person therein
stand out clear and sharply defined, we often may perceive that one
and the same temperament bears different names, and that it is
incarnated, so to speak, in two different persons. Who cannot detect
in the delicate profile of one woman the personality both of Mimi and
of Francine? Who, as he reads of Mimi's "little hands, whiter than
those of the Goddess of Ease," is not reminded of Francine's little

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


"...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."



_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

RUD. Ah! love's a stove consuming a deal of fuel!

MAR. Too quickly.

RUD. Where the man does the burning.

MAR. And the woman the lighting.

RUD. While the one turns to ashes.

MAR. So the other stands and watches.

RUD. Meanwhile, in here we're frozen.

MAR. And we're dying of hunger.

RUD. A fire must be lighted.

MAR. (_seizing a chair and about to break it up_)
I have it,
This crazy chair shall save us!

(_RUDOLPH energetically resists_ MARCEL'S _project_.)

RUD. (_joyous at an idea that has seized him_)

(_Runs to the table and from below it lifts a bulky manuscript._)

MAR. You've found it?

RUD. Yes. When genius is roused ideas come fast in flashes.

MAR. (_pointing to his picture_)
Let's burn up the "Red Sea."

RUD. No: think what a stench 'twould occasion!
But my drama, my beautiful drama shall give us warmth.

MAR. (_with comic terror_)
Intend you to read it?
Twill chill us!

RUD. No. The paper in flame shall be burning,
The soul to its heaven returning. (_with tragic emphasis_)
Great loss! but the world yet must bear it,
When Rome is in peril!

MAR. Great soul!

RUD. (_giving _MARCEL_ a portion of the MS._)
Here, take the first act.

MAR. Well?

RUD. Tear it.

MAR. And light it.

(RUDOLPH _strikes a flint on steel, lights a candle, and goes to the
stove with_ MARCEL; _together they set fire to a part of the MS.
thrown into the fireplace; then both draw up their chairs and sit
down, delightedly warming themselves._)

RUD. How joyous the rays!

MAR. How cheerful the blaze!

(_The door at the back opens violently, and_ COLLINE _enters frozen
and nipped up, stamping his feet, and throwing angrily on the
table a bundle of books tied up in a handkerchief_.)

COL. Surely miracles apocalyptic are dawning!
For Christmas eve they honor by allowing no pawning!

(_Checks himself, seeing a fire in the stove._)

See I a fire here?

RUD. (_to_ COLLINE) Gently, it is my drama.

COL. In blazes!
I find it very sparkling.

RUD. Brilliant! (_the fire languishes_)

COL. Too short its phrases.

RUD. Brevity's deemed a treasure.

COL. (_taking the chair from_ RUDOLPH)
Your chair pray give me, author.

MAR. These foolish entr'actes merely make us shiver. Quickly!

RUD. (_taking another portion of the_ MS.) Here is the next act.

MAR. (_to_ COLLINE) Hush! not a whisper.

(RUDOLPH _tears up the_ MS. _and throws it into the fireplace; the
flames revive._ COLLINE _moves his chair nearer and warms his
hands._ RUDOLPH _is standing near the two with the rest of the_

COL. How deep the thought is!

MAR. Color how true!

RUD. In that blue smoke my drama is dying
Full of its love-scenes ardent and new.

COL. A leaf see crackle!

MAR. Those were all the kisses.

RUD. (_throwing the remaining_ MS. _on the fire_)
Three acts at once I desire to hear.

COL. Only the daring can dream such visions.

RUD., MAR. and COL. Dreams that in flame soon disappear.

(_Applaud enthusiastically; the flame diminishes._)

MAR. Ye gods! see the leaves well-nigh perished.

COL. How vain is the drama we cherished.

MAR. They crackle! they curl up! they die!

MAR. and COL. The author--down with him, we cry.

(_From the middle door two boys enter, carrying provisions and fuel;
the three friends turn, and with a surprised cry, seize the provisions
and place them on the table._ COLLINE _carries the wood to the

RUD. Fuel!

MAR. Wine, too!

COL. Cigars!

RUD. Fuel!

MAR. Bordeaux!

RUD., MAR. and COL. The abundance of a feast day
We are destined yet to know.

(_Exeunt the two boys_)

(_Enter_ SCHAUNARD.)

SCH. (_triumphantly throwing some coins on the ground_)
Such wealth in the balance
Outweighs the Bank of France.

COL. (_assisting_ RUDOLPH _and_ MARCEL _to pick up the coins_)
Then, take them--then, take them.

MAR. (_incredulously_) Tin medals? Inspect them.

SCH. (_showing one to_ MARCEL)
You're deaf then, or blear-eyed?
What face do they show?

RUD. (_bowing_)
King Louis Philippe: to my monarch I bow.

RUD., MAR., SCH. and COL. Shall King Louis Philippe at our feet thus
lie low?

(SCHAUNARD _will go on recounting his good luck, but the others
continue to arrange everything on the table._)

SCH. Now I'll explain.
This gold has--or rather silver--
Has its own noble story.

MAR. First the stove to replenish.

COL. So much cold has he suffered,

SCH. 'Twas an Englishman, then--
Lord, or mi-lord, as may be--
Desired a musician.

MAR. (_throwing_ COLLINE'S _books from the table_)
Off! Let us furnish the table.

SCH. I flew to him.

RUD. Where is the food?

COL. There.

MAR. Here.

SCH. I pay my homage.
Accepted, I enquire--

COL. (_preparing the viands on the table while_ RUDOLPH _lights the
other candle_)
Here's cold roast beef.

MAR. And savory patty.

SCH. When shall we start the lessons?
When I seek him, in answer to my question,
"When shall we start the lessons?"
He tells me "Now--at once.
Just look there,"
Showing a parrot on the first floor, hung, then continues:
"You must play until that bird has ceased to live."
Thus it befell:
Three days I play and yell.

RUD. Brilliantly lightens the room into splendor.

MAR. Here are the candles.

COL. What lovely pastry!

SCH. Then on the servant girl
Try all the charms wherewith I'm laden;
I fascinate the maiden.

MAR. With no tablecloth eat we--

RUD. (taking a paper from his pocket) An idea!

COL. and MAR. The Constitutional.

RUD. (unfolding the paper)
Excellent paper!
One eats a meal and swallows news at the same time!

SCH. With parsley I approach the bird,
His beak Lorito opens;
Lorito's wings outspread,
Lorito opens his beak,
A little piece of parsley gulps--
As Socrates, is dead!

(SCHAUNARD, seeing that no one is paying any attention to him, seizes
COLLINE as he passes with a plate.)

COL. Who?

SCH. (pettishly) The devil fly away with you entirely!

(seeing the rest in the act of eating the cold pastry)

What are you doing?

(With solemn gesture, extending his hand over the pastry)

No! dainties of this kind
Are but the stored-up fodder
Saved for the morrow,
Fraught with gloom and sorrow, (clearing the table)
To dine at home on the day of Christmas vigil,
While the Quartier Latin embellishes
Its ways with dainty food and tempting relishes.
Meanwhile the smell of savory fritters
The old street fills with fragrant odor.
There singing joyously, merry maidens hover,
Having for echo each a student lover.

(RUDOLPH locks the door; then all go to the table and pour out wine.)

RUD., MAR. and COL. 'Tis the gladsome Christmas Eve.

SCH. A little of religion, comrades, I pray;
Within doors drink we, but we dine away.

(Two knocks are heard at the door.)

BEN. (from without) 'Tis I.

MAR. Who is there?

BEN. 'Tis Benoit.

MAR. 'Tis the landlord is knocking!

SCH. Bolt the door quickly!

COL. (calling towards the door) No! There is no one!

SCH. 'Tis fastened!

BEN. Give me a word, pray!

SCH. (opening the door, after consulting with his friends) At once.

BEN. (entering smilingly, showing a paper to MARCEL) The rent!

MAR. (with great cordiality) Hallo! give him a seat, friends!

BEN. Do not trouble, I beg you.

SCH. (with gentle firmness, obliging BENOIT to sit down) Sit down!

MAR. (offering BENOIT a glass of wine) Some Bordeaux?

RUD. Your health!

BEN. Thank you.

COL. Your health!

SCH. Drink up!

RUD. Good health! (all drink)

BEN. (to MARCEL, putting down his glass and showing his paper.)
'Tis the quarter's rent I call for.

MAR. (ingenuously) Glad to hear it.

BEN. And therefore--

SCH. (interrupting) Another tipple? (fills up the glasses)

BEN. Thank you.

RUD. Your health!

COL. Your health!

RUD., MAR., SCH. and COL. (all touching BENOIT'S glass)
Drink we all your health, sir! (all drink)

BEN. (resuming, to MARCEL)
To you I come, as the quarter now is ended;
You have promised,

MAR. To keep it I intended. (Shows BENOIT the money on the table.)

