The Good Soldier Svejk Chapter 1.

Across Hungary.

At last the moment came for them all to be crammed into a railway truck in the proportion of forty-two men to eight horses. The horses, it must be said, travelled more comfortably than the men, because they could sleep in a standing posture. Not that it mattered. The important thing was that the military train was conveying to Galicia a fresh batch of mortals who had been hounded to the shambles.

On the whole, however, they felt rather relieved. Once the train had started, they knew a little more definitely how they stood. Hitherto they had been in a wretched state of uncertainty, racked with the strain of wondering whether they were starting

that day or the next or the day after that. And now their minds were more at rest.

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek had been quite right when he told Schweik that there was no hurry. Several days elapsed before they actually got into the railway trucks, and during that time there was continual talk about tinned rations. The quartermaster-sergeant, an experienced man, insisted that there was nothing in it. Tinned rations were a wash-out ! A field mass was a more likely stunt, because the previous draft had been treated to a field mass. If they had tinned rations, there wouldn’t be a field mass. And, conversely, a field mass was a substitute for tinned rations.

And surely enough, instead of tinned stew, Chaplain Ibl appeared on the scene, and killed three birds with one stone. He celebrated a field mass for three drafts simultaneously, blessing two of them for service in Serbia and one for Russia.

On this occasion he delivered an impassioned address, containing material which he had obviously derived from military calendars. It was such a stirring address that when they were on their way to Mozony, Schweik, who was with Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek in a truck arranged as an improvised office, remembered the chaplain’s peroration and said to the quartermaster sergeant :

"It’ll be a fair treat, like the chaplain said, when the day is sinking toward evening and the sun with its golden rays sets behind the mountains and on the battle field will be heard, like he said, the last breath of the dying and the groaning of wounded men and the wailing of the population, when their cottages are burning above their heads. There’s nothing I enjoy more than to hear people talking good, thoroughgoing, out-and-out flapdoodle."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek nodded.

"It was a damned nice heart-to-heart talk."

’’It was a fine bit of speechifying," said Schweik, "and I shan’t forget it in a hurry. After the war I’ll tell all my pals at The Flagon about it. When the chaplain was well on the job, he’d got his legs so wide apart that I was afraid he’d slip and fall on top of the altar and bump his noodle against the monstrance. He

was just telling us such a nice bit from the history of an army, about how the fire was mingled with the flush of eventide, and the barns were burning on the battlefield, just as if he’d seen it all."

And on the very same day Chaplain Ibl was already in Vienna and was narrating to another draft the edifying story to which Schweik referred and which had pleased him so much that he had described it as good, thoroughgoing, out-and-out flapdoodle.

Then Schweik began to discuss the famous army orders, which had been read to them before they had entered the railway trucks. One was signed by Franz Josef and the other by the Archduke Josef Ferdinand, commander-in-chief of the eastern army. They both referred to the events at the Dukla Pass on April 3, 1915, when two battalions of the 28th regiment, officers and men, went over to the Russians, amid the strains of the regimental band.

The two orders, which were read to them in a trembling voice, ran as follows :

Army Order of April 17, 1915. It is with profound distress that I order the imperial royal infantry regiment No. 28 to be effaced from my army for cowardice and treachery. The regimental colours will be removed from the dishonoured regiment and placed in the military museum. From to-day onward, the regiment which was morally corrupted by its home surroundings when it marched to the field, ceases to exist.

Franz Joseph I.

Order of Archduke Josef Ferdinand.

During this campaign the Czech troops have proved disappointing, especially in the recent hostilities. They have been particularly remiss in defending positions in which they had been entrenched for a considerable time, and the enemy has frequently taken advantage of this to establish contact and relations with worthless elements in the midst of these troops. Thousandfold shame, disgrace and contempt upon those infamous scoundrels who have betrayed their emperor and their country, and besmirched not only the honour of the renowned banners of our glorious and gallant army, but also the honour of the nation to which they belong.

Sooner or later they will be overtaken by the bullet or the rope of the executioner.

It is the duty of every single Czech soldier, who has any vestige of honour left in him, to denounce to his commander any such scoundrel, mischief-maker and traitor. If he does not do so, he himself is a traitor and a scoundrel.

This order is to be read to all men belonging to the Czech regiments.

The imperial royal regiment No. 28, by a decree of our emperor, has already been obliterated from our army and all deserters from the regiment who are taken prisoner will expiate with their blood the heinous crime they have committed.

"They read that to us a bit late," said Schweik to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek. "I’m surprised they’ve only just read it to us, when the Emperor had it all ready on April 17th. It looks as if they’d got some reasons of their own for not reading it to us there and then. If I was the Emperor, I’d kick up a row at having my orders shoved on one side like that. If I was to make an order on April 17th, why, it’d have to be read to every blessed regiment on April 17th, even if hell was to freeze."

In the staff carriage, where the officers of the draft were assembled, there had been a curious hush from the very beginning of the journey. The majority of the officers were engrossed in a Gerrnan book, bound in cloth and entitled The Sins of the Fathers, by Ludwig Ganghofer. They were all simultaneously absorbed in the perusal of page 161. Captain Sagner, the battalion commander, stood by the window, holding the same book, and his copy also was opened at page 161. He gazed at the landscape and wondered how he could best explain to them in the most intelligible manner what they were to do with the book. For it was a strictly confidential affair.

Meanwhile, the officers were wondering whether Colonel Schroder had now gone completely and irrevocably mad. Of course, they knew he had been a bit cracked for some time past, but they had not expected that the final seizure would be so sudden. Before the departure of the train he arranged a final Besprechung at which he informed them that they each were entitled to a copy of The Sins of the Fathers, by Ludwig Gang-

hofer, and that he had ordered the books to be taken to the battalion office.

"Gentlemen," he said with a terribly mysterious expression on his face, "whatever you do, don’t forget page 161."

