Borgo Press Books by THÉODORE BARRIÈRE
Bohemia; or, La Bohème: A Play in Five Acts (with Henry Murger) The Lily of the Valley: A Play in Five Acts (with Arthur de Beauplan)
OR, LA BOHÈME: A P L AY I N F I V E A C T S
THÉODORE BARRIÈRE & H E N RY M U R G E R
Adapted and Translated by Frank J. Morlock
THE BORGO PRESS
Morlock FIRST BORGO PRESS EDITION Published by Wildside Press LLC www.wildsidebooks.com
. 2012 by Frank J.BOHEMIA
Copyright © 2000.
DE DICAT ION
For Carmen Martínez. My favorite opera singer.
9 ACT I . . . . . . . . . . . 105 ACT IV . 199 ABOUT THE AUTHOR . . . 153 ACT V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
. . . . . . . . .CONTENTS
CAST OF CHARACTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 ACT II . . . 53 ACT III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CA ST OF C H A R AC T E R S
Durandin, businessman Rodolphe, a poet, his nephew Marcel, a painter Schaunard, a musician Gustave Colline, a philosopher Benoît, hotel manager Baptiste, a servant A waiter/cashier A gentleman A doctor Césarine de Rouvre, a young widow Mimi Musette
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Phemie A lady A commissioner Césarine’s servants Guests Ten men, four women
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AC T I
A house in the country in the neighborhood of Paris. A garden. In the rear a balustrade giving on the countryside. To the left a pavilion with an open window facing the public. To the right a garden bench. Chairs. Baptiste (alone, at the back near the wall looking at the countryside) What’s that cloud of dust? Could it be the carriage of Madame Césarine de Rouvre? That would be surprising to me, because it’s noon and Monsieur Durandin doesn’t expect the lady until two o’clock. Why, it’s not a carriage. (looking attentively) Some young men with large easels and young girls with big hats. I know what it is—it’s a caravan. Happy youth—laugh, laugh—you haven’t read Monsieur Voltaire. But, think of it— what imprudence. (taking a book which he had forgotten on the bench) If Monsieur Durandin, the numbers man, as Monsieur Rodolphe says, had found this in octavo, my removal would be imminent. See, Monsieur Durandin has informed me that they will take coffee in this pavilion which hasn’t been opened for three months. Let’s put things in order. (goes into the pavilion and opens the blinds) Or rather no, everything’s ﬁne as it is—as Monsieur Voltaire said. Thanks to the dust, the Louis XV furniture has a more venerable appearance. I won’t bring a profane duster to it. As for these populations of arachnids, they’ll give this place a more antique character, completely artistic. So, I
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Durandin (enters from the back. reading) Paris to Rouen.6. from 575 to 555 remains at 560—15 francs lower—bravo—it’s time to buy. his room is in a pretty state. Durandin (always calculating) 200 at 5. My only regret is there aren’t more of them. I open the window in the morning and I shut it in the evening. I’m coming from there. By the way. On the contrary. 4. monsieur.000. notebook in hand. 200 at 500—probable fall—116. (to Baptiste without turning) Where is my nephew? Baptiste In his room. monsieur. Durandin And that’s all?
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. (shutting the door) Everything is ready and now Madame Rouvre can arrive. Durandin (waking up from his reverie) Huh? What? It’s not true.000. monsieur. I take meticulous care of it.won’t remove these spiders. You aren’t taking care of it? Baptiste Pardon me.000 francs proﬁts net—(rubbing his hands) Where is my nephew? Baptiste In his room. 112.
Monsieur Rodolphe. (Durandin is back at his notebook) You’re not listening to me. but as for the clock.Baptiste And that’s all. but if you wish to preserve my esteem. it would be impossible for me ever to ﬁnd them again. If you had the imprudence to put my things in their place. I follow to the letter the instructions given me by your nephew. Durandin Oh. Baptiste I continue: The ﬁrst time Monsieur Rodolphe saw the clock in question he wanted to throw it out the window.” Durandin Then. imbecile. monsieur. monsieur. who told me when he came to live here: “Baptiste. yes.
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. Baptiste I can’t give an account of the motive which assigned that place to the pair of boots. Durandin (stupeﬁed) Out the—A clock worth four hundred francs. in gilded bronze with a bronze representing Malek-Adel. you will never touch anything in my room. it’s different and can be explained. that’s why I observed a pair of boots on the chimney and the clock in the cupboard. you please me inﬁnitely.
But the clock had a defect. rich—womanly. monsieur. Durandin Well? Baptiste My God! I know that it was only doing its duty—but Monsieur Rodolphe judged otherwise. Madame Rouvre is coming today. Happily.Baptiste Yes. He said he didn’t want this domestic tyrant that counted his existence minute by minute. I know quite well—Malek-Adel—by Madame Cottin. this cannot last much longer. my nephew will make me as crazy as he is. Durandin What was that? Baptiste It marked the hour. she’s a widow. whose needle stretched right to his bed and came to sting in the morning with those instruments of torture in the vicinity of which nonchalance and reverie are impossible. Baptiste That’s her most beautiful honor. Durandin What are all these wandering? Oh.
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to the contrary. Uncle Million. Rodolphe (gaily) Hello. Baptiste Right away. hothead. monsieur. the dreamer resists. he opens his Voltaire and continues to read. if he refuses his luck—so much the worse for him! He can go to the devil! Rodolphe (entering. there you are. The arts! The arts! Doesn’t he have a beautiful history and pretty job? But I am here—and soon I will have our charming auxiliary ﬂanked by 40. You’re in a bad mood.000 francs income. uncle? Durandin Ah. She’s a woman and what a woman wants— Rodolphe must come down to earth to sign the contract. Go ﬁnd him for me. He must be in the garden musing over his nonsense. (Baptiste goes out back left. I am going to recite
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. It’s the same disordered spirit.) Durandin (alone) My nephew is indeed the son of my brother. very eccentric) Is that why you made me come. and I really hope—but if. Monsieur Poet. Vocation! Art! Genius! And the father died leaving debts the son is ready to double.Durandin I’m not talking to you. As he does.
The minute is gone. leads me stumbling to my lodging.a sonnet for you. you’ll write odes to the moon. Rodolphe Wrong. You do it. Durandin Would you talk reasonably for a minute? Rodolphe Willingly? Willingly. grave mistake! I am not seated at the banquet of life with the intention of cursing fellow guests over dessert. but not more. Durandin Truly? And as for you. you quite understand. and we spend the night laughing at those who’ve paid us to dine. Durandin You’re settled on it. as much as you like. By dessert. It’s ingratitude if you
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. I am not preventing you. I’m rolling under the table. right? And you will curse the egoistic century that refuses to nourish you for doing nothing. that’s going to cheer you up and cool you down. jolly fellow. I understand nothing about business. a good fat wench with an insolent eye and a turned up nose picks me up. my uncle. Let’s talk of something else. and my muse. right? You don’t wish to understand anything? Rodolphe My uncle. my uncle.
You’ve studied men and you speculate on the telegraphs. but it’s amusing. I will feel like fasting and jesting loudly after dinner—(striking his head) My capital is here. As for me. truly. wit. and gaiety. grave. I want to live by my imagination. You live by your enterprise. pleasant. Durandin And is this what concerns you? Rodolphe What concerns me? Absolutely nothing for the moment. my uncle. Rodolphe Damn! I ask to sit down. gay. Rodolphe You did quite well to warn me. Durandin Not another step or I’ll disinherit you. A superb enterprise under the direction of Piochage and Company. But that will concern me later. I am really glad to hear that from you. Durandin But. I’m going out right away. Madame de Rouvre is coming today—in an hour.like. I will do whatever they wish—sad.
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. Social capital—courage.
between us. in the past you paid court to Madame de Rouvre. Rodolphe She loves me? Durandin I’m sure of it. Durandin In the Spring. On the contrary. uncle. you did well.Durandin (sitting on the bench with his nephew) Listen. we spent a month at her country estate—and.
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. Rodolphe She’s a woman of wit. it was a masterful stroke—for she’s very rich and she loves you. she will understand that I don’t want to marry her. those walks in the solitary alleys of her park— Rodolphe Hush! Be as discreet as I am. my boy. you pressed her assiduously for an entire winter. uncle. Durandin I’m not reproaching you. Rodolphe I cannot deny it.
I wish to remain a bachelor. Durandin Promised—this lad is a bit conceited. quiet
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. uncle. Rodolphe I know it. Rodolphe Why no. You would have a calm. that’s all. Durandin By marrying her. forty thousand francs of income. Durandin Well? Rodolphe Well! So much the worse for the others. Durandin But. Madame de Rouvre is pretty. uncle. you would have from your wife’s side alone. wretch.Durandin You don’t want to marry her? Rodolphe I never promised her that.
position. tempestuous. free not to dine every day—that’s all the same with me—in the days of feasting. uncle. let’s not rake up the ashes. that doesn’t suit me. Rodolphe Ah. I will eat for a month. Rodolphe Yes. Rodolphe (serious) Except you. Rodolphe No. my father left me an honorable name—a name that is respected—and some paint2 0 | T H É O D O R E BA R R I È R E & H E N RY M U RG E R
. it is true that my brother also didn’t want to do anything except as he pleased. You would have children. if you like. I need air. you’ve done well. Durandin That’s very well. freedom. After all. Thanks. uncle. Durandin You will never do anything in your life. he owed everybody. a picturesque life. that’s right. Durandin I’ll have to be bled from four veins to support a mad man. let’s not speak of that. and when he died. but nonetheless. many children and rabbits. You will follow in the tracks of your father. uncle.
But once again. let’s not speak of that.) Rodolphe (alone) Uncles are astonishing. Durandin Think about it. For me to marry Madame Césarine de Rouvre. Why. No slavery For between you and me No slavery Is sweet. Durandin and Rodolphe Together (singing) True happiness There’s no happiness Is for the heart. I hope.ings that are admired. and if you become reasonable you won’t regret it. No slavery For us No slavery Is so sweet. you’ll be in a better frame of mind. on my return. Durandin So be it! I have to leave to greet Madame de Rouvre. Rodolphe Can’t swear to it.
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. In marriage in my heart. uncle.
(Durandin goes out by the right. the most ﬂirtatious and imperious woman on earth. they’d have a legalized harem. They would make you marry every woman you’ve sworn eternal love to by moonlight. There’s nothing immutable under the sun.
You couldn’t. I am ﬂeeing this insipid and monotonous villa that no one ever visits by chance or unexpectedly. Walks without gloves and dinners without forks. Indeed. by chance. they’re bowing to me. (he bows and comes back) I almost want to hurl myself into the midst of their group and invite myself. Let’s love and sing some more.who orders you to love her so to speak—I’m not so crazy! From tomorrow I shall take my ﬂight. Chorus (outside) Our future must light up In the sunshine of our youth. Bon appétit! Now there’s happiness as I understand it. Rodolphe What’s that? Could it be the unexpected I asked for? (goes to the back) Some artists and grisettes. why not? Marcel (appearing above the balustrade) Sir—Sir! Rodolphe Who’s calling me? Marcel I ask your pardon. not doubt. They are having lunch on the grass. monsieur. Youth comes only once. lend us some place settings and silverware?
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Rodolphe Of what school? Marcel Of my own. Marcel It’s you who said it. if you want to wait. monsieur. You’re an artist. Rodolphe I congratulate you on it. monsieur? Marcel Yes. Rodolphe Painter. too. Rodolphe And your name is?
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. Marcel And me.Rodolphe Sir. monsieur. I will go ﬁnd a bell. I’ll ring.
to be agreeable to you.
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. Take the trouble to fall this way. to serve you. Rodolphe And as for my name—Rodolphe.Marcel Marcel. I am the nest’s nephew. Rodolphe Willingly—but on condition that you offer it also to those pretty persons who sing so well. Marcel This doesn’t disturb you? Rodolphe Not at all. Marcel (jumping) Allow me to offer you my hand—it’s all I have on me. Marcel This nest belongs to you? Rodolphe Not the least bit.
monsieur. (Musette pulls up her dress a little and shows a bit of her leg as she climbs over. Rodolphe Yes. (calling) Hey. Rodolphe runs to help her.) Rodolphe By God.Marcel I can refuse nothing to you. you are invited to enter by scaling— (Orchestra music. I must offer my arm. there’s a pretty leg. Musette. Musette And you get paid for it? Rodolphe (kissing her hand) In cash!
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. madame. Musette The gentleman sells madrigals.) Musette (appearing on the balustrade) Here I am.
Musette (low to Marcel. (Rodolphe offers a chair to Musette. musi2 6 | T H É O D O R E BA R R I È R E & H E N RY M U RG E R
. faithful friend. (Schaunard climbs in) Monsieur Schaunard.Marcel (taking Musette’s hand) Allow me to present her to you more formally. orphan by vocation. Miss Musette— twenty-two years old. Climb in. Marcel A charming girl who’s only defect is to lose the key to her heart too often. Marcel Don’t worry.) Schaunard Hey! Marcel! I can’t ﬁnd Musette any more. That’s the beginning—impossible to tell where it will end. I think she fell into her cup. painter by taste. All the same. Schaunard appears on the support of the balustrade. Musette In six months. I have nothing to complain of—that’s how I found shelter one rainy day. pointing to Rodolphe) He’s sweet! Marcel (to Rodolphe) She thinks you’re sweet.
(Phemie sits near Musette. But you are seeing only half of myself. Colline appears. Phemie! (Phemie appears and Schaunard helps her down.) Schaunard (with severity) Phemie! Please excuse her.)
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. Rodolphe (offering a chair to Phemie) Miss— Phemie Very grateful. monsieur. monsieur. Allow me to present the other half. She comes from—I met her in a forest.) Marcel Miss Phemie—a devoted wife—when she’s dined.cian to do something and poet with nothing to do. Schaunard (bowing) The scheme is faithful like a poodle. Spending half his life in search of money to pay his creditors and the other half in ﬂeeing his creditors when he has found money. Rodolphe Virgin forest? (Schaunard sneezes. I am not yet tired.
a sinecure. that’s all of us. Monsieur Gustave Colline. Phemie (rising) Bravo! Musette It’s in very good taste—it’s not long. (They all come forward. Rodolphe Please believe in my sympathy. Marcel And— Rodolphe The speech is over.) Rodolphe Ladies and gentlemen. philosopher. the treasurer of the society. monsieur.
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. All Listen.Marcel (indicating Colline to Rodolphe) Don’t be worried.
Rodolphe Speak. would it be indiscreet to ask your permission to pick some ﬂowers from the garden? Phemie And some apricots? Rodolphe What do you think? (The ladies come forward. Musette (to Rodolphe) Sir. monsieur. Schaunard (negligently) I don’t have a prettier one to suit me in the world. monsieur. (pointing to his pocket and offering tobacco to Schaunard who ﬁlls his pipe) You’ve got a nice looking pipe. Schaunard Could you tell me where they put the tobacco in this house? Rodolphe Here. I have to ask some information of you. monsieur.Schaunard Pardon. Monsieur Schaunard.)
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I will accompany these ladies to do a little botany. Musette We are here. To the sweet songs of warblers. Phemie Let’s go to it. no.Colline Sir. Musette and Phemie (singing together) Let’s glean. Let’s pick The daisies. (The ladies pick ﬂowers and put them in Colline’s arms. gaily. (pulls several books from his pocket) Botany—that’s what I need.
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. Colline leaves by the right. Let’s mingle. mingle.) Musette (laughing) This may embarrass you! Colline Oh. (The women leave by the left. Our gay tunes. (going to a bench and depositing everything at the foot of a tree) Look a bit. Among the green turf. I assure you. if you will allow me.
Marcel You desire a second lesson in geography relative to Bohemia? It’s very easy. one by one. Marcel Ah. your friend is a walking library. indeed. for you see before you two natives of the country. bordered on the north by hope.
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. why. but I don’t understand. you see. it’s that Colline is the studious and dreamy child of Bohemia. monsieur.Rodolphe takes up. Schaunard Bohemia—us. work and gayety—on the south by necessity and courage—on the west and east by slander and the Hotel Dieu. Rodolphe Bohemia? Marcel Bohemia. physics. the books Colline deposited on the bench. Rodolphe I thank you very much.) Rodolphe Chemistry. engineering. Ah.
Schaunard Then. Schaunard Or thirty steps—no matter where—without meeting a creditor. loving the youngest and the most beautiful. who. Marcel They don’t know how to take the steps on the boulevard without meeting a friend. Marcel And when January comes. where their place is always set—and to hunt down from noon to midnight that ferocious arrival—a one hundred sous coin—intelligent folk who would have found trufﬂes on the raft of the Medusa. Their everyday existence is a work of genius. driven by an obstinate vocation. pockets full of colds and hands full
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. they are to be seen cavalcading in the most serious fantasies. a quotidian problem. when their last franc is dead and buried—they begin diving over again at the table d’hôtel. go into art with no other means of existence than art itself. wit always kept on watch by their ambition which beats the charge before them and drives them to an assault on the future. all those. But if a small fortune falls into their hands. drinking the best and oldest wines— never ﬁnding enough windows to throw their money out of.Rodolphe You? Marcel That is to say.
Rodolphe Truly. your carefree courage.of chilblains. Among the green turf. your joyful philosophy enchants me. Our gay tunes. Phemie has an apple. gentlemen. mingle. Schaunard That’s what moderns call sitting by the chimney. To the sweet songs of warblers. Schaunard We will stay here just as long as you like. Ladies (outside) Here we are! (Musette and Phemie come in. they warm themselves philosophically by burning their furniture. monsieur.) Chorus Let’s glean. Let’s mingle. loaded down with ﬂowers. I would never like to leave you. Let’s pick The daisies.
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. Musette There’s our harvest.
We love them madly and perhaps they will love us forever.Phemie (eating an apple) The country is excellent. They will remain with us so long as they have heart—and they’ll leave us when they have wit. These young girls are our living joys. Marcel And if the ribbons don’t cost too much. no. Marcel (to Rodolphe) As to the rest. (Phemie passes by Schaunard who is seated. who refused a bank clerk with ﬁne mahogany furniture—
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. Musette Meaning I am stupid? Marcel Alas. we have sweet compensations in our life of trials. monsieur.) Rodolphe If forever doesn’t last too long. my sweet. Musette As for me.
