Federico García Lorca

Doña Rosita the Spinster and the Language of Flowers
(Doña Rosita la soltera o el lenguaje de las flores)
Act II

A Granadine poem of the 19th Century, divided into several gardens with scenes of song and dance - 1935

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright, All Rights Reserved. Made available as an individual, open-access work in the United Kingdom, 2008, via the Poetry in Translation website. Published as part of the collection ‘Four Final Plays’, ISBN-10: 1986116565, March 2018.

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply. Permission to perform this version of the play, on stage or film, by amateur or professional companies, and for commercial purposes, should be requested from the translator.

Please note that Federico García Lorca's original, Spanish works may not be in the public domain in all jurisdictions, notably the United States of America. Where the original works are not in the public domain, permissions should be sought from the representatives of the Lorca estate, Casanovas & Lynch Agencia Literaria.

Act II

(Fifteen years later. The sitting room in Dona Rosita’s house. In the background, the garden.)

Señor x Well, I will always be one with the century.

Uncle The century that has just begun will be a materialist century.

Señor x But much more advanced than the last one. My friend, Señor Longoria of Madrid, has just bought a car in which one can travel at the amazing speed of thirty kilometres an hour; and the Shah of Persia, who is indeed a very pleasant person, has also bought a twenty-four horse power Panhard Levassor.

Uncle And I say: where are they going so fast? See what happened in the Paris-Madrid race which had to be abandoned, because before reachingBordeaux all the drivers had been killed.

Señor x Count Louis Zborowski, who died by accident, and Marcel Renault, or Renol, either form can be used or spoken, who also died by accident, were martyrs for science, who will be worshipped at the altars on the day when the Positivist religion arises. I knew Renault quite well. Poor Marcel!

Uncle You won’t convince me. (He sits down.)

Señor x (With his foot resting on a chair and playing with his walking stick.) Clearly; though a Professor of Political Economics shouldn’t be discussing such questions with a grower of roses. Yet nowadays, believe me, there’s no lack of quietist or obscurantist ideas. Nowadays the path is open to a Jean Baptiste Say, or See, either form can be used or spoken, or a Count Leo Tolstoy, Lev in Russian, as daring in form as he is profound in content. I am a citizen of Athens; I am not an adherent of passive Nature, of Natura Naturata.

Uncle Everyone lives as best he knows or can, in this everyday world.

Señor x That’s understood, Earth is a mediocre planet, but we must nurture civilisation. If Santos Dumont, instead of studying comparative Meteorology, had dedicated himself to cultivating roses, the dirigible balloon would still be in Brahma’s breast.

Uncle (Disgustedly) Botany is also a science.

Señor x (Disparagingly) Yes, when it is applied: by studying the juices of fragrant Anthemis, or the giant Pulsatilla, or the narcotic effects of Datura Stramonium.

Uncle (Innocently) Are you interested in those plants?

Señor x I have an insufficient volume of experience regarding them. Their horticulture interests me, which is quite different. Voila! (Pause.) And…. Rosita?

Uncle Rosita? (Pause. In a loud voice.) Rosita!...

A voice (From within) She’s not here.

Uncle She’s not here.

Señor x I regret it.

Uncle I too. Since it’s her Saint’s Day, she has to go and say her forty Credos.

Señor x For the occasion I have brought you this pendentive. It’s an Eiffel Tower in mother-of-pearl with above it two doves holding in their claws the Wheel of Industry.

Uncle It’s much appreciated.

Señor x I was all for buying a little cavern in silver through whose entrance the Virgin of Lourdes, or Lordes, can be seen, or a buckle for a belt adorned with a snake and four dragonflies, but I preferred the first as being more to my taste.

Uncle Thank you.

Señor x I’m enchanted by its favourable reception.

Uncle Thank you

Señor x My best wishes to your wife.

Uncle Thank you.

Señor x And my regards to her charming little niece, to whom I wish all happiness in celebrating her name-day.

Uncle A thousand thanks.