RUD. (aside to MARCEL) Art mad?

SCH. (aside to MARCEL) What do you--

MAR. (to BENOIT, without noticing the two)
Hast seen it? Then give your care a respite,
And join our friendly circle.
Tell me how many years
Boast you of, my dear sir?

BEN. My years! Spare me, I pray.

RUD. Our own age, less or more?

BEN. (protesting) Much more, very much more.

(While they make BENOIT talk, they fill up his glass immediately it
is empty.)

COL. He says 'tis less or more.

MAR. (mischievously, in a low voice)
T'other evening at Mabille
I caught him in a passage of love.

BEN. (uneasily) Me!

MAR. At Mabille. T'other evening
I caught you. Deny?

BEN. By chance 'twas.

MAR. (in a flattering tone) She was lovely!

BEN. (half drunk, suddenly) Ah! very.

SCH. Old rascal!

RUD. Old rascal!

COL. Vile seducer!

SCH. Old rascal!

MAR. He's an oak tree. He's a cannon.

RUD. He has good taste, then?

BEN. (laughing) Ha, ha!

MAR. Her hair was curly auburn.

COL. Old knave!

MAR. With ardent speed leaped he joyous to her embraces.

BEN. (with increasing exultation) Old am I, but robust yet.

RUD., SCH. and COL. Ardent with joy he sprang to her embraces.

MAR. To him she yields her woman's love and truth.

BEN. (in a very confidential tone)
Bashful was I in youth,
Now somewhat am I altered.
Well, what I like myself ...
Must know that my one delight ...
Is a merry damsel,--and small,
I do not ask a whale, nor a world-map to study,
Nor, like a full moon,
A face round and ruddy;
But leanness, downright leanness, No! No!
Lean women's claws oftentimes are scratchy,
Their temper somewhat catchy,
Full of aches, too, and mourning,
As my wife is my warning.

(MARCEL bangs his fist down on the table and rises; the others follow
his example, BENOIT looking on in bewilderment.)

MAR. A wife possessing!
Yet thoughts impure confessing.

SCH. and COL. Foul shame!

RUD. His vile pollution empoisons our honest abode.

SCH. and COL. Hence!

MAR. With perfume we must fumigate!

COL. Drive him forth, the reprobate!

SCH. Morality offended hence expels you!

(BENOIT staggeringly rises, and tries in vain to speak.)

BEN. But say--I say!

MAR. Be silent!

COL. Be silent!

RUD. Be silent!

(They surround BENOIT and gradually push him to the door.)

BEN. Sirs, I beg you!

MAR., SCH. and COL. Be silent, out, your lordship! Hence away!

RUD., MAR., SCH. and COL. Wish we your lordship a pleasant Christmas
Eve. Ah!

(They push BENOIT outside the door.)

MAR. (locking the door) I have paid the last quarter!

SCH. In the Quartier Latin
Momus awaits!

MAR. Long live the spender!

SCH. We'll the booty divide!

RUD. We'll divide!

COL. We'll divide! (they divide the money on the table)

MAR. (holding out a cracked mirror to COLLINE)
Beauty is a gift heaven descended,
Now you are rich, to decency pay tribute.
Bear! have your mane attended!

COL. The first chance I can find,
I will make acquaintance with a beard eraser!
So guide me to the monstrous outrage of a barber's weapon.
Let's go!

SCH. We go!

MAR. and COL. We go!

RUD. I stay here, finish I must the article for my new journal,

MAR. Be quick then!

RUD. Five minutes only, I know well the work!

COL. We'll await you at the porter's lodge!

MAR. Delay, and you'll hear the chorus!

RUD. Five minutes only!

SCH. You must cut short the Beaver's growing tale!

(RUDOLPH _takes a light from the table and goes to open the door:
the others go out and descend the staircase_.)

MAR. (_from without_) Look to the staircase! keep well to the

RUD. (_on the landing near the open door holding up the candle_) Go

COL. How plaguing dark 'tis!

SCH. May the porter be damned!

(_The noise of someone falling is heard_.)

COL. I have tumbled!

RUD. Colline, are you dead yet?

COL. (_from the bottom of the staircase_) Not this time!

MAR. Come quickly!

(RUDOLPH _shuts the door, puts down the light, clears a space at the
table for pens and paper, then sits down and commences to write,
after putting out the other candle._)

RUD. I'm out of humor! (_A timid knock is heard at the door._) Who's

MIMI. (_from without_) Pardon!

RUD. 'Tis a lady!

MIMI. Excuse me, my candle's gone out!

RUD. (_running to open the door_) Is it?

MIMI. (_standing on the threshold with an extinguished candle and a
Pray, would you--

RUD. Pray be seated a moment.

MIMI. No, I thank you.

RUD. I beg you enter.

(MIMI _enters, but is seized with a fit of coughing_.)

RUD. Are you not well?

MIMI. No! Nothing!

RUD. You are quite pale!

MIMI. (coughing) My breath--'tis the staircase--

(Swoons, and RUDOLPH has hardly time to support her and place her
on a chair. She lets fall her candlestick and key.)

RUD. What can I do to aid her?

(Fetches some water, and sprinkles her face.)

Ah! this! How very pale her face is! (Mimi revives) Do you feel

MIMI. Yes.

RUD. Here 'tis very chilly.
Nearer the fire be seated an instant.
(conducting her to a chair near the tire)
A little wine?

MIMI. Thank you.

RUD. (giving her a glass and pouring out some wine) For you.

MIMI. Not so much, please!

RUD. Like this?

MIMI. Thank you. (she drinks)

RUD. How lovely a maiden.

MIMI. Now please allow me to light my candle, I'm feeling much better.

RUD. What, so quickly?

(RUDOLPH lights the candle and gives it to MIMI.)

MIMI. Thank you. Now, good evening.

RUD. So, good evening.

(Accompanies her to the door, and then returns quickly to his work.)

MIMI. (re-entering, stops on the threshold)
Oh! how stupid! How stupid!
The key of my poor chamber,
Where can I have left it?

RUD. Come, stand not in the doorway:
Your candle is flickering in the wind.

(Mimi's light goes out.)

MIMI. Good gracious! Please light it just once more!

(RUDOLPH runs with his candle, but, as he nears the door, his light,
too, is blown out, and the room remains in darkness.)

RUD. Oh, dear! Now there's mine gone out, too!

MIMI. Ah! and the key--where can it be?

(Groping about, she reaches the table and deposits the candlestick.)

RUD. What a nuisance! (He finds himself near the door and fastens it.)

MIMI. I'm so sorry.

RUD. Where can it be?

MIMI. You have an importunate neighbor,
Pray, forgive your tiresome little neighbor.

RUD. Nothing, I assure you.

MIMI. Pray, forgive your tiresome neighbor.

RUD. Do not mention it, I pray you.

MIMI. Look for it.

RUD. I'm looking.

(Looks for the key on the floor; sliding over it, he knocks against
the table, deposits his candlestick, and searches for the key with his
hands on the floor.)

MIMI. Where can it be?

(Finds the key, lets an exclamation escape, then checks himself and
puts the key in his pocket.)

RUD. Ah!

MIMI. Have you found it?

RUD. No.

MIMI. I think so.

RUD. In very truth.

MIMI. Found it?

RUD. Not yet.

(Feigns to search, but guided by Mimi'S voice and movements,
approaches her; as Mimi is stooping his hand meets hers, which he

MIMI. (rising to her feet, surprised) Ah!

RUD. (holding Mimi's hand, with emotion)
Your tiny hand is frozen,
Let me warm it into life;
Our search is useless,
In darkness all is hidden,
'Ere long the light of the moon shall aid us,
Yes, in the moonlight our search let us resume.
One moment, pretty maiden,
While I tell you in a trice,
Who I am, what I do,
And how I live. Shall I?

(Mimi is silent.)

I am, I am a poet!
What's my employment? Writing.
Is that a living? Hardly.
I've wit though wealth be wanting,
Ladies of rank and fashion
All inspire me with passion;
In dreams and fond illusions,
Or castles in the air,
Richer is none on earth than I.

Bright eyes as yours, believe me,
Steal my priceless jewels,
In fancy's store-house cherished,
Your roguish eyes have robbed me,
Of all my dreams bereft me,
Dreams that are fair, yet fleeting.
Fled are my truant fancies,
Regrets I do not cherish,
For now life's rosy morn is breaking,
Now golden love is waking.
Now that I've told my story,
Pray tell me yours, too;
Tell me frankly, who are you?
Say, will you tell?

MIMI. (_after some hesitation_)
They call me Mimi
But my name is Lucia;
My story is a short one--
Fine satin stuffs or silk
I deftly embroider;
I am content and happy;
The rose and lily I make for pastime.
These flowers give me pleasure
As in magical accents
They speak to me of love,
Of beauteous springtime.
Of fancies and of visions bright they tell me,
Such as poets, and only poets, know.
Do you hear me?