Marcel Certainly—still. She ﬁnds words like those all by herself—without hesitation. go on. and he had driven audacity to the point of touching the rosewood— Musette True. but if it had been the banker himself. Schaunard Musette. (to Phemie) And you! Would you like to die for me? Phemie Yes. It’s the penalty. Anyway.
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. some measure of patience. that impudent remark will cost you four sous. Starting next Monday we will practice economies and I will— Musette Yes. I’ve still got time—besides. will be rich. She is astounding. I am infatuated with her. my little Marcel. but not of starvation. monsieur.Marcel Yes. I would have refused him. too. you. I have an idea. I really love you. for you I would throw myself from the top of the towers of Notre Dame. Schaunard (to Rodolphe) She is astounding.
” It was two weeks ago I surprised the presence of another paper signed “A cavalryman of the Twenty-Fourth. (showing the letter) What is this love prospectus signed by a member of the French Cavalry? Phemie (troubled) That—it’s from a little red man who handed it to me on the Pont Neuf.(Phemie pulls a fruit from her pocket and a paper falls out. (calling) Phemie! Phemie (coming to him) Huh? Schaunard You know too many people in uniform.” Her heart is a barracks.
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. (pointing to his cane) Tonight you’ll have an explanation with the bamboo. Schaunard Very well.) Schaunard (aside) What do I see! A declaration with an emblem representing a heart pierced by a bayonet—and signed “A soldier of the Twenty-Ninth. (Phemie goes back upstage. Schaunard rises and picks it up.) Phemie (aside) These fruits! It’s extraordinary how they make you hungry.
where they would have become the prey of scavengers. Colline has a basket. I’ve read Voltaire. Monsieur Baptiste. Baptiste Sir.(Colline and Baptiste enter. Everything is in everything.) Colline You are a skeptic. You left our provisions in the midst of the country. I took him for an article in the Review of Two Worlds. They enter from the back right. you have a very wise servant. arm in arm. Colline As for me. Have you read Spinoza? Baptiste Me! Colline Reread him! Also look at Descartes. (goes near Marcel) Marcel Where are you coming from? Colline By Jove! You are a rare featherbrain. I had to ﬁnd them with the aid of Monsieur
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. (Musette and Phemie come to take the basket) (to Rodolphe) Monsieur. I’m a pantheist.
Musette Well. Colline In the midst of a serious discussion with this gentleman on the immortality of the soul. All that’s left is the crust. We drank the bottles. but there are the corks. (Phemie and Musette throw it all over the balustrade with Marcel’s help. we became very exalted. if you prefer—as we were very exalted—we ate the duck. Musette (looking in the basket) But the bottles are empty. Musette (to Rodolphe) Your servant is sweet. with what will we eat the duck which is in the pie? (Phemie looks in the basket.Baptiste. Do you pay him much?
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.) Phemie The duck ﬂew off.) Baptiste In the midst of a grave discussion with this gentleman on the objective and the subjective—(to Musette) The mine and the not—mine.
Rodolphe The dining room is here—in a moment we will be served and we will drink to Bohemia. We are going to straighten all this out. Marcel You? Rodolphe They want to marry me. Here I am running the greatest dangers. it’s the hour honest folks spend in the dining room. Let’s go.Rodolphe Don’t trouble yourself. allow me to offer you lunch.
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. you understand—(Baptist leaves by the rear) Now. my future country! All What! Rodolphe Listen to me. Schaunard Indeed. Marcel That’s horrible. Baptiste.
Rodolphe It’s my Uncle Million who had that idea. I have a great heart and great courage—you will see me at work. Rodolphe Me marry? Can you grasp that? Imprison my freedom in a contract? Throw my heart in the household potboiler. I wouldn’t know where to go. Rodolphe I’ve been meditating ﬂight for a long while—but all alone. Musette Your Uncle Million? Phemie What a pretty name! Schaunard Indeed. I will be your companion at ﬁrst—until the day you really want to call me your friend!
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. So. if he wants ‘em—let him make ‘em himself. if you will permit it. it’s quite decided—I intend to lead. clip the wings of my youth—all that simply to provide for my uncle the pleasure of having little grand-nephews! Schaunard By Jove. Now. I’d like to have your uncle’s money. the beautiful life of work and pleasure. like you.
you will leave with us. you are. Rodolphe Baptiste. All To lunch!
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. Baptiste has brought a cloth and placed lunch on the ground. You are a studious lad—you will make your way.) Marcel But you already are! Musette and Phemie Yes. monsieur.(During this monologue. Rodolphe And now—to lunch. Baptiste You are served. Phemie (aside) He’s really quite nice. Baptiste What an honor. this Baptiste—if only he had a uniform.
Schaunard Tasteless. pass us some Burgundy. The ﬁrst duty of wine is to be red. my friends.) Chorus To lunch. my friend. Marcel (holding a bottle) Royal Champagne. then? Marcel Elegant cider. Already our places are set.(They sit on the bench and overturned chairs and attack the lunch.)
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. (Marcel takes a bottle and pours. I recognize him by his silver helmet. Marcel (throwing the bottle to Baptiste) Offer it to the ladies. it’s not wine! Rodolphe (astonished) What is it. Chance gaily unites us On this ﬂowered strand. Baptiste. Stay away from it.
Musette (embracing Marcel) Let’s drink our pure wine. Chorus (all) Our future must shine
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.Baptiste Do you want some water? Marcel Water in wine? That’s like Platonism in love. Marcel And long live youth! All (as they drink) Long live youth. Phemie What is Platonism? Musette Stupidities—the disease of men who don’t dare to embrace women. Phemie Fie! The horror.
Who by luck loves us And makes our poetry bloom With the ﬂame of her glance. Schaunard Armed with patience Against evil destiny. Marcel If the chosen mistress. Youth is too short. Let’s love and sing together. Courage and hope. Chorus Our future must shine
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. Knowing her taste for being beautiful. Youth is too short. Our careless attitude To the fanfares of our song Makes our misery happy. Youth is too short. Chorus Our future must shine In the sun of our twenty years. Youth is too short.In the sun of our twenty years. Without causing us pain— Let’s love her all the same—sweet inﬁdel. Let’s love and sing together. We mould our bread.
Love affairs and beauty Like lilies and roses. Youth is very short. Chorus Our future must shine In the sun of our twenty years. Youth is too short. Let’s love and sing together. Youth is too short. utters a scream) Ah! All What is it? Baptiste Monsieur Durandin! Monsieur Durandin! I notice his carriage— and quick—quick!
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. Let’s love and sing together. Have only the season of Summer. Musette Since the most beautiful things. When May in ﬂowering arbors Drapes the green ﬂag of Spring.In the sun of our twenty years. Baptiste (at the back. Let’s love and sing some more.
Rodolphe We will see each other again soon.Marcel The devil! Schaunard Let’s help the waiter. Phemie puts cakes and fruits in her pockets. Colline (in the back) The carriage is approaching.) Rodolphe Gentlemen! I am desolated! But— (All ﬁll the hamper which they carry behind the pavilion.) Marcel We understand perfectly. There’s time to pack my suitcase and not to embrace my uncle. (Schaunard puts a bottle in his pocket. Rodolphe Wait for me in the little wood that adjoins the garden.
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Marcel Doubtless. Colline stops and returns. which way to leave? Baptiste Not by the door. Marcel shakes Rodolphe’s hand and jumps in his turn.Phemie But.) Colline Ah! My God! I’ve forgotten my books.
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. Schaunard You will take them another time. Musette and Phemie Save yourself if you can! (Musette and Phemie go over the balustrade. Musette Over the wall. Baptiste The carriage is entering the courtyard.
(Colline vanishes. Baptiste It’s true. I left a chicken leg. (Schaunard disappears. Baptiste Ah! My God! Monsieur Million seems so agitated. Here he is. Rodolphe Heavens. Now it’s a question of ﬁnding an honest way to leave here.) Schaunard Say. Rodolphe They’re already far away. Durandin (coming in from the right) Ah! My friend! My dear nephew. Monsieur Rodolphe. Rodolphe That doesn’t matter.) Baptiste (looking to the right) Just in time.
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. he’s alone.
Uncle? Durandin What an adventure! Madame de Rouvre— Rodolphe You are terrifying me! Durandin Getting out of the carriage—she sprained her ankle. (aloud. I am taking your carriage. there’s my way out. uneasily) What! Madame de Rouvre will be deprived of those thousand little nothings to which she’s become accustomed! Uncle. Rodolphe Where is she? Durandin At the Lion Inn—a terrible inn. Rodolphe (aside) Ah! Now.Rodolphe What’s the matter with you.
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. (Rodolphe passes near Baptiste.) Durandin (aside) He’s going there.
Baptiste Where are we going? Rodolphe (low) To Bohemia. God wants. It’s true what they say—what a woman wants. Let’s love and sing together. some linen. (Rodolphe leaves quickly by the right.
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. my boy.) Rodolphe (to Durandin) Goodbye. rubbing his hands) The trick succeeded.Rodolphe (to Baptiste) Ah! Baptiste—a suitcase. (a carriage can be heard leaving) Gone already! Chorus (heard from off) Our future must shine In the sun of our twenty years. my books to distract her—don’t forget anything. (aloud) Go—run! (Baptiste leaves by the right. plates. Now we know what we’ve got. (low) Don’t forget my pipes. Durandin Goodbye. He loves her like a madman.) Durandin (alone. Uncle.
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. Durandin What’s that? (runs to the back and looks over the balustrade) Ah! My God. he tricked me.Youth is too short.
singing) Pretty mouth and rosy lips To sing out. On the left. Musette (doing her hair in front of a mirror. a chimney with a mirror next to the chimney. Underneath a rack of pipes. so hermetically sealed that it is completely dark. On that of the right. etc. a commode. ink. a pea-jacket. a suitcase in which there’s only a book and a suspenders. Alert like a gay lark. To the right. Under the bed. near the bed. In the room to the left a window which is shut with a blue curtain.
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. a trunk from which hang a vest. an overcoat and a hat. Furnished as little as possible. To the right by the window a round table with printer’s proofs. always open. In the room on the left. On the chimney a bottle with a bonnet on it. Musette in the room at the left. Cards on the chimney. To the right a trunk from which hangs a veil and a hat. Above the commode a shelf of books with some brochures. A chair to the right. Two chairs—one near the table—the other by the round table. It is broad day. See Rose. On the same side. an armchair and a little round table. a little table on the right with writing materials. Rodolphe is in the room at the right. pen. To the left a table with paper. In each of the two rooms a door at the back and a bed.AC T I I
Two contiguous rooms in a furnished hotel.
To leave me in his will a whole province in Peru. Rose. go harvest. he’s pressing his branches. would not return? Ah. my word. Peruvians included. But from here—am I dumb to be gone without money. I told him that I was going to the waters of Bagneres. completely dressed. and return With both hands full of azure ﬂowers. not seeing me. (Musette sits and arranges the bonnet which is perched on the bottle. He’s gone. So much the better.) Musette Who would have been able to say that the Vicomte. He’s capable of believing it and ﬂying there. (hums) Rodolphe (stretched.To plait a crown With both hands from ripe wheat.) Musette Come in! (A man enters Rodolphe’s room. Rodolphe falls back to sleep and doesn’t wake up. dreaming) Is it possible? Such a fortune to me! My worthy uncle. on his bed. I am returning to my apartment. so much the worse! He would bore me. I never think about myself. More knocking. he’s turned weeping willow.)
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. Ah! Bah! A pretty woman is never embarrassed for money. (A rapping on the door at the right.
he’s here about my inheritance. That’s fair. I’ve got it. Alas! (looking at his clothes strewn on a chair) The causes have gone but the effects are returning. Cashier Sir. Cashier No. I’m here to— Rodolphe I know what it is. Ah! You want a receipt. Put it there. Pass me pen and ink—there on the table. monsieur. I’ve come to collect one hundred ﬁfty francs. Today is the 15th of July. monsieur— Rodolphe (waking up and looking at the cashier who is fumbling in a large portfolio) Who’s this stranger? Ah.
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. the home of that gentleman who sleeps so loud. Ah! Birmann’s order! He’s my tailor.Musette Heavens! It’s over there. I haven’t yet eaten any strawberries. Rodolphe (examining the note) The 15th of July! It’s astonishing. Cashier Monsieur.
Beautiful ﬂowers given by Spring To presage its ﬁrst loves. All fade so quickly. Rose. One day you’ll have to gather Flowers that bloom In memory’s ﬁelds. (yelling) Madame! Musette (responding louder than he) Sir! Rodolphe Is it day at your place?
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. places a small paper on the table and leaves) Rodolphe (with nobility) These are not times for honest men. Rodolphe (waking and starting) Who the devil’s singing like that? I can’t hear myself dream. (takes back the note. (regretfully) The intriguer! He carried off his bag. Day that begins with a rain of notes and end with a hail of protests. The Cape of Storms is difﬁcult to get past.Cashier You have until four o’clock to pay. (goes back to sleep) Musette (singing) Beautiful sunﬂowers worn as a crown In fair weather. (going back to bed) It’s the 15th of July.
Why.) Musette Ah! Why. (Musette rises and puts her bonnet back on the bottle at the chimney on the left. (Rodolphe jumps up from the bed and puts on a jacket. It’s night all day long.Musette A bit! And in your place. Rodolphe!
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. is it night? Rodolphe Very much so. It seems to me I recognize that sweet voice.) Musette You are impolite. Musette Sir! Rodolphe (going back to bed) Madame. I hadn’t noticed. I’ve stopped the sun on account of a going-out-of-business sale. the sound is familiar to me. hold on. (sings louder) Rodolphe Heavens. why. yes.
) Rodolphe I went round. indeed—(rapping on the wall) Can I come in? Musette Always! But this way.
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. Musette My good Rodolphe! What’s become of you? Rodolphe I became a philosopher. I offer you my hand. Rodolphe I kiss your face. Musette Which means you haven’t any money. He embraces her. my pretty little Musette.Rodolphe What do you think! Musette What a fortunate coincidence. (Rodolphe leaves his room and enters Musette’s room. go round. Why.
I have some to pay— Musette You have debts? Rodolphe Money! Would you like some? Musette No. on holidays. thanks. it sells. Musette Baptiste is here! Rodolphe Yes.” It’s the height of literature. Are you still writing poetry? Rodolphe Yes.Rodolphe Pardon me. I have some. but during the week it’s different. Musette Do you realize it’s a year since we’ve seen each other!
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. And recently I just ﬁnished a very interesting little work entitled “The Perfect Smoker. under my protection. Anyway. Baptiste read it and he’s satisﬁed with it.
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. Musette (laughing) Vicomtesse. you inconstant Musette. Rodolphe On the ﬁfth ﬂoor? Then. I understand the heart of a Vicomte without prejudice to others. to go live in the heights of Eros in the red light district of Breda. the ﬁrst that I spent in Paris. that you abandoned it. in the breast of Bohemia. my dear. I was really sure that you would end that way—one night or the other. how is it that I meet you again in this humble garret? Musette I rented it. And it’s at the end of those six months. through foresight just in case. Musette And your uncle? Rodolphe Six months or more ago. It’s a small hideaway. two months ago—and I came here last night for the ﬁrst time.Rodolphe I know it. (going to the right) Rodolphe Ah.
Rodolphe (sitting down) And Marcel? Musette I love him more than ever.Musette No! No! It’s ﬁnished. It’s over. I’m forgetting My brilliant life And I repudiate My noble love affairs. (singing) It’s over. And the proof—(pointing to a little box on the table at the right) There are his letters. I say to you goodbye forever. My love. I’m forgetting My brilliant life And I repudiate
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. I want to eat with you again—the bread blessed by gaiety. Marcel. caresses and smiles. you are returning to us? Musette Yes. Yes. Only to you. Diamonds and admirers. decidedly. Rodolphe (rising) Then. It’s the only thing I took with me in my ﬂight.
our courage. (goes to the left) Rodolphe That’s it! And try not to let them grow back too fast.My noble love affairs. Musette. Her noble love affairs. Musette (elbows on the chimney) Marie. Musette and Rodolphe Together It’s over. The rest of us. our talent—with the woman we love. if you ﬁnd Marcel. Finally. Because. But. you see. Musette. you are really making me happy. right? Rodolphe Yes. Musette I’ll cut them very short. in the future you must not break his heart with your little red nails. Marie. I know something about it. I’m forgetting She’s forgetting My brilliant life. For a while at least.
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. Rodolphe Ah. if he forgets the past. it’s serious. we live on our youth. Her brilliant life. And I repudiate And she’s repudiating My noble love affairs.
Rodolphe And then I had bizarre. Then another idea came to me. fantastic ideas.Musette She really loved you. Musette Huh?
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. Ah. I made it paint itself red—it was more gay. But the river changed its bed. But this affection wasn’t enough for me. a source of wealth ﬂowed through my room. I went to the Abandoned Children. (rising) I made a salad of it. I wasn’t very amused. I became enraged. I adopted a live lobster. during the ﬁrst moment. Musette Poor boy. really! Chagrin mortiﬁed me. During that time. Rodolphe (astride a chair) Yes—for a month. Musette And Marie? Rodolphe (with a signiﬁcant gesture) She followed the current. I absolutely had to have a being to love.
I spoke frankly of my means of living—a lyric poet. And I thought that on her side—yes.
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. The marriage fell through. when I left—her eyes followed me through the door of the house. Musette You wanted to adopt her? Rodolphe Better than that. Wouldn’t that be very nice—all that—with vignettes? Musette Tell me.Rodolphe Looking over the children. do you believe Marcel still loves me? Rodolphe It’s to be feared. Musette (laughing) Poor friend! Rodolphe Well—really—it made me ill to lose her. An orphan like the others—but who was kept in the house. I made my proposal. I wanted to marry her. I saw a pretty young girl of eighteen.
Musette. it’s me! Rodolphe Ah. I greet you. (leaves) Benoît (entering Rodolphe’s room) Pardon! Perhaps I am indiscreet—(seeing the room is empty) Heavens. (Knocking on Rodolphe’s door.Musette Where is he? Rodolphe I don’t exactly know. I think he must have gone to make portraits of the Savoyards. That’s a good idea he’s got there. (Rodolphe enters behind him) Ah. there’s nobody here. (shouting) Come in! Goodbye. here he is. He’s traveling.) Musette They’re knocking at your place. Monsieur. Rodolphe You think so? Benoît (outside) Monsieur Rodolphe. it’s our proprietor. he’s come looking for money.
