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The Dramatic Works of G. E. Lessing Part 2

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Scene II.

_The_ Landlord, Sir William Sampson, Waitwell.

LANDLORD.

So early, gentlemen, so early? You are welcome; welcome, Waitwell! You have doubtless been travelling all night! Is that the gentleman, of whom you spoke to me yesterday?

WAITWELL.



Yes, it is he, and I hope that in accordance with what we settled----

LANDLORD.

I am entirely at your service, my lord. What is it to me, whether I know or not, what cause has brought you hither, and why you wish to live in seclusion in my house? A landlord takes his money and lets his guests do as they think best. Waitwell, it is true, has told me that you wish to observe the stranger a little, who has been staying here for a few weeks with his young wife, but I hope that you will not cause him any annoyance. You would bring my house into ill repute and certain people would fear to stop here. Men like us must live on people of all kinds.

SIR WILLIAM.

Do not fear; only conduct me to the room which Waitwell has ordered for me; I come here for an honourable purpose.

LANDLORD.

I have no wish to know your secrets, my lord! Curiosity is by no means a fault of mine. I might for instance have known long ago, who the stranger is, on whom you want to keep a watch, but I have no wish to know. This much however I have discovered, that he must have eloped with the young lady. The poor little wife--or whatever she may be!--remains the whole day long locked up in her room, and cries.

SIR WILLIAM.

And cries?

LANDLORD.

Yes, and cries; but, my lord, why do your tears fall? The young lady must interest you deeply. Surely you are not----

WAITWELL.

Do not detain him any longer!

LANDLORD.

Come, come! One wall only will separate you from the lady in whom you are so much interested, and who may be----

WAITWELL.

You mean then at any cost to know, who----

LANDLORD.

No, Waitwell! I have no wish to know anything.

WAITWELL.

Make haste, then, and take us to our rooms, before the whole house begins to stir.

LANDLORD.

Will you please follow me, then, my lord? (_Exeunt_.)

Scene III.--Mellefont's _room_.

Mellefont, Norton.

MELLEFONT (_in dressing-gown, sitting in an easy chair_).

Another night, which I could not have spent more cruelly on the rack!--(_calls_) Norton!--I must make haste to get sight of a face or two. If I remained alone with my thoughts any longer, they might carry me too far. Hey, Norton! He is still asleep. But is not it cruel of me, not to let the poor devil sleep? How happy he is! However, I do not wish any one about me to be happy! Norton!

NORTON (coming).

Sir!

MELLEFONT.

Dress me!--Oh, no sour looks please! When I shall be able to sleep longer myself I will let you do the same. If you wish to do your duty, at least have pity on me.

NORTON.

Pity, sir! Pity on you? I know better where pity is due.

MELLEFONT.

And where then?

NORTON.

Ah, let me dress you and don't ask.

MELLEFONT.

Confound it! Are _your_ reproofs then to awaken together with my conscience? I understand you; I know on whom you expend your pity. But I will do justice to her and to myself. Quite right, do not have any pity on me! Curse me in your heart; but--curse yourself also!

NORTON.

Myself also?

MELLEFONT.

Yes, because you serve a miserable wretch, whom earth ought not to bear, and because you have made yourself a partaker in his crimes.

NORTON.

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