RUD. Yes!

MIMI. They call me Mimi,
But I know not why;
All by myself I take my frugal supper,
To Mass not oft repairing,
Yet oft I pray to God.
In my room live I lonely,
Up at the top there, in my little chamber
Above the house tops so lofty.
Yet the glad sun first greets me;
After the frost is over
Spring's first, sweet, fragrant kiss is mine,
Her first bright sunbeam is mine,
A rose as her petals are opening
Do I tenderly cherish. Ah! what a charm
Lies for me in her fragrance!
Alas! those flowers I make,
The flowers I fashion, alas! they have no perfume!
More than just this I cannot find to tell you,
I'm a tiresome neighbor that at an awkward moment
intrudes upon you.

SCH. (_from below_) Eh! Rudolph!

COL. Rudolph!

MAR. Hallo! you hear not?
Don't dawdle!

(_At the shouts of his friends_ RUDOLPH _is annoyed._)

COL. Poetaster, come!

SCH. What has happened, idler?

(_Getting more annoyed_ RUDOLPH _opens the window to answer his
friends; the moonlight enters, brightening the room._)

RUD. I have still three lines to finish.

MIMI. (_approaching the window_) Who are they?

RUD. My friends.

SCH. You will know they're yours.

MAR. What do you there, so lonely?

RUD. I'm not lonely. We are two.
So to Momus go on.
There keep us places; we will follow quickly.

(_Remains still at the window to make sure of his friends going._)

MAR., SCH. and COL. (_gradually departing_)
Momus, Momus, Momus!
Gently and soft to supper let us go.

MAR. And poetry let flow.

SCH. and COL. Momus, Momus, Momus!

(MIMI _goes nearer the window, so that the moon's rays fall on her
while_ RUDOLPH _contemplates her ecstatically._)

RUD. Lovely maid in the moonlight!

MAR. And poetry let flow.

RUD. Your face entrancing.
Like radiant seraph from on high appears!
The dream that I would ever, ever dream, returns.

RUD.                               | MIMI.
                                   | Love alone o'er hearts has sway
Heart to heart and soul to soul    | Ah Love! to thee do we surrender.
Love binds us in his fetters.      |  (_yielding to her lover's
(_placing his arm around MIMI_         embrace_)
Love now shall rule our hearts     | Sweet to my soul the magic voice
 alone,                            | Of love its music chanteth,
Life's fairest flower is love!     | Life's fairest flower is love!
Life's fairest flower is love!     |   (RUDOLPH _kisses her._)

MIMI. (_disengaging herself_) No, I pray you!

RUD. My sweetheart!

MIMI. Your comrades await you!

RUD. Do you then dismiss me?

MIMI. I should like--no, I dare not!

RUD. Say!

MIMI. (coquettishly) Could I not come with you?

RUD. What, Mimi?
It would be much more pleasant here to stay.
Outside 'tis chilly!

MIMI. To you I'll be neighbor! I'll be always near you.

RUD. On returning?

MIMI. (archly) Who knows, sir?

RUD. Take my arm, my little maiden!

MIMI. (giving her arm to RUDOLPH) I obey you, my lord!

(They go, arm in arm, to the door.)

RUD. You love me? Say!

MIMI. (with abandon)
I love thee!

RUD. and MIMI. My love! My love!


"...Gustave Colline, the great philosopher; Marcel, the great
painter; Rudolph, the great poet, and Schaunard, the great musician
--as they were wont to style them selves--regularly frequented the
Cafe Momus, where, being inseparable, they were nicknamed 'The
Four Musketeers.'

"Indeed, they always went about together, played together, dined
together, often without paying the bill, yet always with a beautiful
harmony worthy of the Conservatoire Orchestra.

"Mademoiselle Musetta was a pretty girl of twenty.

"Very coquettish, rather ambitious, but without any pretensions
to spelling.

"Oh! those delightful suppers in the Quartier Latin!

"A perpetual alternative between a blue brougham and an omnibus;
between the Rue Breda and the Quartier Latin.

"...Well! what of that? From time to time I feel the need of breathing
the atmosphere of such a life as this. My madcap existence is like a
song; each of my love-episodes forms a verse of it, but Marcel is its




A conflux of streets; where they meet, a square, flanked by shops of
all sorts; on one side the Café Momus.

Aloof from the crowd, RUDOLPH and MIMI; COLLINE is near a rag-shop,
SCHAUNARD stands outside a tinker's, buying a pipe and a horn, MARCEL
is being hustled hither and thither.

A vast, motley crowd; soldiers, serving maids, boys, girls, children,
students, work girls, gendarmes, etc. It is evening. The shops are
decked with tiny lamps; a huge lantern lights up the entrance to the
Café Momus. The café is so crowded that some of the customers are
obliged to seat themselves outside.

HAWKERS. (outside their shops)

Come, buy my oranges!
Hot roasted chestnuts!
Trinkets and crosses!
Fine hardbake!
Excellent toffee!
Flowers for the ladies!
Try our candy!
Cream for the babies!
Fat larks and ortolans!
Look at them!
Fine salmon!
Look at our chestnuts!
Who'll buy my carrots?


CITIZENS. What a racket!

WOMEN. What uproar!

Hold fast to me; come along!

A MOTHER. (calling her children) Lisa! Emma!

CITIZENS. Ho! make way there!

THE MOTHER. Emma, don't you hear me?

STUDENTS and WORK GIRLS. Rue Mazarin's the nearest.

WOMEN. Let's get away, I'm choking!

CITIZENS. See! the café is near!

(At the Café)

Come here, waiter!
Come along!
Come along!
Come here!
To me!
Some beer!
A glass!
Come along!
Come along!
Some beer!
Some coffee!
Hurry up!

SCH. (_blowing the horn_)
D! D! D! what a dreadful D!

(_Haggling with the tinker._)

What's the price of the lot?

COL. (_to the clothes dealer, who has been mending a jacket for him_)
It's rather shabby, but sound and not expensive.

(_He pays, and then carefully consigns the books to the various
pockets of his long coat._)

(_MARCEL alone in the midst of the crowd, with a parcel under his arm,
making eyes at the girls who jostle against him in the crowd._)

MAR. I feel somehow as if I fain must shout:
Ho! laughing lassies, will you play at love?
Let's play together, let's play the game of buy and sell:
Who'll give a penny for my guileless heart?

(_Pushing through the crowd, _RUDOLPH_ and _MIMI_, arm in arm,
approach a bonnet shop._)

RUD. Let's go!

MIMI. To buy the bonnet?

RUD. Hold tightly to my arm, love!

(_They enter the bonnet shop._)

(SCHAUNARD _strolls about in front of the Café Momus, waiting for his
friends, and, armed with his huge pipe and hunting horn, he
watches the crowd curiously._)

SCH. Surging onward--eager, breathless--
Moves the madding crowd,
As they frolic ever
In their wild, insane endeavor.

COL. (_comes up, waving an old book in triumph_)
Such a rare copy! well-nigh unique,
A grammar of Runic!

SCH. (_who arrives at that moment behind_ COLLINE, _compassionately_)
Honest fellow!

MAR. (_arriving at the Café Momus, and finding_ SCHAUNARD _and_
To supper!

SCH. and COL. Ho! Rudolph!

MAR. He's gone to buy a bonnet.

(MARCEL, SCHAUNARD _and_ COLLINE _try to find an empty table outside
the café, but there is only one, which is occupied by townsfolk. At
these latter the three friends glare furiously, and then enter the
café. The crowd disperses among the adjacent streets. The shops are
crowded and the square becomes densely thronged with buyers who come
and go. In the café there is much animation._ RUDOLPH _and_ MIMI _come
out of the shop._)

RUD. (_to_ MIMI)
Come along! my friends are waiting.

MIMI. Do you think this rose-trimmed bonnet suits me?

RUD. The color suits your dark complexion.

MIMI. (_looking into the window of a bonnet shop_) O what a pretty

RUD. I have an aunt a millionaire.
If the good God wills to take her,
Then shall you have a necklace far more fine.
(_suddenly seeing_ MIMI _look round suspiciously_)
What is it?

MIMI. Are you jealous?

RUD. The man in love is always jealous, darling.

MIMI. Are you then in love?

RUD. (_squeezing her arm in his_)

Yes, so much in love!
Are you?

MIMI. Yes, deeply.

(_Enter from the café,_ COLLINE, SCHAUNARD _and_ MARCEL _carrying a
table. A waiter follows with chairs. The townsfolks seated near
seem vexed at the noise which the three friends are making, for
they soon get up and walk away._)

COL. The vulgar herd I hate, just as I did Horace.

SCH. And I, when I am eating,
I can't stand being crowded.

MAR. (to the waiter) Smartly!

SCH. For many!

