CHAPTER XX

Mimi In Fine Feather

"No, no, no, you are no longer Lisette! No, no, no, you are no longer Mimi. You are today, my lady the viscomtess, the day after tomorrow you may, perhaps, be your grace the duchess; the doorway of your dreams has at length been thrown wide open before you, and you have passed through it victorious and triumphant. I felt certain you would end up by doing so, some night or other. It was bound to be; besides, your white hands were made for idleness, and for a long time past have called for the ring of some aristocratic alliance. At length you have a coat of arms. But, we still prefer the one which youth gave to your beauty, when your blue eyes and your pale face seemed to quarter azure on a lily field. Noble or serf, you are ever charming, and I readily recognized you when you passed by in the street the other evening, with rapid and well-shod foot, aiding the wind with your gloved hand in lifting the skirts of your new dress, partly in order not to let it be soiled, but a great deal more in order to show your embroidered petticoats and openworked stockings. You had on a wonderful bonnet, and even seemed plunged in deep perplexity on the subject of the veil of costly lace which floated over this bonnet. A very serious trouble indeed, for it was a question of deciding which was best and most advantageous to your coquetry, to wear this veil up or down. By wearing it down, you risked not being recognized by those of your friends whom you might meet, and who certainly would have passed by you ten times without suspecting that this costly envelope hid Mademoiselle Mimi. On the other hand, by wearing this veil up, it was it that risked escaping notice, and in that case, what was the good of having it? You had cleverly solved the difficulty by alternately raising and lowering at every tenth step; this wonderful tissue, woven no doubt, in that country of spiders, called Flanders, and which of itself cost more than the whole of your former wardrobe.

"Ah, Mimi! Forgive me -- I should say, ah, vicomtess! I was quite right, you see, when I said to you: 'Patience, do not despair, the future is big with cashmere shawls, glittering jewels, supper parties, and the like.' You would not believe me, incredulous one. Well, my predictions are, however, realized, and I am worth as much, I hope, as your 'Ladies' Oracle,' a little octavo sorcerer you bought for five sous at a bookstall on the Pont Neuf, and which you wearied with external questions. Again, I ask, was I not right in my prophecies; and would you believe me now, if I tell you that you will not stop at this? If I told you that listening, I can hear faintly in the depths of your future, the tramp and neighing of the horses harnessed to blue brougham, driven by a powdered coachmen, who lets down the steps, saying, 'Where to madam?' Would you believe me if I told you, too, that later on -- ah, as late as possible, I trust -- attaining the object of a long cherished ambition, you will have a table d'hote at Belleville Batignolles, and will be courted by the old soldiers and by-gone dandies who will come there to play lansquenet or baccarat on the sly? But, before arriving at this period, when the sun of your youth shall have already declined, believe me, my dear child, you will wear out many yards of silk and velvet, many inheritances, no doubt, will be melted down in the crucibles of your fancies, many flowers will fade about your head, many beneath your feet, and you will change your coat of arms many times. On your head will glitter in turn the coronets of baroness, countess, and marchioness, you will take for your motto, 'Inconstancy,' and you will, according to caprice or to necessity, satisfy each in turn, or even all at once, all the numerous adorers who will range themselves in the antechamber of your heart as people do at the door of a theater at which a popular piece is being played. Go on then, go straight onward, your mind lightened of recollections which have been replaced by ambition; go, the road is broad, and we hope it will long be smooth to your feet, but we hope, above all, that all these sumptuosities, these fine toilettes, may not too soon become the shroud in which your liveliness will be buried."

Thus spoke the painter Marcel to Mademoiselle Mimi, whom he had met three or four days after her second divorce from the poet Rodolphe. Although he was obliged to veil the raillery with which he besprinkled her horoscope, Mademoiselle Mimi was not the dupe of Marcel's fine words, and understood perfectly well that with little respect for her new title, he was chaffing her to fits.

