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 II

  Land.  (putting his head in at the door). Am I permitted, your ladyship?
  Fran.  Our landlord?—Come in!  2
  Land.  (A pen behind his ear, a sheet of paper and an inkstand in his hand). I am come, your ladyship, to wish you a most humble good-morning; (to FRANZISKA) and the same to you, my pretty maid.  3
  Fran.  A polite man!  4
  Min.  We are obliged to you.  5
  Fran.  And wish you also a good-morning.  6
  Land.  May I venture to ask how your ladyship has passed the first night under my poor roof?  7
  Fran.  The roof is not so bad, sir; but the beds might have been better.  8
  Land.  What do I hear! Not slept well! Perhaps the over-fatigue of the journey—  9
  Min.  Perhaps.  10
  Land.  Certainly, certainly, for otherwise…. Yet, should there be anything not perfectly comfortable, my lady, I hope you will not fail to command me.  11
  Fran.  Very well, Mr. Landlord, very well! We are not bashful; and least of all should one be bashful at an inn. We shall not fail to say what we may wish.  12
  Land.  I next come to…  (taking the pen from behind his ear).  13
  Fran.  Well?  14
  Land.  Without doubt, my lady, you are already acquainted with the wise regulations of our police.  15
  Min.  Not in the least, sir.  16
  Land.  We landlords are instructed not to take in any stranger, of whatever rank or sex he may be, for four-and-twenty hours, without delivering, in writing, his name, place of abode, occupation, object of his journey, probable stay, and so on, to the proper authorities.  17
  Min.  Very well.  18
  Land.  Will your ladyship then be so good…  (going to the table, and making ready to write).  19
  Min.  Willingly. My name is—  20
  Land.  One minute! (He writes.) “Date, 22nd August, A. D., &c.; arrived at the King of Spain hotel.” Now your name, my lady.  21
  Min.  Fräulein von Barnhelm.  22
  Land.  (writes). “Von Barnhelm.” Coming from…. where, your ladyship?  23
  Min.  From my estate in Saxony.  24
  Land.  (writes). “Estate in Saxony.” Saxony! Indeed, indeed! In Saxony, your ladyship? Saxony?  25
  Fran.  Well, why not? I hope it is no sin in this country to come from Saxony!  26
  Land.  A sin? Heaven forbid! That would be quite a new sin! From Saxony then? Yes, yes, from Saxony, a delightful country, Saxony! But if I am right, your ladyship, Saxony is not small, and has several—how shall I call them?—districts, provinces. Our police are very particular, your ladyship.  27
  Min.  I understand. From my estate in Thuringia, then.  28
  Land.  From Thuringia! Yes, that is better, your ladyship; that is more exact. (Writes and reads.) “Fräulein von Barnhelm, coming from her estate in Thuringia, together with her lady in waiting and two men servants.”  29
  Fran.  Lady in waiting! That means me, I suppose!  30
  Land.  Yes, my pretty maid.  31
  Fran.  Well, Mr. Landlord, instead of “lady in waiting,” write “maid in waiting.” You say, the police are very exact; it might cause a misunderstanding, which might give me trouble some day when my banns are read out. For I really am still unmarried, and my name is Franziska, with the family name of Willig: Franziska Willig. I also come from Thuringia. My father was a miller, on one of my lady’s estates. It is called Little Rammsdorf. My brother has the mill now. I was taken very early to the manor, and educated with my lady. We are of the same age—one-and-twenty next Candlemas. I learnt everything my lady learnt. I should like the police to have a full account of me.  32
  Land.  Quite right, my pretty maid; I will bear that in mind, in case of future inquiries. But now, your ladyship, your business here?  33
  Min.  My business here?  34
  Land.  Have you any business with His Majesty the King?  35
  Min.  Oh! no.  36
  Land.  Or at our courts of justice?  37
  Min.  No.  38
  Land.  Or—  39
  Min.  No, no. I have come here solely on account of my own private affairs.  40
  Land.  Quite right, your ladyship; but what are those private affairs?  41
  Min.  They are … Franziska, I think we are undergoing an examination.  42
  Fran.  Mr. Landlord, the police surely do not ask to know a young lady’s secrets!  43
  Land.  Certainly, my pretty maid; the police wish to know everything, and especially secrets.  44
  Fran.  What is to be done, my lady?… Well, listen, Mr. Landlord—but take care that it does not go beyond ourselves and the police.  45
  Min.  What is the simpleton going to tell him?  46
  Fran.  We come to carry off an officer from the king.  47
  Land.  How? What? My dear girl!  48
  Fran.  Or to let ourselves be carried off by the officer. It is all one.  49
  Min.  Franziska, are you mad? The saucy girl is laughing at you.  50
  Land.  I hope not! With your humble servant indeed she may jest as much as she pleases; but with the police—  51
  Min.  I tell you what; I do not understand how to act in this matter. Suppose you postpone the whole affair till my uncle’s arrival. I told you yesterday why he did not come with me. He had an accident with his carriage ten miles from here, and did not wish that I should remain a night longer on the road, so I had to come on. I am sure he will not be more than four-and-twenty hours after us.  52