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It’s not necessary to bother you. is opening the box of letters and running through them. please! (Benoît sits to the left. Sit down.
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. That worries me. Musette. (aloud) Why. Rodolphe (opening the curtain and the window) Allow me to offer you a ray of sunshine. I would never have thought of it without you. in her room. She sits in an armchair.Rodolphe Hello. Monsieur Benoît.) Musette What love there was in these. Monsieur Benoît. I came to tell you that today is July 15th. Rodolphe I am not absolutely pressed. (pulling a paper from his pocket) Rodolphe Really? I have to buy some pants from Nankeen on the 15th of July. Monsieur Benoît. The little bill will grow larger. What happy conjunction of circumstances brings me your visit? Benoît (aside) He’s polite. Benoît It’s 162 francs and time to settle this little bill.
What is it I owe you? Benoît (showing him the paper) First of all. I don’t like being mocked. Rodolphe That’s extraordinary—162 francs! What a ﬁne thing addition is. if you absolutely insist. Monsieur Benoît. Then loans for three pairs of boots at 20 francs each. More money loaned. (rising) Well. my God! Today or tomorrow—it’s absolutely indifferent to me. now that the account is straightened out—(pulling a tobacco pouch from his pocket and ﬁlling his pipe) We can be relaxed. let’s settle it. Benoît (rising) Sir. that’s 75.Benoît Huh? Rodolphe But.) Benoît (smiling) Ah! Rodolphe Oh. (Rodolphe sits beside Benoît.
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. Monsieur Benoît. three months rent at 25. It’s money I need. 27 francs—75 + 60 + 27—all that comes to 162 francs.
Rodolphe Money! Money! You are astonishing! Do I ask it of you? Anyway, I wish that I had some so as not to give you any. A Sunday—that bodes ill. Benoît Damn it, monsieur! (Musette puts the letters back in the box and takes the cards and reads them.) Rodolphe (lighting his pipe) Look, Monsieur Benoît, wait a few days. Benoît No, monsieur. I know what I’ve got to do. And if someone comes to rent a room from me— Rodolphe Would you like an object of art as security? Benoît An object of art? A useless thing? Thanks—(beginning to leave) Rodolphe (noticing Benoît has left his purse on the table) Monsieur Benoît. (Benoît turns back) You forgot an object of art: your purse. (giving it to him.)
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Benoît (furious) Ah! Very ﬁne! Monsieur, you will have news of me. (leaves) Musette (rising and replacing the cards) The outcome was good. I’ll get him back. Rodolphe Ah! Why, I cannot remain here. The allied invasion is going to begin. I have to ﬂee. Where are my ornaments? (gets dressed) Benoît (at Musette’s door) Can I come in? Musette Yes, Monsieur Benoît. I am visible. Benoît (entering) Miss— Musette You’re making your rounds, Monsieur Benoît? Benoît Yes, and I will confess to you that I came— Musette Why, of course! It’s quite natural.
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Benoît (aside) Ah, ﬁnally. Musette I ask your permission to lace my boots. Benoît Very ﬁne. I must have the receipt. (Benoît fumbles through his pockets. Musette laces her boots. Schaunard abruptly enters Rodolphe’s room.) Schaunard Hello! (sits on the bed) Ooof! Rodolphe (arranging himself at a mirror on the little table at the left) Heavens, it’s you! Schaunard You don’t have one hundred francs to loan me? Rodolphe One hundred francs! You always do fantasize. You’ve been taking hashish. Schaunard I haven’t taken anything at all. Ah, yes—I took a cab by the hour to look for money.
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Rodolphe Ah! Fine. Benoît (reading a receipt) No, this isn’t it. It’s Monsieur Rodolphe’s receipt. Rodolphe Well— Schaunard I haven’t found money anywhere, but I ﬁnd my cab everywhere. Five hours—seven and one-half francs. Do you have that? Rodolphe I don’t think so. Look in that drawer. (points to the chest of drawers) (Schaunard opens the drawers and searches.) Benoît I must have left it downstairs. I’ll draw up another. (Benoît sits and writes. Musette ﬁnishes one boot and starts lacing the other.) Schaunard There’s no money here.
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Rodolphe The prior tenant didn’t leave any. Schaunard Who will pay my cab? Rodolphe Who will invite me to dinner? (he thinks) Schaunard Ah, damn! Today’s Sunday. Sunday, you won’t eat or anything like that. Benoît (rising from the table) Miss, here’s the thing—25 plus 25— Musette (adjusting her dress) Will you do this hook for me? Benoît Why— Musette (turning her back) Well, hurry up. (Benoît makes prodigious efforts; Musette sings and sways to the tune.)
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Rodolphe (striking his head) Ah! I’ve got an idea! Benoît Miss, if you keep moving around like this— Musette I thought it was done. Rodolphe If you borrowed them from the coachman— Schaunard Impossible, my dear fellow, he’s been burned that way recently. Benoît (mopping his face) There! Musette (standing on her toes to look in the mirror) Let’s see. Schaunard You have nothing to here to sell? Rodolphe Maybe so.
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(Rodolphe and Schaunard inventory the effects.) Musette Really, for your age, you’re not so clumsy. Benoît (offering his receipt) Fifty—25 plus 25. Musette Fifty! You’ll never get that. (Musette takes her hat and her shawl.) Benoît But, allow me. Musette I’ll be with you in a minute. Rodolphe (triumphantly, ﬁnding a book in his trunk) Ah! Let’s sell a volume of poetry with a portrait of the author wearing glasses. Schaunard I’d prefer a pair of pants—without glasses. Musette (having taken her hat and shawl) Monsieur Benoît, you must lose a lot of money with the young
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Musette And when they are women? Benoît I pursue them myself. a lot. run after me! (Musette runs out. Musette And when they don’t pay you. Goodbye. ﬁve and one-half hours for the cab. laughing.) Benoît (furious) Miss! Miss! (runs after her) Schaunard There’s nothing to sell here. Musette Really? Well. Ah. Benoît Yes. Miss. Seven francs eighty.people who live with you. I’m going to ﬁnd some
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. what do you do? Benoît I have them pursued.
I will bring you out some hazel nuts.) Baptiste Yes. a pail. Country of King Henry IV.money. Schaunard Oh! What an idea! I’ll keep my cab. Let’s get going. if they come from England for me.)
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. Rodolphe (seeing Baptiste at Musette’s door) Baptiste. say I’m in the Pyrenees. (Rodolphe and Schaunard disappear. (goes into Musette’s room) (Baptiste is carrying a broom. monsieur. (starts to leave) Rodolphe (with a shout) Ah! (fumbling in his pocket and pulling out a paper) I’ve got it! (Schaunard comes back) Banquet for ﬁve hundred in the honor of the birth of— Schaunard They seat only one on your ticket? Rodolphe Yes. Pyrenees. by the month. a zinc pitcher and two pairs of sheets. He puts all this down when he enters. but they seat two in your cab. a feather duster.
my word. (starts to leave and goes to the room on the right. in the middle of the room he bursts into laughter) Ah! Ah! What an admirable disorder. (sits near the table) Over there—ﬂowers. Monsieur Rodolphe has received the proofs of the Perfect Chimney Sweep. The bed retains a voluptuous imprint in which one could view a Venus! And Monsieur Benoît imagines that I am going to destroy that. Was this room inhabited? I don’t know. (takes the proofs and rises) I am going to correct them and put in a hundred commas. Nothing is in its place—everything is perfectly deranged.) Benoît (entering ﬁrst) This is it. I have twenty-seven rooms to do like this every day. an eater of apples. papers. work. monsieur. To think. it’s true and these fragments of a uniform spread about here and there sufﬁciently indicate to what gracious regiment the creature who lodges here belongs. she’s a daughter of Eve. Never! There’s a lot of work in this room. (dropping all his equipment) What an antithesis! Over there—grace. Marcel and a porter with a trunk. Do you like it?
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. (sitting at the table at the right.Baptiste Monsieur Benoît told me to ﬁx up this room and put sheets on the bed. It takes all my time. Under these eaves. Monsieur Benoît. and I’m supposed to change them. (rummages about the room) Let’s see a bit—how this bonnet is coquettishly placed on this bottle! Just as these ﬂowers and ribbons indeed attest the passage of a roguish and capricious hand. even on the sheets. ink—everywhere. (going to the bed) That’s where she slept. (looking at the table) Heavens. reading) Chapter one—(he continues to read to himself and make corrections) (At the left. Here—strength. let’s do another room. Here—pipes. coquetry. Heavens. (disdainfully) Ah! Barbarian! Vandal! (taking all his equipment) Come. ribbons.
monsieur. (to porter) Put that thing there. it’s a bit heavy. Marcel Have a good day. (Marcel pays the porter who then leaves.Marcel (entering) Fine! Admirable! The Louvre isn’t small. (escorts Benoît out) A young woman near me! That’s a gift from Providence. if I leave you. Don’t let me keep you. Quickly. She wants to see the side room. Baptiste Twenty-two errors in three lines. I have an idea.) Benoît Excuse me. satisﬁed) That young man seems to have plenty of livery.) Benoît (aside. a drill. It’s not locked.
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. but there’s a young girl below who is waiting for me. (Marcel helps the porter place the trunk against the bed. Careful. Would you like me to help you open your trunk? Marcel I thank you much. O Gutenberg! Marcel Oh.
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.) Baptiste I think that lady has returned. at this moment. crayons and pincers which he places on the bed. Baptiste That’s singular. Thanks to this observatory if this person is built agreeably— Baptiste (with his ear still to the partition) I think I don’t hear anything.(Marcel opens his trunk and pulls back some linen. (The orchestra plays.) Marcel (piercing the partition) This will do it. My word. Mimi and Benoît appear on the right. who doesn’t have any yet. (Baptiste rises and puts his ear to the partition. hands on his cheeks) Ah! A beast—a snake! Marcel (recoiling) There’s a lot of people in this wall. I think this will work. love of literature is less powerful in me than curiosity. Marcel I will place her shoulders on my chaste Suzanne. (uttering a scream and leaping back. The voice doesn’t penetrate.
there’s a neck that will do my business nicely. You appear ill.) Mimi You see—there’s going to be a storm tonight. It’s when I climb stairs—but it is nothing. Mimi (hand on her breast) Yes. (Mimi enters and leans on the bed) Sit down. the sun is an assiduous tenant! (Mimi has placed her box on the little round table and gone to the window. That’s partially why I don’t feel well. (Mimi puts her hat and shawl on the bed.
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. Miss.Benoît (entering ﬁrst) Here we are. (Marcel takes a paper and a crayon and sits down to sketch.) Mimi Can you see clearly here? Baptiste Ah! Miss. Now.) Marcel (looking through the partition) Oh! How pretty she is.
Benoît Miss is a dressmaker? Mimi I make ﬂowers. Baptiste That’s really a pretty profession. monsieur. (Exit Benoît. Benoît Huh? Look—hurry up. It is made—from the point of view of art. monsieur.)
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. Benoît (low to Baptiste) What’s this! Why isn’t this room made? Baptiste Pardon me. Baptiste Yes. they’re going to prepare everything. The Spring is your colleague. Benoît (bowing) Miss. monsieur.
When I was ill just now.) Mimi (taking an arrangement of ﬂowers from her carton) I hope no one followed me! Let’s see. I want to ﬁnish this arrangement before night. Mimi It’s getting very hot in here. (Mimi takes off a little kerchief which was covering her shoulders. I think
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. it made me sad immediately. as it does at this moment. I am going to the literary ofﬁce. I need shoulders. (Baptiste bows and leaves. if you need something. I only think of what can make me happy. (Mimi sits at the round table and works. It seemed to me I would never laugh again. I don’t even see the origin of the shoulders.) Marcel (eye at the partition) The Devil! She’s got a high dress. I won’t be here.) Marcel (joyously) Ah—ravishing arms! (sketching) Mimi That’s funny. you’ll ring. All my sorrows came back—but when the sadness passed.Baptiste (taking all his equipment) Miss. I will examine my room later.
it’s peculiar. I won’t be ﬁnished in time. Ah! My God! Is it? Let’s see. adorable! I’m madly in love with her. she’s charming. This little bonnet resembles Musette’s—it has. Richelieu ! A pen! (runs into the room and notices a bonnet) A bonnet! (takes it up) A bonnet has come to my place—or rather—it’s I who came to the bonnet. I remember. What’s that? (ﬁnding a belt on the chimney) A belt—indeed—Musette’s very size. my darling Jeannette And put on your best clothes. my key! Marcel Heavens! (listens)
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. something turned up in its appearance. Marcel Ah—that pretty voice. The day of national holiday. a poor girl who couldn’t pay—that booby of a hotel manager told me. (replacing the bonnet on the bottle) Oh. like hers. (singing) Arise. shouting) Baptiste. (continues to pry about) Rodolphe (outside. (rises and places his paper and crayon on the table) Quick.only of him—and my songs return to my lips. when something has ninety degrees. Today is the day of the celebration. Mimi Night’s falling. Marcel Ah! This is strange. And I am admiring the outlines instead of depicting them with passion. Why.
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. Rodolphe (entering to the left) Ah! Bah! It’s you. Marcel (giving him money) Here.Rodolphe Baptiste—my key—animal. Loan me ﬁve francs. Marcel It’s me. Rodolphe (opening the door to the left) Isn’t anyone here? Mimi Oh! It seemed to me—(listens) Marcel (shouting) Exactly. Rodolphe It’s you! It’s me! It’s us! Let’s embrace. Marcel I know this human instrument.
Rodolphe That’s lucky. Heavens. I was on the brink of a soup—but the police
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. Monsieur Marcel! Rodolphe (giving him money) Here. (Baptiste leaves.) Mimi I am a mad woman! I still think I’m seeing him or hearing him. I was editing. Baptiste I was in the room opposite. (Rodolphe and Marcel go out by the back arm in arm.Rodolphe I am yours. go—get going and bring ﬁve francs of nourishment here. Baptiste (entering from the left) Here I am.) Marcel You haven’t dined then? Rodolphe I missed dinner. monsieur.
my friend. (Rodolphe sits down in the armchair. There. I have two thousand francs invested. When I think. God. But they pay well! Ah.) Marcel Ah! What’s that! Once I was ﬁfteen days in a steam boat. in Auvergnats. Well. (continues prying) Rodolphe Don’t bother yourself. that in an hour. Anyway. Rodolphe You’re a millionaire then? Marcel Almost. he’ll be in a cab for eleven hours. allow me to continue my searching.came and upset it. I am on a track. (the half hour is heard ringing) And that poor Schaunard. two thousand francs. in my suitcase. indeed.
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. how heavy they are. I’ll relieve his distress. if he has the notion to come. you are reconciled? Marcel With whom? Rodolphe With Musette.
Marcel She’s here. Rodolphe (rising) You haven’t seen her?
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. Rodolphe Well.) Marcel Letters. yours— Marcel Bah! And this bonnet— Rodolphe Hers. I suspected as much.Marcel Why’s that? Rodolphe What do you mean. why’s that? (Marcel has found and opened the little box.
there? There’s a young girl there. She clings to your letters. no.Marcel Why. Rodolphe It’s a trick of Benoît’s. They rented me this room and gave her notice. She’ll tell me where Musette is. Let’s consecrate these ﬁve minutes to friendship. Marcel You think so? I am going to wait ﬁve minutes. Rodolphe Impossible!
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. Marcel What do you mean. And after that I’ll go to Madeleine’s. there. You’re lodging here? Rodolphe Yes. Marcel She’s gone! Rodolphe She’ll come back.
my friend. Marcel One child’s found. Rodolphe (going close to Marcel) Ah. Mimi Who’s calling me? Rodolphe (with joy) It’s Mimi. shouts) Ah! Marcel What? Rodolphe Mimi. Mimi (rising.
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. going to the partition) Oh.Marcel Look! Rodolphe (goes to the partition. I wasn’t mistaken.
I don’t dare go into my room—her room. I need them to run after Musette. Did he leave? (Rodolphe raps on her door. Ah! Bah! Get going. Rodolphe It’s funny.) Mimi (joyfully) That’s him! Come in! Rodolphe (entering) Miss— Mimi (offering him her hand) It’s me!
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. (leaves) Mimi I don’t hear anything any more. Marcel I’ve only got these.Mimi It’s his voice! Rodolphe (leaning on Marcel) My legs are no longer holding me up. Lend me yours.
Later I will be astonished. Mimi Aren’t you going to ask me any questions?
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. I thought too much about you for that. my dear Mimi. Mimi Ah. Mimi (joyous) Oh! Blessed Providence which has really wanted to bring us back together! Rodolphe Yes. Mimi Then you haven’t forgotten me? Rodolphe Forget you! Oh. I am happy—ﬁrst off. That was what willed that I owed my landlord two months rent and my landlord rented the chamber to another person— and that other person was you. Aren’t you astonished to see me? Rodolphe Oh! As for me.Rodolphe Ah! I was really sure of it. indeed.
makes her sit down and sits beside her.) Baptiste (entering from the left with a basket) Here’s the eats. (Rodolphe gets her a chair. Nothing else matters. (looking around him) Nobody. Mimi Here they are. Mimi Why.Rodolphe What’s the good? You’re near me.
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. I don’t want you to have any bad ideas—and I am going to tell you everything. as for me. Rodolphe (clasping her hands) I am listening. Rodolphe Give me your hands. (leaves) Mimi And now. listen to me. (placing the basket near the chimney) This will keep it warm if they make a ﬁre. I’ll hear better.
Rodolphe No. Rodolphe My fortune was not yet well enough established. Mimi That’s what I thought. Go on. no. I’ve never stopped thinking of you. One day they suggested I go to the home of an old woman. like a companion. Mimi Since that day.Mimi Since that day you came. to ask you to get married—an idea that had no success. Rodolphe Dear little Mimi! Mimi Perhaps it seems funny that I am saying this to you. Mimi I always hoped that you would come back. you know? Rodolphe Yes. The idea came to me when
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Rodolphe What! Mimi The lady with whom I was living often received the visit of an old gentleman. Rodolphe Ah. Mimi At last. I understand. I accepted with joy.)