They had pored over page 161, but could make nothing of it except that a lady named Martha approached a desk, from which she extracted the acting version of a play and in a loud voice expressed the view that the public must sympathize with the hero of it. Then on the same page appeared a gentleman called Albert, who kept trying to crack jokes which, detached from the earlier part of the story, appeared to be such drivel that Lieutenant Lukash, in his annoyance, bit through his cigarette holder.

"The old boy’s daft," was the general view. "It’s all up with him. Now he’ll be transferred to the War Office."

When Captain Sagner had arranged everything carefully in his mind, he left his place by the window. He was not excessively gifted as an instructor, and so it took him a long time before he had devised the scheme of a lecture on the significance of page 161. He began his lecture with the word "Gentlemen," just as the colonel did, although before they had entered the train he had addressed the other officers as "comrades."

"Gentlemen," he began, and went on to explain that on the previous evening he had received from the colonel certain instructions concerning page 161 of The Sins of the Fathers by Ludwig Ganghofer.

"This, gentlemen," he continued solemnly, "is entirely confidential information concerning a new system of telegrams in code for use on active service."

Cadet Biegler took out his notebook and pencil, and in an extremely zealous tone said :

"Ready, sir."

Everybody stared at Cadet Biegler, whose zeal in the pursuit of knowledge bordered on idiocy.

"Look here," said Captain Sagner, "you keep quiet until I give you permission to speak. Nobody asked you to say anything. I suppose you think you’re a damned smart soldier. Here am I, giving you absolutely confidential information and there are you,

shoving it all down in your notebook. If you were to lose that notebook, you’d be liable for a court-martial."

Cadet Biegler, on top of all his other engaging qualities, was in the habit of always trying to persuade everyone by some plausible explanation that he, Biegler, was in the right.

"Beg to report, sir," he replied, "that even if my notebook were to get lost, nobody could make out what I’ve written. I take down everything in shorthand and nobody could read my abbreviations. I use an English system of shorthand."

Everybody gazed at him with contempt. Captain Sagner dismissed the matter with a wave of his hand, and continued his lecture :

"I have already referred to the new method of sending telegrams in code on active service. You may have found it difficult to understand why you were recommended to study page 161 of The Sins of the Fathers, by Ludwig Ganghofer, but that, gentlemen, contains the key to the new code which has been introduced as the result of new instructions of the army corps to which we are attached. As you may be aware, there are many codes in use for sending important messages in the field. The latest which we have adopted is the method of supplemented numerals. Thus, you can now dispense with the codes which were served out to you last week by the regimental staff, and the instructions for deciphering them."

"Archduke Albrecht’s system," murmured the assiduous Biegler to himself. "8922=R; adopted from Grenfeld’s method."

"The new system is very simple," went on Captain Sagner. "Supposing, for example, we are to receive this order : ’On hill 228 direct machine-gun fire to the left’ ; we receive, gentlemen, the following telegram : ’Thing—with—us—that—we—look— in—the—promised— which—Martha—you— which—anxious —then— we—Martha— we—the—we—thanks— well—end— we—promised—really —think —idea—quite—prevails— voice —last’ As I say, it’s extremely simple, no superfluous complications. From the staff by telephone to the battalion, from the battalion by telephone to the company. When the commander has received this code telegram, he deciphers it in the following way :

He takes The Sins of the Fathers, opens it at page 161, and begins from the top to look for the word ’thing’ on the opposite page 160. Now then, gentlemen, the word ’thing’ occurs first on page 160 and forms the 52nd word, taking sentence by sentence. Very well. On the opposite page 161, he discovers the 52nd letter from the top. Kindly notice that this letter is ’o.’ The next word in the telegram is ’with.’ That is the 7th word on page 160, corresponding to the 7th letter on page 161, which is ’n.’ That gives us ’on.’ And so we continue, till we’ve deciphered the order: ’On hill 228 direct machine-gun fire to the left.’ It’s very ingenious, gentlemen, and very simple, and it absolutely can’t be deciphered without the key which is The Sins of the Fathers by Ludwig Ganghofer, page 161."

They all gazed glumly at the fateful page and lapsed into anxious thought. For a while there was silence, till suddenly Cadet Biegler shouted in great alarm :

"Beg to report, sir, God Almighty, there’s something wrong."

And, indeed, it was extremely puzzling.

However much they tried, nobody except Captain Sagner discovered on page 160 the words corresponding to the letters on the opposite page 161 which supplied the key.

"Gentlemen," stammered Captain Sagner, when he had convinced himself that Cadet Biegler’s desperate oratory was in accordance with the facts of the case. "What can have happened? In my copy of The Sins of the Fathers it’s there all right, and in yours it isn’t."

"I beg your pardon, sir." It was Cadet Biegler again. "I should like to point out," he continued, "that this novel by Ludwig Ganghofer is in two volumes. You will see for yourself, if you kindly turn to the title page. There you are : ’Novel in two volumes,’ it says. We’ve got Volume 1, and you’ve got Volume 2," explained the thoroughgoing Biegler. "It is therefore obvious that our pages 160 and 161 do not correspond to yours. We’ve got something quite different. In your case the first word of the decoded telegram should be ’on,’ and we make ours ’bo.’ "

It was now quite clear to everyone that Biegler was not such a fool as they thought.

"I received Volume 2 from brigade headquarters," said Cap-

tain Sagner, "so there must be some mistake. It looks as if they got things mixed up at brigade headquarters."

Cadet Biegler gazed round triumphantly, while Captain Sagner continued :

"It’s a queer business, gentlemen. Some of the people in the brigade office are of very limited intelligence."