  Land.  Very well, madam, we will wait for him.  53
  Min.  He will be able to answer your questions better. He will know to whom, and to what extent, he must give an account of himself—what he must relate respecting his affairs, and what he may withhold.  54
  Land.  So much the better! Indeed one cannot expect a young girl (looking at FRANZISKA in a marked manner) to treat a serious matter with serious people in a serious manner.  55
  Min.  And his rooms are in readiness, I hope?  56
  Land.  Quite, your ladyship, quite; except the one—  57
  Fran.  Out of which, I suppose, you will have to turn some other honourable gentleman!  58
  Land.  The waiting maids of Saxony, your ladyship, seem to be very compassionate.  59
  Min.  In truth, sir, that was not well done. You ought rather to have refused us.  60
  Land.  Why so, your ladyship, why so?  61
  Min.  I understand that the officer who was driven out on our account—  62
  Land.  Is only a discharged officer, your ladyship.  63
  Min.  Well, what then?  64
  Land.  Who is almost done for.  65
  Min.  So much the worse! He is said to be a very deserving man.  66
  Land.  But I tell you he is discharged.  67
  Min.  The king cannot be acquainted with every deserving man.  68
  Land.  Oh! doubtless he knows them; he knows them all.  69
  Min.  But he cannot reward them all.  70
  Land.  They would have been rewarded if they had lived so as to deserve it. But they lived during the war as if it would last for ever; as if the words “yours” and “mine” were done away with altogether. Now all the hotels and inns are full of them, and a landlord has to be on his guard with them. I have come off pretty well with this one. If he had no more money, he had at any rate money’s worth; and I might indeed have let him remain quiet two or three months longer. However, it is better as it is. By-the-by, your ladyship, you understand about jewels, I suppose?  71
  Min.  Not particularly.  72
  Land.  Of course your ladyship must. I must show you a ring, a valuable ring. I see you have a very beautiful one on your finger; and the more I look at it, the more I am astonished at the resemblance it bears to mine. There! just look, just look! (taking the ring from its case, and handing it to her.) What brilliancy! The diamond in the middle alone weighs more than five carats.  73
  Min.  (looking at it). Good heavens! What do I see? This ring—  74
  Land.  Is honestly worth fifteen hundred thalers.  75
  Min.  Franziska! look!  76
  Land.  I did not hesitate for a moment to advance eighty pistoles on it.  77
  Min.  Do not you recognize it, Franziska?  78
  Fran.  The same! Where did you get that ring, Mr. Landlord?  79
  Land.  Come, my girl! you surely have no claim to it?  80
  Fran.  We have no claim to this ring! My mistress’ monogram must be on it, on the inner side of the setting. Look at it, my lady.  81
  Min.  It is! it is! How did you get this ring?  82
  Land.  I! In the most honourable way in the world. You do not wish to bring me into disgrace and trouble, your ladyship! How do I know where the ring properly belongs? During the war many a thing often changed masters, both with and without the knowledge of its owner. War was war. Other rings will have crossed the borders of Saxony. Give it me again, your ladyship; give it me again!  83
  Fran.  When you have said from whom you got it.  84
  Land.  From a man whom I cannot think capable of such things; in other respects a good man.  85
  Min.  From the best man under the sun, if you have it from its owner. Bring him here directly! It is himself, or at any rate he must know him.  86
  Land.  Who? who, your ladyship?  87
  Fran.  Are you deaf? Our Major!  88
  Land.  Major! Right! he is a Major, who had this room before you, and from whom I received it.  89
  Min.  Major von Tellheim!  90
  Land.  Yes, Tellheim. Do you know him?  91
  Min.  Do I know him! He is here! Tellheim here! He had this room! He! he pledged this ring with you! What has brought him into this embarrassment? Where is he? Does he owe you anything? Franziska, my desk here! Open it! (FRANZISKA puts it on the table and opens it.) What does he owe you? To whom else does he owe anything? Bring me all his creditors! Here is gold: here are notes. It is all his!  92
  Land.  What is this?  93
  Min.  Where is he? Where is he?  94
  Land.  An hour ago he was here.  95
  Min.  Detested man! how could you act so rudely, so hardly, so cruelly towards him?  96
  Land.  Your ladyship must pardon—  97
  Min.  Quick! Bring him to me.  98
  Land.  His servant is perhaps still here. Does your ladyship wish that he should look for him?  99
  Min.  Do I wish it? Begone, run. For this service alone I will forget how badly you have behaved to him.  100
  Fran.  Now then, quick, Mr. Landlord! Be off! fly! fly!  (Pushes him out.)  101


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.