"You are cruel towards me, Marcel," said Mademoiselle Mimi, "it is wrong. I was always very friendly with you when I was Rodolphe's mistress, and if I have left him, it was, after all, his fault. It was he who packed me off in a hurry, and, besides, how did he behave to me during the last few days I spent with him. I was very unhappy, I can tell you. You do not know what a man Rodolphe was; a mixture of anger and jealousy, who killed me by bits. He loved me, I know, but his love was as dangerous as a loaded gun. What a life I led for six months. Ah, Marcel! I do not want to make myself out better than I am, but I suffered a great deal with Rodolphe; you know it too, very well. It is not poverty that made me leave him, no I assure you I had grown accustomed to it, and I repeat it was he who sent me away. He trampled on my self-esteem; he told me that he no longer loved me; that I must get another lover. He even went so far as to indicate a young man who was courting me, and by his taunts, he served to bring me and this young man together. I went with him as much out of spite as from necessity, for I did not love him. You know very well yourself that I do not care for such very young fellows. They are as wearisome and sentimental as harmonicas. Well, what is done is done. I do not regret it, and I would do the same over again. Now that he no longer has me with him, and knows me to be happy with another, Rodolphe is furious and very unhappy. I know someone who met him the other day; his eyes were quite red. That does not astonish me. I felt quite sure it would come to this, and that he would run after me, but you can tell him that he will only lose his time, and that this time it is quite in earnest and for good. Is it long since you saw him, Marcel and is it true that he is much altered?" enquired Mimi in quite another tone.

"He is greatly altered indeed," replied Marcel.

"He is grieving, that is certain, but what am I to do? So much the worse for him, he would have it so. It had to come to an end somehow. Try to console him."

"Oh!" answered Marcel quickly. "The worst of the job is over. Do not disturb yourself about it, Mimi."

"You are not telling the truth, my dear fellow," said Mimi, with an ironical little pout. "Rodolphe will not be so quickly consoled as all that. If you knew what a state he was in the night before I left. It was a Friday, I would not stay that night at my new lover's because I am superstitious, and Friday is an unlucky day."

"You are wrong, Mimi, in love affairs Friday is a lucky day; the ancients called it Dies Veneris."

"I do not know Latin," said Mademoiselle Mimi, continuing her narration. "I was coming back then from Paul's and found Rodolphe waiting for me in the street. It was late, past midnight, and I was hungry for I had had no dinner. I asked Rodolphe to go and get something for supper. He came back half an hour later, he had run about a great deal to get nothing worth speaking of, some bread, wine, sardines, cheese, and an apple tart. I had gone to bed during his absence, and he laid the table beside the bed. I pretended not to notice him, but I could see him plainly, he was pale as death. He shuddered and walked about the room like a man who does not know what he wants to do. He noticed several packages of clothes on the floor in one corner. The sight of them seemed to annoy him, and he placed the screen in front of them in order not to see them. When all was ready we began to sup, he tried to make me drink, but I was no longer hungry or thirsty, and my heart was quite full. He was cold, for we had nothing to make a fire of, and one could hear the wind whistling in the chimney. It was very sad. Rodolphe looked at me, his eyes were fixed; he put his hand in mine and I felt it tremble, it was burning and icy all at once. 'This is the funeral supper of our loves,' he said to me in a low tone. I did not answer, but I had not the courage to withdraw my hand from his. 'I am sleepy,' said I at last, 'it is late, let us go to sleep.' Rodolphe looked at me. I had tied one of his handkerchiefs about my head on account of the cold. He took it off without saying a word. 'Why do you want to take that off?' said I. 'I am cold.' 'Oh, Mimi!' said he. 'I beg of you, it will not matter to you, to put on your little striped cap for tonight.' It was a nightcap of striped cotton, white and brown. Rodolphe was very fond of seeing me in this cap, it reminded him of several nights of happiness, for that was how we counted our happy days. When I thought it was the last time that I should sleep beside him I dared not refuse to satisfy this fancy of his. I got up and hunted out my striped cap that was at the bottom of one of my packages."

"Out of forgetfulness I forgot to replace the screen. Rodolphe noticed it and hid the packages just as he had already done before. 'Good night,' said he. "Good night,' I answered. I thought that he was going to kiss me and I should not have hindered him, but he only took my hand, which he carried to his lips. You know, Marcel, how fond he was of kissing my hands. I heard his teeth chatter and I felt his body as cold as marble. He still held my hand and he laid his head on my shoulder, which was soon quite wet. Rodolphe was in a fearful state. He bit the sheets to avoid crying out, but I could plainly hear his stifled sobs and I still felt his tears flowing on my shoulder, which was first scalded and then chilled. At that moment I needed all my courage and I did need it, I can tell you. I had only to say a word, I had only to turn my head, and my lips would have met those of Rodolphe, and we should have made it up once more. Ah! For a moment I really thought that he was going to die in my arms, or that, at least, he would go mad, as he almost did once before, you remember? I felt I was going to yield, I was going to recant first, I was going to clasp him in my arms, for really one must have been utterly heartless to remain insensible to such grief. But I recollected the words he had said to me the day before, 'You have no spirit if you stay with me, for I no longer love you,' Ah! As I recalled those bitter words I would have seen Rodolphe ready to die, and if it had only needed a kiss from me to save him, I would have turned away my lips and let him perish."