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. Rodolphe Oh! (Rodolphe hugs Mimi protectively.leaving the hospice that perhaps it would provide me the opportunity of meeting you. she always found a pretext to leave me alone with him. But I wasn’t slow to repent of it. And every time he came to the house. when I least expected it—he took me in his arms. yesterday. Mimi This gentlemen said things—if you knew— Rodolphe I know them by heart.
and she told me that if there was another such scene. I escaped.
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. Before I wanted to marry you. Mimi (also rising) As for me. (after having embraced her) Will you allow me to embrace you? Mimi Why. Rodolphe (embracing her) That’s terrible.Mimi And he embraced me. and that’s how I came here. today I want to adopt you. Rodolphe No—only twice. Rodolphe (rising) Ah! That’s very sweet. I didn’t want to remain any longer in that house. Mimi Madame came. don’t be afraid of anything. Rodolphe Darling little Mimi. you’ve already embraced me once. she would kick me out.
Mimi. I’m going to pack my trunks—because I must leave.
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. (They embrace again.) Rodolphe Goodbye. Mimi Ah! Don’t you have a friend on the side? Rodolphe He’s not alone—he’s married.Mimi Oh! That’s different. Rodolphe Yes. That comes to the same thing. but there’s only one. that gentlemen will come here with you. I will spend the night with that lady. (Rodolphe picks up his papers and puts them in his trunk. (Night begins to fall.) Mimi Well. and as for me.) Mimi If there were only two rooms.
Rodolphe You think so? (calling) Is it you. but it’s night. Mimi (going to the window) Ah! It’s pouring. Rodolphe It’s only a shower. (Marcel enters abruptly into his room. He closes the door nosily. Mimi If it were daytime— Rodolphe Yes. Mimi. puts his candle by the chimney and takes off his hat.) Marcel No Musette! I am soaked. Mimi (to Rodolphe as he is about to leave) It seems to me that gentleman has returned. I will tell them to send you some light. I’m going. Marcel?
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. It won’t rain after tomorrow. candle in hand. It doesn’t come to the same thing.Rodolphe No.
Marcel I didn’t ﬁnd Musette! If you want to come lodge with me. Rodolphe Yes. Marcel The two of you? Rodolphe Yes. Mimi What luck! Rodolphe May the devil take you. Marcel Ah. right. Also. I am waiting for the shower to calm. I am changing residence. Mimi What?
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. you. you are there.Marcel Heavens. you dog. I understand.
(going to the partition and yelling) I withdraw my hospitality. nothing.Rodolphe Nothing.) Musette I need my letters. You are no longer in your own home here. She’s in my home.) Benoît (entering) Madame. (runs out the door) Musette (throwing herself into Marcel’s arms) Marcel! Marcel What luck! (Marcel makes Musette sit down. Marcel That’s true. Rodolphe!
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. this is scandalous. (aside) Got to leave. (Noise on the stairway. Marcel It’s Musette.
too. (leaves) (Marcel locks the door after him.Benoît What! Monsieur Rodolphe is here. Rodolphe No. (Aided by Musette. You are no longer at home here. I am at the home of the young lady. Marcel And now. Benoît This is scandalous.) Benoît Leave monsieur. pull out the food from the hamper and eat. (Mimi closes the door.)
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. they set the table. rapping on the door to the right. Rodolphe Calm down. Benoît.) Mimi (frightened) He’s coming here—he’s going to cause a scene. Ah! That’s too much. let’s eat. I’m pulling up anchor. outside.
(aside) It’s not going to be all the same like I was saying.) Rodolphe (rapping on Marcel’s door) Marcel. open for me. Mimi—I’m going. (Rodolphe leaves with his suitcase. (The orchestra is heard. I could perhaps stay—but compromising you—for I ordinarily keep my word—but I’m twenty-two and you are eighteen. Mimi. Mimi. Oh. Mimi You are leaving? Rodolphe I am going to send you Musette and take her place.
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. (Rodolphe hugs her again) Happily the nights are short.Musette (rising) And Rodolphe? Marcel (holding her back) He’s not eating. Rodolphe Goodbye. but still—(aloud) Look.) Mimi We won’t see each other again until tomorrow.
(raps loudly) Marcel Rap on the other door.)
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. (Mimi remains speechless. Marcel (rising and moving the table to a corner) I’m consulting my heart. (kneeling to Musette) Rodolphe No stupidities.Marcel Huh? Rodolphe You’ve go to.) (Mimi is near the bed. it’s me. (hugs Musette. Don’t consult Musette. Musette You’re making fun of everybody. Rodolphe Marcel. I’m not opening. Consult Morality.) Rodolphe (outside) Mimi.
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Mimi Well. On each side a couch. In the back right. AT RISE. I’ve never seen you rest for a day. When I come to see you. I can’t just do nothing. Musette is stretched on a sofa reading and smoking.
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. on the left.AC T I I I
Musette’s place. you aren’t so well already and since I’ve known you. a small stool. Musette Ah. leave me alone. door at the back and both sides. I work much better here than in our little room. armchairs. a console-table. A table against the left wall. Musette You will die. is ﬁnishing a wreath. Chairs. Rodolphe is not rich. A room. Mimi. Chimney to the left. indeed! You’ll work all your life? Mimi Ah.
since the birth of those two thousand francs. He hasn’t even (thoughtlessly) the intelligence for love letters. With them you always have to be frugal. we’ve lived like skin-ﬂints.Musette (rising) And why isn’t he rich? It’s stupid—men who don’t have a sou. Musette You think so? Well. Musette Baptiste? Is he a serious servant? He’s good at nothing. Mimi (also rising) Ah! Musette! Musette It’s true. it seems to me you are not. Mimi Still. Mimi (astonished) What do you mean?
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. my little one. Mimi You—with a servant. indeed.
Mimi But a few days later you secretly watered them so they wouldn’t die. you recall the day after you got Marcel back? You gave a pretty jar of pansies. Musette. Musette It’s true.Musette Nothing I will tell you about. You won’t take on more. Mimi (low) Have you stopped watering your ﬂowers?
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. I regretted not having chosen immortals. Mimi Say. Musette Yes. Musette Yes. Mimi You promised to love as long as the ﬂowers lived.
The wind is in cashmeres. lower.
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. don’t pay attention. (pointing to the room at the right) If he were to hear—(puts her wreath in her box. Marcel is there with Rodolphe. He’s a nice boy. low to Musette) Look.Musette (embarrassed) Why—I think that— Mimi Is it that you no longer love Marcel? Musette Yes. when he gets there—perhaps I’ll return. Musette Well. he would be capable of dying. If you deceive that poor lad. but he’ll never get anywhere. Mimi He will get somewhere. Mimi What do you mean? Musette (laughing) Heavens. don’t have such wicked thoughts. Mimi Oh. Musette. I am in my day of ambition.
it’s I who am an egoist. (sings) I love what shines. If Rodolphe were to leave me. I love what resonates. I am sure of it. Boredom is killing me. Gold in joyous reﬂections.Musette (laughing. Yes. I love drunken folly Which ceaselessly Livens up Love and desire And the burning fevers Which make lips Red with pleasure I love what shines.
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. (as if to herself) If I don’t die before— Musette Ah! My God! How gay all these people are! Mimi Pardon me? Musette No. yes. I love what resonates. but it’s not my fault. I can’t endure it. I would die. indeed. God made me that way. (aloud) Do you think people really die of love? Mimi Indeed. aside) He’d have been dead long ago. Whatever in life Gleams in poetry To the ear or the eye.
today. and love Marcel well. hiding the letter) Again!
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. Hush. Mimi Yes. they’d be wasting their time. is there someone who wants to prevent you from loving Rodolphe? Mimi (troubled) No—no—(aside) Anyway. (aside) At least until morning.Mimi Well.) Baptiste Miss. (gives it to her secretly) Mimi (aside. Musette You call it a soiree? There’s not even a milord at the door. Don’t think any more about that. He approaches Mimi. but it’s over—and whatever happens. Musette Well. The guests are arriving on foot and going away giddy. I will still be Musette. you will be happy since you are giving a soiree. since you can’t be prevented from it. Baptiste enters from the back with a letter. a letter from Monsieur Durandin. (laughing) I told you I was having a bad day. go. (Musette goes to sit on the couch at the left.
(Baptiste goes back to Mimi.a bay coupe with two white horses..Baptiste (going to Musette) Miss. (aside) I know what I have to do. Marcel reads a paper. Mimi (reading... do you hear? Bye.. (Rodolphe hugs her and she leaves by the right. how can I? (low to Baptiste) You will return this letter to Monsieur Durandin. (Marcel and Rodolphe leave the room at the right. as you have returned the others.) Mimi (packing her box) I’m going to take the wreath to the store. milord’s valet is below.. Rodolphe goes to Mimi.. Baptiste Fine. it’s the— Musette (bursting into laughter) My God! How stupid this Baptiste is.) Mimi (aside) Me.by the small gate. That’s my only response. low) “If you decide.... Miss.)
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.” (coming to) No. forget Rodolphe.tonight at eleven.
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. Marcel Four hundred francs almost! Musette (rising) Ah! Rodolphe The Devil! Are you still really rich? Marcel Damn! For two months we’ve been living with such economy.Marcel (reading) “The supper will come from the stores of Chevet. Marcel And you. the sherbets from the drink-maker Blanche. the ﬂowers. Rodolphe? Rodolphe It seems mythological to me.” (to Musette) What do you think of it? Musette It’s not bad. Madame Prevost. dazzling. but this artistic festivity is going to cost you dearly.
Baptiste. Baptiste No. by the way. I’m going to need to get one to receive the white vest of an inﬂuential critic.Musette Indeed. (giving it to Musette) Musette Again? Marcel What is it?
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. monsieur. I don’t even have a black suit. Marcel (giving him a paper) Here’s a list of orders.) Rodolphe (laughing) Strict super ﬂuity. Marcel Leave me alone. It’s for Madame. But we have no time to lose. it’s quite true. Ah. here’s a paper I was just given. (Baptiste sits on the couch at the left. Baptiste (rising and leaving his book) Sir. I never forget anything. Don’t forget anything.
it’s a court paper.Musette Prospectuses for new magazines. ﬁne.
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. I never read them. good—oh.) Marcel (opening the paper) Ah. Musette Court paper! Marcel (to Musette) They are funny—your new magazines. ah. Listen to what they express—1846. the 25th of October—at the request of—your upholsterer— Musette (rising) What’s that mean? Marcel It means that you thought your furniture was paid for and it is not—that’s all. very well! Rodolphe (looking at the paper) Why. Baptiste goes to sit at the left and resumes his reading. (Musette gives the paper to Marcel and goes to sit at the right.
Marcel He’s got to be paid! We will give a reckoning. ﬁne. then— Marcel (to Baptiste) Why. Marcel It will be repossessed. I was alone at the house.Musette (aside) Fie! A vicomte. Rodolphe Ah. how is it that you didn’t know all this? When did they come to repossess? (Musette sits down again. but not until tomorrow morning.) Baptiste (without rising) Repossess? Ah. (aloud) I am shocked. A few days ago. Marcel Why didn’t you say anything? Baptiste Oh—I didn’t attach any importance to it. in a very loose outﬁt came here and took an inventory in the name of the law. It’s going to upset
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. and a very thin gentleman. I’ve got it.
my friends. Enter Colline at the back. (goes to Musette) Suffer that I kiss your hand in the person of your cheek. monsieur. you are going to be present at the autopsy. Musette (after opening the box) Ah!
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. (to Baptiste) Baptiste.) Baptiste (placing the strong box on the round table) Sir.) Colline Hello. Colline. (Exit Baptiste by the left. go ﬁnd the strong box. Anyway. let’s see where we are. Baptiste Yes. (kissing her face) (Baptiste enters with the strong box. (Musette rises.our plans for economy.) Rodolphe Ah! There’s Colline. Marcel There’s nothing in it except bills. it’s really very light.
Baptiste returns with an enormous register. now there isn’t. there’s a spider. Baptiste. Musette (bitterly) It’s not always what I bought that could— Marcel Musette—reproaches. carrying the strong box) We will ﬁnd the error. What do I care? (Musette goes and sits on the other couch and smokes a cigarette. (Baptiste goes out left. Baptiste Pardon me.)
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. Musette Me! There was some money. bring the housekeeping books. we can’t have spent two thousand francs in two months. We must verify our expenses.Marcel What’s the matter? Musette There’s nothing there at all. Marcel Why.
August 25—gave ﬁve francs to Baptiste for his wages. monsieur. A parakeet—one hundred ﬁfty francs. (Baptiste nods) August 26—Six francs to Baptiste— Musette (rising) You gave often to Baptiste. Marcel August 24—dinner at forty sous. (opens the register) August 22—received in cash two thousand francs. Colline The necessity of buying back the Chinese—if at least it had been Eau de vie.) Marcel Let’s see. Marcel August 27—a monkey—seventy francs.Baptiste Here it is. Musette and I—twenty-two francs. then goes to the couch and smokes a cigarette. Purchase of two little Chinese condemned to be thrown in the Yellow River—two francs ﬁfty. (Baptiste places it on the round table. August 23—a Turkish pipe—twenty-ﬁve francs.
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Yes. it was all given to Baptiste! But. (closing the register) There’s nothing else noted. that explains it. he’s got a secret vice. if it was like that a long time. what did he do with so much money? Rodolphe For certain. Marcel The day they came the monkey died from indigestion caused by having eaten the parakeet.Colline A monkey! Rodolphe A parakeet! I never knew you had one. it’s clear. ten sous.
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. August 28—gave Baptiste— All Ah! Marcel Three francs. (Baptiste rises.) Musette Yes. Rodolphe As to the rest.
the situation is clear. And then. Colline My suit? Why don’t you wear your own? Marcel There’s only a ﬂap left. Colline Oh. Marcel Willingly. what will I wear? Marcel I allow you to come casual. you must lend me a white cravat so I can do you honor. The upholsterer won’t get his payment. so I can do honor to your white tie. Colline By the way.
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.Colline He’s protecting a dancing girl. Marcel Come. being well brushed. besides. but you will lend me your black suit. but we are going to give a superb party.
Rodolphe A faithful servant. Lend my black suit. I need it.Rodolphe (laughing) You’ll only stay a moment. make these gentlemen see you imitating Saint Martin. You’ll pass for a servant. Musette That doesn’t matter. Colline (resisting) No indeed. Marcel As for me. you understand—appearances. You want me to have to come in shirtsleeves. Marcel Just time for a quick glance around. no indeed. Anyway. (taking Colline’s suite off him) Come on. Musette An Indian prince! Does he have diamonds?
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. Colline You are charming. I have to go give a lesson to an Indian prince who has come to Paris to learn Arabic.
It’s even more solemn than a suit. here’s another vestment. Colline I’ll try. Musette. Marcel (embracing Musette) Your gayety has returned. Musette We’ll put in the candles—that will make them shine.) Marcel Here. (low to Marcel) He looks like a coachman who has lost his coach. after taking Colline’s suit. gives him an overcoat. He is— Musette You must bring him to our party. (Marcel. (helps him to put it on) Colline Say.Colline All over his body. You were paining me just now.
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. does this envelope go well with me? Musette (choking with laughter) Perfectly.
I’ve broken with her. monsieur. It’s Phemie who has colored me this way. take ﬂight! (Baptiste leaves by the rear) All yellow— it’s showing itself already.) Schaunard My friends. breathless. there’s still time. Musette Broken!
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. I am ill. (Schaunard enters from the back. offer me a seat. Schaunard Baptiste. Baptiste No. (Marcel brings him a chair) Baptiste. Musette On the subject of Phemie—where is she? Schaunard You won’t see her any more. You are all yellow. a stool for my feet.Musette (touched) Poor boy. (Baptiste brings him one) (bursting out) God! How sweet it is! If you knew what’s just happened to me. I must be quite pale. (aside) Indeed.
(pulls out an artillery pompom) Musette What’s that?
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. The binding and the bamboo no longer hold together. Schaunard Always—it’s a habit. Rodolphe My poor Schaunard! Phemie’s done it again. she let the proof of her crime drop from her pocket.Schaunard Yes. I was assailed by suspicions. And here’s that proof. All Let’s see! (Marcel sits on the couch at the right. as I entered her place. I questioned Phemie with my Malacca cane. In the heat of the discussion. Here’s the thing. This morning. broke my cane—a superb cane of Malaysia wood. Musette on the arm next to him. Rodolphe remains standing.) Schaunard I noticed that Phemie’s bellicose tastes were increasing more and more. Colline on the little stool that Schaunard has his feet on. Something told me that a troop had come in my absence.
Finishing these words. it’s the devil who’s mixing in it today. indeed. He smells of powder. she had received a visit from her godfather. That’s how it came about.
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. Why. I have neither Phemie nor my cane any more! Colline Poor lad! Rodolphe Phemie was reading the Victories and Conquests too often.Schaunard It’s a pompom—belongs to the artillery. Musette (laughing) All my furniture’s under the gavel of the law. I offered the pieces to Phemie as a souvenir of me—and I left her forever. indeed. My Malacca cane spoke again and Phemie confessed to me that. carrying off this warrior’s ornament. I told her—the wretch! A young woman who receives an artillery man in an honest house—it’s scandalous. Schaunard What’s happened to you? Marcel Court papers have been introduced into our lives. my Malacca cane broke in two. Marcel Ah.
What are you going to do? Musette It’s the work of chance. Why not whalebone right away? Ah. I am replacing the trufﬂes. Schaunard What do I see? Trufﬂes—everywhere. indeed. This is all ﬁxed. One ﬁnds all the animals here. (reproachfully) That’s the imprudence of having furniture in your home. salmon. Roe. lobster. the lobster. Your supper will cost ten francs. (scratches it out) There’s already one hundred francs saved. That’s twenty
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. lighting.Schaunard Really. Entertainment. Total twenty francs. the pheasant. your supper. Marcel The most embarrassing thing is that we don’t have a sou and the execution of the program for our party demands four hundred francs. with a varied course of sausages. (taking the paper) Ices—one hundred francs for ices—that’s dear for ices. and refreshments—ten francs. etc. why. that’s a slice of Peru. it’s a Noah’s Ark. in everything. pheasant.. (showing a paper) Schaunard Four hundred francs—why. Marcel Three hundred francs remain. People who want them can bring ‘em themselves. I’d suppress them.
francs discovered—we’ve really discovered America. All Tally ho! After it. your arm. Marcel Tally ho!
