ACT I SCENE: The stage is divided by an old wall, covered with vines and flowers. At the right, a corner of BERGAMIN's private park; at the left, a corner of PASQUINOT's. On each side of the wall, and against it, is a rustic bench. As the curtain rises, PERCINET is seated on the top of the wall. On his knee is a book, out of which he is reading to SYLVETTE, who stands attentively listening on the bench which is on the other side of the wall.
SYLVETTE. Monsieur Percinet, how divinely beautiful!
PERCINET. Is it not? Listen to what Romeo answers: [Reading] "It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east. Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops: I must be gone"—
SYLVETTE. [Interrupts him, as she listens.] Sh!
PERCINET. [Listens a moment, then] No one! And, Mademoiselle, you must not take fright like a startled bird. Hear the immortal lovers:
"Juliet. Yon light is not the daylight, I know it, I, It is some meteor that the sun exhales, To be to thee this night a torch-bearer, And light thee on thy way to Mantua: Therefore stay yet, thou need'st not to be gone.
Romeo. Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death; I am content, so thou will have it so. I'll say, yon gray is not the morning's eye, 'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow; Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat The vaulty heaven so high above our heads: I have more care to stay than will to go: Come, death and welcome"—
SYLVETTE. No, he must not say such things, or I shall cry.
PERCINET. Then let us stop and read no further until to-morrow.We shall let Romeo live! [He closes the book and looks about him.]This charming spot seems expressly made, it seems to me, tocradle the words of the Divine Will!
SYLVETTE. The verses are divine, and the soft air here is a divine accompaniment. And see, these green shades! But, Monsieur Percinet, what makes them divine to me is the way you read!
SYLVETTE. [Sighing] Poor lovers! Their fate was cruel![Another sigh] I think—
PERCINET. Something that made you blush red as a rose.
SYLVETTE. Nothing, I say.
PERCINET. Ah, that's too transparent. I see it all: you are thinking of our fathers!
PERCINET. Of their terrible hatred for each other.
SYLVETTE. The thought often pains me and makes me cry when I am alone. Last month, when I came home from the convent, my father pointed out your father's park, and said to me: "My dear child, you behold there the domain of my mortal enemy, Bergamin. Never cross the path of those two rascals, Bergamin and his son Percinet. Mark well my words, and obey me to the letter, or I shall cast you off as an enemy. Their family has always been at bitter enmity with our own." And I promised. But you see how I keep my word!
PERCINET. Did I not promise my father to do the same, Sylvette...?