"At last, overcome by fatigue, I sank into a helf-sleep. I could still hear Rodolphe sobbing, and I can swear to you, Marcel, that this sobbing went on all night long, and that when day broke and I saw in the bed, in which I had slept for the last time, the lover whom I was going to leave for another's arms, I was terribly frightened to see the havoc wrought by this grief on Rodolphe's face. He got up, like myself, without saying a word, and almost fell flat at the first steps he took, he was so weak and downcast. However, he dressed himself very quickly, and only asked me how matters stood and when I was going to leave. I told him that I did not know. He went off without bidding goodbye or shaking hands. That is how we separated. What a blow it must have been to his heart no longer to find me there on coming home, eh?"

"I was there when Rodolphe came in," said Marcel to Mimi, who was out of breath from speaking so long. "As he was taking his key from the landlady, she said, 'The little one has left.' 'Ah!' replied Rodolphe. 'I am not astonished, I expected it.' And he went up to his room, whither I followed him, fearing some crisis, but nothing occurred. 'As it is too late to go and hire another room this evening we will do so tomorrow morning,' said he, 'we will go together. Not let us see after some dinner.' I thought that he wanted to get drunk, but I was wrong. We dined very quietly at a restaurant where you have sometimes been with him. I had ordered some Beaune to stupefy Rodolphe a bit. 'This was Mimi's favorite wine,' said he, 'we have often drunk it together at this very table. I remember one day she said to me, holding out her glass, which she had already emptied several times, 'Fill up again, it is good for one's bones.' A poor pun, eh? Worthy, at the most, of the mistress of a farce writer. Ah! She could drink pretty fairly.'"

"Seeing that he was inclined to stray along the path of recollection I spoke to him about something else, and then it was no longer a question of you. He spent the whole evening with me and seemed as calm as the Mediterranean. But what astonished me most was, that this calmness was not at all affected. It was genuine indifference. At midnight we went home. 'You seem surprised at my coolness in the position in which I find myself,' said he to me, 'well, let me point out a comparison to you, my dear fellow, it if is commonplace it has, at least, the merit of being accurate. My heart is like a cistern the tap of which has been turned on all night, in the morning not a drop of water is left. My heart is really the same, last night I wept away all the tears that were left me. It is strange, but I thought myself richer in grief, and yet by a single night of suffering I am ruined, cleaned out. On my word of honor it is as I say. Now, in the very bed in which I all but died last night beside a woman who was no more moved than a stone, I shall sleep like a deck laborer after a hard day's work, while she rests her head on the pillow of another.' 'Hambug,' I thought to myself. 'I shall no sooner have left him than he will be dashing his head against the wall.' However, I left Rodolphe alone and went to my own room, but I did not go to bed. At three in the morning I thought I heard a noise in Rodolphe's room and I went down in a hurry, thinking to find him in a desperate fever."

"Well?" said Mimi.

"Well my dear, Rodolphe was sleeping, the bed clothes were quite in order and everything proved that he had soon fallen asleep, and that his slumbers had been calm."

"It is possible," said Mimi, "he was so worn out by the night before, but the next day?"

"The next day Rodolphe came and roused me up early and we went and took rooms in another house, into which we moved the same evening."

"And," asked Mimi, "what did he do on leaving the room we had occupied, what did he say on abandoning the room in which he had loved me so?"

"He packed up his things quietly," replied Marcel, "and as he found in a drawer a pair of thread gloves you had forgotten, as well as two or three of your letters--"

"I know," said Mimi in a tone which seemed to imply, "I forgot them on purpose so that he might have some souvenir of me left! What did he do with them?" she added.

"If I remember rightly," said Marcel, "he threw the letters into the fireplace and the gloves out of the window, but without any theatrical effort, and quite naturally, as one does when one wants to get rid of something useless."

"My dear Monsieur Marcel, I assure you that from the bottom of my heart I hope that this indifference may last. But, once more in all sincerity, I do not believe in such a speedy cure and, in spite of all you tell me, I am convinced that my poet's heart is broken."

