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 I
 
Scene VIII
 
 
JUST, MAJOR VON TELLHEIM


  Maj. T.  Is that you, Just?
  1
  Just.  (wiping his eyes). Yes.  2
  Maj. T.  You have been crying?  3
  Just.  I have been writing out my account in the kitchen, and the place is full of smoke. Here it is, sir.  4
  Maj. T.  Give it to me.  5
  Just.  Be merciful with me, sir. I know well that they have not been so with you; still—  6
  Maj. T.  What do you want?  7
  Just.  I should sooner have expected my death, than my discharge.  8
  Maj. T.  I cannot keep you any longer: I must learn to manage without servants. (Opens the paper, and reads.) “What my master, the Major, owes me:—Three months and a half wages, six thalers per month, is 21 thalers. During the first part of this month, laid out in sundries—1 thaler 7 groschen 9 pfennigs. Total, 22 thalers 7gr. 9pf.” Right; and it is just that I also pay your wages, for the whole of the current month.  9
  Just.  Turn over, sir.  10
  Maj. T.  Oh! more? (Reads.) “What I owe my master, the Major:—Paid for me to the army-surgeon twenty-five thalers. Attendance and nurse during my cure, paid for me, thirty-nine thalers. Advanced, at my request, to my father—who was burnt out of his house and robbed—without reckoning the two horses of which he made him a present, fifty thalers. Total 114 thalers. Deduct the above 22 thalers, 7gr. 9pf.; I remain in debt to my master, the Major, 91 thalers, 16gr. 3pf.” You are mad, my good fellow!  11
  Just.  I willingly grant that I owe you much more; but it would be wasting ink to write it down. I cannot pay you that: and if you take my livery from me too, which, by the way, I have not yet earned,—I would rather you had let me die in the workhouse.  12
  Maj. T.  For what do you take me? You owe me nothing; and I will recommend you to one of my friends, with whom you will fare better than with me.  13
  Just.  I do not owe you anything, and yet you turn me away!  14
  Maj. T.  Because I do not wish to owe you anything.  15
  Just.  On that account? Only on that account? As certain as I am in your debt, as certain as you can never be in mine, so certainly shall you not turn me away now. Do what you will, Major, I remain in your service; I must remain.  16
  Maj. T.  With your obstinacy, your insolence, your savage boisterous temper towards all who you think have no business to speak to you, your malicious pranks, your love of revenge,—  17
  Just.  Make me as bad as you will, I shall not think worse of myself than of my dog. Last winter I was walking one evening at dusk along the river, when I heard something whine. I stooped down, and reached in the direction whence the sound came, and when I thought I was saving a child, I pulled a dog out of the water. That is well, thought I. The dog followed me; but I am not fond of dogs, so I drove him away—in vain. I whipped him away—in vain. I shut him out of my room at night; he lay down before the door. If he came too near me, I kicked him; he yelped, looked up at me, and wagged his tail. I have never yet given him a bit of bread with my own hand; and yet I am the only person whom he will obey, or who dare touch him. He jumps about me, and shows off his tricks to me, without my asking for them. He is an ugly dog, but he is a good animal. If he carries it on much longer, I shall at last give over hating him.  18
  Maj. T.  (aside). As I do him. No, there is no one perfectly inhuman. Just, we will not part.  19
  Just.  Certainly not! And you wanted to manage without servants! You forget your wounds, and that you only have the use of one arm. Why, you are not able to dress alone. I am indispensable to you; and I am—without boasting, Major,—I am a servant who, if the worst comes to the worst, can beg and steal for his master.  20
  Maj. T.  Just, we will part.  21
  Just.  All right, Sir!  22
 

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