Fiction > Harvard Classics > Gotthold Ephraim Lessing > Minna von Barnhelm
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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781).  Minna von Barnhelm.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act III
 
Scene X
 
 
FRANZISKA (with a letter in her hand),  MAJOR VON TELLHEIM,  PAUL WERNER


  Fran.  Major—
  1
  Maj. T.  Franziska, I have not yet been able to give you a “Welcome” here.  2
  Fran.  I thought, I am sure that you have done it. I know you are friendly to me; so am I to you. But it is not at all kind to vex those who are friendly to you so much.  3
  Wer.  (aside). Ah! now I see it. It is so!  4
  Maj. T.  My destiny, Franziska! Did you give her the letter?  5
  Fran.  Yes; and here I bring you…  (holding out a letter).  6
  Maj. T.  An answer!  7
  Fran.  No, your own letter again.  8
  Maj. T.  What! She will not read it!  9
  Fran.  She would have liked, but—we can’t read writing well.  10
  Maj. T.  You are joking!  11
  Fran.  And we think that writing was not invented for those who can converse with their lips whenever they please.  12
  Maj. T.  What an excuse! She must read it. It contains my justification—all the grounds and reasons.  13
  Fran.  My mistress wishes to hear them all from you yourself, not to read them.  14
  Maj. T.  Hear them from me myself! That every look, every word of hers, may embarrass me; that I may feel in every glance the greatness of my loss.  15
  Fran.  Without any pity! Take it. (Giving him his letter.) She expects you at three o’clock. She wishes to drive out and see the town; you must accompany her.  16
  Maj. T.  Accompany her!  17
  Fran.  And what will you give me to let you drive out by yourselves? I shall remain at home.  18
  Maj. T.  By ourselves!  19
  Fran.  In a nice close carriage.  20
  Maj. T.  Impossible!  21
  Fran.  Yes, yes, in the carriage, Major. You will have to submit quietly; you cannot escape there! And that is the reason. In short, you will come, Major, and punctually at three…. Well, you wanted to speak to me too alone. What have you to say to me? Oh! we are not alone.  (Looking at WERNER.)  22
  Maj. T.  Yes, Franziska; as good as alone. But as your mistress has not read my letter, I have nothing now to say to you.  23
  Fran.  As good as alone! Then you have no secrets from the Sergeant?  24
  Maj. T.  No, none.  25
  Fran.  And yet I think you should have some from him.  26
  Maj. T.  Why so?  27
  Wer.  How so, little woman?  28
  Fran.  Particularly secrets of a certain kind…. All twenty, Mr. Sergeant!  (Holding up both her hands, with open fingers.)  29
  Wer.  Hist! hist! girl.  30
  Maj. T.  What is the meaning of that?  31
  Fran.  Presto! conjured on to his finger, Mr. Sergeant  (as if she was putting a ring on her fingers).  32
  Maj. T.  What are you talking about?  33
  Wer.  Little woman, little woman, don’t you understand a joke?  34
  Maj. T.  Werner, you have not forgotten, I hope, what I have often told you; that one should not jest beyond a certain point with a young woman!  35
  Wer.  Upon my life I may have forgotten it! Little woman, I beg—  36
  Fran.  Well, if it was a joke, I will forgive you this once.  37
  Maj. T.  Well, if I must come, Franziska, just see that your mistress reads my letter beforehand? That will spare me the pain of thinking again—of talking again, of things which I would willingly forget. There, give it to her! (He turns the letter in giving it to her, and sees that it has been opened.) But do I see aright? Why it has been opened.  38
  Fran.  That may be. (Looks at it.) True, it is open. Who can have opened it? But really we have not read it, Major; really not. And we do not wish to read it, because the writer is coming himself. Come; and I tell you what, Major! don’t come as you are now—in boots, and with such a head. You are excusable, you do not expect us. Come in shoes, and have your hair fresh dressed. You look too soldierlike, too Prussian for me as you are.  39
  Maj. T.  Thank you, Franziska.  40
  Fran.  You look as if you had been bivouacking last night.  41
  Maj. T.  You may have guessed right.  42
  Fran.  We are going to dress, directly too, and then have dinner. We would willingly ask you to dinner, but your presence might hinder our eating; and observe, we are not so much in love that we have lost our appetites.  43
  Maj. T.  I will go. Prepare her somewhat, Franziska, beforehand, that I may not become contemptible in her eyes, and in my own. Come, Werner, you shall dine with me.  44
  Wer.  At the table d’hote here in the house? I could not eat a bit there.  45
  Maj. T.  With me, in my room.  46
  Wer.  I will follow you directly. One word first with the little woman.  47
  Maj. T.  I have no objection to that.  (Exit.)  48
 

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