"That may be," replied Marcel, taking leave of Mimi, "but unless I may be very much mistaken, the pieces are still good for something."

During this colloquy in a public thoroughfare, Vicomte Paul was awaiting his new mistress, who was behindhand in her appointment, and decidedly disagreeable towards him. He seated himself at her feet and warbled his favorite strain, namely, that she was charming, fair as a lily, gentle as a lamb, but that he loved her above all on account of the beauties of her soul.

"Ah!" thought Mimi, loosening the waves of her dark hair over her snowy shoulders, "my lover Rodolphe, was not so exclusive."

As Marcel had stated, Rodolphe seemed to be radically cured of his love for Mademoiselle Mimi, and three or four days after his separation, the poet reappeared completely metamorphosed. He was attired with an elegance that must have rendered him unrecognizable by his very looking glass. Nothing, indeed, about him seemed to justify the fear that he intended to commit suicide, as Mademoiselle Mimi had started the rumor, with all kinds of hypocritical condolences. Rodolphe was, in fact, quite calm. He listened with unmoved countenance to all the stories told him about the new and sumptuous existence led by his mistress -- who took pleasure in keeping him informed on these points -- by a young girl who had remained her confidant, and who had occasion to see Rodolphe almost every evening.

"Mimi is very happy with Vicomte Paul," the poet was told. "She seems thoroughly smitten with him, only one thing causes her any uneasiness, she is afraid least you should disturb her tranquillity by coming after her, which by the way, would be dangerous for you, for the vicomte worships his mistress and is a good fencer."

"Oh," said Rodolphe. "She can sleep in peace, I have no wish to go and cast vinegar over the sweetness of her honeymoon. As to her young lover, he can leave his dagger at home like Gastibelza. I have no wish to attempt the life of a young gentleman who has still the happiness of being nursed by illusions."

As they did not fail to carry back to Mimi the way in which her ex-lover received all these details, she on her part did not forget to reply, shrugging her shoulders:

"That is all very well, you will see what will come of it in a day or two."

However, Rodolphe was himself, and more than any one else, astonished at this sudden indifference which, without passing through the usual transitions of sadness and melancholy, had followed the stormy feelings by which he had been stirred only a few days before. Forgetfulness, so slow to come -- above all for the virtues of love -- that forgetfulness which they summon so loudly and repulse with equal loudness when they feel it approaching, that pitiless consoler that had all at once, and without his being able to defend himself from it, invaded Rodolphe's heart, and the name of the woman he so dearly loved could now be heard without awakening any echo in it. Strange fact; Rodolphe, whose memory was strong enough to recall to mind things that had occurred in the farthest days of his past and beings who had figured in or influenced his most remote existence -- Rodolphe could not, whatever efforts he might make, recall with clearness after four days' separation, the features of that mistress who had nearly broken his life between her slender fingers. He could no longer recall the softness of the eyes by the light of which he had so often fallen asleep. He could no longer remember the notes of that voice whose anger and whose caressing utterances had alternately maddened him. A poet, who was a friend of his, and who had not seen him since his absence, met him one evening. Rodolphe seemed busy and preoccupied, he was walking rapidly along the street, twirling his cane.

"Hallo," said the poet, holding out his hand, "so here you are," and he looked curiously at Rodolphe. Seeing that the latter looked somewhat downcast he thought it right to adopt a consoling tone.

"Come, courage, my dear fellow. I know that it is hard, but then it must always have come to this. Better now than later on; in three months you will be quite cured."

"What are you driving at?" said Rodolphe. "I am not ill, my dear fellow."

"Come," said the other, "do not play the braggart. I know the whole story and if I did not, I could read it in your face."

"Take care, you are making a mistake," said Rodolphe, "I am very much annoyed this evening, it is true, but you have not exactly hit on the cause of my annoyance."

"Good, but why defend yourself? It is quite natural. A connection that has lasted a couple of years cannot be broken off so readily."

"Everyone tells me the same thing," said Rodolphe, getting impatient. "Well, upon my honor, you make a mistake, you and the others. I am very vexed, and I look like it, that is possible, but this is the reason why; I was expecting my tailor with a new dress coat today, and he had not come. That is what I am annoyed about."

"Bad, bad," said the other laughing.

"Not at all bad, but good on the contrary, very good, excellent in fact. Follow my argument and you shall see."

