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

  Min.  (in morning dress, looking at her watch). Franziska, we have risen very early. The time will hang heavy on our hands.
  Fran.  Who can sleep in these abominable large towns? The carriages, the watchmen, the drums, the cats, the soldiers, never cease to rattle, to call, to roll, to mew, and to swear; just as if the last thing the night is intended for was for sleep. Have a cup of tea, my lady!  2
  Min.  I don’t care for tea.  3
  Fran.  I will have some chocolate made.  4
  Min.  For yourself, if you like.  5
  Fran.  For myself! I would as soon talk to myself as drink by myself. Then the time will indeed hang heavy. For very weariness we shall have to make our toilets, and try on the dress in which we intend to make the first attack!  6
  Min.  Why do you talk of attacks, when I have only come to require that the capitulation be ratified?  7
  Fran.  But the officer whom we have dislodged, and to whom we have apologized, cannot be the best bred man in the world, or he might at least have begged the honour of being allowed to wait upon you.  8
  Min.  All officers are not Tellheims. To tell you the truth, I only sent him the message in order to have an opportunity of inquiring from him about Tellheim. Franziska, my heart tells me my journey will be a successful one and that I shall find him.  9
  Fran.  The heart, my lady! One must not trust to that too much. The heart echoes to us the words of our tongues. If the tongue was as much inclined to speak the thoughts of the heart, the fashion of keeping mouths under lock and key would have come in long ago.  10
  Min.  Ha! ha! mouths under lock and key. That fashion would just suit me.  11
  Fran.  Rather not show the most beautiful set of teeth, than let the heart be seen through them every moment.  12
  Min.  What, are you so reserved?  13
  Fran.  No, my lady; but I would willingly be more so. People seldom talk of the virtue they possess, and all the more often of that which they do not possess.  14
  Min.  Franziska, you made a very just remark there.  15
  Fran.  Made! Does one make it, if it occurs to one?  16
  Min.  And do you know why I consider it so good? It applies to my Tellheim.  17
  Fran.  What would not, in your opinion, apply to him?  18
  Min.  Friend and foe say he is the bravest man in the world. But who ever heard him talk of bravery? He has the most upright mind; but uprightness and nobleness of mind are words never on his tongue.  19
  Fran.  Of what virtues does he talk then?  20
  Min.  He talks of none, for he is wanting in none.  21
  Fran.  That is just what I wished to hear.  22
  Min.  Wait, Franziska; I am wrong. He often talks of economy. Between ourselves, I believe he is extravagant.  23
  Fran.  One thing more, my lady. I have often heard him mention truth and constancy toward you. What, if he be inconstant?  24
  Min.  Miserable girl! But do you mean that seriously?  25
  Fran.  How long is it since he wrote to you?  26
  Min.  Alas! he has only written to me once since the peace.  27
  Fran.  What!—A sigh on account of the peace? Surprising? Peace ought only to make good the ill which war causes; but it seems to disturb the good which the latter, its opposite, may have occasioned. Peace should not be so capricious!… How long have we had peace? The time seems wonderfully long, when there is so little news. It is no use the post going regularly again; nobody writes, for nobody has anything to write about.  28
  Min.  “Peace has been made,” he wrote to me, “and I am approaching the fulfillment of my wishes.” But since he only wrote that to me once, only once—  29
  Fran.  And since he compels us to run after this fulfillment of his wishes ourselves… If we can but find him, he shall pay for this! Suppose, in the meantime, he may have accomplished his wishes, and we should learn here that—  30
  Min.  (anxiously). That he is dead?  31
  Fran.  To you, my lady; and married to another.  32
  Min.  You teaze, you! Wait, Franziska, I will pay you out for this! But talk to me, or I shall fall asleep. His regiment was disbanded after the peace. Who knows into what a confusion of bills and papers he may thereby have been brought? Who knows into what other regiment, or to what distant station, he may have been sent? Who knows what circumstances—There’s a knock at the door.  33
  Fran.  Come in!  34


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