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- The Lamp and the Bell - 3/16 -

FRA. Oh, peace, Carlotta! You bear too sharp a weapon against the world,-- A split tongue full of poison, in a head That darts at every heel!--I'm going in. [Exit Francesca.]

LAU. You should not say such things when she is with us, Carlotto.

CAR. Is the woman in love?

LAU. In love! She is so far gone she does not know which way To sail,--all shores are equally out of sight.

[Exeunt Laura and Carlotta.]

[Music off stage. Enter Fidelio, singing.]

FID. "What was I doing when the moon stood above? What did I do? What did I do? I lied to a lady that had given me her love,-- I swore to be true! I swore to be true!"

[He picks up from the grass a white scarf which Beatrice was wearing, and which slipped from her shoulders unnoticed as she went out.]

FID. My mistress!

[He thrusts the scarf under his cloak and continues his song, just as Guido enters from another direction.]

FID. "And what was I doing when the sun stood above? What did I do? What did I do?--"

GUI. By my sacred word, Fidelio, I do not like your song.

FID. Faith, and small wonder!--It is a song that sets the evil eye To staring in upon itself.

GUI. [Stopping in his walk.] What mean you by that, my throaty friend?

FID. I mean to say That, taking it all in all and by and large, You do not care for music.

GUI. I do not care For yours, but it is possible Apollo Had a better tenor. I never heard him sing.

FID. Nay, and how could you?--He died when you were born!

GUI. He died, that is, in giving birth to me?

FID. Aye, if you like,--you bear as much resemblance To him as to your mother's husband, surely.

GUI. Take care, Fidelio!

FID. [Lightly] So! Then it angers you Apollo should be deemed your sire! I told you [Sadly.] You did not care for music!

GUI. You are a sly fool, My merry friend. What hide you under the cloak?

FID. Why, 'tis a little patch of snow the sun Would lay too hot a hand on.

GUI. By my life,-- And what are you that you can keep the sun From shining where it will?

FID. Why, by your life,-- And a foul oath it is!--why, by your life, I am a cloud,--that is an easy riddle.

Scene 2

[Scene: A garden with a fountain, at Fiori. Beatrice and Bianca sitting side by side on a low step. Evening.]

BEA. How beautiful it is to sit like this, Snow-White,--to think of much, and to say little.

BIA. Ay, it is beautiful. I shall remember All my life long these evenings that we spent Sitting just here, thinking together. [Pause.] Rose-Red, It is four years today since first we met. Did you know that?

BEA. Nay, is it?

BIA. Four years today. I liked you from the moment that I saw you, Beatrice!

BEA. I you, Bianca. From the very moment! I thought you were the prettiest little girl That I had ever seen.

BIA. I was afraid Of you, a little, at first,--you were a Princess, You see. But you explained that being a Princess Was much the same as anything else. 'Twas nice, You said, when people were nice, and when they were not nice 'Twas hateful, just the same as everything else. And then I saw your dolls, and they had noses All scratched, and wigs all matted, just like mine, Which reassured me even more!--I still, though, Think of you as a Princess; the way you do things Is much more wonderful than the way I do them!-- The way you speak to the servants, even the way You pick up something that you drop.

BEA. You goose! 'Tis not because I'm a princess you feel that way-- I've always thought the same thing about you!-- The way you draw your gloves on is to me More marvelous than the way the sun comes up!

[They both burst out laughing.]

BEA. Oh, lud,--how droll we are!

BIA. Oh, I shall die Of laughing! Think you anyone else, Rose-Red, Was ever half so silly?

BEA. I dare wager There be a thousand, in this realm alone, Some even sillier!

BIA. Here comes Fidelio! [Enter Fidelio.]

BEA. Fidelio, sing to us,--there is no nightingale Abroad tonight, save you. And the night cries For music!

BIA. Sing, Fidelio!

FID. I have no thorn To lean my breast on. I've been happy all day, And happiness ever made a crow of me.

BEA. Sing, none the less,--unless you have a cold, Which is a singer's only rock of refuge. You have no cold, or you would not be happy. So sing.

FID. [Singing.] "Oh, little rose-tree, bloom! Summer is nearly over. The dahlias bleed and the phlox is seed, Nothing's left of the clover, And the path of the poppy no one knows,-- I would blossom if I were a rose!

Summer for all your guile Will brown in a week to autumn, And launched leaves throw a shadow below Over the brook's clear bottom, And the chariest bud the year can boast Be brought to bloom by the chastening frost! Oh, little rose-tree, bloom!"

[As he finishes the song Fidelio goes out, softly strumming the last chords. Bianca and Beatrice did sit quite still for a moment.]

BIA. Do you know what I am thinking, Bice?

BEA. You're wondering where we'll be ten years from now, Or something of that nature.

BIA. Ay, I was wondering Which would be married first, and go away, And would we still be friends.

BEA. Oh, do you doubt it, Snow-White?

BIA. Nay, nay,--I doubt it not, my dear,-- But I was wondering. I am suddenly sad, I know not why. I do not wish to leave you Ever.

BEA. I know. I cannot bear To think of parting. We have been happy these four years Together, have we not?

BIA. Oh, Beatrice! [She weeps.]

BEA. Nay, do not weep!--Come, you must go to bed. You are tired tonight. We rode too far today.

[She draws Bianca's head down to her shoulder.]

Oh, you are tired, tired, you are very tired. You must be rocked to sleep, and tucked in bed,

The Lamp and the Bell - 3/16

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