"I should like to point out"—it was again the unwearied Biegler who was anxious to display his wisdom—"that matters of a strictly confidential character ought not to pass from divisional headquarters through the brigade office. A message affecting the most secret affairs of an army corps should be notified by a strictly confidential circular only to commanders of parts of divisions and brigades, and of regiments. I know a coding system which was used during the Sardinian and Savoy hostilities, in the Anglo-French campaign at Sevastopol, during the Boxer rebellion in China and also during the last Russo-Japanese war. This system was based upon -"

"What the hell do we care about that?" said Captain Sagner, with an expression of contempt and repugnance. "There can be no doubt that the system which I have been explaining to you is not only one of the best, but also quite safe against discovery. It’ll dish all the counter-espionage departments of the enemy staff. They’ll never be able to read our ciphers. Our system’s quite unique. It’s not based on any previous method."

The assiduous Biegler coughed meaningly.

"I should like to mention Kerickhoff’s book on military ciphers," he began. "You can order it from the publishers of the Military Encyclopœdia. It contains a detailed description of the system I mentioned to you just now. It was invented by Colonel Kircher, who served under Napoleon I in the Saxon army. Kircher’s code is based upon words and it was perfected by Lieutenant Fleissner in his Handbook of Military Cryptography, which can be obtained from the publishers to the Military

Academy in Wiener-Neustadt. Just one moment, sir -" Cadet

Biegler dived into his attaché case and produced the book he had been talking about. He continued :

"Fleissner quotes the same example as the one that’s been given us. Here you are, you can see for yourselves :

"Telegram : On hill 228 direct machine-gun fire to the left. Key : The Sins of the Fathers by Ludwig Ganghofer, p. 161, Vol. II.

"And here you are again : ’Cipher : Thing—with—us—that— we—look—in—the—promised—which,’ and so forth. Exactly as we were told just now."

There was no disputing this. The wretched Biegler was right. One of the generals on the staff had considerably lightened his labours. He had discovered Fleissner’s book on military ciphers, and the thing was done.

While all this was being revealed, Lieutenant Lukash might have been observed grappling with a curious mental agitation. He was biting his lip, was about to say something, but in the end, when he did speak, he changed his mind and spoke about something else.

"There’s no need to take it so seriously," he remarked in an oddly embarrassed tone. "While we were stationed at Bruck several changes were made in the system of coding telegrams. And before we leave for the front there’ll be a fresh lot introduced, but personally I don’t think we’ll have much time at the front for solving conundrums. Why, before any of us could work out the meaning of a code message like that we, the company, the battalion and the brigade would all be blown to smithereens. It’s got no practical value."

Captain Sagner assented very reluctantly.

"In actual practice," he admitted, "as far as my experience on the Serbian front goes, nobody had any time for solving ciphers. 1 don’t say that codes had no value while we were in the trenches for any length of time. And, of course, they did change the systems."

Captain Sagner withdrew along the whole line of his argument:

"One of the chief reasons why the staffs at the front are using codes less and less is because our field telephones don’t work properly, and especially during artillery fire make it difficult to distinguish the various syllables of words. You can simply hear nothing, and that causes a hell of a muddle."

He paused.

"Muddle is the worst thing that can happen in the field, gentlemen," he added in oracular tones.

"Presently," he continued, after a fresh interval, "we shall be at Rabb, gentlemen. Each man will be served out with five ounces of Hungarian salami. Half an hour’s rest."

He looked at the time table.

"We leave at 4:12. Everybody must be in the train by 3:58. Alight by companies, beginning with No. 11. Rations to be issued one platoon at a time, from store No. 6. Officer in charge of issue : Cadet Biegler."

Everyone looked at Cadet Biegler, as much as to say :

"Now you’re for it, you young whippersnapper."

But the assiduous Cadet Biegler was already extracting from his attaché case a sheet of paper and a ruler, drew lines on the paper to correspond with the number of squads, and asked the commander of each squad how many men there were in it, a detail which none of them knew with any exactitude. They could supply Biegler only with figures based upon vague jottings in their notebooks.

Meanwhile Captain Sagner began in sheer desperation to read the wretched Sins of the Fathers, and when the train stopped at Raab, he closed the book with a jerk and remarked :

"This chap Ganghofer doesn’t write badly."

Lieutenant Lukash was the first to dash out of the staff-carriage. He proceeded to the truck in which Schweik was installed.

"Schweik, come here," he said. "Stop all your idiotic jabber and come and explain something to me."

"Delighted, sir."

Lieutenant Lukash led Schweik away, and the glance which he bestowed upon him was highly suspicious.

In the course of Captain Sagner’s lecture, which had ended in such a fiasco, Lieutenant Lukash had been developing a certain ability as a detective. This was not unduly difficult, for on the day before they started, Schweik had announced to Lieutenant Lukash :

"There’s some books for the officers, sir, up at battalion headquarters. I fetched them from the regimental office."

And so when they had crossed the second set of rails, Lieutenant Lukash said point-blank :

"Schweik, I want to know some more about those books you mentioned to me yesterday."

"Beg to report, sir, that’s a very long story, and it always seems to sort of upset you, sir, when I tell you all the ins and outs of anything. Like when you was going to give me such a smack in the eye that time when you tore up the circular about war loan, and I was telling you how I once read in a book that in olden times, when a war was on, people had to pay a tax on windows, so much for each window, and then so much on geese


"We’ll never get any further at this rate," said Lieutenant Lukash. He now proceeded with the cross-examination, after deciding that the strictly confidential part of the business would have to be kept entirely in the background, as otherwise that ruffian of a Schweik would only make further capital out of it. He therefore asked simply :

"Do you know Ganghofer?"

"Who’s he?" enquired Schweik with interest.

"A German author, you blithering booby," replied Lieutenant Lukash.

