Francesca di Rimini; or, The Two Brothers (1908)
Drama, Short · 8 February 1908
Scene 1: The Letter. Francesca, surrounded by ladies-in-waiting at the palace. Her father enters, and together they read a letter from Lanciotto, asking for the hand of Francesca. Both are overjoyed at the union of the two great houses in marriage, and the daughter retires to dress for Lanciotto's arrival. Scene 2: Love at first sight. Francesca on throne. A page enters, announces arrival of the guest. Paola (Lanciotto's brother) enters, hands her the parchment from his brother. Their eyes meet; it is love at first sight. With an effort Paola withdraws. Francesca unrolls the parchment to find that Lanciotto has been called to war, and has sent his brother to act as proxy until his return. Francesca is horrified as she realizes that her heart has been given to the brother, while Paola is dismayed at being false to his brother's trust. After perusing the letter, Francesca gives her consent to marry the brother, and as the messenger leaves, falls back unconscious. Scene 3: The Bridegroom. The father, Paola and Lanciotto enter. The latter is misshapen and looks still more ugly in comparison with his handsome brother. Lanciotto is introduced, advances to kiss .Francesca; she gazes upon her future husband, then recoils, disgusted and heartbroken. Scene 4: The Wedding. The church is filled with the court, the priest, Lanciotto and Paola waiting. Francesca and her father arrive, the ceremony goes on; the priest pronounces his blessing. Lanciotto attempts to kiss his bride, but she shrinks from him. In despair and sorrow he realizes his wife does not love him. At this point a messenger in great excitement enters, and announces that the bridegroom must go to the front immediately. He buckles his sword, leaves his bride in Paola's care and hastily departs. Scene 5: The Lovers. Francesca and Paola are sitting on a bench in the palace gardens. He is reading to her, but the love existing is frequently shown in shy glances. Pepe, the court jester, brings a message from the castle. Paola drops the book, and with a lingering farewell look, reluctantly leaves. In the hurry his cap has been forgotten. Francesca sees it, holds it to her heart, and kisses it repeatedly. Paola returns, looking for his cap, and starts back as he realizes what this action means. He takes her in his arms and kisses her ardently. Both vow eternal fidelity. Pepe, the jester, enters at this unexpected moment, unperceived by the lovers. Surprise, horror, then fiendish glee are depicted on his countenance as he rushes away to inform his master, Lanciotto. Scene 6: Lanciotto is sitting musing over a fire at the camp. He is alone and is kissing a photo of his bride, as the jester staggers up and tells of his discovery. Lanciotto, in ungovernable rage, rushes madly about, bids the "tale-bearer" say his prayers, then stabs him to the heart, as the only way to prevent the tale from spreading. Scene 7: Seated in a room at the castle, Francesca and Paola are in the midst of a love scene when the curtains directly back of them part and the haggard face of Lanciotto looks down upon them. Expressions of despair, hate, jealousy and revenge rapidly cross his countenance. As the lovers arise, the travel-stained husband enters; both fall back in horror and fear. They realize the fate in store for them, take one long last embrace and farewell kiss, as Lanciotto, enraged, stabs Francesca to the heart. Paola kneels beside the body and is himself stabbed by the thoroughly frenzied brother. Lanciotto raises his hand to heaven as though to justify the deed, laughs insanely as he gazes down upon the dead, then stabs himself and falls dead.
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