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- The Lamp and the Bell - 5/16 -

So bitter I can taste it on my tongue. She hates me. And her hatred draws me to her As the moon draws the tide.

GIO. You are like a cat-- There never was a woman yet that feared you And shunned you, but you leapt upon her shoulder! Well, I'll be off. The prettiest girl in Fiori,-- Unless it be Her Highness, waits for me By a fountain. All day long she sells blue plums, And in the evening what she has left of them She gives to me! You should love simply, Guido, As I do. [Exit Giovanni.]

[Guido sits on the bench and drops his head in hand. Enter Francesca.]

FRA. [Softly.] Guido! Guido!

GUI. Who calls me?

FRA. Guido!

GUI. Francesca! Why do you follow me here? You know I do not wish to see you!

FRA. Do not be angry. 'Tis half a week since you have spoken to me, And over a week since you have so much as laid Your hand upon my arm! And do you think, Loving you as I do, I can do without you, Forever, Guido, and make no sign at all? I know you said you did not wish to see me Ever again,--but it was only a quarrel-- And we have quarreled before!

GUI. It was not a quarrel. I am tired of you, Francesca. You are too soft. You weep too much.

FRA. I do not weep the less For having known you.

GUI. So;--it will save you tears, then To know me less.

FRA. Oh, Guido, how your face Is changed,--I cannot think those are the eyes That looked into my eyes a month ago! What's come between us?

GUI. Nothing has come between us. It is the simple snapping of a string Too often played upon.

FRA. Ah!--but I know Who snapped it! It will do you little good To look at her,--she'll never look at you!

GUI. Be silent a moment!--Unless you would be silent Longer!

FRA. Indeed! I shall speak out my mind! You go beyond yourself! There is proportion Even in a nature like my own, that's twisted From too much clinging to a crooked tree! And this is sure: if you no longer love me, You shall no longer strike me!

MARIO. [Off stage.] Beatrice! Wait for me! Wait!

BEA. [Off stage.] Not I! Who does not run? As fast as I run, shall be left behind me!

GUI. They are coming here! I do not wish to see them!

FRA. Oh, Guido! [She follows him off. Exeunt Guido and Francesca.]

[Enter Beatrice, running, followed by Mario.]

MAR. Beatrice, you run like a boy! You whistle like a boy! And upon my word, You are the only girl I ever played At jousting with, that did not hold her sword As if it were a needle! Which of us, Think you, when we are married, will be King?

BEA. When we are married! Sir, I'll have you know There's an ogre to be tamed, a gem to be pried From out a dragon's forehead, and three riddles To be solved, each tighter than the last, before A Princess may be wed!

MAR. Even by a King?

BEA. For Kings the rules are sterner!--One more riddle, And a mirror that will show her always young.

MAR. And if I do these things, then, will you have me, Rose-Red?

BEA. Maybe. And if you do not do them, Maybe. Come--I will race you to the bridge!

MAR. [Catching her hand,] Nay, not so fast!--Have you no wish to be Beside me, ever, that you are forever running Ahead?

BEA. Indeed, if you would have the truth It has come into my mind more times than once It would be sweet to be beside you often.

MAR. Rose-Red!

BEA. Come--I will race you to the bridge!

[Exeunt Beatrice and Mario.]

Scene 2

[Court-yard of the palace at Fiori. Entire court assembled. A band of strolling players, with a little stage on wheels, are doing a Harlequinade pantomime to amuse the young King Mario, the guest of honor. Beatrice sits beside him. In this scene the two people who are oblivious to the pantomime are Guido and Octavia. Guido is apparently brooding over something. From time to time he looks at Beatrice and Mario. Once, having gazed for some moments at the pair, he looks at Octavia and sees that she, too, is looking at them, which seems to satisfy him. The Queen does not take her eyes from the two during the entire scene. Beatrice and Mario do not conduct themselves precisely as lovers, but they are very gay and happy to be in each other's company, apparently. Lorenzo watches the show with a benign, almost childish interest.]

[Pantomime begins.]

GIO. You, Pierrot, are you not a little thick For such a sorrowful fellow?

PIERROT. Nay, indeed! Sorrow may come to all. And 'tis amazing How much a man may live through and keep fat.

[Pantomime continues]

CAR. Ho! Now he stumbles! Look you, Pantaloon, If you were not so learned i' the head You might know better where to put your feet!

LAU. [To Carlotta.] 'Tis curious how it addles a man's bones To think too much.

CAR. Nay, truth. Wise men were ever Awkward in the legs.

[Pantomime continues.]

RAFFAELE. Have at him, Polichinello.

GIO. Lay on! Lay on!

ANS. Leave not a nail of him!

GIO. Dog! Would you have him write a book about you?

LUIG. Spit him i' the liver! It is his only organ!

BEA. [To Mario.] Nay, it is cruel. I cannot look at it.

MAR. It is but play.

BEA. Ay, but 'tis cruel play. To be so mocked at!--Come, take heart, good Doctor! 'Tis a noisy fellow, but light withal!--Blow at him!

GIO. [To Guido.] She has the softest heart that ever I saw In a hard woman. It may be, seeing she has pity For one rogue, she has pity for another! Mark you, my Guido, there is hope yet!

GUI. Nay, There's not. I have opened up my mind to her, And she will none of me.

GIO. [Jestingly.] That was the last thing You should have done!--Speak,--did she give for answer She loves the King?

GUI. Not she. She gave for answer She does not love the Duke.

[Pantomime continues.]

The Lamp and the Bell - 5/16

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