"Come," said the poet, "I will listen to you. Just prove to me how any one can in reason look so wretched because a tailor has failed to keep his word. Come, come, I am waiting."

"Well," said Rodolphe, "you know very well that the greatest effects spring from the most trifling causes. I ought this evening to pay a very important visit, and I cannot do so for want of a dress coat. Now do you see it?"

"Not at all. There is up to this no sufficient reason shown for a state of desolation. You are in despair because--- . You are very silly to try to deceive. That is my opinion."

"My friend," said Rodolphe, "you are very opinionated. It is always enough to vex us when we miss happiness, and at any rate pleasure, because it is almost always so much lost for ever, and we are wrong in saying, 'I will make up for it another time.' I will resume; I had an appointment this evening with a lady. I was to meet her at a friend's house, whence I should, perhaps taken her home to mine, if it were nearer than her own, and even if it were not. At this house there was a party. At parties one must wear a dress coat. I have no dress coat. My tailor was to bring me one; he does not do so. I do not go to the party. I do not meet the lady who is, perhaps, met by someone else. I do not see her home either to my place or hers, and she is, perhaps, seen home by another. So as I told you, I have lost an opportunity of happiness and pleasure; hence I am vexed; hence I look so, and quite naturally."

"Very good," said his friend, "with one foot just out of one hell, you want to put the other foot in another; but, my dear fellow, when I met you, you seemed to be waiting for some one."

"So I was."

"But," continued the other, "we are in the neighborhood in which your ex-mistress is living. What is there to prove that you were not waiting for her?"

"Although separated from her, special reasons oblige me to live in this neighborhood. But, although neighbors, we are as distant as if she were at one pole and I at the other. Besides, at this particular moment, my ex-mistress is seated at her fireside taking lessons in French grammar from Vicomte Paul, who wishes to bring her back to the paths of virtue by the road of orthography. Good heavens, how he will spoil her! However, that regards himself, now that he is editor-in-chief of her happiness. You see, therefore, that your reflections are absurd, and that, instead of following up the half-effaced traces of my old love, I am on the track of my new one, who is already to some extent my neighbor, and will become yet more so: for I am willing to take all the necessary steps, and if she will take the rest, we shall not be long in coming to an understanding."

"Really," said the poet, "are you in love again already?"

"This is what it is," replied Rodolphe, "my heart resembles those lodgings that are advertised to let as soon as a tenant leaves them. As soon as one love leaves my heart, I put up a bill for another. The locality besides is habitable and in perfect repair."

"And who is this new idol? Where and when did you make her acquaintance?"

"Come," said Rodolphe, "let us go through things in order. When Mimi went away I thought that I should never be in love again in my life, and imagined that my heart was dead of fatigue, exhaustion, whatever you like. It had been beating so long and so fast, too fast, that the thing was probable. In short I believed it dead, quite dead, and thought of burying it like Marlborough. In honor of the occasion I gave a little funeral dinner, to which I invited some of my friends. The guests were to assume a melancholy air, and the bottles had crape around their necks."

"You did not invite me."

"Excuse me, but I did not know your address in that part of cloudland which you inhabit. One of the guests had brought a young lady, a young woman also abandoned a short time before by her lover. She was told my story. It was one of my friends who plays very nicely upon the violoncello of sentiment who did this. He spoke to the young widow of the qualities of my heart, the poor defunct whom we were about to inter, and invited her to drink to its eternal repose. 'Come now,' said she, raising her glass, 'I drink, on the contrary, to its very good health,' and she gave me a look, enough, as they say, to awake the dead. It was indeed the occasion to say so, for she had scarcely finished her toast than I heard my heart singing the O Filii of the Resurrection. What would you have done in my place?"

"A pretty question -- what is her name?"

"I do not know yet, I shall only ask her at the moment we sign our lease. I know very well that in the opinion of some people I have overstepped the legal delays, but you see I plead in my own court, and I have granted a dispensation. What I do know is that she brings me as a dowry cheerfulness, which is the health of the soul, and health which is the cheerfulness of the body."

"Is she pretty?"

"Very pretty, especially as regards her complexion; one would say that she made up every morning with Watteau's palate, 'She is fair, and her conquering glances kindle love in every heart.' As witness mine."

"A blonde? You astonish me."