Señor x Regard me as your faithful servant.

Uncle A thousand thanks.

Señor x I shall repeat it…

Uncle Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Señor x Forever. (He exits.)

Uncle (Loudly) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Nurse (Enters, laughing) I don’t know how you have the patience. Between that gentleman, and the other, Don Confucio Montes de Oca, baptised in Masonic Lodge 43, they’ll set the house on fire someday.

Uncle I’ve told you I don’t like you eavesdropping on my conversations.

Nurse That’s called being ungrateful. I was behind the door, certainly, but I wasn’t there to listen, but to pick up a broom since the gentleman was leaving.

Aunt (Entering) Has he gone yet?

Uncle He has.

Nurse Is he still a possibility for Rosalita?

Aunt Why speak of possibilities? You know nothing of Rosita!

Nurse But I know about possibilities.

Aunt My niece is engaged.

Nurse Mustn’t speak, mustn’t speak, mustn’t speak, mustn’t speak!

Aunt Then be quiet.

Nurse Does it seem right to you for a man to go off and leave a woman stranded for fifteen years, one who is the cream on the milk? She ought to be married. It grieves my heart caring for her table linen in Marseilles lace, and her sets of bedding decorated with gimp, and table runners and bedcovers of gauze with flowers in relief. They ought to be used and worn, but she pays no attention to how time passes. She’ll have silver hair and she’ll still be sewing satin ribbon on the border of her nightdress.

Aunt Why involve yourself in something that has nothing to do with you?

Nurse (With amazement) But I don’t involve myself, I’m already involved.

Aunt I’m sure she’s happy.

Nurse It’s a pretence. Yesterday I had to spend all day with her hanging around the entrance to the Circus because she insisted that one of the acrobats looked like her cousin.

Aunt And did he really look like him?

Nurse He was as handsome as a novice about to sing his first mass, but of course she would prefer the nephew to have that figure, that white neck and that moustache. He looked nothing like him. In your family the men are not handsome.

Aunt Well, thank you!

Nurse They are all short with sloping shoulders.

Aunt Off with you!

Nurse It’s the truth. All it was, Rosita liked the acrobat as I liked him or you would. But she ascribes everything to the other. Sometimes I’d like to give her a thump on the head. Because she’ll get cow’s eyes gazing at the sky so much.

Aunt Fine; and the point of this. It’s acceptable to speak plainly, but not to be coarse.

Nurse I don’t speak out to anyone unless I love them.

Aunt It sometimes seems otherwise to me.

Nurse I’d give her the bread from my mouth and blood from my veins, if she asked it of me.

Aunt (Angrily) A tongue full of idle promises! Mere words!

Nurse (Angrily) And deeds! I have proved it, and deeds! I love her more than you.

Aunt That’s a lie.

Nurse (Angrily) No it’s the truth!

Aunt Don’t raise your voice to me!

Nurse (Loudly) Because it sounds out like a bell.

Aunt Be quiet, you ignoramus!

Nurse Forty years I’ve been with you.

Aunt (Almost weeping) Well you’re dismissed!

Nurse (Shouting) Thank God, I’ll be out of your sight!

Aunt (Weeping) Off to the street with you!

Nurse (Breaking into tears) To the street! (She heads towards the door weeping and in departing knocks something over. Both of them are weeping.)


Aunt (Wiping away her tears, speaking softly) What have you knocked over?

Nurse A barometer, in the Louis XV style.

Aunt Really?

Nurse (Weeping) Yes, Señora.

Aunt Can I see?

Nurse It’s for Rosita’s name day. (She approaches.)

Aunt (Looking at it.) It’s a beauty.

Nurse (In a tearful voice) Set in velvet, it’s a fountain with real snails; over the fountain a bower of wire with green roses; the water in the bowl is a cluster of blue sequins, and the jet is the thermometer itself. The pools around it are painted in oils and a nightingale is drinking from them, embroidered in gold thread. I wanted one where you pulled a cord and it sang, but it wasn’t possible.