MAR. We want a supper of the choicest!

(_MIMI and RUDOLPH joining their friends_.)

RUD. (_accompanied by MIMI_) Two places.

COL. Let's have supper.

RUD. So we have come. (_introducing Mimi_)
This is Mimi,
The merry flower girl;
And now she's come to join us.
Our party is completed--
For I shall play the poet,
While she's the muse incarnate.
Forth from my brain flow songs of passion,
As, at her touch the pretty buds blow;
As in the soul awaketh beautiful love!

MAR. (_ironically_) My word, what high falutin'!

COL. _Digna est intrari._

SCH. _Ingrediat si necessit._

COL. I'll grant only an _accessit_!

(RUDOLPH _makes_ MIMI _sit down. All being seated, the waiter returns
with the menu_.)

COL. (_with an air of great importance_) Some sausage!

PAR. (_faintly in the distance_) Who'll buy some pretty toys from

(_Boys and girls running out from the shops and adjoining streets._)

BOYS and GIRLS. Parpignol! Parpignol!

(_Enter PARPIGNOL from the Rue Dauphin, pushing a barrow festooned
with foliage, flowers and paper lanterns._)

PAR. (_crying_) Who'll buy some pretty toys from Parpignol?

CHILDREN, (_crowding and jumping round the barrow_)
Parpignol! Parpignol!
With his pretty barrow bright with flowers!

(_admiring the toys_)

I want the horn! and I the horse!
Get away, they are mine!
I want the gun! and I the whip!
No, the drum shall be mine!

(_At the cries of the children, the mothers try, but without success,
to lead them away from PARPIGNOL, scolding loudly_.)

Ah! wait a bit, you dirty little rascals.
What can it be that sets you all a-gaping?
Get home to your beds, get home, lazy rascals,
Or you shall all have a tidy beating.

(_The children refuse to go. One of them cries for Parpignol'S toys
and his mother pulls his ear. The mothers, relenting, buy some.
Parpignol moves down the street, followed by the children, pretending
to play on their toy instruments_.)

PAR. (_in the distance_) Who'll buy some pretty toys of Parpignol!

(_The waiter presents the menu, which the four friends carefully
scrutinize in turn._)

SCH. Bring some venison.

MAR. I'll have turkey.

RUD. (_in an undertone to MIMI_) Mimi, what would you like?

MIMI. Some custard!

SCH. And some Rhenish!

COL. Bring some claret, too!

SCH. And some lobster, only shell it!
The best you've got--for a lady!

MAR. (_disconcerted at the sight of MUSETTA; to the waiter_)

And I'll have a phial of poison! (_throwing himself on a chair_)

SCH., COL. and RUD. (_turning on hearing MARCEL'S exclamation_)

Oh! Musetta!

(_the friends look pityingly at MARCEL, who turns pale_)

(_The shopwomen are going away, but stop to watch the fair stranger,
and are astonished to recognize in her MUSETTA; they whisper
among themselves, pointing at her._)

Look! 'tis Musetta!
'Tis she!
'Tis Musetta!
Oh! what swagger!
My! she's gorgeous.

(_entering their shops_)

STUDENTS and WORK GIRLS (_crossing the stage_)
Only look! why, there she is!
Some old stammering dotard's with her, too!
Yes, 'tis she!
Tis she!

(_Enter from the corner of the Rue Mazarin an extremely pretty
coquettish-looking young lady. She is followed by a pompous old
gentleman, who is both fussy and over-dressed._)

ALCINDORO DE MITONNEAUX. (_joining _MUSETTA_, out of breath_)
Just like a valet
I must run here and there.
No, no, not for me!
I can stand it no more.

(MUSETTA_ without noticing_ ALCINDORO_, takes a vacant seat, outside
the café._) How now? Outside? Here?

MUS. (_without noticing his protests, he fearing to remain outside in
the cold_) Sit down, Lulu!

ALC. (_in great irritation, sits down, and turns up his coat collar_)
Such a term of fond endearment
Pray do not apply to me!

MUS. Now, don't be Blue Beard, pray!

(_A waiter approaches briskly, to prepare the table and begins to
serve. _SCHAUNARD_ and _COLLINE_ furtively watch _MUSETTA_. _MARCEL_
feigns the greatest indifference. _RUDOLPH_ devotes all his attention
to _MIMI_._)

SCH. (_at the sight of the old gentleman with his decorations_)
He's had a pretty good dose, I reckon.

COL. (_scrutinizing _ALCINDORO) The naughty, naughty elder!

MAR. (_contemptuously_) With his good young Susanna.

MIMI. (_to _RUDOLPH) And her clothes are smart, too!

RUD. The angels can't afford them.

(_A piquet of the National Guard passes across the square; some
shop-keepers go home; at the corner of the street the chestnut-seller
does a thriving trade; the old clothes dealer fills her barrel with
clothes, and goes away with it over her shoulder._)

MUS. (_disconcerted at not being noticed by her friends_)
Marcel can see me,
But he won't look, the villain!
And Schaunard!
They provoke me past bearing!
Ah! could I but beat them!
If I could, I would scratch!
But I only have to back me
This old pelican!
No matter! (_calls the waiter who has gone away_)
Hi! waiter, here! (_the waiter hurriedly approaches_)
See, this plate has a horrid smell of onions!
(_dashes the plate on the ground; the waiter picks up the pieces_)

ALC. Don't, Musetta! do be quiet!

MUS. (_irritated, still watching MARCEL_) He won't look round! Now I
could beat him!

ALC. What's the matter?

MUS. (_sharply_) I meant the waiter!

ALC. Manners! Manners!
(_Takes the bill from the waiter and orders the supper._)

MUS. (_more irritated_)
Such a bore!
Just let me have my own way.
If you please; I won't be ruled by you!

MIMI. (_looking curiously at RUDOLPH_) Do you know who she is?

MAR. You had better ask me.
Well, her name is Musetta
Her surname is Temptation.
As to her vocation:
Like a rose in the breezes,
So she changes lover for lover without number.
And like the spiteful screech owl,
A bird that's most rapacious,
The food that most she favors is the heart!
Her food the heart is;
Thus have I now none left!
(_to his friends, concealing his agitation_)
So pass me the ragout!

Now the fun's at its climax,
To one she speaks because the other listens.

The other will not hear,
Feigns not to see the girl: which makes her mad.

RUD. (_to MIMI_)
Now let me tell you
I never would forgive you.

I love you, love you fondly,
Am wholly yours, my dearest! (_eating_)

COL. What's that about forgiveness?

(_coquettishly watching MARCEL, who becomes agitated_)

MUS. (_watching MARCEL; in a loud voice to MARCEL_) Why, don't you
know me?

ALC. (_thinking MUSETTA spoke to him_) Well, I'm giving the order,

MUS. (_as above_) But your heart is a-throbbing!

ALC. (_as above_) Not so loud.

MUS. (_to herself_) But your heart is a-throbbing!

ALC. Do be quiet!

MUS. As through the streets I wander onward merrily,
See how the folk look round,
Because they know I'm charming,
A very charming girl.
And then 'tis mine to mark the hidden longing,
And all the passion in their eyes;
And then the joy of conquest overcomes me,
Every man is my prize!

And thus their hearts, their hearts I capture,
As if by magic all my own, ah! rapture!
Tis mine alone!
Now you that once your love for me betrayed,
Why should you be dismayed?
Yet though deep in your heart
Rankles the smart.
You'd ne'er confess--but rather die!

(_SCHAUNARD and COLLINE rise and stand aside, watching the scene
with interest, while RUDOLPH and MIMI remain seated and continue
their talk. MARCEL nervously quits his seat, and is about
to go, but is spell-bound by MUSETTA'S voice._)

ALC. This odious singing upsets me entirely!

(_ALCINDORO vainly endeavors to induce MUSETTA to resume her seat
at the table where the supper is ready._)

Oh! now I see that this unhappy maiden
Adores your friend Marcel madly!

RUD. She once was Marcel's love;
She wantonly forsook her fate,
And rarer game she thought to capture!

MIMI. The love that's born of passion ends in grief;
That poor, unhappy girl!
She moves me to tears!

RUD. Who can revive a love that's dead?

MAR. Hold me back! hold me back!

COL. Who knows what will happen now?
Goodness me! 'tis most unpleasant!
Anyhow, it is for me!
She is pretty, I don't doubt it;
Yet I would rather have
My pipe and a page of Homer!

SCH. See the braggart in a moment will give in;
The snare for some is pleasant,
For the biter and the bit.

(_to COLLINE_)

If such a pretty damsel
Should but make eyes at you,
You'd forget your mouldy classics,
And run to fetch her shoe.

MUS. Ah! Marcel you are vanquished!
And though your heart is breaking,
You'd never let us know, (_feigning great regret_)
(I must try to get rid of the old boy.)
Oh! dear!