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. Musette Marcel. Marcel Where are you going? Musette They told me about velours at eight francs a meter. Tally ho! After it. (putting on her veil and hat) Marcel Ah—very well. Marcel That’s it. I’ve got to see that. Musette I am leaving with you.
monsieur. but Baptiste enters from the left and detains him. (showing letters) I’ve made a discovery.All Tally ho! Together (singing) As always. Rodolphe Give them to me. Rodolphe’s going to go also. Bold adventurers for pleasure. We run through all the City’s quarters To meet fortune’s steps.) Rodolphe What do you want with me? Baptiste Since this morning I’ve sought an opportunity to speak to you alone. monsieur—addressed to Miss Mimi. making common cause. (They leave by the back. Rodolphe Letters? Baptiste Yes. (takes them)
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She’s said nothing to me about it. So much the better. (Rodolphe kisses her) I am annoyed. And yet. Rodolphe Did you have to speak to me? Mimi No. I have to kiss you. (hides the letters) Mimi Ah. (aside) My word. Since Monsieur Durandin proved to me what Monsieur Rodolphe’s future could be—literature will absolve me! (Baptiste leaves by the left) Rodolphe (alone. Leave me.
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. you didn’t go. monsieur. Baptiste Yes. running through the letters) What do these letters signify? Offers—promises—if she wants to leave me—no signatures—they tell her to leave me—to engage me to go to Madame de Rouvre’s ball on Tuesday.Baptiste I am counting on you not to say that it’s I who— Rodolphe Don’t worry. if this life of privations were to kill her? (Mimi come in from the back) It’s her. Perhaps she’s tempted to accept.
Rodolphe Don’t be troubled. seated in a corner of the chimney with no ﬁre—love dozes off. Mimi Oh—villainous money! How happy we would be if we didn’t need it. Madame is out. that Marcel will soon no longer be noticed by Musette. we say: Patience.They didn’t pay me at the department store. For one thing. But these days are so long in coming—to keep you waiting for them—then—one night. Rodolphe After all. In the early days. indeed. you are alone. It’s the third time. She thinks I have income. you are right. we would be egoists if we demanded that you remain faithful to us. she regrets her past life. sulking. sad. It’s as if it were intentional. Mimi (with constraint) Oh. I fear. Rodolphe Yes. ambition awakens and one glimpses in imagination the paradise of luxury and pleasure where those who are rich can give entry to those who are beautiful. It’s the source of all our troubles.
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. you could be mistaken. perhaps better times will come.
right up to the end. today you really love me. Ah. Rodolphe To the end of what?
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. I believe it. Love is a fragile sentiment which dies in a room where the thermometer drops below zero. Mimi (taking Rodolphe’s hand) Why say this to me? Rodolphe Do you really love me.Musette Why say this to me? Rodolphe Because it is the truth. Mimi Today more than yesterday and tomorrow more than today— and like that always. poverty— it’s the death of everything. Mimi? Mimi Can you ask that? Rodolphe Yes.
She laughed up her nose at misery and passed up dining well. my girl. when she didn’t know how to pass up ribbons.
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. Rodolphe Don’t engage yourself too much. you are good and devoted. And tomorrow. it’s winter! Mimi (laughing) Winter—the carnival—Mardi Gras. (tapping him on the cheeks) We will make crepes and you will have some. but as I don’t want you to deceive me later. Mimi I am not Musette. I don’t wish to deceive you today. Who knows? Mimi You doubt what I tell you? What have I done to you? (Mimi coughs and sits on the couch at the right. But the day came. Rodolphe Musette also was like you in the beginning.Mimi Of the world. We are going to be really wretched.) Rodolphe (aside) That cough again! (aloud) Listen.
It’s a presentiment. again. My heart is beating like a tocsin signaling the approach of danger. Rodolphe (pressing her to his heart) Oh. Well the leaves have fallen— Rodolphe (aside) Not all. anyway. Mimi. you see. we will go live in a ﬁr woods where the leaves are always green.Rodolphe For you—so frail—so delicate—our life is full of dangers. it’s stupidities I don’t believe in. Mimi And this is how you love me? Rodolphe Pardon me. Oh. And then. if I was ill from the malady that causes death with yellow leaves. my darling Mimi! You are all that I love in the world—and
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. I would prefer—yes!—I would prefer to see you happy with someone else. I love you so much that rather than see you unhappy with me. (Mimi coughs in her handkerchief) You are more ill. This autumn. you see. Mimi (gaily) Indeed. Mimi (rising) No—you are frightening yourself for nothing. you were afraid.
low) Sir.all who love me.
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. consider. Yet. the story of the letters didn’t produce any effect. till—soon. (Rodolphe leaves by the back. I pardon you in advance. (Music from the orchestra.) Mimi Shut up! (Mimi embraces Rodolphe. perhaps. the uncle can enter.) Baptiste (to Durandin. and whatever happens.) Baptiste (aside) Ah. I say again. it seems it didn’t work. and my living poetry. Rodolphe Goodbye. (Baptiste goes to the door at the left and makes a sign. Baptiste enters from the left. You are my youth. Durandin appears.) Mimi What’s the matter with him? And what do his words signify? Baptiste (aside) The nephew gone.
Get out.) Mimi (turning) Someone! Durandin Hello. If you think that’s
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. We don’t have much time to talk because I don’t want them to know I came. Miss. you understand. So. Mimi You are Rodolphe’s uncle? Durandin (sitting on the couch at the right) It has that appearance. (Baptiste leaves by the back.Durandin (low) Fine. You want me to leave Rodolphe. Why haven’t you replied to my letters? Mimi Demon. Durandin You don’t know me? I am going to make myself known. Mimi Sir. not a word to my nephew. I will be brief.
easy— Durandin I will help you. Durandin Well. let’s not play games. as for me. Durandin She’s very expensive. I forbid you to do it. My nephew and I— Mimi I am not torturing him. I love him. that’s all. I’m not asking anything of you. Look. monsieur. It’s not forbidden for me to love him. How much do you need? Mimi Why. (fumbling in his wallet) Would you take two thousand francs? Mimi Two thousand francs? What for? Durandin So that you will leave in peace. Will you take three thousand francs?
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I don’t know why you are saying all this to me. miss—the Bourse closes at three o’clock. Could I love someone else? What you say to me is comical. Durandin You will be happy with someone else. You are sweet. Durandin It’s not worth the trouble. I’ve always worked. With what I am offering you— Mimi But I don’t want anyone else. Will you decide? Mimi Leave Rodolphe? But. But you’re miscalculating. For I warn you. is it? You love my ﬁfty thousand francs of income more. I will disinherit him if he marries you. Durandin (holding his watch) Look. It seems to me I am having a bad dream.Mimi No.
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. I cannot so long as he wants to keep me. Mimi But. miss. he isn’t going to marry me. I ask nothing better than always to work. I am only happy since I’ve been with him.
monsieur. It won’t be long. leave him to me another month and then he will be free. He cannot remain with you all his life. (coughs again) Durandin What’s that supposed to mean? Mimi Look. I have only some to pay to God. monsieur.
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.Durandin Let’s pass the stage of folly. Durandin A month? The end of November. Mimi My God! Why are you after me like this? What have I done to you? (coughs) Durandin Why. You have a bill to pay? Mimi No. what the devil! You must clearly understand that this is not a situation for Rodolphe. I have no debts. Mimi All my life.
but I don’t trust such grand phrases. And. we’ll never go out together. for it’s a question of a future for him. Durandin Well. my child. It’s my affection for Rodolphe which makes me talk like this. I do not ask better. let’s talk reason.
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. What I earn will sufﬁce me to live. He shall keep all his money. I’ll never bring it to a conclusion this way. you ought to understand me. I love him.Durandin And the due date approaches? That’s very sentimental. You’re mistaken. He needs to see the world— to become known— Mimi But I am not preventing him. There are honest women who will die— Mimi This is frightful. I don’t deserve it. You won’t die. You think I’m hard-hearted. yes. (aloud) Look. If you think it will harm him to be seen with me. since you love him— Mimi Oh. You shouldn’t treat me like this. I don’t eat much. (weeps) Durandin (aside) I’ve been too far from the mark.
for you will have done more than to kill him—you will have killed his dream. Durandin Yes. don’t say that to me. He would have been able to have a position. Mimi But I am not preventing him from working. demanding woman. and he will vegetate eventually—and it’s you who will be the cause of it. Mimi Oh.Durandin No. In a life of torments and privations at all times. no. he will curse you.
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. we don’t understand each other. I beg you. but an ambitious. He mustn’t ﬁnd in you a simple. enough. He will stick around you—and that will ﬁnish him. My nephew will never accept that treaty. I will do whatever you wish. He must stop loving you. Durandin Good. Mimi (broken) Enough. monsieur. Durandin You are not preventing him—you think that work of intelligence and needlework are the same thing. resigned girl. intelligence becomes exhausted and comes to curse those who caused it.
my child. that’s ﬁne. Mimi Ah. (Baptiste goes to light the candelabras on the chimney. (Mimi falls on the couch at the right and weeps in her hands. I want nothing. monsieur. you revolt me. Baptiste comes in from the back with lit candelabras. at least. Durandin That’s ﬁne. You’ve only time enough to get back in the same road. I want Rodolphe to owe his happiness to me.) Baptiste (low to Durandin) Sir. Do you plainly understand? I don’t want to be paid. You hesitate? You don’t love him. I noticed Monsieur Rodolphe and Monsieur Marcel at the end of the street. the whole life—of Rodolphe that you say you love—depends on it.Mimi I don’t know how— Durandin He must.)
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. The happiness. Mimi I will obey you. I will try. You won’t repent of it.
(to Mimi) Goodbye. Musette enters behind them.)
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. weeping) I was too happy. that’s what I am not—and then—I fear that he will only detest me later. Marcel It’s not enough. I was hoping to retain my happiness for a while.) Mimi (alone. My God! What’s Rodolphe going to think? He’s going to think I’m an egoist—and yet. (Mimi hears a noise and dries her tears. Miss. It couldn’t last. Marcel and Rodolphe enter by the back.Durandin (low) That’s ﬁne. Remember. and now it must end right away. (Durandin leaves by the left. (Musette takes off her shawl and hat and sits on the couch at the right. (aside) Pooh! She will console herself. if I do as I am ordered. (rising) But.) Marcel Nothing? Rodolphe Nothing at all. Musette (aside) The carriage is there. followed by Baptiste.
We also know Mimi. I only have wit with champagne. what’s the matter with you? Mimi (aside) Look. Marcel Yes. as Schaunard says. We know that you are never more devoted than in adversity. my dear. We know you. Rodolphe (to Mimi) Marcel’s right. you slander yourself. impossible. Marcel Musette. we are counting on you—you will replace the refreshments. At least if they could conduct the seizure during the party—that at least would pass for a surprise. Musette (dully as she rises) Oh. we must deploy much wit and verve. Musette. isn’t he? Why. there remains the most frank cordiality between us.Marcel Not the least entertainment to offer our guests.
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. it’s got to be done. Rodolphe Happily.
I received an invitation for next Tuesday. Rodolphe (astonished) Ah! Mimi (aside) Courage.Rodolphe (low) Are you thinking about what I told you? Mimi (with effort) Yes. I didn’t want to leave you alone. and— Mimi (excitedly) You must go. Rodolphe I thought to please you. Rodolphe (aside) Ah! My God! (aloud) You advise me to do that? Mimi (coldly) Yes. So. I think you neglect too much acquaintances who could be useful to you.
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Musette My blue velour dress? Ah. Marcel It seems to me I have heard of a certain dress which made your natural satin shine outstandingly. it’s time to think of dressing. Marcel What do you mean? You are going to present yourself before an inﬂuential critic in clothes of such simplicity? Musette What do you want me to put on? Lend me some trousers then. You are astonished. indeed. it’s long gone. Musette I’m already dressed. Musette.Marcel Still. all hope is not lost. Schaunard is going to come. the rest of you? Marcel But— Musette You really thought—?
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. Come on.
what are you going to wear? Mimi The same thing. she’s dragging the train of a Duchess. too. are you going to have an outburst of grandeur? Musette It’s true—it’s revolting.Rodolphe And you. Rodolphe It’s not my fault.) Rodolphe Mimi. (Marcel sits down on the sofa at right. have you. Mimi. Mimi. as always. (Mimi turns to hide her tears. met Marguerite?
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. but it is annoying. I’ve just met Marguerite—a girl as ugly as the seven sins—and skinny as Sunday.) Musette Ah! My God! No one is mad at you for it. Marcel Musette. Well.
I forgive you.)
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. (Schaunard enters cautiously from the back. (taking her hand) whatever happens. so be it. Marcel Well. Rodolphe I told you so—their love resembles that of swallows—it ﬂies off when the ﬁrst frost comes. you know? Mimi (sobbing aside) Oh my God! My God! (Mimi sits on the couch at left.) Rodolphe (low to Marcel) Let’s give each other a handshake. my friend. that’s been hatching since yesterday. It’s going to break out of its shell. Rodolphe (after a gesture) Mimi.Mimi (with effort) Yes. Marcel Yes.
the same immobility) They are petriﬁed.
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. Is this the way you receive (picking up the coins) these noble strangers? Rodolphe We are sad.) Rodolphe (emerging from his reverie) Ah! It’s you? Marcel (indifferently) You found it? Schaunard And that’s all.Schaunard (aside) Let’s rejoice in their surprise. (let’s a ﬁve-franc piece fall) They didn’t hear it. Schaunard Somebody died here? Marcel (low) Musette’s love. (Schaunard comes between Rodolphe and Marcel and drops a coin in front of each of them. (drops another.
Musette (low) Tell them to wait a bit longer. and after the brilliant promises you made. low) The carriage is going to leave. your guests are going to be arriving. the party won’t take place? (Marcel gestures no) But. (Schaunard opens the door and writes on the outside.) Marcel What are you going to do? Schaunard I’m going to save your honor. It’s time. (Musette leaves through the open door without being seen. Anyway. Schaunard Ah! Bah! We are all mortal.Rodolphe Mimi’s love. Baptiste enters from the right and approaches Musette. (exit Baptiste) (aside) Poor Marcel. (Schaunard runs and takes a piece of charcoal from the table. (striking his head) Ah! There’s one way—charcoal.) Baptiste (to Musette. you will ruin your reputation.)
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. Ah! Bah! Perhaps I bring him bad luck.
) Rodolphe (low) Forgetting. We are lost. are you going to Madame de Rouvre’s? Marcel What will you be doing there? (Rodolphe looks at Mimi who remains dreaming. He sticks them on the outside of the door after opening the two sides of the door.) Schaunard There! (reading what he has written in black letters) “Postponed because of divorce. (Schaunard has come to take two candles from the candelabras. It’s them.Rodolphe (going to Marcel) Tuesday. (The noise stops on the stairway.” (hearing the noise of people arriving.” (A general cry of disappointment outside. reading) “Postponed because of divorce. Silence.) A voice (outside.
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. he shuts the door) They’re coming.) Schaunard That’s the voice of the inﬂuential critic.
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Two doors on the right. we can hear the music of a ball. It bores me to go into society. (Colline and Schaunard enter from opposite sides. A richly lit room with many candelabras. It involves expenses. of all people. and from friendship for Rodolphe—But still.AC T I V
At the home of Madame de Rouvre.
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. Two étagères with vases. torches left and right. it’s the last time. I came by bus. On the left a door and a window. Colline Heavens! Schaunard disguised as a man well turned out. Armchairs. A round table at the left next to the couch. AT RISE.) Schaunard (entering from the back) Heavens! Colline. Door at the back giving on another room lit with chandeliers. Schaunard Madame de Rouvre begged me to play the piano. On the one on the right a richly decorated album.
(Colline pulls a book from his pocket. He’s late. Colline No! Schaunard It’s the uncle who is the host. Rodolphe went to dine with Marcel at the Café Anglais.) Schaunard Did you see Rodolphe? Colline Where’s that? Schaunard Here. but I understand.
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. What do you say of this party? Schaunard It lacks punch. They are forgetting each other. How did you get here? Colline By way of the quays.Colline You took a tour of the salons. He must come.
Colline And Rodolphe?
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. continually well informed. is announcing his marriage with Madame de Rouvre as approaching very soon. He invited me to dinner. Schaunard Why. I walk on the ugly rope of surprise. They are properly lodged. then this is a debacle of love? Schaunard Musette is the ﬁancée of a lord of high rank. Colline Why. Musette escaped through the keyhole of the lock and Rodolphe has left Mimi. The divorce has been put into execution. Here’s the story. I met her the other day. don’t you know anything? Rodolphe is now in good with his uncle. beside her Englishman. She’s as sad as anything. Colline Are you jesting with philosophy? Schaunard (taking his arm and walking with him) Not in the least. she feels sick. He’s a well brought-up man.Colline Monsieur Durandin. A paper. I’ve been charged to obtain news of the little one—and she is always ill. I’ve stationed her there. in a superb carriage. That softens me.
they are trying to drown their love. They resemble fashion engravings. Oh.) Schaunard Baptiste in livery. it’s Baptiste! Baptiste Alas! Yes. Schaunard Heavens. in grand livery and bearing a plate. ah. Rodolphe shares everything with Marcel—and for the last two days they’ve been superb times. monsieur. Phemie! (Baptiste. enters by the back) What’s that? Baptiste Ices. They are doing like me. monsieur. ﬁe!
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. monsieur. (Colline gives Baptiste a handshake.Schaunard His uncle is tossing money at all hands to distract him. Schaunard And the punch? Baptiste I no longer have any. These ladies have taken it all.