Aunt It’s not possible.

Nurse But it doesn’t need to sing. We’ve real ones in the garden.

Aunt That’s true. (Pause.) Why have you done this?

Nurse (Weeping) I would give Rosita everything I have.

Aunt It’s because you love her like no one else!

Nurse Second only to you.

Aunt No. You nursed her at your breast.

Nurse You have given your life to her.

Aunt But I did it out of duty, you out of generosity.

Nurse (More strongly) Don’t say that!

Aunt You have shown that you love her more than anyone else.

Nurse I have done what anyone would in my position. I’m a servant. You pay me and I serve.

Aunt You’ve always been considered one of the family.

Nurse A humble servant who gives what she has, that’s all.

Aunt Are you telling me that is all you are?

Nurse Am I anything more?

Aunt (Annoyed) You shouldn’t say such things to me. I won’t listen.

Nurse (Annoyed) Nor I. (They exit rapidly, one by each door)

(As she leaves the Aunt encounters the Uncle.)

Uncle From being pressed together so long, bits of lace become thorns.

Aunt She is forever parading hers.

Uncle Don’t tell me again, I know it all off by heart…still, we can’t do without her. Yesterday I heard you explaining all the details of our bank account with her. You don’t know how to maintain your position. It doesn’t seem to me to be the most suitable of conversations to have with a servant.

Aunt She is not a servant.

Uncle (Gently) Enough, enough: I don’t wish to start an argument.

Aunt But can’t you discuss it with me?

Uncle I can, but I prefer to stay silent.

Aunt Though you insist on words of reproach.

Uncle Why should I say anything about it after all this time? To avoid argument I make my bed, wash my shirts with a bar of soap, and shake out the rugs in my room.

Aunt It’s not right to give yourself the airs of a superior man who is badly served, when everything in this house is subject to your comfort and wishes.

Uncle (Gently) On the contrary, my dear.

Aunt (Seriously) Not at all. Instead of making lace, I prune your plants. What do you do for me?

Uncle Pardon me. The time comes when people who have lived together for many years display irritation and anxiety over the tiniest things, to add intensity and passion to something long dead. We’ve been having these conversations for twenty years.

Aunt No, for twenty years we’ve been breaking windows…

Uncle And we haven’t minded the draught.

(Rosita appears. She is dressed in pink. The fashion has altered from the mutton sleeves of 1900. Her skirt is bell-shaped. She crosses the stage, quickly, with scissors in hand. At centre-stage she halts.)

Rosita Has the postman been?

Uncle Has he?

Aunt I don’t know. (Aloud) Has the postman been? (Pause) No, not yet.

Rosita He always goes by at this time.

Uncle He ought to be here shortly.

Aunt He’s often delayed.

Rosita The other day I found him playing games with the children and he’d left a pile of letters on the ground.

Aunt He’ll be here soon.

Rosita Call me. (She exits rapidly.)

Uncle Where are you going with those scissors?

Rosita To cut some roses.

Uncle (Astounded) What? And who has given you permission?

Aunt I have. It’s her name day.

Rosita I want to put some in the jardinière and in the vase in the hall.

Uncle Every time I cut a rose it’s as if I were cutting off a finger. I feel it the same way. (Gazing at his wife.) I won’t argue. I know they don’t last. (The Nurse enters.) Thus they speak of the waltz of the roses, which is one of the more beautiful compositions of these times, but I can’t conceal the disgust it arouses in me to see them in their vases. (He exits the stage.)

Rosita (To the Nurse) Has the post come?

Nurse Well, the only thing roses are good for is to adorn rooms.

Rosita (Annoyed) I asked if the mail has come.

Nurse (Annoyed) Would I keep the letters to myself if they had come?

Aunt Go, and cut the flowers.

Rosita There’s a bitter taste to everything in this house.

Nurse We come across pesticides in every corner.

Aunt Are you content?

Rosita I don’t know.

Aunt Why is that?