"Lord bless you, sir," said Schweik with the expression of a martyr, "I don’t know no German author personally, as you might say. I once knew a Czech author personally, a chap named Ladislav Hajek. He used to write for a paper called The Animal World and once I palmed off a scraggy sort of tike on him for a good bred Pomeranian. He was a cheerful gentleman, he was, and a good sort, too. He once went to a pub and read a lot of his stories there. They were very sad stories and they made everybody laugh, and then he started crying and stood us drinks all around and------"

"Look here," interposed Lieutenant Lukash, "drop all that. That’s not what I asked you about. All I wanted to know was whether you had noticed whether those books you mentioned to me were by Ganghofer."

"Those books I took from the regimental office to battalion headquarters?" asked Schweik. "Oh, yes, they were written by

the fellow that you wanted to know whether I knew or not. I got a message by telephone direct from the regimental office. You see, sir, it was like this : They wanted to send these here books to the battalion office, but everyone there was away, orderly officers and all, because they had to be in the canteen when they’re off to the front and nobody knows whether they’ll ever get another chance of going to the canteen. Well, sir, there they all were, drinking for all they was worth, and I couldn’t get hold of any of them by telephone, and as you told me to stay at the telephone until Chodounsky was sent to relieve me, I stuck to my post and waited till it was my turn. The regimental office kept kicking up a row because they couldn’t get any answer and so they couldn’t pass on the message that the draft office was to fetch some books for the officers of the whole company. Well, sir, you told me that things have got to be done promptly in wartime, so I telephoned to the regimental office and said I’d fetch those books myself and take them to the battalion office. There was a regular sackful of ’em and I had quite a job to get them into the company office. Then I had a look at those books, and that gave me an idea. You see, the quartermaster-sergeant in the regimental office told me that according to what the message said, the battalion office knew which volume of these books was wanted, Because, you see, sir, this book was in two volumes. One volume separate and another volume separate. Well, sir, talk about laugh ! I never laughed so much in all my life. Reading ain’t exactly in my line, as you might say, but I never heard of anyone starting to read the second volume of a book before the first. Anyway, the quartermaster-sergeant says to me : ’There’s the first volume and there’s the second. The officers know which volume they’ve got to read.’ So I thinks to myself, why, they must be all dotty, because if anyone’s going to read a book like this Sins of the Fathers, or whatever it is, from the beginning, they got to start with the first volume, because we don’t read books backward like what the Jews do. So then I telephoned to you, sir, when you got back from the club, and I reported about those books and asked you whether, being wartime, things was all topsy-turvey like, and books had got to be read backward, the second volume first and the first volume afterward. And you

told me I was a silly chump, if I didn’t even know that the Lord’s Prayer began with ’Our Father’ and wound up with ’Amen.’

"Are you feeling queer, sir?" asked Schweik with concern, when Lieutenant Lukash turned pale and clutched at the step of a locomotive tender. His countenance, white as a sheet, showed no trace of wrath. But there was something of sheer despair in his expression.

"No, no, Schweik, that’s all right. Get on with your story."

"Well, sir, as I was saying," continued Schweik in honeyed tones, "that’s what I thought, too. Once I bought one of these thrillers all about the bloodthirsty bandit of the Bakony Forest and the first part was missing, so I had to guess how it started, so you see even in a tale like that, all about a bloodthirsty bandit, you can’t do without the beginning. So it didn’t take me long to see that there was no need for the officers to start reading Volume I afterward. What with one thing and another, it struck me that there was something very funny about those books. I knew that officers don’t do much reading, anyway, and now with the war on and all that------"

"Oh, stop talking twaddle, Schweik," groaned Lieutenant Lukash.

"Well, sir, I at once telephoned to ask you whether you wanted the two volumes at one go, and you told me, the same as you did just now, to stop talking twaddle and did I think that they were going to lug a lot of extra books about with them. So I thought that if you felt that way about it, the other officers would, too. And then I asked our quartermaster-sergeant, Vanek, because he’s had some experience of the front. And he said that the officers seemed to think that the war was a sort of damned picnic, taking a regular library with them as if they was going away for their summer holidays. He said there was no time for reading, because they was always on the run. Well, after that, I thought I’d better get your opinion again, so I telephoned to ask you what I was to do about those books and you said that once I got something into my silly fat head, I never let go of it until I got a smack across the jaw. So then, sir, I only took the first volume of this tale to the battalion office and I left the rest in our company office.. My idea was that when the officers have read the first

volume, they could have the second volume served out to them, like in a lending library, but suddenly the order came that we was leaving, and a message was sent all over the battalion that the rest of the books was to go into the regimental stores."

Schweik paused, and then continued :

"They’ve got all sorts of stuff in those stores, sir. Why, there’s the top hat belonging to the choir master at Budejovice, the one he wore when he joined the regiment."

"Look here, Schweik," said Lieutenant Lukash, with a deep sigh, "let me tell you that you can’t realize the amount of harm you’ve done. I’m sick of calling you an idiot. In fact, what you are is beyond words. If I call you an idiot, it’s downright flattery, that’s what it is. What you’ve just done is so appalling that the worst offences you’ve perpetrated since I’ve known you are angelic deeds in comparison. If you only knew, Schweik, what you’ve done ! But you’ll never realize it. And if at any time anything should be said about those books, don’t you dare to breathe a word about what I said to you when I telephoned with regard to the second volume. If anything’s ever said about the first and second volumes and how the mistake arose, you take no notice. You’ve heard nothing, you know nothing, you can remember nothing. And if you get me mixed up in it, why I’ll------"

Lieutenant Lukash paused, as if shaken by throes of fever, and Scbweik took advantage of this brief silence to ask innocently :

"Beg to report, sir, but I don’t see why I should never know what I’ve done wrong. I hope you don’t mind me saying so, sir, but it’s only because I could avoid doing it another time. They do say that we learn by our mistakes, just like a man I used to know, Adamec his name was, and he used to work in an iron foundry, and one day he drank some spirits of salt by mistake, and------"

He got no further with this modern instance, for Lieutenant Lukash interrupted him:

"Oh, shut up, you ghastly jackass ! I’m not going to waste time talking to you. Get back into your truck and tell Baloun that when we reach Budapest he’s to bring me a roll and that liver paste that’s at the bottom of my box, wrapped up in silver paper. Then

tell Vanek that he’s a thickheaded lout. Three times I’ve asked him to let me have the exact number of men. To-day, when I needed the figures, I had to use the old list from last week."

