Min. (with forced coldness). I am going out, Major. I guess why you have given yourself the trouble of coming back: to return me my ring.Very well, Major von Tellheim, have the goodness to give it to Franziska.Franziska, take the ring from major von Tellheim!I have no time to lose. (Is going.)
Maj. T. Do not be angry with me, Madam. I am no deceiver. You have, on my account, lost much in the eyes of the world, but not in mine. In my eyes you have gained beyond measure by this loss. It was too sudden. You feared it might make an unfavourable impression on me; at first you wished to hide it from me. I do not complain of this mistrust. It arose from the desire to retain my affection. That desire is my pride. You found me in distress; and you did not wish to add distress to distress. You could not divine how far your distress would raise me above any thoughts of my own.
Maj. T. Consented to nothing! On the contrary, I now consider myself bound more firmly than ever. You are mine, Minna, mine for ever. (Takes off the ring.) Here, take it for the second timethe pledge of my fidelity.
Maj. T. You received it for the first time from my hand, when our positions were similar and the circumstances propitious. They are no longer propitious, but are again similar. Equality is always the strongest tie of love. Permit me, dearest Minna! (seizes her hand to put on the ring.)
Min. What! by force, Major! No, there is no power in the world which shall compel me to take back that ring! Do you think that I am in want of a ring? Oh! you may see (pointing to her ring) that I have another here which is in no way inferior to yours.
Min. Yes, sir, it would only be womanish vanity in me to pretend to be cold and scornful. No! Never! You deserve to find me as sincere as yourself. I do love you still, Tellheim, I love you still; but notwithstanding
Min. (drawing back her hand). Notwithstanding, so much the more am I determined that that shall never be,never!Of what are you thinking, Major?I thought your own distress was sufficient. You must remain here; you must obtain by obstinacyno better phrase occurs to me at the momentthe most perfect satisfaction, obtain it by obstinacy . And that even though the utmost distress should waste you away before the eyes of your calumniators
Maj. T. So I thought, so I said, when I knew not what I thought or said. Chagrin and stifling rage had enveloped my whole soul; love itself, in the full blaze of happiness, could not illumine it. But it has sent its daughter, Pity, more familiar with gloomy misfortune, and she has dispelled the cloud, and opened again all the avenues of my soul to sensations of tenderness. The impulse of self-preservation awakes, when I have something more precious than myself to support, and to support through my own exertions. Do not let the word pity offend you. From the innocent cause of our distress we may hear the term without humiliation. I am this cause; through me, Minna, have you lost friends and relations, fortune and country. Through me, in me, must you find them all again, or I shall have the destruction of the most lovely of her sex upon my soul. Let me not think of a future in which I must detest myself.No, nothing shall detain me here longer. From this moment I will oppose nothing but contempt to the injustice which I suffer. Is this country the world? Does the sun rise here alone? Where can I not go? In what service shall I be refused? And should I be obliged to seek it in the most distant clime, only follow me with confidence, dearest Minnawe shall want for nothing. I have a friend who will assist me with pleasure.