Rosita When I don’t see people I’m content, but when I have to…

Aunt Of course! I don’t like the life you lead. Your fiancé doesn’t demand you be unsociable. He always says in his letters you should go about.

Rosita It’s just that on the streets I notice how time has passed and I don’t want to abandon my dreams. They have built another house in the little square. I don’t want to notice how time is passing.

Aunt Of course! I’ve often advised you to write to your fiancé and wed someone else here. You will be happier. I know there are men young and old who are fond of you.

Rosita But Aunt! My feelings are so profound, so deep-rooted. If I don’t see people I can believe another week has gone by. I can hope, just as I did at first. What is a year or two, or five? (A bell rings.) The post.

Aunt What might it bring you?

Nurse (Entering) Here are those wretched spinsters.

Aunt Mary and Jesus!

Rosita What’s the matter?

Nurse That mother and her three daughters. All show on the outside and straw for brains. They need a good kick in the…! (She exits.)

(The three spinster daughters and their mother enter. The three Spinsters are wearing huge hats with straggling feathers, and exaggerated costumes, gloves to the elbow with bracelets round them, and fans hanging from long chains. The Mother is dressed in brownish black with a hat with old purple ribbons.)

Mother Congratulations. (She kisses them.)

Rosita Thank you. (She kisses the daughters, and addresses them by their names.) Love! Charity! Mercy!

First spinster Congratulations.

Second spinster Congratulations.

Third spinster Congratulations.

Aunt (To the Mother) How are your feet?

Mother Worse all the time. If it were not for these girls, I’d be housebound. (They sit down.)

Aunt Have you tried rubbing them with lavender?

First spinster Every night.

Second spinster And a decoction of mallows.

Aunt No rheumatism can resist it.


Mother And your husband?

Aunt He’s well, thank you.


Mother And his roses?

Aunt And his roses.

Third spinster How pretty the flowers are!

Second spinster We have a Saint Francis rose in a pot.

Rosita Do Saint Francis roses have any scent?

First spinster Very little.

Mother What I like most is mock orange.

Third spinster Violets are very beautiful.


Mother Daughters, have you brought the card?

Third spinster Yes. It’s a girl dressed in pink, and is at the same time a hygrometer. You can see the friar’s hood that shows the humidity. Depending on how humid it is the girl’s skirts, which are of very thin paper, open or close.

Rosita (Reading.) One morning in the fields

The nightingales were singing

And the song they sang was:

‘Rosita is the sweetest.’

You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble.

Aunt It’s in very good taste.

Mother I don’t lack taste, I lack money.

First spinster Mama…!

Second spinster Mama…!

Third spinster Mama…!

Mother Daughters, here I can speak confidentially. There is no one else listening. Indeed, you know that since my poor husband died it has truly required a miracle to live on the pension he left us. I still seem to hear the father of these children when, generous gentleman that he was, he said to me: ‘Henrietta, spend, spend, I earn three hundred and fifty pesetas’; but those times are gone! In spite of everything we have not lost our status. What anguish I have experienced, Señora, so that these children could continue to buy hats! What tears, what trouble for a ribbon or a set of loops! Those feathers and net cost me many sleepless nights.

Third spinster Mama…!

Mother It’s true, daughter. We cannot overspend by even the smallest amount. Many times I ask them: ‘What do you prefer, children of my soul: eggs for breakfast or to rent chairs in the promenade?’ And they reply with one voice: ‘The chairs.’

Third spinster Mama, don’t speak about that any more. All Granada knows.

Mother Of course, who can say otherwise? And we get by with potatoes or a bunch of grapes, yet still with a Mongolian cloak or a striped parasol or a poplin blouse, and all the accessories. Because there is no alternative. But it costs me my life! And my eyes fill with tears when I see them taking turns with what they have.

Second spinster Do you still go to the Poplar Grove, Rosita?

Rosita No.

Third spinster There we always meet the Ponce de Léons, the Herrastis and the Baroness de Santa Matilde de la Bendición Papal. The best ofGranada.