"Right you are, sir," barked Schweik, and departed slowly to his truck.

Lieutenant Lukash walked to and fro on the tracks and thought to himself :

"I ought to have given him a few smacks in the jaw, and instead of that I talked to him as if we were old friends."

Schweik entered the railway truck with great solemnity. He had quite a high opinion of himself. It was not an everyday occurrence for him to do something so appalling that he could never be allowed to discover what it was.

"Sergeant," said Schweik, when he was sitting in his place again. "It strikes me that Lieutenant Lukash is in a jolly good temper to-day. He told me to tell you that you’re a thickheaded lout because he’s asked you three times to let him know the number of men in the company."

"God Almighty," said Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, flaring up. "I’ll make it hot for those bloody sergeants. Is it my fault if they’re too damned lazy to let me know the number of men in their squads? How the hell can I be expected to guess how many men there are? This draft’s in a fine state, upon my word. But I knew it, I knew it ! I guessed that everything’d be at sixes and sevens. One day there’s four lots of rations missing from the cook house, and the next day there’s three too many. They don’t even let me know if anyone’s in hospital. Last month I had a chap named Nikodem on my list, and I didn’t discover until pay-day that he’d died of galloping consumption in hospital. And they kept drawing rations for him. A uniform was served out for him, too, but God knows where that went to. And then, on top of all that, the lieutenant calls me a thickheaded lout, just because he can’t keep his company in order."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek strode up and down wrath-fully.

"I ought to be company commander ! I’d show ’em ! I’d make ’em toe the line ! I’d have my eye on every man-Jack of ’em. The

N. C. O.’s’d have to report to me twice a day. But these N. C. O.’s are a wash-out. And the worst of the whole lot is Sergeant Zyka. He’s all right at telling funny yarns, but when he’s told that a man’s been transferred from his squad to the A. S. C, he keeps on giving me the same figures, day after day. And then I’m told I’m a thickheaded lout. That’s not the way for the lieutenant to get popular. A company quartermaster-sergeant ain’t a lance-jack that anyone can use to wipe his -"

Baloun, who had been listening with open mouth, now supplied the missing word before Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek had time to utter it.

"You shut your row," said the quartermaster-sergeant testily.

"Here, Baloun," remarked Schweik, "I’ve got a message for you, too. The lieutenant says that when we get to Budapest you’ve got to take a roll to him and the liver paste that’s wrapped up in silver paper at the bottom of the lieutenant’s trunk."

Baloun’s long arms, like those of a chimpanzee, suddenly drooped, he bent his back, and he continued in this posture for quite a long while.

"I haven’t got it," he then said in a low, despairing voice, with his eyes glued to the dirty floor of the railway truck.

"I haven’t got it," he repeated brokenly. "I never thought... I unpacked it before we left. ... I just sniffed at it. . . . To see if it hadn’t gone bad....

"I tasted it !" he exclaimed in accents of such genuine despair that it was clear to everyone what had happened.

"You ate it up, silver paper and all," said Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, confronting Baloun. He was glad that a diversion had been created by the gluttonous Baloun and that the conversation now centred round a new set of tragic events. Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek felt a strong inclination to indulge in a little dour moralizing for Baloun’s benefit, but in this he was anticipated by Schweik, who now intervened :

"Here, Baloun, you was telling me not so long ago that there was going to be slaughtering and curing done in your family and that as soon as we get to a place where letters can be sent, they’ll let you have a parcel of ham. Now how would you like it if they was to send you this ham and then all the chaps in the

company was to cut off a bit of it and have a taste, and then another bit, because we liked the taste of it, till that ham looked like a postman I used to know, a man named Kozel, whose bones started crumbling, and so first of all they cut off his leg below the ankle, and then below the knee, and then below the hip, and if he hadn’t died in time they’d have gone on cutting bits off him till he looked like a stump of lead pencil. So just fancy what it’d have been like, Baloun, if we’d cut your ham up, like you gobbled up the lieutenant’s liver paste."

Baloun gazed at them all very dejectedly.

"It’s only because of me putting in a good word for you," said the quartermaster-sergeant to Baloun, "that the lieutenant kept you as his batman. You was going to be transferred to the medical corps and carry wounded away from the front line. How’d you have liked that? Why, at the Dukla Pass there was three lots of stretcher bearers sent out, one after another, to fetch back a wounded officer who’d been shot in the belly in front of the barbed wire, and the whole lot of ’em went west, shot right through the heart. The fourth lot managed to reach him, but before they got him to the dressing station it was all up with him."

Baloun could restrain himself no longer. He began to blubber.

"Why, you ought to be ashamed of yourself," said Schweik, contemptuously. "Call yourself a soldier?"

"I was never meant to be in the army," lamented Baloun. "I know I’m always thinking about food and I can never get enough of it, but that’s because I’ve been dragged away from the life I’m used to. And it runs in our family, too. My father, he’s dead now, but he once made a bet that he’d eat fifty sausages at a sitting and two loaves of bread, and he won his bet. I once made a bet I’d eat four geese and two plates of dumplings with cabbage."