ALC. What now?

MUS. How it pains me! how it pains me!

ALC. Let's see!

MUS. My foot!
Break it, tear it,
I can't bear it,
Do, I implore you!

ALC. (_bending down to untie her shoe_) Gently, gently!

MUS. Close by there is a boot-shop; hasten! quickly!
He may have boots to please me.

ALC. What imprudence!

MUS. Ah! the torture!
How these horrid tight shoes squeeze me!
I'll take it off! So let it lie!

ALC. What will people say?
What imprudence!

SCH. and COL.
Now the fun becomes stupendous
In truth, 'tis better than a play!

MUS. Hasten, hasten! Bring another pair! Go!

ALC. What imprudence!
Nothing short of scandal!
Musetta, shame!

(_Hides her shoe under his coat, which he hastily buttons up; hurries
off the stage._)

MAR. (_greatly agitated_)
Ah! golden youth! you are not dead, not dead for me,
For love revives again in me;
If at my door you came to greet me,
My heart would straight go out to meet thee!

(_MUSETTA and MARCEL embrace with much fervor._)

MUS. Marcel!

MAR. Enchantress!

SCH. This is the final tableau! (_A waiter brings in the bill._)

RUD., COL. and SCH. The bill!

SCH. What a bother!

COL. Who bade him bring it?

SCH. Let's see.

(_Drums heard in the distance_)

RUD. and COL. Out with your coppers!

SCH. Out with your coppers,
Colline, Rudolph, and you, Marcel.

MAR. We've not a rap!

SCH. I say!

RUD. I've thirty sous, no more.

MAR., SCH. and COL. I say! no more than that?

STREET ARABS, (_hastening from the right_) 'Tis the Tattoo!

WORK GIRLS, (_hastening out of the café_) 'Tis the Tattoo!

STUDENTS and CITIZENS. 'Tis the Tattoo!

(_Hastening from the left. As the Tattoo is still a long way off, the
folk run hither and thither, as if uncertain from which quarter the
band will appear._)

SCH. But who has got my purse?

(_They all feel their pockets which are empty; none can explain the
sudden disappearance of SCHAUNARD'S purse, and they look at each other
in surprise._)

STREET ARABS. Will they come along this way?

WORK GIRLS and STUDENTS. No; from there.

STREET ARABS. They are coming down this way.

WORK GIRLS and STUDENTS. Here they come!

CITIZENS. Way there!

HAWKERS. Way there!

SOME BOYS. Oh! let me see!

OTHERS. Oh! let me hear!

BOYS. Mother, do let me see!

OTHERS. Papa, do let me hear!

MOTHERS. Lisette, do be quiet!
Tony, do have done! do be quiet!

MUS. (to the waiter)
And my bill, please, bring to me.

(_To waiter who brings the bill_)

Thank you.
Just make one bill of the two.
The gentleman will pay
Who came to sup with me.

RUD., MAR., SCH. and COL. Yes, he will pay!

MAR. (aside) He will pay!

SCH. and COL. Yes, he will pay!

MUS. (_placing both bills at ALCINDORO's place_)
And, after this pleasant meeting,
This shall be my greeting!

RUD., MAR., SCH. and COL. And, after our pleasant meeting,
This shall be her greeting!

(_The crowd fills the stage and the patrol advances gradually._)

WORK GIRLS. They will come along this way.


STREET ARABS. When it gets nearer,
We'll march along beside it.

(_Several windows are opened at which mothers and their children
appear and eagerly await the coming of the patrol._)

HAWKERS. In that patrol perceive
The country's noble might!

STREET ARABS. Now, look out! they're coming!

STUDENTS, WORK GIRLS and CITIZENS. Do stand back, for here they come!

MAR. See, the patrol is coming!

COL. Look out that old boy
Don't catch you with his darling!

RUD. See, the patrol is coming!

MAR. and SCH. Now the crowd is tremendous:
T' escape will be so easy.

(_The patrol enters, headed by a gigantic drum-major, who dexterously
twists his baton, showing the way._)

STREET ARABS and WORK GIRLS. And there's the drum-major!

CITIZENS and SHOP-KEEPERS. As proud as a warrior of old!

MIMI, MUS. and RUD. Quick, or you will miss them!

MAR., SCH. and COL. Quick, or you will miss them!

STREET ARABS and HAWKERS. The drum-major, look! what a dandy!

STUDENTS and WORK GIRLS. What swagger! What a figure!

STREET ARABS. There go the sappers!

CITIZENS. What a dandy!

STUDENTS and CITIZENS. Like a general he appears!
He passes by and heeds us not!

WORK GIRLS. Like a general he appears!
Of all our hearts the conqueror!

(_MUSETTA being without her shoe, cannot walk, so MARCEL and COLLINE
carry her through the crowd, as they endeavor to follow the
patrol. The mob, seeing her borne along in this triumphal fashion,
give her a regular ovation. MARCEL and COLLINE with MUSETTA
follow the patrol; RUDOLPH and MIMI follow arm in arm; SCHAUNARD
goes next, blowing his horn; while the students, work-girls,
street-lads, women and towns-folk merrily bring up the rear._)

(_Marching in time with the music, the whole vast crowd gradually
moves off as it follows the patrol. Meanwhile ALCINDORO, with
a pair of shoes carefully wrapped up, returns to the café in search
of MUSETTA. The waiter by the table takes up the bill left by
MUSETTA and ceremoniously hands it to ALCINDORO, who, seeing
the amount, and perceiving that they have all left him there alone,
falls back into a chair, utterly dumbfounded._)


"Mimi's voice seemed to go through Rudolph's heart like a death-knell.
His love for her was a jealous, fantastic, weird, hysterical
love. Scores of times they were on the point of separating.

"It must be admitted that their existence was a veritable

"Thus (if life it was) did they live; a few happy days alternating
with many wretched ones, while perpetually awaiting a divorce."

"Either as a congenital defect or as a natural instinct, Musetta
possessed a positive genius for elegance.

"Even in her cradle this strange creature must surely have asked for
a mirror.

"Intelligent, shrewd, and above all, hostile to anything that she
considered tyranny, she had but one rule--caprice.

"In truth the only man that she really loved was Marcel; perhaps
because he alone could make her suffer. Yet extravagance was for her
one of the conditions of well-being."


_Beyond the toll-gate, the outer boulevard is formed in the background
by the Orleans high-road, half hidden by tall houses and the misty
gloom of February. To the left is a tavern with a small open space in
front of the toll-gate. To the right is the Boulevard d'Enfer; to the
left, that of St. Jacques.

On the right also there is the entrance of the Rue d'Enfer, leading to
the Quartier Latin.

Over the tavern, as its sign-board, hangs MARCEL's picture, "The
Passage of the Red Sea," while underneath, in large letters, is the
inscription. "At the Port of Marseilles." On either side of the door
are frescoes of a Turk and a Zouave with a huge laurel-wreath round
his fez. From the ground-floor windows of the tavern, which faces the
toll-gate, light gleams. The plane-trees, grey and gaunt, which flank
the toll-gate square, lead diagonally towards the two boulevards.
Between each tree is a marble bench. It is towards the close of
February; snow covers all.

As the curtain rises, the scene is merged in the dim light of early
dawn. In front of a brazier are seated, in a group, snoring
custom-house officers. From the tavern at intervals one may hear
laughter, shouts, and the clink of glasses. A custom-house official
comes out of the tavern with wine. The toll-gate is closed.

Behind the toll-gate, stamping their feet and blowing in their
frost-bitten fingers, stand several street-scavengers._

SCAVENGERS. What ho, there! What ho, there! Admit us!
Make haste and let us pass,
The sweepers are we. (_stamping their feet_)
Look how it's snowing! What ho, there!
We are frozen!

AN OFFICIAL. (_yawning and stretching himself_) All right!

(_Goes to open the gate; the scavengers pass through to the Rue
d'Enfer. The official closes the gate again._)

CHORUS. (_from the tavern; the clink of glasses forms an accompaniment
to the song_)
Pass the glass,
Let each toast his lass;
Pass the glass,
Let each lad toast his lass;
Ha! Ha!
Each one as he sips,
As he sips his wine,
Shall dream of lips
Made for love divine!

MUS. (_from the tavern_)
As the toper loves his glass,
So the gallant loves his lass.

CHORUS. (_all bursting into laughter_) Noah and Eve!

MILK WOMEN. (_from within_) Houp-la! Houp-la!

(_A sergeant comes out of the guard-house and orders the toll-gate to
be opened._)

CUSTOM HOUSE OFFICIAL. Here come the women with their milk.

(_A tinkling of cart-bells is heard._)

CARTERS. (_from within_) Houp-la!

(_Carts pass along the outer boulevard, lighted by large lanterns._)

MILK WOMEN. (_quite close_) Houp-la!