But. monsieur. (puts one on)
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. monsieur. for I’ve done wrongs. That will change you. This life is unsupportable! Everything is agreed and arranged in advance. it’s Rodolphe and Marcel. Schaunard (aside) I don’t want them to recognize me. Baptiste They’re going to make some. would you like an ice? (exits) Colline Who’s coming there? Ah. They lunch at noon and dine at night—every night. I can never accustom myself to a regime like that. and I am indeed punished. I was ambitious. Baptiste I dream of it. You will learn of them sooner or later. You are going to ﬁnd me some punch.Baptiste Sir. but I would like to return with titles to your esteem. Schaunard Return with us. monsieur. I’m going to put on gloves. Schaunard I will pardon you for them on one simple condition. while waiting. then.
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. Marcel Colline. very elegant with monocles. I was afraid of not being gentleman enough. we’ve made some repairs. (Rodolphe shakes hands with Schaunard. This dress is very habitable. I might as well take off my mask.) Marcel Shall we enter? Rodolphe In a moment. Rodolphe Schaunard. Marcel Yes.) Schaunard (aside) I’ve been recognized. (removes his glove) Colline (contemplating them) The portrait wasn’t ﬂattering. enter from the back.(Marcel and Rodolphe.
Monsieur Durandin does things agreeably. (pats his pocket)
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. You can dine for ﬁfteen francs. right. Schaunard How many times? Marcel Once—without wine.Colline The rumor runs through the Bourse that you’ve dined at the Café Anglais. yes. They believe it’s a cataclysm and they’re rushing to sell. Rodolphe My word. Marcel Come on. Schaunard Without wine! Rodolphe We shall return there. Marcel? Marcel Our means permit us to. It’s very nice at that tavern.
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. Rodolphe Well. these medals— To think there is a country where these are pebbles! I had a relative who picked up a good many. Colline We’ll have supper twice? Schaunard I don’t see any inconvenience. (to Rodolphe) I’ll owe you these. Schaunard It must be unstitched. after leaving here. Anyway. I ask to see how it is made. if you like. it will be lunch.Schaunard If we were to return there right away? Rodolphe We will sup there. but he wound up in the clutches of some savages. (taking some gold pieces from Rodolphe’s vest) How pretty. Marcel It is stitched with gold. it’s agreed. You have ofﬁcial stocks and ready money. Schaunard It’s not a joke. for it’s soon going to be tomorrow morning.
met a Russian in the game room. monsieur. (Colline. speechless. (The servant goes out left.) Durandin (to servant) You’ll place everything here. I beg you. Durandin (coming forward) Gentlemen.) Durandin (to Colline) Shake. bows awkwardly. Durandin enters accompanied by a servant. I am going to avenge Poland! (Schaunard bows to Monsieur Durandin. (Colline approaches Durandin. one of our friends.) Marcel Hey! It’s the good Monsieur Durandin. Marcel Monsieur Durandin. who he meets as he leaves by the back. searches for words and ﬁnding none.) Durandin (to Rodolphe) Madame de Rouvre is going to be in this room with some intiB O H E M I A | 161
. allow me to present to you Monsieur Colline.
Madame de Rouvre asks nothing better. Colline What a happy deﬁnition. She adores it. Durandin (to Rodolphe) You will invite Madame de Rouvre to waltz. Marcel The waltz is the step of the love charge.mate friends. If you like. you can make all her admirers die of jealousy. you’ve never waltzed. Durandin Ah. Uncle.
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. Rodolphe Agreed! Marcel (low to Rodolphe) But. I desire no one’s death. do you know the waltz? Rodolphe Yes. Just a few intimate friends. by reputation. Rodolphe As for me. We are going to take tea here. tell me.
) Rodolphe (to Marcel) Ah. Rodolphe I will try. Durandin Great! They’re coming this way—be amiable. indeed. see that young woman with roses in her hair? Marcel Right. I will invent a step and I will call it the step of regrets. for heaven’s sake! I don’t even remember her name.Rodolphe That doesn’t matter. Uncle. (Durandin and Colline go off. Rodolphe and Marcel look about. She’s the one I was looking at. Rodolphe Don’t you think she resembles Mimi?
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. Durandin Ah. Are you still thinking of—? Rodolphe Of Mimi? Oh.
I would really have loved to be a musician. Servants enter from the left and begin serving tea. Durandin.Marcel No. Several guests accompany her. (Rodolphe goes to Madame de Rouvre and bows. it’s to listen to you. entering from the back. speaking low. monsieur. (Enter Madame de Rouvre on the arm of a gentleman. Rodolphe stands near her. Marcel and Colline mingle with the guests as the tea is served. music has always seemed something fabulous to me. I think she resembles Musette.) Madame de Rouvre (to Rodolphe) If I’ve assembled a privileged few here. Madame?
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. Rodolphe Madame! (Madame de Rouvre sits on a couch at the left near the round table with a lady.) Madame de Rouvre (to Rodolphe) You are really late coming.) Gentleman (to Madame de Rouvre) Madame. Rodolphe How’s that.
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. doesn’t your nephew owe me something? Durandin Indeed.) Gentleman (in a discussion with Colline) What. I would really have loved to know Chinese. Madame de Rouvre You are really forgetful. Yesterday. why he owes you much—and if you like. Durandin (bringing tea to Madame de Rouvre) Madame. monsieur. Madame. monsieur. you know Chinese? That’s fabulous.Madame de Rouvre It’s a snare. Colline I will teach you. Rodolphe I don’t understand. Madame. he must owe you more in the future. (Rodolphe and Madame de Rouvre continue speaking low. will you allow me? Madame de Rouvre (taking the cup) Monsieur Durandin. the poet made me a promise and I propose to remind him of it. monsieur.
a sonnet. Durandin Ah! Yes. Marcel (to Rodolphe.Madame de Rouvre (to Durandin) I accept the madrigal. Master Poet. (Madame de Rouvre gestures to Baptiste. It gives us so much pleasure and it costs you so little. Durandin We aren’t listening to you. who brings an album. monsieur. I recall. we are listening. I don’t allow you to quit the sonnet. A Lady On the contrary. (to Rodolphe) But.
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. laughing) Come on. Rodolphe (protesting) Madame—mercy.) Madame de Rouvre Look. Madame de Rouvre You can no longer back out.
your desires are our orders. Marcel (low. monsieur. Rodolphe (low to Rodolphe) Ah. I don’t dare to ask it of you. who demands with energy a page of your album. one of our ﬁrst artists of the pen.Rodolphe (low to Marcel) What! You are joining my enemies? Marcel (to Rodolphe) Certainly.) Marcel Madame— Durandin Bravo! Bravo!
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. (to Madame de Rouvre) Madame. pushing him) What the deuce are you saying? Madame de Rouvre Ah. We mustn’t let the enthusiasm cool. (Schaunard enters quietly and comes to sit on the couch at the right where he takes tea. Wait. so that’s the way it is. and here’s Monsieur Marcel.
but you know it’s the fashion in Paris. but I would have loved to. (Baptiste goes to ﬁll the request from the console on the right. Rodolphe (laughing) And crayons.) Durandin Baptiste! Pen and ink.Marcel (low to Rodolphe) May the devil take you! Gentleman (to Marcel) You will do my proﬁle? Marcel You don’t know about drawing? Gentleman No. (Marcel turns his back on the gentleman. gentlemen. Marcel I was sure of it.) Madame de Rouvre (to Marcel and Rodolphe) Pardon us.
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.Rodolphe Yes. in the swamps of the Nile.) Marcel (aside) I’m sorry I came. who sits beside the round table. Madame de Rouvre (laughing and giving him the album) It’s the album. in the Atlas. low to Rodolphe) Here are the instruments of torture. In Bengal. All Listen! (Everyone presses around Rodolphe. Baptiste (bringing pens which he places on the table. one ﬁnds tigers. (Durandin gives a pen to Rodolphe and a crayon to Marcel. alligators. lying on the soft ottomans in boudoirs hung in red. there exists something more formidable than the monsters of the desert and the seas.) Marcel Much obliged. and in the middle of Paris. lions. it’s true.
) Rodolphe (writing) The poet is like the diver. harvested the white pearl. The orchestra plays. rising) Oh—the torture of the album is going to begin.) Rodolphe (as he writes) The Queen.Schaunard (aside.) Marcel (aside) Ah—she wants a drawing. (Schaunard sneaks out by the door at the left. and brought it. observing him) What are you doing there. and if your caprice smilingly demands a verse that must everywhere proclaim your
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. I’ve got my subject.” The diver plunged beneath the waves—through the gold sand and purple coral. I’m going to go smoke a pipe in the courtyard. Durandin (low to Marcel. wanting to put a star in her crown. captive. monsieur? Marcel Ah! You nudged me! (Marcel continues to draw. had a diver come. and said to him: “You will go into the damp place where the siren sings and harvest the white pearl and bring it to me. (Marcel draws while Rodolphe writes. for his sovereign in a pearly case. Madame.
Durandin (low to Marcel) Are you crazy. low) Thank you. a jewel case where love’s rhyme is encased and ﬁnds the bejeweled desire. monsieur? Marcel What do you mean?
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. Madame de Rouvre (rising and shaking Rodolphe’s hand. monsieur. he dives into the depths of his thought. In fact. it’s fabulous. (Rodolphe rises. (Marcel gives the album to Madame de Rouvre.beauty—obedient slave.) Madame de Rouvre Let’s see your drawing. All Bravo! Bravo! Gentleman That poem is very ﬁne from one end to the other.) Marcel (rising) That’s ﬁnished. (everyone rises) That’s ﬁnished. my poet.
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.) Madame de Rouvre (to Rodolphe) What’s wrong with you? Rodolphe Nothing. low to Marcel) Mimi’s portrait. isn’t it? Madame de Rouvre (looking at Rodolphe suspiciously. isn’t it? Durandin (embarrassed) Why—pardon me. That’s amusing. Rodolphe also looks and is surprised. Marcel (low) In Madame de Rouvre’s album. aside) He’s upset. (low to Durandin) This is the portrait of that girl.Madame de Rouvre It’s very pretty. (steps back a bit. Whose portrait is it? Marcel A memory. Lady Ah! Let’s see! (Lady and Madame de Rouvre look. Madame.
a sonnet. (Madame de Rouvre looks at the picture. but I was saying—it’s not quite long enough. dreaming.
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. Gentleman Ah.) Gentleman (to Marcel) What do you call that thing he just recited? Marcel It’s a sonnet. The orchestra plays a waltz. Madame de Rouvre (aside) Oh. Gentleman I heard you. but it’s not long enough. Marcel (astonished) It’s a sonnet. you seem ill.Madame de Rouvre (low) I’m sure of it. I intend to ﬁnd out if he still loves her! Rodolphe (coming to her) Madame. It’s very pretty.
Madame de Rouvre (upset) Oh, the heat. (Rodolphe offers her his arm and escorts her to the window which he opens.) Gentleman (to Marcel) Ah! Monsieur, I would really have loved to write poetry. (Gentleman pirouettes away.) Marcel Ooof! Madame de Rouvre (looking outside) Ah! (to Rodolphe) Would you ﬁx me a little more tea? (Rodolphe goes to the console at the left.) Madame de Rouvre I wasn’t mistaken—it’s she with Monsieur Schaunard. Rodolphe Do you feel better, Madame? Madame de Rouvre (very troubled) Yes, yes, monsieur, much better. (leaning out the window, aside) They are talking to a chamber maid who’s pointing to the service stairs. They are coming. That girl in my home! Ah,
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that’s too much audacity. She will pay dearly for it. (Rodolphe approaches, she moves quickly away from the window) Thank you, monsieur, it’s unnecessary. But—the waltz has begun and you’ve engaged me, I think. (Madame de Rouvre moves toward the right. Rodolphe places the tea on the console.) Rodolphe I am at your disposal. Madame de Rouvre (going rapidly to Durandin) Get everybody out of here. Durandin Yes, Madame. (aside) I don’t understand. Marcel (to Rodolphe as he passes near him) I’m going to the card game. In a quarter of an hour, you will please rescue me. (Marcel goes out left.) Durandin (at back) Come on, gentlemen—the salon reclaims you. The orchestra demands—we must obey. (Durandin offers his arm to a lady and leaves. Everyone follows him, Rodolphe and Madame de Rouvre are last.)
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Madame de Rouvre (aside, looking at the service door) Miss Mimi—till later! (The stage clears. Baptiste enters and begins straightening up. Schaunard enters from the left, speaking to someone in the wings.) Schaunard There’s no one. Come in. (Mimi appears behind Schaunard.) Schaunard What childishness. To remain in the court of a hotel in such cold! Baptiste (looking up surprised, aside) Miss Mimi—my victim. Schaunard (to Mimi) Sit down. Mimi (sitting on the couch at the right) But, if someone were to come? Baptiste There’s no danger.
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Mimi (excitedly) Where’s Rodolphe? Baptiste Where? He’s waltzing with Madame. (Schaunard nudges him) No—he’s not waltzing with Madame de Rouvre. How cold you are! Would you like me to ﬁnd a bouillon for you? Mimi My good Baptiste. Baptiste (aside, reaching the door at the left) She calls me her good Baptiste—it’s horrifying. (exits excitedly) Schaunard Are you feeling better? Mimi Not much. Schaunard (aside) Oh, this will never do. This will never—I don’t know how to console women. (aloud) Look, Mimi, don’t cry like that. Mimi It does me good. He no longer loves me, right? You told me on his behalf that he had proof I was deceiving him—that I’d had enough of life with him? Who made him believe that, huh?
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that would. but he mustn’t believe that I cheated on him. They told me that. Mimi I wept so much! I waited for him two days and two nights. Are my eyes all red? Schaunard Well—not so bad as that. leaving all those beautiful women. He doesn’t need to take me back if he doesn’t want to. I’m going to get him. I knew well enough that he couldn’t stay with me forever. no. yes. Well. and you will tell him that I’ve done nothing. Decidedly. I know—stupidities. I don’t dare—if they saw him with me. I had to see him. he would ﬁnd me ugly. but all that was a pretext. Mimi (stopping him) No. Mimi Yes. I learned he was going to the ball at Madame de Rouvre’s. you know. If I don’t see him—you will see him. Finally. anger him—and if he no longer loves me at all—Don’t tell him that I am here. if I could speak to him. Schaunard You will tell him all that yourself. I couldn’t stand it. but for him to believe me guilty—oh—I don’t want that. I understood that—really I wish happiness for him. today. I will believe that the Good Lord
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. if chance brings him. I am superstitious.Schaunard Hell! You didn’t want to wear a straw hat in winter. Oh. Why no. perhaps.
It’s a long while since I’ve been at the buffet. Go! Mimi You think so? Schaunard (aside) I am stupid with the ladies! (goes toward the door at the right) Mimi And Phemie? Schaunard (ready to leave) Phemie? She’s with the Cavalry. Schaunard Then. Goodbye. I’m leaving you. Don’t tell him anything.)
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. All this will straighten itself out. Schaunard Hell! If that suits you better—but if they see you— Mimi They see me. I fear my absence may be noted.will reconcile us. Mimi. (leaves) (Baptiste returns with a setting which he places on the table.
Baptiste There’s no more consommé. I’ve only to say a word for him to fall at your feet. First of all. but here’s a pudding. Miss Mimi. console yourself. Mimi What do you mean? Baptiste Leave it to me. Baptiste Calm yourself. Mimi Oh. Ah. (gesture by Mimi) Don’t be afraid. I’m going to tell Monsieur Rodolphe that you are here. Can you tell I’ve been crying?
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. Mimi Is it possible? Baptiste I am sure of it. how happy I am! My heart is beating enough to choke me. Would you like a glass of water? Mimi Yes—for my eyes. Soon you will be happy.
I intend to rehabilitate this child.Baptiste Yes. Hurry. watching the back all the while) I’ve reconsidered. That would be more clever. (starts to go out. (runs to Mimi’s door and raps) Miss! Miss! Mimi (opening the door and entering) What is it? Baptiste (very troubled. Mimi Is there a mirror? Baptiste There are two mirrors. what a piece of ill luck! Rodolphe and Madame de Rouvre are coming this way. You would do better to wait for Monsieur Rodolphe downstairs. It’s Calas and Voltaire who suggested it all to me. Here—you’ll ﬁnd all you need in here. Mimi That’s it.
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. Go! Meanwhile I will ﬁnd Monsieur Rodolphe and I will bring him to you. (Mimi goes into the cabinet at the right.) Baptiste The time has come to execute my plans. then stops) Ah! My God.
Baptiste They are going to come to this room. Mimi That’s all right. (reopens the door on the right) Baptiste But— Mimi (calmly) I intend to remain. enters from the back. (goes in) Baptiste (aside) But. How to do it? (goes to
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. (coming forward despite Baptiste’s effort to prevent her) Ah! I understand—Madame de Rouvre and Rodolphe. (Madame de Rouvre. my God! She’s going to listen.Mimi You are hiding something from me. Baptiste closes the door on the right. on Rodolphe’s arm.) Madame de Rouvre (aside) She’s there! Baptiste (aside) I’ve got to warn Monsieur Rodolphe.
is your story with this what’s her name—Mimi. Tell me. it’s that— Madame de Rouvre (imperatively) Leave now! Baptiste (aside) What’s going to happen? (Baptiste leaves with the food he brought. since you ask me. I think—over?
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.) Madame de Rouvre Monsieur Rodolphe. Madame. Madame. (pointing at the drawing) Who is this woman? Rodolphe (smiling) You know well enough. Baptiste Pardon. Madame de Rouvre That is clever. you are going to know why I brought you to this place. but it’s true.Rodolphe) Madame de Rouvre (guessing Baptiste’s intent) Leave us. Madame de Rouvre leads Rodolphe toward the round table on which the album is placed. Be frank to the end.
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. Madame de Rouvre (after a moment of scorn) Is she pretty? Rodolphe (embarrassed) Very pretty.Rodolphe Mimi—yes. Madame de Rouvre You loved her? Rodolphe Madame! Madame de Rouvre You loved her? Rodolphe People say so. Madame de Rouvre It’s history? Rodolphe Like Charlemagne. Would you like to be seated.
She has blue eyes? Rodolphe No. Madame? Madame de Rouvre You ﬁnd them pretty? Prettier than those of Miss Mimi? Rodolphe Hers were less well cared for. Rodolphe (taking her hands which he admires) Is it still Pradier who ﬁnishes your hands.
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.) Madame de Rouvre (excitedly) Thank you.(Rodolphe wants to escort Madame de Rouvre to the couch at the left. black. Madame de Rouvre You are making me impatient. Madame. Madame de Rouvre Very large? Rodolphe Eyes all around her head.
