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

  Just.  Hullo, Werner! good-day to you, Werner. Welcome to the town.
  Wer.  The accursed village! I can’t manage to get at home in it again. Merry, my boys, merry; I have got some more money! Where is the Major?  2
  Just.  He must have met you; he just went down stairs.  3
  Wer.  I came up the back stairs. How is he? I should have been with you last week, but—  4
  Just.  Well, what prevented you?  5
  Wer.  Just, did you ever hear of Prince Heraclius?  6
  Just.  Heraclius? Not that I know of.  7
  Wer.  Don’t you know the great hero of the East?  8
  Just.  I know the wise men of the East well enough, who go about with the stars on New Year’s Eve. 1  9
  Wer.  Brother, I believe you read the newspapers as little as the Bible. You do not know Prince Heraclius. Not know the brave man who seized Persia, and will break into the Ottoman Porte in a few days? Thank God, there is still war somewhere in the world! I have long enough hoped it would break out here again. But there they sit and take care of their skins. No, a soldier I was, and a soldier I must be again! In short (looking round carefully, to see if anyone is listening), between ourselves, Just, I am going to Persia, to have a few campaigns against the Turks, under his Royal Highness Prince Heraclius.  10
  Just.  You?  11
  Wer.  I myself. Our ancestors fought bravely against the Turks; and so ought we too, if we would be honest men and good Christians. I allow that a campaign against the Turks cannot be half so pleasant as one against the French; but then it must be so much the more beneficial in this world and the next. The swords of the Turks are all set with diamonds.  12
  Just.  I would not walk a mile to have my head split with one of their sabres. You will not be so mad as to leave your comfortable little farm!  13
  Wer.  Oh! I take that with me. Do you see? The property is sold.  14
  Just.  Sold?  15
  Wer.  Hist! Here are a hundred ducats, which I received yesterday towards the payment: I am bringing them for the Major.  16
  Just.  What is he to do with them?  17
  Wer.  What is he to do with them? Spend them; play them, or drink them away, or whatever he pleases. He must have money, and it is bad enough that they have made his own so troublesome to him. But I know what I would do, were I in his place. I would say—“The deuce take you all here; I will go with Paul Werner to Persia!” Hang it! Prince Heraclius must have heard of Major von Tellheim, if he has not heard of Paul Werner, his late sergeant. Our affair at Katzenhäuser—  18
  Just.  Shall I give you an account of that?  19
  Wer.  You give me! I know well that a fine battle array is beyond your comprehension. I am not going to throw my pearls before swine. Here, take the hundred ducats; give them to the Major: tell him, he may keep these for me too. I am going to the market now. I have sent in a couple of loads of rye; what I get for them he can also have.  20
  Just.  Werner, you mean it well; but we don’t want your money. Keep your ducats; and your hundred pistoles you can also have back safe, as soon as you please.  21
  Wer.  What, has the Major money still?  22
  Just.  No  23
  Wer.  Has he borrowed any?  24
  Just.  No.  25
  Wer.  On what does he live, then?  26
  Just.  We have everything put down in the bill; and when they won’t put anything more down, and turn us out of the house, we pledge anything we may happen to have, and go somewhere else. I say, Paul, we must play this landlord here a trick.  27
  Wer.  If he has annoyed the Major, I am ready.  28
  Just.  What if we watch for him in the evening, when he comes from his club, and give him a good thrashing?  29
  Wer.  In the dark! Watch for him! Two to one! No, that won’t do.  30
  Just.  Or if we burn his house over his head?  31
  Wer.  Fire and burn! Why, Just, one hears that you have been baggage-boy and not soldier. Shame!  32
  Just.  Or if we ruin his daughter? But she is cursedly ugly.  33
  Wer.  She has probably been ruined long ago. At any rate you don’t want any help there. But what is the matter with you? What has happened?  34
  Just.  Just come with me, and you shall hear something to make you stare.  35
  Wer.  The devil must be loose here, then?  36
  Just.  Just so; come along.  37
  Wer.  So much the better! To Persia, then; to Persia.  38
Note 1. This refers to an old German custom. [back]


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