"Well," said Schweik, "you’ve been tied up once, and now you deserve to be sent to the front line. When I was doing your job as orderly to the lieutenant, he could rely on me in everything, and I’d never have dreamed of eating anything that belonged to him. When something special was served out, he’d always say to me: ’Schweik,’ he said, ’keep it for yourself,’ or: ’Oh, I don’t

fancy that particularly ; let me have just a scrap of it and do what you like with the rest.’ And when we was in Prague and he used to send me sometimes to fetch his lunch from a restaurant, so as he shouldn’t think he’d got a small helping because I’d eaten half of it on the way, when I thought the helping was too small, I bought an extra helping with my own money, so as he could have a proper feed and not think any harm of me. Till one day, he spotted what I’d been up to. It was like this : I always had to bring him the bill of fare from the restaurant and then he chose what he wanted. Well, that particular day he chose some stuffed pigeon. Now when I saw they gave me only half a bird, I thought he might think I’d eaten the other half on the way, so I bought an extra portion with my own money and brought him such a grand helping that Lieutenant Seba, who’d been nosing round after some lunch that day, and had just come to pay my lieutenant a call, was able to have a feed of it as well. But when he’d finished, he says: ’Don’t tell me that’s a single portion. Why, there isn’t a restaurant on earth where you can get a whole stuffed pigeon on the bill of fare. If I can scrape together some money to-day, I’m going to send out to that restaurant of yours for some lunch. Now own up ; that’s a double portion, isn’t it?’ Well, the lieutenant asked me to bear him out that he’d only given me enough money for a single portion, because he didn’t know that Lieutenant Seba was coming. So I said he’d only given me enough money for a single lunch. ’There you are,’ says my lieutenant. ’And this ain’t nothing,’ he says. ’Why, the other day Schweik brought me two legs of goose for lunch. Just imagine Vermicelli soup, beef with horse-radish sauce, two legs of goose, dumplings and piles of cabbage and pancakes.’ "

"Holy Moses !" exclaimed Baloun, and smacked his lips loudly.

Schweik continued :

"Well, that was the cause of the trouble. Next day Lieutenant Seba sends his batman to fetch his lunch from our restaurant, and he brings him a tiny little dollop of chicken and rice, about as much as you could hold in the palm of your hand, just enough for two spoonfuls. So Lieutenant Seba went for him and said he’d eaten half of it. And he said he hadn’t. So then Lieutenant Seba gave him a smack across the jaw and told him how

much grub I was fetching for Lieutenant Lukash. Well, next day, when this chap who’d had a smack in the jaw for nothing went to the restaurant to fetch some lunch, he found out what I’d been doing, and told his boss and he told my lieutenant. So in the evening I was sitting having a read of the newspaper, all about the reports of the enemy staffs from the front, when my lieutenant comes in, as white as a sheet he was, and asks me point-blank how many of those double portions. I’d paid for out of my own pocket, and he said he knew all about it and it wasn’t any use for me to deny it and he’d always thought I was a jackass but he’d never supposed I was as dotty as all that. He said I’d disgraced him so much that he felt like first blowing my brains out and then his own. ’Well, sir,’ I says to him, ’the first day I came to you, you said that every batman was a crook and a rotter. And they was giving such small portions in that restaurant, that you’d be bound to think that I was rotter enough to sneak your grub.’ "

"Lord help us !" murmured Baloun, and bent down toward the lieutenant’s box, which he took into the background.

"Then," continued Schweik, "Lieutenant Lukash began to search in all his pockets, but he couldn’t find anything, so he fetches out his silver watch and gives it to me. He was quite overcome, as you might say. ’Look here, Schweik,’ he said, ’when I draw my pay I want you to write down how much I owe you. You can keep this watch as an extra. And another time, don’t be a bloody fool,’ he says. But after that we was both of us so desperate hard-up that I had to take that watch to the pawnshop."

"What are you up to, at the back there, Baloun?" inquired Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek.

Instead of giving any reply, the luckless Baloun hiccoughed. For he had opened Lieutenant Lukash’s box and was gobbling up his last roll.

Shortly before this, a very tense conversation was taking place between Captain Sagner and Cadet Biegler.

"I’m surprised at you, Biegler," said Captain Sagner. "Why didn’t you come and report to me immediately that those five

ounces of Hungarian salami were not being issued? I had to go out personally and ascertain why the men were coming back from the store. And the officers, too, as if orders were so much empty talk. What I said was : ’To the stores by companies, one platoon at a time.’ That meant, that if no rations were served out, the men were to come back to the train one squad at a time as well. I told you to keep proper order, but you just let things slide. I suppose the fact is you were glad you didn’t have to worry your head about counting out the rations of salami."

"Beg to report, sir, that instead of salami, the men received two picture postcards each."

And Cadet Biegler presented the battalion commander with two specimens of these postcards, which had been issued by the War Records Department in Vienna, at the head of which was General Wojnowich. On one side was a caricature of a Russian soldier, a Russian peasant with a shaggy beard who was being embraced by a skeleton. Underneath were the words :

The day upon which perfidious Russia is snuffed out will be a day of relief for our whole Monarchy.

The other postcard emanated from the German Empire. It was a gift from the Germans to the Austro-Hungarian warriors. On top was the motto "Viribus unitis" and underneath it a picture of Sir Edward Grey hanging on a gallows, with an Austrian and a German soldier blithely at the salute below. This was accompanied by a poem from Greinz’s book The Iron Fist. The witticisms were described by the German papers as being so many strokes from a lash, full of rollicking humour and irrepressible wit. This particular stroke from a lash was as follows :

Grey. The gallows should on high display Dangling now Sir Edward Grey. It should have happened long ago; Why did it not, then? You must know That every single tree refused As gallows for this Judas to be used.

Scarcely had Captain Sagner finished perusing this specimen of "rollicking humour and irrepressible wit" than battalion orderly Matushitch dashed into the staff carriage. He had been sent by Captain Sagner to the telegraph headquarters of the railway transport command to ask whether there had been any change of instructions, and had brought a telegram from the brigade. But there was no need to decode it. The telegram ran, au clair: "Quickly finish cooking then advance toward Sokal." Captain Sagner shook his head in perplexity.

"Beg to report, sir," said Matushitch, "the railway transport officer wants to see you. He’s got another telegram there."

A conversation of a very confidential character then ensued between the railway transport officer and Captain Sagner.

