Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > German
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XII: German
Chevalier Riccaut de la Marlinière
By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781)
From “Minna von Barnhelm


Ric.  (before he enters).  Est-il permis, Monsieur le Major?
  Fran.  Who is that? Any one for us?  (Going to the door.)  2
  Ric.  Parbleu! I am wrong. Mais non—I am not wrong. C’est la chambre——  3
  Fran.  Without doubt, your Ladyship, this gentleman expects to find Major von Tellheim here still.  4
  Ric.  Oui, dat is it! Le Major de Tellheim. Juste, ma belle enfant, c’est lui que je cherche. Où est-il?  5
  Fran.  He does not lodge here any longer.  6
  Ric.  Comment? Dere is four-and-twenty hour ago he did lodge here, and not lodge here any more? Where lodge he den?  7
  Min.  Sir——  8
  Ric.  Ah! madame, mademoiselle, pardon!  9
  Min.  Sir, your mistake is quite excusable, and your astonishment very natural. Major von Tellheim has had the kindness to give up his apartments to me, as a stranger, who was not able to get any elsewhere.  10
  Ric.  Ah! voilà de ses politesses! C’est un très-galant homme que ce major!  11
  Min.  Where has he gone now? I am ashamed to say that I do not know.  12
  Ric.  Madame not know? C’est dommage! j’en suis fâché.  13
  Min.  I certainly ought to have inquired. Of course his friends will seek him here.  14
  Ric.  I am vary great his friend, madame.  15
  Min.  Franziska, do you not know?  16
  Fran.  No, your Ladyship.  17
  Ric.  It is vary nécessaire dat I speak him. I come and bring him a nouvelle, of which he will be vary much at ease.  18
  Min.  I regret it so much the more. But I hope to see him shortly, perhaps. If it is a matter of indifference from whom he hears this good news, I would offer, sir——  19
  Ric.  I comprehend. Mademoiselle parle français? Mais sans doute, telle que je la vois! La demande était bien impolie; vous me pardonnerez, mademoiselle.  20
  Min.  Sir——  21
  Ric.  No! You not speak French, madame?  22
  Min.  Sir, in France I would endeavor to do so; but why here? I perceive that you understand me, sir; and I, sir, shall doubtless understand you. Speak as you please.  23
  Ric.  Good! Good! I can also explain me in your langue. Sachez donc, mademoiselle, you must know, madame, dat I come from de table of de ministre, ministre, ministre— What is le ministre out dere, in de long street, on de broad place?  24
  Min.  I am a perfect stranger here.  25
  Ric.  Si, le ministre of de War Departement. Dere I have eat my dinner. I ordinary dine dere, and de conversation did fall on Major Tellheim; et le ministre m’a dit en confidence—car son Excellence est de mes amis, et il n’y a point de mystères entre nous—son Excellence, I say, has trust to me, dat l’affaire from our major is on de point to end, and to end good. He has made a rapport to de king, and de king has resolved et tout à fait en faveur du major. “Monsieur,” m’a dit son Excellence, “vous comprenez bien, que tout dépend de la manière dont on fait envisager les choses au roi, et vous me connaissez. C’est un très-joli garçon que ce Tellheim, et ne sais-je pas que vous l’aimez? Les amis de mes amis sont aussi les miens. Il coûte un peu cher au roi ce Tellheim, mais est-ce que l’on sert les rois pour rien? Il faut s’entr’aider dans ce monde; et quand il s’agit de pertes, que ce soit le roi qui en fasse, et non pas un honnête homme de nous autres. Voilà le principe dont je ne me dépars jamais.” But what say madame to it? N’est ce pas, dat is a fine fellow! Ah! que son Excellence a le cœur bien placé! He assure me au reste, if de major has not reçu already une lettre de la main—a royal letter, dat to-day infailliblement must he receive one.  26
  Min.  Certainly, sir, this news will be most welcome to Major von Tellheim. I should like to be able to name the friend to him who takes such an interest in his welfare.  27
  Ric.  Madame, you wish my name? Vous voyez en moi—you see in me, le Chevalier Riccaut de la Marlinière, Seigneur de Prêt-au-Val, de la branche de Prens d’Or. You remain astonished to hear me from so great, great a family, qui est véritablement du sang royal. Il faut le dire: je suis sans doute le cadet le plus aventureux que la maison n’a jamais eu. I serve from my eleven year. Une affaire d’honneur make me flee. Den I serve de holy Pope of Rome, den de Republic St. Marino, den de Poles, den de States-General, till enfin I am brought here. Ah, mademoiselle, que je voudrais n’avoir jamais vu ce pays-ci! Had one left me in de service of de States-General, should I be now at least colonel. But here always to remain capitaine, and now also a discharged capitaine!  28