"Yes. I have had enough of ivory and ebony; I am going in for a blonde," and Rodolphe began to skip about as he sang:

"Praises sing unto my sweet,
She is fair,
Yellow as the ripening wheat
Is her hair."

"Poor Mimi," said his friend, "so soon forgotten."

This name cast into Rodolphe's mirthsomeness, suddenly gave another turn to the conversation. Rodolphe took his friend by the arm, and related to him at length the causes of his rupture with Mademoiselle Mimi, the terrors that had awaited him when she had left; how he was in despair because he thought that she had carried off with her all that remained to him of youth and passion, and how two days later he had recognized his mistake on feeling the gunpowder in his heart, though swamped with so many sobs and tears, dry, kindle, and explode at the first look of love cast at him by the first woman he met. He narrated the sudden and imperious invasion of forgetfulness, without his even having summoned it in aid of his grief, and how this grief was dead and buried in the said forgetfulness.

"Is it not a miracle?" said he to the poet, who, knowing by heart and from experience all the painful chapters of shattered loves, replied:

"No, no, my friend, there is no more of a miracle for you than for the rest of us. What has happened to you has happened to myself. The women we love, when they become our mistresses, cease to be for us what they really are. We do not see them only with a lover's eyes, but with a poet's. As a painter throws on the shoulders of a lay figure the imperial purple or the star-spangled robe of a Holy Virgin, so we have always whole stores of glittering mantles and robes of pure white linen which we cast over the shoulders of dull, sulky, or spiteful creatures, and when they have thus assumed the garb in which our ideal loves float before us in our waking dreams, we let ourselves be taken in by this disguise, we incarnate our dream in the first corner, and address her in our language, which she does not understand. However, let this creature at whose feet we live prostrate, tear away herself the dense envelope beneath which we have hidden her, and reveal to us her evil nature and her base instincts; let her place our hands on the spot where her heart should be, but where nothing beats any longer, and has perhaps never beaten; let her open her veil, and show us her faded eyes, pale lips, and haggard features; we replace that veil and exclaim, 'It is not true! It is not true! I love you, and you, too, love me! This white bosom holds a heart that has all its youthfulness; I love you, and you love me! You are beautiful, you are young. At the bottom of all your vices there is love. I love you, and you love me!' Then in the end, always quite in the end, when, after having all very well put triple bandages over our eyes, we see ourselves the dupes of our mistakes, we drive away the wretch who was our idol of yesterday; we take back from her the golden veils of poesy, which, on the morrow, we again cast on the shoulders of some other unknown, who becomes at once an aureola-surrounded idol. That is what we all are -- monstrous egoists -- who love love for love's sake -- you understand me? We sip the divine liquor from the first cup that comes to hand. 'What matter the bottle, so long as we draw intoxication from it?'"

"What you say is as true as that two and two make four," said Rodolphe to the poet.

"Yes," replied the latter, "it is true, and as sad as three quarters of the things that are true. Good night."

Two days later Mademoiselle Mimi learned that Rodolphe had a new mistress. She only asked one thing -- whether he kissed her hands as often as he used to kiss her own?

"Quite as often," replied Marcel. "In addition, he is kissing the hairs of her head one after the other, and they are to remain with one another until he has finished."

"Ah!" replied Mimi, passing her hand through her own tresses. "It was lucky he did not think of doing the same with me, or we should have remained together all our lives. Do you think it is really true that he no longer loves me at all?"

"Humph -- and you, do you still love him?"

"I! I never loved him in my life."

"Yes, Mimi, yes. You loved him at those moments when a woman's heart changes place. You loved him; do nothing to deny it; it is your justification."

"Bah!" said Mimi, "he loves another now."

"True," said Marcel, "but no matter. Later on the remembrance of you will be to him like the flowers that we place fresh and full of perfume between the leaves of a book, and which long afterwards we find dead, discolored, and faded, but still always preserving a vague perfume of their first freshness."

******


 

One evening, when she was humming in a low tone to herself, Vicomte Paul said to Mimi,

"What are you singing, dear?"

"The funeral chant of our loves, that my lover Rodolphe has lately composed."

And she began to sing: --

"I have not a sou now, my dear, and the rule
In such a case surely is soon to forget,
So tearless, for she who would weep is a fool,
You'll blot out all mem'ry of me, eh, my pet?

Well, still all the same we have spent as you know
Some days that were happy--and each with its night,
They did not last long, but, alas, here below,
The shortest are ever those we deem most bright."


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