The first telegram had to be delivered, in spite of the surprising message it contained. It was addressed au clair to the draft of the 91st regiment, with a copy for the draft of the 75th regiment, which was still further behind them. The signature was in order : Ritter von Herbert.

"This is a very confidential matter, sir," said the transport officer mysteriously. "A secret telegram from your division. Your brigade commander’s gone mad. They took him off to Vienna after he’d been sending out dozens of telegrams like that from the brigade all over the place. You’re pretty certain to find another telegram when you get to Budapest. Of course, all his telegrams’ll have to be cancelled, although we haven’t received any instructions on that point yet."

Captain Sagner began to feel very uncomfortable.

"When does the train leave?" he asked.

The railway transport officer looked at his watch.

"In six minutes," he replied.

"Very well, then. I must be off," said Captain Sagner.

He returned to the staff carriage, where all the officers, except Cadet Biegler, were playing cards. Cadet Biegler was rummaging among a pile of manuscripts which he had started, all dealing with various aspects of the war. For he had ambitions to distinguish himself, not only on the battle field, but also as a literary wizard. His literary efforts had promising titles, but he had got no further with them. They included the following :

Character of the Troops in the Great War; Who Began the War?; The Policy of Austria-Hungary and the Birth of the Great War; Observations on War; Popular Lecture on the Outbreak of the Great War; Reflections on Politics and War; Austria-Hungary’s Day of Glory; Slavonic Imperialism and the Great War; War Documents; Documents Bearing on the History of the Great War; Diary of the Great War; Daily Survey of the Great War; Our Dynasty in the Great War; The Nations of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy in Arms; My Experiences in the Great War; Chronicle of My War Campaign; How Austria-Hungary’s Enemies Wage War; Whose Is the Victory?; Our Officers and Our Men; Noteworthy Deeds of My Soldiers; Prom the Epoch of the Great War; On the Battle Tumult; Book of Austro-Hungarian Heroes; The Iron Brigade; Collection of My Letters from the Front; Handbook for Troops in the Field; Days of Struggle and Days of Victory; What I Saw and Experienced in the Field; In the Trenches; The Officer Tells His Story; Enemy Aeroplanes and Our Infantry; After the Battle; Our Artillery, Faithful Sons of Our Country; And Even Though All Demons Ranged Themselves Against Us; War, Defensive and Offensive; Blood and Iron; Victory or Death; Our Heroes in Captivity.

Captain Sagner inspected all these things, and asked Cadet Biegler what he thought he was up to. Cadet Biegler replied with genuine gusto that each of these titles denoted a book which he was going to write. So many titles, so many books.

"If I should get killed at the front, sir," he said, "I should like to leave some sort of memorial behind me. In this I am inspired by the example of the German professor, Udo Kraft. He was born in 1870, but volunteered for the army and was killed on August 22, 1914, at Anley. Before his death he published a book called How to Die for the Kaiser! A Course of Self-training."

Captain Sagner led Cadet Biegler to the window.

"Let’s see what else you’ve got. Your doings interest me enormously," he said with a touch of irony. "What’s that notebook you’re hiding under your tunic?"

"That’s nothing," replied Cadet Biegler, blushing like a girl. "You can see for yourself, sir."

The notebook bore the following label :


Fought by the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Compiled from Historical Records by Adolf Biegler,

Officer in the Imperial Royal Army. With Notes and Comments.

By adolph biegler, Officer in the Imperial Royal Army.

The conspectus was extremely simple.

From the Battle of Nôrdlingen on September 6, 1634, by way of the Battles of Zenta on September 11, 1697, Caldiera on October 31, 1805, Aspern on May 22, 1809, Leipzig in 1813, Santa Lucia in May, 1848, Trantenau on June 27, 1866, to the capture of Sarajevo on August 19, 1878. The diagrams of these battles were all alike. In each case Cadet Biegler had drawn plain rectangles on one side to represent Austro-Hungarian troops and dotted rectangles to represent the enemy. Both sides had a left wing, a centre and a right wing. Then at the back there were reserves, while arrows darted to and fro. The Battle of Nôrdlingen, just like the capture of Sarajevo, looked like the arrangement of the players at the start of a football match and the arrows showed which way each side was to kick the ball. This idea immediately occurred to Captain Sagner, and he asked :

"Do you play football?"

Cadet Biegler blushed still more and blinked nervously, so that it looked as if he were trying to keep back his tears.

Captain Sagner, with a smile, continued to peruse the notebook and paused at the comment on the diagram representing the Battle of Trantenau during the war between Prussia and Austria. Cadet Biegler had written:

The battle of Trantenau ought not to have been fought, because the mountainous character of the terrain made it impossible for General Mazzucheli to extend the division menaced by the strong Prussian columns on the elevated areas surrounding the left wing of our division.

"According to you," said Captain Sagner, with a smile, returning the notebook to Cadet Biegler, "the battle of Trantenau could only have been fought if Trantenau were in a plain. It’s very nice of you, Cadet Biegler, to try and get a grip of military strategy when you’ve been so short a time in the army. You remind me of a lot of kids playing at soldiers and calling each other General. Really, it’s a real treat to see the way you’ve given yourself such rapid promotion. ’Adolf Biegler, Officer in the Imperial Royal Army’ ! Why, at that rate, you’ll be a field-marshal by the time we get to Budapest. The day before yesterday you were at home weighing cow hides in your father’s shop. And now you’re Adolf Biegler, Lieutenant in the Imperial Royal Army. Why, man alive, you’re not an officer yet. You’re a cadet. You’re just floating in the air between the ranks of ensign and the N. C. O.’s. You’re about as much entitled to call yourself an officer as a lance-corporal sitting in a pub would be to let people call him a staff sergeant-major."