Mother Of course! They were all at the College of Puerto de Cielo together.


Aunt (Rising) Will you take something? (They all rise)

Mother I don’t have your gift for desserts like Piñonate or Pastel de Gloria.

First spinster (To Rosita) Is there any news?

Rosita The last post promised some. We’re waiting to read it.

Third spinster Have you finished your set of Valencienne lace?

Rosita Oh yes! I’ve done another in nainsook with butterflies by a pool.

Second spinster The day you marry you will have the best trousseau in the world.

Rosita Oh, I think it’s all too little. They say men tire of you if they always see you in the same dress.

Nurse (Entering) The daughters of Ayola the photographer are here.

Aunt You mean the Ayola young ladies.

Nurse Here are the noble daughters of the great Ayola, photographer to His Majesty and gold-medal winner at the Madrid Exhibition. (She exits)

Aunt We have to put up with her; but at times she gets on my nerves. (The Spinsters are looking at some cloth with Rosita.) Servants are impossible.

Mother Be brave with her. I have a woman who sweeps the floor in the evenings; I give her what I have always given her: one peseta a month and the leftovers and that is quite enough these days; then the other day she let us down saying that she wanted five, and I can’t afford it!

Aunt I don’t know where it will all end.

(The Ayola daughters enter, greeting Rosita cheerfully. They are dressed in the rich and exaggerated fashion of the epoch.)

Rosita Do you know them?

First ayola Only by sight.

Rosita The Señoritas Ayola, the Señora and Señoritas Escarpini.

Second ayola We have seen you before sitting on chairs in the Promenade. (Feigning a smile)

Rosita Take a seat. (The Spinsters sit.)

Aunt (To the Ayolas) Would you like a sweetmeat?

Second ayola No; we’ve eaten not long ago. Indeed I had four eggs with chopped tomato, and I could hardly rise from my chair.

First ayola (Laughing) How witty!

(Pause. The Ayolas burst into uncontrollable laughter which communicates itself to Rosita, who makes efforts to contain it. The Spinsters and their Mother remain serious. Pause.)

Aunt What creatures!

Mother Youth!

Aunt It’s a light-hearted time.

Rosita (Walking round the stage, arranging things.) Please, hush. (They fall silent.)

Aunt (To the Third Spinster) And how is your piano going?

Third spinster I don’t play much now. I have too much work to do.

Rosita I haven’t heard you for ages.

Mother If it were not for me their fingers would have lost their flexibility. But I always insist.

Second spinster Since poor Papa died I don’t feel like it. He enjoyed it so!

Second ayola I agree it often brought tears.

First spinster When she played Popper’s tarantella.

Second spinster And ‘The Maiden’s Prayer’.

Mother He was a man of great feeling!

(The Ayola who has been stifling her laughter, laughs aloud. Rosita turning away from the Spinsters, also laughs, but controls it.)

Aunt These girls!

First ayola We laughed because, before we arrived here…

Second ayola She stumbled and was about to ring the bell…

First ayola And I… (They laugh)

(The Spinsters give a small feigned smile, a shade sad and bored.)

Mother We must go now!

Aunt Not at all.

Rosita (To them all) Then let us celebrate the fact that you didn’t fall! Nurse, bring the sweets, those ‘Bones of Saint Catherine’.

Third spinster How rich they are!

Mother Last year we treated ourselves to a pound of them.

(The Nurse enters with the sweets.)

Nurse Titbits for the gentry. (To Rosita) The postman is coming past the poplars.

Rosita Wait at the door for him!

First ayola I don’t want one. I’d prefer anisette with selzer water.

Second ayola And I grape juice.

Rosita Are you still drinking that!

First ayola When I was six years old I came here and Rosita’s fiancé introduced me to it. Don’t you remember, Rosita?

Rosita (Seriously) No!

Second ayola For my part, Rosita and her fiancé taught me my ABC…How long ago it all was!

Aunt Fifteen years!

First ayola I almost seem to forget your fiancé’s face.

Second ayola Didn’t he have a scar on his lip?

