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

  Fran.  (angrily). What can I say? Oh! how grand! how grand!
  Min.  Laugh at me; I deserve it. (After reflecting, more calmly.) No, do not laugh; I do not deserve it.  2
  Fran.  Excellent! You have done a charming act—set a knave upon his legs again.  3
  Min.  It was intended for an unfortunate man.  4
  Fran.  And what is the best part of it, the fellow considers you like himself. Oh! I must follow him, and take the money from him.  (Going.)  5
  Min.  Franziska, do not let the coffee get quite cold; pour it out.  6
  Fran.  He must return it to you; you have thought better of it; you will not play in partnership with him. Ten pistoles! You heard, my lady, that he was a beggar! (MINNA pours out the coffee herself.) Who would give such a sum to a beggar? And to endeavour, into the bargain, to save him the humiliation of having begged for it! The charitable woman who, out of generosity, mistakes the beggar, is in return mistaken by the beggar. It serves you right, my lady, if he considers your gift as—I know not what. (MINNA hands a cup of coffee to FRANZISKA.) Do you wish to make my blood boil still more? I do not want any. (MINNA puts it down again.) “Parbleu, Madame, merit have no reward here” (imitating the Frenchman). I think not, when such rogues are allowed to walk about unhanged.  7
  Min.  (coldly and slowly, while sipping her coffee). Girl, you understand good men very well; but when will you learn to bear with the bad? And yet they are also men; and frequently not so bad as they seem. One should look for their good side. I fancy this Frenchman is nothing worse than vain. Through mere vanity he gives himself out as a false player; he does not wish to appear under an obligation to one; he wishes to save himself the thanks. Perhaps he may now go, pay his small debts, live quietly and frugally on the rest as far as it will go, and think no more of play. If that be so, Franziska, let him come for recruits whenever he pleases. (Gives her cup to FRANZISKA.) There, put it down! But, tell me, should not Tellheim be here by this time?  8
  Fran.  No, my lady, I can neither find out the bad side in a good man, nor the good side in a bad man.  9
  Min.  Surely he will come!  10
  Fran.  He ought to remain away! You remark in him—in him, the best of men—a little pride; and therefore you intend to tease him so cruelly!  11
  Min.  Are you at it again? Be silent! I will have it so. Woe to you if you spoil this fun of mine … if you do not say and do all, as we have agreed. I will leave you with him alone; and then—but here he comes.  12


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