Cadet Biegler, seeing that the conversation was at an end, saluted and, very red in the face, passed through the carriage to the corridor at the very end. He entered the lavatory, where he began to sob quietly. Later, he wiped his eyes and stalked out into the corridor, telling himself that he must be strong, damned stroną. But he had a headache and he felt altogether out of sorts.

He passed through the last compartment when Matushitch, battalion orderly, was playing "sixty-six" with Batzer, orderly of the battalion commander.

He coughed as he went by. They turned round and went on playing.

"Don’t you know what you ought to do?" asked Cadet Biegler sternly.

"Couldn’t manage it," replied Batzer in the terrible dialect of German, as spoken on the frontiers of Bavaria and Bohemia. "Hadn’t got any trumps left.

"I ought to have played clubs," he continued, "high clubs, and then come out with the king of diamonds. That’s what I ought to have done."

Cadet Biegler said no more, but lay down in his corner. When,

later on, Ensign Pleschner came to give him a drink from a bottle of brandy, he was surprised to find Cadet Biegler engrossed in Professor Urdo Kraft’s volume, How to Die for the Kaiser! A Course of Self-training.

Before they reached Budapest, Cadet Biegler was so tipsy that he leaned out of the carriage window and kept shouting to the deserted landscape :

"Get a move on! For God’s sake, get a move!"

Later, at Captain Sagner’s orders, Matushitch and Batzer laid Cadet Biegler to rest on a seat, where he dreamed that he had the iron cross with bars, that he’d been mentioned in dispatches, and that he was a major who was proceeding to inspect a brigade. It puzzled him why it was that though he was in charge of a whole brigade, he was still major. He suspected that he ought to have been appointed major-general, and that the "general" had somehow got lost in the post. Then he was in a motor car which, as the result of an explosion, reached the gates of heaven, for which the password was "God and Kaiser." He was admitted to the presence of God, who turned out to be none other than Captain Sagner who was accusing him of masquerading as a major-general. Then he floundered into a new dream. He was defending Linz during the War of the Austrian Succession. There were redoubts and palisades and Lieutenant Lukash dying at his feet. Lieutenant Lukash was saying something very pathetic and complimentary to him when he felt a bullet strike him so that he could no longer sit on his horse. He fell through space and landed on the floor of the railway carriage.

Batzer and Matushitch lifted him up and put him back on his seat. Then Matushitch went to Captain Sagner and reported that strange things had been happening to Cadet Biegler.

"I don’t think it’s the brandy that’s upset him," he said. "It’s more likely to be cholera. He’s been drinking water at all the railway stations. I saw him at Mozony -"

"Cholera doesn’t come on as quickly as all that. Go and ask the doctor to have a look at him."

The doctor who was attached to the battalion was a "war doctor" named Welfer. He had studied medicine at various universities of Austria-Hungary, and had walked all kinds of hos-

pitals, but he had never taken his degree for the simple reason that there was a clause in his uncle’s will by which a fixed annual amount was to be paid by the remaining heirs to Friedrich Welfer, medical student, until the said Friedrich Welfer received his doctor’s diploma. As the fixed annual amount was about four times greater than the pay of a house physician, Friedrich Welfer, medical student, exerted himself honestly to stave off, to as remote a period as possible, the award of a medical diploma.

But when the war broke out, it dealt Friedrich Welfer a treacherous blow from behind. He was taken by the scruff of his neck and shoved into the army, whereupon one of the heirs, who was in the War Office, arranged for the worthy Friedrich Welfer to be awarded a war-doctor’s degree. This was done in writing. He received a number of questions to answer, and he answered them all with the stereotyped formula "rats." Three days later he was informed that he had been awarded a doctor’s diploma. He was detailed to a military hospital, and with a bad grace he went. After a while it was discovered that he treated military patients with extreme indulgence, keeping them in hospital as long as possible. His principle was : "What’s it matter if they stay in hospital or get killed in the trenches? May as well let ’em die in hospital as in the fighting line."

It was then that Dr. Welfer was sent off with the nth draft to the front.

Captain Sagner, of course, felt vastly superior to this ex-medical student, and when Dr. Welfer came back from his examination of Cadet Biegler, he did not even condescend to notice him, but continued his conversation with Lieutenant Lukash on the subject of water melons. Dr. Welfer, however, came up and said with a smile :

"There’s nothing wrong with him. Young gentlemen who aspire in the course of time to become army officers and who brag of their expert knowledge of strategy really ought to be told that it’s dangerous to eat up at a sitting a whole parcel of lollipops which their mama has sent them. Cadet Biegler, so he informed me, has managed to put away thirty cream puffs since we left Bruck. It reminds me of that verse in Schiller: ’Who saith tha -’ "

"Look here, Doctor," Captain Sagner interrupted him. "Schiller be blowed. What’s up with Cadet Biegler?"

Dr. Welfer again smiled.

"Cadet Biegler, your aspirant for military rank, has had a slight bodily mishap. It isn’t cholera and it isn’t dysentery. What with his thirty cream puffs and rather more brandy than he’s used to—well, as I say, a slight bodily mishap."

"So it’s nothing serious, then?" asked Captain Sagner. "All the same. If the news of it were to get about . . ."

Lieutenant Lukash stood up and said to Captain Sagner :

"A damned fine platoon commander for you. I wouldn’t take him as a gift."

"I pulled him round a bit," continued Dr. Welfer, with the same irritating smile. "The battalion commander will do the rest. I’m going to have him sent to hospital. I’ll issue a certificate that he’s got dysentery. A severe case of dysentery. Isolation. Cadet Biegler will be taken to the disinfection hut."

Captain Sagner turned to his friend Lieutenant Lukash and said in a strictly official voice :

"Cadet Biegler of your company has been taken ill with dysentery and will remain at Budapest for treatment."

And thus it came about that the dauntless Cadet Biegler was conveyed to the military isolation hospital at Uj Buda.

His trousers got lost amid the alarums and excursions of the World War.