(_The gloom gradually gives way to daylight._)

MILK WOMEN. (_to the officials who admit them to the toll-gate_)

PEASANT WOMEN. (_who enter carrying baskets_)
Butter! Cheese!
Chickens and eggs!

SOME. Which way, then, are you going?

OTHERS. Up to Saint Michael's.

SOME. Well, shall we see you later?

OTHERS. At twelve o'clock.

(_They go off in various directions, and the officials remove the
bench and brazier._)

(_Enter _MIMI_ from the Rue d'Enfer; she looks about her as if anxious
to make sure of her whereabouts. On reaching the first plane-tree she
is seized by a violent fit of coughing. Then recovering herself, she
sees the sergeant, whom she approaches._)

MIMI. Oh! Please, sir, tell me the name of that tavern
Where now a painter's working?

SERGEANT. (_pointing to the tavern_) There it is.

MIMI. Thank you.
(_A serving woman comes out of the tavern; _MIMI_ goes to her._)
Oh! my good woman, pray do me this favor!
Can you find me the painter, Marcel?
I fain would see him; the matter's urgent;
Just tell him softly that Mimi awaits him.

SERGEANT. (_to a passer-by_) Ho! there! What's in the basket?

OFFICIAL. (_after searching the basket_) Empty.

SERGEANT. Pass, there!

(_Other folk now pass through the toll-gate and move off in different
directions. The bell of the Hospice Ste. Therese rings for matins._)

MAR. (_coming out of the inn_) Mimi!

MIMI. I hoped that I should find you here.

MAR. Aye, here we've been for a month:
So to pay for our footing,
Musetta teaches singing
To those who come here.
And I, well--I paint warriors--
There, on the house front!

MIMI. Where is Rudolph?

MAR. Here. 'Tis bitter, pray enter!

MIMI. (_bursting into tears_)

Enter I cannot, no!

MAR. Why not?

MIMI. Oh! good Marcel! oh! help me!

MAR. Say, what has happened?

MIMI. Rudolph is madly jealous!
He loves and yet avoids me!
A glance, a touch, a token,
Suffice to make him jealous,
And start his senseless fury!
And oft at night,
When feigning to be sleeping,
I felt his eyes were watching
to spy upon my slumbers!
How oft he would reproach me!
"You are not mine, Mimi!
You love another gallant!"
Alas! 'tis jealousy that prompts him.
Yet how may I reply?

MAR. Two that live thus, I reckon,
Would be surely better parted.

MIMI. You are right, you speak truly:
'Twere best we were parted.
Will you aid us, then,
Will you aid us to part?
Oft to do this we have striven, but in vain.
Ah! 'tis true, to part were the best.

MAR. I'm happy with Musetta,
And she's happy with me.
Because 'tis mirth that binds us together.
Laughter, music and song,
Ever our love prolong.

MIMI. Ah! then, aid us, I pray you!

MAR. 'Tis well, 'tis well! Now will I wake him.

MIMI. Wake him?

MAR. Overcome with fatigue,
Just as dawn was approaching,
On the bench fast lie slumbers,

(_Motions MIMI to look through the tavern window_)

Behold him! (_MIMI coughs persistently_)

What coughing!

MIMI. Unceasingly it shakes me,
And Rudolph now forsakes me.
And says to me, "It is over!"
At daybreak swift escaping,
I hurried here to find him.

MAR. (_watching RUDOLPH inside the tavern_)
He's moving, waking, and wants me.
Come, then.

MIMI. He must not see me.

MAR. Well, hide yourself out there.

(_Points to the plane-trees. MIMI hides behind the trees._)

RUD. (_coming out of the inn, hastens towards MARCEL_)
Marcel! at last I've found you,
Where none can hear us.
I want a separation from Mimi.

MAR. Is that your latest whim?

RUD. Love in my heart was dying, almost was dead,
But her blue eyes new glory on me shed.
Love, swift revived, all me; what woe is mine!

MAR. Ah! would you now such bitter pain recall?

(_MIMI warily approaches to listen_)

RUD. Yes, always.

MAR. Nay, be prudent! Love is not worth the keeping,
That only ends in weeping.
Love must thrive in mirth and gladness,
Or else it is but madness.
'Tis that you're jealous!

RUD. Aye, somewhat;
And choleric, and lunatic,
And a victim of vile suspicion,
Unhappy, and stubborn!

MIMI. (_aside_)
He's getting in a rage;
Poor little Mimi!

RUD. Mimi's a heartless maiden,
Prone to flirting with all.
A scented dandy, some lordling,
Now striveth to win her caresses.
With bosom swaying,
One foot displaying,
Doth she lure him on
With the magic of her smile.

MAR. Shall I be frank? I think 'tis hardly true.

RUD. No, 'tis not true.
In vain, in vain I smother
All the torture that racks me.
I love Mimi, she is my only treasure!
I love her, but, oh! I fear it!

(_Mimi surprised, comes closer and closer, under cover of the trees_)

Mimi's so sickly, so ailing,
Every day she grows weaker,
The poor girl, as I think, is dying.

MAR. (_fearing MIMI may overhear them, tries to keep RUDOLPH further
off_) Oh! Rudolph!

MIMI. What's he saying?

RUD. By fierce, incessant coughing
Her fragile frame is shaken,
While in her cheeks so pallid
The fires of fever waken.

MAR. (_agitated, perceiving that Mimi is listening_) Softly!

MIMI. (_weeping_) Woe is me! I'm dying!

RUD. And my room's but a squalid hovel,
No fire there burneth,
Only the cruel night wind
Waileth, waileth there ever.
Yet she's merry and smiling,
While, remorseful, despairing,
I feel that 'tis I that am guilty.

MAR. (_eager to draw RUDOLPH aside_) List but a moment!

MIMI. (_disconsolately_) Ah! I'm dying!

RUD. Mimi's a hot-house flower!

MAR. Nay, but listen!

MIMI. Ah me! ah me!
All is over, life and loving,
All are ended!
Mimi must die!

MAR. Softly!

RUD. Want has wasted her beauty,
And to bring her back to life
Would need far more than love.

MAR. Nay, Rudolph, but listen!

(_Mimi's violent coughing and sobbing reveal her presence._)

RUD. Ha! Mimi! You here!
You heard, you heard me?
Swayed by each light suspicion,
A trifle yet alarms me;
Come, come inside here!

(_Seeks to take her into the tavern_)

MIMI. No, that odor is stifling me!

RUD. (_affectionately embracing her_) Ah, Mimi!

(_From the tavern Musetta's brazen laugh is heard._)

MAR. (_running to look through the window._)
Tis Musetta that's laughing!
Laughing, flirting!
Ah! what a hussy!
I'll not allow it. (_enters the tavern impetuously_)

MIMI. (_disengaging herself from_ RUDOLPH'S _embrace._) Farewell!

RUD. (_surprised_) What! Going?

MIMI. To the home that she left
At the voice of her lover.
Sad, forsaken Mimi
Must turn back, heavy-hearted.
For love and her lover
Are gone, and she must die,
Farewell, then!
I wish you well!
Nay, listen! listen! those things,
Those few old things I've left behind me,
Within my trunk safely arc stored.
That bracelet of gold,
The prayer-book you gave me,
Pray wrap them up together in my little apron,
And I will send to fetch them.
Yet stay! Beneath the pillow
You'll find my little bonnet--
Who knows?
Maybe you'd like to keep it
To remind you of our love!
Farewell! Good-bye! I wish you well!

RUD. Then, you are going to leave me?
Yes, you are going, my little Mimi?
Ah! farewell, sweet dream of love!

MIMI. Farewell! farewell!
Glad awakenings in the morning!

RUD. Farewell, our sweet love that vanished,
Yet that your smile reviveth!

MIMI. (_playfully_) Farewell to jealousy and fury!
Farewell suspicion, and its bitter anguish!

RUD. Kisses sweet that, as poet,
I bought back with caresses!

MIMI and RUD. Lonely in winter,
With Death as sole companion!
But in glad springtime
There's the sun, the glorious sun!

(_From the tavern the sound of breaking plates and glasses is heard_)

MUS. (_from within_) What d'ye mean? What d'ye mean? (_running out_)

MAR. (_from within_)
You were laughing, you were flirting
By the fireside with that stranger!

(_stopping on the threshold of the inn and confronting _MUSETTA)

And how you colored
When I caught you in the corner!

MUS. (_defiantly_) Stuff and nonsense! all he said was:
"Are you very fond of dancing?"
And, half blushing, I made answer:
"I'd be dancing all day long, sir."

MAR. This is talk that only leads to things dishonest.

MUS. My own way I mean to have!

MAR. (_half menacing _MUSETTA)
I will teach you better manners;
Now if I catch you once more flirting--

MUS. What a bother!
Why this anger?
Why this fury?
We're not married yet, thank goodness!

