Fiction > Harvard Classics > Gotthold Ephraim Lessing > Minna von Barnhelm
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781).  Minna von Barnhelm.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Scene IV

  Wer.  There he is!
  Fran.  A hundred pistoles? I thought it was only eighty.  2
  Land.  True, only ninety, only ninety. I will do so, my pretty maid, I will do so.  3
  Fran.  All that will come right, Mr. Landlord.  4
  Wer.  (coming from behind, and tapping FRANZISKA on the shoulder). Little woman—Little woman.  5
  Fran.  (frightened). Oh! dear!  6
  Wer.  Don’t be alarmed! I see you are pretty, and a stranger, too. And strangers who are pretty must be warned. Little woman! little woman! I advise you to beware of that fellow!  (pointing to the LANDLORD).  7
  Land.  Ah! What an unexpected pleasure! Herr Werner! Welcome, welcome! Yes, you are just the same jovial, joking, honest Werner! So you are to beware of me, my pretty maid. Ha! ha! ha!  8
  Wer.  Keep out of his way everywhere!  9
  Land.  My way? Am I such a dangerous man? Ha! ha! ha! Hear him, my pretty maid! A good joke, isn’t it?  10
  Wer.  People like him always call it a joke, if one tells them the truth.  11
  Land.  The truth. Ha! ha! ha! Better and better, my pretty maid, isn’t it? He knows how to joke! I dangerous? I? Twenty years ago there might have been something in it. Yes, yes, my pretty maid, then I was a dangerous man: many a one knew it; but now—  12
  Wer.  Oh! the old fool!  13
  Land.  There it is! When we get old, danger is at an end! It will be so with you too, Herr Werner!  14
  Wer.  You utter old fool!—Little woman, you will give me credit for enough common sense not to speak of danger from him. That one devil has left him, but seven others have entered into him.  15
  Land.  Oh! hear him! How cleverly he can turn things about, Joke upon joke, and always something new! Ah! he is an excellent man, Paul Werner is. (To FRANZISKA, as if whispering.) A well-to-do man, and a bachelor still. He has a nice little freehold three miles from here. He made prize-money in the war, and was a sergeant to the Major. Yes, he is a real friend of the Major’s; he is a friend who would give his life for him.  16
  Wer.  Yes; and that is a friend of the Major’s—that is a friend… whose life the Major ought to take  (pointing to the LANDLORD).  17
  Land.  How! What! No, Herr Werner, that is not a good joke. I no friend to the Major! I don’t understand that joke.  18
  Wer.  Just has told me pretty things.  19
  Land.  Just! Ah! I thought Just was speaking through you. Just is a nasty, ill-natured man. But here on the spot stands a pretty maid—she can speak, she can say if I am no friend of the Major’s—if I have not done him good service. And why should not I be his friend? Is not he a deserving man? It is true, he has had the misfortune to be discharged; but what of that? The king cannot be acquainted with all deserving officers; and if he knew them, he could not reward them all.  20
  Wer.  Heaven put those words into your mouth. But Just… certainly there is nothing remarkable about Just, but still Just is no liar; and if that what he has told me be true—  21
  Land.  I don’t want to hear anything about Just. As I said, this pretty maid here can speak. (Whispering to her.) You know, my dear; the ring! Tell Herr Werner about it. Then he will learn better what I am. And that it may not appear as if she only said what I wish, I will not even be present. I will go; but you shall tell me after, Herr Werner, you shall tell me, whether Just is not a foul slanderer.  22


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