  Min.  That is bad luck.  29
  Ric.  Oui, mademoiselle, me voilà réformé, et par là mis sur le pavé!  30
  Min.  I am very sorry for you.  31
  Ric.  Vous êtes bien bonne, mademoiselle. No, merit have no reward here. Réformer a man, like me. A man who also have ruin himself in dis service. I have lost in it so much as twenty thousand livres. What have I now? Tranchons le mot: not one sou have I, et me voilà exactement opposite to notting at all in my pocket.  32
  Min.  I am exceedingly sorry.  33
  Ric.  Vous êtes bien bonne, mademoiselle. But as one say, misfortune never come alone! Qu’un malheur ne vient jamais seul—so it arrive with me. What ressource rests for an honnête homme of my extraction, but cards? Now, I always played with luck, so long I not need her. Now I very much need her, je joue avec un guignon, mademoiselle, qui surpasse toute croyance. For fifteen days, not one is passed dat I always am broke. Yesterday I was broke dree times. Je sais bien, qu’il y avait quelque chose de plus que le jeu. Dere was also dere certaines dames. I will not speak more. One must be very galant to les dames. Dey have invite me again to-day, to give me revanche. Mais—vous m’entendez, mademoiselle—one must first have to live, before one can have to play.  34
  Min.  I hope, sir——  35
  Ric.  Vous êtes bien bonne, mademoiselle.  36
  Min.  (takes FRANZISKA aside).  Franziska, I really feel for the man. Would he take it ill if I offered him something?  37
  Fran.  He does not look to me like a man who would.  38
  Min.  Very well. Sir, I perceive that—you play, that you keep the bank, doubtless in places where something is to be won. I must also confess that I am very fond of cards—that——  39
  Ric.  Tant mieux, mademoiselle, tant mieux! Tous les gens d’esprit aiment le jeu à la fureur.  40
  Min.  —that I am very fond of winning; that I like to trust my money to a man who—knows how to play. Are you inclined, sir, to let me join you—to let me have a share in your bank?  41
  Ric.  Comment, mademoiselle, vous voulez être de moitié avec moi? De tout mon cœur!  42
  Min.  At first, only with a trifle.  (Opens her desk and takes out some money.)  43
  Ric.  Ah, mademoiselle, que vous êtes charmante!  44
  Min.  Here is what I won a short time ago—only ten pistoles. I am ashamed, so little——  45
  Ric.  Donnez toujours, mademoiselle, donnez.  (Takes it.)  46
  Min.  Without doubt, your bank, sir, is very considerable.  47
  Ric.  Oh, yes, vary considerable. Ten pistoles! You shall have, madame, an interest in my bank for one-tird, pour le tiers. Yes, one-tird part it shall be—something more. With a beautiful lady one must not be too exac. I rejoice myself to make by dat a liaison avec madame, et de ce moment je recommence à bien augurer de ma fortune.  48
  Min.  But I cannot be present, sir, when you play.  49
  Ric.  For why it nécessaire dat you be present? We otter players are honorable people between us.  50
  Min.  If we are fortunate, sir, you will, of course, bring me my share. If we are unfortunate——  51
  Ric.  I come to bring recruits, n’est ce pas, madame?  52
  Min.  In time recruits might fail. Manage our money well, sir.  53
  Ric.  What does madame tink me—a simpleton, a stupid devil?  54
  Min.  I beg your pardon.  55
  Ric.  Je suis des bons, mademoiselle. Savez vous ce que cela veut dire? I am of de quite practised——  56
  Min.  But still, sir——  57
  Ric.  I know one trick or two——  58
  Min.  (amazed).  Could you?  59
  Ric.  Je file la carte avec une adresse——  60
  Min.  Never!  61
  Ric.  Je fais sauter la coupe avec une dextérité——  62
  Min.  You surely would not, sir——  63
  Ric.  What not, madame—what not? Donnez-moi a pigeon for to be pluck, and——  64
  Min.  Play false? Cheat?  65
  Ric.  Comment, mademoiselle? You call dat to cheat? To correct de fortune, l’enchaîner sous ses doigts, être sûr de son fait—dat you call to cheat? To cheat! Oh, what a poor langage is your langage! What an awkward langage!  66
  Min.  No, sir, if you think so——  67
  Ric.  Laissez-moi faire, mademoiselle, and be tranquille! What matter to you how I play? Enough! To-morrow, madame, you see me again or with hundred pistoles, or you see me no more. Votre très-humble, mademoiselle, votre très-humble.  68
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