I ought not to love her any more—and perhaps I loved her more for myself than for her.Madame de Rouvre (ironic) Not gloved? Rodolphe Pardon. Madame. the passion of an artist—meaning—it’s very vain. Rodolphe. Madame de Rouvre And very false at the same time.
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. let’s sit down then. do you still love Miss Mimi? Rodolphe Madame. gloved—with kisses. (kisses her hands) Madame de Rouvre (scornfully pulling her hands away) I have my gloves—(Rodolphe smiles coquettishly) Look. (she leads him to the couch at the right near the room Mimi is in and they sit) You were saying you loved her rather for yourself than for her? What sort of passion is that? Rodolphe The passion of a poet. Madame de Rouvre (with a gesture of satisfaction) Ah.
love is a little room visited by the sun and also by cold winds—love which dines at a frugal setting and even drinks from the same glass—this love is something charming when one is still under the rising sun of
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. Madame de Rouvre Finally. Madame de Rouvre What you loved in her was her beauty? (Music by the orchestra. Madame de Rouvre You renounce your love. a fantasy? Rodolphe Perhaps. her beauty. Madame. Madame. it’s the perpetual exploitation of the heart by the imagination. your loves were those which are born in the spring with the ﬁrst leaves and die in the winter with the ﬁrst snow? Rodolphe What’s to be done? You see. her youth. the luster of her smile.) Rodolphe Yes. the fanfare of her gayety. then? You agree it was only a caprice.Rodolphe Yes.
Madame de Rouvre rises abruptly and walks to the left. goes to the woods.) Rodolphe (rising) There’s someone there? Madame de Rouvre My chambermaid.
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. But there comes a day when the pride of it begins to dispute with the heart—the liberty of its sympathies and its enthusiasms. Then everything changes—naiveté appears vulgar—the chatter of a pretty mouth seems monotonous—and you begin to ﬁnd tepid the kiss of her ardent lips. A slight noise is heard in the cabinet. (surrounds Madame de Rouvre’s waist) Madame de Rouvre (turning towards the door) Rodolphe! Rodolphe (leaning on her shoulder) It’s then one dreams of another love—one which walks on carpets. to the opera. Marcel (outside) A refugee from the card game. and is called by a name which is recorded in history.ﬁrst youth. writes on velum crowned with heraldic vignettes. is draped in silk or velours. speaks pure language. (Rodolphe kisses Madame de Rouvre’s shoulder. is strewn with diamonds.
Madame. Mimi enters. you mean. Go—go—soon! Rodolphe Soon! (Rodolphe kisses the hand of Madame de Rouvre and leaves.
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.Madame de Rouvre (a bit agitated) They’re calling you. I will see you soon. Madame.) Madame de Rouvre (aside) There she is. I’m the little one you were speaking of just now. Mimi (noticing Madame de Rouvre) Excuse me. Leave. Madame de Rouvre Monsieur Rodolphe. Mimi For me—he’s plain Rodolphe. I’m looking for Rodolphe. Madame de Rouvre You’re looking for someone? Mimi Yes. As he leaves.
Madame de Rouvre Wait then. or I scream. Madame de Rouvre Miss. Mimi I recall. Madame. Madame.
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. miss— Mimi Mimi—you know my name quite well. think where you are. Madame de Rouvre This is scandalous! Mimi So much the worse! I want my lover. Madame. Madame! (Madame de Rouvre takes a step to leave but Mimi places herself in front of her and bars the way) You aren’t going. as they won’t let me forget! Madame de Rouvre What do you want? Mimi I want my lover.
What do you want me to do about it? Mimi Oh. Madame. perhaps—don’t listen to him for you won’t be slow to notice that you are only a distraction
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. ha. young lady. perhaps! Ha. Madame. a lost child coming into this world. Rodolphe adores me! Yes. ha. Mimi That could be. really! I am only a little girl. you make me laugh. and yet. Mimi (laughing convulsively) You. adores! It’s not too much to say. he still loves me! The tone in which he said he no longer loves me proves the contrary. I thought that would sufﬁce for you.Madame de Rouvre You are mad. (sits on the couch at the left) Monsieur Rodolphe no longer loves you. To the woman who could believe herself loved by him. but you ought to understand that Monsieur Rodolphe doesn’t desire this meeting. yes. So he hasn’t forgotten me in four days—to be in love with another. I would say: He’s deceiving you and himself. Madame de Rouvre (coldly) Not only does he no longer love you—but he loves another. I am ignorant of ﬁve languages and beautiful manners. miss. Madame de Rouvre I am desolated to tell you. (pointing to the cabinet) You were there—you must have heard.
what can I do about it? Perhaps. Let’s leave it at that. if Rodolphe doesn’t love you. If I were to speak. Mimi So be it—but let me see Rodolphe. you amuse me very much. Madame de Rouvre Continue. I’ve answered you—that’s much—believe it. I’m sure of. Madame de Rouvre (rising) Is that all you have to tell me. Madame de Rouvre I’ve listened to you right to the end. I could destroy the illusions that you obstinately cling to—and that would hurt you—as you were saying to me just now. Allow me therefore to retire. Madame.for him—and that will hurt you.
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. Mimi No. On the contrary. miss. Madame. you see. I don’t amuse you. he will be your husband—he will be my lover! He was a poet—he will become a man of affairs. miss? Mimi (a little intimidated) Pardon. if I’ve spoken this way to you—but all that I’ve said to you. As to the rest—it will happen. and we grisettes—as you call yourselves great ladies—we often have the crème de la crème of your loves. You came to parade before me your little affairs that I never asked you about.
Why. this love is all my happiness. clothes. since everybody tells me so.Madame de Rouvre (going to the right) You want him to repeat to you what he was saying to me just a while ago? Mimi What? Madame de Rouvre As for me. I remember it—love is a small room visited by the sun— Mimi I know! Madame de Rouvre But soon the dream of another love—you get it now. I cannot forgo him. miss? Mimi Well.
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. Madame de Rouvre Do you believe that your love is worth the sacriﬁce of his future? Mimi (aside) Oh! My God! It’s really true. yes. (aloud) But. Madame. pretty things—I have none of all that—but I have devotion—which can replace them. it’s true—diamonds.
has made a gesture to detain her. The door closes. She is half crazy. go down instantly and follow a young girl just leaving the hotel.
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. Madame. love him well. my God! Madame de Rouvre (passionately) Go on! (Baptiste runs out left. Madame de Rouvre. Look. very upset.Madame de Rouvre That is. Madame! You don’t believe in my devotion? Tomorrow. Baptiste enters by the back. She runs to the table and rings. too. you will—and Rodolphe will.) Madame de Rouvre Ah. indeed. Goodbye. (Mimi goes out to the left. you don’t know what devotion is! Your heart is too small to contain it! Mimi (coldly) Enough.) Madame de Rouvre (very agitated) Baptiste. the utterance of your egoism. her goodbye struck my heart. Baptiste (aside) Miss Mimi! Ah.
Madame. Madame. monsieur? (Durandin appears at the back with Marcel and Colline. aside) What have I learned? These letters were only lies—and she was there.Rodolphe (coming in rapidly through the back. The tears of that child didn’t touch you. I don’t want such a rival. monsieur. Madame de Rouvre Do mine touch you. (falls onto the couch at the right) Rodolphe A rival! Ah. (Rodolphe goes toward the cabinet. it’s not your love weeping—it’s your pride.) Rodolphe Eh. Rodolphe What? You knew? Madame de Rouvre Well.
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. yes—you kicked her out. I knew it.) Madame de Rouvre She’s no longer there. monsieur. Madame de Rouvre bars his passage. yes. You must choose between two mistresses.
Your conduct is shameful. monsieur.
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.Madame de Rouvre Monsieur? Durandin (running to Rodolphe) What is it? What’s wrong? Rodolphe Leave me alone.) Baptiste (to Rodolphe) Ah. Durandin Monsieur! Marcel My friend— Rodolphe This girl that I loved—that I still love—you slandered her! Madame de Rouvre What do you mean? (Baptiste enters through the small door at the right. I fear that some misfortune has befallen Miss Mimi.
) Madame de Rouvre You are in my home. Madame.Rodolphe What? Baptiste I saw her leave. Rodolphe Yes. Colline and Baptiste rush to the window. running. (Marcel. of your per ﬁdy—for she was here—and she heard me foreswear her. monsieur? Rodolphe (low. (Durandin shrugs. monsieur. cowardly— Madame de Rouvre For whom. perhaps. I tried to follow her. in her turn. she’s dying—the victim of your love and your per ﬁdy. Goodbye. renounce me. Madame de Rouvre looks deﬁantly at Rodolphe.
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. but I lost her in the darkness.) Rodolphe (with sadness) Mimi! (to Durandin and Madame de Rouvre) Do you hear? At this moment. to Madame de Rouvre) For another who will.
sometimes—to loan me money against his wages.Madame. Rodolphe (to Durandin) Keep your money. Durandin Go. would you? Schaunard Yes.) CURTAIN
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. monsieur. All is over between us. as for me. (Baptiste makes a gesture that that would be ﬁne with him and follows him off as the curtain falls. Schaunard comes in from the right and follows them. (Rodolphe goes toward Marcel and Colline. You told me just now to choose. your beautiful Bohemian life.) Baptiste (low) Monsieur. goodbye. monsieur.) Madame de Rouvre I won’t say it to you again. crumples it and hurls it at Rodolphe’s feet. (Madame de Rouvre tears the portrait from the album. Continue your life of disorder. Madame de Rouvre collapses on the couch at the left. (to Madame de Rouvre) Keep your pride. I’ll keep my love. but is stopped by Baptiste. you wouldn’t need a servant.
On the ﬂoor bottles and napkins. Colline and Schaunard are near the chimney jammed into the extinguished corner. Marcel. A little to the left of the chimney. In the rear. Marcel and Rodolphe are seated at the table. sad and silent. Everything is in great disorder. Marcel (turning his head) Well?
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.AC T V
A room. (he shakes till his teeth rattle) Brrr! Brrr! Hey. A Voltaire style armchair near the chimney. Door on the left near the bed. a bed. AT RISE. The wind can be heard blowing. a table covered with bottles and empty plates. etc. Colline (recoiling from the chimney) Who’s that coming? Schaunard It’s old man Boreas—ambassador of the month of December. To the right a chimney near the audience. shells of oil. A window on the left.
Schaunard Brrr! Brrr! By God.Schaunard You’re standing—go into the library to see if there’s not a small faggot remaining. Marcel (pointing to the heavens through the window) Do you see that little cloud of smoke? That’s our last log stealing away. I’m no longer in the mood. we’re not safe in here. (taking a glass from the chimney) Let’s drink! Colline (taking a bottle and turning it upside down) The edition is—(rising and going to Marcel) Schaunard (replacing the glass on the chimney) God! How stupid our empty glass is! (in a tone like a mandolin) Where shall we dine today? Colline We will know tomorrow. It’s a Siberia.
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. (striking Marcel’s shoulder) We’re not going to think of working? Marcel I never work without eating after I’ve remained for ﬁve days uninterruptedly. There’s a temperature reigning here capable of hatching polar bears.
For several moments Rodolphe and Marcel remain silent. The sorrows of our friends require solitude. Rodolphe. Colline and Schaunard shake hands with Rodolphe and leave. It’s our nature. Marcel What do you mean? Rodolphe You are waiting for Musette. then a noise is heard on the stairway. Schaunard Goodbye.
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. rising) Come on. Colline (low to Schaunard. Marcel gets up hurriedly and puts his ear to the door. Rodolphe goes to the right. There are whole years one isn’t in the mood.Schaunard (rising) I know that. (Rodolphe rises. The noise dies down.) Marcel (aside) I was mistaken. Rodolphe The one you are waiting for isn’t coming.
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. I expected her—for ﬁve minutes. I told her we had money. Then. no—it’s not—it’s stupid. Marcel No. you. and if you are not rich. but I don’t expect her any more. Marcel (pointing to his heart) No. you know—and I invited her to come warm herself while there was ﬁre. Ah. you can love your Mimi with a full heart. her love provides you with credit. (sitting by the chimney) And to think that for ﬁve days this room ﬂamed like Hell. your heart will leap on her neck. at least. If Musette had been here—she who was so chilly— Rodolphe The little beast is dead.Marcel I’m waiting for her. It’s true. but it’s like that. truly. She replied immediately that she would come. She’s never deceived you. Rodolphe And if you see her enter. (goes near chimney) Rodolphe You’ve expected her for ﬁve days and you still expect her. you said? Marcel (rising) Well. a stunning apoplexy of luck—my gambling winnings. The little beast is dead. it was ﬁve days ago that I wrote her.
(Marcel sits back down by the chimney. then straightens it up. she too will have been set up there by a frazzled notary’s clerk who will have seduced her with madrigals made of money.Rodolphe Musette really loves you too.) Rodolphe It’s true. But why didn’t you try to keep her before? Perhaps she wouldn’t have left you. I lost Mimi through my own fault. sooner or later. Marcel I couldn’t duel with every fur coat that came to pay court to her. (Marcel rises and pushes the table against the wall at the left. During the ﬁrst ﬁve days I sought her everywhere and I didn’t ﬁnd her and I’ve been unable to learn anything. I suspected her when she was faithful—and she left ten days ago. Whereas. indeed. Rodolphe (dreaming) It’s all the same! We owe them beautiful memories. Marcel She’ll have gone to England.
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.) Marcel Ah.
I will burn one leg to heat the other.” Those boots danced many a country dance I was unaware of. is it really true that you’ve left and that I will never see you again. What is there we could burn to thaw out our ﬁngers for a moment? Ah. (reading) “I am going to dine with my aunt. of youth—to the post—(throws them on the ﬁre) So much the worse.” Very ﬁne. Rodolphe (sitting near the table) O little Mimi! Joy of my house. (in a jesting tone) O my letters of love. but all these memories are good only for regrets. As it perhaps will rain tonight. (goes to a sort of desk in a corner and takes letters from a drawer) Since I am in the mood to forget—but ﬁrst—(sitting near the chimney) Let’s reread one last time these burning letters. I know her aunt—he was my cousin! And here’s another: “I took the money which was in the snuff-box to go buy some green boots. I have some autographs of Musette. Bah! Let’s talk of something else and try to warm up—for it’s getting very cold. Jeannette. of virtue. O little white hands with blue veins. I won’t return until tomorrow noon. and get all dressed up. When I am cold. when I carry you to my lips! Have you. Rodolphe runs to the door and ﬁnds that Marcel has arrived before him. speaking of memories.Marcel Yes. received my last kiss? (On the stairs a voice can be heard singing: Wake up my darling. then.) Rodolphe That’s Mimi’s song!
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) Marcel (aside) Let’s be proud and disdainful.Marcel Yes.)
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. but almost involuntarily Marcel is at her side. I’m going to buy some Havana tobacco. She stops upon seeing the shabby appearance and their sad faces. but it’s Musette’s voice! (Musette enters gaily. (Musette starts to leave. (calling softly) Marcel! Marcel! (he doesn’t budge) Must I leave? Marcel Evidently. She throws off her hat and shawl and goes into his arms. (Rodolphe leaves as Musette makes a grateful gesture. (Marcel strikes a haughty pose while Rodolphe gives his hand to Musette and then takes a step to go.) Musette (aside) I no longer dared to enter.) Musette Are you going to leave us? Rodolphe Yes.
(pointing to the chimney) Ashes are all that remain. (pointing to the table) And crumbs. Marcel Five days to cross the Pont Neuf? You went by way of the Pyrenees. (Instead of replying. Musette (looking around her) It’s really cold in here. I suppose. with effort) I am no longer your little Marcel.
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.) Marcel What kept you? A caprice? Was he blonde or brunette? Musette It was the rain. Marcel The ﬁre’s been waiting for you for ﬁve days. Musette rests her head on his chest. the table.Musette My little Marcel Marcel (turns away. Musette (timidly sitting) I am late. too.
But when I was half-way. there was a sudden shower! Ah. they were having a lottery to help a poor family.Marcel The rain. First of all. I’m going to ﬁnd it. For sure. Marcel How old is Milord? Musette Two weeks. I understand. Madeleine jumped on my neck and demanded a ticket —she took something from my pocket. (touches her dress) But what have you got under there? Musette (coquettishly) You know quite well. I was at the gate of Madeleine. Milord.” And I left. I left it in one of Marcel’s drawers. when I got your letter I showed it to Milord. He gave an “Oh” —but I told him: “Listen. since I’ve had an eighty franc corset. that surprised him a little. I went up. I let her do it without looking. and not one carriage. Listen. I no longer feel my heart beat. The lottery was drawn and suddenly a nice gentleman approached me and said to me: “I have number twenty-three.” (lowering her eyes) And number twenty-three was—
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. lo. (bitterly) O damn! Musette It’s the truth—and if I wasn’t afraid of hurting you— Marcel Oh—one needle more or less in the pincushion.
Marcel Twenty-three was? Musette Heavens. Each of my loves is a couplet—and you are the refrain. but in the lock. (Marcel sits down. “I will return it. Marcel I told you that you went by way of the Pyrenees. and as I begged him to return it to me: “Miss.) Musette What do you want? My crazy existence is a song.
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. let’s talk politics. bah! He was a Spaniard and I have never been to Spain. Marcel Well? Musette (very low) It was the key to my boudoir.” he replied.” Marcel Here—get out! Musette (bursting out laughing) Ah.
But the true.) Musette (singing) Memories of long ago Recall to him my tenderness. (Musette goes to Rodolphe. The only wealth. the only joy. (to Marcel) How sad he looks. looking pensive. And it’s our liberty. Still so joyous— (Musette forces Marcel to kiss her. Pride seduced my heart. Like a tempting demon.) Rodolphe You haven’t seen her for the last ten days? Musette Who?
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. Rodolphe returns. It’s the adventurous life.(Musette hurls herself into Marcel’s arms. Unfaithful lovers Are always the most charming.) Musette Ah! It’s Rodolphe. It’s love in gaiety.