Rosita A scar? Aunt, did he have a scar?

Aunt Don’t you remember, child? It was the one thing that made him a little ugly.

Rosita But it was not a scar; it was a burn, a little redness. Scars are deeper than that.

First ayola I wish Rosita would get married!

Rosita For goodness sake!

Second ayola It’s not foolish. I do too!

Rosita And why?

First ayola To go to a wedding. I’ll marry as soon as I can.

Aunt Child!

First ayola Whoever it is, I don’t want to stay single.

Second ayola I feel the same.

Aunt (To the Mother) What do you think of that?

First ayola Oh! I’m Rosita’s friend because she has a fiancé! Women without fiancés are of no account, poor things, and all of them… (She glances towards the Spinsters) Well, not all, no; some of them….Anyway, they are all crosspatches!

Aunt Ah, now that’s nice.

Mother Stop it.

First spinster There are many who don’t marry because they don’t wish to.

Second ayola That’s not me I think.

First spinster (Emphatically) That’s for sure.

Second ayola Those who don’t want to marry usually stop using powder and padding out their bosoms, and spending days and nights hanging over the balcony rail spying on people.

Second spinster They might just be taking the air!

Rosita (With a forced laugh) What a foolish conversation!

Aunt Well, why not play for us a little?

Mother Come on, daughter!

Third spinster (Rising) What should I play?

Second ayola Play: ‘Viva Frascuelo!

Second spinster That barcarolle ‘The frigate Numancia’.

Rosita Why not: ‘What the Flowers Say

Mother Ah, yes! ‘What the Flowers Say’! (To the Aunt) Have you heard that? Playing and singing together. It’s beautiful!

Third spinster I can also recite: ‘The dark swallows return to make their nests in the eaves.’

First ayola That’s too sad.

First spinster Sad things can still be fine.

Aunt Come along, come along!

Third spinster(At piano) Mother, take me to the country

in the light of morning

to see the flowers open

on their swaying stems.

A thousand flowers are speaking

to a thousand lovers,

and the stream is murmuring

now the nightingale has ceased.

Rosita The rose it had opened

with the light of morning;

so red with its hot blushes

the dew had burnt away;

so hot there on its stem that

the breeze itself was burning;

so high there! How it glowed!

The rose that had opened!

Third spinster ‘My eyes are yours alone’

the heliotrope was saying.

‘I’ll not love you while I live’

said the flower of the basil.

‘I am shy’ said the violet.

‘I am cold,’ said the white rose.

Said the jasmine: ‘I am faithful’;

the carnation: ‘I am passion!’

Second spinster The hyacinth is bitterness;

grief, the passion-flower;

First spinster Wall-rocket is disdain

and hope the lily-bower.

Aunt Says the spikenard: ‘I am your friend’;

‘I trust in you’, the passion-flower.

The honeysuckle rocks you,

The immortelle will kill you.

Mother Immortelle of funerals,

flower of crossed hands;

how fine when the breeze

weeps on your garland!

Rosita The rose it had opened

but afternoon followed

and a sad breath of snow

weighing down the branches;

when the shadows lengthened

and the nightingale chanted,

as if sentenced to death

it turned faint with whiteness;

and when the night’s vast

horn of metal sounded

and the winds entangled

slumbered on the mountain,

it faded, still sighing

for the crystal of morning.

Third spinster Beneath your long hair

the cut flowers moan.

Some carry little daggers;

others fire or water.

First spinster The flowers they speak

the language of lovers.

Rosita Sweet acacia is jealous;

disdainful, the dahlia;

the spikenard sighs love;

laughter, the Gala rose.

The yellow one is hatred;

The red one is anger;

the white means marriage,

and a purple one a shroud.

Third spinster Mother, take me to the country

in the light of morning

to see the flowers open

on their swaying stems.

(The piano plays a last run and then finishes.)

Aunt Oh, that’s beautiful!