MAR. You shall not do as you like, miss!
I will stop your little game!

MUS. I abhor that sort of lover
Who pretends he is your husband!

MAR. I'm not going to be your blockhead,
Just because you're fond of flirting!

MUS. I shall flirt just when it suits me!

MAR. You're most frivolous, Musetta!

MUS. Yes, I shall! yes, I shall!
I shall flirt just when it suits me!

MAR. You can go, and God be with you!

MUS. Musetta's going away;
Yes, going away!

MAR. And for me 'tis a good riddance!

MUS. Fare you well, sir!

MAR. Fare you well, ma'am!

MUS. I say farewell with all my heart!

MAR. Farewell, ma'am, pray begone!

(_She retreats in a fury, but suddenly stops._)

MUS. (_shouting_) Go back and paint your house front!

MAR. Viper! (_enters the tavern_)

MUS. Toad! (exit)

MIMI. I'm so happy in the spring!

RUD. As comrades you've lilies and roses.

MIMI. Forth from each nest
Comes a murmur of birdlets!

RUD. and MIMI. When the hawthorn-bough's in blossom,
When we have the glorious sun,
Murmur the silver fountains,
The breezes of the evening
Waft fragrant balsams
To the world and its sorrow.
Shall we await another spring?

MIMI. (_moving away with _RUDOLPH) Always yours forever!

RUD. _and_ MIMI. Our time for parting's when the roses blow!

MIMI. Ah! that our winter might last forever!

RUD. _and_ MIMI. Our time for parting's when the roses blow!


"At that period, indeed, for some time past, the friends had led
lonely lives.

"Musetta had once more become a sort of semi-official personage; for
three or four months Marcel had never met her.

"And Mimi, too, no word of her had Rudolph ever heard except when he
talked about her to himself when he was alone.

"One day, as Marcel furtively kissed a bunch of ribbons that Musetta
had left behind, he saw Rudolph hiding away a bonnet, that same pink
bonnet which Mimi had forgotten.

"'Good!' muttered Marcel, 'he's as craven-hearted as I am.'"

       *        *        *        *        *

"A gay life, yet a terrible one."



(_As in Act I_)

(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 coupé?

RUD. Yes, in carriage and pair did she merrily hail me.
"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. Musetta?

MAR. Mimi.

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 too awful!
(_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 forget!
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._)

SCH. Here we are!

RUD. How now?

MAR. How now?

(SCHAUNARD _places the rolls on the table._)

MAR. (_disdainfully_) Some bread!

COL. (_taking a herring out of the bag, and putting it on the table_)
A dish that's worthy of Demosthenes:
'Tis a herring!

SCH. 'Tis salted!

COL. 'Our dinner is ready!
(_Seating themselves at the table, they pretend to be having a
sumptuous meal._)

MAR. This is a food that the gods might envy.

SCH. (_placing Colline's hat on the table, and thrusting a bottle of
water into it_) Now the champagne in the ice must go.

RUD. (_to_ MARCEL, _offering him some bread_)
Choose, my lord marquis--salmon or turbot?
(_His offer is accepted, when, turning to _SCHAUNARD, _he proffers
another crust of bread._)
Now, duke, here's a choice vol-au-vent with mushrooms. (_He politely
declines, and pours out a glass of water, which he hands to_ Marcel.)

SCH. Thank you, I dare not, this evening I'm dancing! (_The one and
only tumbler is handed about._ Colline, _after voraciously devouring
his roll, rises._)

RUD. (_to_ Colline) What? sated?

COL. (_with an air of great importance_) To business! The king awaits

MAR. (_eagerly_) What plot is brewing?

RUD. What's in the wind?

SCH. (_rises and approaches_ Colline, _observing with droll
inquisitiveness_) What's in the wind?

MAR. What's in the wind?

(COLLINE _struts up and down, full of self-importance._)

COL. The king requires my services.

(_The others surround_ COLLINE, _bowing low to him._)

SCH. Bravo!

MAR. Bravo!

RUD. Bravo!

COL. (_with a patronizing air_) And then I've got to see Guizot!

SCH. Give me a goblet.

MAR. (_giving him the only glass_) Aye, quaff now a bumper!

SCH. (_solemnly gets on to a chair and raises his glass_) Have I
permission, oh! my most noble courtier?

RUD. and COL. (_interrupting_) Stop that.

COL. No more fooling.

MAR. Stop that. No more nonsense.

COL. Give me that tumbler. (_taking the glass from_ SCHAUNARD)

SCH. (_motioning his friends to let him speak_) With ardor
irresistible Poetry fills my spirit.

COL. and MAR. (_yelling_) No.

SCH. (_complacently_) Then something choreographic may suit you!

RUD., MAR. and COL. Yes, yes!
(_Amid applause they surround_ Schaunard _and make him get off the

SCH. Some dancing, accompanied by singing?

COL. Well, clear the stage for action.
(_Moving chairs and tables aside, they prepare for a dance; they
suggest various dances._)

COL. Gavotte.

MAR. Minuet.

RUD. Pavanella.

SCH. (_imitating a Spanish measure_) Fandango.

COL. I vote we dance quadrilles first. (_the others approve_)

RUD. Now take your partners.

COL. I'll lead it. (_pretends to be very busy arranging a quadrille_)

SCH. (_improvising, beats time with comic pomposity of manner_)
La-lera, la-lera, la-lera!

RUD. (_approaching_ MARCEL_, and bowing very low, offers him his hand
as he gallantly says_) Oh! maiden fair and gentle!

MAR. (_with coy bashfulness of manner, counterfeiting a woman's
voice_) My modesty respect, sir, I beg you.

SCH. Lal-lera, lal-lera, lal-lera, la!

COL. (_giving directions as to the figures, while_ RUDOLPH _and_
MARCEL _dance the quadrille_) Balancez!

MAR. (_in his ordinary voice_) Lal-lera, lal-lera, lal-lera!

SCH. (_teasingly_) First there's the Rond.

COL. No, stupid!

SCH. (_with exaggerated contempt_) You've manners like a clown!

COL. (_offended_) As I take it, you're insulting!
Draw your sword, sir!

(_rushes to the fireplace and seizes the tongs_)

SCH. (_taking up the poker_) Ready! Have at you! (_preparing to
receive his adversary's attack_)
Thy hot blood would I drink!

COL. (_doing likewise_) One of us shall now be gutted! (Rudolph _and_
Marcel _stop dancing and burst out laughing._)

SCH. Now get a stretcher ready.

COL. And get a grave-yard, too.

(SCHAUNARD _and_ COLLINE _fight._)

RUD. and MAR. (_gaily_) While they beat each other's brains out,
Our fandango we will finish.
(_They dance round the combatants, whose blows fall faster. The door
opens and_ Musetta _enters in a state of great agitation._)

MAR. (_amazed_) Musetta! (_All anxiously cluster round_ Musetta)

MUS. (_hoarsely_) 'Tis Mimi--'tis Mimi who is with me--And is ailing!

RUD. Mimi!

MUS. She has not strength to climb the staircase.
(_Through the open door _RUDOLPH_ spies _MIMI_, seated on the topmost
stair; he rushes to her, followed by _MARCEL.)

SCH. (_to _COLLINE) Here's the bed: we'll put her on it.
(_they drag the bed forward_)

RUD. (_supporting _MIMI_ and leading her towards the bed, aided by
_MARCEL) There! some water!

(_MUSETTA_ brings a glass of water and makes _MIMI_ sip it.)

MIMI. (_passionately_) Oh, Rudolph!

RUD. Gently, lie down there. (_gently lowers her on the bed_)

MIMI. (_embracing RUDOLPH_) My darling Rudolph! Ah! let me stay with

RUD. Darling Mimi! stay here ever!
(_He induces _Mimi_ to lie down at full length on the bed, and draws
the coverlet over her; he then carefully adjusts the pillow be
neath her head._)

MUS. (_taking the others aside and whispering to them_) I heard them
saying that Mimi
Had left the rich old viscount;
And now was almost dying.
Ah! but where? After searching,
I met her alone just now,
Almost dead with exhaustion.
She murmured: "I'm dying! dying!
But listen; I want to die near him.
Maybe he's waiting!
Take me thither, Musetta!"

MAR. Hush! (_MUSETTA moves farther away from MIMI._)

MIMI. I feel so much better.
All here seems just the same as ever.
(_with a sweet smile_)
Ah! It is all so pleasant here!
Saved from sadness,
All is gladness;
Once again new life is mine!

RUD. Lips delightful, speak again to me!
Once more enchant me!

MIMI. Ah! beloved! Ah! leave me not!

MUS. (_aside to the others_) What is there to give her?

MAR. _and_ COL. Nothing!

MUS. No coffee? no wine?

MAR. (_in great dejection_) Nothing; the larder's empty.

SCH. (_looking closely at Mimi_) In an hour she'll be dead!