This time I’m not mistaken. Musette (laughing) Mimi with a hat with feathers! Oh. It’s Rodolphe’s uncle who caused all that. Suddenly a noise is heard on the stairs. my God. jealousies. Music. to Rodolphe) Ah. (listens) Musette What is it. Mimi ran away—and perhaps she now has a new love and hats with feathers. bah! She’ll come back. (changing her tone. After all. Rodolphe shivers. suspicions. I came back. (Musette approaches Rodolphe as if to console him. God! She must look funny. Musette What do you mean? Marcel (low to Musette) A bunch of scandals.) Rodolphe Ah.Rodolphe Mimi. then?
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. Marcel By God! You only come and go. At last.
(to herself) No. my darling Mimi. let me sit down. I’m not well.) Mimi Ah. Hello.) Musette Mimi! Ah! I told you so. you’ve come back. too. leaning against the casing of the door. oh. Musette. Mimi (in his arms) Rodolphe! My friend.
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. (Mimi appears. you here.Rodolphe (placing his hand on his heart) Listen. Rodolphe (running to Mimi) Yes. it’s my heart that’s crying for her. Mimi sits and Musette sits beside her. yes. and me. I cannot hold myself together. it’s she! Ah! Mimi Rodolphe! Rodolphe (covering her with kisses) Mimi. (Marcel pulls up an armchair. Marcel. You’re well. You did well! (giving her hand to Marcel) Hello.
Rodolphe Oh. my God! (Marcel takes Rodolphe aside. I don’t know why.
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.) Marcel (low to Rodolphe) Say. but I’m afraid. where did you come from? So late. You no longer expected me. in this bad weather? Mimi Where am I coming from? I’m not coming from dancing. who’s going to fall back in your arms. Rodolphe My poor Mimi. Mimi Yes. Mimi seems really ill. huh? Rodolphe But. I am returning from hospital.Rodolphe Are you ill? Mimi No. your poor Mimi. I’m just tired.
(to Rodolphe) Ah.) Mimi (to Musette) My God! Yes. Mimi is continuing to talk with Musette. I am coming from the Hotel Dieu—a villainous place to die. I know. Happily they needed beds. (Marcel leaves and Rodolphe returns to Mimi. They didn’t want to let me leave. and bring him right away. Rodolphe Where were you?
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. here I am. Finally. Rodolphe Yes. I really was afraid of not seeing you again. and my leaving made one more. I really had trouble to get out. Marcel (low) I’m going to ﬁnd that young doctor that we know. that night of the ball. my poor friend. Rodolphe (kneeling by her) But. my darling.Rodolphe (low) I see it as you do. when you left the hotel— Mimi Yes.
It was really dirty. the light I had forgotten to put out. you recall the light also burned late. Suddenly. I don’t know why. The swelling river vainly asked me: Are you coming? Standing under the arches. Still. All my past joy seemed to watch me through that little window. I didn’t come there to
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. I remembered the time we lived in this room. and from time to time you would bother yourself to come hug me in my bed. at our little window.Mimi I was right on the bridge. I was looking around me mechanically. I forgot the river and I no longer thought of anything else except of you. but then—(smiling) Ah. I doubted it at ﬁrst. I thought you had forgotten me for good—and I ran to the river. It wasn’t pretty. my eyes turned toward the quay and I noticed. In those days. You were working late. I kept leaning against the parapet. Then I forgot the great lady. it really must be ended. at last—that decided me. Just like a grisette in a novel. I wasn’t rushed and I said to myself: When I’m at the bottom of the river. he can no longer come to kiss me. Where did you want me to go? Rodolphe (lovingly) Mimi— Mimi I watched the water ﬂow by. Rodolphe You wanted to die? Mimi Hell! What did you want me to do? They told me I was an obstacle to your future. All these memories had troubled my thoughts a little.
Then I looked at the window where the light was still burning and I said to myself: I’ll jump in the river when the light goes out. I was in a bed in the Hotel Dieu. you see. When I came to. (Rapping is heard at the door. Rodolphe Don’t talk any more. I lost my head. Mimi I will do whatever you like. right? Rodolphe Yes. when you’re ill you soon say: I’m going to die of it. Say. rest. my friend. if I’d found another woman here. I would have jolly well have come down by way of the window.)
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. Musette (rising. You think it’s easy. Ah. my fever seized me. aside) Poor girl! Rodolphe (to Mimi who wants to rise) You are tired. I love you. While I was awaiting the signal to jump. Mimi You still love me. but you’re jolly well deceived. I again bent over the parapet—but courage again failed me.amuse myself. I fell in a faint on the pavement.
The doctor gestures for him to move away. If you would tell him where you hurt. Rodolphe Mimi. Miss? (Rodolphe anxiously watches the doctor’s expression. (Musette whispers to Mimi. Marcel reenters.
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. what pains you? Doctor (going to Mimi and taking her hand) You’ll allow me.Doctor You asked for me? Rodolphe (rising and going to the doctor) Hush. my little girl. here’s one of my friends who came to see me as he was passing by.) Marcel The doctor’s come? Musette He’s here.) Doctor I understand. He’s a doctor.
Rodolphe (shaking) Lost? O Mimi! My poor Mimi! Doctor In a week at most. miss.) Doctor (grasping Rodolphe’s hand. she’s ﬁnished.) Doctor (to Mimi) Don’t worry. (Musette and Marcel approach Mimi.
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. The doctor talks to Rodolphe in a corner. low) My friend. It’s nothing.Marcel What does he say? Rodolphe We don’t know anything yet. Rodolphe (joyful) Ah! (Marcel and Musette sit near Mimi. some rest—and everything will be ﬁne.
in a gay tone) We are planning to make you take something very bad—which will quickly cure you. (Marcel places a writing pad and paper on the desk. Musette (to Mimi) You see quite well that.) Marcel (low to Rodolphe) What’s the doctor say? Rodolphe (low) She’s ﬁnished! Doctor (to Mimi) Come on! Don’t torture yourself. perhaps. if you were in danger. he wouldn’t be laughing.
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.Rodolphe What! So soon? Doctor Maybe sooner. Mimi (leaning towards Rodolphe) What is it the two of you are saying? Rodolphe (coming to her. Tomorrow.
my darling? You shall have it. (fever begins to take her) You must cure me quickly. (Musette gestures to Rodolphe to say “yes. I’d like to have a muff.
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.) Rodolphe Yes. (vivaciously) How funny it is when you are sick. what is it? What would you like? A pretty silk dress like Musette’s with white trim? Mimi (laughing and then coughing) Ah. I don’t want a silk dress. You have all sorts of cravings. You’ll have to go get it. I’d really like one. (pointing to Rodolphe who has taken her hand) You see him? I’m all his joy—a sad joy. (looking at Musette’s dress) That dress is pretty. Marcel has come close to Musette. monsieur. he loves me all the same. Just now. (to Rodolphe) You know quite well I’m no coquette. coming back from hospital I was looking in the shops. No. Musette (low to Marcel) I’ve got one at home. but I’d like to have—(sadly) No. since I came here. white! How dumb he is—it’s lace. on the contrary.”) Rodolphe (to Mimi) Is that all. right? Still. What a misfortune that everything is so expensive. Why.Mimi Oh! I am better already. let’s not think of it any more! (The doctor sits at the table and writes his prescription.
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. yes.) Doctor (to Rodolphe) I have some calls to make. then goes to Rodolphe. escorted by Marcel and Rodolphe. Go get me a muff! (The doctor rises. Are you rich? Rodolphe Yes. (Marcel goes near the doctor.Mimi Soon? Rodolphe Right away. we are rich. (The doctor leaves. Mimi (repeating) Ah.) Musette (to Mimi) Come on. gives the prescription to Marcel. indeed. Rest now. We have to keep commerce going. we’re rich.) Mimi A muff is expensive.
yes. Mimi With my muff? Rodolphe With your muff. Those huge rooms. Mimi (as they help her to the bed) What luck! Then. (Musette arranges the armchair near the chimney. Rodolphe Yes. it’s sad at night. in a week. I am going to try to sleep—for I almost wasn’t able to sleep there. you would be going to a ball. (leaning on Musette and Rodolphe who has returned) Heavens! The doctor is gone. to begin. Mimi What did he say about me? Rodolphe He said that if you were really obedient.)
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.Mimi I’d really like to.
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. I would die if you did. Don’t send me back to hospital.) Marcel (pointing to the debris of the party) Huh! If we’d been able to foresee it—we haven’t got a drop left of the one hundred shillings we drank from these bottles. I’ll take care of her. Musette Ah! Why. (Musette closes the curtains. (sleeps) Musette (low) She’s begun to sleep. (lower still) Near you. my Rodolphe. won’t you? Rodolphe (exalted) Yes. how dumb I’m getting! Meanwhile. Musette And the money? Rodolphe I’m going to go to my uncle.Mimi (holding Rodolphe in her arms) Ah. Musette You’ll take care of her. (lowering her voice) In my little room. (sweetly) I am so well here. my friend.
) SHORT BLACKOUT (no change of set) As the lights go up. You know where.bracelets and giving them to Marcel) go pawn these for me. thank you! (Night comes on. We’re going to beat the retreat for money. Musette She’s sleeping. Rodolphe (shaking her hand) Ah. (Musette goes to the chimney and lights candles. Marcel (pulling Rodolphe aside) Yes. Musette is near the bed.)
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. stop by Schaunard and Colline’s. Musette. The room lights up. come. Mimi is sleeping in the bed. (to Marcel) Don’t forget to go to my place to get the muff. (Marcel and Rodolphe leave. Rodolphe Yes. let them know what’s happening.) Musette God! How dumb you are. How mad I am not to have thought of that sooner. And while you are on the way. little by little.
Marcel places a carton on the table and extracts a muff. Rodolphe is sad and silent. She. If she’d wanted to she. Musette (to Marcel) And you—how much were you able to borrow on it? Marcel Nothing. Musette Well? Rodolphe (abruptly) Nothing. Indeed. We’ve each had our illness! For me. of love and ﬁdelity. Musette What! You didn’t meet anyone? Rodolphe (bitterly ironic) I met a poor man who asked me for alms. perhaps.Musette There’s one who never had any luck. (Marcel and Rodolphe return. an illness that makes me live a life of coquetting and pleasure. I’d have been like her if I were able. (placing her shawl over Mimi) It’s never been put to better use. could have been like me. (returning to the bed) She’s cold.
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. a mortal illness.
But from now till then— (Colline and Schaunard enter together. Musette Tomorrow.) Marcel Well? Schaunard (fumbling in his pocket) Here’s thirty sous. Marcel (taking them) Four pounds ten. I’m going to the pharmacist. (leaves)
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. (gives it to Marcel) Rodolphe (to Colline) Well? Colline Here’s three francs. We have to wait until tomorrow.Musette What! Marcel (returning the jewels to her) Today is Sunday. Schaunard is in a yellow suit. The pawnshop’s closed.
but today’s Sunday. When I saw that. but all the shops were closed and everyone in their homes. Colline It’s quite another thing with me. I wanted to sell my books. (Rodolphe has gone to the window. I went to a grocer and I negotiated with him for a series of Greek philosophers—by the pound. These things happen only to me. Musette Poor boy! A nankeen suit in this weather? Schaunard It’s not warm—but it’s pretty and then I’ve wanted to have one for a long while. There wasn’t a single clothes merchant in the streets. but they weighed only three francs. that’s all. I took it. that’s all. I took it. I had no choice. They were worth ten shillings.) Schaunard Art is in the doldrums. I found one of them—he offered me thirty sous for my alpaca and a mouton suit in return. and the rag dealers were closed. At this moment half of Paris is trying to
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. Still.Musette (to Schaunard and Colline) What did you do? Schaunard I wanted to sell a rag which I counted on liberating.
borrow one hundred sous of the other half which refuses them. Musette And your uncle? Rodolphe I saw him. Musette (to Rodolphe) Will your habitual Providence abandon you? Rodolphe (always ironic) Providence! Providence! (pointing to the window) When the weather is like this. Musette You didn’t tell him—?
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.) Musette Well? Rodolphe There’s nothing to expect from him. Providence remains in its corner warming its toes by the ﬁre. He was in his carriage that was taking him to a ball at Madame de Rouvre’s. (Schaunard sits down by the window.
but he didn’t believe a thing.) Madame de Rouvre Speak low. Musette (in a rage) God! Is it possible to listen to that calumny! (Musette goes to the right and ﬂings herself in the armchair. (kneeling) I implore your pardon—yes—it’s because of me that you are so soon lying on this bed where I see death being born on your face.) Rodolphe (half opening the bed curtains) Poor girl. and as you trembled from the shivers of fever. He said she was playing a part and that it’s a way to swindle the world and arrive at her end. Each day I was present at your patient martyrdom. madame! (All rise. and in my selﬁsh love. I warmed myself in the warmth of your love. you know? Madame de Rouvre Monsieur Durandin is at my house at this time. Rodolphe What. you here. (pointing to the bed) So she doesn’t hear you. I involved you in my life of misery. Colline sits near the chimney.Rodolphe I told him everything. You loved me. (Madame de Rouvre enters silently) You. He informed me
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Rodolphe. (pulling out a purse) This illness may last a long while. take it. Here. Césarine. who places the prescription medication on the table. (pointing to the bed) There’s only misfortune and pity. Rodolphe Madame— Madame de Rouvre At another time. sincere pity which will suffer at a refusal. Madame de Rouvre And now.)
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. (gives him the purse) Rodolphe (low. I said some things about this young girl— Rodolphe And as for me. there are no improper behaviors nor rivalry. kissing her hand) Ah.of everything. thank you. (Durandin enters at the same time as Marcel. how can I excuse myself for my shocking behavior in your home? Madame de Rouvre Don’t excuse yourself. Madame. allow me to retire.
Durandin (to Madame de Rouvre) You’ve come here? What folly! Rodolphe Uncle! Durandin Let me have a word with Madame. monsieur. you are all as crazy as you can be. when I told you what was happening here. Escort me. Durandin (to Madame de Rouvre) Just now. Rodolphe Uncle! Durandin And I don’t want you to be either. Madame de Rouvre Not here. you accused me of insensitivity—even of cruelty. be quiet.
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. Well. For my word of honor. I came expressly to prove to you that I am neither insensitive nor cruel—only that I don’t intend to be duped. I’ll speak to you later. Madame de Rouvre Monsieur.
you are all duped in a comedy. Monsieur Million. I understand that. Musette (to Durandin) Ah! Indeed. Durandin Well? Musette I would like nothing more than to dissolve your fortune in the crucible of my caprices.Durandin I repeat to you. Musette (exploding) Mimi—my kind! Mimi so good. You see these little teeth—they devour golden ingots. you have no heart. Ah. (stamping her foot) Don’t you have a son somewhere that I could beggar?
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. so sweet—oh— how little you know me. if only you were still young. so devoted. Durandin (to Musette) You defend your kind. Schaunard A comedy? (placing a chair near the bed) Allow me to offer you a box seat so you can see it the better.
Well. You are crazy! (Mimi. (raising his voice more and more) But I don’t want her to remain here! (The bed curtain opens.) Durandin On that condition I will provide money. Durandin Madame— Rodolphe (seeing Mimi get out of bed. (going to Rodolphe) Look. walks to Durandin. Madame de Rouvre You will give nothing. I’ll get her into a nursing home. Musette observes her and runs to her.)
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. but she will leave. helped by Musette) Uncle. she’s ill. good—as for you—you are frank. I tell you. and she won’t leave. monsieur. will you go away? Mimi (seeing Durandin. to Musette) Monsieur Durandin! Let me leave— Durandin (ﬁnishing a discussion with Rodolphe) You are crazy. Mimi appears and listens.Durandin Well. staggering and supported by Musette. you say.
I’m going away. (Rodolphe supports Mimi in his arms. she goes to the armchair that Colline pushes forward. Mimi Yes. Rodolphe Be quiet.
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. very pretty. my poor friend. but I bother you. (to Rodolphe who runs to her) Let me leave.) Musette See how pretty it is.) Rodolphe (taking her hand) Mimi! Mimi Yes. you really love me. uncle.Mimi Don’t scold him. Musette gives her the muff. and with Musette leading her. monsieur. (Mimi puts her hands in the muff and dries her eyes with it. Rodolphe (clasping Mimi) Ah! (to Durandin) Go away. I don’t want them to give you alms for me.
Durandin shrugs his shoulders. Don’t stop me.
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. rising) You are cruel. to Rodolphe and Madame de Rouvre) Well—look—she’s in danger. monsieur. (Mimi faints in the armchair. Rodolphe. She utters a scream and stands up. Durandin (in a deep voice. yes.) Rodolphe Mimi— Mimi (taking a step) Goodbye. really cruel.) Madame de Rouvre (seated by the table. monsieur. I intend to leave. you say? Rodolphe She’s dying. goodbye! (Madame de Rouvre moves away. Rodolphe Ah. I will go to hospital.) Mimi Madame de Rouvre! Goodbye. I’ll come back when I’m cured.(Mimi turns and notices Madame de Rouvre.
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. (Mimi utters a long sigh and makes no response. Rodolphe (kneeling by Mimi) Ah— (Schaunard opens the door abruptly and brings Durandin his cane and his hat. monsieur. (takes off his hat and places it and his cane on the table) Miss Mimi—it was a test. my God. (A moment of silence. Music. Be happy. You are good and he will be rich. after a gesture. Everyone surrounds Mimi. it’s over. get up and kiss me.) Durandin You love him and he loves you. the play is over. (takes Rodolphe’s hand and Mimi’s hand) I give you to him.) Schaunard A comedy? Well.) Durandin Ah.Durandin I’m going to save her. who’s been leaning towards Mimi. Durandin. releases Mimi’s hand—which falls lifeless. pulls back suddenly with a scream and falls to her knees. Musette. Come. They’re going to put the lights out.
Rodolphe (rising and bursting into tears) Oh. my youth! It’s you they are going to bury. Mimi.Musette Goodbye. CURTAIN
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the Alexandre Dumas Père web page.
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. com.A B OU T T H E AU T HOR
Frank J. and Munsey’s (formerly Blackmask). He lives and works in México. In 2006 he received an award from the North American Jules Verne Society for his translations of Verne’s plays. His translations have also appeared on Project Gutenberg. Literature in the Age of Napoléon. Morlock has written and translated many plays since retiring from the legal profession in 1992. Inﬁnite Artistries.