Mother There’s also the language of fans, the language of gloves, the language of stamps and the language of hours. It gives me goose pimples when they say:

Twelve o’clock strikes

With fatal precision

The hour of your death

Acknowledge it, sinner.

First ayola (Her mouth full of sweets) How unpleasant!

Mother And when they say :

At one we’re born

Tra-la, tra-la,

And being born,

Tra-la lira,

Is like opening your eyes

Tra-la, la

In an orchard,

Orchard, orchard.

Second ayola (To her sister) I think she’s a little tipsy. (To her mother) Do you want another glass?

Mother With great pleasure and a strong will, as they said in my day.

(Rosita is in a state of expectation waiting for the arrival of the postman.)

Nurse The post! (A general commotion)

Aunt It has arrived at last!

Third spinster You have to consider the days it takes to get here.

Mother That’s hardly material!

Second ayola Open the letter!

First ayola It’s more discreet to read it alone, since it might say something risqué.

Mother Good heavens!

(Rosa goes out with the letter.)

First ayola Well a letter from your fiancé isn’t a sermon.

Third spinster It’s a sermon on love.

Second ayola Oh, how elegant! (The Ayolas laugh)

First ayola We know she’s never received one.

Mother (Forcefully) Fortunately for her!

First ayola Well, that’s her view.

Aunt (To the Nurse, who is going to join Rosita) Where are you going?

Nurse Can’t I move a step?

Aunt Leave her alone!

Rosita (Entering) Aunt! Aunt!

Aunt What is it, child?

Rosita (Agitated) Oh, Aunt!

First ayola What is it?

Third spinster Tell us!

Second ayola What is it?

Nurse Tell!

Aunt Out with it!

Mother Get her a glass of water!

Second ayola Come on!

First ayola Quick. (Uproar reigns)

Rosita (Her voice choking) To marry…. (Quite terrified) To marry me, because no more is possible right now, but…

Second ayola (Hugging her) Hurray! What happiness!

First ayola Hug me!

Aunt Stop speaking.

Rosita (More calmly) But since it’s impossible for him to come now the marriage will be by proxy and he will come later.

First spinster Congratulations!

Mother (Almost in tears) God grant you the happiness you deserve! (She hugs her.)

Nurse Fine; and this proxy, what is it?

Rosita Simple. A person represents the bridegroom at the wedding.

Nurse And what else?

Rosita Then one is married!

Nurse And the wedding night?

Rosita Good God!

First ayola Well said? And the wedding night?

Aunt Girls!

Nurse Let him come himself and marry her! Proxy! I’ve never heard of such a thing. The bed and its hangings shivering with cold and the bride’s nightdress in the darkest trunk: Señora, don’t let any proxy enter this house. (They all laugh.) Señora, I don’t like this proxy!

Rosita But he will come soon. It is one more test of what I wish for!

Nurse It is! Let him come then, and take your arm, and stir the sugar in your coffee, and test it first to see if it’s too hot! (Laughter)

(The Uncle appears with a rose.)

Uncle I heard it all, and almost without realising it I cut that unique mutable rose I have in my conservatory. It is still red,

When it opens in the morning,

It glows as red as blood.

Rosita The sun leans through windows

To gaze at its gleaming.

Uncle If I had waited another two hours before cutting it my gift to you would have turned white.

Rosita White as a dove,

As laughter of the sea;

White as the cold white

Of a heap of salt.

Uncle But now it still holds the warmth of youth.

Aunt Drink a glass with me, my dear. This is a day on which you should.

(Commotion. The third Spinster sits down to the piano and plays a polka. Rosita is gazing at the rose. The first and second Spinsters dance with the Ayolas and sing)

Because I saw you girl

down by the ocean

your sweet languor

filled me with sighs,

and the subtle sweetness

of that fatal illusion

in the light of the moon

saw you drown by and by.

(The Aunt and Uncle dance. Rosita goes towards the second Spinster and one of the Ayolas. She dances with the Spinster. The other Ayola claps her hands towards the old people, and the Nurse in the doorway has the same idea.)