MIMI. I feel so cold!
If I had but my muff here!
My poor hands are simply frozen!
How shall I get them warm?
(_Mimi coughs; Rudolph takes her hands in his and chafes them._)

RUD. In mine, in mine, love!
Silence! for speaking tires you.

MIMI. Tis coughing tires me.
I'm used to that, though.
(_seeing RUDOLPH'S friends, she calls them by name, when they hasten
to her side_)
Good-morrow, Marcel!
Schaunard, Colline, good-morrow!
All are here, as I see, glad to welcome Mimi.

RUD. Hush! Mimi, do not talk.

MIMI. I'll speak low; don't be frightened.

(_SCHAUNARD and COLLINE mournfully withdraw; the former sits at
the table, burying his face in his hands, the latter is a prey to
sad thoughts._)

MIMI. (_motioning Marcel to approach_) Marcel, now believe me,
A good girl is Musetta.

MAR. (_giving Musetta his hand_) I know, I know.

MUS. (_drawing Marcel away from Mimi, takes off her earrings and gives
them to him as she whispers_) Look here! sell them,
And buy some tonic for her--
Send for a doctor! (_Mimi gradually grows drowsy; Rudolph takes a
chair and sits down beside the bed._)

RUD. Keep quiet.

MIMI. You will not leave me?

RUD. No, no! (_MARCEL is about to go, when Musetta stops him and takes
him still further from Mimi._)

MUS. Stay, listen! Maybe, what she has asked us
Will be her last request on earth, little darling!
I'll go for the muff--I'll come with you.

MAR. How good you are, Musetta!

(_MUSETTA and MARCEL hastily go out._)

COL. (_who has removed his overcoat while Marcel and Musetta were
Garment antique and rusty!
A last good-bye! farewell!
Faded friend, so tried and trusty,
We must part, you and I.
For never yet your back did you bow
To rich man or mighty!
How oft,
Safe in your pockets spacious,
Have you concealed philosophers and poets!
Now that our pleasant friendship is o'er,
I would bid thee once more,
Oh! companion tried and trusty,
Farewell! farewell!
(_He folds up the coat, puts it under his arm, and is about to go, but
seeing Schaunard, he approaches him, pats him on the back, and
mournfully exclaims_)
Schaunard, our methods possibly may differ,
But yet two kindly acts we'll do: (_pointing to the coat_)
Mine's this one, and yours--leave them alone in there.

SCH. (_overcome by emotion_) Philosopher, you're right!
'Tis true; I'll go!
(_He looks about him: then, to justify his exit, he takes up the water
bottle and goes out after Colline, gently closing the door. Mimi
opens her eyes, and seeing that all have gone, holds out her hand
to Rudolph, who affectionately kisses it._)

MIMI. Have they left us? (_Rudolph nods_)
To sleep I only feigned,
For I wanted to be alone with you, love.
So many things there are that I would tell you.
There is one, too, as spacious as the ocean,
As the ocean, profound, without limit:
You are my love, my all, and all my life!
(_putting her arms round Rudolph's neck_)

RUD. Ah! Mimi! my pretty Mimi!

MIMI. (_letting her arms drop_) You still think I'm pretty!

RUD. Fair as the dawn in Spring!

MIMI. No, the simile fits not; you meant to say:
Fair as the flame of sunset.
"They call me Mimi; (_like an echo_)
They call me Mimi, but I know not why."

RUD. (_in tender, caressing tones_)

Back to her nest comes the swallow in Spring-tide.
(_He takes out the bonnet and gives it to Mimi._)

MIMI. (_gaily_) Why, that's my bonnet! (_motions RUDOLPH to put the
bonnet on her head_)
Why, that's my bonnet!
(_makes RUDOLPH sit next to her, and rests her head on his breast_)
Ah! do you remember how we both went shopping
When first we fell in love?

RUD. Yes, I remember.

MIMI. This room was all in darkness!

RUD. While you, you were so frightened!
Then the key you mislaid, love.

MIMI. And to find it you went groping in the darkness.

RUD. Yes, searching, searching.

MIMI. And you, my young master,
Now I can tell you frankly,
That you soon managed to find it.

RUD. It was Fate that did help me.

MIMI. It was dark, and my blushes were unnoticed. (_faintly repeating
_Rudolph's_ words_)
"Your tiny hand is frozen,
Let me warm it into life!"
It was dark, and my hand then you clasped--
(_a sudden spasm half suffocates her; she sinks back fainting_)

RUD. (_raising her in alarm_) Oh! God! Mimi!

(_At this moment _Schaunard_ returns, and hearing _Rudolph's_
exclamation, hastens to the bedside._)

SCH. What now?

MIMI. (_opens her eyes and smilingly reassures _Rudolph_ and
_Schaunard) Nothing; I'm better.

RUD. (_gently lowering her_) Gently, for goodness' sake!

MIMI. Yes, forgive me: now it's over.

(MUSETTA _and_ MARCEL_ cautiously enter; _MUSETTA_ carrying a muff,
and her companion a phial._)

MUS. (_to RUDOLPH_) Sleeping?

RUD. (_approaching MARCEL_) Just resting.

MAR. I have seen the doctor.
He'll come--I bade him hasten.
Here's the tonic.
(_Takes a spirit lamp, and placing it upon the table, lights it._)

MIMI. Who is it?

MUS. I--Musetta. (_Approaches Mimi and gives her the muff. Helped by
Musetta, she sits up in bed, and, with almost infantine glee, seizes
the muff_)

MIMI. So soft it is and feathery!
No more will my poor fingers be frozen,
For this muff shall keep them warm. (_to _Rudolph)
Did you give me this present?

MUS. (_eagerly_) Yes!

MIMI. You thoughtless fellow! Thank you.
It cost you dear. (Rudolph _bursts into tears_)
Weep not: I'm better.
Why should you weep for me?
Here love . . . ever with you! . . .
(_thrusts her hands into the muff; then she gradually grows drowsy,
gracefully nodding her head, as one who is overcome by sleep_)
My hands are much warmer: now I will sleep!

(RUDOLPH,_ reassured at seeing _MIMI_ fall asleep, gently moves away
from the bedside, and motioning the others not to make any
noise, approaches _MARCEL.)

RUD. What said the doctor?

MAR. He'll come.

MUS. (_who is busily heating the medicine, brought by _MARCEL_, over
the spirit-lamp, as she unconsciously murmurs a prayer_)
Oh! Mary! Blessed Virgin!
Save, of thy mercy, this poor maiden!
Save her, Madonna mine, from death!
(Rudolph, Marcel _and_ Schaunard_ whisper together. Every now
and then _Rudolph_ goes on tiptoe to the bed, and then rejoins his
companions. _Musetta_, interrupting, bids _Marcel_ place a book
upright on the table, so as to shade the lamp._)
Here there should be a shade,
Because the lamp is flickering!
Like this. (_resuming her prayer_)
And, oh! may she recover!
Madonna! holy mother! I merit not thy pardon,
But our little Mimi is an angel from Heaven!
(Rudolph _approaches _Musetta_, while _Schaunard_ goes on tiptoe to
the bedside; with a sorrowful gesture he goes back to _Marcel.)

RUD. I still have hope. Do you think it serious?

MUS. Not serious.

SCH. (_hoarsely_) Marcel, she is dead!
(_Marcel in his turn goes up to the bed, and retreats in alarm; a ray
of sunshine falls through the window upon Mimi's face; Musetta
points to her cloak, which, with a grateful glance, Rudolph takes,
and standing upon a chair, endeavors to form a screen by stretching
the cloak across the window-pane._)

COL. (_quietly entering and putting some money on the table near
Musetta_) How is she?

RUD. See, now! She's tranquil.

(_RUDOLPH, turning round, sees MUSETTA, who makes a sign to him
that the medicine is ready; getting off the chair, he is suddenly
aware of the strange demeanor of MARCEL and SCHAUNARD._)

RUD. (_huskily, almost in a speaking voice_)
What's the meaning of this going and this coming,
And these glances so strange?
(_He glances from one to the other in consternation._)

MAR. (_unable to bear up any longer, hastens to embrace _Rudolph_ as
he murmurs_) Poor fellow!

RUD. (_flings himself on _Mimi's_ bed, lifts her up, shakes her by the
hand, and exclaims in tones of anguish_) Mimi! Mimi!
(_he falls, sobbing, upon her lifeless form_)
(_Terror-stricken, _MUSETTA_ rushes to the bed, utters a piercing cry
of grief; then kneels sobbing, at the foot of the bed. _SCHAUNARD_,
overcome, sinks back into a chair; to the left, _COLLINE_ stands at
the foot of the bed, dazed at the suddenness of this catastrophe.
_MARCEL_, sobbing, turns his back to the footlights. The curtain
slowly falls._)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "La Boheme" ***

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